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The Tear Collector

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God’s Thoughts to Me

So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way …

“Zacchaeus!” He said, “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today. (Luke 19:4-5, NLT)”

When Little Boys Cry

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In a specific street in the town of Jericho, Lady Dawn woke up to welcome a new morning with her sun kissed smile.

The Keeper of Heaven’s Gardens had meticulously planted the seed of a sycamore tree along this road during the last hour of the moon. This was the year 200BC.

A Guardian Angel was appointed to cultivate and guard this tree for it was paramount to one moment in the future, roughly in the year 32AD.

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When the tree’s rings were telling the history of approximately 205 years, a young boy named Zacchaeus used to climb and hide in its branches.

He cried his sorrows to the branches and the comforting leaves who listened and wrapped him with love.

Zacchaeus, who was brought up in the strict ways of the Jewish laws, was a small, shy and little child.

Because of his stature and soft heart, he was a lonely boy who never felt quite good enough to be accepted by the in-crowd. His little boy heart craved love and approval.

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Whenever his heart was ripped apart by the cruel mocking of the other sturdy and stronger boys, this little one, who’s name means “pure”, found solace and shade in the shadow of his tree friend.

As he grew up to manhood, he locked his wounded soul in the dungeon of his own short man’s syndrome and promised evil justice to the perpetrators of his pain.

He became a despised tax-collector and his hatred and cunning caused him to rapidly advance to the chief seat of these scumbags. He was consumed by his lust for revenge.

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The tax collectors were notorious for their greed and lust for worldly riches and shamelessly cheated on the taxes of the people and exploited the poor.

They were scoundrels, despised be the religious Jews. According to their laws, they were to be avoided at all cost. One day Zacchaeus heard of a Man called Jesus.

This Rabbi did not only dine with the tax collectors, prostitutes and their kind, He even called Matthew, one of Zacchaeus’ hated colleagues, to follow Him.

Rumors were that He was the Son of God and was on His way to Jericho. These rumors awoke a broken, forgotten little boy deep within the depths of Zacchaeus’s heart.

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As his tree friend was along the way Jesus was traveling, this little boy who was still starving for love and acceptance ran and climbed his familiar friend to get a better view.

When Jesus came by, He stopped, looked up to where Zacchaeus was trying to hide his shame with fig leaves and tenderly called Him down, “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in you home today”.

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Jesus softly whispered a new song of love and forgiveness, while the weathered branches bowed in reverence, inviting Zacchaeus to open his house and his heart to host the King of Heaven.

Much love and sweet blessings xx

Mia

I am linking-up with Lisa-Jo and again the sweet ladies at my Tea-Time and Link-Up page.

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The Seven Dwarfs

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God’s Thoughts to Me

But I warn you – unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 5:20, NLT).

The Seven Pharisees

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In May 2012 the movie, Snow White and the Huntsman, was released by Universal Pictures. I totally fell in love with the uber-cute real-life little dwarfs in this new release.

Who would ever forget how valiantly Gus fought in the Dark Forest and took the arrow meant for Snow White to save her life.

I had to peck away a tear or two, for just the previous night the two of them danced so beautifully together.

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As I was reading an article of James Fowler called Pharisaism, I met another bunch of seven “dwarfs”, if you would pardon my pun.

I had a good giggle when I read about how the Talmud described the seven types of Pharisees.

The first group they identified was the “Shoulder” Pharisee. These were the guys whose shoulders were never big or wide enough to accommodate all their good deeds, like keeping the Sabbath, feeding the hungry, etc.

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They tithed to the last drop of wine they owned before taking even one sip and prided themselves on the fact that they were not like the scum of the earth such as the publicans and their kind.

It seems to me they were not part of the crowd when our Lord Jesus taught the people not to let their left hand know what their right hand was doing (Matthew 6:3). Nope, they loved blowing their own trumpet!

Then we meet Mr Wait-a-Little. They were the cautious ones who would weigh all their options a few times, and then wait a little more, before they would do a good deed or help someone in need.

I think we can also call them the Forever Sabbatarians; totally ignorant of Solomon’s advice, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it’s in your power to help them!” (Proverbs 3:27).

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And then, there is the poor Mr Bruised Holier-than-Thou. They walked around with their eyes downcast to avoid looking at women, oblivious to the lustful devils reigning in their hearts, “But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28).

Can you imagine how unclean they would have been if they accidentally, mind you, touched a menstruating woman; not to mention a despised Gentile or Samaritan! Gross!!!

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The fourth group they identified was the Hunchbacks. They were not Quasimodo’s ancestors, but the guys who made a big show of trying to be humble.

Perhaps they were trying to win our Pappa’s favor and were well aware that, “God opposes the proud but favors the humble” (James 4:6).

What better way of showing off your humility than walking with a bent back! I am sure they had to endure excruciating back pain because of their hypocrisy.

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Close on Mr Hunch Back’s heels follows Mr Ever-Reckoning. This poor guy was a useless mathematician and was forever tallying his good and bad deeds.

This gentleman never seemed to get the scales to balance and was therefore never certain of his standing before our Pappa. What a God-forsaken place to be!

If you search well enough, you might find Mr Scary-Pants hiding in the closet. These guys were forever trying to hide from the wrath of our Pappa for they were lending out their itching ears to the enemy who slyly told them horror stories about their heavenly Father.

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They were convinced our Pappa was a monster looking for the slightest excuse to annihilate them. It does not seem as if these guys were familiar with the words of King David’s beautiful psalm, “But even in darkness I cannot hide from you” (Psalm 139).

Then there were also the ones who loved their Pappa and respected Him as their God. Nicodemus and Gamaliel were thought to be good examples of this group. The Kingdom of Heaven accommodates all kinds and flavors, it seems!

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Before we shake our heads in innocence, in self-righteousness and with a know-it-all smirk, let us do some serious introspection. Let us ask ourselves how many of these evil dwarfs are hiding in the remote niches of our hearts.

When I was lost in the Kingdom of Insecurity, I used to allow my good deeds to subtly slip into my conversations in the hope of convincing my fellow churchgoers that I was a good Christian.

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I knew my alleged enemies much better than I did my Lord Jesus. In fact, I knew them each by name: the demon called Rejection … Death … Insanity … Condemnation … Illness … Unbelief … Doubt … etc … and the worst of them all; Jezebel!

I was worse than the worst Scary-Pants and petrified of my Pappa, convinced He was a mean, exacting God expecting me to earn even His slightest smile.

I was totally deceived by the archenemy of humanity, Satan, who was conquering my mind with his greatest weapon: religion!

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Let us bare our hearts to the Light of Heaven, allowing Him to chase away and destroy all the gremlins incubating and hatching in the humid darkness of our souls.

Oh, that He would capture and destroy all those pestering little foxes who ruin the vineyard of our Love!

Let us come to Him with the candor of a little child assured of His waiting arms longing to envelop us in His Loving Embrace.

Much love and sweet blessings.

Mia

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Sly Deceptions

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God’s Thoughts to Me

Dear friends, 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 (1 John 4:1, NIV).

Test everything. Hold on to the good (1 Thessalonians 5:21, NIV).

The Noble Bereans

I used to be good friends with a lady who was a member of the Seventh-Day-Adventist Church. She had a very difficult childhood and subsequently grew up into a very insecure, vulnerable young woman.

The White Family

The White Family

When she desperately needed love, she met a few Seventh-Day-Adventists and they welcomed her with open arms. As she didn’t grow up in a church and didn’t know our Lord, she accepted their teachings and married their young pastor.

The founders of the Seventh-Day-Adventist Church were Ellen G White, her husband, James White and Joseph Bates. The Adventists consider the teachings of Mrs White, which are based on visions she apparently received from God, to be just, if not more, reliable and true as the Bible.

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These precious people are heavily bogged down under the yoke of legalism. Yet, they consider themselves to be the remnant spoken of in Revelation 12:17.

This belief can easily scare the living daylights out of a naive, gullible person, like my friend, and make them a life-long member of this church.

Their teachings are very dangerous and the fact that they celebrate their Sabbath on a Saturday, is only a small fish in the ocean of deception.

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My friend tried her utmost to convert me to Seventh-Day-Adventism, but when she realized she was wasting her time, she sadly ended our friendship. I did a thorough study of their teachings and our Pappa protected me from believing lies.

I am amazed how educated, intelligent people use a single Scripture verse as the basis for a whole new doctrine and subsequently a new church!

Just to give you an idea how easily a Scripture verse can be taken out of context and manipulated to create a whole new doctrine, I want to mention their teaching about dietary laws.

According to them it is sinful to eat pork, but conveniently ignore Paul’s warning, “So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink… (Colossians 2:16)”.

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When Peter received the vision from heaven of the sheet containing all the “unclean” animals, according to the Old Testament laws, our Pappa told Peter to eat these unclean food. We know our Lord wanted to show Peter that, contrary to their belief, He didn’t consider the Gentiles to be unclean.

The Seventh-Day-Adventist believe He was referring only to people and not animals! Pigs are still happy and safe in Jerusalem and amongst these folks! The dietary laws of the Old Testament are still operative to them today.

Their teachings made me realize how easily one can base many false, deceptive doctrines on a few Scripture verses taken out of context and by implication deceive millions of people. The fear factor and the false security it offers keep many earnest seekers of God chained to these false doctrines.

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The greatest danger lies in the fact that nearly every lie can be defended from Scripture and the adherents usually valiantly claim to be just as noble as the Bereans who eagerly listened to Paul and Silas and searched the Scriptures daily to if what they preached was in fact the truth.

When I came to realize that countless, terrible lies were being nobly taught straight from the Bible, I seriously looked at what the Bereans were really doing. I found the secret lying not in what they were doing, but in what Paul was preaching.

Paul and Silas were in Thessalonica before they came to Berea. There was a Jewish synagogue and for three Sabbaths in a row, Paul reasoned with these Jews.

He used the Torah to explain the prophecies about the Messiah who had to suffer and rise from the dead. He informed them that Jesus was this promised Messiah.

Jewish Children Learning The Torah

Jewish Children Learning The Torah

The Bereans were more open-minded than the Thessalonians and eagerly listened to what Paul was preaching. Yet, they didn’t just gobble-up everything Paul said, but searched their copy of the Torah daily to make sure of the truth of their words. Paul commended them for this (Act 17:11).

Paul warned the Thessalonians to test everything and only hold on to what is good and true. In the same manner we find John warning the believers not to believe every spirit, but to test the spirits to see whether they were from God. Even then many false prophets were claiming to preach the truth of Christ.

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Today were are in the midst of a great apostasy and we have greatly stifled the Holy Spirit’s gift of discernment. We believe left, right and centre everything that is taught in the name of our Lord Jesus without testing anything.

I know that if people are like me, we often cry this great battle cry of  “Sola Scriptura”. Yet, we are clueless about the battle we are so valiantly fighting for! No wonder the Roman Catholic papacy, at the time of Martin Luther, used to say that the Protestants only exchanged their idol of the Pope for another, the Scriptures!

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I invite you to accompany me as I investigate, like the Bereans, for another few posts and test a few of the subtle false spirits doing the rounds today and which are difficult to discern as falsehood.

I want to delve deep into the Gospel Paul was preaching and hold onto our Lord Jesus who is the only Way … the only Truth … and the only Life.

Blessings and love.

Mia

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The Sabbath Moon

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God’s Thoughts to Me

You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years (Galatians 4:10, NLT).

So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ Himself is that reality (Colossians 2:16-17, NLT).

The Shadows of the King

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In any democracy, the government has the privilege of governing the nation with righteousness, integrity and justice. The Cabinet is responsible for making laws that would be fair and beneficial to the citizens of the country.

Likewise, they can also withdraw any law from the statute books when it has served its purpose, is outdated or are not for the good of the people anymore. I was overjoyed when the apartheid laws were scrapped from the statute books of South Africa between 1990 and 1994.

In the same way, our Pappa God, the Author of the Ten Commandments, is the only Person with authority over the old covenant laws of Moses.

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Being the Lawmaker, He had all the right to be the “lawbreaker” as well by withdrawing any law that did not serve the Royal Law of Love.

Our Lord Jesus and the Pharisees were often in heated discussion about the observance of the Sabbath. This day was a gift from Pappa, a gift of rest from our physical, everyday labor to spend time with Him and our families.

It was also a gift to usher us into His emotional and spiritual rest, All in all, the Sabbath was just a shadow of our Lord who invites us to Him to experience rest from our labors and be under the favor of God.

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As with every religious heart, the Pharisees added a myriad of rules and regulations, man-made prohibitions and injunctions to the Sabbath law. They transformed this wonderful gift of grace into a legalistic, nightmarish horror.

When Jesus sojourned the earth, we find three instances where he confronted the hypocrisy of the religious Jews who were trying hard to retain their religious power and authority over the ordinary folk by smothering the Spirit of the Sabbath.

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When Jesus and His disciples were attending a Passover feast in Jerusalem, our Lord of mercy healed a paralytic of 38 years at the pool of Bethesda, meaning “house of mercy”.

The Pharisees were enraged by this poor fellow who had the audacity to break the Sabbath law by carrying the pallet!

At another occasion Jesus and the disciples were walking through some wheat fields on a Sabbath. According to Deuteronomy 23:25 they were allowed to pluck the heads of wheat with their hands, but not to harvest it with a sickle.

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Well, the disciples made use of this concession and were harassed by the Pharisees who accused them of breaking the law by harvesting, and that on a Sabbath!

The third time our Lord of love and compassion, was in a synagogue when He noticed a man with a deformed hand. The Pharisees were watching Him with a hawk’s eye.

According to the law, you were allowed to save someone’s life on the holy day! When they questioned the Lord on what was permissible on a Sabbath, Jesus turned the tables on them by making doing good and saving a life two sides of the same coin.

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A deformed hand was not a life-threatening illness. Yet, if one of their sheep were to fall into a pit on the Sabbath, they would rush to save their asset.

We find the anger of our Pappa burning within Jesus towards the hypocrisy and inconsistency of their hardened religious hearts.

These blind men considered themselves the experts in leading the blind into the Kingdom of our heavenly Father. Yet, they had no inkling of their own blindness.

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They were leading these poor folk straight onto the highway to hell. They hated the only Way and Truth and Life and ferociously tried to get rid of this Man called Jesus.

I used to condemn these Pharisees for their hatred against our Lord Jesus until I realized that for a long time, I used to be exactly the same.

The denomination I attended as a child taught me that a prayer meeting was against our Lord’s command, to go to your inner room and close the door when you prayed.

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We were boxed into a religious closet. An invitation to a personal relationship with our Pappa became a man-made rule.

At communion we sat next to a long table where the pastor would break a loaf of bread and then hand out pre-cut pieces. We drank the wine from a big silver communion cup. Sitting in the pews were against the way our Lord taught us in the Upper Room.

Truth be told, I enjoyed the big gulp I could take of the delicious sherry that was served and we didn’t have to wash all those little glasses afterwards!

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Apart from that, I still don’t know why we did what we did in the way that we did it. I just know that I looked down on those who didn’t do things our way.

I have found that all the different denominations have their own set of rules and regulations that made their particular brand the best and most correct on the religious market.

Although differences in the style of liturgy is not wrong in and of itself, it does earn our Pappa’s stern disapproval when it replaces the unity in the Holy Spirit of love. Of that, everyone needs to be their own judge.

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Dear ones, let us all take a heart inventory, asking our Pappa to uproot all the secret and stubborn laws hiding in the rocky ground of our hearts.

Let us allow Him to destroy all those weeds preventing the tiny mustard seed of faith to sprout and bloom into a mighty tree of life.

Love and blessings

Mia

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A House of Cards

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God’s Thoughts to Me

A promise from God is not a challenge to man to assist God in bringing the promise to pass, despite the abominable religious cliches that say, “God helps those who help themselves; “Do your best and God will do the rest (James Fowler, The Galatians Series).

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and DO NOT let yourself be burdened again in a yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1, NIV).

The Spirit of Freedom

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I used to be a master in the art of persuasion. In fact, I did the daughters of Eve proud! The saying goes that practice makes perfect.

So, through practice and practice and some more practice, I perfected my skill in trying to convince my husband to do things my way, or why he needed to buy me another necessary trinket I did not need.

Using my womanly wiles was, after all, an integral part of my spirited womanhood. My husband though, called it manipulation and nagging.

Why do men always get it wrong? I nearly caused my dear husband to become an attic dweller.

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I used to be just as bad as the Judaizers who caused the poor Paul premature grey hair when they manipulated the foolish Galatians by perverting the sweet gospel of grace.

They were shearing the sheep for their own gain, dampening the beautiful Spirit of freedom the Galatian Christians enjoyed in our Lord Jesus.

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They came like a thief in the night after Paul left, convincing them that Paul’s gospel was true and right, but they also needed to keep the old Judaic religious laws. These Mosaic law-abiding Jews drooled over circumcision.

Paul was not friendly in his attack on these guys and suggested they rather go and castrate themselves, if they were so obsessed with a foreskin, and leave the Galatian Christians alone.

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He didn’t mince words when he showed them the futility of reverting back to the spirit of law by building a religious house of cards.

In his letter he once and for all demolished the misconception that grace and law were bedfellows.

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He made it crystal clear that their fence-sitting caused them to be cut off from Christ, cut of from grace. They had to choose!

Studying the letter to the Galatians , I was surprised by a very interesting point. I was taught that the Arab nations, especially the Muslims, were the descendants of Ishmael and the Jews were the descendants of Isaac.

i have found this to be untrue! Paul told the Galatians that holding on to their Judaic religion,  and all religion through the ages, caused them to be children, descendants, of Hagar the bondswoman.

On the other hand; all the people who trust our Pappa God alone to save them through His grace, are the children, descendants, of Sarah, the free woman, the woman who never went into labour. Allow me to explain.

Looking at the human race, we see that even Abraham had the tendency to help our Pappa fulfilling His promises.

When the infertile Sarah nagged him to have a child by her Egyptian maid, Hagar, the poor man capitulated! I suppose Bedouin tents did not have attics!

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It was quite an acceptable and moral practise in their culture. Ishmael was born as a result and we found Abraham pleading with his Father to accept Ishmael as his promised heir. All, of course, to no avail.

When we look at the two women and their sons, we see that they represent the two covenants. Hagar and Ishmael represent the covenant of Law, mans effort to fulfill God’s promises.

Sarah and Isaac stand for the covenant of grace, God doing what He does well, fulfilling His promises without human interference.

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Paul explained that the Covenant of the Mosaic Law, “… came from Mount Sinai, bearing children who are slaves; she is Hagar (Galatians 4:24)”.

Yet, the Judaizers were convinced they were the descendants of Sarah. Actually they boasted in their heritage of being descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through their genealogical heritage and law-observance.

But Paul turned their whole theory upside down and with a little huffing and puffing, blew their religious house of cards away.

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Paul also dropped a bomb in my religious belief system, for I was convinced that trying to do my best in assisting my Pappa to redeem me from my captivity to the kingdom of darkness, made me the proud owner of the honorary title “Descendant of Abraham”.

Not so! All my trying, striving and coniving helping our Pappa to save His world and myself, only resulted in me being captured by the spirit of bondage.

I was a slave, a descendant of Hagar and Ishmael, wallowing in the mud of self.

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Only by entering through the narrow gate, our Lord Jesus, into the freedom of His resurrected life, do we become heirs of the promises our heavenly Father made to Abraham and His descendant, our Lord Jesus, who lives in us through His Spirit (Galatians 3:16).

Dear Ones, let us search our hearts, asking our Pappa to eradicate any traces of the spirit of Hagar and Ishmael still lurking in the recesses of our minds and the murky corners of our hearts!

Let us ask Him to lead us out of the bondage to law-observance and self-effort into the freedom of His grace.. His forgiveness … His love … His mercy. Come, let us allow Him to usher us into His Kingdom of Light … into the joy of His Loving Embrace.

Much love XX

Mia

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