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What’s Wrong With this Picture?



As a child I remember a learning game that recently came to mind while thinking about a New Testament letter.

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is an interesting study in human nature and in what he believed it means to be followers of Christ— together.

From his opening words he is focused on what it means to be a people centered in all that Christ has done for us. But as he continues he fairly quickly gives his readers reason to say. What’s wrong this picture? On page after page Paul paints word pictures that seemed to alarm him.

Everything leads up to what may be the most wonderful love song ever written.

As Paul continues it’s clear that he thinks he knows what’s missing and what it means to be followers of Christ— together.

Yet as Paul finishes up his letter he leaves us a final word picture that he says he’s giving his readers in his own handwriting. Here’s what he says: “I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Our Lord, come! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen” (1Cor 16:22).

“Let him be accursed?” “Anathema”? What’s wrong with this picture?

Did Paul really say, “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed”? Seems to me that this is an example of how we need to do more than read inspired words on a page but to ask, what is the writer thinking? How could the writer of such a great love song— and challenge to divisive thinking— write that?

Am reminded of something else Paul wrote back in chapter 11 where he describes the way followers of Christ are drinking too much, insulting one another, and missing the whole point of breaking bread together around “the Lord’s Table”.

Yet Paul introduces their behavior in remembering Jesus’ death by saying, “There must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” (1Cor 11:19)


Ant Sculpture on Atlanta Airport Ceiling

Once again how could Paul write a letter emphasizing the importance of “Christian unity” and love while acknowledging that there is a place for divisive behavior, and a time to say,“If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed”? Could Paul possibly be writing that “in love”?

Is this a game of “what’s missing in this picture”, or something far more serious… and worth thinking about together?

Hint: Both chapter and verse and reading between the lines is at the heart of reading and understanding the Bible.

Click on photo at left for airport display background

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95 Responses to “What’s Wrong With this Picture?”

  1. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart and Friends —

    I wonder as I look at the luggage carousel and the ants depicted on the ceiling of the Atlanta Airport — do we (did the congregation in Corinth) — move by habit, by rote and mindless instinct? Or, do we consider one another as we live out this faith, hope and love Christ offers us?

    Paul wants so much more for the saints in Corinth. It’s a tough, worldly town. He wants Jesus-followers to point the way for many who see their life together. He wants the seed sown as something perishable to be transformed into something imperishable. In the unity of the Holy Spirit we are changed from dishonor to glory — from our own weakness to Christ’s power.

    It seems to me the reports Paul is getting from Corinth are alarming. Life inside the church resembles life out in the streets of the city. Church is different from a pagan temple. That’s what’s wrong with the picture.

    If we are not living out faith, hope and love, then we are not impacting our culture or the lives of those to whom we bring the Gospel. People learn love by experiencing God’s love in the midst of the saints.

    As on a baggage carousel, there is a reckoning. Stray luggage will be removed — and if unclaimed, it will be disposed of. I believe Paul wants the Corinthians to wake up to the urgency of their accountability to Christ. Are we His — or not?


  2. poohpity says:

    I would say it was in love that Paul addressed the church in Corinth. He addressed the adultery, taking the Lord’s supper in an unworthy manner or maybe not taking it at all, the way they were treating each other and yes he was asking, “What is wrong with Picture?”. It seems they were followers of Christ in word only but their hearts seemed to be far away from God. But with Paul’s conclusion he seemed to realize that it was beyond his abilities no matter how much he tried to correct them that God is the ultimate judge and asked for the Lord to come quickly.

    If the tares remain in a church without correction it will bring the whole church down. So this was what we call today “tough love”. If God loves us and knows our hearts leaving us undisciplined to continue in a downward spiral is it really love? Love is having the best interest of the one loved in mind and God seems to want the church as a whole to live what they say they believe for the betterment of ALL.

    It would be nice if a person who has a heart for God could lead others to Him but what seems to happen is that those who do not have a heart for God seem to attract others who do not have a heart towards God then it has a domino effect dragging others into a pit which has far worse consequences than just understanding “what’s wrong with this picture” it can destroy the very body of Christ and the unity among those who do actually follow the Lord.

  3. SFDBWV says:

    Nothing quite as embarrassing as someone who reads the headlines of a story without reading the content and making their mind up concerning the matter without the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say; “page two”.

    All the way back in Deuteronomy chapters 26-31 Moses gives testimony as to what to expect when we do as God requires and when we don’t; “blessings and curses”.

    Paul loved those he brought the message of salvation to and as part of that love like a good father he also warned them of the dangers in not heeding his message.

    A warning of a life lived without Christ in our hearts.

    However it is God who will judge all after death and God alone. So I must remember not to make snap judgements without the rest of the story as well.


  4. joycemb says:

    This OT prophecy seems to be in line with what Mart is talking about. We do have a responsibility to live out our walk with God in a way that honors Him. Our actions, our lives are testament to all that God has done for us. As we honored the dead this past weekend with wreaths, flowers, and kind words we who live can honor our risen Lord and savior through our honoring of one another also.

    Malachi 3:13-18New Living Translation (NLT)

    13 “You have said terrible things about me,” says the Lord.

    “But you say, ‘What do you mean? What have we said against you?’

    14 “You have said, ‘What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the Lord of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins? 15 From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.’”

    The Lord’s Promise of Mercy
    16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name.

    17 “They will be my people,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. 18 Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”

    New Living Translation (NLT)
    Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

  5. jeff1 says:

    The one thing I have learned is that human nature does not listen to warnings because when they believe they are doing the will of God they do not see the need for them.

    My father like Paul tried to warn us of listening to leaders who where claiming to know the will of God but not acting in ways according to Christ’s teaching.

    This country is an example of what not to do as godly warnings where ignored and men’s hearts where far from Christ’s teaching.

    Personally in my heart I believe God has forgiven me but when my mind becomes disturbed I run from Him in fear of His judgement; because I know that unlike my father who held himself accountable to God; I failed to obey His commands, and brought judgement on myself, but like you say Steve I cannot know God’s punishment until after death but I can trust in His justice and mercy just like Christ was to the sinner on the cross there is always hope because of Christ.

  6. joycemb says:

    Thinking about tares and wheat; I think Marts point is that the wheat have a responsibility to shine more brightly in difficulty. Jesus did say “let them grow together.” Let them; consequences will come. Is it the job of the wheat to continually criticize others who they perceive as tares? That’s not loving. Learning this myself.

    Thank you Mart for your loving guidance.

  7. joycemb says:

    Paul said. “Let them be accursed”. Yes, God is holy and they will be accursed by default. Jesus said, “Get away from me, I never knew you”. Let God be God. Those who think they know everything are in grave danger of becoming “like God”. And we know the consequences of that first sinful decision.

    See others as better than ourselves as Paul taught. The way of love is humility.

    Still learning here.

  8. jeff1 says:

    Thinking sacrifice is humility in action as Jesus sacrificed for us then it is for us to do the same for others but without complaining or being critical.

    I believe this takes a lot of taking to God because I cannot do this without Him. I get exhausted when I try and burn out so there is a drawing strength from God in order to comply.

    Thinking Paul was right I followed a man who talked the talk but did not walk the walk while my own father was a genuine follower by his actions and not his words for I never heard my father say ‘I told you so’ but wanted you to learn from your mistakes so that you did not repeat them and that is what I see as a genuine follower.

    There is much more to knowing God than just faith when you start to look beneath the surface of our beliefs.

  9. poohpity says:

    Yes Paul gave some very specific guidelines about holding brothers/sisters accountable. He even said do not hang around those who’s hearts are not fixed on God yet call themselves Christians to even cast them out of your midst because of the damage it can cause within the body. Not only Paul but Peter and John also said that. Now they were not talking about non-believers. If Paul would have never confronted the things going on in that church by turning a blind eye to it 2 Cor would not have been written. It is better if one reads 1 Corinthians to see all the areas that he was speaking about that was bringing ruin to that newly formed church.

  10. joycemb says:

    I see the same problems pooh in today’s church so how are they different? If there are differences then what “God” are we serving today, or did I misunderstand you?

  11. SFDBWV says:

    When I first read the subject late this morning, my first thought as to Mart’s “hint” is that this is wide open to the reader’s imagination and not necessarily anything else.

    Reading between the lines is very dangerous territory and one that produces false doctrines as well as cults.

    I once had a woman who volunteered to help me with the youth group I was leading at our church at the time, who thought it a waste of time to read the OT, because according to her thinking the message of salvation is found only in the New.

    Yet Jesus quotes Deuteronomy more than any other OT Book in His ministry. And used it to address all of His “points”.

    I guess the question is just how are we to deal with what seems to be contrasting statements from “Paul”, and are they actually contradicting themselves or not? Should it be left to our “intellect” or level of understanding to “read between the lines” or is what isn’t said answered somewhere else in Scripture? The matter just being a lack of our knowledge of Scripture?

    The Eastern Orthodox Faith has an interesting statement regarding the question as to why God isn’t speaking to us today as He did in the Biblical days. They claim that God has already said all He needs to in the Scripture, we just have to “listen”.

    Just wanted to stop in a minute and speak my mind.

    I worry about Gary as his absence these past few subjects is felt and missed.


  12. jeff1 says:

    I think that God does still speak to us today but it is not just in Scripture because today there are believers like myself who have little knowledge of Scripture but know God speaks to them in nature, music and the heart.

    You are right though we do have to listen because God is gentle in spirit and it is difficult to get quiet time in this busy and noisy world to hear Him.

    It is the quiet time I spend with God that gives me strength and hope that He never forsakes me because unlike men God keeps His promises.

  13. street says:

    had an interesting conversation with my bother-in-law today. we were talking about the people being unhappy when in Ecclesiastes even though they are rich and have everything or have a good grip on creation. he mention that psychologist figure there are three things the make for happy people. they need something to do something to hope for and something to love. he went on to say people tend to do ok when one thing goes bad, but when 2 or all go bad it get really bad. it seems to me faith is the do part the hope and love still need to be figured out. i can see why paul says let them be accursed. isn’t love a thank you? how about love in adversity? creation is passing away with our flesh, yet love remains forever.

  14. street says:

    jeff said,”…God does still speak to us today …”
    dear jeff you write pretty coherent sentences i can understand. it tells me you can also read and are a pretty good reader. i ask you who made your mind and gifted you with reading and writing? your telling me God can not speak through the Bible and His Spirit He put in you? you sound a little like abraham arguing with God about your physical abilities. God is not handicapped with children or adults. we tend to get in the way. it’s no wonder things don’t change till we deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow the God of creation. remember His is love is incredible!!!

  15. street says:

    10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

    God is not dead. He is preparing a people for Himself.

  16. poohpity says:

    Joyce, yes the same things are happening in churches today whenever people are involved the same things that were written thousands of years ago still happen today but the church seems to have become apathetic. The church I went to for 23 years had asked someone in the church to leave because he was involved with the financial ministry and was married but had affairs with the women he was supposed to be helping but later after time and counseling was restored to the congregation. That is the purpose of discipline in hopes of bringing restoration for people getting back on track. That is what happened with the church in Corinth.

    Most things we read in scripture have the story line continued maybe in another part. But most do not bother to check out the whole story and see how interwoven it is with other parts. That is why context is the key. God does not give up on us but hopes in to restore our broken relationships with Him and others. There does not seem to be any lost causes in His kingdom but the person needs to have the desire, first to admit when wrong and own it, not blaming others then humbly seek restoration.

    But the warnings from those who came before us tell us to draw back from those who may lead us astray but over our adult life we already know that to be true. Who one hangs around with that is usually what one will begin to act like. Paul never seemed to go into this accountability thing without first acknowledging his own tendency to sin as well. I have not read that he ever had an holier than tho attitude. 1 Cor 10:12

  17. poohpity says:

    Jesus taught the same thing as Paul taught Matt 18:15-17 NLT and 2 Cor 12:21-13:3 NLT

  18. joycemb says:

    “Bad company corrupts good morals”, an old proverb I was thinking today about a friend who is forever trying to lead me down the wrong road. Yet, a believer. Go figure. Ha.

    Reconciliation amongst believers Is God’s will, although it’s not always as easy as reading a short passage in scripture makes it sound. Sometimes it takes years, a lifetime even, or maybe never on this side of eternity.

  19. joycemb says:

    I treat my friend with love and patience. Mart, I know you to be the same with us on this blog. Bless you.

  20. jeff1 says:

    Street, I am not telling you God does not speak through the Bible but also He speaks to those who do not read the Bible through nature, music and the heart.

    What I am saying is that it is God who finds a way to communicate with us showing what a truly personal, mysterious and loving God He is.

    I do believe in suffering for the Kingdom and have accepted what my father always told me that suffering is necessary because Christ suffered.

    Knowing I am saved is enough for me and God is not angry that I do not read the bible or He would not be communicating to me in other ways.

    Each must walk their own walk and find peace with God until eternity and another cannot do that for them.

  21. poohpity says:

    Living a life as a Christ follower, going against the teaching of the world has never been an easy road to walk that is why we need help. ;-) It is not reading passages it is living out and experiencing what we read and yes some of it takes an eternity.

  22. joycemb says:

    Viv before I gave my life to Jesus I knew God through music and nature also. It was a stepping stone if you will that eventually led me to a personal relationship with God. My heart was too wicked to reveal God to me. But He changed my heart. That’s my experience. I rarely read my Bible (even though I was teaching Sunday School), but quit teaching when I knew God as I could not continue knowing so little about Him, and that the only way I was going to know Him was through scripture. After all, it’s all about Him. I devoured the Bible for years and still have a passion for learning/growing in grace. It will not mislead you, if you have a genuine desire to know God. blessings, Joyce

  23. Regina says:

    Good Evening, All
    Pray all is well in your lives. Haven’t read this blog topic yet, but I’m sure I’ll have time before Mart moves on to a new one. I tried to comment on the previous blog yesterday, but I kept getting some type of error message. SO glad to be able to log on today! Well, I just stopped by to say hello for now, and looking forward to chatting with yall later on.

    78 degrees and partly cloudy at dusk in my neck of the woods…

    LOVE to all,

  24. street says:

    dear jeff i think of martin luther who read the Bible and studied it ruthlessly. not only did he study it and God bless him with understanding, he connected the dots and the practices of the society he lived in, namely the church. he noticed extreme and flagrant ignorance and outright sin within the church that lead to the reformation. did it end sin, no. did it bring freedom, yes. did it solve all our problems, no. did it draw us closer to God and what He expects of us, yes. i love that word expectation, drives me crazy. i connect it with law keeping. i think expectation works out better with love. i guess one of the most painful parts of reading the Bible is looking in the mirror, makes one want to die. the best part of reading the Bible is seeing God unveiled. bitter sweet.

  25. street says:

    Seems to me that this is an example of how we need to do more than read inspired words on a page but to ask, what is the writer thinking? How could the writer of such a great love song— and challenge to divisive thinking— write that?

    not hard to understand that a person that has no regard for God, who payed a debt you could not pay, would still be under the curse of death spoken in the garden so long ago. death as we know it it separation of spirit of man from the body. the Bible talks about separation for God the source of life good and love. thinking of greatest command involves the death of self, yet we live. love for the One Who first loved us.

  26. street says:

    i think of the lepers who discovered the army that set up for war against jerusalem realized they would be killed if they did not share good news with those who were starving in the city from a long war. there was food and plenty outside the gate. they provided for themselves and then turned to those who needed it most. it could cost you your life anyway, but the good news promises you will never die. abraham believed against the impossible. thinking abraham’s faith did not happen over night but decades. at least the finale test. we are told we would be tested.

  27. joycemb says:

    Street I’ve been studying I Cor. 11:19 passage Mart brought up. I’d never really noticed it before now. You bring up testing, death of self. Could this be a vehicle God uses to prove who are His? Poor word, vehicle. I’m too tired to think anymore tonight. I do think there is a connection though. Good night.

  28. jeff1 says:

    Joyce and Street, I have no doubts that your desire to read the bible and know God has pure motives but I knew too many who believed they desired to know God but instead they desired to align the teaching to suit their beliefs and consequently in a country which was known to be christian all hell broke loose.

    I was brought up with the ten commandments and obedience and that if I failed to keep them then the wrath of God would be upon me.

    I ended up believing that because of disobedience my bad choices was God punishing me.

    I spent my life running away from God and to some extent still am because I cannot get it out of the back of my mind that God punishes disobedience and now I just want to be punished so that I have atoned for my sins and God will not be angry with me when I finally breathe my last.

    I spent my life among religious people and was one myself to find that Jesus Himself in His time was against the religious people of His time and nothing much has changed because I now find myself doubting that I have ever been on Jesus’s side.

    My earthly father’s life is what proved to me that Jesus does not do religion because my father warned me of following religious men who said they where doing God’s will when they where in fact doing their own will.

    I learned from my own father (God rest Him) that following Jesus is about discerning when you are being led by the spirit or being led by the nose because He had seen me being led by the nose and when I hit rock bottom it was my earthly father who was there for me because He understood God as I never did!

    My father never studied the bible but never was critical of others whether they were believers or not because He knew that being a follower meant that when you examined yourself in all truth you never had the right to judge anyone.

    My father knew that as follower we where all equally damned and all equally saved and supporting each other in our weaknesses was what God intended us to do but just like in the early church many choose to play God instead of listening to God.

  29. street says:

    Acts 22:14
    “Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth.

  30. street says:

    Colossians 1:27
    To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

  31. street says:

    Colossians 3:12
    Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

  32. street says:

    James 2:5
    Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?

  33. street says:

    Revelation 17:14
    They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”

  34. street says:

    dear jeff the foreboding of sin and punishment are normal for people, it’s the ones who are so harden that no longer feel this impending doom. as a christian i look at myself and see what i am and i really am repulsive. throw in the fear of past failures along with knowing there will be more. will God forsake me???
    then i look at Jesus and the cross, what He has done for me and will do for me. read recently about God asking,” can these bones live?” i was dead bones, made alive in Christ the Author and Finisher of my faith that was given to me by the foreknowledge and counsel of God. i think of asa and how he walked with God and shortly before he died withdrew from him for what ever reason. this scares me more than anything. paul wrote about God being able to protect what is entrust to Him against that day. faith hope and love. our doing our future and our motive.
    jeff i know you have seen and heard many bad things and they do bring fear….thinking asa illness and wars late in his life were God’s tender compassionate faithful loving discipline to an erring child He was will to die for. God’s arm is not short or weak. the earth is filled with His Glory!

  35. joycemb says:

    As you said street, as long as there is “fear” of failing, Christ is enough and will keep us. Where there is no fear of God, that’s when real failure occures.

  36. street says:

    the Bible is your lifecast.
    don’t be afraid He will come.
    you will hear,
    you will see,
    and understand.

    He promised and he keeps His word.

  37. street says:

    thinking the cross we take up daily keeps us where we need to be….when we lay it down or drop it is where we really get in trouble. they say if you develop a habit you will generally stick with it. the habit of faith, habit of hope habit of love in God not the creation.

  38. jeff1 says:

    Honoring God is what matters for I failed God when I did not honor Him as my father honored Him.

    I am thinking of how my father knew that we in NI were bringing on our own suffering by not honoring God. It was not disbelief on my part but lack of respect for God because I went along with mob rule and disobeyed not only my own father but God in allowing myself to be led by the nose instead of by the spirit.

    I worry that it is a weakness in me that was not in my Dad for we have different strengths and weaknesses and that is why I take refuge in Christ rather than looking to understand God because the truth is He seems complicated to me but it came easy to my father, he understood without trying whereas the more I try to get it right the more I seem to get it wrong.

  39. SFDBWV says:

    Any attentive parent knows that a child will test them whereas parental controls are in place. Any jailer will tell you that prisoners quickly learn how to use the system to their advantage. It is human nature to get by with whatever they can.

    Why would anyone think that there would be any difference in human thinking and their adherence to their “faith”?

    Lawyers are professionals at looking for loopholes in the law, most people are just amateurs at it.

    Why contracts are written in such long drawn out complicated terms is because people are always looking for cracks in order to widen the gap and even change the entire content of the document.

    Very sadly the Bible is no exception to the onslaught of people trying to make it say something it doesn’t.

    I personally think it very simple. Believe that Jesus of Nazareth is Lord, trust in Him, obey those simple ten commandments, as Jesus said, if you show love to others you are already in obedience to those ten “laws”. When you slip up or even if you aren’t sure, ask forgiveness and try harder to be the good person you want to be. Sure sometimes it is a struggle, but in the process you are changing more and more into the person you strive to be.

    Listen more to your heart and to what Scripture may say to you than what others tell you, you should be doing and keep in prayer all the time.

    Obviously you can’t help but see the difference between “good” people and “bad” especially within the Church. Be grateful you can tell the difference, because that is the Holy Spirit leading you into righteousness.

    This really is not all that complicated.

    On a more personal note; Viv I think you do very well in being Christian, try not to be so hard on yourself, you are more like the father you speak of than you might imagine.


  40. poohpity says:

    As with those pictures that Mart posted the first, depending on how you look at, it can seem like the corner is either going inward or outward until you look at the bottom one and see what the artist had intended. The first is just a piece and my eyes play tricks with it so my perspective can be different. That can be the same with how we look at people or even God not how they truly are but how I look at it from my perspective. My perspective can be tainted by the experiences in my life or really just not having enough information to make an informed decision.

    That can happen with the bible as well. People can throw pieces around, like the top picture, and not understand the whole. The same when one writes a letter to someone, it is important to find out what the purpose or goal of the letter is, when and to whom it was written that makes it more understandable. BUT if pieces are taken out from a person reading it to prove their point then the intention of the original author gets totally lost most often.

  41. remarutho says:

    Good Morning BTA Friends —

    The door of the church (house-church or cathedral) is a place of mixing of faith and doubt — even faith and unbelief. There are always ants at a picnic — flies on the sandwiches — bees in the lemonade.

    That much, it seems to me, has not changed in two thousand years. Paul did say, “If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be a curse.”

    There is a parting of the ways. Either the unbeliever will be transformed — or (s)he will be removed. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when He said:

    “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles.” (Matthew 10:16, 17, 18)

    There is nothing wrong with the picture of Jesus-followers holding fast to the truth of the Gospel inside and outside the church.

    Can it be that holding to the truth is dangerous wherever you make your stand? Is the church making fatal compromises with the world to preserve itself as an institution? Just asking.

    Blessings all day,

    57F and cloudy here

  42. joycemb says:

    Dear Viv,
    Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not here yet. TODAY is all we really have. Live today, forgive and forget yesterday’s mistakes. Fix your eyes on the one who loves you better than anyone ever could or can; Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith.

  43. poohpity says:

    Steve, where did Jesus say to obey the ten commandments? Didn’t He say to obey my commands? If He thought we could obey the 10 commandments then would he have ever needed to go to the Cross? God never even expected Israel to obey even when they were given to Moses or He would never have had the sacrificial system put in place. So trying to obey them does not make any one good because no one has ever been able to obey them. There is no good or bad people just sinners one and all. That was the Old Covenant and those who believe in Jesus live in the New Covenant. You can not put new wine in an old wine skin it just doesn’t work.

  44. poohpity says:

    Maru, to go along with your thoughts about Paul saying that about being cursed remember what Jesus said in, Matt 18:6; Mk 6:42; Luke 17:2. Wasn’t Paul pretty much saying the same thing to those in the Church in Corinth that they were causing the others to stumble by allowing those things to continue in the church there bringing the world into and not doing anything about it?

  45. poohpity says:

    lol Mark 9:42

  46. street says:

    If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed.

    Deuteronomy 7:10
    But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.

    i think of the story of the prophet who told a woman she would have a son, a son she did not ask for. of coarse she accepted this son and requested this would not lead to false hope. later the son died. as you can imagine she was greatly upset. she went directly to the prophet and confronted him with this false hope. the prophet sent his assistant and was no help. finally the prophet went and interceded for the woman and son on their behalf. the son was restored. and they both knew the prophet belonged to God and spoke for Him.

    this woman went to the prophet of God for help and received life for herself and her son. will we not receive no less than when we go to Jesus, The Son of God.

    thinking the devil is a bait and switch operator. he promises things that do not achieve what was hoped for, false hope. to ascribing to God such practices is an untenable position and is a reproach to His Character. to say He doesn’t love us? what is the basis of your unbelief? love is kind, love is patient, love is gracious, love is merciful love is extraordinary! we get the hate,unkindness, inpatients, un-thankfulness, condemnation, from the world and our flesh. it is good to crucify the world and the flesh daily….just be careful to ascribe the fruit of the Spirit to God.

  47. jeff1 says:

    Thank you Joyce as always you give me good counsel and I am getting better at living for today and not worrying about tomorrow. I take the focus off myself and my mistakes and trust God with the future and the more I keep practicing it will come more natural to me.

    It makes me feel better if I do something worthwhile so I do some charity work and I have volunteered to help our Clergyman with his office work since he has no one.

    My mind is in a good enough place at the moment but I have inherited my mother’s instability as opposed to my father’s stability and it was a struggle for my mum and my brother who are both deceased now so I need very much to focus on God’s love for me rather than living in the past.

    It is so good to share here and not feel judged or criticized for my failures but understood that I just want to get it right so that I honor God and be a better human being in the process.

    I think of the words of this song when I am struggling and I find it gives me peace of mind.

    I’m only human I’m just a man
    Help me to believe in what I could be and all that I am
    Show me the stairway that I have to climb
    Lord for my sake teach me to take one day at a time.

    One day at a time sweet Jesus that’s all I’m asking from you
    Give me the strength to do every day what I have to do
    Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus tomorrow may never be mine
    So for my sake help me to take one day at at time.

    Do you remember when you walked among men
    Well Jesus you know if you’re looking below its worse now than then
    Pushing and shoving and crowding my mind
    So for my sake teach me to take one day at a time.

    One day at a time sweet Jesus that’s all I’m asking from you
    Give me the strength to do everyday what I have to do
    Yesterday’s gone sweet Jesus and tomorrow may never be mine
    So for my sake teach me to take one day at a time.

    Yes, just for my sake teach me to take one day at a time…

  48. poohpity says:

    Viv, all of us are broken vessels some acknowledge it while others don’t but there will always be some area that only the grace of God can cover.

    Most only say part of The Serenity Prayer but here is the full version;

    The Serenity Prayer

    God grant me the serenity
    To accept the things I cannot change;
    Courage to change the things I can;
    And wisdom to know the difference.

    Living one day at a time;
    Enjoying one moment at a time;
    Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
    Taking, as He did, this sinful world
    As it is, not as I would have it;
    Trusting that He will make all things right
    If I surrender to His Will;
    So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
    And supremely happy with Him
    Forever and ever in the next.

  49. poohpity says:

    If any of you have time read Ephesians 2:11-4:16 NLT and see this is what Paul’s desire is for the believer so maybe we can look at the accursed part with a different perspective.

  50. jeff1 says:

    I think Pooh that the difficulty is recognizing we are broken vessels that in itself can take Godly discernment.

    It was Joyce who made me realize that when life is good I can too easily forget about God and believe I am my own vessel.

    It is accepting that God allows hardships for my own good that can be difficult.

    I can remember my father saying when I ask him about so much suffering in the world that Christ suffered and we should expect no less.

    My father believed that to follow Jesus means “Ours is not to reason why. Ours is but to do and die”.

    I have to say my father practiced what he believed for he never complained in adversity but seen away through it.

    We followers are not so unlike the military who do much the same in the service of their country hoping that the end justifies the means.

    The difference being that God has already won the victory and for those of us who share in the suffering the victory will be so much sweeter.

  51. joycemb says:

    Viv we are all-all of us humans-more alike than we are different. Sin messed us all up but Jesus chose to die for all of us; even those who think they are without sin :-).

  52. street says:

    maru said,”do we (did the congregation in Corinth) — move by habit, by rote and mindless instinct? ”

    i do know ants leave scent trail for others to follow. i also know when more ants travel the same trail it looks like a column or highway and the stronger sent act like a fence. i do know with Jesus, the trail less traveled, we need to pay closer attention. if you will, we can not use are senses to follow Him,our common sense or rationalization. it is not impossible. He did provide people, circumstance, stories, His Word, and grace. He even gave us a Guide. press on.

  53. poohpity says:

    Paul seemed to have a love for the church that it would be mindful and fixed on Jesus and the Gospel and like any parent only wanted the best for the church that was planted in Corinth. If I walked in on my children having a drunken, orgy and beating up people with their words and actions, I certainly without a doubt would say and do something that it would never happen again. The only difference with which Paul was saying is that he has not the right to punish them all for breaking the fellowship within that church, that he left into the hands of God.

  54. jeff1 says:

    Thinking Joyce how I used to believe when I was trying to keep the commandments that I was sin free and it was only by learning more about God that I realized there was no such a thing as being sin free.

    Yes, all of us need Jesus to save us and thankfully God accomplished that and we who know that have been very blessed and I must not let those who do not know it steal my joy but be at peace with God who will make all things well as He promised.

  55. joycemb says:

    Viv I agree with your plan. We can have inner peace with God but that seems to get tested daily. So much to take in with our senses. But no matter what is going on around us we can be victors instead of victims when Jesus is fighting for and with us. Yay!

  56. joycemb says:

    For you Viv:

    Isaiah 42:3 NLT

    He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. He will bring justice to all who have been wronged.

  57. street says:

    poo i think your right on the punishment part in the church poo. we have no right to punish and the measure we use will be used against us. one interesting point of Jesus life is He never killed anyone while on mission to please His Father and be the Lamb of God. love kindness grace are supreme. it’s hard to remember that sometimes. God promises to make all things new. looking forward to a new body and strength. where’s my cross?

  58. street says:

    thanks jeff poo maru and mart, much to be thankful for.

  59. joycemb says:

    What’s wrong with this picture?

    Here’s the remedy and Gods will for us:

    John 17:21-23King James Version (KJV)

    21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

    22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

    23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

    King James Version (KJV)
    Public Domain

  60. joycemb says:

    I Peter 3:8 NLT

  61. street says:

    dear mart there is always a monkey wrench thrown into the mix and i look at one today and marvel.

    19 When Jehoshaphat king of Judah returned safely to his palace in Jerusalem, 2 Jehu the seer, the son of Hanani, went out to meet him and said to the king, “Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the Lord? Because of this, the wrath of the Lord is on you.

    i understand we are to love God and if we love anything in the world it will be used to provoke God to jealousy.

    the next line 3 There is, however, some good in you, for you have rid the land of the Asherah poles and have set your heart on seeking God.”

    this is saying there could be good in me when Jesus says only God is good, meaning God can live in mankind.
    these verse fly in the face of what some people think love the sinner not the sin. be Holy for I Am Holy comes to mind. having a job moment. hope i do not cause any to stumble.

  62. street says:

    Isaiah 40:27-31

  63. street says:

    Deuteronomy 7:1-26

    Deuteronomy 8:1-20

  64. street says:

    ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29:11

    and to love you forever!!!

  65. street says:

    thinking some more…..if seeking the Lord is good…..finding Him is best!!!

  66. Regina says:

    Good Evening, All
    Pray all is well in your lives. Mart, the pic that you chose for this blog topic is very interesting. Would not have expected the “lowliest in nature” to be honored in an airport! I’ve always been intrigued by ants though, and I don’t think I’m the only one. Not surprised that God asked us to consider the ant… their willingness to work together. The Lord wants us to love one another–reminiscent of how He loves us–and esteem each other more highly than we do ourselves.

    75 degrees and partly cloudy in my neck of the woods…

    Love to all,

  67. poohpity says:

    Regina, Yes they work together for a common goal with unity of purpose. Gosh wouldn’t it be nice if that happened in the body of Christ? Each ant has a job and a gift but they work for the good of the community. No jealousy, divisions or else their work could not get done.

    I have seen those large red ants make bridges with their bodies to reach an area. They carry things way bigger than they are individually for the welfare of the group. There does not seem to be “I” in their “We”.

  68. poohpity says:

    In our bible study that is exactly what we are studying for the next few weeks talking about putting on God’s sandals of peace. The Roman soldiers as part of their armor have sandals that are made of leather but the have cleats on the bottom for traction and to help as they stand together. When they are standing together they are stronger than if one was alone.

    The study was also reminding us how the enemy infiltrates the body of believers to take their minds off of what is actually important to that unity as Paul was doing. If they did not stand for the same things they would fall away from what brought them together in the first place their mutual love for God and others.

  69. joycemb says:

    Just from my own life experiences unity seems to be easier with those of the same denomination; among those we break bread with, worship, and study with. I think that’s part of the reason for differences. Even in a small town with more than one denomination it’s hard to find any common ground for agreement. That’s just how life is without a “state” church. And with differences there seems to be an element of fear even. Mostly, I think, caused by ignorance.

    When we read about the early church they could be “of one accord” because they were the only church in town that worshipped Christ as savior.

    I think on an international blog like this the one thing we can agree on is that Christ is Lord and that’s about it. Except we all also can agree that following Jesus’ commands is also paramount even to our various interpretations of words/wording as Mart talked about. Let us dwell in peace that passes all understanding, not to agree with each other on the minors or even the what to us seem like majors. But to be able to think (the purpose of the blog), share and talk out our understanding; in hopes of gaining more insight into the love of God that drew us in the first place.

    I know I have learned much since I started here. Thank you to all my friends, enemies, and cohorts as we struggle together daily.

    Peace and blessings,

  70. SFDBWV says:

    Click here to see the web version of this Days of Praise

    Stunted Growth in Carnal Christians
    “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” (1 Corinthians 3:1-2)

    The apostle Paul here makes a clear distinction between “spiritual” Christians, controlled and led by the Holy Spirit, and “carnal” Christians, still controlled by the desires of the flesh. A carnal Christian is a baby Christian. Baby Christians are a cause of great rejoicing when they are newborn believers, just like baby people. But if they remain babies indefinitely, they become an annoyance to hear and a tragedy to behold.

    Each born-again believer needs urgently to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). That spiritual growth comes only through study of the Word, accompanied by belief and obedience. First there must be “the sincere [or ‘logical’] milk of the word” (1 Peter 2:2), but that is good only for the first stages of growth. “For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:13-14). Scripture encourages us to grow to maturity and then to continue growing.

    Carnal Christians are not necessarily pseudo-Christians, although they should examine themselves to determine whether their profession of faith in Christ is genuine (2 Corinthians 13:5), but they should not be content to remain spiritual babes. Every Christian should be able to say with the prophet Jeremiah: “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16). HMM

    Institute for Creation Research – 1806 Royal Lane, Dallas TX 75229

    I thought this relevant to the subject matter and so have passed it along to any of you interested in reading it.


  71. street says:

    poo said,”..common goal with unity of purpose.” thinking our purpose is to glorify God with a life of praise, thanks, and worship, even in the mundane and drudgery.

    poo said,”The Roman soldiers as part of their armor have sandals that are made of leather but the have cleats on the bottom for traction ” the cleats of the christian life is love, it were the verb of love meets the world. you will not slip, and your armor will take a beating. stand firm He will never lose. welding prayer keeps your eyes on your Commander.

  72. street says:

    had in interesting incident thursday. was decorating for vacation Bible school. one of the little guys. full of energy and fun ran though the area i was decorating and jump up to tag one of the hanging decorations. he knocked it down down….with out even thinking i replied to him that we were setting up and not tearing down in a loud voice. i thought about what i said over the last couple of days. i admitted we will tear all this stuff down it was a given. need to stop decorating and follow. i think it is a waist of to to decorate and tear down. i also remembered we were decorating for him. i need to follow to be a better decorator, so i will not have to tear down or be dressed down. i love the little ones enthusiasm and energy. my it be found in the Lord.

  73. street says:

    dang i forgot to ask my friends to pray for VBS, many children will come. pray for the volunteers too.

  74. joycemb says:

    Prayers for VBS and thinking also of all the newborn babes in Christ being birthed through church programs, backyard programs etc. we really do need to pray for and support them.

    Street chuckling about “not tearing down”. I’ve been involved with VBS myself through the years and so thankful for God bringing in those who’s hearts have been so wounded at a young age. You have a great ministry there!

  75. joycemb says:

    Steve I read your post as I do all of your posts. Yes I agree we are all at different places in our journeys. Encouragement in growth is good for us all.

    ( I’ve been watching Southern Justice on tv and getting to know your culture better. Love the faith openly talked about on the show!)

    Blessings, Joyce

  76. foreverblessed says:

    Mart talks about the story behind the letters, or reading between the lines. I have had to work this through, since this came on. I have been talking to God about this: why so much ch talk of the wrath of God in the bible? While God soooo loved the world?

    Everything a positive comment came on it was a help to me.
    It occurred to me that I deep down still feel as if God is a grumpy old man, who will come and lash out to us when we go of the track, just like the Corinthians did.

    Mart is saying the over all theme is love in 1 Cor.
    See 1 Cor 13:4-7

  77. foreverblessed says:

    Than something happened, I had been on a short holiday trip to Germany, along the Mosel river (it is very pretty there, especially in springtime and with lovely wheather). I had said to the people of the oecominical prayer in our big city church that I wouldn’t be there this week.
    But the wheather was pretty bad and we came home earlier.
    The next morning I decided not to go to church, and stay at home, cleaning the house, vacuming etc. Since I had told them that I wasn’t there anyway.
    I started reading my bible, opened it, and it fell open on Haggai 2:4,9
    I guess it was given to me in love, but I misinterpreted it totally. I immediately was hurt, I said to God: what are You saying to me? Every morning I give my whole day to You, and You still give me this bible verse?
    I totally over reacted to that bible verse. I thought that God was disapproving my whole life.
    I took about an hour, and then slowly it got into my mind that it was only about that morning.
    That morning I had planned to vacuüm clean my house, and not go to the church prayer.

    God was only saying to me: I would rather that you gi to church then cleaning your own house.
    And afterwords you and I will together do your house.
    That was all!

    It was a dear thing to God that I go to that prayer meeting, praying the prayers visitors write in the prayer book.
    And that was a great comfort to my soul.

  78. foreverblessed says:

    It was Haggai 1:4,9

  79. joycemb says:

    Forever thanks for the testimony:-), yes God is all about love.

  80. remarutho says:

    Good Morning BTA Friends —

    Was chatting with a fellow volunteer at a downtown mission this past week. He was remarking that he and his family have been settling into a new church these past months — after leaving a church where he and his wife had lost confidence in the ministry and mission. It seems Christian action was preached, but not acted upon.

    This parting of ways happens in the body of Christ — the question of “walking the talk” means taking a look at the goals we have set — and making a real assessment of our progress in living out the Gospel on the streets of our community.

    You ask, Mart, “Is this a game of “what’s missing in this picture”, or something far more serious… and worth thinking about together?”

    Paul is writing to the Corinthians to answer questions they have about marriage, slavery, food dedicated to idols, and so on. Their pagan background makes Jesus-followers in Corinth unsure — in ways that Paul seeks to remedy by instruction in a more worthy life-style than they practiced before.

    The cross of Christ’s sacrifice shatters old ways of thinking and behaving. It must be. The word of God — the will of God — causes everybody who believes in Jesus to break with the world — pagan manners — traditions formed in an idolatrous society. Our communion becomes Holy Communion — a celebration of and thanksgiving for Jesus’ great love and sacrifice for us.

    Paul tells the Corinthians (and us), “…if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.” (2 Cor 11:31. 32) They remain “brothers and sisters” in Paul’s eyes — correction is not condemnation.

    What’s wrong with this picture can be changed so that the Corinthians bear fruit for Jesus.


    Cooled off to 73F here after 101F earlier!

  81. remarutho says:

    My Scripture reference is 1 Cor 11:31, 32. Slip of the keyboard. Maru

  82. poohpity says:

    Maru, all I can say is when I judge myself I sure am glad for what Christ has done for me and I feel so bad for judging others because it may not be in the same areas but I still have areas that I like Job put my hand over my mouth and am speechless. I praise God the Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit for not giving up on us, we sure do not deserve it. We are brought into fellowship with unity of belief in what Jesus accomplished on the Cross and who He is which gives us the purpose of sharing that love, mercy, forgiveness and grace with others.

    We are given a new life why continue to live like we used to when we can stand together in our imperfection looking toward the perfect One and not be in a constant battle with each other and direct that toward the powers of darkness in/of this world. We are at war everyday of our life but the battle belongs to the Lord and He has overcome the world.

  83. poohpity says:

    Proverbs 10:17 NLT; Proverbs 12:1 NLT Paul wanted to bring health and unity to the church so I would say all that he wrote to them was done in love.

  84. joycemb says:

    Thinking about the Lords discipline and to me it sounds like something that cannot be avoided, no matter how much we may try to excuse, ignore or blame others. No discipline is fun, but scripture says it brings a harvest of good works to those that are trained by it. Yep. It does.

  85. joycemb says:

    Maru I hadn’t thought about vs. 31 much. But it makes sense we want to avoid discipline any way we can. Especially since human “discipline” is messed up by sin. Love is so wonderful.

  86. joycemb says:

    Good works, or righteousness rather. @11:49

  87. street says:

    dear maru thinking of Jesus telling the people in nazarus the reason only naaman was healed in syria was because there was no faith in israel.
    faith in…”The cross of Christ’s sacrifice shatters old ways of thinking and behaving. It must be. The word of God — the will of God — causes everybody who believes in Jesus to break with the world — pagan manners — traditions formed in an idolatrous society. Our communion becomes Holy Communion — a celebration of and thanksgiving for Jesus’ great love and sacrifice for us.” let us take up our cross and follow faithfully.

  88. jeff1 says:

    This hymn comes to mind.

    “Onward Christian Soldiers@

    Onward, christian soldiers,
    Marching as to war,
    With the cross of Jesus,
    Going on before!

    Christ the royal master,
    Leads against the foe;
    Forward into battle,
    See His banners go!

    Onward, christian soldiers,
    Marching as to war,
    With the cross of Jesus,
    Going on before!

    Like a mighty army
    Moves the church of God!
    Brothers,we are treading
    Where the saints have trod!

    We are not divided,
    All one body we,

    One in hope and doctrine,
    One in charity!

    Onward christian soldiers
    Marching as to war,
    With the cross of Jesus,
    Going on before!

    Onward, then, ye people!
    Join our happy throng!
    Blend with ours your voices,
    In the triumph song!
    Glory laud and honour,
    Unto Christ the King,
    This through countless ages,
    Men and angels sing.

    Onward, christian soldiers,
    Marching as to war,
    With the cross of Jesus,
    Going on before!

  89. street says:

    maru said,”This parting of ways happens in the body of Christ — the question of “walking the talk” means taking a look at the goals we have set — and making a real assessment of our progress in living out the Gospel on the streets of our community.”
    thinking the cross of Christ is a plumb line for measuring ourselves. not only does it grieve us, it also gives us life and joy!!! i can see why discipline is so difficult on us, God knows how to administer it so well. i take comfort in His eternal love for me. if i did not receive any discipline, it would mean i am an illegitament child. job held on to this God of blessing and found blessing in adversity.

  90. street says:

    jeff i like the song. i with many songs i look at the words carefully or just sing what on my heart.

    Blend with ours your voices,
    In the triumph song!
    Glory laud and honour,
    Unto Christ the King,

    thinking blending our voice to His in triumph song.

  91. street says:

    Crown Him,
    Crown Him,
    Crown Him
    LORD of all!

  92. street says:

    thinking of hannah refusing to take comfort in her husband. she prayed, found comfort in God, received a son, not any son, but a son of God. the last judge of israel. naaman and hannah very interesting people of God. when the Lord returns will He find faith on the earth?
    i really hope He sheds tears of joy because of the harvest of faith that is present when He turns.

  93. Regina says:

    Good Afternoon, All
    Pray all are having a joyous Sunday! I’m glad we’re still pondering…sharing our thoughts on the “lowly” but “mighty” ant! And you’re right, pooh, ants are “mighty” because of their willingness to work together for the good of the community. Makes me wonder if ants were on the ark?? I believe God made them because He knew that their work ethic would teach us some valuable lessons re: the importance of working together with a spirit of unity.

    Unity is one of the areas the devil fights us the most in because, like the ant, if we ever truly start working together in a spirit of unity we’re gonna “bruise his head”… tear his (psuedo) kingdom down!

    As I reflected on all that ants have taught us, this verse came to mind…
    Psalm 133:1-5, KJV
    1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
    2 It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
    3 As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.

    I’ve seen those large red ants make bridges with their bodies/carry things bigger than they are too, pooh (Nat Geo)… They’re *amazing* insects.

    A Bible passage was shared in the ODB devo yesterday that (I think) ties in with our current blog topic…
    1 Peter 4:7-11, NIV
    7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 *Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 *Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 *Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

    88 degrees and partly cloudy in my neck of the woods…

    Love to all,

  94. poohpity says:

    All I can say is the heat here is really above board. Can not touch the steering wheel, even the air conditioning in the car does not seem to work. I bet those in the middle east who have to go through this kinda heat and worse with no AC at all are really in my heart. Some really hot stuff, yuk, argh and ouchie!!! :-)

  95. cbrown says:

    Looking at the ants again with perspective. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Light. All who follow Him will be nourished. Those who follow a different “scent” shall perish.

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