Faith and Obedience Must go Hand in Hand

We pray because prayer changes us.

I grew up in a home where we practiced prayer. I can recall visiting my grandparents and reciting this prayer, “Come Lord Jesus, be our Guest. And let this food to us be blessed. Amen.” It was what we did. It was our family ritual. We said grace before our meals and before our bedtime.

However, I believe there is much more to prayer than what is sandwiched between “Dear God” and “Amen.” Over the years I have discovered that prayer is much more than making a list of demands to get what I want. It is much more than a therapy session. It is much more than asking God to perform, and then feeling disappointed when He doesn’t answer. I’ve learned over the years that there is more to prayer.

Prayer is not to get what I want out of God, prayer is to get what God wants inside of me.

Broadly speaking, prayer is “asking God to be glorified in the midst of our needs.” In the midst of our sin. In the midst of our difficult circumstances. In the midst of our good things; the things we are thankful for.

Prayer is opening up our lives to complete, utter dependence on an invisible God, acknowledging who He is and what He has done.

It is not limited to Sundays or a certain day of the week. It is not restricted to a schedule or timeline. It is not exclusive for pastors or elders. It is not limited to a memorized list of words.

Prayer is an act of surrendering our lives to God and being present to do His will. Anywhere. Any time. I’ve heard prayer described as “spoken faith.” It takes faith to pray. Otherwise, we are simply saying words blindly in the dark. We become no different than those who hopefully wish things will go their way. Without faith, we are no different than those who believe in the stars or good luck charms or genies in a bottle. Faith is what makes our prayers different from the prayers of other religions or do-gooders.  According to Mark 11:22, we have faith in God. God is the focal point of prayer. We pray so our will WILL align with God, our Heavenly Father. Faith is an essential ingredient. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT).

It is faith that propels our prayers.

Our faith grows as we begin to experience God. When we hear God speak, our faith takes root. Romans 10:17 reminds us, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” But it doesn’t stop here…there is more to it than simply hearing the Word of God. There is a required response on our part. We must obey. Obedience is “faith in action.”

Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” What did Abraham do by faith? He obeyed. And we too must obey. We pray. We listen. We obey.

Why is prayer so necessary? Because the act of surrendering to God does not come easily or readily. Our flesh fights the will of God. We do not want to admit that we are broken, messy, needy people. There is a war raging inside of us bellowing loudly, “I’m good. I can figure life out on my own. I don’t need God.”

But it is through prayer that God is reproducing His heart in us. It is through prayer that we come to a deeper, richer understanding of who God is. It is through prayer we realize that our dependence is on God and God alone.

We pray because prayer changes us.

Sue Allen

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And read more from Sue at: https://sueaallen.com/

What Do You Do in Galilee?

followers

“He departed to Galilee…that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah…The people who sat is darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” Matthew 4:12-16

Here in Matthew 4:12-16, Jesus started His ministry. It was immediately after His baptism, and then the Bible tells us He began to preach. Jesus ministry began in Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to Capernaum.

Very often the call of God is moving from a place we know into the unknown. It’s a shove of our faith to launch out into the unexpected. Maybe God is moving you from a safe place to a stretch place?

Are you ready?

Whatever the season of life we all start out in Galilee. It’s the first place of ministry. We may not feel prepared but for that place we are. You may not be a polished pastor, a gifted speaker, or a well-worn writer but Galilee is calling you.

Like Jesus, we must go because those folks who are there are either lost (“darkness”) or in the “shadow of death” (maybe of hope) and a new light must dawn. We are the ones who should bring the light of Christ to every ministry God calls us to.

Our text says the people “have seen a great light.” When Saul (Paul) was called, that’s exactly what He saw. However, it’s a humbling call. Paul would later write some of the most beautiful words on God’s call in the Bible:

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)

He tells them all I know is Jesus, the Great Light. Then Paul says, I was weak, scared, and didn’t have the right words. Been there?

When God calls us to Galilee, Corinth, or the Church in the Wildwood, we just give them Jesus. In our speech, spirit, and especially in our actions. When Jesus is all we know, then the people will see His light in us.

Are you in Galilee?

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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God Will Not Fail You or Forsake You

Throne

“The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, ‘I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.’” Psalm 2:4-6

God is on the throne. Terrorism is not the first war He’s seen! It’s not the first time that nations have rebelled against Him. God says, “You have plans to stop My purposes? You take your stand against Me? That’s funny!”

He judges nations. How? Biblical history teaches that God judges nations through other nations. He judged the wickedness of the Canaanites by sending the Israelites to take the Promised Land.

Later, He judged the wickedness of the Israelites by sending Babylon to carry them to captivity. God judges’ nations through nations.

There God sits as Judge over all the world. He’s perfectly aware that all His purposes and plans, despite all opposition, will be accomplished. Psalm 29:10 says, “He sits as King forever.”

All the uproar in the nations doesn’t threaten His plan.

“Behold, they [the nations] belch forth with their mouth; swords are in their lips, for they say, “Who hears?” But You, O LORD, laugh at them; You scoff at all the nations.” Psalm 59:7-8

God sits and laughs! With all earth in rebellion, God remains seated. He has set in process a plan that cannot fail. While there is wildness on the earth, there is wonderful calm in heaven. But even though God sits, He is not a distant, silent, unconcerned spectator.

After all, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

We must remember that. The God of all the earth is on our side. The whole world may come against us, but the King of the universe is in our corner.

He will not fail you or forsake you. God Himself, rules and reigns and there is no one who can stop His plan for this world or your life.

Keep Looking Up!

Pastor Rodney

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4 Facts of Forgiveness

forgiveness

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matthew 6:14 

A survey was made of 200 married adults regarding forgiveness: The researchers were wondering how one’s ability to forgive others would affect their marital satisfaction and personal well-being. The results were incredible!

This research suggests that there is a huge relationship between marriage satisfaction and forgiveness. In fact, it appears that as much as one-third of marriage satisfaction is related to forgiveness.

Not only does the ability to forgive impact the marriage relationship, it was significantly related to personal emotional distress. As forgiveness ability went up, individuals reported fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, and fatigue!

Jesus said, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.”

But what does this mean?

It doesn’t mean God won’t forgive our sin if we can’t forgive others. It means we won’t be able to accept God’s forgiveness for ourselves. We won’t feel forgiven by God because we have a hard time forgiving others.

There are many in our world who struggle with the reality of forgiveness. They have been victims of all types of abuse and trauma. People who have been lied to and lied about. So let’s clear up some misconceptions about biblical forgiveness.

By stating 4 Facts:

1. When we forgive a person, this does not mean we are instantly over it.

It’s not just all over. Forgiveness takes time and it may take years. Just because we say,
“I forgive you” doesn’t mean we feel it right away. It will be difficult, especially in areas of abuse.

2. When you forgive a person, this does not mean you have to be their friend again.

You won’t be best friends after an apology it depends on how deep the hurt and the length of hard feelings. The severity and the length of the hurt is important.
3. When we forgive a person, this does not mean that we trust them, yet.

Trust is something that will take time—it’s earned. And again it depends on how long the hard feelings and severity of the wound.

There is nothing biblically based that says we have to trust them again.

4. When we forgive a person, we are not avoiding the pain we are opening the door to healing.

Choosing to forgive, and it is a choice, starts releasing the person from our justice to God’s justice. GOD is much better and making a person miserable than we are. Give it to God.

Forgiveness is an ACT of FAITH.

Richard Rohr said, ”If you do not transform your pain, you will surely transmit it.”

OR Hurting people Hurt people.

Giving it to God means I won’t transmit my hurt to someone else specifically—my new relationships. This isn’t easy BUT when we forgive we take the journey at the pace we are able to handle…the deeper the hurt, the longer the journey.

But as a Christian, because we have been forgiven, we should have a deep desire to forgive others. At times forgiveness is very difficult. But trust God. Accept the apology and give it when needed.

Pastor Rodney

You can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

1. Peter J. Larson, New Forgiveness Research Jan 27, 2003

The Role of a Christian Woman in Leadership

leadership

Leadership starts with a purpose, not a plan. The leader is driven by beliefs that lead to action. The leader develops the capacity to think in convictional terms and leads followers to do the same. The leader draws followers into a story that frames all of life. A leader shapes the worldview of follows.

Passionate leaders driven by purpose beliefs draw passionate followers. Leadership begins when you learn to think like a leader. Leadership is not achieved until followers begin to think as well. The effective leader is the master teacher within a learning organization.

Character, communication, stewardship, and endurance are all important aspects of leadership. Not all managers are leaders but all leaders are managers.

Leadership is a transferring of conviction to others, affecting their actions, motivations, intuition, and commitment. Character is, in fact, the only secure foundation of leadership itself —any form of leadership.

Character is contagious.

Being a leader that communicates clearly and well is also important. Leaders must all endure and be good stewards of the position they have been given. 2 Timothy 1:12b says, “He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me.”

Leadership is influence. A leader is someone who leads a group of people towards a specific vision or goal. We lead because we are possessed by deep beliefs that mature into convictions.

Our leadership consists of developing these convictions in others who will then act together in the service of those beliefs, motivated to common action in the mission of sharing those convictions and living them out before watching the world.

James 3:1 says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

The roles of women change due to age, marital status, motherhood, life experiences, and cultural influences. The roles of women in ministry are vast and consist of more than one responsibility. The roles of women in ministry are wide-ranging because ministry, in general, is very wide-ranging.

While the are specific “roles” of women in ministry may change, there are specific “principles” for the Christian woman in ministry to embrace that remain forever unchangeable. These principles cannot exist apart from a true relationship with Jesus Christ and a submissive and teachable spirit to obey.
Biblical principles for the Christian woman are:
1 A handmaiden and servant of the Lord
a Luke 1:26-38
2 A calling to be recklessly abandoned to all the Word of God commands
a Acts 17
3 A calling to go wherever He may lead you to go
a Matthew 28:19-20
4 A woman who spends time in prayer
a Luke 10:38-42
5 A woman who spends time in the Word
a Luke 10:38-41
6 A woman who has a teachable spirit
a Luke 7:36-50
7 A woman who obeys the Word
a Psalm 119:11
b Luke 21:1-3
8 A woman who is burdened for others
a John 4
9 A woman who ministers to others
a Luke 8:1-3
10 A woman who is discerning
a Esther
11 A woman who stands up for her convictions and keeps herself pure: above reproach
a Proverbs 31
12 A woman who is evangelizing the lost
a Matthew 28:1-10
13 A woman who is discipling others
a Luke 1:35-45
14 A woman who is actively being mentored by someone else
a Ruth
15 A woman who influences someone others can follow

These principles are descriptive of the inward nature of a woman walking in the right relationship with Christ. Regardless of your role in ministry, you are called to live lives that have the principles listed above.

These principles are not manufactured by self-effort but should be the fruits of a spiritually born-again woman. Leadership is a big responsibility and should not be taken lightly especially Christian leadership. Leadership is the ability to have influence.

Will we have a positive, lasting influence for the sake of Christ? Are we going to lead others to Him or to ourselves? Understanding leadership and all it takes and entails is important. Let us lead as Christ did in all we do and say. May our leadership be a reflection of who He is and how He leads us.

Nikki Hogan

Visit Nikki @hogannikki.wordpress.com

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Is it Worth it?

worth

Many times, in our personal lives and in church we ask the question is it worth it?  Is this relationship worth it? Is this thing I’m buying worth the price? Is the diet and exercise I’m doing worth it? Let’s see what the Bible says:

“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”  Psalm 126:5-6

The principle of sowing and reaping tells us we get out of something what we put in. There must be hard work, a level of commitment or persistence to the goal in order to receive a feeling of reward in the end.

However, that’s not the day we live in. We want it now. We think that success should show on our first day on the job. We think showing up should be enough.

Much like church. Without commitment or a persistent focus on prayer can God bring revival to a church or community?

This is what King Hezekiah is writing about here in our text. He’s calling for the former glory of Israel to be restored. He’s NOT asking for a physical blessing of prosperity but a spiritual revival in the land.

The king is praying Lord send a great revival IN your people.

You’ll notice in v.1 he starts with praising God and then in v.2-3 he announces, “The Lord has done great things.”

It is God’s people praising Him for how good God is. When we think of this in the world today, isn’t that exactly what people need to see in us? We need to tell the world: We believe Jesus has done great things for us and let us show you by how we live.

But sometimes we give up. If you are a church member you may have at least thought about giving up on the church. If you are a pastor you may have thought about a job change.

What do we do? Remember the promise. Reaping brings joy.

It is true rejoicing only comes through tears of pain. But isn’t it worth it?

Keep Looking up! Heaven is closer than you think. May God bless your day.

Pastor Rodney

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Spiritual Fixed Mindset

People trapped in a fixed mindset believe God gifted some people and not others. www.liftupyourday.com

“Guess what?! I just got an email! The book I submitted is going to be published!”

“Hey! I have great news! I’ve just been asked to speak on a Christian women’s cruise to the Bahamas! I sail January 15th!”

 

Have you ever been jealous of a brother or sister in Christ?

I have too. When I’ve seen all the fabulous things others have accomplished, I have felt less. I used to think God wouldn’t use a person like me; He’d only use super Christians. You know, those people who got saved at three, baptized at four and went on their first mission trip at five. I was too messed up. Too broken. Too unlovely. I believed in Jesus, but I thought I could never change. Wrong.

What about you?

Do you think you’re too messed up, trapped in your addiction/codependent relationship/shopping habit/food problem/embarrassing sin to ever be transformed?  Do you think you will always be stuck right where you are, battling the same old stuff? Then you are suffering from a Spiritual Fixed Mindset.

Spiritual Fixed Mindset: a belief that basic qualities like intelligence, flaws, sin and talent are fixed traits, therefore a person can never change, grow or overcome challenges or sins. This is the way I was born, This is the way I am, are the mantras of people trapped in a spiritual fixed mindset.

People trapped in a fixed mindset believe God gifted some people and not others.

They spend their time documenting their failures and sins. They believe talent alone creates success—without effort. They believe there is something wrong with them that can never be fixed. They are stuck. People with a fixed spiritual mindset constantly try to prove their worth. They are very sensitive to criticism, always anxious and prone to self-doubt.

Spiritual Fixed Mindset is marked by:

  • negative self-talk
  • second guessing decisions (and third and fourth guessing)
  • focusing on self
  • seeing only failures and replaying them in living color over and over
  • condemning self
  • hiding gifts
  • keeping head down and playing it safe
  • walking by sight

The poster child for the fixed spiritual-mindset is the man with one talent.

A man was going on a journey and he left three servants money to invest while he was gone. Two servants used their master’s money wisely and the master entrusted them with more. When called to account for how he used his master’s money, the man who had received one talent answered,

“Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Matthew 25: 14-21, 24-29

What did the One-Talent Servant do?

He was afraid, and he hid his gifts. He did not use them for the benefit of his master or anyone else. The One-Talent Servant was not punished because he tried and failed—but because he did not try. I believe pride was at the bottom of his failure to launch. He didn’t want to look bad in the eyes of the world. He was walking by sight and not by faith.

How about you (and me)? We’ve got gifts. We’ve got talent. We’ve got treasure. We’ve also got calling. Go forth. Make disciples. Tell everyone.

Whatever your gifts, serving, loving, mercy, cooking, cleaning, fixing, babysitting, acting, blogging, gaming, sewing, doing hair and make-up, fishing, hunting, turning a wrench, there is a need for it in your church/community/housing project/town. Get going!

You won’t find the will of God apart from the word of God. When I got serious about following Jesus, new giftings and interests seemed to pop up from nowhere, so did new opportunities.

Action Steps:

  1. Think: What do you love to do? Where is your passion? If it isn’t against God’s word, there is a way to use it for His kingdom.
  2. Pray: Ask God to show you how He wants you to use your gifts and to open doors for you.
  3. Start: Do something today to start using your gifts. Make a call, share your vision, take a class, or join a group.

Let me know your thoughts about Spiritual Fixed Mindset, how you plan to use your gifts and how I can pray for you, by leaving a comment on our Facebook page.

God is good!

Mary Kane

Read more from Mary at: onlybyprayer.com

How Strong is Your Faith!

How Strong is Your Faith!

I found this quote from, C.H. Spurgeon: To trust God in the light is nothing, but trust Him in the dark that is faith.

When you feel good, your relationship is going well with your husband and kids, the grandkids are cute and adorable it’s easy to have faith in God. You wake up, have breakfast, and then go do your workout, it’s a great start to the day. Then you begin with the chores and meal planning. You can have days, weeks, even months go by and everything goes smoothly. God is Good, and your faith is strong.

Then life hits you smack in the face. One of those moments for me was in the late 1970’s. I had been having a lot of abdomen pain and irregular periods. This had gone on for a couple of years. I had seen the doctor about it, and we were also trying to have a second child, that wasn’t working either. My doctor told me he would have to do exploratory surgery to see if he could help relieve the pain and help me to be able to get pregnant.

At first I was okay with this. Then fear started to encroach on my thoughts and feelings. I was becoming more and more nervous as the surgery date got closer. I talked with my husband, family and friends, but no one was able to ease my frazzled nerves.

Then one day I saw that our pastor was at the backyard neighbors home. I called her and asked her to see if he could come over and talk with me when he was done visiting with her. A while later he was at my front door. I welcomed him in, we sat in the living room and began to talk. I told him about my upcoming surgery and that I was afraid.

He asked me what was making me so nervous. I told him that I was afraid that the doctor would find cancer. My mother had died from cancer only three years earlier when I was pregnant with our first daughter. I was afraid of dying and not be able to raise our beautiful daughter, April.

His response was that that was silly. Just because my mom had cancer, didn’t mean that I would also have it. He took down my surgery date and said he’d pray for me. I still didn’t feel at ease with my upcoming surgery and struggled regularly with my nerves.

The day before I was to go to the hospital I called the church to ask if the pastor could come to the hospital. I was told that he was away on vacation and wouldn’t be able to come. That night unable to concentrate on TV I went up to take a hot bath. That didn’t help either. They laying on my bed I opened my heart to God and cried in agony. Please help me, I can’t do this alone. Instantly I felt a literal heavy weight being lifted off of me. I felt the peace that passes all understanding. I knew that God was with me and would help me through whatever was ahead.

The next morning, I went to the hospital and was happy and joking around with all of the staff. They told me I would have a Band-Aid if all was well. If there was a problem I would have a lot of gauze and tape on my stomach. Then they gave me a shot and I immediately went to sleep. It seemed like only moments later that I was trying to wake up. Everything was fuzzy. I remember asking several times how big my bandage was. Finally, I was awake enough to know that I just had a Band-Aid.

Praise God. I found out that I didn’t have cancer, but endometriosis. It’s scar tissue near and around the ovaries. This was what was causing my pain and inability to become pregnant. I was very relieved with this news. My prayer was then to thank God for being able to have one child. I was able to relax and enjoy the life we had. Then God surprised us with our daughter, Nickie, when April was seven years old.

When I was struggling the most, I forgot to pray and ask God what I should do. My faith was weak; I was trying to do it on my own. When I finally laid down on my bed and cried out to Him, He lifted my anxiety and fear, and gave me His peace. We all need to remember that no matter what our situation He is there to help and guide us.

I found this website with quotes that can help you in your daily walk. http://www.dailyinspirationalquotes.in/

How can I pray for you? What are you struggling with? You can email me at jannwmartin@gmail.com or add a comment to the post. God bless you.

Visit Jann @ jannwmartin.com

And leave us your comments @ liftupyourday.com

Do We Have Total Obedience?

obedience

“But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him.” Matthew 3:15

The baptism of Jesus was an unusual event. We know John the Baptist knew he should have been baptized by Jesus. We know Jesus was baptized to show us we need to be baptized as a public sign of salvation, and to be obedient to God’s will.

We also know that Jesus was doing this to be totally obedient to the will of the Father. This was a picture of His humility.

The Bible tells us, “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:8

The Son of God showed us what total obedience looked like. It involves sacrificing our will and our rights to perform God’s will in whatever God wants in His kingdom.

If that means, we get walked on like a doormat today—so be it. If that means, we get hurt by brothers or sisters in Christ—Thank you, Lord. If that means, closing our mouths and not giving our opinion—Go, God!

Crazy?

Words like humility, sacrifice, and death are fading from our Christian vocabulary. The celebrity status some Christians enjoy and the rise of social media have taught us to toot our own horn.

We all have something to add to the kingdom but that might not be celebrity status. It might be to simply wake up today and die to our will, to “Take up our cross and follow Him.” There are many things Jesus has done for us and showed us but the biggest thing is dying to us.

Total obedience is saying, “Not my will but thine be done.”

Don’t forget to Pray!

Pastor Rodney 

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How to Keep a Right Spirit

right spirit

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:11

Bragging. It’s not a new thing. From kings in the Bible to athletes in a big game, the art of bragging has been around a while.

Some people see nothing wrong with bragging. Muhammad Ali said, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”

We’ve even modified bragging. There is a new term now called “humble bragging.” You know, “I am so humbled that they put me on the cover of TIME magazine…AGAIN!

Sadly, pulpits and pews have had a few pride infested words slung around. Our flesh fights our spirit.

We must be careful that we don’t boast about our attendance, baptism numbers, or altar movement. The tempter is always trying to get a foothold in the church.

Here in Matthew 3 John the Baptist is being used by God to prepare God’s people. Repentance was the one-note message JTB preached. Turn from sin and turn to God. An about-face sends us in God’s direction and away from ours.

The converts were massing to hear JTB preach. “Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him.” (Matthew 3:5) Talk about a popular preacher. JTB became the biggest news in the Jerusalem Times.

How did JTB respond?

Like we should. When people shout our praises, we sing Jesus’. “He who is coming after me is mightier than I.” God may be doing His work through me but it’s not about me. Donkeys can preach when touched by God.

JTB’s humility resonates with these words, “whose sandals I am not worthy to carry.” Carrying clothing was the sign of a servant. Carrying smelly sandals would have been the least favorite part of the clothing.

Whenever we get prideful we must ask if we smell like a servant because our spirits get sour with pride. Prideful preaching and teaching forgets the needs of the people who hear us. Our words must be His words. After all, they are His people, not ours.

Let’s pray!

Pastor Rodney

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