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Think Spot - 24 September 2018


As I reflect upon the life of Jesus as given to us through the Gospels, I see that in his interaction with people he exhibits his loveliness. An example of this is found in Matthew 20:29-34


As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us.”
The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us.”
Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.”
Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

See how Jesus exhibited his loveliness to those two men, through an act of compassion and mercy. Jesus gave those two men great joy in receiving their sight and enabled them to overcome the rejection by the crowd. Those two men could testify that Jesus is altogether lovely and lovely altogether. Jesus is beyond compare for the things He has done and the things He will do.

Jesus Christ is altogether lovely in regard to his divinity, humanity, birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, ascension, exultation, glorification, grace, protection, tenderness, power, wisdom, vengeance, judgment, majesty, redemption and pardon. Jesus’ loveliness means I can have His incomparable inner joy when I feel defeated, dejected and discouraged. Jesus oozes loveliness.

As you go into this week, remember that when you are feeling defeated, dejected or discouraged, that Jesus joy is inside you. Joy is not necessarily loud and obtrusive but also quiet and peaceful. Allow that joy of Jesus to carry you through. Let His loveliness embrace you and allow Him control over your circumstances.


A prayer to help you into this new week:

Father, we thank you for sending Jesus. We thank you Jesus that you are altogether lovely and lovely altogether. We thank you that you are with us when everybody else rejects, despises, defeats or discourages us.
Amen.

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus

Part 3

 

Welcome back to this series “Investigating Jesus Christ”. Together we are exploring the life of the most amazing person who ever lived - Jesus Christ of Nazareth. We will investigate together who this man was and why he matters.

Today we continue looking at some of the evidences outside of the Bible for the existence of the man we know as Jesus Christ.

Josephus (37-101AD) Jewish Antiquities, 18.3.3

“Now around this time lived Jesus, a wise man. For he was a worker of amazing deeds and was a teacher of people who gladly accept the truth. He won over both many Jews and many Greeks. Pilate, when he heard him accused by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, (but) those who had first loved him did not cease (doing so). To this day the tribe of Christians named after him has not disappeared.”

Jewish Talmud (400-700AD) (b. Sanhedrin 43a)

“Jesus practiced magic and led Israel astray”

“It was taught: On the day before the Passover they hanged Jesus. A herald went before him for forty days (proclaiming), “He will be stoned, because he practiced magic and enticed Israel to go astray. Let anyone who knows anything in his favour come forward and plead for him.” But nothing was found in his favour, and they hanged him on the day before the Passover."

 

As we have hopefully seen clearly, there is much evidence for the man we know as Jesus Christ from writings outside of the Bible. These are only a handful of sources which give good evidence for His existence. You may like to do your own investigation into the evidences: whether you are not a Christian, been a Christian for a long time or just begun being a Christian. Go for it! Discover extra WOW factors about this Jesus for yourself! We continue next week, looking at the evidence in the Bible. 

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Highlights in Hebrews
Highlights in Hebrews
(with Roger Kirby)
Part 7 - Hebrews 2:17
Jesus atones for us


For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

A few days ago, as I write, Liverpool football club took on Real Madrid for the Champions of Europe cup. The game is remembered for two awful mistakes made by Loris Karius, the Liverpool goalkeeper. They might still have been beaten but he made sure they were. He threw the ball out far to close to an opponent who was able to score easily from it, then he let a very catchable ball slip through his hands into the goal. One can only imagine what he felt like in the changing room afterwards. He must have sat in a corner and wished the ground would open up and swallow him! Nothing he could do would remedy the situation. Nothing he could do would atone for his awful mistakes. They had lost and that was that. He will have been the outcast of the team. He will have been lucky if anyone was prepared to say anything kind to him. He will not have been at-one with the rest of the team. (Only much later did they realise he may have been concussed in an earlier incident.)
We too have made some awful mistakes. Nothing we can do will make us winners who can appear before the great Lord God. Although we may not have broken any of the greatest laws of mankind such as murder or adultery, we have failed to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and souls and minds. We have lost the game of life.


But we are not as Karius. We, amazingly, have been put at-one with the Lord God. Not through anything we have done or could possibly do, but because of what Jesus has done for us. Jesus has made at-one-ment for the sins of the people. He has done that by his death on the cross; by giving his blood as a sacrifice for us. Later our writer categorically announces that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (9:22) The reference is, of course, to the blood of animal sacrifices made for the forgiveness of sins. Why that should be is never completely clear but it is a fundamental background understanding through scripture. The writer to the Hebrews is going to go on to explain this background in great detail though he only uses the word ‘atonement’ once more in his book.

Rejoice then! We have been accepted into the favour of the Lord God through the action of Jesus. Charles Wesley’s great hymn starts, ‘And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Saviour’s blood’
 
Its answer is Yes, Yes, and Yes.

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Partakers Friday Prayers!

21 September 2018

 

We pray together and when Christians pray together, including across the internet and from different times, different nations, different churches and different denominations - that reveals Church unity!

 

Almighty, eternal and merciful God,
whose Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path,
open and illuminate our minds,
that we may purely and perfectly
understand Your Word
and that our lives may be conformed
to what we have rightly understood,
that in nothing we may be displeasing
to Your majesty,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

(A prayer of Ulrich Zwingli)

 

 

 

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Testimony - Andy

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Come and hear Andy give his testimony of a journey

from darkness into glorious Christian joy!

 

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Giving

 

A story - King's Cross to Caledonian Road. And what happened when...

Time, possessions and money

Giving is seemingly one of the three forbidden subjects for Christians to discuss in the 21st century! The other two being sex and power. Jesus talked about all three often!

Every person has in differing quantities: time, talent, possessions and money. In relationship to giving, the Church is to be a community where the strongest members support the weakest members. This applies not only to the local church, but also at a national and international level as well.

Too often, even as Christian Disciples we are found turning a blind eye to the suffering of others where the bare necessities of life are in sparse existence. Too often we gather possessions and people, instead of giving up our time and money generously to help the poor and needy of both our world and local communities. Too often we keep our time and talents selfishly to ourselves instead of giving them to others in need.

Spiritual Growth Indicator

Perhaps the greatest indicator of spiritual growth in the Christian Disciple concerns their giving – particularly financial giving. Paul writing to the Corinthians commands that giving is to be done whole-heartedly and cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7). WOW! For the Christian Disciple, it is not so much how much is given, but how much is left after giving. God looks beyond the amount that is given to the motive and attitude behind the giving. All of our money, time, talents and possessions belong to God anyway, so giving is to be in response to this. Giving is to be done out of love for God. Paul offers in 1 Corinthians 16:2 a three-point system for giving financially: regularly, methodically and proportionately.

Failure to give back to God's work what He has given the Christian Disciple in the first place, robs God (Malachi 3:8). The reason it robs is because the giving cannot be used to support those who are working for God. As a result of giving, the Christian Disciple will be blessed (Malachi 3:10) and have their needs satisfied (Philippians 4:19).

Old Testament
In the Old Testament, Widows were important to God, because justice is important to God as He is a God of perfect justice and consummate mercy. In the Old Testament, under the Law of Moses, God commanded provision for those who were widows, oppressed or uncared for.

The 12 Apostles would have known about God caring for the widows and through Jesus’ teaching about justice for the poor and the oppressed. We know this because if you read the Book of Acts, people were selling and sharing possessions and ensuring that all people within the Christian community were being looked after and cared for. This included making sure that everyone got fed, particularly those who had no family to care for them. And it was not just for those within the church – but from the wider community!

New Testament
The New Testament church made sure that financial giving was done and that the poor, the oppressed, the lonely and the widows were taken care of. People working fulltime for the Lord, were given recompense by others for their efforts. People gave. Paul in Romans 12:6-8 places giving as a spiritual gift! I wonder how many people have asked specifically for that particular gift. Perhaps it’s the least asked for gift; after all it isn’t one of the supposedly spectacular ones!

You and I
How are you doing? How is your giving of your time, your talents, your possessions and your money on a local, national and international level? The get out clause for a lot of Christians is that it would not be good stewardship to give to that person or that cause. Or they say the passages in the book of Acts are only descriptive of that particular time and have no relevance for us today.
Each of us has in varying quantities: time, talents, possessions and money. How is your giving of those to others doing? God gave everything so that you and I may have life and life in abundance. So by giving generously of your time, your talents, your possessions and your finances, you are reflecting that. Just as God gave and gives generously, and gave His Son as a ransom for sin. If you have run out of ideas about how to give what you have, ask God to show you and give you some creative ideas! Go live! Go give!

How’s that for a WOW word?

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POD - Psalm 98

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Psalm 98

 

1 Oh, sing to the LORD a new song!
For He has done marvelous things;
His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.
2 The LORD has made known His salvation;
His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations.

3 He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel;
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
4 Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth;
Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises.

5 Sing to the LORD with the harp,
With the harp and the sound of a psalm,
6 With trumpets and the sound of a horn;
Shout joyfully before the LORD, the King.

7 Let the sea roar, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell in it;
8 Let the rivers clap their hands;
Let the hills be joyful together
9 before the LORD,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
With righteousness He shall judge the world,
And the peoples with equity.

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Think Spot - 17th September, 2018

 

God's love in the Bible is seen as unfailing, everlasting, intimate, sacrificial, unbreakable, all-conquering, personal, great, immeasurable and all-knowing. This is seen supremely in the Cross of Jesus Christ, when He died for the sins of the world. Supreme love overcoming all that is not love. Even when great acts of evil are committed in the world, such as the slaughter of innocents this past week in parts of the world where terrorism and genocide are rife, love is all around. Love continues despite such acts. How are Christians to respond to this love of God?

The apostle John writes in 1 John 4:15-16

"If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them."

Our motivation as Christians is to love and to be love. This is a love, which is sacrificial and self-less. It is tough love which is of service to other people. Loving and serving others, are the primary ways of showing you love God! It is easiest to love your friends. But Jesus commanded that his followers also love their enemies (Matthew 5:43-45)! Now that is very radical and can be difficult! We see constantly in the media and elsewhere, that regards our enemies, we are to be confrontational or at best to just ignore them!

How is it possible to love our enemies? It is only with the help of God and His abundant grace towards us! We depend on the Holy Spirit who lives inside all Christians to empower and guide! To only love those who love you is what is expected by people everywhere as normal behaviour. But as a Christian, you are to do more! You are to be seen to love more than other people. You don’t have to like others as friends, but you do have to love them as fellow human beings!

Go into this week, being prepared to show your love of Jesus Christ, remaining close to Him and serving other people generously with abundant grace-filled love! By loving and serving others, you become God’s arms and legs in a physical world. One of the greatest limitations you face in loving and serving other people is a severe lack of imagination!

So as you go into this week, ask God to expand your imagination to love and serve; as well as asking for the opportunities to do them. Loving and serving are hallmarks of an authentic Christian life. Love continues even amidst chaos and turmoil all around. Go and be part of the continuing of love.

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 2

Welcome back to this series “Investigating Jesus Christ”. Together we are exploring the life of the most amazing person who ever lived - Jesus Christ of Nazareth. We will investigate together who this man was and why he matters.

Today we continue looking at some of the evidences outside of the Bible for the existence of the man we know as Jesus Christ.

Mara Bar-Serapion (70AD) from “Letter to his son”)

“What benefit did the Athenians obtain by putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as judgment for their crime. Or, the people of Samos for burning Pythagoras? In one moment their country was covered with sand. Or the Jews by murdering their wise king? After that their kingdom was abolished. God rightly avenged these men…The wise king…Lived on in the teachings he enacted.”

Pliny the Younger (61-113AD) from “Book 10, Letter 96”

“The Christians) were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food—but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.

Phlegon (80-140AD)

Here the darkness surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus Christ is described, in an effort to explain it: “Phlegon records that, in the time of Tiberius Caesar, at full moon, there was a full eclipse of the sun from the sixth to the ninth hour.” (“Chronography”, 18:1)

“Now Phlegon, in the thirteenth or fourteenth book, I think, of his Chronicles, not only ascribed to Jesus a knowledge of future events . . . but also testified that the result corresponded to His predictions.” (“Origen Against Celsus”, Book 2, Chapter 14)

“And with regard to the eclipse in the time of Tiberius Caesar, in whose reign Jesus appears to have been crucified, and the great earthquakes which then took place …” (“Origen Against Celsus”, Book 2, Chapter 33)

“Jesus, while alive, was of no assistance to himself, but that he arose after death, and exhibited the marks of his punishment, and showed how his hands had been pierced by nails.” (“Origen Against Celsus”, Book 2, Chapter 59)

Suetonius (69-140AD)

“Because the Jews at Rome caused constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus (Christ), he (Claudius) expelled them from the city (Rome).” “Life of Claudius”, 25:4

“Nero inflicted punishment on the Christians, a sect given to a new and mischievous religious belief.” “Lives of the Caesars”, 26.2

Lucian of Samosata: (115-200 AD) from “The Death of Peregrine”. 11-13)

“The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account…. You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws. All this they take quite on faith, with the result that they despise all worldly goods alike, regarding them merely as common property.”

 

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Highlights in Hebrews
Highlights in Hebrews
(with Roger Kirby)

Part 6 - Hebrews 2:10

Jesus our pioneer

1 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.

Our main emphasis here is going to be on that word ‘pioneer’ but before we go there here is another thought from this verse.


Have you fully realised that you are a brother or a sister of the Lord of Creation? He is your elder brother. WOW and triple WOW!

The word translated ‘pioneer’ in the latest NIV or ‘author’ in the older one is quite tricky to get the full meaning of. Authors write down something that has not been written before; pioneers hack a new way through the jungle where no one has been before. I like to think of the word ‘pathfinder’ as a possible translation although I can’t find it in any version. A ‘pathfinder’ is a member of a unit of the British army whose dangerous job it is to go ahead of the main force; to identify where helicopters can land; to locate the enemy and where he can be best attacked. And those are just the things that Jesus did for us - with a bit of imagination.
 
What Jesus did was exceedingly dangerous - he actually had to die doing it. When the Lord God created our world he deliberately made it a chaotic place. It may seem strange to us but earthquakes, tsunamis, thunderstorms and so on are part of the very interesting place in which we live. Otherwise it would be a very boring place! He also ensured that we would not all be perfect, living to a ripe old age without any aches and pains or diseases on the way. But neither of those sets of chaotic problems are the worst part of life on this earth. No, the worst part is what men and women do to other men and women. The sinfulness of humans is the source of all the worst things that can happen to us. As a result suffering is a normal and almost essential part of our life experiences. Only in a comparatively few peaceful and quiet parts of the world can fortunate folk expect to live lives without suffering caused by humans.

It was the great and amazing intention of the Triune God that Jesus, the earthly embodiment of that Trinity, should be the pathfinder to force a way through the jungle of sinful humanity, to search out the enemy, Satan, and to die in doing so. In that victory his true people became his brothers and sisters. So, as the next verses say, “ Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.”(2:11) and “ Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil”.(2:14)

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Partakers Friday Prayers

14 September 2018

 

Come and join in praying for the world and yourself, offering praises to God through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit!

 

Order of Service

 

Opening prayer

Confession

Psalm 65

Prayers for Churches and Christians worldwide

Prayers for others

Silent time (Prayer for your own concerns)

Prayers for the world

Prayer of Benedict of Nursia

 

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From Skeptic to Salvation

Hello my name is Richard. I have been asked to record the words of my testimony as I read them out at my Baptism in June 2009. Before I read my testimony at my Baptism, I said a short prayer. I shall start by saying the same prayer now. Heavenly Father, Almighty God, please hear my prayer. Please give me now the strength, ability, and most of all, the humility, through your Holy Spirit, to say what I want to read out to this congregation, as you would want me to read and say it Lord. Please allow me to keep control of myself, and my emotions, whilst doing so. I stand humbly before you Lord God, and before your beloved Son, Christ Jesus. Amen.

Before I speak out my Testimony to you, I wish to thank "all of you" for coming here this evening. I especially wish to thank the fellowship of Poulner Baptist Chapel ( The Church On The Hill ) for all their prayers, kindness and care shown to me over the past months, of what has been, for me, a difficult time. I praise the Lord for Dave Roberts, for his help and support, and his World Wide connections through Partake Ministries and his wonderful Web-Site. Because of Dave and his Web-Site, I have received, e-mail prayers from Christians all over the world, which have given me great heart and comfort. So much so, that they have made me cry with joy. I think whenever I re-read them they will always do so. It is due and down to Dave Roberts, that I am standing here today being Baptised.

I wish to give a special thanks to Jeremy Andrews " Pastor " Jeremy from my previous chapel who, through kindness and no small sacrifice to himself, and to his own Church and Fellowship, has come here this evening to Baptise me with Adam. Thank you my Christian friend Jeremy.

As I have said, my name is Richard. I am 62 years of age. For 59 years of my life, I lived with faith " only in myself ".I was at best a Skeptic, at worst an Atheist. I would go right out of my way to test and very strongly argue against anyone I met, who professed to have a faith, in any sort of God. I needed nothing, but my own free will. All my faith was "only" in myself.

In 2002 / 2003 my world fell apart. I was left alone to myself. All my lifelong responsibilities disappeared. I became for 2 years a solitary hermit, living in my house, completely alone. It was during this time, alone, that I started to question, :- What my life was about. What was I here for. What was the reason for my being, if there even was one. I wanted, and so needed contact with other people. I needed to talk, to be listened to, and to listen to others. We are not meant to be solitary beings we are social creatures. We so need fellowship with others, like we need food.

After over 2 years of self imposed solitary confinement, I was becoming worried about losing my ability to communicate with others. It was back just before Christmas 2005, I received through my door the usual annual programme of all the Churches in my area, listing all their events, over the Christmas period. I decided to systematically visit all of them. Not to seek faith, Oh No', I'm a Skeptic, an Atheist. I just want to have communication with others. I visited most of the local Churches over the coming months, and always found people to speak and listen to, but none of the Churches somehow felt right for me, until I visited " Verwood Road Evangelical Chapel", just up the road from where I live, in Three Legged Cross. Here I felt good, " well better ". I liked the way they did things. It was not a liberal church. It was more leaning towards, a Brethren sort of fellowship, but not too hard line. There was no pomp or high ceremony, no fancy clothes or precious things to see or worship. These were ordinary people, just like me.

Over the next 10 months I visited V.R.C. " on and off " at first, maybe once or twice a month and found that I liked it more and more, so I went more and more. By October 2006, I found that I was wanting to go not only every Sunday but twice on Sundays. It was at this time that I seriously decided to the best of my ability, to very fully investigate just what this Christianity was really all about. How could so many intelligent, thinking people, believe in it?

For the next 6 months, I lived in the single minded state of total study of the Christian faith. I devoted all of my time to the study of the Bible and many, many books, both for and against the Christian faith. I prayed and prayed so very hard to God to give me a definite sign - a proof that God was out there and not something made-up in my own mind. I was in heartfelt tears, many, many times, asking for some proof, a miracle even, a certain sign, anything, but no sign or proof came. I was God's for the taking, but both He, and my heart, wasn't ready.

In late March 2007, something happened to turn me completely off Christianity. I went from very serious " single minded seeking " with all my heart and soul, TO - " This Christianity is certainly not for me ". It is not " at all " important what " event " occurred to cause this absolute turn around. It is only important to understand that it was very strongly driven by " My Own Self Pride ". God knew that it had to be, for Him to use it, to turn this 60 year old Atheist into a Christian. It was during my very powerful, and emotional efforts, to try and take a wrong, and turn it into a right, No matter what the cost, that my eyes were turned back into myself. To see, or to start to see, that all I hated and despised in others, was also, very present in myself. I was no better, than all those that I felt the very strong need to " bring to rights " in my life. It was at this moment in time, of now seeing, just what " I Am ", that my life changed forever. I was born on Easter Friday, Good Friday, the 4th. April.

In 2007, Three days after my 60th. Birthday, at exactly 12:32 p.m. lunch-time on Easter Saturday, the 7th. April, I at last discovered, that I was nothing, undeserving of my life, A Sinner that so needed the forgiveness of God. This opened my heart to God, and at that very moment, He Came In. It was at this time, that I understood, for the very first time, the Amazing events of Easter, and that Jesus died for me, that I may have life, and live life, to the full.

The next day, Easter Sunday, 2007, I took my first communion with my God. I would now like to say, that I am not a writer, I agree with " Winnie The Pooh Bear ", when he said.:- "Yes' I know all my letters, but my spelling is wobbly. It's good spelling, but it wobbles, and my letters get into the wrong places!" I'm not a poet either. I'm a practical man, an engineer. In the early hours of Easter Monday morning, 2007, at 1:30 a.m. whilst I was sat in my back porch thinking " in a daze " about what had happened to me on Easter Saturday, I picked up a pen and without thinking, wrote out the following poem. It is un-referenced, original and un-edited. It is just as it came down to me, 37 hours after finding my faith.

This poem is called :- The Fellowship - ( Revealed )
I don't know where I'm going,
I don't know where I've been,

I don't know what's in store for me,

But God has hold, to let me see.

For he will surely show my way,
My guide,
to lead,
to change each day.

To give me life, I've never seen,
To serve, to try, to make life clean,

To hold me close, to let me go,

To understand, To love me so.

My God is One, with saviour Christ,
He gave for me, The Total Price.

My heart is found, the Ghost within,

Salvation sealed, Forgiven Sin.

My past remains, but all washed clean,
My future comes, like it's never been.

I cannot say the words I feel,

Of things that are, to me so real.

My sad, sad past, is gone, my futures clean,
For with my eyes, new life I've seen.

This gift of love, that has been given,

Shall remain with me, right through to Heaven.

 I believe that this poem was written with God's help. There is nothing good that can come out of me, from my own self, Self. Any good that may come from me, comes through me, from God. So please just Praise the Lord. ( Thank you.)

 

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