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2019 Bible Reading

The Greatest Commandment | March 22-28, 2019

Cliff Huffmire

Mentoring Pastor

Deuteronomy 6:1-7

I admit it: I am a rebel. I was born that way, and it is a daily struggle to overcome such a tendency by the grace of God. If it were not for Jesus, I would be hopeless.

This week we are reading The Greatest Commandment in Deuteronomy 6:1-7. “Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the LORD your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the LORD your God, you and your son and your son's son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long.Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.’”

As I read this passage, it seems straightforward. However, I find myself resistant to the word “commandment” and I don’t think I am alone in this struggle.

I recently noticed that we tend to talk about God “asking” us to do things as opposed to His commanding us, as in: “God will never ask us to do something that He will not give us the strength to do it.”

I began to get curious and did a word study on the subject. I found that we “ask” God 140 times, “asks” God 18 times, and “asked” God for things 156 times. In the Bible, man asks God a total of 314 times to meet our needs. Furthermore, I found that nowhere in scripture does God “ask” us for something, while He “commands”, in one form or another, 460 times. My conclusion to this word study: I must “ask” myself “Who is in charge here?”

As believers, we talk about God being sovereign over the daily affairs of life while also forgetting that He is the sovereign King who deserves our obedience in everything.

Jesus left us with a parting commandment in Matthew 28:18-19,“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

This is not the Great Suggestion. It is Jesus’ sovereign will for the church. We all have some part in fulfilling His will because Jesus did not ask us, he commanded us. Do you know what your part is?


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Joel Custodio

Worship Pastor

Psalm 36

When planning the music for our worship gatherings, the priority is always to ensure that the lyrics are theologically sound and that the gospel is clear in our corporate singing.

Among other things, I also carefully consider our volunteer musicians scheduled for each weekend and what they might be up against. God has blessed our church with very talented people, yet it is important to weigh the technical difficulty of the music with what our musicians are capable of. Is this week’s keyboardist one of our younger musicians? Is the drummer confident in ¾ time? Can the guitarist nail that opening lick?

It is important for me to be clear about their capacity and what I am asking them to do.

In Psalm 36, David is weighing what he is up against, who his God is, and what he is asking God to do about his plight.

Realize what we are up against vv. 1-4

David was dealing with Saul and his court, and in these verses, we can see David clarify the root of wickedness within his foes, an arrogance and disregard for God, a lack of fear of God. It is the same with our foe. It is important for us to realize who our enemy is, to realize what we are up against.

2 Cor. 11:13-15 says that Satan masquerades as an angel of light. 1 John 2:22 describes the antichrist as a liar who denies Jesus Christ and the Father.   John 8:44 dubs Satan as the father of lies. Our enemy is a liar bent on deceiving us about who God is and who we are in Christ.

Remember who our God is vv. 5-9

Before asking God for deliverance from his enemies, David breaks into worship and proclaims truth about the greatness of God. We see attributes of God that are absolute and unfailing. We can recount with David the height, depth, and breadth of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness, His righteousness in judgment, the protection He provides, His generosity, and how Heis the source of light and life. Jesus is “the true light, which enlightens everyone…” and “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (Jn. 1:11-12)

Jesus is the image of the invisible God; all things were created through Him and for Him, and He is preeminent. (Col.1:15-20). We must remember the greatness of our God displayed through Jesus and what He is capable of.

Request of God in confidence vv. 10-12

Once reminded of how great our God is, we can be clear and confident about what to request of him in the face of our enemy. We can request that we be protected by His might and that our enemy would be restrained. David shows us such confidence as he writes in verse 12 how the enemy is already fallen, thrust down, unable to rise.

We must heed scripture and realize who our enemy is and how he lies. Be reminded of who our God is and what he is capable of. And finally, “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Phil. 4:6)


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The Lampstand of God's Word | March 8-14, 2019

Duane Clark

Spiritual Care Pastor

Num 8-27, Ps 31

The single handle faucet at our kitchen sink had been cantankerously dripping for some time. When I finally tried to disassemble the faucet and replace the worn parts, I needed more light than what the overhead kitchen lights provided. So, I used the handy flashlight on my iPhone to shed light right in front of me where it was much needed.

The seven lamps of the lampstand spoken of in our reading this week in Numbers 8:2-4, were to “give light in front of the lampstand” to illuminate the “holy place,” just where the ministering priests needed the light. Here, the priests worshipfully burned incense representing the prayers of God’s people, tended to the showbread representing the 12 tribes of Israel, and trimmed and fueled the seven lamps of the lampstand so the much-needed light was constantly present.

The light of God’s word shines on some significant events in the life of God’s people in our reading in Numbers 8-27 this week. They show how those who understand their position before God and magnify his holiness are blessed. They also show the great consequences for those who fail to do so and choose disobedience. Each of these events ultimately show that God is worthy of mankind’s acknowledgement of God’s holiness and sovereignty.

To list a few:

-The setting apart and cleansing of the Levites as priests.

-Celebration of the very 1st annual Passover.

-The “cloud by day and fire by night” method of God leading the way in the wilderness.

-God’s provision of quail and his judgement on the people’s response of gluttony.

-Miriam and Aaron’s opposition of Moses’ leadership and God’s judgement for their actions.

-12 spies sent into Canaan and the people’s fear of their report.

-God’s judgement for the people’s lack of trust in Him by forbidding that any of that generation, except Joshua & Caleb, would live to see the promised land.

-Korah’s rebellion and subsequent judgement

-Moses strikes the rock to provide water instead of obediently speaking to it

-Balaam and His donkey

-Phinehas righteously halts the judgement of God against Baal worship

-Joshua chosen to succeed Moses.

This week we also read in Psalm 31. Ps 31:3b says, “for Your name’s sake You lead and guide me.” David recognizes that as the Lord shines, His light of guidance radiates so that His name would be rightfully honored. David sees, as we should, that the light of God’s truth calls us to worshipful obedience.

Today, though worship is not functionally the same on this side of the cross as David or the Israelites, we are still called to the worshipful acknowledgment of God and His glory. This is both an individual and a corporate call to a worship lifestyle. Allow the “lampstand” of God’s Word to light your way this week. Respond to Him in purposeful, worshipful obedience. He is our holy, sovereign God!

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:11



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Spiritual Surgery | March 1-7, 2019

Brian Schoonmaker

Men's Ministry & Counseling Pastor

Hebrews 4

I had the honor of working in law enforcement for over three decades in the County of Los Angeles. In all of those years I had never received a 911 call from a patient in a hospital emergency room complaining that his doctor assaulted him and wounded him. Nor have I ever arrested a doctor for an assault with a deadly weapon for using a scalpel to cut into one of his patients while performing surgery. Can you imagine?

Police Dispatch: “911, state your emergency.”

Caller: “Yes, I’m at the General Hospital in the emergency room lying on a gurney. I came in this morning because of an abdominal tumor that is cancerous. My doctor proceeded to drug me and then slice me open with a sharp weapon. I began bleeding profusely from the wound. Using another sharp weapon he cut out my tumor. And now he’s piercing this same area repeatedly with a needle and thread, I think in an attempt to conceal the wound, which he inflicted upon me. I need an officer to come and place him under arrest for ‘assault with a deadly weapon!’ I am willing to press charges”

Well, this is absurd, of course. We all know that if a medical doctor needs to cut us open it is for our good in order to repair us. The doctor has no evil intent to cause undue harm to us. In fact, we pay him a lot of money for cutting us open! But the end result is worth it. We’ve been healed.

Similarly, Hebrews 4:12 is a picture of spiritual surgery. It says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The word of God, in a sense, cuts deep into our soul in order to perform spiritual surgery on our hearts. The heart of man is naturally “deceitful above all things and desperately sick” (Jer 17:9). We are loathsome in our natural state. We cannot change the natural condition of our heart. Only God can go deep enough into our sin-sick soul to change us internally. The word of God is living and therefore produces life and change inside of the Christian. It actively transforms our hearts in ways nothing else can.

Colossians 3:16 tells us to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” In other words, if we saturate ourselves with the word of God, Hebrews 4:12 says God will use it to perform spiritual surgery on our hearts and our minds. Of course, there will be “surgical” pain along the way, but the Great Physician intends for the pain to help repair and heal us. Pain is a gift from God as it produces growth (James 1:1-5).

Get into the word of God and let the word of God get into you. The results will be a complete metamorphosis of the heart.



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Will This Go Well For You? | February 22-28, 2019

Jeremy Hartley

Assistant Pastor

Leviticus 26

As the parents of three kids that are 5 and under, Noel and I find ourselves repeating the same phrases to our little ones over and over again. One of those phrases comes up when we see a potential argument or scuffle form. We ask, “Will this go well for you?” When we ask them this question it is meant to get them thinking about potential consequences. On the flipside, when we see them doing something great, we usually help them pause and ponder the blessing that comes from being nice, sharing, and helping others.  

After detailing His requirements for holy living in the book of Leviticus, God asks the Israelites to ponder what happens after their actions. He essentially commands them to ask themselves “Will this go well for you?” Leviticus 26 provides a summary of possible outcomes for their actions. They will receive blessings for obedience and punishments for disobedience.

Let’s take a look at one of the promises for obedience. Leviticus 26:12 says, “And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.” God promises that He will finally walk with His people, something that hasn’t happened since the Garden of Eden! Did you know this promise is prevalent throughout Scripture? Paul quotes it in 2 Corinthians 6:16, and John records God repeating this phrase in heaven! “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’ (Revelation 21:3) Think with me about this lofty promise. God, who is completely holy and incomprehensible in power is telling us that He will one day allow us to dwell with Him!

Furthermore, praise be to God that we do not have to exercise complete obedience in order to earn this promise! We know that the Law was never the ladder to heaven, but instead a mirror to our souls showing our inability to maintain this type of obedience. Jesus was the one who fulfilled what we could not to make a way for God to dwell with His people!

1 Peter 2:24 says, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” This means that God has given us the ability to live righteously! Our obedience to Him is a direct result of His work. These law descriptions in our Bible reading the last few weeks “help us to see what sin costs as well as the fullness of our forgiveness made possible through the once-for-all perfect sacrifice of Christ.”[1]

Take joy in your life knowing that if you trust in Christ it will go well with you. One day you and I will dwell in the presence of God!

“One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.” Psalm 27:4


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Context Is Everything | February 15-21, 2019

Westen Pursley

Youth Ministries Director

ACTS 13:2-3

One of my favorite things to do on vacation is let my boys ride their quad-shaped power wheel.  I love just sitting back and watching people’s responses when my 12-month-old boy goes riding by seemingly on his own. What really gets them going (and me) is when that same boy goes back by them but in reverse, perfectly controlled and balanced. They always point in amazement, call their friends over, and look around for the baby’s parents. At this point I’m usually tucked behind a tree, watching intently, and taking it all in. From their perspective, that ‘baby’ is doing the unthinkable. However, what they don’t know is that I’m actually the one controlling the power wheel with a remote. Every movement, in any direction, is 100% by my doing. Context is Everything!

Context is the information we know surrounding a certain event, topic, or idea in order to improve our understanding. As we come to the second half of Acts, we are given a first-hand account of what Paul experienced as he took the Gospel from the Jews to the Gentiles. For example, if I just said that Paul started sharing the Gospel to Gentiles and they believed, while true, we would miss so much significance due to lack of context. But Scripture doesn’t state it so plainly, and with good reason.

I counted six times where Paul was either attacked or aggressively confronted. Multiple times he was thrown into prison, with the final imprisonment ending in his death. In Acts 13:9, Saul even began to go by his Roman name, you guessed it – Paul, in order to more effectively reach a Gentile audience. He and his companions visited over 15 different major cities, proclaiming the Gospel in each one. Interesting side note as you read, notice the different tactics he uses to share the Gospel in each of those cities. What I find most interesting is that it is here, in the second half of Acts, that we get the context for most of the other New Testament letters written by Paul.

Acts 13-14 describe Paul’s near-death stoning during a visit to the region of Galatia (Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe), to which the book of Galatians was written. In Acts 16-18, Paul met Timothy (1&2 Timothy), was imprisoned in Philippi (Philippians), escaped a mob in Thessalonica (1&2 Thessalonians), and evaded accusations in Corinth (1&2 Corinthians). Lastly in Acts 19-21, Paul escaped a riot and confronted Ephesus (Ephesians). Without Acts, each of these individual letters would be missing their unique and crucial context. They would appear as my boys on the power wheel, doing the impossible. However, God is the one doing everything.

As you consider context, Acts is the only book in the Bible where the ending is still being written. Notice the abrupt ending that leaves us wondering, “What?! That’s it? What happened to Paul?” God was intentional with where Acts leaves off because the Gospel of Jesus Christ is still being spread amongst all the nations, even to us today.

I mentioned the hardships faced in those cities above, but the reality is that God was in fact growing His Church. Unbelievers were converted, churches were established, and sinners were saved. It was because of God’s grace through Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles that we have the Gospel in the Antelope Valley. I stand on the shoulders of faithful men and women who braved opposition to stand and proclaim Christ. The question I have for you and me, is “who will stand on our shoulders as the Gospel continues to spread?” You see, Context is Everything!



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Set Apart by His Spirit | February 8-14, 2019

Josh DeVore

Children’s Ministry Director


ACTS 1:8

I once visited Buckingham Palace in England and was struck by the Queen’s Royal Guard stationed out front of the palace. All day, a sea of tourists rushed by, stopping to take pictures with them, while the guards stood completely still. I was amazed by their composure even more than the palace itself. Funny how being motionless and resolute can attract such attention.

Congratulations, we are finishing Exodus and beginning the Book of Acts this week! Exodus covered the great EXIT of Israel from Egypt (Ex. 12:50-51), and then unfolds the long journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, where Israel is set apart as holy for the Lord (Ex. 19:4-6). When God established His covenant with Israel, He said, “[A]ll the people among who you are shall see the work of the Lord, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you” (Ex. 34:10b). God gave the Israelites laws and customs that set them apart as different from the surrounding nations. It made them holy. Israel’s holiness attracted attention from surrounding nations, much like motionless guards attract attention among swarms of tourists in constant motion.

In Exodus the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20) are established to help God’s people stand firm and immovable, by showing them what is pleasing in the sight of God. Then, between Exodus and the Book of Acts, Christ leaves believers a gift far greater than the Law. He brings salvation and imparts His Spirit to live within them that they may long for what is pleasing to the Lord (John 14:15-17).

The Old and New Testament are unique yet the same. In the Old Testament, God’s people are set apart because the Lord extended grace in preservation of His children. The laws of the Old Testament were resources for God’s people to respond in appreciation for the grace God demonstrated toward them. Then, in the New Testament, God’s grace is seen through the Holy Spirit compelling them toward love and good deeds. God’s grace is an unchanging feature that highlights His love for humanity and desire for relationship with them.

As we begin the Book of Acts, notice that God’s people are no longer restricted to a single nation. Rather, all people are invited into relationship through the gift of the Holy Spirit by salvation. Acts 1:8 writes, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” When believers live resolute, they attract attention, similar to the attention tourists give the Queen’s Royal Guard. The Guard represents the Queen but is merely a shadow of her and her kingdom. As the Guard fulfills their role, the Queen is glorified. In the same way, may our lives magnify a kingdom that cannot be shaken as we study the King of Kings. God bless!



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The Law | February 1-7, 2019

CJ Johnson

Adult Ministries Director


I was a history major in college and the one math class I took didn’t go so well.  The truth is, math is not something I’m gifted at so thank you to all of the people like Jim Marshall and Fred Jaramillo who helped me out during my high school career. Now if you share my pain I know that at one point in time during your education you probably said, “When am I ever going to use this?”  I definitely think that’s still a valid question because I can’t remember the last time I used algebra. However, I do remember Jim Marshall explaining to me during an SAT tutoring session that all math is useful and a tool we need to understand.

Sometimes we view the Old Testament the same way we view math.  We often think since we have the New Testament and no longer need the law, it’s pointless to go through the pains of understanding it.  This week, we come to Exodus 20 and begin our reading of the law.  This will continue over the next couple of months as we go through Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy (aka the infamous reading plan killers).  My hope for you is that you’ll see the significance of the law and how it is still relevant to us today. 

Now, it’s relevance does not mean I’m going to call for us to sacrifice an animal this week in church, but my encouragement is to not leave the law to the experts.  It is possible for all of us to understand what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:17 when he said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”   

Let’s break it down.  The law was first established as a part of the covenant God made with Abraham in Genesis 12 when he promised him land, nation, and blessing.  Half a century later, while the Israelites are wandering after the Exodus, God establishes how his covenant people would function as a society and how they would worship him.  These laws reflect God’s standard of holiness. It is these laws that show us how incapable we are of reaching God’s standard and our need for someone to fulfill them for us, namely Christ.

I would encourage us to not let these next books become a reading plan killer.  Instead, see these passages as part of God’s eternal plan to bring salvation and glorify his son. The laws in Exodus through Deuteronomy all point to one main thing.  That Christ would come and perfectly fulfill them on our behalf.  Consider Hebrews 9:11-12,

“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”

Jesus deserves all the glory and honor. When we read the law, let us remember the Father’s perfect plan in sending his Son, and the humble submission of the Son who came and lived a perfect life so he could, once for all, become the perfect sacrifice to secure an eternal redemption for you. All of this because he loves you.



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Why Have You Forsaken Me? | January 22-28, 2019

Pastor Christian Powers

College Ministry Pastor

PSALM 22 & MARK 15

Lord, do you see me, do you hear me, do you even care about what I’m going through?

These words, and many like them, have been verbally uttered from the lips, and silently prayed from the hearts, of many throughout the centuries. They are words of pain, sorrow and grief. They communicate the turmoil that each of us go through because of the sin-stricken world we live in. All of us, at one time or another, have prayed, or will pray, this prayer.

There are many joys in this world, but let’s face it, living in a world with sin is hard! Regardless if it is our sin, or the sins of others, each of us are intimately acquainted with its harsh reality. Each of us have felt the pain of broken friendships, the betrayal of family, the loss of life, and many other things. This is called suffering, and it’s real, and it stinks.

Though each of us face varying degrees of suffering, none are exempt from it. It’s a non-negotiable in this life. That’s the consequence of living in a sinful world. Yes, some may try to numb the hurts and heartaches of this life, but none can completely escape them. And as we go through suffering, many of us have wondered if God sees and cares.

So, what are we to do? We must look upward! We must fix our eyes on our Savior! In Him, and Him alone, is our hope found!

This week we will read Psalm 22 and finish reading the Gospel according to Mark. In Mark 15 we read that when Jesus, the perfectly sinless Son of God, was on the cross about to die, He uttered the words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (15:34) These words are quoted from Psalm 22 and are meant to point us back there for the answer.

Psalm 22 was written about a thousand years before, and perfectly pictures the suffering Jesus would go through on the cross. And the question that is begged from this is, “WHY?!” Why would the perfect Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity, willingly suffer on this earth, and ultimately be forsaken by His Father? The answer: for us. William MacDonald has said this:

…when we read of Christ’s deep, deep suffering, it should always be with the keen awareness that He bore it all for us. We should punctuate each statement with the words for me. He was forsaken—for me. When I hear Him cry, “Why are you so far from helping me…, I know that it was for me.[1]

May you be reminded this week that though suffering is real, and really hurts, our Lord doesn’t shrug us off with an uncaring attitude. Instead, He stepped down into our sin-stricken world to save us from that very suffering. And so, as you face painful situations, be reminded that Jesus was forsaken so that you wouldn’t be, and one day you will be with Him, FREE FROM SUFFERING.

The answer to the question we started with is YES, He sees, YES, He hears, YES, He cares. If you ever doubt that, just meditate on the cross.


[1] William MacDonald, The Believer’s Bible Commentary (Thomas Nelson, 1995), 577.


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A Simple And Easy Trick | January 15-21

Pastor Rob Dietzel

Outreach & Men's Ministry Pastor


As a father of three, I can recall the days of constant interruptions. Often times our oldest son would come running up to Cari or me just BURSTING to tell us something on his mind regardless of whether we were already talking to someone.

Well he used to.

That was before Cari came up with this truly genius little technique.

We explained to him that if he wanted to talk and someone is already speaking, he needed to place his hand on our wrist and wait. Instead of interrupting, he simply placed his hand on my wrist and waited. I would place my hand over his to acknowledge him and continue my conversation. Once the conversation was done I’d give him my complete attention.

So simple. So gentle. So respectful.

It took some practice and a few light taps on our own wrists as gentle reminders but I am happy to report that the interrupting stopped. Not only did it stop but he also trained his younger twin brothers to do the same!

Speaking of interruptions…

Genesis 38 is a significant interruption in our story of Joseph. In chapter 37 we learn how Joseph (and thus the entire nation of Israel) would end up in Egypt rather than Canaan. In the midst of Joseph’s narrative, chapter 38 tells us why this destination trip was necessary. This trip was necessary because the people of Israel needed to be separated from the evil people of the lands. This is clear from the actions described in Chapter 38.

The influence of these evil people on Judah and his family are exposed. Not only did his children commit wicked deeds, Judah himself participated in great immorality. The evil powers at work behind this sin are still at work today; yet the same God who providentially conquered evil and sin is alive and well and unchanging this very day.

While most parents would agree that their children don’t want to wait for anything, let’s be completely honest that most of us still hate waiting for what we want.

Yet some of the greatest figures in the Bible — Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David — all had to wait for many years for God’s promises. Everything that happened in the meantime was used to prepare them, inwardly as well as outwardly. Then, when they reached their promise, they were blessed beyond measure.

God invites us to trust in His goodness today and his faithfulness tomorrow. A simple and easy trick for us to experience His love and peace is to stop interrupting His timing and relinquish control to our heavenly Father. It unites our hearts with His. It creates a level of maturity and character that we will take with us into the future, and it enables us to enjoy his future blessings all the more.

Psalm 27:14 – “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”




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