Monthly Archives: October 2012

Gut Busters!

“For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Philippians 3:18-21 (emphasis mine)

I heard a sermon in September by Dema Kogan, Pastor of Kid’s Ministry at LEFC, which I thought was extremely good.

Our stomach represents a mindset of selfishness – it is telling us “feed me, give me, let me devour and consume.” When we’re hungry, we can become cranky! And until we’re feeling “full” some of us are never satisfied. Our stomach grumbles and wants to be filled in a self-absorbed way. We eat things we know to be bad for us because it feels good, tastes good, and gives us a gratification.

How many of us plan our days around the meals we’ll eat? How much time do we spend looking for recipes, making our plans or going out to eat? How much money do we spend on food (yikes!) versus charitable giving? Like the above verse, is our stomach our god and is our mind set on earthly things?

The pastor gave the following examples of “enemies of the cross” (Philippians 3:18 from above) verses “friends of the cross.” His first example was Adam (in Genesis 3:6) who partook of ‘the most expensive meal in history.’ Eating that apple that God had told him not to got him kicked out of Eden and had a negative impact on society as a whole. Because he didn’t say no to food he knew to be wrong, everyone would suffer the consequences. Pastor Dema compared Adam to Jesus (in Matthew 4:2-4) who fasted for 40 days and was hungry but would NOT turn the stones into bread to eat but rather focused on living on the words of God.

The next examples were Esau (in Genesis 25:29-34) who sold his birthright for mere stew because he was hungry after hunting. He gave up so much for so little! He wanted to eat right now versus waiting until he could find another option (I’ve written about him, so I’ll post it in the near future). Completely the opposite was true of David (in Samuel 23:13-17). He was in a stronghold and proclaimed his thirst, so three men risked their lives to get him a drink. Instead of consuming it, he poured it out before the Lord, noting that these men risked their lives so this water was like their blood and he couldn’t drink it. Even though he was extremely thirsty, this was a picture of self-sacrifice, worshiping the Lord verses his own desires.

The final example was the Israelites (in Numbers 11:4-6) which I’ve already blogged about. They whined about eating only manna and longed to go back to slavery so they could eat meat. They were filled with thinking about themselves and their bellies rather than God’s dreams for their lives. On the other hand, their leader Moses (in Exodus 33:14-18) was so committed to God that he didn’t want to go to the Promised Land without Him. He begged God not to leave them.

At this, Pastor Dema asked the question, if you could get to heaven – where there was no sickness and no pain, there were streets of gold and all the wealth you can imagine, if your loved ones were there and you had everything you asked for – BUT God was NOT there, would you want to go? This thought challenged me. Would we want to be anywhere without God? While having everything material may sound nice, what are we truly seeking? I thought about it this way, would I be satisfied here on earth with lots of possessions (nice house, car, jewelry, fashionable clothes), my health and my children but my husband weren’t part of the picture? For me, the answer is no. I’d rather live in a cardboard box and be together than be separate. And, after thinking about it, I feel the same way about God. What is heaven without Him? What do possessions matter if we’re missing the most important thing, our relationship with the Lord? Money, beauty, and even our bodies are here today and gone tomorrow. But, God remains forever and so should our relationship with Him.

Are there times that we live very self-absorbed? Is everything all about me? Do we make our church experience, our Bible study, our worship and our prayer time all about ourselves? Are we focused on our bellies and what we want to consume more than looking up at our Heavenly Father to guide us?

Pastor Dema gave the following solutions for the “belly problem.” The first was fasting (Isaiah 58:10-11). Last week in my Bible study, I read the following quote: “Sometimes we have allowed our prosperity to fill us with ‘junk food’ of the world so that we have no appetite for Him and His Word.” (found in Following God, Learning Life Principles from the Women of the Bible Book 1, by Wayne Barber, Eddie Rasnake and Richard Shepherd, 1999). Fasting empties us to the point that we need to rely on God to make it through our day. It gives us an appetite for Him when we’re not filled with other things and content!

The second gut buster was generosity (Proverbs 11:25, Hebrews 13:16). Instead of hoarding and being self-absorbed, we are to take care of others, realizing that God will take care of us. The third gut buster was community (Galations 6:2). Let’s take our eyes off ourselves and love God first and others second as Jesus commanded us. Finally, the ultimate belly buster came from John 7:37-39, where Jesus told us to drink from Him, His Holy Spirit.

If your belly is big, has your stomach become your god? If so, our hope is found at the end of those verses above from Philippians 3:21, which reminds us that “the Lord Jesus Christ,who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.”

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word! Please forgive us if we have lived a self-absorbed life. Forgive us of serving the god of our stomach rather than being focused on You and the great things You have in store for us. Help us give up our selfishness and see the world as You see it – may we care for others and experience joy in generosity. May we not be so filled with ‘junk food’ that we’re content to be lazy. May we have an appetite to seek You wholeheartedly, and may we find You. God, we don’t want to walk any part of this life or the next without You. Pierce our bellies and give us Your heart instead. And, we humbly ask that You would transform our lowly bodies to be glorious like You, all for Your honor. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

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Tired of Waiting?

“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

The first weekend in October, we were excited to get the mail and discover that we had received the caterpillars we had ordered! We put the cup with them in the kitchen where we could see them but the boys couldn’t disturb them. Each morning when we came downstairs, we would watch as they would eat and move, basically getting fatter and lazier (it seemed). The boys loved to watch them and “check the caterpillars” and would make observations. Eventually they hung upside down in their J-shape and formed the chrysalises. When we were sure that they were in their cocoon, my husband & I followed the instructions that came with them carefully, removing and pinning the small paper that they were attached to into the butterfly habitat we had purchased.

But then NOTHING. Each day the boys & I would go down to the kitchen eager to see what was happening only to be greeted by the same nothingness. I finally made a mental note to call the company to complain because I assumed that the transformation was never going to happen. Our caterpillars were dead (they have to die, I remember reading, to transform into butterflies) and nothing else was happening.

Then two days ago, we saw it… one beautiful butterfly was in our precious cage. This morning, the other two emerged. And it struck me that sometimes I’m impatient when God is making an incredible transformation. I assumed incorrectly that nothing was happening “behind the scenes.” I desired to see the beautiful transformation but missed the step of the work that was needed to see the butterfly come to life. We don’t see the work; it happens in the cocoon.

I’m hoping you see the parallels in your own life, like I did in mine. I was struck that we need to wait at times for the Lord’s perfect plan. We need to put our hope and trust in Him, and then we need to be patient.

I also remembered a story I had read about my friend’s butterfly experiment a long time ago. At the time I read it, I was severely overweight and feeling VERY hopeless. And I bawled at reading that the caterpillar had to die (I mean literal tears flowing from my cheeks!). Why, God, I asked…why do I have to die for something beautiful to happen? I felt His amazing presence remind me to die to myself and allow Him to transform me. It’s not an easy process, but it’s a worthwhile one. Are we willing to wait on Him and His plan? Will we trust Him to renew our strength?

Because I was so touched by my friend’s story, I had to put excerpts from it below. The author of it agreed to let me share it, and I cut some portions out, so we pick up near the middle, but it is a great way to explain what happens to these ‘ugly’ caterpillars as they become what God has destined them to be:

As we came down stairs for our breakfast, an amazing act of God was occurring right before our eyes. Our caterpillar was turning into his cocoon. We knew the time was approaching, because the night before he had gone to the top of the jar and hung upside down in a J-formation. His body dangled downward, while his face pointed upward.

As he went into his cocoon, he shook and shed his skin. The skin moved in an upward position and was–as if by “magic”–transformed into the chrysalis. When the skin reached the top, the caterpillar thrashed his body–now completely enveloped in the cocoon–back and forth, circling around so that his skin would become the very thing that created an anchor for him to hold securely to the top of the jar. And then everything went calm. No more movement. And, at that moment, I knew that our baby was gone. Did you know the caterpillar actually dies? I didn’t know that, until we began our butterfly lessons. He dies. There are only cells that live to create that pretty butterfly. We will not see him again.

I found the whole experience to be both amazing and disturbing. I watched this creature that I had taken care of from birth just willingly pass before my eyes. He knew that better things were ahead of him, that he would soon reach his full (his best) potential. He worked hard for his death. He approached it with eagerness. And to think…he started his death in the shape of a J (for Jesus?), making sure that his face pointed upward. God’s creations really were created to give Him glory…weren’t they?

Then we were greeted with a beautiful Monarch Butterfly, opening and closing his intricate wings. He was BEAUTIFUL! I nearly got tears in my eyes when I saw him.

This butterfly experience was profound for me. I feel like I am living his story, in my own spiritual way. I can relate to the “good life” of sitting around, not being at my full potential, just eating, sleeping and…well…going to the bathroom. For me, life had somehow been boiled down to food. What would I eat next? When could I eat it? Could someone just put me on a pile of food, and leave me alone? And…unlike the monarch caterpillar who would rather starve than eat a leaf he doesn’t like…I would eat anything that crossed my path. I doubled in size in a short amount of time. And I just kept eating.

But, when I confessed my sin and genuinely began to repent and seek God…I started hanging upside down in a J position as if to say “JESUS! Everything about this change starts by pointing my face toward you!” I can’t imagine it’s easy for a caterpillar to hang in the J position for 24 hours. I mean, in caterpillar-years, that’s about 1/8 of their life spent in this position. All this to say, the J position is part of the process, and probably takes far longer than any of us would like it to take. But it is critical to remain low, while facing upward. No matter how long it takes.

And then there’s the wretched process of shedding the skin…the putting off of the old self. The wiggling and writhing and contorting that occurs. It definitely appears to be a painful process. But it is a miracle, really. And nothing less. When you see it happening, it does appear to be “magic”; however, we know that there is nothing magical about it. It is purposeful–because God purposed it through Christ.

Then, the swirling and whirling that must occur in order to secure ourselves to the only “hook” (or anchor) that can hold us where we need to be. Do you know how small that caterpillar hook is? So small. But is is STRONG. It supports the weight of the entire process of metamorphosis that occurs. It withstands wind gusts and weather changes. It is small, but mighty. And it is critical. Without that hook, the entire process would end. If the cocoon isn’t hanging, the butterfly will never hatch. The process is lost. My hook is Christ. The God who knit me and formed me, striped me down to nothing and then holds me secure. And I wait…

I die. And I wait. I die. But He lives. And I am transformed. The new self will look nothing like the old. But it will take awhile. Perhaps longer than the caterpillar ever lived. But it is peaceful. And change is happening.

I think I am now going safely into my cocoon. It has been a few years of hanging low while facing upward; then beginning the painful process of dying. But now I am beginning to sense the silence. I can feel the urgent need to hide away for a time, enveloped in the protection that only God could have created for me. I sense how still I will need to be for this change to occur. This phase could seem long…but change is happening.

It isn’t easy to become a butterfly. But it also isn’t hard. It means dying…then resting…and ultimately trusting. Trusting Christ for the final change to come.

And the change is coming.

I’M GOING TO FLY!

If you’re tired of waiting, hold on…remember God is not slow as we think of slowness. He keeps His promises, He is faithful and He knows the perfect timing. As the above verse reminds us, He wants everyone (including us in our selfish sin) to come to repentance. When we do, we begin to see the transformation that only He can do within our lives, as we die to our own selfish desires and He works in the background to make us into a new beautiful creature that far surpasses anything we could become on our own. Patience, my husband reminded me as I was irritated that no butterflies were emerging from the cocoons. We need to have faith instead of fear, worship instead of worry, and peace instead of impatience. Do we believe God to be trustworthy? Do we believe He can transform our lives? Then, let’s live like it!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the reminder you give us in the caterpillar to butterfly process. Only You could have created something so meaningful and so wonderful to watch. Please help us not grow impatient in the process. Remind us that change is happening, even when we can’t “see” it. Help us feel Your presence and trust you. Our hope is in You…may we die to ourself, repent of our sin and wait patiently on You. And God, we humbly ask to see this beauty emerge from our lives. Make us the best us we can be – the person You had in mind when You created us. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

The Battle (of the Bulge…and Beyond!) Belongs to the Lord

“This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.'” 2 Chronicles 20:15b

Have you ever experienced hopelessness? Have you ever felt your situation can’t or won’t change? I’ve felt that way about losing weight. I think some thin people think it’s easy just to say no to overeating or to go exercise. But people who have struggled with obesity know that it’s a great challenge to overcome an addiction to food or to get the energy to try and work out. Habits are formed year after year, and cycles and routines are hard to change. Many people try to diet, only to fail and gain all the weight back. And often times those failed attempts lead to hopelessness and deep discouragement. The will to even try goes out the window. Why bother, we wonder?

I’ve been there. And I confess that I still struggle with over-indulging. But, I now have a new-found hope in Christ. While that may sound cliche or cheesy, it’s true. Recently in my Bible reading, I’ve found many instances where God wins a huge victory for His people against incredible odds. Over and over again, He reminds His people that the battle is His to win. He reminds us not to be afraid or discouraged! Even against the greatest odds, He can still win because He’s God. I highlighted this above verse from Chronicles in green (the color I use for the topic of weight loss in my Bible).

Then this past week, in my women’s Bible study, we looked at the character Deborah in Judges 4-5. Over and over again, this study reminded us ladies that the battle belongs to the Lord. At the time of Deborah, the Israelites were in a desperate situation. They had disobeyed the Great I AM and worshiped other gods, so the Lord allowed them to be sold to and oppressed by the king of Canaan (Judges 4:1-2). As we see in Judges 5, the streets were so dangerous that people didn’t travel on them (verse 6), and the cruel oppression lasted 20 years (Judges 4:3). Finally, God’s people cried out to Him.

The king of Canaan had 900 iron chariots and hundreds of thousands of armed soldiers. But, we see that in Israel “not a shield or spear was seen in 40,000 people” (Judges 5:8). The study said this would be like 900 tanks with armed forces marching up against a small force without a single gun – yikes! But, God can work in impossible odds if we cry out to Him. Jeremiah 29:12 reminds us that God listens when we call on Him, and come and pray to Him.

God told Deborah to tell Barak to take 10,000 men to a certain location on Mount Tabor and that He would deliver them from their enemies. The leader agreed but asked Deborah to come along. Not only did she have faith and speak what God had told her, she acted in obedience to that faith by going along into war. I personally might have been terrified to go along with the plan, but she took action to match her beliefs.

And, most importantly in this story, God saved the day! When the Israelites went to Mount Tabor, the vast army from Canaan went to meet them and in doing so went into a valley. From there, we learn that God sent a terrible rain storm (Judges 5:4)  and the iron chariots couldn’t move in the mud. The warriors fled, leaving behind their weapons, which the Israelites took and overcame the army! The glory didn’t belong to Deborah or to Barak but to the Lord, who acted on behalf of His people and rescued them amidst their desperate situation.

Can you relate at all to this story? I sure could! I even thought about the fact that it was the Israelites’ sin that got them into that awful situation in the first place. They had just been saved by a previous judge and gone right back into the sins they had committed before – worshiping idols and man-made gods. It was God’s discipline that allowed them to be in a situation of oppression. But, God didn’t leave them there to rot! When they turned to Him, He rescued them.

Twenty years is a long time to experience oppression. I’ve battled weight that long! Some of you may have been battling even longer. The speaker this morning said that for some of those fighting Israelites, oppression was a way of life (the only life they had known or could remember). Their hearts, minds and eyes only saw their dire situation and they had no hope for victory. But, when they cried out to God, He delivered them in ways that ONLY He could, for His glory alone.

If you’re in a hopeless situation, pray! Even if your own sin lead you to the situation, humble yourself, repent and turn to the Lord. Perhaps in His great love and mercy, He will rescue you, too. This story reveals to us God’s character (and I believe His character is unchanging). If His heart was this big for a people who screwed up royally (and continued to do so later on!), His heart is big for you, too. Worship Him alone today, cry out to Him, believe His answer and act according to what He tells you. Then watch as He alone wins the battle, saves the day, rescues you, and receives the glory due His Name!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the Bible. Thank You for the truth found in these stories. Thank You for revealing Your unchanging character to us. God, we confess that it is our own sin that has lead many of us into this situation. It was my own overeating and laziness that got me to the weight I am. But, God, I beg You to have mercy on us. We want to worship You alone and have You satisfy our deepest desires. Help free us! We turn to You and cry out for help. Please save us! When our situation seems downright impossible, we believe just as Your Word says ‘NOTHING is impossible’ for You! Act, Lord God. Speak – tell us what to do and help us walk it out in faith. May we be used for Your glory! And when victory comes, may we continue to praise You rather than go back to the sin that snared us in the beginning. May we serve and honor You in all we say and do. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!

 

We sang this song in Bible study this morning, and it was a good reminder to me – enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMZ8D6nTKhg

Does God Care?

Have you ever wondered amidst seemingly unanswered prayers if God really cares about you? After all, how many billions of people are in this world again? Does one situation in one life really make a difference to the God of the Universe? I hope I’m not the only one that’s ever had that question. That said, I believe that the story of Sarah shows us that we are important to God, even despite our imperfections.

I read about Sarah once again a couple weeks ago for a Bible study, and this time round a few new things stuck out to me. In order, they are:

  • God displays His abundant love for Sarah (and not just her husband Abraham);
  • Sarah was less than perfect in her actions and God still chose her;
  • God doesn’t need our help in His plans;
  • And we may consider a prayer “unanswered” when God is working in the background with His perfect timing.

To really fully appreciate this commentary, I would go back and read about Sarah in Genesis 11-23. The Holy Spirit is faithful to reveal things to us through God’s Word!

God displays His love for Sarah (an individual person, and even a woman!).

Twice at her husband Abraham’s request she lies and says she is only his sister so another powerful man takes her to be his wife. The first time was in Egypt (Genesis 11:10-20), and Pharaoh took Sarah into his palace because she was beautiful. Can you imagine being married and then being taken by another man?

The Bible study I read noted that Sarah probably put herself in great danger by obeying her husband and lying to the officials in the land. That said, Genesis 11:17 tells us “But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai.” So, Pharaoh let Sarah and Abraham go, along with all they had. I’ve wondered if it wasn’t God’s grace that Sarah couldn’t bear children at this point, because the Bible doesn’t say that Pharaoh didn’t touch her. God acted on her behalf, though, and shows how much He cared for her by inflicting serious diseases on the household she was in until she was released.

The second time Abraham and Sarah lied about their relationship, it was to Abimilek king of Gerar in Genesis 20. He, too, took the very beautiful Sarah to be his wife, but God kept him from touching her (Genesis 20:6) and told him in a dream to return Sarah or he and all who belonged to him would die (Genesis 20:7). The Lord had also kept everyone in Abimilek’s house from conceiving because of Sarah (Genesis 20:18) but healed them when Sarah was returned and Abraham prayed for them.

Even though Sarah and Abraham had been less than truthful about their relationship status, God still shows how much He cares about her and what happens to her.

Sarah was less than perfect, but God still chose to use her.

We just saw that Sarah had lied. In addition, she also mistreated her servant Hagar and was unkind to her. Finally, she even laughed at God and His plan! We see in Genesis 18 that the angel of God told Abraham that “at this time next year, your wife Sarah will have a son.” By this point, Abraham was 99 and Sarah was 89, and Genesis 18:12 tells us, “So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, ‘After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?'” Then the Lord said to Abraham in verse 13-14a, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord?” But, Sarah was afraid so she lied and said she didn’t laugh but God replied “YES, YOU DID laugh!”

I’m wondering if she laughed out loud or if she laughed to herself – isn’t it great that God knows us…I mean He REALLY knows us. He knew that Sarah thought His plan was impossible. He knew that she was old and afraid, and He knew that she had laughed and lied about it. But, He chose her anyway.

Despite her imperfections, God still chose her to bear Isaac, the child of promise. Through him and his offspring, the nation Israel (God’s chosen people) would be born. And on down the road, Jesus would come from this nation. Sarah was a chosen part of God’s grand plan, even though she made many mistakes in her life.

Isn’t that reassuring and refreshing? After all, none of us can claim to be perfect, but don’t we still desire to be chosen by God to be used for His glory?

God doesn’t need our help for His plans.

So many times, we want to make the plans of how our lives should work out and let God give the stamp of approval on them. But, God doesn’t work that way; His plan and His timing is perfect.

Sarah didn’t have any children, even though she knew God had promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations and the entire earth would be blessed through his seed. So, she crafted her own plan and suggested to her husband that he sleep with her slave Hagar so that perhaps she could have a family through her (Genesis 16:2).

Now, I personally can’t imagine sharing my husband with anyone. How desperate Sarah must have been to have children! But her plan didn’t work out well. When Hagar got pregnant, she began to “despise” her mistress (Genesis 16:4) so Sarah mistreated her and she fled. Eventually, Hagar gave birth to Ishmael, but he was the child of a slave and not the child of promise. From my understanding, from Ishmael we have the Islamic people and Muslim faith. Sarah’s poor choice to take matters into her own hands would have far-reaching consequences! God didn’t need Sarah’s help; after all, 14 years later she would give birth to the son God had promised Abraham.

Are there times that we want to quit waiting on God’s timing or plan and do things our own way? Do we think that we know better than God and wish He would see things from our perspective? How often to we limit God by trying to work out plans for ourselves? God’s plan is the best, even when we have to wait for it!

When we feel prayers aren’t being answered, perhaps God is still working in the background in His perfect timing.

Sarah really, really wanted children. In her culture, not having children was a sign that God hadn’t blessed your marriage. She ached for a son. Then she heard that God promised her husband that he would be the father of nations. And yet she still wasn’t getting pregnant. She wanted kids so bad that she asked her husband to sleep with someone else to conceive. (Yikes!) I’m sure she prayed. I’m sure she was desperate. And yet, nothing. Until she was in her late 80s, those prayers went unanswered. Have you been praying for something for 60+ years without an answer? Most of us feel like 60+ days without an answer is cruel. But, are we missing out on God working in the background?

God had a divine plan. Why did He wait until Sarah was this old? I’m not sure; only He knows. But, I believe His plan and timing was perfect. We give God alone the glory for the birth of Isaac. It wasn’t like Isaac would have come naturally without God’s help at this point. After all, Sarah was past childbearing years. And as my Bible study pointed out, most likely Sarah and Abraham weren’t having marital intimacy all that often anymore at this age. But, they obeyed when God told them to have a child (this wasn’t an immaculate conception!) and they believed God could bring to pass what the longings of their heart had been. Sarah probably enjoyed this baby all the more since she had to wait so long for it. Isaac means laughter, and Sarah’s laughing at God turned into laughter of rejoicing! She said that everyone was probably going to crack up when they hear this old lady is pregnant!

God loved Sarah. He hadn’t forgotten about her. He hadn’t left her behind in His plans. He hadn’t forsaken her. But, He did make her wait. He did ask her to trust Him. He did ask her to obey. And He did fulfill His promise to her – she had a baby of promise and she became an important part of history.

Do you wonder if God cares about you? Do you wonder why your prayers go unanswered? Do you wish God would hurry up in working out your situation? If so, remember Sarah. God still used her though she was less than perfect. God showed that He cared for her and every step she took and situation she was in, and God kept His word to her and worked out a grander plan than she would have imagined – just in His perfect timing so that He alone got the glory.
Dear God, thank You for Your Word. Thank You for the example of Sarah. Thank You for caring about us and our situations. Thank You for showing us that You know us intimately – even when we laugh to ourselves, You know! Yet, You care for us even though we’re not perfect. You show us that Your love for us goes beyond our deserving…back to Your own goodness. Help us see Your grander plan and bigger picture. Don’t let us ruin things by trying to pursue options that aren’t of You. May we trust in Your faithfulness and rely on Your timing. Please, God, act on our behalf. Come to our aid as only You can! We will wait for You. And we thank You and praise You for being God alone. May You receive the glory from our lives. In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!