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Jesus on the Road

Jesus on the Road

As we continue to look at the life of Christ through Luke’s eyes, we get a glimpse into journeys that took place in the Lord’s ministry. This post will deal with Luke 9:51-62. You may want to read that before continuing.

In this section of Scripture, we see the Lord attempting to go through the region of the Samaritans on His way to Jerusalem. Many Jews considered them unclean and went miles out of their way to go around this area.

As He was going through, the Lord sent some disciples ahead to make food and sleeping arrangements for the night. They came back with the report that no one in the village wanted Him there.

Some of Jesus’ disciples wanted to call fire down to consume the town. The Lord rebuked their foolishness and they continued to another town where they were welcomed. Along the way, they met some interesting characters.

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Luke 9:57-58 NIV

A young man wanted to travel with Jesus. The problem was, the Lord had no corporate office. He had no house in the big city. He traveled almost the whole time during His ministry.

In some ways it’s very difficult to live your life “on the road.” Jesus did it for three years. He understood the stress of always having to be on the move.

Spiritually speaking, if we serve the Lord, we can expect to be just like Him – to be constantly on the go. He doesn’t want us to stagnate, but to press on toward the prize. To do that we must be always willing to change and to try new things as the Lord continues to call us forward.

This kind of life is forever bringing new challenges across our path. Each step of the way we are being drawn to deeper commitment, greater devotion, and higher callings. With each new opportunity for obedience comes a choice – to be satisfied with the old or to move on in Christ to the new. It’s exciting following Jesus – but you have to keep moving.

When they met another person, Jesus told the young man to follow Him. In response, the man said that he had to wait until his parents died.

He didn’t think that the time was right for him to go off with the Lord. Personally, I don’t believe that Jesus would have asked this person if it would have jeopardized his parent’s safety.

Sometimes we respond the same way to the Lord. We tell Him that we’re not ready to follow His leading. Unfortunately, the time will never look perfect to follow the Lord’s plan for your life.

Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:60 NIV

God knows what we need to do. Immediate obedience to the Spirit is the best response.

Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.”

Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:61-62 NIV

It seems that there’s always something else we want to do before we get around to obeying God’s will. I’ll be able to serve Christ whole-heartedly next week, next month, next year.

The time is now to put down the excuses. It’s time to wake up and move forward in Christ.

Jesus is always on the move. He wants to take you from where you are now, to your destiny in Him. You just need to make the choice to begin following His leading.

Question: What’s the next thing on God’s agenda for your life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2022 in Faith, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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First Things First

First Things First

“Stick to what you’re working at. Concentrate on what you’re doing. Don’t get side-tracked.”

That sounds like good advice. And it is…most of the time. However, we have to come to the realization that good advice doesn’t always line up with the will of God for you. And, God’s will doesn’t always sound like good advice.

That’s what happened from time to time in the ministry of Jesus. I’m talking about an incident that took place when He got off a boat near the Sea of Galilee one day.

We’re going through the Gospel of Luke. In my last post, Jesus ministered to a demon possessed man by the Sea of Galilee. Now the Lord has sailed back across the sea.

You can find it in Luke 8:40-56. You may want to read that passage before continuing with this post.

Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying. As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him.

Luke 8:40-42

At this point in His ministry, the Lord was gathering crowds wherever He went. Today was no exception. But these were not simply people who were following Him. They were expecting something from Him. They wanted Jesus to heal them or set them free from demonic oppression.

I don’t know how I would have been able to handle it. Crowds of people suddenly running up to me, screaming for my immediate attention. Yet Christ was able to keep His composure through all of it.

All at once, the sea of people parted. Someone who was well-known and respected by the community was coming forward. The elder in charge of their local synagogue was in desperate need of a healing for his daughter.

Jesus agrees to go with him and they start heading in that direction. Then, as they’re proceeding, an interruption takes place. People are pressing in all around Him, yet the Lord stops and looks around.

And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.

“Who touched me?” Jesus asked.

Luke 8:43-45

“Wait a minute, Jesus. Let’s do one thing at a time. There’s someplace else we need to be.”

That might have been my thought when this happened. But then, I would have been out of the will of God. There was a bigger purpose than I could see.

The reason that Jesus could go through situations like this, unflustered, was because of His intimacy with the Father. Time spent in God’s presence allowed Him to have a great sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

That might be one of the reasons why we get ourselves into trouble when unexpected things pop up. We react with the best of our understanding. Many times it’s our limited knowledge that fouls things up.

The Lord could hear and obey the voice of the Spirit, even in a stressful situation. He could know which requests to accept, and which to ignore. This was true even when from the outside it looked like the wrong plan of action.

We know, from the end of this passage, that Jesus was proven right by His decisions. He remained in God’s will through the whole encounter. We need to cultivate this same intimacy with the Holy Spirit. I believe it will help us to see God’s plan unfold on a daily basis.

I will probably be talking about this passage over the next few posts. There are some good lessons that we can glean from it.

Question: How do you cultivate personal intimacy with God?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2022 in Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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I’m Not a Victim of Sin

I’m Not a Victim of Sin

In my last post, we looked at Paul’s view of the infancy stage that all believers pass through. The goal is to go through as quickly as possible. It’s not an excuse for a sinful lifestyle.

Let’s look at these verses in detail. Remember, in this section, Paul is not talking about himself, but writing from the perspective of a baby Christian.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

Romans 7:15-16

It’s interesting to note that every word translated as “do” in this verse is a different Greek word. The literal translation of that first sentence is, I do not comprehend what I am fully accomplishing.

There’s another verse that can help us to understand what Paul’s saying here.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Philippians 2:12-13

We have to realize that God is working in us. His work includes the changing of our will and our actions. We simply need to submit to the Lord’s process.

So, in Romans, Paul isn’t saying “I don’t know what I’m doing.” He’s expressing to us that as a baby believer, he doesn’t fully comprehend what’s being accomplished in his life.

The simple fact is that I don’t understand how God is working His will in me. He’s getting me to think like He thinks. In that way I’ll begin to act on His plan for my life.

Going back to the original verse in Romans, Paul tells us why he doesn’t comprehend what he’s accomplishing. Again, the literal translation of the next sentence reads, the reason I don’t comprehend it is because what I intend is not what I practice habitually.

It’s not that I don’t do it. The problem is that it’s not a habit yet. Paul is saying that at this point the baby Christian hasn’t reached the level of habitually doing what he knows to do.

Instead, this immature believer finds himself doing things that he hates. But, there’s an important difference. This phrase does not imply a habit, but something that he falls into from time to time.

That brings us to the next verse.

And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.

Romans 7:16

There are times I find myself doing something that I actually don’t want to do. The good thing is that I recognize that it’s wrong. I find myself agreeing with God’s will. This is the first baby step to freedom.

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do – living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.

1 Peter 4:3-4

Peter explains it well. He says that when you were in sin, you chose to do it. Now, you’ve determined not to do it, you even hate it. You may still fall into it from time to time, but your heart is changing.

The world thinks it strange that you want to do good. They think that serving God is a bad thing, it’s no fun. But, now you’re agreeing that the law is good. This is the growth you want to see as an infant believer.

Question: How have you seen your attitude toward God’s law change over the years?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2021 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Bloom Where You’re Planted

We’re continuing to look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s now getting into some guiding principles as he talks about relationships in chapter 7.

Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him.  This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.
1 Corinthians 7:17

The context of this verse is that you shouldn’t end your marriage just because you got saved.  If your partner wants to remain together, even though they might not be a Christian, then allow the Holy Spirit to work through your relationship.

This is a guideline that Paul teaches in all of his churches.  It literally says that whatever portion God has assigned to you when He calls you; remain in it.

The Lord doesn’t work like a steam roller.  He doesn’t come into your life and tear everything down.

Cults do that.  When you join a cult, many times they’ll tell you to leave your family and cut all ties with your friends.  That’s not how the Lord works.

Normally, the Holy Spirit will work on you from the inside out.  He wants the people who know you best to see the change as it’s happening.  Then it will be a witness to them of the power of God.

Paul uses an example of circumcision to make his point.

Was a man already circumcised when he was called?  He should not become uncircumcised.  Was a man uncircumcised when he was called?  He should not be circumcised.  Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing.  Keeping God’s commands is what counts.
1 Corinthians 7:18-19

The fact is that God can use anyone.  You don’t have to change who you are in order to serve Him faithfully.  The bottom line is that you hear and obey God’s voice.

He speaks to His people and we obey.  It’s a step by step process.  If there’s something in our lives that needs changing, then the Lord will provide the power to bring that about.

Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him.  Were you a slave when you were called?  Don’t let it trouble you — although if you can gain your freedom, do so.  For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave.
1 Corinthians 7:20-22

Paul talks about some situations that we find ourselves in that aren’t ideal.  Unfortunately, they’re not easy to get out of.  In this case, it’s slavery.  In those days it wasn’t all like the American version.  For some, slavery was a voluntary way to repay a debt.  For others, it was a penalty for a crime committed.

For us, it might be a massive amount of debt or multiple jobs in order to pay your bills.  Paul explains that in these types of situations, don’t worry about it.  Let God work through it.

But there is hope during those times.  We’re told the if we have the power to become free, then use it.  We don’t have to remain downtrodden.  Through prayer and obedience to the voice of God, our situation can and will improve.

You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.  Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to.
1 Corinthians 7:23-24

However, it’s important that we don’t knowingly place ourselves in these types of situations.  We want to be able to give our best for the Lord.

Question: How has God used your unique position in the past?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2019 in Encouragement, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Revival – Getting There

SpeedRevival. Some Christians are praying for it. Many are hoping for it. But do we really understand what it will take to bring it about?

Throughout this blog I’ve shared what I believe the next great awakening of the church will look like. It will be about God’s people listening for, hearing and obeying God’s voice. Unfortunately, the “how” and the “when” are a mystery.

Getting from here to there is what the church should be majoring on right now.

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.
Psalms 127:1

As an engineering student, I had to take a lot of math courses. I learned very quickly from Geometry, that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Well, that may work on paper, but in life it’s never that easy.

What’s the quickest way to get from Boston to New York? That all depends. Are you driving a car or flying in a plane? There are highways, rivers, cities, and other obstacles to think about.

In driving, the shortest route is not always the quickest. It’s the just like our spiritual walk. The difference is that only God sees the whole map. We have to trust Him to set the route for us.

In looking at the verse above, we don’t always think like that. Many times God gives us the blueprint, and we rush off and try to build the house without Him.

When God gave Moses the plans for the tabernacle in the wilderness, He didn’t stop there. The Lord told Moses who would do the work, where to get the supplies, how to move it, and how to use it.

Faith is all about letting God have His total way in our lives. In Hebrews, chapter 11, the Faith Chapter, it says this about Abraham leaving his home at God’s request.

For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
Hebrews 11:10

When we look to the Lord for our future, He doesn’t only want to be involved in the planning. What He wants to do in our life is too big for us to accomplish. God wants to be in on the building of it as well.

So, in talking about revival, it’s great to know where He wants us to get to. But it won’t come to pass without God’s working and power in our lives. That’s why we need to spend the time necessary to seek Him.

Spending time in the Holy Spirit doesn’t just reveal God’s plan to us. It opens the door for God to do a supernatural work in us and through us. That’s what a spiritual awakening is all about.

Question: How much time do you spend listening in God’s presence?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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A Pattern of Trust

BlurDid you know that there’s a pattern to how we should trust God? Sometimes we could get it partly right and miss out on God’s best for us. I want to look at miracle that Jesus performed to illustrate this truth. It’s a miracle that’s very often misunderstood.

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
“Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”
John 2:1-4

There’s a truth here that we miss sometimes because we don’t understand John’s perspective. The Gospel of John was written so that believers could learn how to live and minister as Jesus did. We do a disservice to the Gospel by assuming that John was written to the unsaved – it wasn’t.

In this passage, Jesus literally said, “What is it with me and you? This isn’t my time.” Please understand – Jesus wasn’t being disrespectful to His mother. Because Joseph had passed away before this, Jesus was the head of his family as the oldest son. It was proper for Him to speak to Mary as her authority.

What did He mean that it wasn’t His time yet? If you check the time-line of Jesus’ life, you’ll find that He had just been baptized by John the Baptist. But He hadn’t gone into the wilderness to be tested yet. This is the last stop before the wilderness.

Then if it wasn’t His time yet; why did He perform the miracle? And what exactly was the miracle? His words are very important for us to understand what’s happening.

In actuality, Mary had as much to do with this as Jesus. It’s all about hearing from God and obeying. In this story, Mary is the one who heard from God. She felt in her heart that this need can be supplied by God.

Jesus basically said to her, “It’s not my hour. This is on you – you’re the one who heard from God. It’s your faith that’s going to do this.” In other words, Jesus was telling her, “You do what God tells you to do.”

What did the Father speak to Mary?

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
John 2:5

God the Father impresses Mary to deal with the servants directly. She tells them to do whatever Jesus instructs them. But remember, it’s not time yet for Jesus to act as the Messiah of Israel. That means that He had to operate from a different relationship.

In this event, we see one of the only places in the Gospels where Jesus operates as God in the flesh. In this case He is acting as God, not man. When He speaks to the servants, it’s the voice of God speaking to them.

It’s important for us to know this so we can learn how to respond to God’s voice. Remember I said there was a pattern to trusting God. The start is when God gives the vision. We find out what He can do through us.

But then, we have to follow the step by step instructions that God gives us. Hearing the vision – God wants to supply your need – is the easy part. It’s following through on the instructions to see the manifestation that’s the hard part.

That’s why I want to take a couple of posts to look at this event in the life of Jesus. I believe it will help us in our faith-walk.

Question: What are the things in your life that you’re trusting God for right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2016 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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5 Warning Signs of Legalism (Repost)

WarningThis is the fifth of six reposts of my most read articles. It was from 2012.

Many Christians are bound by legalism. Are you one of them? The trouble is that legalism can be very deceptive. You can be caught up in it and never know it – unless you see the warning signs. I hope this will be both a challenge and a blessing to you.

Elevating works over position. Do you worry about what you can do to please God? The correct answer is – nothing!! It’s the blood of Christ that makes me acceptable to God. Nothing I do can make Him love me any more or any less. While works can affect my rewards and blessings, they’ll never change God’s love and acceptance of me if I’m in Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

 Seeing yourself more of a slave than a son. Yes, we do serve God and are expected to obey Him in all things. But the way we obey is as mature sons and daughters. As spiritual children we learn servanthood. It’s the training ground for our growth in Christ. The purpose of servanthood is so that we can walk in maturity. The Lord desires sons and daughters to represent Him to the world. (Galatians 4:1-7)

Relying more on your confession than God’s grace. I believe in the confession of Scripture. Rehearsing and memorizing it is an important part of the believer’s life. Just as important is the reason we do it. The purpose of confessing God’s Word is to increase our faith in Him. But ultimately, it’s not my confession, but the power of God that will bring about the changes that I need. (II Peter 1:3)

Giving more time to studying Scripture than to intimacy with Christ. Scripture study is very important – it’s one of my passions. I couldn’t live without it. But, spending quality time with the Lord is even more so. Jesus rebuked the Scribes and the Pharisees for diligently studying the Scriptures, yet not going to the Messiah that they pointed to. It’s not enough just to know about Christ. I need to have an intimate, personal knowledge of Him that only comes from time spent in His presence. (John 5:39-40)

Being more confident in your comparison with others than abiding in Christ. Comparison is a deadly trap. The problem is that I can always find someone less committed than me. It gives me a false sense of security because I’m no worse than anyone else. On the other hand, I can spend my days feeling worthless, because I look at others who are farther along than me in the faith. I can’t base my self-evaluation on someone else’s life. My goal is not to be better than you, but to be like Christ. (II Corinthians 10:12)

Questions: Have you battled with legalism? How have you overcome it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2015 in Encouragement, Legalism, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Inconvenient Truth about Obedience

MeditationIn my last post I talked about the connection between faith and obedience. It’s one of the toughest choices we need to make as believers.

This goes beyond what we usually think about obedience.

Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.
Romans 1:5

Contrary to popular belief, obedience is by faith, not fear. It’s easier to obey if I trust the one I’m submitted to. This is especially true in my relationship with God.

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.
1 Peter 1:14-15

According to Peter, this obedience comes as a result of calling. If that’s the case, then we need to look at the calling of God. Let’s review the verse we first read in my last post.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
Hebrews 11:8

It all starts by being called to go out of where we’re currently living. Then we’re called to move into a place that God expects us to inherit. The callings to go out and to move in are the two sides of God’s work in our lives. Both require our obedience.

It’s as if God is saying to us, “Let’s get you to the inheritance.” We then have to trust God enough to want the destiny that He’s prepared for us.

Bible talks a lot about obedience. Children and parents, employees and bosses, governments, church leaders, etc. This is how God gets you to the place He sees for you.

However, the biggest problem with God’s way of calling is that Abraham did not know where he was going. The verse literally says that he did not stand upon where he was going to.

Jesus understood this in His time on earth.

Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered
Hebrews 5:8

This verse is talking about Christ but it’s the same for us. The word suffer is talking about a feeling. The truth is that we only learn obedience by what we feel. Unfortunately, it’s usually a painful experience.

If I’m hungry and someone says, “Come to dinner,” that’s not obedience for me to come and eat. Obedience is when I’m watching TV and my parents tell me to put out the trash.

We need to understand that obedience is a learning process. It teaches me that to enjoy the best life, will require some discomfort now, for a greater return later. The inheritance is the fun part. It’s the calling that’s usually inconvenient.

Question: How does faith help us to obey God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2014 in Faith, Revival

 

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The Faith – Obedience Connection

ClimberSometimes we may get the idea that faith is just a matter of getting our thoughts right.

“As long as I trust God on the inside, everything will be okay.”

That’s a good place to start, but will it be enough to carry you through to your destiny? Actually faith is more than just the internal. It’s a continual process of revelation and response. We can learn a lot from Abraham’s example.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
Hebrews 11:8

This verse tells us how Abraham applied the principles of faith to his life. If we boil down all the extra words, we’re told that by faith Abraham obeyed. He heard the Word that God spoke to him and chose to obey it by faith.

Up to this point in our Christian walk no obedience necessary. If you never hear from the Holy Spirit, then you’re not responsible to respond. Of course, neither do you see any miracles that come with your obedience.

It’s at this level that we start to mature in Christ. We want to do more than just fill a pew. We’ve accepted Christ as our Savior. Now we want to experience growth.

It’s unfortunate that so many believers want to stay at the infant stage of their spiritual life. They come out on Sunday morning, read the Bible, sing, clap, and pray. They continue to drink in, yet they feel no need for obedience.

To understand this, we need to know what it is that we’re to obey. The above verse makes it clear. We are to obey God’s calling. This is the normal process of growth in the life of a believer.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2

This is probably one of the clearest Scriptures on growth in the Bible. We’re told to offer ourselves to the Lord on His altar. Then comes the renewing of our mind. Finally, I can approve (obey) God’s will.

Sometimes our problem is that we put the cart before the horse. We want to know what God’s will for our life is before we decide to obey Him. That’s not faith. I need to trust Him with my life first, then He’ll make his will know to me.

That’s why I need to know Him. It’s hard to trust someone, if you don’t really know them.

In my next post, I’ll explain why this call to trust God in obedience is one of the hardest things we’re asked to do.

Question: Why does it seem so hard to obey God’s calling?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2014 in Faith, Word of God

 

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