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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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The Laws of God

According to George Mason, 1776:

“The laws of nature are the laws of God, whose authority can be superseded by no power on earth.”

Seven Strands

Arthur Pink writes:

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:27-29)

No stronger passage in all the Word of God can be found guaranteeing the absolute security of every child of God. Note the seven strands in the rope which binds them to God.

First, they are Christ’s sheep, and it is the duty of the shepherd to care for each of his flock! To suggest that any of Christ’s sheep may be lost is to blaspheme the Shepherd Himself!

Second, it is said “They follow” Christ, and no exceptions are made. The Lord does not say they ought to, but declares they do. If then the sheep “follow” Christ they must reach Heaven, for that is where the Shepherd is gone!

Third, to the sheep is imparted “eternal life”. To speak of eternal life ending is a contradiction in terms.

Fourth, this eternal life is “given” to them. They did nothing to merit it; consequently they can do nothing to demerit it.

Fifth, the Lord Himself declares that His sheep “shall never perish,” consequently the man who declares that it is possible for a child of God to go to Hell makes God a liar.

Sixth, from the Shepherd’s “hand” none is able to pluck them; hence the Devil is unable to encompass the destruction of a single one of them.

Seventh, above them is the Father’s “hand,” hence it is impossible for them to jump out of the hand of Christ even if they tried to. It is impossible for a sheep to perish even if it desired to – as though one ever did! The “hand of Christ” is beneath us, and the “hand” of the Father is above us. Thus are we secured between the clasped hands of Omnipotence!

It has been well said that if one soul who trusted in Christ should be missing in Heaven, there would be one vacant seat there, one crown unused, one harp unstrung; and this would grieve all Heaven and proclaim a disappointed God. But such a thing is utterly impossible!

The True Ground and Nature of all True Religion

The natural powers of men come from the one power of God. All that comforts, enlightens, blesses, gives peace and rest to man’s natural powers can come only from God’s immediate holy operation. William Law writes:

“The heavens,” saith David, “declare the glory of God”; and no creature, any more than the heavens, can declare any other glory but that of God. And as well might it be said, that the firmament shows forth its own handiwork, as that a holy divine or heavenly creature shows forth its own natural power.

But now, if all that is divine, great, glorious, and happy, in the spirits, tempers, operations, and enjoyments of the creature, is only so much of the greatness, glory, majesty, and blessedness of God, dwelling in it, and giving forth various births of his own triune life, light, and love, in and through the manifold forms and capacities of the creature to receive them, then we may infallibly see the true ground and nature of all true religion, and when and how we may be said to fulfill all our religious duty to God. For the creature’s true religion, is its rendering to God all that is God’s, it is its true continual acknowledging all that which it is, and has, and enjoys, in and from God. This is the one true religion of all intelligent creatures, whether in heaven, or on earth; for as they all have but one and the same relation to God, so though ever so different in their several births, states or offices, they all have but one and the same true religion, or right behavior towards God. Now the one relation, which is the ground of all true religion, and is one and the same between God and all intelligent creatures, is this, it is a total unalterable dependence upon God, an immediate continual receiving of every kind, and degree of goodness, blessing and happiness, that ever was, or can be found in them, from God alone. The highest angel has nothing of its own that it can offer unto God, no more light, love, purity, perfection, and glorious hallelujahs, that spring from itself, or its own powers, than the poorest creature upon earth. Could the angel see a spark of wisdom, goodness, or excellence, as coming from, or belonging to itself, its place in heaven would be lost, as sure as Lucifer lost his. But they are ever abiding flames of pure love, always ascending up to and uniting with God, for this reason, because the wisdom, the power, the glory, the majesty, the love, and goodness of God alone, is all that they see, and feel, and know, either within or without themselves. Songs of praise to their heavenly Father are their ravishing delight, because they see, and know, and feel, that it is the breath and Spirit of their heavenly Father that sings and rejoices in them. Their adoration in spirit and in truth never ceases, because they never cease to acknowledge the ALL of God; the ALL of God in the whole creation. This is the one religion of heaven, and nothing else is the truth of religion on earth. (“An Address to the Clergy”)

The Family: In Worship And Prayer

In the words of J.H. Merle D’Aubigne:

But some will perhaps say, “At what time ought we thus to think of God and approach Him together?” I answer, whenever you choose, at the most convenient hour, when you will be least disturbed by your other business. This is generally in the evening; perhaps it were better, on account of the fatigue of the day, that it should be in the morning; and best of all both morning and evening. When you have eaten your morning meal, or even while you are eating it, could you not spend that time which is usually spent either in saying nothing or in talking of trifles, in reading a few words which would raise your thoughts to God, or in hearing them read? I am about to begin the day by the first function of the animal being; but wilt not thou, O my spiritual and immortal soul, do anything or receive anything now? I am about to feed my body with that which God has created; but do thou, O my soul, awake and receive thy food from the Creator! O God! Thou art my portion forever! O God! Thou art my God; early will I seek thee! What a blessing, my brethren, will such a beginning bring down upon the whole day, and what a happy disposition of mind it will give you . . . .

But do you say, “This is so strange a thing?” What, my brethren! Is it not more strange that a family professing to be Christian, professing to have a firm hope for eternity, should advance toward that eternity without giving any sign of that hope, without any preparation, without any conversation, perhaps, alas! Without any thought concerning it? Ah! This is very strange! Do you say, “This is a thing of very little repute or glory, and to which a certain degree of shame is attached?” And who, then, is the greatest: that father who, in former and happier days, was the high priest of God in his own house, and who increased his paternal authority and gave it a divine unction by kneeling down with his children before his Father and the Father of them all; or that worldly man in our days, whose mind is engaged only in vain pursuits, who forgets his eternal destiny and that of his children, and in whose house God is not? O what a shame is this! (Family Worship, 1827)

The Love of Christ

Christ knew how bitter His cup was to be. He understood how unworthy and hateful the wickedness and corruption of mankind could be. Yet His love won the victory. Jonathan Edwards explains further.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:44)

The strength of Christ’s love more especially appears in this, that when he had such a full view of the dreadfulness of the cup that he was to drink, that so amazed him, he would notwithstanding even then take it up, and drink it. Then seems to have been the greatest and most peculiar trial of the strength of the love of Christ, when God set down the bitter portion before him, and let him see what he had to drink, if he persisted in his love to sinners; and brought him to the mouth of the furnace that he might see its fierceness, and have a full view of it, and have time then to consider whether he would go in and suffer the flames of this furnace for such unworthy creatures, or not. This was as it were proposing it to Christ’s last consideration what he would do; as much as if it had then been said to him, ‘Here is the cup that you are to drink, unless you will give up your undertaking for sinners, and even leave them to perish as they deserve. Will you take this cup, and drink it for them, or not? There is the furnace into which you are to be cast, if they are to be saved; either they must perish, or you must endure this for them. There you see how terrible the heat of the furnace is; you see what pain and anguish you must endure on the morrow, unless you give up the cause of sinners. What will you do? is your love such that you will go on? Will you cast yourself into this dreadful furnace of wrath?’ Christ’s soul was overwhelmed with the thought; his feeble human nature shrunk at the dismal sight. It put him into this dreadful agony which you have heard described; but his love to sinners held out. Christ would not undergo these sufferings needlessly, if sinners could be saved without. If there was not an absolute necessity of his suffering them in order to their salvation, he desired that the cup might pass from him. But if sinners, on whom he had set his love, could not, agreeably to the will of God, be saved without his drinking it, he chose that the will of God should be done. He chose to go on and endure the suffering, awful as it appeared to him. And this was his final conclusion, after the dismal conflict of his poor feeble human nature, after he had had the cup in view, and for at least the space of one hour, had seen how amazing it was. Still he finally resolved that he would bear it, rather than those poor sinners whom he had loved from all eternity should perish. (“Christ’s Agony”)

Intimacy With God

Quoting Don Francisco:

Each of us in the Body of Christ has the ability, because of His love for us, to minister to and bless the Lord. We can bring joy to God just as a loving son or daughter does to their parents, and as a friend to a friend. Worship from the heart is one of the best gifts you can bring to your heavenly Father. When we worship Him, not because of fear or pride or obligation, but out of an overflow of love and gratitude, we bless and minister to God. This is a privilege that He has given to all His sons and daughters. A worship leader is not necessarily more “spiritual” than anyone else; he or she simply is willing to help a group of people reach a place of loving intimacy with God via music.

In Christ We Have God

The worship of the Trinity and the position of Christ as related to God the Father are often a conundrum for the Christian. Charles Hodge (1823-1886) helps us to understand:

In one sense of the word, Christianity is the system of truth taught by Christ and his apostles. In this sense the question, what is Christianity? is simply a historical one. It may be answered intelligently and correctly by a man who does not profess to be a Christian, just as he may answer the question, what is Brahmanism? or, what is Buddhism?

In another sense, Christianity is that state of one’s mind produced by faith in the truths revealed concerning Christ. In this sense, Christianity without Christ is an impossibility. It would be an effect without its proximate cause. Nevertheless, there is a form of religion, widespread and influential, which is called Christianity, in which Christ fails to occupy the position assigned to him in the Bible. . . .

[T]he Christian, in worshiping Christ, does not cease to worship the Father and the Spirit. He does not fail to recognize and appreciate his relation to the Father, who loved the world and gave his Son for its redemption; nor does he fail to recognize his relation to the Holy Spirit, on whom he is absolutely dependent, and whose gracious office it is to apply to men the redemption purchased by Christ. In worshiping Christ, we worship the Father and the Spirit; for these three are one — one only living and true God, the same in substance and equal in power and glory. Christ says, I am in the Father and the Father in me. I and the Father are one. He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father; and therefore, he that worships the Son, worships the Father. Hence, it is written, “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father,” but, “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” “He that hath the Son hath life; he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life.” It is to be remembered, however, that in the mysterious constitution of the Godhead, the second person of the Trinity is the Logos, the Word, the Revealer. It is through him that God is known. He is the brightness of his glory, revealing what God is. We should not know that there is a sun in the firmament, if it were not for his apaugasma [radiance]. So we should not know that God is, or what he is, were it not for his Son. “No man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son shall reveal him.” In having Christ, therefore, we have God; for in him dwelleth the fullness of the Godhead. (The Princeton Review, April, 1876, Vol. 5, Issue 18, pp. 352-362)

Charles H. Spurgeon On Purity of Heart and Life

“Blessed are the are pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).

Purity, even purity of heart, is the main thing to be aimed at. We need to be made clean within through the Spirit and the Word, and then we shall be clean without by consecration and obedience. There is a close connection between the affections and the understanding: if we love evil we cannot understand that which is good. If the heart is foul, the eye will be dim. How can those men see a holy God who love unholy things?

What a privilege it is to see God here! A glimpse of Him is heaven below! In Christ Jesus the pure in heart behold the Father. We see Him, His truth, His love, His purpose, His sovereignty, His covenant character, yea, we see Himself in Christ. But this is only apprehended as sin is kept out of the heart. Only those who aim at godliness can cry, “Mine eyes are ever towards the LORD.” The desire of Moses, “I beseech thee, show me thy glory,” can only be fulfilled in us as we purify ourselves from all iniquity. We shall “see him as he is,” and “every one that hath this hope in him purifieth himself.” The enjoyment of present fellowship and the hope of the beatific vision are urgent motives for purity of heart and life. LORD, make us pure in heart that we may see Thee! (Faith’s Checkbook)

Love For Christ

Thomas Doolittle

From the writings of Thomas Doolittle:

Love shows the true character of a man, according to the object which he loves more than anything else: for as is the love, so is the man. According to his love, so might you confidently designate the man. If he is a lover of honor, he is an ambitious man; a lover of pleasure, a sensual man; and if he chiefly loves the world, he is a covetous man. If a man loves righteousness, he is a religious man; if the things above, a heavenly-minded man; and if he love Christ with a pre-eminent love, he is a sincere man: “Rightly do they love you,” Song of Songs 1:4.

If Christ has our love, he has our all; and Christ never has what he deserves from us, till he has our love. True love withholds nothing from Christ, when it is sincerely set upon him. If we actually love him, he will have our time, and he will have our service, and he will have the use of all our resources, and gifts, and graces; indeed, then he shall have our possessions, freedom, and our very lives, whenever he calls for them. In the same way, when God loves any of us, he will withhold nothing from us that is good for us. He does not hold back his own only begotten Son, Rom.8:32. When Christ loves us, he gives us everything we need– his merits to justify us, his Spirit to sanctify us, his grace to adorn us, and his glory to crown us. Therefore, when any of us love Christ sincerely, we lay everything down at his feet, and give up all to be at his command and service: “And they loved not their lives unto the death,” Rev. 12:11. (Love to Christ Everlasting)

Summary Of The Gospel

Huldrych Zwingli

Quoting Huldrych  Zwingli:

The summary of the gospel is that our Lord Jesus Christ, the true Son of God, has revealed the will of His heavenly Father to us, and with His innocence has redeemed us from death, and has reconciled us with God. Therefore, Christ is the only way to salvation for all those who have been, are, and will be.

The Unchanging Christ

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 ESV)

The Bible describes the eternity of Jesus Christ in the same way that it does of God the Father. Jesus is called Alpha and Omega, “the First and the Last: which is, which was, and which is to come,” “the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever.”

Jesus is His proper name, Christ His title. Jesus is a name of His nature. Christ is the name of His office. He is a Reconciler, a Redeemer, and a Savior. He has been appointed and anointed of God a king, a priest, and a prophet.

This Jesus Christ is our Savior. He is the center of this text; and not only of this, but of the whole Scripture. The sum of divinity is the Scripture; the sum of the Scripture is the gospel; the sum of the gospel is Jesus Christ. There is nothing contained in the Word of God, but God the Word. Our mind is where our pleasure is, our heart is where our treasure is, our love is where our life is; but all these, our pleasure, treasure, and life can only be found in Jesus Christ. Let others take the pleasures of the world, but let our part be in Jesus Christ.

There is no mutability in Christ; “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17 ESV) In the “Father of lights” there is no changeableness. The sun has his shadow; but the “Sun of Righteousness” is without shadow. He loves us to the end and there is no end to His love. The covenant of God will not be broken. The Lord says, “And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.” (Hosea 2:19-20 ESV) This marriage-bond shall never be broken. We do not place our confidence in worldly things, because they are fleeting. “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.” (Psalm 125:1 ESV) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.

This persuades us to imitate Christ’s steadfastness. Let the certainty of his mercy to us work loyalty in our love for Him. The God of constancy would have His people to be constant. If God preordained a Savior for man, before He had either made man, or man marred himself, then surely He meant that nothing should separate us from His eternal love in that Savior.

God continually, by His Spirit, applies to our consciences the virtue of his death and passion. “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3 ESV) “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17 ESV)

We owe, then, ourselves to Christ for our creation; but how much more for our redemption? If I owe Him my whole self for making me, what have I left to pay Him for redeeming me?

God upholds all things by the Word of His power. The wicked may have outward blessings without inward, and that is Esau’s reward without his birthright; but the elect have inward blessings, though they lack outward, and that is Jacob’s inheritance without his pottage. His mercy is everlasting; His truth endures from generation to generation. The same gracious Savior that He was yesterday to our fathers is He today to us, if we are today faithful to Him. All reach for this comfort, but in vain without the hand of faith. There is no deficiency in Him; but is there none in you? Whatsoever Christ is, what are you? He forgave Mary Magdalene many grievous sins; so He will forgive you, if you can shed Mary Magdalene’s tears. He took the malefactor from the cross to Paradise; there He will receive you if you have the same faith. He was merciful to a denying apostle; you are challenged to like mercy, if you have like repentance. If we will be like these, Christ, assuredly, will be ever like Himself. When any man shall prove to be such a sinner, He will not fail to be such a Savior.

Entering into Mystical Union

R. C. Sproul

Quoting R. C. Sproul

The Christian life is lived in the context of mystical union with Christ. This union finds its initial origin in eternity. Our salvation is from the foundation of the world, resting in the grace of God’s sovereign election. Paul indicates this in Ephesians 1:3-6.

It is in the Beloved that our redemption is found. From eternity, God considers the elect to be in Christ. Before our mystical union is effected with us in time, it is already a present reality in the mind of God.

Just as Christ invaded time from eternity two thousand years ago, so our eternal union intrudes in time through the work of the Spirit. What has always existed in the mind of God in eternity becomes a time-bound reality in the heart of the regenerate. The result is that, in Christ, through the Spirit, we will behold the Father at our death and from there to eternity. We are sons and daughters of the Father, as it was in the beginning.

Our salvation is by Christ and in Christ. By His righteousness we are made just. By His atonement our sins are forgiven.

Read more by R. C. Sproul. . . .

Removing Pride From “Faith”

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV)

There is much to help the Christian man who never forgets he was not saved from sin or the consequences of sin by his own efforts. Salvation is by Jesus Christ alone. We are born again to a new life in Him through faith in Him.

We may often be so proud of what we have done in the name of Jesus that we begin to think that our own good efforts will win us the final approval of God. This leads us to base our salvation on “comparative” good works. I use the word “comparative” because we all tend to compare ourselves to what others are doing and not to God’s Holy standards. This only leads to more pride, which leads to sin.

We are tempted to believe that God owes us something because we have accumulated more good deeds in our “self-righteousness bank” than our next door neighbor. These self-righteous feelings would have us look down on our neighbors even though the Bible clearly teaches, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” Self-righteousness destroys the doctrine of “by grace you have been saved through faith” as it is taught in the Scriptures.

Even though we should be diligent in our study and the accumulation of Bible knowledge, this too may lead to pride in our understanding and our earnest study. But, even the demons know more about God than us! Yet, who dares to deny that the Bible teaches us that their punishment will be everlasting. We must be born again to enter into the kingdom of God. Faith and understanding are the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in us. The Holy Spirit opens the Scriptures to our understanding. We should now be motivated to study the Word of God because it has the words of salvation. Even so, we should not make reading the Bible a work by which we earn a merit badge.

Should we boast of our belief? Do you think you are saved because you chose to believe and your friend is not because he has refused to believe? If so, you are seeking the credit for why you go to heaven and your friend does not. This is not trusting in Jesus as your Savior. It is trusting in “your belief” in Jesus. Again, your good deed of “belief” becomes the basis of your salvation. Saving faith is not a work that you conjure up by your own effort. It is the instrument and gift of the Holy Spirit through which the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to your life that you may be saved by Christ’s perfect obedience to God the Father.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV) We are sinners, and yet we have been saved by grace. We are not righteous, yet we have been freely given the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We have no grounds on which to boast in ourselves, yet we may boast in Christ. The mercy shown to us by God’s grace is as beautiful as it is wonderful. Therefore, let us boast in God, because the Christian should be the most humble of God’s creatures.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones On Thinking In Trinitarian

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

It is, unfortunately, true that most of us have not taken the trouble to read and to understand Christian doctrine. However, it really is essential that we should do so if we truly want to worship God. When there is no worship or praise in a person’s life, it is due to ignorance of the great and wonderful things we should know about God. Praise must be accompanied by truth. When we worship, we must know who it is we worship. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones points this out as he discusses the Trinity:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

So often people stop at one Person. Some stop at the Person of the Father; they talk about God and about worshipping God and about having forgiveness from God; and in all their talk and conversation even the Lord Jesus Christ is not mentioned. Certain others seem to stop only and entirely with the Lord Jesus Christ. They so concentrate upon Him that you hear little of the Father and little of the Holy Spirit. There are others whose entire conversation seems to be about the work of the Holy Spirit and they are interested in spiritual manifestations only. There is this constant danger of forgetting that as Christians we of necessity worship the Three Persons in the blessed Holy Trinity. Christianity is Trinitarian in its origin and in its continuance.

But not only must we be careful always that the Three Persons are in our minds and our worship, we must be equally careful about the order in which they are introduced to us in the Scriptures — the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. There is what our forefathers called a divine economy or order in the matter of our salvation among the blessed Persons themselves; and so we have always to preserve this order. We are to worship the Father through the Son, by the Holy Spirit. Many evangelical Christians in particular seem to offer all their prayers to the Son, there are others who forget the Son altogether, but the two wrongs do not make one right. So we notice here at the commencement of this Epistle that the Apostle not only praises, but praises the three blessed Persons, and ascribes unto them thanksgiving and glory in this invariable order. . . .

Now we turn to consider why the blessed Persons of the Holy Trinity should be thus praised. There are many answers to that question, but we must concentrate on the one which the Apostle emphasizes specially in this verse. God is to be praised because He is what He is. The ultimate characteristic or attribute of God is blessedness. It is indescribable, but if there is one quality, one attribute of God that makes God God; (I speak with reverence) if there is one thing that makes God God more than anything else, it is blessedness. And God is to be praised. We are to say ‘Blessed be God’ because of what God is and what He does. (“The Everlasting Covenant”)

Shall We Praise God?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6)

According to verse 5 we are “predestined for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ according to the purpose of his will”. Forget human pride because there is no room for it here. This is the glory of God’s sovereignty and how He will bring us to salvation through Jesus Christ. In verse 6 it says ‘to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.’ The first purpose throughout God’s plan of redemption is to bring glory to God. God’s glory is very much bound up in His grace. God’s glory is revealed through His merciful dealings with men.

I wonder if it is possible to praise God enough for what He has done for us? I often feel inadequate to perform this great privilege. Do You? Do you praise Him in your heart? Do you respond with gratitude to God? You may understand the theology, but do you have a heart full of doxology (praise)? If the truth of God does not ignite your fire, then your wood is wet! So, why do we praise God? We praise Him for His glorious grace. Even though there was nothing to be credited to our account, God gave us everything through Jesus Christ.

 Salvation is all of grace and through Jesus Christ. From this point on we will live by grace, be changed by grace, and be glorified by grace! I am loved; I am accepted; I am blessed because I am in Christ! God loves us like Christ. Do you understand that the love of God for His Son is also our portion? Thank and praise God for our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank God for the inheritance we have in Jesus Christ. Let us remember to praise Him in all circumstances. It is all the goodness of life to praise Him.

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