Daily Archives: May 16, 2016

Ego and the Story of Who We Are

Happy Living!

egoWe often interact with others through old, unconsciously held, and limiting beliefs that generate shame. As we have seen, each starting gate position has a distinct type of core belief that drives their particular dance around the triangle. These core beliefs combine into unconscious stories. We believe these descriptions of ourselves and others without ever questioning them. Left to run unabated in the mind, they generate all sorts of painful feelings, including worthlessness, inadequacy, and defectiveness. We reinforce and perpetuate these beliefs by moving around the triangle.

The ego is that part of us that manufactures and believes these limiting stories. The ego is totally identified with the stories it tells and wants to keep us identified with them as well. The ego uses the triangle to strengthen these painfully, limited identities of who we are.

When I think of our relationship with ego, I am reminded of the…

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Disillusioned and Dying of Thirst

Unfathomable Grace

Many of us have experienced buyer’s remorse. We have felt a legitimate internal longing; there was something within us that needed resolution. We were dissatisfied and discontent. We then had something pitched to us — material or immaterial — that promised satisfaction, and after consideration we took the bait. We made the investment and for a brief time we were happy and satisfied; all seemed to be well. However, after the temptation, purchase and immediate rush of satisfaction, we found ourselves struggling even more with listlessness, loneliness, boredom, depression, or self-loathing. This was a crazy cycle, and after hundreds of times around the block, we found life almost not worth living. Thoughts of leaving this place more steadily entered our minds. We were miserable individuals, disillusioned and dying of thirst.

Friends, there has been an endless list of suiters promising satisfaction and contentment to us, and they have all promised much more than they could deliver. Here are some examples that…

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The Sisterhood: The Real Heroes? Bobbie, No! Just No!


Source: Bobbie Houston. Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/p/BFWxEeboYz6/  Published 14/05/2016. (Accessed 14/05/2016.)

Hate to disappoint you, Bobbie but the hero of the bible is Christ and Christ alone.

Are we wrong when we say that Hillsong/Sisterhood followers represent themselves as the center of the (biblical) universe and that all of its redemptive history revolves around them? #selfabsorbedmuch?

Isaiah 48:11 “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.”

The scriptures say,

“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. For every house…

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Singapore warns Japan over Australian conman’s protege

We can safely say that C3 Church leadership (in Sydney, Australia) are incredibly unhappy with the way that Phil Pringle is still misleading his church into believing that Kong Hee is facing unfair persecution by Singaporean authorities. His deliberate silence on Kong Hee is obvious as he attempts to make sure that no one asks about it so he can “progress” his church.

Still Australian media turn a blind eye to Phil Pringle’s involvement in the Singapore scandal.

Recently, a Singaporean diplomat labeled Pringle’s protege as a “disgraceful compatriot” to warn their Japanese friends of Kong’s “criminal offence” of his “misuse of church funds.” His final warning?

“Do not be deceived.”

It’s funny how Jesus says “Do not be deceived” by false prophets in these last days.

By speaking out, Kausikan is demonstrating  love and compassion toward Japan. This man does not want his Japanese friends to be manipulated  by Kong Hee, a fraudulent man who uses Christianity for his…

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Brian & Hillsong > Bible


We’ve often wondered how Word of Faith heretics read their bibles. The Old Testament has books like Ecclesiastes and Lamentations that are often hard to read because of their tone. These books are God breathed and as believers we know “Thy word is true” (Psalm 119:160). So how does a Word of Faith heretic like Brian Houston approach these weighty, sobering books?

06_Code-Indigo_WOF The Word of Faith cults teach we are to align inner and external worlds to our lips and then to speak the things of our heart, mind and spirit into existence.

Remember – a Word of Faith heretic teaches that the power of the tongue speaks life or death. This means they rather speak life and motivation into their members to see them prosper and flourish. They convince themselves that God speaks loving, life-filled motivating words to get us through the day.

So it is hard to find…

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Why Must The Christian Do Good Works? (Ursinus)

The Reformed Reader

Since I’ve been studying and writing on the law, justification, and sanctification, I wanted to use Zacharius Ursinus’ Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism to explain how Reformed theology talks about good works in the Christian life.  On this topic, Ursinus has a helpful exposition of Q/A 86 of the Heidelberg Catechism.  The question is this: “Since we are delivered from our misery, merely out of grace through Christ, without any merit of ours, why must we still do good works?”In other words, it is certainly true that by faith alone in Christ alone, by God’s grace alone, we’re delivered from our sin and misery.  It’s certainly true that God accepts and adopts us because of what Jesus has done in our place.  But why must we still do good works?  Here are Ursinus’ answers, based on Scripture.

1) “Because good works are…

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My Problem with Hillsong

The Domain for Truth

Does Christ, the humble and unashamed preacher, matter?

The danger of the hip and cool prosperity movement–one of them is Hillsong and its pastor Carl Lentz, who attracts many celebrities from Justin Bieber, Bono, Vanessa Hudgens, Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Durant, Ja Rule; to name but a few. He has been called the “Apostle of Cool” and the “Jesus Christ’s Superstar.”

If this is the new generation of superficial preachers who water down the Gospel in order to make it palatable to man and to be viewed by man as hip and cool–then we as a generation are to be most pitted. We need men who truly love souls; men who preach with moral imperatives, not, “I don’t knows” when it comes down to topics of morality; especially urgent and controversial ones. For example, in an interview with Katie Couric, Lentz was asked to address the topic of gay marriage. Instead…

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39 reasons a Hillary Clinton presidency would be a catastrophe for America.

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog


It is now increasingly clear that Hillary Clinton will win the Democrat nomination for President. In my view, her election will be a disaster for the American family, American workers, Americans serving in the military, and for American national security.

As commanded in the Scriptures, I will pray for her, as for all leaders. But I cannot vote for her. Here are 39 specific reasons — specific things she has said, positions she has taken, lies she has told, and values she has espoused, all that I disagree with. (True, there are so many more reasons why she would be a disastrous president, but I think this list will suffice for now.)

Readers of this blog will remember that earlier this year, during the GOP primaries, I wrote two columns about Mr. Trump. The first was titled, “32 reasons a Trump presidency would be a catastrophe for America.” The second was titled, “Seven more reasons a Trump presidency…

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What Jesus Says About Our Failures – Unlocking the Bible

Perhaps the greatest discouragement in my Christian life is my own weakness before God. It’s at the beginning of a well-worn path to doubt. How could the Holy Spirit possibly be working in me if I’m still struggling with this?

For me this comes up frequently in my struggle to share the gospel well with others. I retreat into a comfortable and “nice” conversation instead of doing the hard work of listening, asking questions, and learning how the person I’m spending time with needs the gospel today. I let fear of causing offense or of having inadequate words rule my conversation.

Recognizing this, I can spiral into a consuming fear that I’m not actually following Christ at all, that I’ve been fooling myself this whole time. After all, if I really loved Jesus and really believed he was the way, I would be filled with enthusiasm to share him with everyone I encounter.

Variations on this spiral might include:

  • If I had real faith, I would trust God instead of being so anxious.
  • If I had real faith, I wouldn’t get so angry with my family/coworkers/church.
  • If I had real faith, I would be content instead of struggling with greed and lust.
  • If I had real faith, I would give more generously instead of holding on so tightly to my stuff.

. . . and on and on. There’s an element of truth in these lines, in that our failures do indicate weak faith. They indicate we have more faith in our own way than in God’s way. The trouble lies in focusing exclusively on our weakness. This self-centered gaze takes us straight down the path to discouragement, doubt, and fear. But Jesus beckons us to an alternate route.

Jesus, Unshaken by Failure

Jesus calls his followers to handle their lack of faith by fixing their eyes on him. I saw this in a new way when reading through John last month, focusing on the conversations Jesus has. John 13-16 shares the conversation between Jesus and his disciples in the hours before his death, and in these chapters we see that Jesus is not shaken by their lack of faith. He doesn’t ignore it either; he actually points it out several times, as he did throughout in his ministry. But he constantly turns their attention back to himself, calling them to believe in him, offering promise after promise to be with them and help them glorify God.

In 13:37-14:1, he predicts Peter will deny him that night, but then assures the disciples that he will bring them to be with him and the Father:

Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow you right now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny me three times.

“Do not let your heart by troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places … I go to prepare a place for you.”

Shortly after, Philip asks that Jesus show them the Father. Jesus points out their lack of faith in his unity with the Father, but then promises to act when they pray, send them the Holy Spirit, and return for them.  

Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? … Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son …

I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, that he may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see him or know him, but you know him because he abides with you and will be in you.

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (14:10-18)

In chapter 16, the disciples think they finally see Jesus’ relationship with the Father and believe in him fully. Jesus again reveals that their faith is so weak that they will soon abandon him, but calls them to find peace in him.

Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.  These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (16:31-33)

It’s a rhythm of their weakness, his strength; their doubt, his faithfulness; their fear, his assurance. When their lack of faith comes out, he says look at me, believe in me.

Three Ways to Respond to Failure

Knowing this should change the way we respond to our own failures. It will take our whole Christian lives to grow in this dependence and trust, but here are three immediate ways we can apply this in our thinking about weakness and bringing it before the Lord:

1. Look to Jesus as you see your sin and doubt.

God calls us to mourn our sin, but always to turn to him in our mourning. Rather than seeing sin and weakness as dooming, see them as opportunities to take hold of Christ’s strength and depend on him. Jesus does not call his followers to be discouraged in their sin, but to believe in him.

2. Look to Jesus as you confess your sin and doubt.

Hours before Jesus went to the cross, the failures of his disciples were obvious before him, yet he still went. He already knows our failure, and he’s already taken away our guilt. Scripture says we have confidence in appealing to his grace, so we can confess freely and without fear of rejection. Don’t shrink away from confession, but accept his offer of grace.

3. Look to Jesus as you fight sin and doubt.

Jesus speaks to the disciples of his own conquering power and of the Spirit’s help. We can ask for his help, and trust that he is working on our behalf. Though our fight against sin can seem unending and overwhelming, Jesus is not concerned, because he knows his own power is so much greater than our sin. He has overcome sin’s condemnation and has resourced us with the Spirit. He is working for us and with us as we fight, so that we are equipped to continue as we call out to him in the battle.

May you be encouraged today as you force your gaze away from despair and onto Jesus, who is infinitely stronger than our weakness and failures.

Can you think of other ways to respond to failure?


The post What Jesus Says About Our Failures appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.

James: The Apostle of Passion – Grace to You Blog

Code: B160516

by John MacArthur

Of the three disciples in Jesus’ closest inner circle, James is the least familiar to us. The biblical account is practically devoid of any explicit details about his life and character. He never appears as a stand-alone character in the gospel accounts, but he is always paired with his younger and better-known brother, John.

The only time he is mentioned by himself is in the book of Acts, where his martyrdom is recorded: “Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword” (Acts 12:1-2).

This relative silence about James is ironic, because from a human perspective, he might have seemed the logical one to dominate the group. Between James and John, James was the eldest. (That is doubtless why his name always appears first when those two names appear together.) And between the two sets of brothers, the family of James and John seems to have been much more prominent than the family of Peter and Andrew. This is hinted at by the fact that James and John are often referred to simply as “the sons of Zebedee” (Mark 10:35)—signifying that Zebedee was a man of some importance.

Zebedee’s prestige might have stemmed from his financial success, his family lineage, or both. He was apparently quite well-to-do. His fishing business was large enough to employ multiple hired servants (Mark 1:20). Moreover, Zebedee’s entire family had enough status that the apostle John “was known to the high priest,” and that is how John was able to get Peter admitted to the high priest’s courtyard on the night of Jesus’ arrest (John 18:15–16). There is some evidence from the early church record that Zebedee was a Levite and closely related to the high priest’s family. Whatever the reason for Zebedee’s prominence, it is clear from Scripture that he was a man of importance, and his family’s reputation reached from Galilee all the way to the high priest’s household in Jerusalem.

James, as the elder brother from such a prominent family, might have felt that by all rights he ought to have been the chief apostle. Indeed, that may be one of the main reasons there were so many disputes about “which one of them was regarded to be greatest” (Luke 22:24). But James never did actually take first place among the apostles except in one regard: He was the first to be martyred.

James is a much more significant figure than we might consider, based on the little we know about him. In two of the lists of apostles his name comes immediately after Peter’s (Mark 3:16–19; Acts 1:13). So there is good reason to assume he was a strong leader—and probably second in influence after Peter.

Of course, James also figures prominently in the close inner circle of three. He, Peter, and John were the only ones Jesus permitted to go with Him when He raised Jairus’s daughter from the dead (Mark 5:37). The same group of three witnessed Jesus’ glory on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1). James was among four disciples who questioned Jesus privately on the Mount of Olives (Mark 13:3). And he was included again with John and Peter when the Lord urged those three to pray with Him privately in Gethsemane (Mark 14:33). So as a member of the small inner circle, he was privileged to witness Jesus’ power in the raising of the dead, he saw His glory when Jesus was transfigured, he saw Christ’s sovereignty in the way the Lord unfolded the future to them on the Mount of Olives, and he saw the Savior’s agony in the garden. All of these events must have strengthened his faith immensely and equipped him for the suffering and martyrdom he himself would eventually face.

If there’s a key word that applies to the life of the apostle James, that word is passion. From the little we know about him, it is obvious that he was a man of ardent fervor and intensity. In fact, Jesus gave James and John a nickname: Boanerges—“Sons of Thunder.” That defines James’s personality in very vivid terms. He was zealous, thunderous, passionate, and fervent. He reminds us of Jehu in the Old Testament, who was known for driving his chariot at breakneck speed (2 Kings 9:20), and who said, “Come with me and see my zeal for the Lord” (2 Kings 10:16)—then annihilated the house of Ahab and swept away Baal-worship from the land. But Jehu’s passion was a passion out of control, and his “zeal for the Lord” turned out to be tainted with selfish, worldly ambition and the most bloodthirsty kinds of cruelty. Scripture says, “Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel sin” (2 Kings 10:31).

The apostle James’s zeal was mixed with similar ambitious and bloodthirsty tendencies (though in much milder doses), and he may have even been headed down a similar road to ruin when Jesus met him. But by God’s grace, he was transformed into a man of God and became one of the leading apostles.

Mark, who records that Jesus called James and John “Sons of Thunder,” includes that fact in his list of the Twelve, mentioning it in the same way he notes that Simon was named Peter (Mark 3:17). We don’t know how often Jesus employed His nickname for James and John; Mark’s mention of it is the only time it appears in all of Scripture. Unlike Peter’s name, which was obviously intended to help encourage and shape Peter’s character toward a rocklike steadfastness, “Boanerges” seems to have been bestowed on the sons of Zebedee to chide them when they allowed their naturally feverish temperaments to get out of hand. Perhaps the Lord even used it for humorous effect while employing it as a gentle admonishment.

What little we know about James underscores the fact that he had a fiery, vehement disposition. While Andrew was quietly bringing individuals to Jesus, James was wishing he could call down fire from heaven and destroy whole villages of people. Even the fact that James was the first to be martyred—and that his martyrdom was accomplished by no less a figure than Herod—suggests that James was not a passive or subtle man, but rather he had a style that stirred things up, so that he made deadly enemies very rapidly.

There is a legitimate place in spiritual leadership for people who have thunderous personalities. Elijah was that kind of character. (Indeed, Elijah was the role model James thought he was following when he pleaded for fire from heaven.) Nehemiah was similarly passionate (cf. Nehemiah 13:25). John the Baptist had a fiery temperament, too. James apparently was cut from similar fabric. He was outspoken, intense, and impatient with evildoers.

There is nothing inherently wrong with such zeal. Remember that Jesus Himself made a whip and cleansed the temple. And when he did, “His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house will consume Me’” (John 2:17; cf. Psalm 69:9). James of all people knew what it was to be eaten up with zeal for the Lord. Much of what James saw Jesus do probably helped stoke his zeal—such as when the Lord rebuked the Jewish leaders, when He cursed the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida, and when He confronted and destroyed demonic powers. Zeal is a virtue when it is truly zeal for righteousness’ sake.

But sometimes zeal is less than righteous. Zeal apart from knowledge can be damning (cf. Romans 10:2). Zeal without wisdom is dangerous. Zeal mixed with insensitivity is often cruel. Whenever zeal disintegrates into uncontrolled passion, it can be deadly. And James sometimes had a tendency to let such misguided zeal get the better of him. Two incidents in particular illustrate this. One is the episode where James wanted to call down fire. The other is the time James and John enlisted their mother’s help to lobby for the highest seats in the kingdom.

In the coming days we will consider both incidents, and what we ought to learn from this passionate apostle.

(Adapted from Twelve Ordinary Men.)

Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B160516
COPYRIGHT ©2016 Grace to You

Speaking the Truth in Love – The Master’s Seminary

We live in a world where people love to talk. Studies suggest that the average American adult speaks approximately 16,000 words per day. Multiply that by a lifespan of 70 years, for a total of nearly 409 million words, and suddenly Christ’s warning in Matthew 12:36 takes on new significance: “I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.”

Of course, actual vocalization is only part of how people communicate. The Internet, in particular, has given rise to many other ways in which to speak. A study in 2010 estimated that, worldwide, some 294 billion emails are sent every day. The birth of social media has added to that constant stream of communication. Consider that Facebook averages 55 million status updates daily, along with Twitter’s 340 million tweets, and you can begin to appreciate the magnitude of unending chatter that characterizes modern society.

The Internet did not exist when the Bible was written. But the biblical principles for Christian communication apply to online interactions just as they govern real-life interpersonal relationships and face-to-face conversations. Whether we are speaking in person, on the phone, in a letter, or online, Scripture provides us with God-honoring parameters for how we are to communicate with others.

One important passage in this regard is Ephesians 4:14–15, where the Apostle Paul tells his readers: “We are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” Rather than succumbing to the sin-saturated thinking of the world around them, Paul’s readers are to reject falsehood and instead speak the truth to one another in love.

From Paul’s instruction in these verses, we can derive at least two important applications for Christian communication today. Though somewhat elementary, these points are vitally important for the way in which we speak. First, we are to speak the truth. Second, we are to do so in a way that is characterized by love.

The context of Paul’s instruction centers around doctrinal issues (in v. 14), and is directly applicable to the edification of fellow believers (in vv. 15b–16). We are to speak the truth, then, in contrast to the falsehood of deceptive teachings and worldly philosophies; and we are to do so in love, for the purpose of building up the body of Christ.

Speaking the truth addresses the content of what we say. As followers of Christ, we are to be those who uphold the truth of God’s revealed Word. That means there will be times when we must confront error as we contend earnestly for the faith. With unbelievers, this will often take the form of apologetics, boldly giving a defense for the hope that is in us. With fellow believers, this may take the form of confrontation, as we plead with a spiritual brother or sister to repent of sinful thinking or action.

Speaking the truth in love addresses the way in which we speak. We must not be obnoxious with the truth, or personally offensive in how we approach others. Rather, we are called to communicate in such a way that the manner of our speaking honors our Lord Jesus and edifies His body, the church.

When we speak of love, we are not suggesting that we should ignore error or blindly tolerate “every wind of doctrine.” Not at all. Biblical love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6). Our postmodern world wrongly equates love with tolerance of all beliefs and actions. But being tolerant of doctrinal error or unrepentant sin is not truly loving at all. Thus, we speak the truth because it is the most loving thing we can do.

Additionally, we recognize that biblical love is patient, kind, humble, selfless, and not-easily provoked. It is a sincere love that is characterized by the phrase: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18). It exhibits the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22–23); consequently, it is not quick-tempered, self-willed, pugnacious, or needlessly quarrelsome (2 Tim. 2:24–25). It is definitely not soft on sin, error, or false teaching; but it is softened with compassion and seasoned with grace in the way it interacts with other people.

In our evangelism, Paul’s instruction to speak the truth in love helps us remember that the goal of apologetics is not merely to win arguments, but to win people. And in practicing biblical confrontation with fellow believers, this same principle reminds us that the goal is restoration. After all, as Paul made clear, the goal of our speech is to edify others.

Paul’s instruction in Ephesians 4:14–15 underscores the fact that truth and love are not mutually exclusive concepts. Rather, the content of our speech ought to be characterized by biblical truth. And the manner in which we speak ought to be governed by biblical love. With those two parameters in place, we can make the most of every word that we speak (or type or tweet)—honoring Christ and edifying others through the things that we say.

(Today’s post was originally published in Tabletalk Magazine, July 2013, copyright Ligonier Ministries. The original article can be read here.)

The post Speaking the Truth in Love appeared first on The Master’s Seminary.

What does it mean to preach the Word?

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:1-4 NASB)

About 7 years ago or so we were dealing with the Emergent or Emerging “Church” replacing Christian liberalism or at least morphing into the same role. That means that it assumed a Gospel stance of universalism. At the same time, we were hearing of a certain group of…

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Who is El-Shaddai?

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 Now when Abram was ninety- nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him,
“I am God Almighty;
Walk before Me, and be blameless.
2 “I will establish My covenant between Me and you,
And I will multiply you exceedingly.” (Genesis 17:1-2 NASB)

In these last days it is imperative that God’s people have a more complete knowledge of God. So, in light of this, let us look at one of the names of God that speaks much about His power and provision. God keeps His part of the covenants He makes and it is this name, El-Shaddai, that God used for Himself that gives us much comfort as we come to understand that He helps and blesses His people. El-Shaddai (   אלשׁדּי  ) – We must never forget that in Hebrew we read from right to left and this name…

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Jesus Christ is the Exclusive Saviour

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 “ Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas *said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have…

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