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Posts Tagged ‘sanctification’

Jesus doesn’t tell us to go out there and do the best we can. He said, Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

We naturally say, “Impossible!”

To which Jesus replies, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

See the Bigger Picture

Without Jesus we cannot save ourselves, we cannot cleanse ourselves, we cannot heal ourselves, we cannot changes ourselves, and we cannot be perfect, but in Christ Jesus we can do all things through Him who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13). That of course means all things that are pleasing to Him, bless Him, and are of His good will and pleasure.

But we lament, “We will fail.”

Two things: Making a mistake does not negate perfection, nor is making a mistake failure. Failure is when we make a mistake and refuse to learn from it. Failure is when we fall down and refuse to get up. Failure is when we make one mistake and think two good deeds will balance the scales. Failure is when we reject God and try to fix it ourselves. Failure is what negates perfection.

Perfection is Already Ours

“He has clothed (us) with the garments of salvation; He has covered (us) with the robe of righteousness.” (Isaiah 61:10) In other words, we are dressed to perfection. Yes, we are works in progress. Yes, we are being changed daily. Yes, we are being sanctified. But in all these things if we err, He has us covered. No longer should a brother or sister in Christ declare, “I’m not perfect,” because in Christ Jesus we are, so we should start acting like it.

Sharing Our Perfection

Our most perfect possessions are our salvation and the ‘Good News’ of the Gospel message. I suggest this is what we share.

“Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

(Matthew 28:19)

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We ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God… 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5

Stop Praying?

Well not entirely.

I simply want to draw attention to our need to stop asking God to release us from things that He may have allowed to happen. These seemingly negative events could be evidence of His righteous judgment that counts us worthy and simultaneously brings Him mountains of glory. Consider that these trials could be confirmation from God Himself that we are obediently in His will (assuming the persecutions and tribulations that occurred were because we were operating in the Holy Spirit and were not the consequences of working in our flesh). I submit to you that suffering while in the Spirit is yet another proof you are in Christ and He is in you.

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12

That’s something to rejoice about, but wait, there’s more! As we face these trials, God is with us. In fact, it is in these situations He chooses to mold and refine us. This Bible passage gives illumination:

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4 

Patience? Perfection? Completion? Without Lack?

Why in Heaven’s name would anyone desire to pray against those things? I am not aaproposing a Christian go looking for trouble ———->(Heaven forbid), but when trouble has found us we need to recognize it for the God-ordained refining process that it is. While all believers delight in mountain-top experiences, obedient Christians know that the real fruit of our faith grows in these valleys of tribulation.

“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)

 

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Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13
~
It took me a while…

I always misunderstood the implication of the verse, Work out your own salvation,” thinking that it somehow meant I was in this sanctification thing alone. Sure, I was saved by the grace of God through His Son Jesus Christ, but I errantly thought I was left to do it single-handedly, having only the fear of God and the trembling of what He might do to me if I stepped out of line as incentive. Despite comprehending the fear of the Lord, being a lone ranger is not what is being conveyed in this passage.

Cross Training

We’re being told to ‘work out’ or to literally exercise these things that Jesus has taught us by His example in order that we may be strengthened in faith. We are not being told to figure it out alone and most definitely we’re not being told that salvation is something we need to work for. We’re being told to exercise in the truth that we know so that we will encourage and maintain spiritual fitness.

Exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. 1 Timothy 4:7b-8

The Exercises

Not to be flippant, but here are three basic exercises: the ‘Humility Walk’, the ‘Servant Squat’, and the ‘Self-esteem Toss.’ Our Trainer (Jesus), having taken on the form of a man, demonstrated them each and it would serve us well to remember that it was Jesus the man who is our example. Jesus the man was able, just as we are able, by solely relying on the power of the Father.

Walk in Humility

And being found in fashion as a man, (Jesus) humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:8

Service to Others

But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant… Matthew 20:26-27

Toss away Selfishness

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

And lest we forget…

Obedience

Obedience is the essence of the Christian faith. Jesus Himself was “obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8) and it speaks directly to ‘showing up’ when you’re called to. When believers talk about taking up the cross and following Him, they’re making a strong reference to obedience, as well as dying to the flesh on a daily basis. Clearly, if we love Jesus and if we’re grateful for His love for us, we exercise that love by obeying Him in all things.

The MOST Important Rule!

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10

You can search long and hard, but you won’t find that credo in Work Out World or any other gym for that matter. The world doesn’t get it, but the church does. When a Christian is humble, or when he stumbles or when he is emptied, he is in the best position to be strengthened by the Lord, if of course that person is submitted to Christ and His workout ethic.

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Many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed. Acts 19:19-20

The Look of Repentance

If you were not aware, repentance has a look. That is to say if an ‘affected’ person is observed for a period of time, their ‘repentant condition’ would yield tangible evidence. Since repentance (by definition) is in part, ‘the relinquishment of any practice, from conviction that, offends God,’ it’s safe to say the absence of those practices would be impacting (and obvious) to the onlooker.

Has your look changed?

Consider the Bible passage above. We see a new group of born-again believers, who having been convicted by the Holy Spirit, destroyed the components of their sinful ways (one cannot easily return to that which he garagedemolished). Take note: there was no garage sale, no giving away, just total destruction. You could say in one sense it was a picture of baptism; the ritual washing whereby a Christian publicly demonstrates their new birth with and in Christ Jesus. The exercise begs the question: “Have you done similarly or are you still clinging to the relics of your illicit past?”

Have you done similarly or are you still clinging to the relics of your illicit past?”

Legalism

At this point some might cry, “Foul,” that this is just another legalistic trip from the fundamental, Christian, right-wing fanatics. To these I would say you probably don’t understand Godly sorrow as it pertains to sin, repentance, and salvation (not to mention the practice of gleaning from wise counsel and/or the concept of iron-sharpening-iron). The Apostle Paul addresses the first issue in 2 Corinthians 7:9-11.

Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

Paul points out the purpose and subsequent byproduct of Godly sorrow: repentance that leads to salvation. If you are a born-again Christian and have never experienced this brokenness, then there is a good chance you have not fully turned away from your sin. There also remains the likelihood that you have adopted excuses, false doctrines, and misguided people to justify the behavior and regalia to which you still hold fast. While I won’t question your salvation (that’s between you and Jesus), as an admonition I question if you are fully submitted to Christ’s will, His plan, and the sanctification process. It could very well be that in your attempt to fool others, you may only be fooling yourself.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;  And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24  

Sanctification

Sanctification speaks to two things primarily: separation unto God (holiness) and submission to the changes Jesus desires to make in us towards perfection. If you understand sanctification and comprehend ‘Godly sorrow’ through personal experience, then you will not see ‘repentant change’ as legalism, but rather as liberty afforded by God.

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

The good news is that sanctification is a life-long process; it lasts from the moment we’re saved until the moment we cross over to Heaven. At the time of our rebirth there should have been some sure signs of repentance — if we truly turned towards Jesus to follow Him, we turned away from something sinful. As we continue to walk with Him in submission, daily asking Him to search our hearts for things we’re blind to, He is faithful to reveal them, and like those redeemed magicians in Ephesus, we can heap up those things for destruction.

Are you going to Heaven?

If you’re not sure click HERE

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“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.” 2 Timothy 3:1

Jesus is Coming Soon

Do you believe that? The Apostle Paul did, and he lived his entire Christian life as if Jesus would be coming to get him at any moment. As a result his attitude of faith served to make him spiritually healthier. But please don’t ever say:

“Paul was wrong, Jesus never returned for him.”

paulFirst of all, that’s just not true. But regardless, Paul would tell you that his actions were right, despite the fact his rapturial timing was askew (Paul’s harpazo was of a personal nature and likely occurred when he purportedly lost his head). Let us be mindful of Christ‘s own words, That day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”

Back to Paul’s attitude: consider 1 John 3:2-3

“Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

In case you missed it, Paul is proclaiming that whoever has this hope becomes purer and thus more like Jesus. I think it was Billy Graham, when asked what if God is not real, responded, “Then I will have lived a better life.”

Paul would have likely agreed. Not only is Jesus Christ the real-deal, but in our waiting for His return we are being made better, not for our glory, but for His!

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification” 1 Thessalonians 4:3a

Want to know God’s will for your life? Well there it is!

The Contrasting Christian

What is the net result when Christians do not live as if Christ’s return was imminent? Jesus tells us Himself in Matthew 24:48-51

“But if that evil servant says in his heart, ’My master is delaying his coming, ’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Clearly, if our behavior does not reflect an attitude of Christ’s return being near, than it’s likely emulating the worldly conduct that surrounds us. In other words, if we’re not surrendered to the sanctification process, that is the setting apart of ourselves for all things Spiritual and submitted to God for the changes He desires to see in us, than we’re behaving as the rest of the world behaves. This person must question whether or not he or she is truly saved. Keep in mind that merely going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2

I implore you as well.

Jesus is coming soon and you do not want to delay. If you are not a Christian, you must rectify that immediately revive(here’s how). If you are a nominal Christian, you need to start acting like a normal Christian. Repent or be revived! Now is the time. We are closer to Christ’s return than we have ever been before and if you should die before Christ returns for all of us, then you will be a witness to a private audience with the King of Kings. At that time if you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, He will not receive you into His Kingdom — that’s just the way it is.

I beg you, stop rejecting the only Savior.

 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of heaven will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:25-27

I pray you were somehow blessed by the post. If you were, please like it, share, subscribe to it, and please leave a comment. I read and respond to every comment I receive. Have a blessed day in the Lord Jesus.

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Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! James 3:3-5 

“Four Years of Struggle against Lies, Stupidity, and Cowardice”

Do you recognize the title of this book?

There’s a good chance you don’t [because] the publisher reduced the title to simply, ‘My Struggle’. If you still don’t recognize it, perhaps the more familiar German title will ring a bell:

Mien Kampf

Mein Kampf

I only mention the book here for illustrative purposes. This autobiographical essay from Adolph Hitler, the intention of which was to put him and the Aryan culture in a positive light while simultaneously presenting a manifesto by which others should be eliminated, resulted in well over six million people being slaughtered. If the carnage were to be expressed in a ‘murder-to-word’ ratio, it would be 125 to 1.

That is, one hundred and twenty-five (125) people killed for each word Hitler wrote.

Our words, spoken or otherwise, can be lethal.

No man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:8

The Power of the Word

Everything we say or do ultimately works towards accomplishing one of two things: it either serves to build up the Kingdom of God, or serves to tear it down. The question that remains is how to know the difference. As misguided as Hitler was, we might suspect that he thought he was doing the right thing.

Clearly he was deceived.

Knowing the tongue is fueled by a heart that is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, the Apostle James sets out to provide some counsel in how we might curb the urge to blurt out or type out the first thing that enters our mind.

(Evil) wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:15-18

First, a godly word will not be aligned with worldly logic. It will not be governed by emotions — ours or somebody else’s.  It won’t find its roots in pride or selfishness, nor will it be confusing to the hearer.

A godly word will be like the Father: holy, loving, and tender. It is always true and will never contradict what God has already declared in the Bible.

It has the scent of compassion.

It will bear fruit.

In it there is no prejudice or pretense. The godly word is moving towards peace, not away from it. It yields to understanding, mercy, and righteousness. And in an ironic twist, often this word is the word not spoken.

Where there is no wood, the fire goes out… Proverbs 26:20

The Apostle Paul would add…

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice…be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:29-32

Easier Said Than Done?

No. That is not the case. Don’t buy into that lie. Jesus said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and our Lord and Savior is not a liar.

The key to ease is submission. Know that our hearts are wicked and deceitful and know also that the Lord searches the heart and tests the mind. If we consistently allow Him access to these areas, He will identify the evil and give to every man according to his submitted ways and obedient doings. In other words, God will be faithful to change us as we die to our flesh and concede our will to His.

And if it’s not easy, you’re not doing it right.

Here’s the truth of the matter. If you are a Christian and you believe the Christian walk is hard, it’s not the spiritual you who is struggling, it’s the fleshly you who is having the hard time. That should be a wonderful revelation and a great comfort to you. God is revealing that it’s your old man who is laboring!

Die to that!

Suddenly we able to silence our corrupt tongues. Only what is gracious and edifying pours forth. We no longer cause the Holy Spirit to grieve, because that bitter old man and his wrath, anger, and evil speaking has been put away. The submitted saint finds it easy to be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving. It’s no longer a heavy burden, but the lighter load we have chosen to carry.

Does this still seem impossible?

For man it is, but not for God.

But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

  1. Do you find your Christian walk difficult?
  2. Are you submitted to God’s will?
  3. Do you daily pick up your cross?

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Enter by the narrow gate…wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it…Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14

For the Few…

This passage frightens a lot of people.

‘Narrow and difficult’ sounds to them as if the Christian walk is a daunting, practically unachievable task, akin to traversing hell on a high wire. This is not at all the case for the follower of Christ.

Remember, Jesus said,

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Since we have the assurance that there are no contradictions in the Bible, we can know that Jesus would not say ‘come’ to this easy and restful place, and then turn the tables. That notion is contrary to all we know about Jesus.

Nevertheless, the verse reads, ‘narrow and difficult’ is the way, so what are we to make of it?

Narrow

Have you ever fallen off a sidewalk?

Me either.

I’ve been pushed off sidewalks and I’ve been pulled off sidewalks, but I’ve never fallen off one. I have however fallen off of many a curb, but curbs are not sidewalks, are they?

I liken the narrow path of the Bible to a sidewalk, wide enough for perhaps three people to walk abreast; adequate space to walk comfortably with Jesus and perhaps a brother or sister we encounter along the way. Naturally, plenty of room exists fore and aft.

This narrow walkway is a safe place.  Falling is not inevitable, but rather the result of bad choices we make along the way.

Difficult

Do you have a working definition of the word difficult?

Are you sure?

In my quest to unravel the Matthew 7:13-14 passage, I compared the New King James text to the King James text. Interestingly enough I discovered that the KJV version does not read, ‘narrow and difficult,’ it reads ‘strait (straight) and narrow.’

In other words, the KJV version uses the word straight for narrow and the word narrow for difficult.

That led me to Strong’s Concordance where I discovered that while straight does in fact mean narrow, the word narrow (in the Greek) means ‘a compressed way,’ or more specifically, ‘to press (as grapes).’ It occurred to me that this narrow, difficult way being spoken of was in actuality a reference to the sanctification process that naturally occurs as we walk side by side with Jesus.  Sort of a sidewalk and wine-press all rolled into one.

So, the question is…

Is sanctification difficult?

I submit to you that transformation is only arduous to those who are not submitted to it.

If you are one who struggles to maintain fleshly pursuits or wrestles with the idea of being changed, than you likely find your walk with Jesus to be a difficult journey. But if on the other hand, you are submitted to the changes that He wants to make in you, you probably find the walk to be a light burden that is challenging, invigorating, and rewarding.

Having said that, we all struggle in our walks from time to time.

That’s good.

It’s a good thing if we recognize that the difficulty we are experiencing is directly related to our sinful desire to hold onto something that is not pleasing to the Lord. Do you recall the story of the rich, young man? Recognition in this regard can be the catalyst that compels us to ask of God, “Why am I struggling so?”

If we are sincerely seeking the truth, God will answer and identify those things we need to put down and walk away from.

He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6b

~ ~ ~

God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13b

We Have the Power

The mystery of our relationship is that Christ Jesus is alive and resides within our very being. All knowledge, wisdom, and power are in Him and He is in us, therefore, we have access to the very things we need to make easy the yoke and light the burden.

Do you know what you have?

The story is told of the gazillionaire, William Randolph Hearst who once saw a photograph of a classic art-piece that he had to have for his extensive art collection. He dispatched his staff to obtain the painting at any cost. They returned with the news that the work of art was not available. The reason being: Mr. Hearst already owned it and had it stored in his warehouse.

Incredible Simplicity

God made it so easy. There is one way: Christ alone. Christ in us, the hope of glory.

That’s it folks. We don’t have to look elsewhere, Christ is ready, willing, and able!

If it’s your testimony that the yoke of Jesus is not easy and His burden is not light, then clearly you are not doing it right. You are in fact wrestling with an Opponent that you cannot beat. At this juncture it would be prudent to open your eyes and gaze upon the face of your Lord and Savior to see He is not your adversary, but your Advocate before the Father.

But…

Didn’t Jesus say that in this world we would have tribulation? Can’t we assume that tribulation and difficulty are synonymous?

You can if you want to, but it’s wiser to equate tribulation to the light burdens Jesus spoke of. In so doing we discover that in Christ they are temporary and bearable. It is the only manner by which a dying Stephen could proclaim,

“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit… do not charge them with this sin.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:59-60

Stephen was called to martyrdom and therefore found it to be a light burden to bear. Had he struggled, no doubt it would have been an extremely difficult process to endure.

Tribulation: The Upside

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

~ ~ ~

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5

~ ~ ~

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39

~ ~ ~

Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation. 2 Corinthians 7:4

Still Struggling?

Somewhere, some good Christian is saying, “You just don’t understand what I’m going through and regardless of what you say, it’s difficult.”

You’re right, I probably don’t fully comprehend your situation, but I do grasp His solution.

Difficulty is heaviness and heaviness is a unique sensation unto itself. The moment it is experienced we instinctively know that we must either put the weight down or seek help to carry it. To deny this awareness is to affirm that you oppose sanctification (you are not submitted to God).  It is at this point where many walk away from Jesus.

Don’t walk away.

We have  promise:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Sadly there are few who find the straight and narrow way, because they fail to accept and believe that Jesus Christ is the only way, the only truth, and the only life worth living.  Faith on the other hand is the glue that keeps us on the path.

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