Desperate for Healing

hands lifted upwardThe woman’s story is recorded in Luke 8 and Mark 5. It is a story of a woman with faith who was desperate for healing. It is a story of divine power and love. It is a story of a blessing freely given.

For twelve years the woman bled without relief. For twelve years she visited physicians who took her money but did little to help. For twelve years this woman suffered not only from the physical effects of her condition, but also the societal effects from a people who labeled her unclean.

As someone labeled unclean, the woman was not allowed inside the Temple. She was not supposed to be around anyone without loudly announcing, “Unclean. Unclean.” She was not supposed to be in crowds of people. And she especially was not to touch a male who wasn’t a relative; let alone a Rabbi.

Yet, in her desperation to have her weakened body healed, she risked everything, including her life, to approach Jesus in the crowd.

Ostracized for her condition, she didn’t want to draw attention to herself. She knew Jesus was her only hope. If she could just sneak in and touch the tassel on the hem of his garment, she knew her bleeding would stop. Once she touched Jesus’ garment, her plan was to leave unnoticed.

As soon as the woman’s hand touched Jesus’ cloak, healing the woman desperately sought and believed she had to steal was freely given. When Jesus felt power leave him, he asked who touched him.

In the crowd, lots of people touched Jesus, but only this woman was healed. Jesus could have gone on his way without requesting the woman show herself, but he didn’t. He refused to move until the woman presented herself to him.

We need to remember, Jesus knew who touched him. In fact, he knew since the beginning of time she would. His asking who touched the tassel on the hem of his cloak was for the woman’s benefit, not his.

What the woman hoped to keep private was now made public. Luke says, “In front of everyone.” Her very personal problem/issue/concern was out there for everyone to weigh in on. Plus the fact her failure to announce “unclean” put her in a position to be stoned. All because she was desperate for healing.

Even though all this happened as Jesus was on his way to bring Jairus’ 12-year-old daughter back to life, he would not budge until he spoke to the woman face to face. He would not dismiss her as others in her life had done. He wanted to make sure she understood he saw her and valued her.

This woman had worth in Christ’s eyes. She was not merely a nameless face in the crowd. She mattered greatly to the Son of God. By refusing to move until the woman came before him, Jesus offered her something more than physical healing. Something important. He offered her spiritual healing. By talking to her face to face, Jesus showed he cared for the woman and her concerns.

The woman with the issue of blood was desperate for healing. Healing Jesus gave freely. After the woman fell before Jesus, he told her to go in peace. Her suffering was over.

Oh my goodness gracious. That brings tears to my eyes. After twelve long years of suffering on so many levels, Jesus told this precious woman to go in peace. Her suffering was over.

As the Great Physician, Jesus heals all our hurts. His blessings are freely given when we seek him out, come humbly before him, and acknowledge he alone is able.

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Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done.  And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” Mark 5:33-34 (NLT)

You can find my January Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Babe In The Manger

manger sceneDuring this season of Christmas, it is easy for us to think only of Jesus as the babe in the manger, and not think of him as God the Son who stood beside God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit when the world was formed out of nothing.

In Genesis 1:26 when God said, “Let us … ” he included both Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

During this season of Christmas, it is easy for us to think only of Jesus as the babe in the manger, and not think of him as the Suffering Savior who took the penalty for our sins on his perfect sinless self so we wouldn’t have to pay the debt we owed.

In Psalm 22:1 David spoke of Christ’s suffering on the cross when he said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” These were the very words Jesus spoke as he hung from the cross of Calvary.

During this season of Christmas, it is easy for us to think only of Jesus as the babe in the manger, and not think of him as the Victor who won the battle over hell, sin, Satan, and death. BOOM! Jesus is the Mighty Warrior who will return and establish his kingdom.

In Revelation 21:6 Jesus says he is “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.”

As we look at the babe in the manger, let’s remember he is also the one who was and is and is to come. He is Jesus Christ, Messiah, the King of kings and Lord of lords now and forever. Emanuel. The one who is here with us.

Amen?

In all of the festivities of Christmas, do you ever find it difficult to think of the babe in the manger as Jesus Christ the Savior who died for you?

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Christ is the Word of Life. He was from the beginning. We have heard Him and have seen Him with our own eyes. We have looked at Him and put our hands on Him. Christ Who is Life was shown to us. We saw Him. We tell you and preach about the Life that lasts forever. He was with the Father and He has come down to us. 1 John 1:1-2 (NLV)

You can find my December Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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What Must I Do?

The story is told in the 19th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew of a man who came to Jesus and asked, “What good must I do to earn eternal life?”

The man many call the Rich Young Ruler felt he had all his bases covered. He kept all the required religious laws. To make sure he hadn’t left anything undone to earn eternal life, he went to the one he considered a good teacher. Mind you, the man did not call Jesus Lord or Messiah. Only teacher.

“What good must I do to earn eternal life?” Sounded like the man wanted a checklist of good deeds to follow to ensure he earned his spot in heaven.

I’ve met students like this. They never came right out and asked what was the least they could do and still pass the class, but their actions made it quite clear that’s what they wanted. Internal motivation to do a job to the best of their ability, was nowhere on their radar.

When Jesus mentioned several commandments recorded in what we refer to as the Ten Commandments, the man said he’d kept all of them. Was there anything else he lacked? Jesus told the man he must sell his belongings, give them to the poor, and to follow him.

Matthew tells us the man went away grieving, because he had many possessions.

Although the man asked, “What good must I do to earn eternal life?” he wasn’t willing to put Jesus before his possessions when told that was what he should do.

The first commandment tells us not to place anything before God. We might not put our possessions before God, but what about our relationships, jobs, leisure activities?

Jesus told the man if he wanted to have eternal life, it wasn’t a long to-do list of external things to check off. Christ is more concerned with heart attitude than outward show.

Our motivation to strive to keep the commandments should be because we love God and desire to please him. It’s all about internal motivation, not external motivation.

What Must I do? What must we do?

Do we love Jesus enough to let go of the things that keep us from following him? That’s a good place to start, is it not?

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A man came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to have eternal life?” Matthew 19:16 (CEV)

You can find my June Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Image by Mary Pahlke from Pixabay

No Missing Pieces In Jesus

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Sometimes life can seem like a jigsaw puzzle with several pieces missing. Can it not? Fortunately, when we belong to Jesus, there are no missing pieces.

When Pie was in elementary school, he was majorly interested in the original G.I. Joe television series, toys, and comic books. Who knew, many years later, Duke, Scarlet, and Snake Eyes would be featured in several major movies? Certainly not me.

During one trip to my mother’s house in Georgia, Pie contentedly put a brand new, unopened, G.I. Joe puzzle together. Halfway through, however, no matter how hard he tried to complete the puzzle, there was a problem. Some pieces were missing.

We went to the local five and dime in Homerville to look for another puzzle, but they did not sell any G.I. Joe toys. Not to be deterred, Pie decided to write Hasbro a letter. He explained the problem of the missing puzzle pieces. And you know what? Hasbro came through. Not only did they send a new replacement of the puzzle Pie wrote them about, they sent others as well. Good on you, Hasbro.

Just like trying to make sense of a jigsaw puzzle, we try to make sense of the jigsaw puzzle of life, don’t we? We work hard to get all the pieces to fit properly to create a pleasing picture. We bought the brand new unopened puzzle, expecting all the pieces to be there. But halfway through, we just can’t make it fit. Our perfect picture of what we expected our life to look like is missing several pieces.

That’s when we get in touch with the Creator of the puzzle, the Great I Am. We tell Jesus the problem and wait on his reply. There are no missing pieces in Jesus. He has everything we need to complete the puzzle of our life. He knows what the picture will look like when it’s finished. On the day we stand before the Father’s throne, there will be nothing missing.

The way I see it, our job is to keep the box cover, our Bible, in view and make sure we’re putting the puzzle together correctly. Then put the pieces together day by day, piece by piece, and step by step.

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The whole Bible was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right. It is God’s way of making us well prepared at every point, fully equipped to do good to everyone. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (TLB)

You can find my June Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Who Will Call Him King of Kings?

Photo by Sean O. on Unsplash

Easter is over for one more year. Now what? Has anything in our lives changed since Sunday in how we respond to that most glorious news; He is Risen! He is Risen indeed? Or are we living pretty much unchanged? Like the disciples we are called to let the whole world know Jesus is the resurrected King of kings and Lord of lords. So how are we doing with that?

Jesus told the disciples to meet him in Galilee after his resurrection. The disciples did just as Jesus told them. There they worshiped him. At this time, before he ascended back to his throne at the Father’s right in heaven, Jesus commissioned the disciples to go into all the world, ALL the world, and make disciples in all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them to obey all the commands Jesus gave them. (Matthew 28:16-20) The disciples went everywhere preaching, and the Lord was with them and confirmed what they said by the miracles that followed their messages. (Mark 16:20)

As Christ-followers we are called to spread the Good News of a Risen Savior who loved us so much he willingly took our sin stain on himself, paid the debt we owed but could never pay, all so none would perish, and could live with him forever. This great commission is not just for the season surrounding Resurrection Sunday, but for every day of our life. Amen?

Who will call him king of Kings?

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 It was not long afterwards that he rose into the sky and disappeared into a cloud, leaving them staring after him. As they were straining their eyes for another glimpse, suddenly two white-robed men were standing there among them, and said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing here staring at the sky? Jesus has gone away to heaven, and some day, just as he went, he will return!” Acts 1:9-11 (TLB)
 
You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well,

Sandy

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Seasonal Scripture Verses

For today’s post I am sharing several seasonal Scripture verses. Some verses we associate with the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Some verses we associate with our celebration of Christ’s sacrificial death.

As we read these Scripture verses, let’s not forget we cannot celebrate Christmas without celebrating Christ Jesus’ Resurrection.

A child is born to us!
    A son is given to us!
    And he will be our ruler.
He will be called, “Wonderful Counselor,”
    “Mighty God,” “Eternal Father,”
    “Prince of Peace.”
His royal power will continue to grow;
    his kingdom will always be at peace.
He will rule as King David’s successor,
    basing his power on right and justice,
    from now until the end of time.
The Lord Almighty is determined to do all this. Isaiah 9:6-7 (GNT)

That night, in a field near Bethlehem, there were shepherds watching over their flocks. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared in radiant splendor before them, lighting up the field with the blazing glory of God, and the shepherds were terrified! But the angel reassured them, saying, “Don’t be afraid. For I have come to bring you good news, the most joyous news the world has ever heard! And it is for everyone everywhere! For today in Bethlehem a rescuer was born for you. He is the Lord Yahweh, the Messiah. You will recognize him by this miracle sign: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a feeding trough.

Then all at once, a vast number of glorious angels appeared, the very armies of heaven! And they all praised God, singing:

“Glory to God in the highest realms of heaven! For there is peace and a good hope given to the sons of men.” Luke 2:8-14 (TPT))

Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
 My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.

All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream.
But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave.

 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied.

And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels. Isaiah 53 (NLT)

He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:24 (NIV)

Today and always may we never forget the baby in the manger, whose birth we celebrate each December 25th, is also the Sacrificial Lamb who was slain for the sins of the world, that all may have life and have it abundantly. Jesus is Christ the Messiah. King of kings and LORD of lords. To him be glory, honor, and praise now and forever. Amen.

Do you have a favorite Scripture verse you read at Christmas?

Leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the subject. If you think others would appreciate reading this, please share it through the social media buttons.

You can find my December Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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We Are Aliens In This World

Although this post first appeared October 4, 2016, I felt it worth re-posting.Hope you agree.

Last month during our trip through the Southwest, Pilot and I went through Roswell, NM on our way to Carlsbad Caverns. Although our intent was to visit the International UFO Museum Research Center to see if the truth really is out there, a tornado threatened to send us sheltering beneath the Roswell Museum and Art Center where Pilot soaked in the history of the Robert Goddard exhibit, so we decided to get out of town. Fast.

It seemed everywhere I looked between Roswell and Carlsbad there were aliens.

And this got me thinking about those of us who belong to Jesus.

We are in this world, but not of it. We are aliens, if you will. Sojourners traveling through this world, waiting for the day Jesus takes us to our eternal home in heaven.

To quote Henry David Thoreau, we march to the beat of a different drum. At least we should. People should be able to look at what we do, what we say, where we go, how we treat people, and notice we are different.

We are to reflect Jesus, not the world.

The patriarch, Abraham, was called out of the land of Ur to travel to a place God would take him; Canaan, the land the Israelites called the Promised Land. Abraham was an alien in a foreign land. He was just a-passin’ through.

We are called to be different from the world around us. We are called to a higher standard. A standard set by God. Not a standard set by the culture that surrounds us. God has chosen us to be holy and pure. We belong to him, as such, we are his ambassadors to people who do not yet know him.

This world is not our home. We are aliens. And that’s a good thing, don’t you think?

The truth is out there, and it isn’t found in a science fiction tv show. It’s found in the Words of Truth recorded in God’s Holy Bible.

Have you visited the International UFO Museum Research Center?

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But you are not like that, for you have been chosen by God himself—you are priests of the King, you are holy and pure, you are God’s very own—all this so that you may show to others how God called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.Dear brothers, you are only visitors here. Since your real home is in heaven, I beg you to keep away from the evil pleasures of this world; they are not for you, for they fight against your very souls. 1 Peter 2:9 & 11 (TLB)

You can find my November Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Good Shepherd

A random gust of wind, courtesy of Hurricane Delta, blew over a section of our fence. This side of fence borders our neighbors who own two dogs. The friendly dogs loved the new found freedom of exploring our backyard until the fence was repaired.

One day as I sat outside in the early morning silence listening to birds sing and watching flocks fly overhead, Scout and Gadget burst from their backdoor and bolted straight into our yard.

After some time, their owner called for them. Even though she called them by name, they ignored her.

In case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t entice them to stay. I simply sat in my chair and watched what they would do. Scout stood by my chair, looked in the direction of her owner’s voice, then looked at me. Gadget ignored her owner’s voice and continued exploring our yard.

After several more calls, Scout took one final look at me, turned toward her yard, and went home. Gadget looked toward home, yet didn’t budge. Several more calls. Nothing.

I stood, walked toward Gadget, called, clapped my hands, and told her to go on home. She came to me, paused, then walked into her yard.

Again, no. I’m not some irresistible dog whisperer, and our neighbors love and take care of their dog babies. So no reason to avoid going home.

But this interaction between owner and dog got my mind thinking about the interaction between the Good Shepherd and his sheep. When Jesus calls us, who are we more like? Scout or Gadget? Do we recognize our Shepherd’s voice and go to him? Or do we hear his voice but ignore him altogether?

In the tenth chapter of John, Jesus tells us he is the Good Shepherd. He is the Gate through which his sheep are saved. He is the Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. He knows his sheep and calls them by name.

When he calls, his sheep recognize his voice and come to him. His sheep follow him because they know his voice and know they can trust him. The sheep won’t follow a stranger, because they don’t know his voice.

Although I could have enticed Scout and Gadget to stay with me instead of going to their owner by offering them treats or belly rubs, I didn’t. Even though they know me, are comfortable with me, and know I won’t hurt them, they aren’t my dogs. They aren’t my sheep. They belong to someone else.

There are those in the world who take advantage of their position. They try to entice Jesus’ followers away from him with falsehoods, offers of influence, power, financial gain, any number of things. They want Christ’s sheep to follow them. They don’t want Christ’s sheep following the only true Good Shepherd.

As sheep who belong to the Good Shepherd, we need to shut our ears to false shepherds and open them to the voice of the One who knows us by name and loves us with an everlasting love. As our Good Shepherd, Jesus’ love for us is so great he willingly laid down his life in death so we would never face separation from him.

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The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice and come to him; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. John 10:3 (TLB)

You can find my October Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.

Sandy

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The Work of God Displayed

Lately I’ve pondered events in our lives we wish didn’t happen, or wonder why God allowed in the first place. In re-reading the story of the blind man Jesus healed in John 9, his disciples asked Jesus who sinned. The blind man or his parents to cause the man’s blindness.

Jesus told the disciples neither sinned. The blindness happened so God’s glory, the work of God, might be displayed in the man’s life.

I find people today still ask the question the disciples asked. “Who sinned to cause this calamity?” They assume someone surely sinned. They don’t view this it as an opportunity for the work of God to be displayed.

If we jump to John chapter 11, we see after Jesus deliberately tarried before he set out for Bethany, he raised his friend Lazarus from the grave. When Lazarus’ sister Martha questioned Jesus’ delay, he told her it was to show God’s glory so the work of God would be displayed.

A friend of mine once commented it is a good thing when Jesus raised Lazarus from the grave, Jesus used direct address and called Lazarus by name. Otherwise, if Christ simply said, “Come out!” with no name attached to the command, every body in the surrounding tombs would rise. True.

Thinking of our own lives, and the lives of those around us, can we look at the less than spectacular events, and see the hard things as opportunities to display the work of God? I think so.

Have the eyes of those once blind in darkness opened to the Light of who Jesus is as Savior, Lord, and King?

Have those once dead in sin raised to new life in Christ?

Has the bitterness of past hurts and unforgiveness fallen from lives as surely as scales fell from blind eyes?

Has the one who wandered far off God’s intended path re-calibrated their GPS coordinates and returned?

If so I would say each of these events, and many others, happened so the work of God would be displayed.

How has God displayed his glory and work in your life or the lives of those you know?

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Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40 (NET)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my June Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

When You Turn Back

Did you ever notice when Jesus met the disciples on the seashore with a breakfast of grilled fish which he cooked for them after his resurrection, he called Peter Simon?

Jesus didn’t call the apostle Peter, the rock; the name Christ gave him. Instead, Jesus called the apostle by his birth name. I hadn’t paid much attention to that detail until I prepared this month’s Easter posts.

Also, I love the fact Jesus didn’t say if you turn back. No. Jesus said when you turn back.

Thank you, Jesus, he tells us the same.

It’s not one strike and we’re out. Not even three strikes and we’re out. Jesus tells us after we fail, after we fall, when we turn back to him his grace is sufficient. His sacrifice is sufficient. He is sufficient.

Do you think when Peter heard Jesus call him Simon, it was similar to the feeling we get when our parents call us by our first AND middle names? Maybe.

Jesus spoke Simon’s name twice. He needed Simon Peter’s full attention. The words Jesus spoke were extremely important. Especially given Peter’s previous denial as the Lamb of God awaited crucifixion.

Yes. Jesus named Simon the rock, however, Peter needed to understand in addition to his strong side, Peter also had a vulnerable side. Just like the rest of the disciples. Just like the rest of us. Every single one of our strengths can be turned into our weaknesses. Those are the areas where Satan shows up. He takes the good and twists it into something bad.

Peter felt confident he would never forsake Christ. Satan took that confidence and twisted it into self-pride. That prideful spirit allowed Peter to care more about protecting himself, and what others thought of him, than he cared about protecting Jesus.

Each of Christ’s disciples have a vulnerable side, a target Satan intends to penetrate to destroy our testimony about who Christ the Risen Savior is. It is a target Satan can only attack with God’s permission. A target of temptation Jesus prays we will withstand  through the power of the Holy Spirit in those who belong to him.

Peter’s story didn’t end when he denied Jesus around a fire the night Christ was betrayed. After he repented, turned back, and set out to proclaim Christ and him crucified, Simon Peter preached a sermon during Pentecost that saw thousands confess Jesus as Lord. And that was just the beginning.

Like Peter there are times we fail. We deny we ever knew Jesus through our careless words and actions. Jesus knows the outcome before Satan even draws back his bow and sends fiery darts our direction.

Like Peter, when we fall we have a choice.

Will we let our failure define us, give up, and walk away? Or will we acknowledge our fall, get back up, repent, and when we turn back, strengthen those around us?

Who knows? But one thing is sure. Whatever we do after we fall is just as important as what we did before we fell.

Grace. God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all our sins.

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Simon, Simon! Listen! Satan has received permission to test all of you, to separate the good from the bad, as a farmer separates the wheat from the chaff. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you turn back to me, you must strengthen your brothers. Luke 22:31-32 (GNT)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.