Response to these troubled days

 

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Yes, we are living in troubled days. Everywhere we look we see evidence of fallen man. Jesus said that Satan is the god of this world, and we see his fruit everywhere; hate, fear, and death.

How do we keep from getting sucked in to the pit with the rest of the world?

How do we keep our hope in the face of hopelessness?

How do we love when we are hated?

The quick and easy answer would be to pray. And yes, we should pray, but what about when we are so heavy laden, hurt, angry, sad, alone, abused, empty, afraid, blue, and if I can be honest… how about when we are just tired of hearing our own voice and see no change around us? What then?

The world is spinning fast, time is but a vapor, and time is short, and nothing is within our control. We can not control another person or what is going on around us. BUT! There is one thing we can control… ourselves. We can take control of our thoughts and our responses. Then instead of being reactive, we can be proactive.

So, again, how do we do that?

We shift our focus!

 

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SHIFT YOUR FOCUS

A broken hallelujah will be made whole. In your brokenness, offer a hallelujah and He will answer.

In  Hebrew, Hallelujah transcends the languages of the world. It is not translated, it is transliterated.  (click here to read more about praise)

“Hallel” means to boast or to brag on, to make a show, even to the point of looking ridiculous.

“Jah” is the short form of the name for God.

 

What do we tell our children to do when there is a fire? Stop! Drop! And Roll!

 

Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty heavens.
 
Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to [the abundance of] His greatness.

 
Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.

Praise Him with tambourine and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flute.
 
Praise Him with resounding cymbals;
Praise Him with loud cymbals.
 
Let everything that has breath and every breath of life praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!)

-Psalm 150

So I encourage you… No! I challenge you!  Shut the world out, turn the news off, lay down the paper, hang the phone up, shut down the computer, and Stop! Drop to your knees, lift your arms, open your mouth, and let the praises roll!

You can’t change the world, but God can. You may not be able to change your circumstance, but God can. You may be waist deep in what the world calls despair, but He promises if you focus on Him, praise Him for His goodness, trust Him, give it ALL to Him, when you rise you will rise refreshed and strengthened.

He is still God, He is still on His throne, He has not left you and He never will. Don’t let the world steal your peace. Shift your focus.

 

Be Free & Stay Free

And Yet…

 

Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man?

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The lovingkindness of God endures all day long.

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Your tongue devises destruction, 
Like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.

<> on November 1, 2017 in Washington, DC.

You love evil more than good,

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And falsehood more than speaking what is right. Selah.

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You love all words that devour,
O deceitful tongue.

 

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But God will break you down forever; 
He will take you away and tear you away from your tent,
And uproot you from the land of the living. Selah.

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The righteous will see it and fear, And will [scoffingly] laugh, saying,

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“Look, [this is] the man who would not make God his strength [his stronghold and fortress], But trusted in the abundance of his riches,
Taking refuge in his wealth.”

 

But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust [confidently] in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever.

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I will thank You forever, because You have done it, [You have rescued me and kept me safe].

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I will wait on Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your godly ones.

Jesus

 Psalm 52

Be Free & Stay Free

For His People of Valor

1 Peter 3

 

A boy wanted to be a doctor. As a child his parents gave him a toy doctor kit and he would hold the plastic stethoscope to the chest of stuffed animals and give pretend shots to anyone who would allow him to put the plastic syringe to their arm.  As he grew he would watch television shows about doctors; he knew the names and back stories of every major character in his favorite shows.  He would  drive around the hospital and sometimes even go inside.

He bought himself a pair of scrubs, a white lab coat, and a real stethoscope, and he would wear them around town. His chest would swell each time someone called him Doctor. He decided it was not important to go to real medical school, after all, he does look like a doctor already and why go through all the hassle of study when all he needed was the outfit; or so he thought.

One day there was a terrible accident. Upon seeing the young man they urged him to help.

“Doctor, do something!” The crowd pleaded. “Or they will die.”

Of course he didn’t know what to do. He fumbled around and tried his best to re-enact the scenes he seen hundreds of times on his favorite television shows, he yelled “Stat!” and “screamed for someone to hand him a “thing-a-ma-jig.” He didn’t know how to check a pulse, stop the bleeding, or bandage a wound. He tried to fake it, but faking it did not save any lives that day.

Perhaps he should have went to medical school? Maybe he should have applied himself to studies instead of appearance that merely brought him a false sense of security?

Thankfully, this is just a fictitious story. Yet, this scene is played out everyday within the Body of Christ.

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Too many Christians are getting the Word from short blips and memes, or watching t.v. sermons, or worse going to a church where scripture is never mentioned, but my, my, my, what a great time they had, huh. They may own a Bible, but do they read it? They may pick it up occasionally, but do they study it?

If you are a Christian and I ask you where is your Bible and when was the last time you read it, what would you answer?

If someone asked you what do you believe and why do you believe, would you have a confident answer? And if your answer went against the grain of the person asking you, would you be bold enough to still give your answer without wavering? If you were speaking to someone who is well versed in their unbelief, (an atheist, for example) do you have enough of His Word in you to contend for the faith?

This is not meant to condemn anyone, rather I hope if this speaks to you it will encourage you to rise up and take your place.

But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness [though it is not certain that you will], you are still blessed [happy, to be admired and favored by God]. Do not be afraid of their intimidating threats, nor be troubled or disturbed [by their opposition].  But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy—acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord. Always be ready to give a [logical] defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope and confident assurance [elicited by faith] that is within you, yet [do it] with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:14-15

The more time you spend in His Word, in fellowship with Him, then the more you will know Him and become like Him.

As followers, imitators, of Christ, we have been given a commission:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20

You have no need to fear! Study His Word, submit yourself to Christ, and when the opportunity comes (and it will) He will give you the words to say. He will bring back to your remembrance all He has taught you. But you can’t remember what you have not taken the time to hear and to know.

My friend, we are in the days where evil is called good and good is called evil, many are falling from the faith, false prophets are on the stage, the wolves are dining on the ignorance of lazy believers, people are seeking to have their ears tickled and there are many out there who will accomodate their carnal desires. Christians are being persecuted around the world, and even here in the USA our Christian faith is being attacked. We must be vigilant!

Difficult Times Will Come!

But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear].  For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane,  [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good,  traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God,  holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them. 2 Timothy 3:1-5  

Do these verses from 2 Timothy sound like it fresh out of the mainstream media, Hollywood, your FaceBook newsfeed, or the world outside your front door?

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What is apologetics? It is not apologizing for your faith, nor is it defending God, because He does not need us to defend Him, It is the discipline of giving the reason for your hope, applying scripture, it is combating unbelief.

(Click on the following links for more:   John 14:11, John 20:24-31, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11,   Philippians 1:17,  Psalm 14:1, 2 Corinthians 10:5)

Remember, we are not wrestling against flesh and blood, it is not against people, but against spiritual forces of wickedness.  You are well equip, so you need not be afraid or timid.

There are many resources out there to help you. The Bible should ALWAYS be your first resource. Enroll in a course on apologetics. I have found some really good ministries out there. Check out:

Apologia Church, they also have some good teaching videos on YouTube.

Living Waters Ministry, and Ray Comfort has an excellent YouTube channel, as well.

Frances Chan has a heart for God and people. He is sure to inspire you!

People matter! Souls matter! 

So, the next time you have the opportunity, open up your mouth and let Him out!  We are the light of the world, the salt of the earth.

Stay connected to the Body of Christ, stay in fellowship with your local body of believers. We are not meant to be alone. We are many parts, but one body, we need each other.

Stay in the Word.

Stay close to Him.

Pray, commune with God, through Jesus.

Be filled with His Holy Spirit.

Open your front door and get out there!

And one more reminder… the offense will come, and when it does, lay down your pride, your ego, yourself, and do not be offended, nor lash out, stay in His peace, walk in love, be gentle, yet firm, and may you firmly grasp the knowledge of His love for you.

I close with thisBlessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort,  who comforts and encourages us in every trouble so that we will be able to comfort and encourage those who are in any kind of trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 

Be Free & Stay Free

 

 

Fear is a Liar! : A Short Story

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“Do it!” He whispered in her ear, as his unseen hand cupped hers, guiding the razor to her forearm. “This is your only way out.”

Her hand trembled and her vision blurred from the tears as she held the razor between her fingers. Cutting herself use to bring momentary relief from the pain inside of her, the warm, crimson red, flow of her own blood was a drain to the sickness inside of her. The pain of each cut was just enough to dull the despair. But this time she would cut deep enough to kill the pain forever.

Daily living drained her of strength. She no longer had energy to maintain the facade of normalcy. To get out of bed in the mornings brought increasing anxiety. She was constantly exhausted and the effort to keep breathing was an uphill battle. She had no where to turn; every bridge burnt in disappointment, rejection, and failure. Though she sought solace through relationships, alcohol, and every other substitute, it was no where to be found.

He felt her waiver and he knew if he allowed her to stall then she would change her mind. He mustn’t let that happen again. The other demons did an outstanding job separating her from help, it was his job to finish her, and there would be hell to be pay if he failed.

“Push her or get out of the way!” The other demons jeered.

“Silence!” He stood to his full height. “This takes cunning and precision.”

“Here, let me help you. She just needs a little reminding.” Another demon pushed his way through the others to join the rollicking. Shame enjoyed tagging along with the others. Though he was never the first demon to attack, he was an excellent grubber, and he didn’t mind feeding on the entails. It was Shames job to keep her in place, and to stay her from moving forward, by reminding her how worthless and hopeless she is.

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“There is no help for you, if ever there was, because people would find out who you really are and what you have really done.” Shame echoed in her mind. “You stink, you’re worthless, and a total screw-up! Who would want you if they knew you? No one, that’s who!”

Memories of every relationship she gave herself to made her feel sick to her stomach. She closed her eyes tight to fight off the memories of the shameful and degrading acts. Shame reminded her of every piece of herself she gave away in each promiscuous act, until the purity of love was buried beyond recognition.

“Excellent work, Libertine!” Shame patted the lustful demon on the back. “I appreciate that you make my job easy.”

“You wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for me, you little imp!” Lust bellowed.

“Your own father didn’t even want you.” Rejection taunted her with memories of the abuse she endured at the hand of her father. “You were a terrible daughter! Everyone knew it was your fault!”

“You call yourself a Christian? Why look at you!” Religion pointed his finger at her, poking her with each word for emphasis. “You cry and God doesn’t hear you, because you are weak!”

“No one wants you!” Another demon chimed in. “Go ahead and off yourself, you won’t even be missed.”

Confusion stepped in and led the others in an orchestra of accusations, while Murdertiedup gripped her hand on the razor. “Kill yourself! Do it! You are worthless! No one loves you! No one wants you! No one cares! God will never forgive you! If there was a God why does your life suck? You are a whore! You are stupid! You are ugly! There is no hope for you! Everything you touch is cursed! Die! Die! Die!…” Accusations and taunts circled around her head, confusing her, making her dizzy.

Her hand trembled, her tears fell, and though she wanted it all to end, there was a small voice…

Come to Me.” The small voice softly beckoned. “I am your Healer and Deliverer.”

“Jesus?” Her voice was barely audible.

“What did she say?!” The demons stepped back just enough to loosen the grip on her. Although they could barely hear her words, they sensed a power coming forth, though it was faint they knew even a sliver of faith in what she spoke would send them flying.

“Call on Me.” The soft clear voice broke through the confusion and spoke directly to her heart. “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson they shall be as wool. Come.”

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“God, help me.” She cried.

The lesser demons began to flee, they knew they were no match for this war. They could feel the change in the atmosphere and their shadow began to fade.

“Stop her!” Murder screamed. But it was too late…

Jesus save me.” The sound of the Name she spoke came through as thunder, throwing the demons off her.

The demons stood in the background, eyes narrowed, poison salivating from their lips with each exhale, waiting and watching. They trembled and covered their eyes when He entered the room, unable to look upon His glory. To the girl He was Love unconditional, to the demons He was a consuming fire. Not even the largest demon was fool enough to think of staying in His presence.

Immediately confusion was replaced with peace. She laid the razor down and wept.

Oh, God, forgive me.” She wept. “I have sinned and turned so far away from You.”

In her brokenness, she laid down and confessed her sins and asked God to forgive her. “Jesus, if You are willing, You can heal me.” She cried.

“I am willing, be healed. You are forgiven.”

jesusHer tears of sorrow soon turned into tears of joy as Gods Holy Spirit ministered love to her. Where rejection once resided, she now found acceptance. Where hatred once fanned the flames of unforgiveness, she found release and forgiveness. Where there was no hope, she found hope. And her weakness was now made strong, through the Name she called upon, Jesus, her Redeemer.

I wish I could tell you, dear reader, that the demons never tried to come back. But I can tell you that when they did, they found no place in her, the door to them was forever closed, as she continued to cling to Jesus and trust Him. This is her story, this is her testimony, though she was lost, she was found. What the devil meant to use to destroy her, God used for her good and for His glory. As we read the words of her story, we can be reminded, we are never so low or too far gone, that God can’t reach us. We have an Advocate, through Jesus, to God the Father. We are sealed with His Spirit and He is forever with us.

What is your story? Let it become your testimony of Gods redeeming love.

Fear is a liar!

Call on Jesus.

Be Free & Stay Free

Hosea: Then & Now

Many of the prophesies given to Hosea have been fulfilled.

The removal of Israel as a nation and it’s restoration. The removal of Baal from the lips of Jewish people, a name now forgotten among them, and the grafting in of the Gentiles into faith. 

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Eloquently, Hosea reveals the valley of troubles needed for Israel to become a nation once again. Of course we now know it was the holocaust.

It has taken centuries for these prophecies to become fulfilled.

There were two outstanding reasons for the destruction of ancient Israel.

God separates the people or brethren of Hosea from the Nation itself. The mother or nation had become corrupt through trade with other nations. Through that trade the nation had become dependent.

They saw trade as the means of existence rather than the fruitfulness of the land God had given them. They no longer glorified God but instead found strength through their status in the world and desire for foreign goods.

Secondly, they started to diversify by accepting foreign gods. The names of the Baals, the piercing of the ears and noses which signified who they spiritual served.

In their desire to diversify they had accepted and interchanged the name of Baal with the name of God. They began worshiping Baal and ascribing that name to God.

God said they will no longer call Me by the name of Baal. (Hosea 2:16)

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God had revealed Himself from the days of Abraham, till today,  through many names which revealed His character and nature.

Now Israel gave God a name and He called it idolatry.

The Kingdom of God is progressive. He has unveiled Himself by His actions throughout the existence of man and in the process attributed a name to the actions.

Human progressiveness found in any nation outside the realm of God’s Kingdom leads to an acceptance of sin and a distortion of God’s character or outright denial of His existence. It leads to celebrating the distortion in individual identity. It becomes idolatry in its most vile form, the worship of self.

The prophecy found in Hosea 1:10 “You shall be called the Sons of the Living God,” will not apply.

God’s progressiveness is found in the revelation of Himself to man and the power of the revelation to bring personal identity to the individual.

In these last days the full revelation of God’s nature and character was revealed in and through Yeshua, or inActs-4-verse-12-image English, Jesus. There is no other name given among men in which they can be saved, or in other words find and walk in created purpose for living.

It should not surprise a christian when they hear the name of Jesus being used as a curse. It only reveals the heart of the person vainly using His name. Disobedience to the first commandment (do not use my name vainly) can only be done by using Jesus Christ.

His name is used daily worldwide both as a blessing and power to change and vainly as a curse. No other name is used in such a way. This gives us both joy and grief. When a believer hears the name of Jesus being used vainly his or her heart is grieved because of the Spirit within them. But it also proves the very nature of Jesus as God. The disobedience of another can actually build our own personal faith.

Jesus was very clear in stating anyone can be forgiven for misuse of His name and that of The Father. We should not make final judgment of a person misusing Jesus name, but our judgment should be of their personal need for salvation.

In closing, Hosea has much to say to our world today. The power of prophetic relevance, the tendency for a nation to be corrupted by its leadership and not by it’s people, progressiveness which is born from the human heart rather than the revealed nature of God brings destruction to personal identity.

There are many gods in this world but only One true God and He is found through and in the name of Jesus Christ the Redeemer and Deliver of all mankind; any other name given as way to God is idolatry.

Be Free & Stay Free

(This post was written, and shared with permission, by my husband, Jim Kessler.)

 

When God Says GO!

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Have you ever argued with God about something He asked you to do? I mean, has God ever asked you to do something that would require complete trust and faith in Him, and you were afraid because you felt insignificant, so you question if He was really speaking to you?

Yea, I think anyone who has asked God to use them is surprised when He does, especially the first time. I know I was.

Years ago, I had a dear friend who had a ministry for people just out of prison. She loved the Lord and she wanted to love people into His Kingdom.

One day I get a call from her. “Stacey, I got this guy and he is going to be going back to his hometown soon and he needs to get saved. Come over here and get him saved!”

I love this woman. Her and I are very much alike. It’s all about Jesus! Nothing else matters.

So I throw on my super hero evangelist cape, hop in my car, and bee-line right over. Oh, the zeal!

I met them in one of her houses she was renovating for ministry. Inside was covered with drop cloths, paint, and ladders. She made the introductions and it didn’t take long for me to realize he wasn’t expecting me. Yes, my friend put us both on the spot (or was it God?).

I break the ice with him and talk about the things in the natural, asked him questions about himself, like how did he end up in prison, you know, the obvious ice breakers.

Poor guy, there was no escaping this encounter; he was blocked in by two women who were determined that this was the day of his salvation.

Transitioning from the natural, I questioned him about his beliefs in God. Then I shared my testimony with him and how I met Jesus and He changed my life.

Pause here for a moment. I want you to know something. You know all the stuff (sin) you have done before you met Jesus? All the injuries and the shame that came with it? My friend, you no longer have to be ashamed. When you accepted Jesus you became a new creation. While we are no longer the same person we were, the experience of our past can be a treasure chest for souls. There are parts of my story that I only share on a “need to know” basis. We need to be real and honest when we share Christ. If He saved me, He can save you. No one is beyond His reach.

People need to know Christ died for us while we were still sinners, to reconcile us to the Father, and only through Him are we free from the bondage of our past.

Therefore there is now no condemnation [no guilty verdict, no punishment] for those who are in Christ Jesus [who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior].  For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Romans 8:1-2

As I was sharing the Gospel with him, I could feel God’s love for him, and I knew this was a Holy Spirit orchestrated meeting.

The guy asked me how he can be saved. I told him to confess, repent, and receive Jesus.

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I asked him if he was ready to receive Jesus.

“Yes!” He answered.

The reverent simplicity of a prayer from a contrite heart reaches the ear and heart of God. We celebrate with hugs and tears, then after giving him instructions on his first steps in his new life, I say my good byes.

But God wasn’t done yet!

As I am preparing to leave Holy Spirit speaks to me.

“He needs the Baptism of Holy Spirit.”

Now, I have never laid hands on anyone to receive the Baptism of Holy Spirit before. Although I have wanted to, I was too afraid. What if God didn’t show up? It would be a big let down. To be honest, I didn’t think God would use someone like me, there were far more qualified people.

So there I am, in my mind, arguing with God and He didn’t budge.

Do you know what courage is? It is being afraid and stepping out anyway. Thank God for His courage in us.

I turn around and say, “Look, you are about to go home a new man and you will be faced with old temptations. You need power to be a witness of Gods grace to your wife, family, and friends. You are not the same man they used to know. Do you want this power?”

“Yes!” He said.

“I’m going to pray for you.” I said. “His Holy Spirit is going to come upon you and fill you. I want you to lift your hands, open your mouth and begin to speak.”

I barely had my hand on his shoulder and I don’t think more than a sentence came out of my mouth, when the Holy Spirit fell on him so mighty, he began to praise God in baptismHOLYSPIRIT2heavenly tongue.

As this was happening, him praising God, my friend praising God, me standing there with my mouth hanging open in complete awe, a certain male minister came in the door. This minister comes from a denomination that does not believe God can use women in ministry, especially to men. Let me tell ya, this minister walked in the door just in time to catch the guy falling out under the power of the Holy Spirit.

There were some lessons to be learned that day.

A man out of prison learned about God’s great love and met Jesus.

Another man learned God can use anyone He chooses.

And me? I learned it’s not about me. It’s all about Him. And when He say’s go, then go! Because He is already there.

Be Free & Stay Free

Called to a Higher Standard

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Real love calls for repentance. Real love will tell you the truth; you are going to stand before a Holy God.

Real love will press in. God does love you, come to Him as you are, but you can not stay there. The blood of Jesus washes you clean.

Repentance is not an insincere apology.

Repentance is owning your sin, through confession, being broken before the Lord and turning away from sin.

We don’t accidently sin. We make a choice.

scoldingWhen we were kids our mothers would ask us, “If your friends jump off a bridge, are you going to too?”

We can not act like, or do what, the rest of the world is doing. We are called to a higher standard, a Holy standard.

If you fall, repent and get back up.

If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose]. 1 John 1:9

Be Free & Stay Free