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Saturday, April 30, 2016

I Choose You

“Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great
or too awesome for me to grasp” (Psalm 131:1, NLT).

Lord, you call me to do things that seem beyond my strength and ability. I'm so thankful that in times of weakness, you give me all that I need to accomplish your desire. Often what lies ahead overwhelms my heart, but your will is all that matters. Often others do not understand, and I feel stripped, alone, and vulnerable. It is in that moment that I realize that you are all I need. You were stripped of all support for me. Now you are my constant support and my constant strength. You carry me through fire with your joy still alive and strong. You carry me safely through deep waters that would drown me if you were not my anchor and shield. You are my strong and mighty tower that endures through every moment of life.

Lord, keep me from a prideful spirit. Keep me on your altar until my heart is so broken that it remains forever pliable in your hands. I don't want to have my way, Lord. I want yours, and I seek it. I won't be concerned over things that are too deeply complicated at this time for me to grasp. You create the masterpiece. I know my life is only a small part of your greater plan. I trust you to take care of that which is beyond me. I let go of all “self” that hinders and keeps me from greater reliance on you. I trust you over any perceived promise. I trust you over anything my human mind conceives. I love you, Lord, more than anything else. You are all I need. Thank you, Lord that you are God, and I am not. You are Savior, and I am not. I never create or save. I pray to always be your available instrument, but, thankfully, I am free because I know that you are in control. Thank you for believing in me when at times I can't believe in myself. I choose to believe who you are in me. “Self” is on the altar, and even though “self” wants me to pick her back up, I leave her there. And I choose you.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Lingering for His Purpose

“When he heard this, Jesus said, 'This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it'” (John 11:4, NIV).
When Jesus had heard that his friend, Lazarus, was near death, He did not rush to his side. He lingered two days before going to him. He knew the outcome was life for Lazarus, and a witness to the amazing power of God. At that point others around Him could not see that truth. They just did not understand why Jesus, who had healed so many others, would not rush to heal His friend. Jesus knew it was an opportunity to bring glory to God. Whatever sickness or problem or situation or danger we face, it is also another opportunity to bring glory to God. Jesus lingers sometimes in rescuing us, just as He lingered in rescuing Lazarus, so that we might learn a lesson in the midst of hardship, or grow closer to Him through a prolonged illness, or discover a depth of faith to believe in what we cannot see. He knows our troubles and our illnesses, and He comes when the time is right for deliverance and healing. He does not linger in order to punish us, but to bring greater promise and purpose to our life.
Jesus loves the whole world that He died for. When you accept Him into your heart, and believe He is your Savior, His promises in His Word are true for you. Now here is a promise. “Heal me, Lord,” Jeremiah declared, “and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise” (Jeremiah 17:14, NIV). His Word is truth. He does save and He does heal. But His ways and timing are not ours (Isaiah 55:8). It is in His time. One day He will rescue and He will heal. In the midst of your pain and hardship, seek and pray for faith to believe.
“Then Jesus said, 'Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, 'Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.' When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out!' The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, 'Take off the grave clothes and let him go'” (John 11:40-44, NIV).
If you believe, you shall the glory of God. Believe it, and watch your stone roll away. Don't despair in the midst of your illness or your struggle or your problem or your heartache. Praise Him for His faithfulness to you even when He lingers for your benefit (Hebrews 13:15). He calls forth your healing, your deliverance, and your promise when His time is perfect. He rescues you from what would kill your faith and your spiritual life. You walk forth out of the grave clothes that have held you in bondage into His newness of life (Romans 6:1-4).

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Make His Choice

“Now choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19, NIV)!

Is there something in your life you know is not a good choice? Perhaps you know that there is something the Lord wishes you to give up or change. You have felt His conviction. Some days His nudge has been more acute. Other days you have willingly shut out His voice.

Today you hear His voice again, and you face the choice. What keeps you from choosing what you know is right?  Do you believe that you do not have the strength to keep it?  You are not meant to have that strength within yourself. He doesn’t expect you to have it. He alone has the strength for you to keep your good choice, and He has the way for you to receive His strength. That strength comes through surrender to His will when you decide to make His good choice.

If the fear of failure keeps you from “letting go and letting God”, then you might be focusing on being perfect instead of taking a step at a time. Living for Christ is a daily choice. Make that good choice each day. Daily ask for His strength.  Ask for His forgiveness if you slip.. If He knows that your heart's desire is to follow through on that good choice, His conviction will offer hope, and not condemnation. Each day commit your choice; surrender your will, your mind, and your heart to His will, and you shall daily receive what you need to live your good choice.

Sacrifice what you know is wrong in your life. Let Him crucify it in you. The Lord who calls you to make that good choice is faithful, and will provide ALL you need to be successful (I Thessalonians 5:24). Make His choice, and choose His life.

Monday, April 25, 2016

It's Perfect

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18a, NIV).

Perfect love drives out fear. God's perfect love is your power to fight fear in your life. Perfect love can only be discovered in Jesus Christ. It is His perfect love because He died to set you free from sin, torment, worry, fear, despair, and bondage. You are perfected because of His sacrificial love. His love is a love that loves you no matter what you have been. It is a love that always sees you beautiful and whole through the eyes of grace. It is a love that always seeks to heal and help you discover freedom. It is a love that can only be found in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. Seek Him. Lay all of yourself down on His altar. Hold nothing back. Study His Word until it transform you and renews you in the spirit (attitude) of your mind (Romans 12:1-2, Ephesians 4:23). As you know Him more intimately, His perfect love will be more real to you instead of your fear. Faith will be your reality, and fear will be seen as the unrealistic lie of a defeated enemy.
“Perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18b). God says that if you are tormented by fear, you have not experienced His perfect love. Fear is all about punishment.  Satan punishes you with condemnation. God loves you with conviction. His conviction, when it brings repentance, changes your attitude, and turns you away from that which destroys you. Fear punishes you. Faith builds a rock-solid belief in God's perfect love. When fear rises up, it is a reminder that you need to continue seeking God, and choose to believe in His faithfulness.

Your faith in the perfect love of God is what ultimately destroys fear and wipes it from your mind. Your faith grows from hearing the Word and knowing the love of Christ (Romans 10:17).The spirit of fear may try to rise, but your shield of faith can become strong enough to stand against it (Ephesians 6:16). His love perfected in you always drives out fear. The love of God is always the greatest, and always wins. It's perfect.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Trust Him!

“So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, NIV).

Do you ever feel fearful and alone? Downcast? Struggling with no sense of hope?  This verse in Isaiah encourages you that even though you may feel deserted and alone, you aren't! You can't trust your feelings. They will betray you. But you can trust what God says in His Word. He won't betray you. His truth is rock-solid, and unchanging. He is the same today, yesterday, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). You may feel afraid. God says, “Don't be afraid, because I am your God. I haven't given you this feeling of fear. I've given you power, love, and a sound mind!” (2 Timothy 1:7). You may feel evil battering you. God says, “No evil that comes against you will prevail” (Isaiah 54:17). Then He says something that will cost you, but if you pay the price you will discover greater faith. “Trust me,” He says, “and don't be afraid. If you feel weak don't give in to it! Move forward, and faith will meet you. I will carry you.”

Faith will cost you. It will cost you to trust in something that you can't see or feel (Hebrews 11:1). It will cost you to trust in God's truth over fearful feelings. Faith is a decision. When faith is chosen over and over again, and you have continually acted upon it, feelings will one day fall in line with God's truth. You will have trained your mind, your heart, and your very being to believe in God's Word over what human emotion dictates. It is a battle to be won, and you can win it with your decision to step out in faith, and God's promise to uphold and strengthen you. One day you will discover it is easier to believe in God's Word rather than trust how you feel in a moment of time.

Don't ever forget God's promise to uphold you with His righteous and holy power! Don't ever allow fear to keep you from stepping out in faith. Look beyond how you feel at this moment. With one step forward you will discover His strength. Give God a sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15). Praise Him for the promise that His truth is greater than how you feel. “Trust me,” He says.“Don't worry because I am your God. I will strengthen you, and uphold you. You're never alone.”

You can trust Him over everything else. Don't just think about what might happen if you trust Him and step out in faith. Allow Him to show you.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Have Faith in Him!

Do you ever find yourself doubting God? Do you ever wonder why you have not seen His hand move? “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,” the writer to the Hebrews exhorts, “for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). God is faithful. The problem a person may have in moving from doubt to faith is not because of God. The problem sometimes comes when you have trouble with “unswervingly” believing no matter what your eyes see or your mind dictates. “So do not throw away your confidence,” the writer continues, “it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised” (Hebrews 10:35-36). The confidence you have in God is your level of faith in the His faithfulness. Be diligent in trusting Him and serving Him, and when you have done His will, you will see the need fulfilled and the dream realized.
Suppose you have a checking account with one million dollars. That money is no good unless you use it. If you just let the money sit in the bank, not purchasing or investing, it profits you nothing. The Bible is your checking account, and His promises are waiting in there for you to use. To learn perseverance, you have to withdraw from the account of God's Word. When you study His Word and see how God is directing your life, His promises become real, create faith, and the ability to persevere. His promises do nothing for you if don’t withdraw them, live by faith, and allow them to work in your life.
Faith increases with perseverance. Invest in His Word, and believe in His promises. Your faith will be richly rewarded. Not just a little rewarded, but RICHLY. The Lord has good things for you. He takes care of His own. He will never leave you hungry, wounded, or forsake you. He longs for your faith to grow stronger. He longs for you to trust Him. Here are some of His promises you can withdraw: Matthew 6:8; Psalm 37:4, Philippians 4:19-20; 1 Timothy 6:17; Psalm 23:1-3; Galatians 6:9; Psalm 146:5-6; 1 Peter 4:19, and so many more. Find them, and withdraw them. He has faith in you! Have faith in Him!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

His Plan-Greater Than My Failure

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3, NIV).  God knows my heart, and He knows that any decision I make I will give to Him. I yearn for my plan to be His plan, and if it is not, I pray that He changes it. I want to be grounded in Him. I can do all things through Him. He gives me the strength for this day and for the next. I move ahead in His will, and then without warning—I fail.

I often forget that when I fail, I don't “own” that failure. It belongs to Him. Everything that I am belongs to Him, so my failure also belongs to Him. But I must give it to Him. He understands where my failure began, and I know that He alone can make it right. Because I love Him, and my heart longs to follow only His will, He takes my failure and reclaims me. He is my Lord, and I will rejoice in His promise of restoration.

 Thank the Lord, I don't own His plan, and I don't own my failure. Today I step forward from doubt caused by failure, and move forward in faith in Him.  I see His plan alive in my life. One step, and one day at a time brings His reward.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Press On

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

I will have courage and not fear. Today I start again, and put my old mistakes behind me. He gives me a fresh beginning. I will not worry or be frightened. If His forgiveness was only for the righteous, it wouldn't be needed. Not one of us is perfect. We all have fallen short. But His forgiveness is new every morning.

So why do I worry? He longs to give me that fresh beginning, but my life is cluttered with worry and anxiety. As long as I dwell on what is bad, I cannot see His promise of new life. He wants to help me so much, but why would He when my fears crush whatever He tries to do? In spite of my past or circumstance, He wishes to grace my life daily with His power and His blessing. I need to persevere and press on so that His grace transforms my life into a joyful one that continually receives.

I press on toward my prize to be all that He wishes. I forget what has been, and I praise Him for transforming my life. I shall be joyful and realize that with this new beginning, I once more step out in faith to trust and believe in His promises that never fail.  I press on to be molded into a vessel He can use for His purpose. If I reach for Him every day of this life, He will remain with me, intervening in my life to bring about His best. One day He will carry me heavenward to the greatest of all prizes-a life peacefully and eternally at rest with Him.

I will have courage. I will not fear. I will press on.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Smaller Purposes

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2, NIV).

You love God with all your heart, mind, body, and soul. You live a surrendered and obedient life–one that seeks to please and honor the Lord. You seek Him every day through prayer and the Word. You seek His intimacy because without it you are lost. You pray for others because if you don't, you will fail them and Him. You are available when He needs you, and you reach out to those who need help. He gives you what to say when you need the words, and He is able to direct your steps. You constantly seek to be closer to Him, and to be renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit. You belong to Him, and yet in your mind you are struggling to discover His great purpose for your life.

You have longed for a great purpose in your life that brings passion to your soul. You have cried out to God to know His perfect will. You know that if you are in His will, you shall be fulfilled. So you have struggled to discover it. In your seeking, perhaps you have missed the fact that smaller purposes can make up a greater one. Perhaps smaller opportunities that God has sent your way have been overlooked in the search for that great purpose, and with that overlooked opportunity, you have missed the passion and fulfillment you have sought.

Being renewed in your mind means being changed in the way that you think. Think differently about the little things that you do each day for Him. Don't believe that you have failed Him because you haven't perceived a great purpose. Live each day with expectancy that you shall be used by God that day. Ask Him for opportunities to be used, and you shall receive. Discover the purpose of your day that brings glory to His name. Make yourself available with a joyful spirit. Discover your passion in what has been given for you to do now. With a yielded heart of surrender and a mind to receive the direction of His Spirit, you can test and approve each opportunity that a day presents. Set your hand to the plow for the day and plow your purpose. You can “commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3. NIV). You shall be in His will–His good, pleasing, and perfect will.

Remember that God does not consider any service as being small. If you seek and serve Him faithfully in what you consider the small things, you will one day learn just how big they really are. You shall know that you have found the great, passionate, and perfect will of God for your life.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

You Know Me

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (Psalms 139:1-6, NIV).

To realize that I am known so greatly and so deeply goes beyond my limited human understanding! I open up my heart to you, God, and my soul yearns for you to continually search me. I thirst for you, my living God, with an unquenchable thirst. You are the living God! I cannot move without you knowing it! Every step that I plan may be formed in my mind, but your Spirit directs my steps. My thoughts are not as high as your thoughts, but you know and understand them because you became human for me. You understand me, your creation, because you became one with me in your suffering for my sake. You know when I am at ease and when I am distraught. You know when I have the faith to move mountains, and when I need rest to be revived. You are familiar with every part of me. Before I even speak, you know what I am going to say. Because you know my heart, you know if it is pained or if it rejoices. You know if I will speak life because of great joy or if I might possibly speak death because of great despair.

Why do I ever become downcast? I can again hope in you. Because you know me and created me, I am yours, and you are mine. Lord, today, I pray for my words to only speak your life. I pray right now before a word is ever spoken, that my words are directed by you, Holy Spirit. I long to have a joyful heart that speaks life. You discipline me, Lord, and guide me in the right direction. You chastise me when I fail, and you encourage me when I succeed. You have placed your hand upon my life, and I always aware of your steady pressure. Your love and call is too much at times for me to even fathom. It is too incredible to even understand why you have loved and chosen me.

I give you my limited life today, because that is what I only have—a limited life waiting to be fulfilled. Take it, and complete it with your purpose. Take it and make it your own. Take it, and never let me claim it again.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Compassionate Caring for Others

If someone tells you to go a mile, go the second mile. You have read this in Matthew 5:41, and in your mind you understand what it means.  But in your heart?  Now that is another issue.  Until the message hits the deepest spiritual recesses of your heart, your faith can’t inspire compassionate ministry. “‘For I was hungry’ Jesus said, ‘and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me'” (Matthew 25:35-36, NIV). Jesus taught us to share ourselves with great compassion and concern for others, because of the sacrificial compassion He had for us.

Jesus Christ had the greatest compassion for people. His deepest compassion was for their spiritual needs, but in response to their physical needs he healed those who were sick, and fed those who were hungry.  Although he was exhausted much of the time, he found renewing strength to continue. He truly had a servant’s attitude and a compassionate heart. Paul wrote, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:1-4, NIV). We are called to sacrificially share.  We are called to give expecting nothing in return.  We are called to care for others. Compassionate service is not an option.  It is not a suggestion. It is a command.        

Jesus said “yes” to God. We are also to say “yes” when God’s calls. Just as Christ honored his own call by giving His life, so we also must honor our own by giving ours. We shall also stand accountable for how we handle God’s trust (Romans 11:29, NIV).  Jesus struggled in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. He asked God if it was His will to please spare Him, but in the end He gave His life. When we also yield to God’s will, we learn obedience and perseverance. It is important to persevere in our calling to help others. We need to go out of our way because it costs something.  It costs time.  Sometimes it costs money.  Most of all it costs our heart.  Until we understand the cost in our heart, we can’t understand the price that Jesus Christ paid.

Faith and action go hand in hand. We serve others not to receive for ourselves, but because Jesus has loved us.  If I for one moment consider what I shall receive in response to my giving, then I have lost the reason for giving it.  What has the Lord called you to give?  How has the Lord called you to help?  If you look for Jesus in your giving, instead of considering it something else that has to be done in your busy day, you will discover the great cost of His sacrifice for you.  You will also discover that the least you give becomes the greatest gift to someone in need.
Compassionate care is the heart of Jesus.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Expect New This Day

"This is the day which the Lord hath made; and we will rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24).

Does the thought of a new day bring discouragement to your heart? Do you forget I died for your agony, for your tragedy, and for your pain? Each day is not meant to discourage, but to inspire and lift you above what clouds your day. A new day is my gift to you. It is able to give you a new perspective and new hope. Whatever you face my love and power overcome discouragement and despair. Whatever the world tells you is only what the world tells you. It is not what I know and try to impart to your mind and heart. Rise in each new day, and rejoice in my gift of another opportunity. Trust me, and trust that this day can be the best when you allow me to carry you through it. Daily things done in my strength are able to give you greater faith in my promises. It is a new day! Expect my peace. Expect my love, and expect my promise.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Be Made Strong

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV).

The grace of Jesus Christ has the power to change every aspect of my life. The more I dwell on His love―the more I seek His truth―the more I allow His love and truth to impact my life―the less I am like me, and the more I become like Him. However, the closer I grow in my relationship to Him the more I am aware of my lack of power to live a life that honors Him. The desire is there, but often His flawless perfection makes my own effort seem like a failure. When I experience feelings of inadequacy or failure in my life, surrendering to His life-changing power can make all the difference. If I allow my failure to define who I am, then I will remain weak, defeated, and a disappointment. But if I yield that failure to His refining process, my weakness is replaced by His strength. His power changes and perfects my life. I grow stronger in my relationship with Him. The failure which had once defined and defeated my life, is surrendered to His power. He controls what I am unable to control.

Without the standard of God's truth to work toward in my life, I will have no sense of failure. Without His standard, I will not understand the conviction with which He can change me. However, it is when I am growing in my relationship with Christ and seeking Him, that His standard convicts me. When I am convicted, there is hope, and a sense of failure can inspire me instead of defeating me. When I realize my weakness, I know that I need His power. Instead of wallowing in my sense of failure and running from His grace, I run to the Savior who has not only revealed my failure, but who also is the only answer for it. I constantly seek more of Him. I learn that His grace is greater than any failure or sin. His grace changes my life. His power overcomes my weakness. Instead of failure, I persevere and grow stronger spiritually. Living for Him then becomes the desire of my heart.

Are you also tired of failure defining who you are? Be committed and be diligent to seek Him and grow in His grace. “Let perseverance finish its work,” James writes, “so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:4, NIV). If you allow the Holy Spirit to prune away those weak areas, you will know greater spiritual strength and abundance. You will be perfected by His grace and love. His holy shears, which prune and sometimes cut painfully, will one day bring forth the most joyful and abundant harvest. You will realize that in the weakness you have surrendered to His grace, He has made you strong.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

God's Peace in All Circumstances

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13, NIV).
You will never know real contentment and peace without God. Nothing on this earth can offer such peaceno possession, no person, no joyful anticipation. Only God promises this amazing peace which comes from abiding trust in His faithfulness to take care of you. It is a peace that surpasses circumstantial contentment when all feels right with the world. God's peace is the peace you experience when all is not right in your worldIt brings healing to your shattered life. When the circumstances of your life should only speak despair and pain, you can know the greatest peace in spite of it all. 
Paul said that he had learned to be content in every circumstance. He didn't want to be in prison, and he certainly didn't want to be dependent on others to provide for his needs. But, no matter what he faced, he was content.  Nothing in the world made Paul content. His contentment came from his deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ. God gave him peace, and with that peace a purpose to fulfill. His incarceration could not stop him from trusting in God to meet all his needs. His prison chains could not keep him from writing of God's great goodness. He had learned the secret of being content in every circumstance. In allowing the Lord to encourage Him instead of allowing His surroundings to discourage Him–in allowing the Lord to use Him no matter what His circumstance, Paul discovered the power which accompanies complete surrender and the joy of a spiritual fulfillment that nothing in the world offers.
Life means change. Life has problems. Many things you face seem impossible, and you have no peace because of your circumstances. Struggling doesn't help. Being angry at your circumstance doesn't help. It only makes your feelings about it worse, and creates fear. Dwelling on your problem is not the answer. Dwelling on Him is. He will keep you in His peace when you focus your thoughts on Him instead of your circumstance (Isaiah 26:3). He gives a spiritual peace that passes your human understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). You, too, can know God as intimately as Paul, and give Him all that rages in your life. He becomes your refuge and your sanctuary. When you discover this inner peace and contentment, life loses its ability to control your feelings. He imparts peace instead of fear. You know that nothing can come against you, and nothing is impossible for Him. You know that you can do anything through Jesus who gives you the strength to accomplish it.

The Lavish Love of the Father

  When I tell someone I love their heart, I am telling them I see the love of Jesus in them. How wonderful it is when the Father tells you H...