Sometimes I Wonder…

JOB



“Why do the wicked prosper, growing old and powerful?”

-Job 21:7 NLT


“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; Do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.”

-Psalm 37:7-9 NLT


“I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.”

-Isaiah 48:10 NLT



Sometimes I wonder why it always looks like the wicked succeed, then I’m reminded that the wicked are not succeeding because they are perishing. One can be wealthy and successful by every worldly standard and yet be spiritually bankrupt. Success in the eyes of God is vastly different from how the world sees it. God takes you to heights unknown when you are following Him and He blesses those who are walking in obedience to Him.

There may be trials along the way to get to the destination God has for you, but those trials teach you endurance and perseverance. You are not refined in the times of good, but you are refined in the furnace of suffering. God is the one who will make you come out as gold. Just remember to keep your eyes and your mind fixed on the Author and Finisher of your faith, and He will be the One who gives you perfect peace as you keep trusting in Him.



REFLECTIVE PRAYER Heavenly Father, You, O God, are the Author and the Finisher of my faith.  I will continue to keep my eyes and my mind fixed on You because in You alone there is hope and peace.  You are the True Joy Giver.  You are the One who upholds me with Your victorious right hand, and You have made me more than a conqueror.  Lord, help me to always remember that no matter what comes my way, no matter what circumstances I find myself in, You will be the One who shapes and refines me and brings me forth like gold.  Guide me as I walk along this narrow way for Your grace is the wall of protection around me, the netting that catches me when I’m falling, and Your grace is my covering.  Lead me to the destination You have for me.  Help me to carry out the tasks You have assigned me, and may my spirit always yield to You alone.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.



Much love to you all,

Linda A. Knowles

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Let God Handle Your Enemies

EXODUS



“Huddle together, you nations, and be terrified. Listen, all you distant lands. Prepare for battle, but you will be crushed! Yes, prepare for battle, but you will be crushed! Call your councils of war, but they will be worthless. Develop your strategies, but they will not succeed. For God is with us!” -Isaiah 8:9-10


Your enemies can devise all the schemes and plans they want to try to take you down. They have one major problem; they have to get through the blood of Christ in order to get to you. They can come up with clever word games and other manipulative tactics, but they can never thwart the plans of God for your life. The Word of God is not chained, and when the Word of God goes out, the Word of God will accomplish the purposes for which it was sent. The Lord of Heaven’s Armies cannot be stopped by any mortal. Immanuel (God With Us) is a declarative name, and because God is with you, you are made victorious. The Lord Your God is your Immanuel, and God being with you rescues you from the clutches of the enemy.  “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these?  If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”  Keep standing on the promises of God and obeying His commandments as He is fighting your battles and as He is taking care of your enemies.  Always remember the battle belongs to the Lord.



REFLECTION:  “If you love me, obey my commandments,” (John 14:15) Christ said, “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you.”  In dealing with your enemies, you do not deal with them as the world does.  You don’t pray for their demise or for something bad to happen to them.  Vengeance belongs to God alone.  As a child of the Most High God, you are to continue walking in obedience to the teaching of Christ and to know, as well as to keep at the front of your mind, that your responsibility is to love your enemies and do good to those that hate you.  If you love the Lord, you will obey Him and His teachings and keep trusting in Him to take care of those who are against you.  Let God be God, and you remain blessed by loving your enemies, praying for them, and doing good to those who hate you.



PRAYER Heavenly Father, to You be all the glory.  You alone are God, and You said vengeance belongs to You.  Bless my enemies by meeting their deepest need to know You and who You are.  Lord, teach me how to do good to my enemies and show me ways to bless them.  Forgive me for the times, I have desired revenge, and help me to remember Your ways are not my ways.  Help me to remember you work all things out for good.  Father, fill me with your Holy Spirit and strengthen me as I continue to do Your will and obey Your teachings.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.



“Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame.” -Isaiah 50:7

Linda A. Knowles

So HE Became Their Enemy

DON'T GRIEVE HOLY SPIRIT
The children of GOD had rebelled against Him.  But then again, what else was new with the children of GOD?  Time and time again, GOD gave them an open invitation holding out His arms to embrace them, and what did they do? They chose over and over again to deliberately do what they knew offended GOD.  They grieved His Holy Spirit which resulted in GOD becoming their enemy and fighting against them as Isaiah 63:10 shows us.
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The LORD gave His people chance after chance to repent and turn from their wicked ways, to be restored, to have a change of mind.  Yet, they disregarded GOD, defying Him, and continued in their sins.  GOD was more than gracious, “All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people…” and how did they respond to the GOD who kept His arms open to them, the verse continues saying this, “But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes.”
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Today, most, who call themselves children of GOD, are no different.  A large number go to a place of worship, go through the motions, putting on a great show of “holiness” and pretense, lying and making themselves out to be what they are not.  The masquerade they put on looks great when in reality they are nothing but whitewashed tombs filled with dead men’s bones.  Satan doesn’t have to slip into the churches when he just has to walk through the front doors of the church because GOD is being kicked out of the churches by the “Shepherds” who no longer care for their flock and are clueless about the state of their flock.  “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs–beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity,” (Matthew 23:27).
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Political correctness has flooded the church buildings.  Holiness and GOD’s ways are not popular, and not many will preach against sin.  The problem with that is when sin is not addressed and dealt with, the issues of holiness and righteousness cannot be addressed.  GOD is not, has not, and will NEVER be politically correct.
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Unless the children of GOD humble themselves in the presence of the ALMIGHTY GOD and repent of their evil behavior and attitudes, make no mistake, Folks, “For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News,” (1 Peter 4:17).
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“Don’t be misled–you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.  Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.” -Galatians 6:7-8
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“You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.’ That is correct: They were broken off because of unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.  For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either.”  -Romans 11:19-21
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Are you truly GOD’s child, or are you His child only when it is convenient for you?  Is GOD truly your King, or do you treat Him like an emergency number to call only when an emergency strikes?  Do you follow GOD’s will and His laws shown in the pages of the Bible, or are you walking in rebellion doing things your way instead of doing things GOD’s way?
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Repent, because while you have breath, there is time to repent. Don’t wait until it is too late.  You only have a chance now while you are still breathing.
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“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.  Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts.  Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.  ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.”
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PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, You, O GOD, are in Heaven, and here I am on Earth, and I am made by Your hands.  I have sinned greatly against You and You alone.  Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within in.  Wash me clean as only You can.  Let me draw close to You once again.  Forgive me for my pretense and hypocrisy and for not living as I should before You.  Forgive me for defying Your holy and written laws.  Forgive me for being prideful before You, disobeying  You, and for violating Your commandments.  This day, I am making a choice before You that I will choose life, to follow You and Your ways.  Fill me with Your Holy Spirit, and cast me not away from Your presence.  Thank You for Your grace and Your mercy, and thank You for forgiving me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Linda A. Knowles


Call To Holiness

HOLY 1
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The Children of the Most High God are called to a life of holiness.  We are to practice holiness by walking in the ways of God and obeying His laws.
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Holiness is a daily practice, hour by hour, minute by minute, second by second. We are set apart from the world. Our values, morals, and ethics are to be aligned with what God says in His Word.
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It doesn’t matter what the world thinks. It doesn’t matter what the world says. Daily we are to pick up our cross, dying to self, and following Him. We are told in the Scriptures, in Galatians 2:20, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” We are no longer our own. We belong to Him. If we claim the name of Christ, then we must be walking in His ways, living by His teaching.

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Our confession of faith is nothing WITHOUT applying His Word to every aspect of our lives. Saying we love God is nothing WITHOUT obeying what God commands.  If you love the Lord, then you will obey Him.  In other words, let’s live what we preach. Live out what you read and study in His Word. Ask Him how to apply His Word, His teachings to your life. Trust in Him. Believe on Him. Serve Him with wholehearted obedience because “obedience is better than sacrifice.”

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Children of the Most High God, remember this the world will hate you because the world hated Christ first, and “…you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light,” (1 Peter 2:9).

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PRAYER Heavenly Father, life is all about You because You, O God, are the Giver of Life, and You, O God, are holy, and Your law is perfect. Your Ways are pure and just, and You require wholehearted obedience and devotion.  Teach me how to be holy as You are holy.  Help me to continue along the narrow road so that I might glorify You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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Linda A. Knowles

Take A Lesson From Daniel

BOLD 1King Darius had just done the layout of his kingdom, broke it down into 120 provinces, appointed a ruler to each province, and CHOSE Daniel and two other administrators to supervise the high officials and to look over the king’s interests.  Daniel proved himself to be trustworthy and reliable, more capable than all the other administrators and high officers.  Daniel had great ability, and the king made plans to place him over the entire empire.  (Reference Daniel 6:1-3)

Daniel had enemies who were jealous of his success when what Daniel was doing was simply obeying God, remaining above reproach, and doing his job.  We can see this in Daniel 6:4-5, which states Then the other administrators and high officers began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn. He was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy.  So they concluded, ‘Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion.’”

When you do what God wants you to do and live by His standards, never expect the world to applaud you because the world won’t applaud you.  Daniel remained honorable and steadfast, walking close to the Lord.  His enemies were looking for a way to bring him down, “but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn.”  So they decided to plot evil against Daniel.  It’s important to note, Daniel had already been through trials, but God delivered him out of each trial safely.  No weapon formed against the Child of God is going to prosper.  Nothing Daniel’s enemies had thrown his way worked.  Nothing Daniel’s enemies did to him prospered.  Like Daniel, we, as children of the Living God, can be bold and courageous, and because we are Children of God, we know our God is able to deliver us out of whatever circumstances we find ourselves in.

Daniel’s enemies devised a plan and So the administrators and high officers went to the king and said, ‘Long live King Darius!  We are all in agreement—we administrators, officials, high officers, advisers, and governors—that the king should make a law that will be strictly enforced. Give orders that for the next thirty days any person who prays to anyone, divine or human—except to you, Your Majesty—will be thrown into the den of lions.  And now, Your Majesty, issue and sign this law so it cannot be changed, an official law of the Medes and Persians that cannot be revoked.’  So King Darius signed the law.” (Reference Daniel 6:6-9)

But in the face of this decree, Daniel remained faithful to God.  We can take a lesson from his wholehearted devotion.  The enemy will do whatever he can to trip you up, but we have been empowered by the Lord Most High.  We can take a lesson from Daniel when he combatted his enemies through prayer, “But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.”  Nothing stopped Daniel from talking with his Heavenly Father.  And let’s face it when there is nothing we can do and no place left to turn, there is nothing left of us to get in the way of God’s work.  What better way to keep us on our toes than trials.  They shape us and refine us, and we learn lessons, and if we are wise like Daniel, in the face of trouble, we continue our communion with the Lord and seek Him for counsel.

isaiahDaniel’s enemies were checking in on him, found him praying even though the decree had been put into law.  The high officials and administrators made their way to the King and questioned him about the decree, and King Darius said to them the decision stood, an official law of the Medes and the Persians and could not be revoked.  We can also take a lesson from this just because there’s a law does NOT mean the law is correct.  For example, the law, in this case, was no one could pray to anyone or anything except for the King, but Daniel knew God’s law which states, “‘You shall fear only the LORD your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name. You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you.” (Reference Deuteronomy 6:13-14)  Daniel chose to continue obeying God rather than man.

Now it may have looked for a moment his enemies would succeed in their plan, but that’s not the case.  Yes, his enemies were jealous and a thorn in his side.  They were busybodies, and they turned Daniel into King Darius:  “So at last the king gave orders for Daniel to be arrested and thrown into the den of lions. The king said to him, ‘May your God, whom you serve so faithfully, rescue you.’”

In keeping with honesty, I would have looked at the lions, been scared out of my mind, and would try conversing with the lions if they were looking at me like I was thanksgiving dinner.  “Hey, Mr. Lion, How Are Ya This Evening?  Hope all is well.  Please don’t eat me.”

Daniel, however, was bold and courageous.  God shut the mouths of the lions and protected Daniel.  Daniel was prayed up, strengthened by the Lord, and slept soundly all night… SURROUNDED BY LIONS.  King Darius, however, refused any of his usual entertainment, fasted, and got no sleep.

Daniel’s example of courage and steadfast obedience to God is a lesson to us all.  What the devil meant for Daniel’s destruction God used to shine forth the glory of God and was for Daniel’s good.  Here is the result of Daniel’s situation:

Very early the next morning, the king got up and hurried out to the lions’ den. When he got there, he called out in anguish, ‘Daniel, servant of the living God! Was your God, whom you serve so faithfully, able to rescue you from the lions?’

Daniel answered,  ‘Long live the king!  My God sent his angel to shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, for I have been found innocent in his sight. And I have not wronged you, Your Majesty.’

The king was overjoyed and ordered that Daniel be lifted from the den. Not a scratch was found on him, for he had trusted in his God.

Then the king gave orders to arrest the men who had maliciously accused Daniel. He had them thrown into the lions’ den, along with their wives and children. The lions leaped on them and tore them apart before they even hit the floor of the den.

Then King Darius sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world:

“Peace and prosperity to you!

‘I decree that everyone throughout my kingdom should tremble with fear before the God of Daniel.

For he is the living God,
    and he will endure forever.
His kingdom will never be destroyed,
    and his rule will never end.
He rescues and saves his people;
    he performs miraculous signs and wonders
    in the heavens and on earth.
He has rescued Daniel
    from the power of the lions.’

So Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

King Darius gave glory to God.  Daniel’s enemies were fed to the lions who devoured them before they hit the ground and prospered.

As God protected Daniel, God protects you.  As God gave Daniel courage, God emboldens you.   God gives you hope, salvation, and deliverance.  God gives you healing emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically.  Take your stand, and do NOT be conformed to the customs of this world.  The world offers you NOTHING.

 

L.A. Knowles

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6-7

Huldah & King Josiah

HULDAHShe inspired King Josiah and a nation to repent.  Her name?  Huldah, a prophetess who lived in the 2nd District of Jerusalem during the time of King Josiah’s reign.  Not a lot is said about her.  However, her role in the nation of Judah was one of great significance.

Here is their story:  King Josiah, eight years old, had become king and reigned for 31 years.  He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s eyes, followed the example of his ancestor King David, and continued doing what was right.  (Reference 2 Kings 22:1-7)

Fast forward to the 18th year of his reign,

“Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the court secretary, ‘I have found the Book of the Law in the Lord’s Temple!’  Then Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan, and he read it.  Shaphan went to the king and reported, ‘Your officials have turned over the money collected at the Temple of the Lord to the workers and supervisors at the Temple.’  Shaphan also told the king, ‘Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.’  So Shaphan read it to the king.   When the king heard what was written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes in despair.   Then he gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the court secretary, and Asaiah the king’s personal adviser: ‘Go to the Temple and speak to the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah.  Inquire about the words written in this scroll that has been found.  For the Lord’s great anger is burning against us because our ancestors have not obeyed the words in this scroll.  We have not been doing everything it says we must do.’” -2 Kings 22:8-11

Josiah’s response was a fitting response given the fact He had heard the Words of the Lord.  He listened to the Book of the Law which was now found, filled with despair, he tears in clothes in act of remorse.  The king was not dignified in that moment of despair.  Even Josiah himself took note, “We have not been doing everything it says we must do.”  King Josiah wanted to know what they should do.  As a result, he sent Hilkiah, Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah to go to the temple, speak to the Lord for him (King Josiah), the people, and Judah.  King Josiah had recognized God was angry at them because of their ancestors’ disobedience to the Words written on the scroll.

The men made their way over to consult Huldah about what they had found.  For them to go to her, it was obvious she was respected, and she had a message from the Lord for them,

“She said to them, ‘The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken! Go back and tell the man who sent you, This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this city and its people.  All the words written in the scroll that the king of Judah has read will come true. For my people have abandoned me and offered sacrifices to pagan gods, and I am very angry with them for everything they have done.  My anger will burn against this place, and it will not be quenched.  But go to the king of Judah who sent you to seek the Lord and tell him: This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the message you have just heard: You were sorry and humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I said against this city and its people—that this land would be cursed and become desolate.  You tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance.  And I have indeed heard you, says the Lord.  So I will not send the promised disaster until after you have died and been buried in peace.  You will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this city.  So they took her message back to the king.’” -2 Kings 22:15-20

Huldah spoke boldly and confidently.  She gave the men the message the Lord had her to give without hesitation.  The message the Lord gave her was clear, and she had the courage to tell them exactly what God wanted.  Huldah was willing to be used.

King Josiah’s response to the message God gave Huldah to give him is remarkable:

“Then the king summoned all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 2 And the king went up to the Temple of the Lord with all the people of Judah and Jerusalem, along with the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. There the king read to them the entire Book of the Covenant that had been found in the Lord’s Temple. 3 The king took his place of authority beside the pillar and renewed the covenant in the Lord’s presence. He pledged to obey the Lord by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul. In this way, he confirmed all the terms of the covenant that were written in the scroll, and all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.”  -2 Kings 23:1-3 

He took the warning Huldah gave and he acted on the Word of the Lord.  King Josiah took the lead, called everyone together in one place for the reading of the Word of God, and they pledged themselves to the Covenant.  The King vowed to keep the commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul in the presence of God.  King Josiah gave himself over to the ways of God.  He removed the idolatrous priests who offered sacrifices to pagan gods, removed pagan worship and shrines of prostitution from the Temple of the Lord, idolatrous priests were not allowed to eat of the unleavened bread with the other priests, destroyed altars on the palace roof and the upper room of the palace and any other altar for worship to other gods, and the list goes on of the actions King Josiah made.  He took drastic action.  (Reference 2 Kings 23)

Like Huldah, are you willing to be used by the Lord to carry out the task He has given you?

Are you willing to be shaped and molded by the Lord like King Josiah was?

Will you, like Josiah, set your face like stone determined to do the will of God?

Will you push aside God’s Word, or will you draw close to Him and take immediate action on what needs to change in your life?

Is there anything you have to do so your life falls in line with God’s Word?

Remember our God never fails.  He is the One who strengthens you and delivers you. You need only to go to Him and call out to Him.  But if you go to the Lord for counsel and He tells you what to do, then be prepared to jump into action and follow every instruction He gives you.

“And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” -1 Samuel 15:22

 

L.A. Knowles

Set Your Face Like Flint Determined To Do His Will!

Romans 8.31NEVER apologize for obeying what God has told you to do (“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” -Galatians 1:10 and “No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” -Micah 6:8).

Always take your complaints and problems to the Lord because He is the one who can guide your steps and give your soul rest (“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.'” -Matthew 11:28-30 and “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”).

Keep your mind fixed on the things of God because He keeps you in perfect peace (“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.” -Isaiah 26:3-4).

It doesn’t matter what any man or woman says about you, what matters is what God has to say about what you do and say, and it’s more important for you to know God (“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts'” -Isaiah 55:8-9 and “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” -Hosea 6:6).

WHAT MATTERS MOST is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5) and “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:14).