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Giving out the Gospel

Giving out the Gospel

Pause and Consider

0631

01.31.18

‘Giving out the Gospel’

 

I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.  So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. (Romans 1:14, 15)

We have been considering the opening verses of the Book of Romans, Paul has never been to this church.  He conveys his concern to the Roman believers as he writes to them.  We have looked at four of his five concerns.  He was thankful for them, he was praying for them, he yearned to visit them, and he longed to have a part in their spiritual growth.

Today we see in our text that he was eager to give them the gospel (14). Note how he describes himself as being a debtor.  Of course a debtor is someone who owes something to another person. Paul felt a moral obligation to all people, and the Romans in particular, because of God’s call upon him as the Apostle to the Gentiles.  Rome was the center of the Gentile world in his day.

He wanted to give the gospel to the cultured and the uncultured, the wise and the unwise.  ‘Barbarians’ refer to those who did not speak the Greek language.  ‘Barbar’ speech is gibberish, much like today we might say ‘yadda, yadda.’ To the proud Greeks, anyone not of their culture was uncouth. In our culture, for example, those who claim to be descended from those who came over on the Mayflower tend to look askance at all others as beneath them.  But Paul was not like that—he wished to give out the gospel message to everyone!

To whom do I owe a debt of gratitude?  For my salvation, of course I am indebted to the Savior, as He died in my place.  Much like Timothy, I am also indebted to my godly mother and grandmother who shared with me the gospel in my youth.  The Bible camp I attended was where I clearly heard the message of saving faith—that Christ had died for me, and I needed to turn from my sin and trust in Him for the forgiveness of sin.  Finally, the local church in which I grew up was very instrumental in my spiritual growth.

To whom am I indebted to give out the gospel message?  My family, neighbors, friends, passers-by, and indeed the world.

Paul was not only ready to share the gospel, he was eager to share it (15).  The Psalmist declared, “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so.”  That is what I am attempting to do in this article.

If you are a believer, are you ready and eager to give out the gospel message?  It is important to share your testimony.  Gospel tracts ought to be at the ready.  We need to ask the Lord for opportunities to what God’s grace can accomplish in a life.  We need to seek for opportunities to share Christ.  We need to seize those opportunities. If we wait for the perfect time, we likely will never speak out.

What is the secret of Paul’s eagerness, his longing, his yearning?  For him to live was Christ (Phil 1:21). He was ready to spend and be spent (2 Cor 12:15). He strove according to Christ’s mighty work in him. (Col 1:29) He was what he was by the grace of God (1 Cor 15:10).

Though Paul had not met most of the Roman believers, he loved and cared for them.  He longed to be with them and to help them grow in their relationship with the Lord Jesus.  He wanted many others in that great city to experience the forgiveness of sin.  As Amy Carmichael, the missionary of old wrote, “You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”

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Paul’s Yearnings

Paul’s Yearnings

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0630

01.24.18

‘Paul’s Yearnings’

 

            … making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.  For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; that is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was hindered,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.   (Romans 1:10-13)

“I love mankind; it is the people I can’t stand.”  (Linus, Peanuts®) Sadly, many people feel this way.  In contrast, Paul’s care for the church at Rome is great.

In these opening verses he is displaying his concern for them in five ways. We looked at two last time in verses 5-9.  He was thankful for them, and he prayed for them.  This is surprising as he had never been to Rome and did not know most of these folks.

Today we see clearly in verse 10 that he yearned to visit them.  Rome was the capital city of the Empire, and thus important.  He was eager to visit them, but it had not yet been God’s will.  He mentions several times his efforts to come and how each time the Lord had closed the door.  He would eventually get to Rome, but as a shipwrecked prisoner in chains.  While in Rome he would write many of the epistles preserved in the NT.  And he was able to write this great book of Romans because of the divine delay.  The Lord’s plans and ways are best!

Next, he longed to nurture them (11-13).  Paul saw himself as a father to most of the early church.  A father has a part in rearing or nurturing his children.  One of the tragedies in our culture is the absent father.  Juvenile delinquency, drug use, teen pregnancy and many other ills can be traced largely to the fact that fathers have not fulfilled their role.

As their spiritual father, Paul was looking to accomplish several things in the lives of these believers. First, he wished to bring them comfort.  It was not an easy thing to be a Christian in the early church.  True, at this time, Nero was not yet on a rampage, but following Christ was seen by many to be traitorous to the Emperor.

This comfort Paul intended to be mutual.  He wanting to be a blessing to them as he expected a blessing from them.  Those who know the Lord need one another in this dark world.  That is why Paul later encouraged these same believers to assemble regularly together, to consider one another, and to provoke to good works (Hebrews 10:24).  Each of us is either a stepping-stone or a stumbling-block to others.

Secondly, he wanted to see them grow in their walk with the Lord. He wanted to use his spiritual gifts among them.  He also expected that they would bless him by their spiritual gifts.

Third, he desired that they bear fruit.  Primarily he is speaking here of souls, of folks coming to the Savior. Verse 13 seems to indicate that the church was predominately Gentile, and Paul is the apostle to the Gentiles (5). He yearned for fruit everywhere—Rome was one place where he had not personally led anyone to faith in c.

In the next verses (14-17) we will see Paul’s emphasis on the Gospel, which is the source of the comfort, growth and fruit which he seeks.

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Paul’s Roman Readers

Paul’s Roman Readers

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0629

01.17.18

‘Paul’s Roman Readers’

 

By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name: among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; (7) to all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (8) First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. (9) For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers. (Rom 1:5-9)

Paul is writing to the church in the city at the heart of the Roman Empire.  He has never been to Rome but hopes to visit soon.  He longs to see the believers there continue to be strong and bear much fruit.  The city is quiet as far as persecution is concerned, and so there is great opportunity for the advancement of the Gospel.

Paul cares for the church at Rome.  His heart is full.  His words spill forth without a lot of thought for order or method.   But in them we can see evidence of his concern. He was thankful for them (5-8). He prayed for them (9).  He was eager to visit them (10).

Let’s focus on his gratitude for them.  To whom was he thankful?  God the Father.  Prayer is to be addressed to Him and it should always be done reverently. Through whom did he pray?  The Lord Jesus Christ.  Effective prayer can come only through the Great High Priest.

For what was Paul most thankful?  Their faith, which speaks of two things.  First, the faith in Christ alone that brings salvation (5).  Salvation is by grace through faith.

Much is said in our text about their salvation.  It evidences two characteristics.  First, they have a sure salvation (6).  God has called them.  They are called to belong to Jesus Christ—they are thus His purchased possession.  They are also called to be saints—they are separated from sin unto the gospel.

Second, they have a sweet salvation (7).  They are ‘beloved of God,’ meaning that God loves them, much as He loves His own beloved Son. They will be given a continual grace from the Father. Grace is always undeserved.  It comes from the Father through the Son.  And they will know God’s peace.  Grace and peace are linked.  True peace in the heart can only come by God’s grace.

‘Faith’ then also refers to their faithful living.  Rome was a very difficult place to remain pure. “Into Rome flow all things that are vile and abominable, and where they are encouraged.” (Tacitus) Yet, their faithful living was spoken of everywhere—the whole Empire!   Does my Christian life evoke positive conversation?  Can others see in my life the fruit of the Spirit, namely love, joy and peace?  The world is longing for these things and it is through the born-again believer that God wishes to shine in a dark world.

Finally, Paul prayed for them, and he did so regularly (9).  He cared enough about these people he had never met to keep them in his prayers.

In the next verses we will focus on Paul’s longing to visit these folks (10-17).  Unfortunately, he will only get there many years later in chains, as a guest of the Roman government.

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Paul Introduces Himself

Paul Introduces Himself

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0628

01.10.18

‘Paul Introduces Himself’

 

Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (2) (which he had promised before by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) (3) concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; (4) and declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: (Romans 1:1-4)

In these first verses, Paul introduces himself and talks about his Savior.  Romans is such a very important book.  Paul learned the things he teaches us as he spent time alone with the Lord studying the OT, following his conversion on the road to Damascus.

The theology of Paul is at the heart of Christianity.  Many have forsaken it today.  As Francis Patton, former President of Princeton University said many years ago, “The only hope of Christianity is in the rehabilitating of the Pauline theology. It is back, back, back to an incarnate Christ and the atoning blood, or it is on, on, on to atheism and despair.

Since Paul had never visited Rome, he felt he needed to introduce himself to his readers, the members of the churches in Rome.  He refers to himself in several ways.  First, as a servant.  This is literally a bond-slave, one given over to the will of his master.  It is said that there were about 60 million slaves in the Roman Empire at that time.  Paul considered himself to be a slave to Christ. He had formerly been a slave to sin and to the Jewish religion.  Now he is serving the Lord Jesus Christ.  We all serve something—whom or what do you serve?

Second, he refers to himself as an apostle.  An apostle is one who is called out, sent on a special mission.  Paul had a mission—to preach the gospel.  He had credentials—he was sent by God.  Today we call such a person an ambassador.  Paul’s special commission was to the Gentiles.  The office of Apostle is no longer in operation today since no living person has seen the resurrected Christ as did Paul, Peter, John, etc.

Third, he refers to himself as a saint, as he has been ‘separated unto the gospel…’  A saint is any person who has forsaken their own sin and righteousness and placed their faith in Christ’s death and resurrection.  The idea of saints designated by an earthly religion is foreign to God’s Word.

Paul also describes his Savior.  He emphasizes three important truths concerning the Lord Jesus.  First, He is ‘the Son of Man’ (3).  Jesus was born of a virgin of the line of David.  He is in every sense of the word a man, yet without sin.

Second, He is ‘the Son of God’ (4).  This is an eternal relationship He has with the Father (Psalm 2).  His deity is proven by His resurrection: He is ‘declared to be the Son of God with power…by the resurrection from the dead.’  His resurrection separates Him from all imposters.  As Matthew Henry noted, “Those who are not convinced by this will be convinced by nothing.”

Third, he is holy: ‘by the spirit of holiness.’  This is speaking of Jesus’ character, not of the person of the Holy Spirit.

Paul will go on in the rest of his greeting to focus on his readers (5-7): who they are and what he desires to do for them.  May we glean from this epistle all that God has for us in the richness of His righteousness.

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Thanks for Westbrook

Thanks for Westbrook

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0626

12.27.17

‘Thanks for Westbrook’

 

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. (Philippians 1:3)

This being the last column to write in 2017, I want to take this time to thank our community for being such a nice place to live.  Neither of us grew up in small towns.  Debby is from Menomonee Falls, WI, which is part of greater Milwaukee.  I grew up in Grand Blanc, MI, which is part of greater Flint.  We did experience small town life for a brief time when we served as an assistant in Wild Rose, WI, but otherwise our ministries have been in larger communities.

The small town has many advantages.  We appreciate the community spirit of those who serve us as EMTs and in the fire department.  What a blessing it is to have a hospital, clinic and pharmacy.  Thanks to all who serve in these areas.

I commend our superintendent and the school staff for helping to produce students whom I have found to be generally polite and hard-working.  The 4H, FFA, music, sports and other programs are useful in building life-long character.

When our grocery store burned down a few years back, it surely helped most all of us to appreciate our local store.  Thanks to the Maynard’s staff for keeping the lights on and for friendly greetings upon arrival.

When one’s car is having trouble, there is more than one place to have the work done.  Each is a dependable place where we aren’t afraid of being ‘fleeced.’

The city offices are available and friendly.  Commendations go to our mayor and all who serve on the city council and in our city offices.  This includes our power and street workers.  Thank you for all you do.

We haven’t had much need for a lawyer since living here, but it is nice to know that we have folks in our community that can serve us when the need arises.

It is also a blessing to have a gas station in town, which hasn’t always been the case, and is not true for some of our neighboring towns.  It is convenient for fueling, and a quick stop for sundries, coffee or pizza.

Having a nursing home and an assisted living facility is a nice blessing.  Thank you to the staffs of both. We don’t have far to visit our loved ones when the time comes for them to move to either one.

For those who hunt, fish, camp or hike, opportunities abound in our area.

We have active civic organizations such as the Lion’s Club and Kiwanis.  They do much to enhance our community.

And what a nice senior and community center we enjoy!  These are used for multiple purposes, especially our community fund-raising meals.

And though electronic print is the mode of the age, the Sentinel-Tribune continues to serve a valued role.

Last, but surely not least, I am grateful to have a golf course so close by.  I have met many of you through the vehicle of Rolling Hills.  My object in playing is to get some fresh air, good exercise, and camaraderie and competition with my fellow golfers.

As we look around the world and see so many places that are difficult and troubled, thank you, Westbrook, for being a pleasant place to live and raise a family.

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Emmanuel

Emmanuel

Pause and Consider

0625

12.20.17

Emmanuel

 

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew 1:23)

The name Emmanuel appears four times in the Bible: Isaiah 7:14; 8:8, 10 and Matt 1:23.  The spelling can be either Immanuel as our church (Immanuel Baptist Church) has it, or Emmanuel, as is sometimes used for a ministry, and as a man’s first name.

Both Jesus and Immanuel are names that deeply imply the deity of the Christ-child: Jesus—Jehovah saves; Immanuel—God (is) with us

The immediate context of the name Immanuel in Isaiah’s prophecy is regarding Ahaz, the wicked king of Judah, the Southern Kingdom.  Assyria was on the move against all nations.  It was picking up steam against Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and Syria who were aligned.  These two nations were also wishing to attack Judah (Is 7:1-9).

Through Isaiah, God offered to Ahaz a sign so that he could easily put his faith in Jehovah, who would protect the nation from its enemies. But Ahaz did not want the truth, and he was not a man of faith, so he refused a sign (Is 7:10-13), thus not giving glory to God.

The LORD was not pleased with Ahaz but gave gave him a sign anyway: a son named Immanuel—God could be with His people and deliver them.  The events in the life of this son would picture what would soon happen to Judah—eventual captivity.  But the greater prophecy is Messianic—God would come to His people in the person of His Son.

God was with His people in many ways and times in the OT: in the Garden with our first parents, walking with Enoch and Noah, with Moses at the burning bush and throughout the wilderness journeys, in company with the three Hebrews in the fire, and Daniel in the lion’s den.  But the helpless babe in Bethlehem is the real marvel.  God in the flesh!  The God-man!  As man, He understands all about our human emotions, needs and trials.  As God, He alone can meet every need.

The question you must answer: is He with you?  Jesus said: Behold I stand at the door and knock; if any man hears my voice and will open the door, I will come in. (Revelation 3:20) Have you opened the door to the Son of God, Immanuel?  Why not repent of your sin and place your faith in Him today!

When one accepts the Lord Jesus as Savior and Lord, then for the rest of one’s life it can be said, God is in me.  With the poet you can joyfully say:

“When once I mourned a load of sin; when conscience felt a wound within; when all my works were thrown away; when on my knees I knelt to pray, then, blissful hour, remembered well, I learned Thy love, Immanuel.

When storms of sorrow toss my soul; when waves of care around me roll; when comforts sink, when joys shall flee; when hopeless griefs shall gape for me, one word the tempest’s rage shall quell— that word, Thy name, Immanuel.

When tears are banished from mine eye; when fairer worlds than these are nigh; when heaven shall fill my ravished sight; when I shall bathe in sweet delight, one joy all joys shall far excel, to see Thy face, Immanuel.”

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The Aftermath at Babel

The Aftermath at Babel

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0624

12.13.17

‘The Aftermath at Babel’

 

So, the LORD scattered them abroad from there upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.  Therefore the name of it is called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from there did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth. (Genesis 11:8, 9)

There is a new language program for sale that you may have seen advertised.  It is called ‘Babbel.’  It is, of course, named after the famous Tower of Babel that we have been considering.  Babel in Akkadian means ‘gate of the gods,’ while in Hebrew it means ‘confusion.’

We come to our concluding lesson on our study of the first eleven chapters of Genesis.  I remind my readers that these chapters are pivotal in our understanding of the Word of God.  If they are fables, then the rest of the Bible is suspect, for both Paul and the Lord Jesus referred to them as real history.  If they are true, then the remainder of the Bible can be trusted to be truth, and we are responsible to obey it.

Mankind had revolted against the LORD following the Great Flood by staying together and building a tower to demonstrate their strength and unity, and worship false gods.  God saw what they were doing and brought judgment.  This judgment was in the form of languages. Whereas there had been only one language, now mankind must scatter to be with those whom they can understand.

Man’s wicked plans were thwarted and were no threat to God’s plan.  The Psalmist (Psalm 2) tells us that God laughs at man’s futility.  They stopped building the city.  They were scattered abroad; they obeyed God despite themselves.  It was an act of mercy on God’s part.  God graciously spared their lives and gave opportunity for them to come back to Him.

What were some of the reasons for God’s judgment and mercy?  One, it restrained the evil of man at that time.  Two, it continues to restrain man’s evil today. Nations serve as a check to one another.  Three, it limits the persecution of Christians.  Four, it demonstrates God’s power and creativity, showing His glory.  And five, it makes missions more difficult as people need to learn the language of those to whom they wish to minister. Yet, there will be people from every tribe and language in heaven so God gets the glory (Rev 7:9-10)!

In one sense, the damage done at Babel was undone at Pentecost.  The people heard the praises of God in their own language. (Acts 2) One day the restraint of languages will be removed and there will be a one world government, a new Babylon.  God will also judge the second Babylon, and reign forever!  During the Kingdom Age, there will again be one language spoken by all as predicted in Zephaniah 3:9: For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language that they all may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one accord.

The next event on God’s prophetic calendar was to choose one man out of all the earth to start a special nation.  That man was Abraham, and through him would one day come the Messiah, the Lord Jesus, who came to forgive the sins of all who repent and trust in Him.  Now the LORD had said unto Abram, ‘Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:  and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:  and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curses thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.’ (Gen 12:1-3)

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God Creates Languages

God Creates Languages

Pause and Consider

0623

12.06.17

‘God Creates Languages’

 

And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men built.  And the LORD said, ‘Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Come, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’  So the LORD scattered them abroad from there upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.  Therefore the name of it is called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from there did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth. (Genesis 11:5-9)

We are looking back in earth history some 4500 years to the time of the tower of Babel.  Man disobeyed God’s command to scatter over the earth following the Flood.  Instead, they gathered together to build a ziggurat through which they could worship the heavens.

Today we are going to consider God’s response to man’s rebellion.  The multitude of languages we have in this world are due to God’s judgment, and this confounds the evolutionist; he has no explanation for human language.

What was God’s evaluation? (5).  ‘The Lord came down to see…’   Did God need to come down to see or know?  No.  This is sarcastic language regarding man’s puny efforts.

God drew two conclusions (6).  ‘The people is one’—they have one language, one purpose; and ‘nothing they purpose will be impossible for them.’ This may not be as much a statement of man’s technological potential as it is a statement of man’s potential for wickedness.

It is interesting to see the language denoting the Trinity (7). ‘Come, let us”    Compare Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image…”  The use of the name Yahweh, or Jehovah (LORD) supports the fact that God is gracious and merciful.

Like man, God has a plan. (7).  ‘Let us…confuse their language…’ Prior to Babel, as noted, there was only one language.  Now, after Babel, there are four main language groups.  These are: 1) Semitic, including Hebrew; 2) Indo-Germanic/European, including Greek, Latin, and the Romantic languages (Spanish, French, Italian, etc.); 3) Babylonian, Egyptian and other African languages; 4) Chinese and other oriental tongues.

The language barrier still exists today. We cannot understand each other unless we speak the same language.  Each language is highly complex and able to be accurately descriptive.  There is an amazing variety of sounds made by the lips, tongue, palate, teeth and vocal cords…some are guttural, some seem to pop or explode or hiss, while some rumble, and others whistle.

In defiance of evolution, the older languages are often complex.  For example, Eskimos use 63 forms of the present tense and their “simple” nouns have 252 inflections.  In contrast, English, which is a modern language has five verb tenses for most verbs [do, does, did, done, doing].

What was the result (8, 9)? Man’s wicked plans were thwarted and were no threat to God’s plan.   Mankind stopped building the city and was forced to scatter over the earth as God had intended.  This judgment was an act of mercy on God’s part.  By confusing their language and scattering them about the earth, God graciously spared their lives and gave opportunity for them to come back to Him.

Next week we plan to draw some conclusions from this important event as it leads into an entirely new period in human history.

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Giving out the Gospel

Pause and Consider 0631 01.31.18 ‘Giving out the Gospel’   I am debtor both to...
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Paul’s Yearnings

Pause and Consider 0630 01.24.18 ‘Paul’s Yearnings’              ...
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Paul’s Roman Readers

Pause and Consider 0629 01.17.18 ‘Paul’s Roman Readers’   By whom we have...
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Paul Introduces Himself

Pause and Consider 0628 01.10.18 ‘Paul Introduces Himself’   Paul, a servant of...
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Thanks for Westbrook

Pause and Consider 0626 12.27.17 ‘Thanks for Westbrook’   I thank my God upon...
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Emmanuel

Pause and Consider 0625 12.20.17 Emmanuel   Behold, a virgin shall be with child,...
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The Aftermath at Babel

Pause and Consider 0624 12.13.17 ‘The Aftermath at Babel’   So, the LORD...
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God Creates Languages

Pause and Consider 0623 12.06.17 ‘God Creates Languages’   And the LORD came...
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