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Forgiveness Leads to Forgiving

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“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

Matthew 6:12, KJV

*The night chilled Peter to the bone. The fire brought no relief as he held his hands near the flame. His shivering body emanated the cold, dark fear in his heart. How can this be happening?

He tucked his cloak over his head as he scrutinized the crowd around him and continued observing the mockery of a trial.

“Aren’t you one of his followers?” The young woman pulled her shawl tighter around her shoulders.

“Me? I don’t know what you’re talking about woman,” answered Peter as he moved away from the fire further into the darkness. But darkness couldn’t hide him.

“You are one of his followers. I saw you with him,” another damsel accused.

Peter’s hood fell around his shoulders as he jerked to face her. “I am not,” he answered, along with a few other words the Bible doesn’t record. He stomped back toward the fire. I might as well stay warm.

For about an hour no one bothered Peter. All eyes and ears were directed toward Jesus’ trial—until a group of men circled around the warming fire.

“You,” cried one of the high priest’s servants as he pointed at Peter. “You are one of that man’s followers.”

Peter balled his fists and between gritted teeth declared, “No, I am not.”

The servant smiled. “But you are. You talk like a Galilean. You were with him when he was arrested.”

Peter got in the man’s face. “You don’t know what you’re talking about …”

In the distance a rooster crowed its wake-up call. Peter spun in the direction of the sound at the same time Jesus turned toward Peter. Their eyes met—and Peter remembered. The Bible says,

“And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.”

Luke 22: 62, KJV

Peter loved Jesus. Personally, I think he would have rather had his tongue ripped out than to do what he did. After being restored to a right relationship with the Lord following the resurrection, Peter spent his life feeding the Lord’s sheep. Did he walk perfectly before the Lord? No. There was a time Paul confronted Peter’s wrong attitude toward Gentile Christians. Here another lesson Jesus’ taught his disciples may have come into Peter’s mind.

When Jesus wanted to wash Peter’s feet—

“Peter said to Him, ‘Never shall you wash my feet!”

Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’

Simon Peter said to Him, ‘ Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.’

Jesus said to him, ‘He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and  you are clean …’” John 13:8-10a; NASB

We are forgiven unto salvation when we believe Jesus’ death on the cross paid our debt of sin in full. “For the wages of sin is death …”  but our death could not pay the debt. It could only fulfill the penalty. Our death could not make us righteous. Only Jesus could do that. When we are saved, we are baptized in Christ—made completely clean. We have been bathed in the righteousness of Christ. But we still walk in a world where our feet get dusted with its sin. We need a little cleansing to keep nothing between us and the joy of fellowship with the Lord.

Our Prayer for Daily Cleansing:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;

Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

And see if there be any hurtful way in me,

And lead me in the everlasting way …

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness;

According to the greatness of Thy compassion

blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

And cleanse me thoroughly from my sin …

Also, keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins;

Let them not rule over me;

Then I shall be blameless,

And I shall be acquitted of great transgression.”

Psalm 139:23,24; 51:1,2;19:13; NASB

And help us to—be kind to one another, tender-hearted,

forgiving each other,

just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

Ephesians 4:32; NASB


*Adapted from the four gospel accounts of Peter’s denial

For the Writer’s Heart: Lasting Words

Lasting Words:

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According to statistics a person retains approximately ten percent of what is heard, twenty percent of what is read, and eighty percent of what is seen. If these numbers are correct, by my calculation, a prolific writer enables a person to preserve one hundred percent of what is read as the author shows the story with words.

In other words, the written word, written well, will be retained through revisiting the pages the words are written on. The Lord told Isaiah—

“Now go,

write it on a tablet before them,

And inscribe it on a scroll,

That it may serve in the time to come

As a witness forever.”

Isaiah 30:8

These words were first written close to three thousand years ago to serve as a witness forever. We know God’s word cannot be destroyed. I’m not saying what we write will last forever. But as we write, we should consider how far reaching into the future our written words will travel, who they will touch, and how they will influence the readers. Our words, testifying of the truth, will plant and water lives for years to come. And God will use them to give increase to His kingdom.

If you have a calling to write—

“Now go, write it on a tablet before them …”

For Thought:  What author, living or dead, has influenced your life?  You could be that author now and for generations to come.

The Blessing of Forgiveness

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“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

Matthew 6:12, KJV

My long gangly preteen legs stretched out behind me as I sprawled on my stomach on the living room carpet—you know the olive green shag stuff of ages gone by. My mom, dad, brother, and I gathered around the television—we had color by this time. It’s what we did each evening after supper, but tonight was different. My heart pounded in my chest. I couldn’t focus on the antics of the Beaver, Wally, or Eddie—characters from a favorite family show. What had happened that afternoon created a whirlwind in my mind. Mom was bound to find out. Even if she didn’t, I couldn’t take it any more.

I sat up and scooted over by her overstuffed chair. My eyes filled with tears.

Mom smiled and raked her fingers through my stringy blonde hair. “What’s wrong, Sis?”

I could feel all eyes shift from the television to me. I couldn’t hold it in any longer. Like a volcano exploding the words burst out. “I lied to you, Mom.” Her fading smile tempted me to stop but, the lava flow couldn’t be controlled. “I lied when you asked me if I practiced my piano lesson. I didn’t practice. I’m sorry I lied.” I ducked my head and waited.

Mom lifted my chin. “You’re forgiven.”

Those weren’t her final words, but they were enough to cleanse my heart and mind.

My lie had not removed me from the family. It did remove me from experiencing the joy and love that were mine as a part of the family—not because my family had changed toward me, but because I had let sin block my receiving their fellowship. At a young age I had experienced a little portion of what King David must have experienced when he held his sin in secret. I found, like David the blessing of forgiveness and the anguish of unforgiveness.

  • “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
  • Whose sin is covered!
  • How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity,
  • And in whose spirit there is no deceit!

When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away

Through groaning all day long.

For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me;

My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer.

Selah.

I acknowledged my sin to Thee,

And my iniquity I did not hide;

I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’;

And Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin.”

Psalm 32:1-5; NASB

As David tells us in the end of this Psalm, God restored to him the joy of righteousness—even as He did for me.

“But he who trusts in the LORD,

lovingkindness shall surround him.

Be glad in the LORD and rejoice you righteous ones,

And shout for joy all you who are upright in heart.”

Psalm 32:10,11; NASB

In Praise of God’s Forgiveness:

“For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive,

And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon Thee.”

Psalm 86:5; NASB

For Reflection: The phrase from the Lord’s prayer we began with, is not so much about the prayer of salvation but about keeping our relationship with our heavenly Father true with nothing between us. He doesn’t move away from us, but our sin causes us to move away from Him. He waits to hold us near. Is there anything holding you back? Run to Him. He is waiting to forgive and restore.

Promised Provision

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“Give us this day our daily bread.”

Matthew 6:11, KJV

Are you a worrier? How will you pay the bills? Will there be food in the grocery stores? One of my favorite passages promises me, under the care of my heavenly Father, I have no need to worry. He reminds me worry accomplishes nothing productive.

“For this reason I say to you ,

do not be anxious for your life,

as to what you shall eat,

or what you shall drink;

nor for you body,

as to what you shall put on.

Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing …

Jesus then takes the audience’s attention to the sky and tells them to see how our heavenly Father takes care of the birds. And can’t you see Him as He points to the white and orange lilies growing in a nearby field as He reminds his listeners at how beautifully the Father has dressed them? Jesus points out these things last a short while and the Father has graced them with what they need. We are His crowning creation. Jesus asks us—

“will He not much more do so for you,

O men of little faith?

Do not be anxious then, saying,

‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’

or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’

For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek;

for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

  • But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness;
  • and all these things shall be added to you.
  • Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow;
  • for tomorrow will care for itself.
  • Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25, 30b-34; NASB

The apostle Paul leaves us with this promise—

“And my God shall supply all your needs

according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:19; NASB

For Thought:

  • Worry is the product of little faith.
  • Worry produces anxiety.
  • Anxiety robs us of peace.
  • Paul said his God supplies our needs out of His rich surplus in glory. It’s inexhaustible.

Why would a person choose worry above trust? Worry works in our own strength—giving us something to worry about. Trust operates in the strength, grace, love, and riches of our heavenly Father. If He can’t handle whatever our needs are, we certainly can’t. So, are you a worrier?

“Now to our God and Father

be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Philippians 4:20; NASB

Praying for Daily Bread

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Our Prayer:

Heavenly Father,

“Give us this day our daily bread.”

Matthew 6:11, KJV

  • No more and no less but thankful for all.

“Keep deception and lies far from me,

Give me neither poverty nor riches;

Feed me with the food that is my portion,

Lest I be full and deny Thee and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’

Or lest I be in want and steal,

And profane the name of my God …

Not that I speak from want;

for I have learned to be content

in whatever circumstances I am …

always giving thanks for all things

in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;”

Proverbs 30:8-9;Philippians 4:11;Ephesians 5:20

  • Increase our hunger for that which feeds our soul and grows us in our salvation.

“But He answered and said, ‘It is written,

MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE,

BUT ON EVERY WORD

THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’”

Matthew 4:4, NASB

“‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord GOD,

‘When I will send a famine on the land,

Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water,

But rather for hearing the words of the LORD.’”

Amos 8:11, NASB

“like newborn babes,

long for the pure milk of the word,

that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,

if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”

1Peter 2:2,3; NASB

  • May we always be ready to preach your word as you give it to us. Give us ears to hear your truth and turn away from all that is false.

“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:

preach the word;

be ready in season and out of season;

reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine;

but wanting to have their ears tickled,

they will accumulate for themselves teachers

in accordance to their own desires;

and will turn away their ears from the truth,

and will turn aside to myths.”

2 Timothy 4: 1-4 NASB

  • Thank you, for giving us life-giving words.

“It is the Spirit who gives life;

the flesh profits nothing;

the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life …

How sweet are Thy words to my taste!

Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”

John 6:63; Psalm 119:103

  • May all who read, receive your invitation.

“O taste and see that the LORD is good;

How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”

Psalm 34:8

All is asked in Jesus’ name for your glory, honor, and praise. Amen.

For Reflection: Do you have a daily diet of God’s word? Is it a snack? Or a whole meal?

The Writer’s Heart: The Right Word

For the Writer’s Heart: The Right Word

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“The Preacher sought to find delightful words

and to write words of truth correctly.

The words of wise men are like goads,

and masters of these collections

are like well-driven nails;

they are given by one Shepherd.”

Ecclesiastes 12:10,11; NASB

What writer has not labored over the best word to clearly speak his/her message into the readers? We grab the thesaurus and think it through until the right word finds its place. We are in good company. For Solomon, the wisest man of earth, struggled with the same problem.

He sought for:

  • delightful words—words that would draw the readers into the message;
  • words of truth correctly—words that did more than parrot a truth but conveyed the meaning of truth;
  • words that are like goads—encouraging the reader to take a positive action;
  • words that are like well-driven nails—words that are exactly what the reader needed for an exact time.

Solomon encourages writers to become masters of our words. Don’t settle but seek the right words. And he finishes by telling us where to find the right words—they are given by one Shepherd.

“For it is not you who speak,

but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”

Matthew 10:20

Our Prayer; Heavenly Father, you have given us a book filled with your words. As we write, may we speak truth in boldness and love, planting and watering the words you give us. Prosper your word in the hearts of our readers.

Our Daily Bread

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“Give us this day our daily bread.”

Matthew 6:11, KJV

“Momma, I’m hungry,” little Abigail pulled on her momma’s dusty tunic.

“Shush, little one. We are all hungry.”

“Back in Egypt we didn’t have to worry about food. The pots had meat enough for us all,” grumbled Abigail’s father.

The waves of discontent rumbled through the empty stomachs and out of the mouths of the Hebrew children. How quickly they had forgotten the faithfulness and power of the Lord God who had brought them out of Egypt. They had forgotten the triumph of the Red Sea where Moses and the voices of the children of Israel sang the Lord’s praises.

“Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and said,

I will sing to the LORD,

for He is highly exalted;

the horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea.

The LORD is my strength and song,

And He has become my salvation;

This is my God, and I will praise Him;

My father’s God, and I will extol Him.”

Exodus 15:1,2; NASB

Time and again the Lord God proved his faithfulness to his wayward children.

When they were hungry He gave them angel’s food—

“Yet He commanded the clouds above,

And opened the doors of heaven;

And He rained down manna upon them to eat,

And gave them food from heaven.

Man did eat the bread of angels;

He sent them food in abundance.”

Psalm 78:23-25;NASB

The children of Israel’s story did not end well for them. Their lust for the flesh could not be filled. They repeatedly forgot God’s wonderful works, His compassion, His mercy, and His power.

“And again and again they tempted God,

And pained the Holy One of Israel.

They did not remember His power,

The day when He redeemed them from the adversary.”

Psalm 78:42, NASB

God doesn’t change—faithful He was, faithful He is, and faithful He will always be to his holy name.

And to us, He has given a greater witness of his power than Moses—

“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling,

consider Jesus,

the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.

He was faithful to Him, who appointed Him,

as Moses also was in all His house.

For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses,

by just so much as the builder of the house

has more honor than the house.”

Hebrews 3:1-3;

He has redeemed us from a greater adversary than Pharaoh—

“Since then the children share in flesh and blood,

He Himself likewise also partook of the same,

that through death

He might render powerless him who had the power of death,

that is the devil …

But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable;

and this mortal will have put on immortality,

then will come about the saying that is written,

‘DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY.

O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY?

O DEATH WHERE IS YOUR STING?’

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law;

but thanks be to God,

who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Hebrews 2:14; 1 Corinthians 15:54-57

And He fed us the bread of eternal life—

“Jesus therefore said to them,

‘Truly, truly, I say to you,

it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven,

but it is My Father

who gives you the true bread out of heaven.

For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven,

and gives life to the world …

I am the living bread that came down out of heaven;

if anyone eats of this bread,

he shall live forever;

and the bread also which I shall give

for the life of the world is My flesh.’”

John 6:32,33, 51.

If God was displeased with the children of Israel for their disbelief in Him, think how much greater His displeasure is when we refuse the witness of His Son. We have been given a day of salvation, a day of rejoicing.

“I shall give thanks to thee, for Thou hast answered me;

And Thou hast become my salvation.

The stone which the builders rejected

Has become the chief corner stone.

This is the LORD’s doing;

It is marvelous in our eyes.

This is the day which the LORD has made;

Let us rejoice and be glad in it …

And they sang the song of Moses the bond-servant of God

and the song of the Lamb, saying,

‘Great and marvelous are Thy works, O Lord God,

the Almighty; Righteous and true are Thy ways,

Thou King of the nations.

Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name?

For Thou alone art holy;

For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE THEE, 

For Thy righteous acts have been revealed.”

Psalm 118:21-24; Revelation 15:3-4

God has given us this day our daily bread.

For Reflection: It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the events of the world around us. It’s what we see and hear throughout our day. Praise and thanksgiving have to be intentional or be swallowed up in the grumblings and disbelief of the world. Let’s make an intentional choice to think on the wonderful works of our Lord, His abundant supply of our daily bread.

Kingdom Promises

Kingdom Promises

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“Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.”

Matthew 6:10, NASB

The evening began much like the Passover celebration of years gone by, sharing of the eventful night when the death angel passed over those who applied the blood of the lamb to their doorposts. It was a night of separation between the kingdom of death and the kingdom of  life. But instead of following the usual story line Jesus took his disciples down a different path—a path He would have to walk alone, so they would not have to.

Simon Peter shook his head and rubbed his whiskery face. “Lord, where are you going?”

“You can’t follow me now, Peter—but later you will.”

The other disciples didn’t get it either. Jesus switched gears and left them with a promise.

“Let not your heart be troubled:

ye believe in God, believe also in me.

  • In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.
  • I go to prepare a place for you.
  • And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again,
  • and receive you unto myself;
  • that where I am, there ye may be also.” John 14:1-3, KJV

Jesus must leave them for a time. Their hearts cried for understanding. What about the kingdom? How would they manage while He was gone? They didn’t want to be left alone to walk through this kingdom of darkness. Jesus gave them another promise.

“And I will pray the Father,

  • and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
  • Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not neither knoweth him;
  • but ye know him: for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
  • I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.” John 14:16-18, KJV

The kingdom would live in them through the Spirit of Christ dwelling in them until the time when Jesus would return and reign over the earth. They would not walk alone in this hostile kingdom alone. They would walk in the kingdom of light with the light of life living in them.

The same promises the Lord gave to his disciples then, He gives to us today.

He is preparing a place in his kingdom for us; He will come again to take us to be with him; Until then, He has not left us in this world alone. He has given us His Spirit of truth. And He promises He will come.

Until then—

  • “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised:) …
  • Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
  • For ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

FOR YET A LITTLE WHILE,

AND HE THAT SHALL COME WILL COME,

AND WILL NOT TARRY.

NOW THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH:

BUT IF ANY MAN DRAW BACK,

MY SOUL SHALL HAVE NO PLEASURE IN HIM.

But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition;

but of them that believe to the saving of the soul…

For we, like Abraham of old are looking —for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God—

It is a—better country, that is , an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.” (Hebrews 10:23, 35-39;11:10, 16)

The prayer of the kingdom has come in part. We, as follower of Christ, are citizens of another country. One day we will take our place in the kingdom of Christ. Until then, we wait, we watch, and we work with Christ while it is still day, in building the kingdom that is to come. For we are— of them that believe to the saving of the soul … And—he is faithful that promised.

Praying For Peace

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“Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.”

Matthew 6:10, NASB

Is peace on the earth possible?

Thy kingdom come

“Jesus answered and said to him,

Truly, truly, I say to you,

unless one is born again,

he cannot see the kingdom of God …

For He delivered us from the domain of darkness,

and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,

in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins …

I tell you that in the same way,

there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents,

than over ninety-nine righteous persons

who need no repentance.”

John 3:3; Colossians 3:13,14; Luke 15:7; NASB

Thy will be done

“The Lord is not slow about His promise,

as some count slowness,

but is patient toward you,

not wishing for any to perish

but for all to come to repentance …

 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say,

Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand …

In the same way, I tell you,

there is joy in the presence of the angels of God

over one sinner who repents.”

2 Peter 3:9; Matthew 4:17; Luke 15:10; NASB

Is peace on the earth possible? With God we know all things are possible, but we also know for peace to reign on this earth is not probable—until the Lord returns to set us his kingdom. Until then we have been called to be ambassadors of the kingdom of peace—it begins with peace with God.

“Now all these things are from God,

who reconciled us to Himself through Christ,

and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely,

that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself,

not counting their trespasses against them,

and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ,

as though God were entreating through us;

we beg you on behalf of Christ,

be reconciled to God.”

2 Corinthians 5:18-20; NASB

Be reconciled to God—it is the only way for peace to reign in your heart.

Our Prayer: Heavenly Father, you have brought us the peace of your kingdom in Jesus Christ. May we be ambassadors of your kingdom of peace, preaching repentance to those still in the kingdom of darkness. May we be workers together for the building of your kingdom one soul at a time.

The Writer’s Heart: Publish It

For the Writer’s Heart: Publish Itblog trumpets

“The Lord gave the word:

great was the company of those that published it.”

Psalm 68:11, KJV

2022—This is the year of our Lord. We, as believers, pray as Jesus taught his disciples to pray—

“Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.”

Matthew 6:10, NASB

The angels published the word to the shepherds. The shepherds published it to all they met. John the Baptist published the word throughout the wilderness. Until Jesus came and revealed the truth in his person confirming the word of the prophets, angels, shepherds, and John.

“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say,

Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew 4:17.

The kingdom of heaven has come near to us in the person of the King, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Now it’s our turn to join the prophets, angels, shepherds, John, and our King in publishing the good news. If we publish nothing else this year may we be sure this message gets published, for—

“HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET

OF THEM THAT PREACH THE GOSPEL OF PEACE,

AND BRING GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS!”

Romans 10:15b.

There isn’t much good news reported in today’s headlines, but as writers and speakers, we have the inside scoop and it’s ours to tell. We have a message to publish. May it be heard even to the ends of the world as Paul writes in Romans 10:18. Yes, they all may have heard—keep telling it.

“But I say, Have they not heard?

Yes, verily,

THEIR SOUND WENT INTO ALL THE EARTH,

AND THEIR WORDS UNTO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD.”

May the year 2022 be known as the year the Lord’s kingdom is published in all the world.