Monday, June 30, 2008

II Peter 1:1 The Author-His Humility and His Authority

In life, you have to decide what hill you’re going to die on. There are some things that you have to be willing to say “You know what? This isn’t that big of a deal. I’m going to just let this one go.” In auditing, often times I find things that are problems and I have to decide how big of a deal I want to make out of it. I have to apply professional judgments to decide whether or not I am going to consider something to be “material” (that’s auditor-speak for “a big deal”). As a Christian, I also have to make decisions as to how strong I’m going to stand for or against something. For instance, I’m a Calvinist. However, I’m not going to have any sort of problem fellowshipping or ministering with someone who disagrees with me. I’m willing to agree to disagree on that topic. However, there is one thing that I cannot and will not bend on-the sufficiency and authority of Holy Scripture. That, my friends, is paramount for us as Christians to proclaim and stand on. Jesus said in John 8:42 that the truth would make us free. Likewise, Paul says in II Thessalonians 2:9-12 that those who will be deceived by the Antichrist will be deceived because they “took pleasure in wickedness” and that they did not believe the truth. Peter, in his second epistle, writes these believers to encourage them to believe and remain faithful to the truth that they had been taught. As we study this scripture, you and I can be encouraged to do the same.

First of all, let us take note of the author of this epistle. He identifies himself as “Simon Peter”. This, of course is the same Simon Peter who preached the sermon on the day of Pentecost. He is the same Simon Peter who, when asked by Jesus “Who do you say that I am?”, readily affirmed the deity of Christ and the fact that He was the Son of God. Of course, this is also the same Peter who told the Lord “Give me a bath” when Jesus said he needed his feat washed. And yes, this is the same man who was so scared to death when a little girl ID’ed him as being a disciple of Christ that he cursed and denied our Lord. Personally, that’s why I love Peter. When he got it right, he got it right. When he goofed up, it wa a humdinger. I can relate to that. He had his flaws but God still used him. That gives me hope.

Peter further identifies himself as “a bond-servant…of Jesus Christ”. The word translated “bond-servant” is the Greek word “doulos” (1401). A more precise rendering of the word would probably be “slave”. Essentially, someone who was a doulos was property. They had no rights and could not do as they pleased. They lived to serve at the beck and call of their master. As Peter identifies himself here as a bond-servant, he is being quite humble. We all should remember as Paul tells us in I Corinthians that we were bought with a price. If we see ourselves as Peter did, as slaves, is there anything that God would ask us to do that we would say “No” to? Where could He send us where we would “pull a Jonah”? We should serve Him out of love because of the wonderful grace He has shown us but we should always remember that He is not only our Savior but He is also our Lord..

We observe that while Peter is humble and rightly so, he speaks with authority and that authority is not his own. He writes in verse 1 that he is an “apostle of Jesus Christ”. The word “apostle” is a transliteration of the Greek word “apostolos” (652) which means delegate or ambassador. This was not a title that a person could take for themselves. He was one of the men specially commissioned by Jesus to go and preach the Gospel of Christ. He was sent as an ambassador and the message that he brought was not his own. He wasn’t making this stuff up, folks. In the book of Acts, he preached sermons, raised the dead, healed the sick as he had been empowered by God through the Holy Spirit to do.

While the office of apostle is not an active office in the church today, you and I are apostles of Christ in the sense that we are called to preach the good news to people we meet. As we do that, we should follow the example of Peter and recognize our position as humble servants of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Matthew 5:4 Comfort for those who mourn

The life of Saul in the Old Testament is, to me, a great example of someone who wanted to take the easy road to following God. He wanted to keep up appearances and he enjoyed his position as the earthly king over Israel. However, when it came down to it, he wasn’t willing to be completely obedient to God. I heard a preacher once preach a sermon on 1 Samuel 15 called “The Perils of Partial Obediance”. Anyone familiar with that passage would probably concur that the title is appropriate. Saul was given orders to exterminate the Amalekites. Instead of obeying God, he killed most of them. When he was confronted with his sin by Samuel, he had the audacity to plead his cause. He claimed that he had been obedient to God. When he was told that the kingdom would be taken away from him, he then admitted his sin. I submit to you that Saul was not sorry about what he had done. He was instead sorry he was going to have to face the consequences of his sin. In my mind, that is exactly the opposite of the kind of attitude described by our Lord in verse 4 of Matthew 5.

Again, we notice that Jesus is describing someone who is “Blessed” (Greek “makarios”-3107 ). Really, this word means “happy”. He has already described someone as being happy when they declare spiritual bankruptcy (v. 3). Now, if you were asking most people to list characteristics of being happy, they would probably not list their own lack of spiritual goodness. Likewise, they would probably not list mourning as an indicator of happiness. In fact, that would be, in most cases, the opposite of happiness. I mean, mourning is something you do when you’re sad, right. If that’s the case, how can Jesus say “Blessed are those who mourn”?

As we remember the example from the life of Saul in 1 Samuel, we see someone who showed no repentance. He was not willing to admit what he did was wrong. In fact, he proudly proclaimed his innocence to Samuel while there were sheep bleating in the distance-the spoils of his attack on the Amalekites. When he proclaimed that he had sinned and asked Samuel to come and sacrifice with him, he is described in a manner I would describe as being mournful. However, he did no mourn over his sin. He mourned over the consequences. This is not the kind of sorrow our Lord is talking about. When I came to the realization of my sin I was led to repentant by the power of the Holy Spirit. I wasn’t just sorry about the consequences I would face due to my sin. I honestly felt remorse that I had offended a holy God.

As Paul notes in 2 Corinthians 7:10 “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. “ Godly sorrow, which results from recognizing ones own poverty of spirit, will lead to mourning over our sin which, as Paul notes, will lead to repentance. Because of this repentance, Jesus declares that we who mourn “shall be comforted”. The Greek word translated “comforted” is “parakeleo” (3870). Jesus uses a similar word in John 14:16 when He said that the Father would send “another Helper” (Gr “parakletos” 3875). Those who God gives the ability to repent and believe will be “Blessed” (happy) because they will have an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, that dwells within their hearts. We don’t have to continue to mourn over our sins. Our Father in heaven has forgiven us based on the death of Jesus Christ and has given us the seal of our salvation, the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter and Helper. Praise God for that gift.

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Psalm 23:5 The Spiritual Provision of the Shepherd

I have two dogs. The reason I have two dogs is that I do not want 3. Don’t get me wrong, dogs are cute and fun sometimes but mostly they are a big, hairy pain in the neck. Anyway, when I get home in the evening from work, I have to open the gate so I can park. We keep our gate closed not only so our dogs can’t get out but so other dogs can’t get in. After I open the gate, I have to get in and drive into the gate so I can close it. During the time after I open the gate and when I close the gate, my dogs have a clear chance to make a break for it. You know what? They might go outside the gate a few steps or whatever but typically they are back inside before I get out of the car to close the gate. Now, I don’t know for a fact, but I suspect that they have at least enough sense to think to themselves “We’ve got it pretty good here. Food, water, petting, shelter. You know what? I’m going to stay my happy tail right here.” Now, my God is a much better Shepherd than I am a dog-owner. Not only will I experience complete satisfaction when I arrive in my heavenly home, but I can experience satisfaction in my relationship with Him now because He is my loving Shepherd.

First of all, we should observe in the second half of verse 5 is that God provides for us spiritually. The psalmist writes that God has “anointed my head with oil”. As we have noted in our study of this psalm, a shepherd would take his sheep into the mountains during the summer months. During the summer months, all sorts of flying insects pester the sheep mercilessly. Furthermore, the sheep can develop a skin condition called scab which is also very irritating for the sheep. The remedy for this is to apply oil to the sheep’s head. Usually the oil would have some sort of medicine in it as well. David Keller, in his book “A shepherd looks at Psalm 23”, describes how relieved the sheep are when the oil is applied to the areas affected with scab and how much less agitated they are when they are no longer being pestered by the insects thanks to the oil. As he described it, you can literally see the relief on their faces after the oil is applied.

In like manner, we as Christians deal with irritations in our lives. These irritations can range from a small problem like being a few minutes late due to a traffic snafu to a huge problem like finding out we have an incurable disease. However, we don’t have to let these things get the best of us. We have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. For the Christian, this is the “oil” that God anoints us with. We can face the trials and tribulations that come our way with peace because we know that our God works all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

The oil that a shepherd anoints his sheep with serves another purpose. Male sheep butt heads in contests where they stand apart from one another, take a running start, and crash their craniums together to try to prove who is the most manly or ramly of the flock. Now, they do have thick skulls but even so, these sheep can injure themselves. Therefore, the shepherd applies some of this oil to the heads of the male sheep. When they line up to butt heads, they slip off of one another instead of hitting square on. The Holy Spirit serves a similar purpose in the life of the believer. God called us as the church to live in unity. Let’s face it, though. Sometimes, I get on my own nerves so I know for a fact that I’m not fun to be around.. However, Christians that are sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit are more likely to let little irritations roll off of their back rather than taking offense.

Aren’t we blessed to have a loving Shepherd who provides for us spiritually by giving us the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts?

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Hello. If you've been to my blog before, welcome back. If this is your first stop here, I welcome you. I try every once in a while to pozt something regarding the format of this blog just in case it's not readily apparent what I'm doing or how to get around here.

Primarily, I write bible exposition. I currently am working through the book of Matthew as well as the 23rd Psalm. I have also blogged through Pslam 1. I try to get at least a post a week up. Anywy, the blog lables on the sidebar are set up by book and by chapter. In other words, if you wanted to read everything I had written on Matthew chapter 2, simply click "Matthew 2". I also post links to other blog articles that I find particularly encouraging to me.

Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions. My email address is in my profile if you wanted to contact me.

Thank you for stopping by here at my little corner of the world wide web.

In Christ

Friday, June 20, 2008

Matthew 5:3 Declaring Spiritual Bankruptcy

Frank Sinatra had a hit song titled “My Way”. The lyrics of this song are all about someone who is self reliant and they do things, well, their way. Our culture seems to hold up the idea of a self-made man as a kind of goal for us to strive for. We don’t like to admit weakness, much less poverty. Overall, pride is one of the greatest sins in America. However, as we see in this verse, pride is an obstacle to a right relationship with God.

In verse 5, Jesus begins outlining what it takes for a person to be “Blessed”. The word translated “blessed” is the Greek word “makarios” (3107). A more literal translation of the word would be “happy”. In this world, people search, sometimes there whole lives, for happiness. I used to search for it in accomplishments. I felt that if I could play saxophone well enough or become a successful enough band director that I would be happy. Even after I went back to school to study accounting, I felt like if I could find a job making enough money for my wife to stay home with my kids that I would be happy. However, the more I work and search I find myself relearning over and over again that the only true joy, satisfaction and happiness that I have ever known comes from my relationship with God. I mean, I would describe myself as happy this past Tuesday when the Celtics defeated their arch-enemy, the Lakers, to win the NBA Championship. But this was a temporary emotional high that I assure you was quickly gone when I got up the next morning at 5:15 to go to work. The happiness that Jesus describes here is not some quickly passing emotion but a deep, abiding sense of true happiness that comes from a relationship with God.

Jesus goes on to describe the spiritual mindset of the people He describes as happy. Jesus says that these people are “poor in sprit”. The Greek word “ptochos” (4434) is translated “poor” in this verse. Now, this word doesn’t just describe poverty as a state, as in not having money or possessions, but also as an action. In fact, the same word is used in Luke 16:20 to identify Lazarus as a “beggar”. The word is related to the verb “ptosso” which means “to crouch”. Someone who is bowing or crouching is physically demonstrating meekness or lowliness. I knew someone who claimed onetime that they had been challenged simply because a person had been sitting and all of a sudden stood to their feet. We also speak metaphorically about “standing up to people” or “standing up for ourselves”. In effect, the attitude that Jesus describes here as being “poor” would be the exact opposite of that. Instead of standing, we are crouching. Instead of proclaiming ourselves as rich, we take the posture of beggars.

However, the call here is not for a physical kind of crouching but rather for an inward recognition of our spiritual need. Jesus describes those who are happy as having the attitude of a beggar “in spirit” (Gr-“pneuma” 4151). Someone can feign gentleness, love, patience (to a point) because these are all actions. I often have to paint on a mask at work when someone gets on my nerves because I asked for something 3 weeks ago and they still have not gotten it to me. But I have to admit, inside, I’m pretty ticked off. However, you cannot fake being poor in spirit. You either recognize and accept the total inability of yourself to make yourself rich in spirit and, because you are a spiritual beggar, turn to God for mercy or you don’t. The first step to solving any problem is to admit that you actually have a problem. People who are spiritually bankrupt recognize that they have nothing.

When Jacob came back home with his livestock, servants, wives, and his two girlfriends after living with his uncle, he wrestled with God one night. When God told him to let go, Jacob said “I will not let you go unless you bless me”. Now this man had all the stuff that you would think a man could want and he still asked God to bless him. In other words, he recognized that he was poor inspirit. He recognized what he had was not enough and he wanted to be blessed-not physically but spiritually. In order to be happy, as Jesus declares here, we must also recognize the insignificance of our possession, our positions, and everything else in our lives.

Jesus identifies the source of their blessed condition. He says that those who have declared themselves to be spiritual beggars (as opposed to being proud) will be happy because theirs is “the kingdom of heaven”. Matthew, since his target audience was Jewish primarily, used the phrase kingdom of heaven frequently in his gospel as opposed to the kingdom of God to respect his Jewish readers sensitivities regarding the name of God. However, practically, it means the same thing. Notice with me that the verb is in the present tense. We certainly do have a home in heaven to look forward to and we should meditate on that and encourage one another with that. However, the kingdom of heaven is ours right now. Jesus said that He came to give us life and give that life more abundantly. Paul writes in Ephesians 2:6 that God has seated us in the heavenly places with Christ. We live in a world of trouble but this world is not our home. We once were blind but now we see. While we may endure poverty and trouble in this world, we can take heart and be comforted knowing that we have victory now and the promise of a future in heaven forever with our Lord who saved us. How can we not be happy knowing that?

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Monday, June 16, 2008

My Testimony

I started this blog back in 2007 as an outlet for bible exposition that I was writing. I had pastored a church bi-vocationally from 2000-2005 prior to moving to Tennessee and was not preaching or teaching at the time. I felt like I needed some kind of outlet. I believe God had given me the spiritual gift to teach and that I needed to use that gift in some way to edify other believers even if I wasn’t in a staff position in a church. Therefore, this blog, with few exceptions, has been geared toward bible exposition with a few blog links thrown in when I read something that was encouraging or challenging to me. I got to thinking the other day, though, that since I’ve gotten to know a few people through this blog that maybe I should post my testimony.

We went to church when I was a child on Sunday mornings. I don’t remember that much about it. To me, it was an excuse to get dressed up in my suit and pretend that I was a superhero with a costume on underneath. We moved to Tennessee when I was in 2nd grade. We pretty well stopped going to church when we got moved up there and I didn’t start going back to church until I was in 6th grade. We had moved back to Alabama (where I was from originally) and my younger brother and sister had started going to children’s choir at Silverhill First Baptist Church. I’m not sure why, but music was always a draw for me. There was just something special about singing or playing music. Anyway, I heard the children’s choir sing one song and I was like “Dude, I want to do that”. Actually, my voice had started to change so I think I was the only boy who sang in the bass clef in that choir. I sounded like a bullfrog.

Anyway, I went from going to Children’s choir to graduating up to youth choir. I then started staying for Discipleship training, going to church service, and attending Sunday School. As I went, I began to hear about how I was a sinner and that Christ had died for my sins. As I heard this, I began to feel what I realize now was conviction. Finally, on a Thursday afternoon in September after a JV basketball practice, I went to my room and asked Jesus Christ to forgive me of my sins and become my Lord and Savior.

I was not discipled very well. I think, especially in Southern Baptist churches, we do a pathetic job of making sure that someone grows as a Christian once they’re saved. I mean, we’ll witness to you all day long, but when it comes to discipleship, buddy, you’re on your own. I suppose that is why I am so passionate about teaching God’s word. I had been Christian for nearly 14 years before I seriously started to study God’s word. Obviously, I had not grown much in that decade and a half. However, God has used His precious word to help me mature----some. I’ve got a long way to go. Praise God that He’s still working on me.

Again, this is something of an unusual post for me. The title of my blog is Hear God Speak and it is my goal to help people do just that through the exposition of scripture. However, I thought since I had been at this awhile people would recognize that my focus is and will be the bible. I just thought we could get to know each other here. Feel free to leave comments or questions on my posts. Thanks and may our Father bless you and yours.

In Christ

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Matthew 5:1-2 Jesus, the Master Teacher

I have spent a lot of time in school. Of course, I finished the normal kindergarten through senior high school that most everyone in America does. I then went to the University of Montevallo for a degree in music. Finally, I went to Athens State University to study accounting. One thing I was very thankful for in school was the fact that I had some excellent teachers. A good teacher not only explains the material but can help you with individual problems that you have learning it. A good teacher knows the subject matter backwards and forwards and is able to guide students in practical application of the material. Here, in this most masterful sermon, we see Jesus as that kind of teacher revealing God given truth and refuting error that has been taught. As we begin to study this scripture, let us pray for God to speak to us and teach us through the words of Scripture.

First of all, observe the setting of this teaching. Jesus, as noted in verse 1 of this chapter, “saw the crowds”. As noted in chapter 4 of the book of Matthew and elsewhere in the gospels, Jesus drew large numbers of people. Some of them, of course, were just there for “the show”-He was healing and performing miracles and they were interested to see what was happening and what would happen next. We know that there were also people there who were drawn by God and allowed to recognize that Jesus was the Messiah. Matthew does not record the particular instance of this crowd but, for whatever reason, Jesus and His disciples found themselves among a throng of people. Now, imagine, if you will, wanting to teach a small group of people in the midst of a larger group of people. I was a band director for a few years. One of the most challenging things as a band director was fixing a problem with a section, say the trombones, while the rest of the band sat and waited for me to call the whole band to play again. Of course, the little flute players up front would sit quietly as I worked. The further back in the band you went, however, the noisier it would get. Eventually, I had to do something to get the room quite again so I could work. I can imagine that on some level, as Jesus prepared to teach, the large crowd would’ve proved to be a distraction for the students. However, the Master Teacher knew that and provided a better environment for instruction.

Before He began to instruct His disciples, we should notice that He spent some time in solitude. Verse 1 records that “He went up on the mountain”. In a parallel passage in Luke, it is recorded that He went to pray during the night. As He did before He was tempted by Satan in chapter 4 of Matthew, He again seeks time alone to prepare and commune with the Father. Those of us who preach and teach God’s word should take note of this. Our Lord and Savior was the living Word of God. Even with all of His divine power, He still took time to pray and prepare Himself before He would begin to preach this epic sermon. We, too, should earnestly seek God’s face and spend time in prayer as part of our preparation.

When the appropriate time came to teach, Matthew records that “He sat down”. This was typically the position Rabbis took when they prepared to teach. By assuming this posture, Jesus was taking a position of authority. As Jesus noted in Matthew 23:2, the teachers of the day “have seated themselves in the chair of Moses”. Jesus, since He was not given authority by any man but had authority since He was God in human flesh, had more right than any of these so called “teachers” to seat Himself in the position of authority and speak the word of God.

We should observe that not everyone came to hear him teach. The crowds that followed Him were large and it is probably that some came only to see something miraculous or supernatural. The majority of them, therefore, had no interest in spiritual truth. His teaching did not tickle their ears. However, when He was seated and prepared to teach, “His disciples came to Him”. The parallel passage in Luke suggests that he had selected His 12 apostles and certainly they also were among those who came and sat themselves down to hear Him teach. I suspect that the number was larger than just 12. As John records in the 6th chapter of his gospel, many people who had followed Jesus turned back after He preached the “bread of life” sermon because what He taught was a “difficult statement”. Not everyone who came to hear Him teach here on the mountain was there because they truly had saving faith. While they were all numbered among His disciples, they were note all truly His disciples.

Regardless of that fact, “He opened His mouth and began to teach them”. After He was seated in a position of authority and His students were seated around Him, He “began to teach” (Greek-didasko). This was regular, systematic instruction in the truth. These people had the privilege to have the word of God explained by the Word of God. Over the years, men had corrupted the scriptures with their own ideas and twisted the truth to serve their own selfish ends. Here, in this marvelous sermon, the Lord would explain to His disciples what true righteousness was and just how impossible it was for a person to obtain it..

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Blog Link-Doctrine of Election

A friend of mine has posted some excellent thoughts on the doctrine of election on his blog. I've always found his blog to be edifying and highly recommend going over there and checking it out.

Hammer and Nail: I Wouldn't Have Chosen God#links

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Psalm 23:5 Son, that ain’t no dinette set.

Probably the most difficult thing about this Psalm is our familiarity with it. We have heard it read and preached so often that we only half listen when someone is teaching it. We’ve had it memorized since we were little kids and can probably quote it backwards if we ever needed to. This verse, in particular, probably is the one most misunderstood verse of the entire psalm.

Here is what I used to picture when I read this verse-It’s a sunny day. The sky is blue with little puffy white clouds. I’m standing in a clear, grassy spot in the middle of a forest. In front of me is a long table with all sorts of food (fried chicken, mashed potatoes, collard greens, biscuits, etc). There is only one chair. The Son of God stands by that chair what an arm outstretched as if to say “Sit down and eat”. As I approach the chair, I see red, beady eyes peering from the forest all around and hear soft growls. My enemies see me about to eat this huge banquet and are jealous because they can only look on and watch. I sit and prepare to chow down. Did I mention there was a big ol’ jug of sweet tea on the table too?

That, my friends, has absolutely nothing to do with what this verse says.

The shepherd has taken the sheep out from the farm and through “the valley of the shadow of death”. They have now ascended into the mountain. The top of the mountain is called the table. If you remember the old hymn “Higher Ground”, there is a phrase in the chorus that says “Lord, lift me up and let me stand/By faith on heaven’s table land”. I believe this kind of table is what David had in mind when he wrote this psalm because it fits into the kind of work a shepherd would do. In order to “prepare a table” for his sheep, a shepherd would have to go before them and make the table land safe for his flock. He would have to pull up the plants that would be poisonous to his sheep (because that would be the first thing they would want to eat). He would have to make sure there was safe, drinkable water. And sense the flock was in the wild, his sheep would be in the “presence of [their] enemies”. Therefore, the shepherd would have to make sure that he killed off or ran off as many of those dangerous critters as he could. The safety of his flock depended on it.

In like manner, our shepherd has gone before me to “prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies”. God providentially guides and directs my steps to keep me within His will. While He certainly never causes me to sin nor is it His will for me to sin, He is able to accomplish His purposes in my life in spite of it. We can go confidently forward to carry out His will knowing that our God not only will go with us but has already prepared the way before us. When you go to witness to someone, you can be encouraged by the fact that God has gone ahead of you to prepare the way as you seek to share the gospel.

Further, we should not be afraid of our enemies. As we read in Luke 12, we should not fear those who can only kill our bodies. They really have no power over us if that’s all they can do. We are coming to a time in this country I believe where the enemies of the gospel are going to try in some way to persecute us who stand for Christ. However, we know that ultimately, they have no more power over us than that which God has granted them. They can’t hurt us in any eternal sense. As hard as it is to live a life pleasing to God and share biblical truth with people that is exactly what God, our Shepherd, has led us here to do. Since He has prepared the way and He will protect us from our enemies let us, through the power of the Holy Spirit, serve Him as He has called us.

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.