The Family of Faith

February 9, 2017 at 4:08 pm | Posted in The Family of Faith | 1 Comment
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Christians should be well aware that they are supposed to love their neighbors as themselves. So, when we see someone hurting or someone with a need, we are to fight our “natural” instinct to look out for number one, and instead make a genuine effort to help the other person (our “neighbor“) even if it means sacrificing our own comfort.

However, it is also true that, in a world where suffering and neediness is so plentiful, we are allowed and encouraged to place a special emphasis and attention on the needs of our family.

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:10

Your “household” is your family and those who live under your roof. The “household of faith” refers to those who are related to you as brothers and sisters in Christ, especially the fellow members of the local church to which you belong. We have a relationship of shared faith in Christ. We are to be on the lookout for opportunities to minister to Him by serving those who have like faith and are ministering alongside us.

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

Ephesians 2:19

Not only are we of the same “household” as part of a church family, but we are members of God’s household, having been brought into His family by both “birth” (the second birth of regeneration) and adoption. We willingly and lovingly minister to “strangers” (those who seem alien to us in our everyday experience of life) and to “foreigners” (those we may commonly encounter, but who do not seem to “belong” to the family of faith). We are like ambassadors: hailing from another country (citizens of Heaven), but also representing a benevolent and generous King, Who would have us accurately represent Him in this temporary, and sometimes hostile, world.

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

I Timothy 5:8

Finally, while we are to care for outsiders, and focus on the needs of our spiritual family members, we must not forget our blood relations. Parents must not use “church ministry” as an excuse for neglecting their children. Children must honor and respect their parents even when they perceive that the parents are lacking in spiritual maturity. Families must care for, and attend to, their elderly family members.

In every sense, the “household of God” is truly a “family of faith.”

Here are the the previous posts in this series:

1. Especially the Family (Galatians 6:10)
2. Becoming Part of the Family
3. Family Responsibilities (Galatians 6:10)
4. Family Privileges (Ephesians 2:12, 19)
5. The Privilege of Patriotism
6. The Privilege of Participation 
7. The Privilege of Protection
8. The Privilege of Provision (Philippians 4:19)

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Family Responsibilities

December 8, 2016 at 6:25 pm | Posted in The Family of Faith | 3 Comments
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Last time we discussed how you get into the family of faith. Now we will see that being a part of the family, while bestowing great blessings and benefits, also carries serious responsibilities.

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:10

In an earthly family, family members are expected to do household chores. In God’s spiritual family, we are to do good whenever an opportunity arises. For a Christian, an opportunity is God’s providence masquerading as chance or fortune. Let’s say a fellow church member has a need and you find out about it. Go ahead and assume that God wanted you to find out about it. In your local church family are you not presently seeing any needs? Just keep obediently performing the chores assigned to you, believing by faith that God will use them to meet a need or bless a brother or sister.

That’s how it works in an earthly family or household, right? You see a mess on the floor, and hopefully you recognize it as an opportunity to serve your family by cleaning it up. Maybe you think, “But I didn’t make it; it’s not my mess.” Then you remember, “No, it’s the family’s mess, and I am part of the family.” Somebody forgot to take out the trash? It’s a great opportunity to serve. Somebody offended someone else in your church assembly? Help “take out” the hurt feelings and encourage apology, repentance, forgiveness, and restoration.

The of “opportunity” in Galatians 6:10 goes even further. The Greek word kairos has a connotation of “timing” – of actively looking for opportunities. It is used in Ephesians 5:16 like this:

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Ephesians 5:15-16

If you show up at church when you are expected, if you demonstrate you are trustworthy, if you have a heart to help, there are always chores – we call them ministry opportunities – that need to be done. Perhaps you have some spiritual gift or God-given talent that will eventually come in handy if you are willing and available.

The other kinds of household chores are things that you are assigned to do, and everyone knows that’s your chore. These are not “surprise” opportunities. They are planned, but they are opportunities nonetheless. Find something that needs to be done at church – or ask a church leader what needs to be done – and sign up to do it. And be faithful about it. Be consistent and trustworthy.

If you are responsible for an earthly family (especially dads), you know that (aside from a precious infant) you do not want somebody living in your earthly home who’s just a sponge – somebody who just soaks up the blessings, but brings no benefits. You don’t want a responsibility-shirking family member who produces burdens, but bears no burdens himself. You wouldn’t stand for it. I’m not sure God’s going to stand for it very long either.

Especially the Family

November 7, 2016 at 12:25 pm | Posted in Mark, The Family of Faith | 5 Comments
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We have many relationships in our lives: friends, co-workers, acquaintances. But “family” is a special relationship.

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:10

In the original language the word translated as “household” meant family and those who live together under the same roof. It is used three times in the New Testament, and it refers to Christians who are related as brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Bible says we are to do what is good to people in general. Jesus taught His disciples to love their “neighbor,” and he criticized the religious hypocrites for failing to love their neighbors.

And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Mark 12:28-31

This is essentially what Galatians 6:10 is saying when it says, “let us do good unto all men.” Should we be nice to people that are easy to be nice to, and mean to people who rub us the wrong way? No, of course not – not according to the Bible. Should we be nice to Christians, but ambivalent toward the unsaved? No! We are to love even our enemies, and even those who persecute us! In fact, that is one of the great indicators (to a lost and watching world) that we belong to Jesus. Anybody can be nice to people who are nice to them first, or when there’s a reward at stake. Jesus loved, and died for, those who HATED Him.

We must bless those who hate us and pray for those who despitefully use us. However, Galatians 6:10 does have a warning word – something of a qualifier. It doesn’t say forget about doing good to all people, but it does say to do good ESPECIALLY to those who are part of the household of faith: fellow Christians – brothers and sisters in Christ – and, in the context of Galatians 6, doing “good” (“the good” in the Greek) means bearing one another’s burdens and sowing to the Spirit (which results in reaping everlasting life) instead of sowing to the flesh (which results in reaping corruption). In other words, we are commanded to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24) in dealing with our spiritual family members. So, since the Holy Spirit emphasizes the importance of serving in the household of faith, next time we will look at exactly what it means to be a part of this household/family.

Lest We should Offend Them

March 2, 2016 at 12:39 pm | Posted in Matthew | 4 Comments
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Born-again Christians have great freedom in Christ Jesus (Galatians 5:1). This freedom allows us to fulfill the law of Christ, which is not burdensome for those for have experienced Christ’s love (Galatians 6:2). Within this freedom and this law there is room for different convictions, or degrees of conviction, over some personal standards, even among unified believers.

Matthew Chapter 17 records the Lord’s amazing journey as He goes – in the space of a few short verses – from the glory of the Mount of Transfiguration to being faced with the apparent inability to even pay a small tax.

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?

Matthew 17:24

This would have been a perfect opportunity for a worldly king to say, “ME???? Pay tribute? I’m the King. Subjects pay tribute to the King – they don’t exact it from him!”

This was not the way of the Heavenly King, however. Instead, He taught Peter a lesson about the importance of not giving offense in matters where it is unnecessary to do so.

Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

Matthew 17:27

Jesus was and is God. Couldn’t He have just caused the piece of money to materialize in Peter’s pocket, rather than the complex miracle with the fish? Of course He could have! However, Peter’s fishing trip emphasized not only Christ’s dominion over the fish of the sea, but also the idea that the King’s followers should be willing to go to great lengths to keep those with different convictions from stumbling. Never lord your freedom over a brother or sister in Christ when it seems that they perceive themselves to have a higher conviction from you in a relatively minor matter – even if you must go to great lengths to keep your liberty from being a stumbling-block to your brother or sister (I Corinthians 8:9-13).

Galatians at a Glance

September 29, 2014 at 10:17 am | Posted in Galatians | 1 Comment
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In the Book of Galatians we learn about the liberty that comes from grace, as opposed to the bondage found in works, but we also see that grace emanates from a source: the Cross of Jesus Christ.

In the Cross there is:

Freedom from self-worship

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

Freedom from the flesh and our own desires

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Galatians 5:24

Freedom from the world

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

Galatians 6:14-15

There is also the freedom from having to keep a list of religious rules, such as whether to be circumcised or not. Rules become a secondary consideration next to the real issue: Are you a new creature?

From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

Galatians 6:17

The Apostle Paul was “marked,” but he was not referring to the mark of circumcision. He was referring to the scars of persecution, and he was telling his critics that those marks marked him as being on God’s side more than their marks of circumcision. Beware of any outward show of piety that keeps you from persecution.

As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

Galatians 6:12

True freedom comes by paying a price, but it is not the price of self-inflicted wounds. It was the price that Christ paid on the Cross, so that He may freely offer His freedom to us.

Here are links to the previous lessons in Galatians:

1. Grace vs. Works
2. That Man Was Certifiable!
3. Confronting the Issue of Law and Gospel to Its Face
4. It All Depends on What Your Definition of “OF” Is
5. Our Part with God
6. The Doctor Who Never Fails
7. From Cursing to Blessing
8. The Freestyle
9. Going to Extrem(iti)es
10. Don’t Love Yourself
11. Dependent Freedom
12. Is it Animal, Mineral, or Tomato?
13. How Whack-A-Mole Can Help Your Marriage
14. Getting Full (Part 1)
15. Making the Proper Comparisons
16. Different Types of Burdens *
17. The Warning to the Weary

18. The Family of Faith (Galatians 6:10)

19. Especially the Family (Galatians 6:10)

* most-read post in category

The Warning to the Weary

September 26, 2014 at 8:48 am | Posted in Galatians | 1 Comment
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After the Holy Ghost had spent most of the first five chapters of Galatians driving home the point that Christians are saved, and set free from the law of sin and death and destructive fruitless rule-keeping, by God’s grace through faith in His Son, Jesus, He wanted there to be no confusion about the outworking of this great doctrine in our lives. Therefore, He plainly and passionately tells us in Chapter 6 that God’s grace is a motivation to work hard, not a license to lapse into sin.

If you are involved in active ministry at your local church, or anywhere else ordained by God, you will be tempted to get weary in well doing, because doing is hard work. Our encouragement is in the reminder that “doing” something in response to God’s calling is doing something that is “well,” something that is “good.” And that, eventually, if we faint not – if we don’t quit – we will reap from the good that God has allowed us to sow.

When my wife and I were first married, our pastor used to quote Galatians 6:9 all the time. Back in those days, when I was doing more pew-sitting than faith-walking, I could not understand why a preacher, of all people, would need encouragement not to get weary. Many years later, I can tell you from experience, and, more importantly, from the Truth of God’s Word, that fatigue brought on by doing well for God is more refreshing to my spirit than a seven-day vacation at the beach is to my flesh.

Making the Proper Comparisons

September 22, 2014 at 11:34 am | Posted in Galatians | 3 Comments
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Galatians Chapter 6 deals with the troubles that the legalists were causing. Obviously, they were trying to corrupt the Gospel, but they also interfered with, and hurt, the spiritual life of the church.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.

Galatians 6:2-5

Legalists are interested in adding to burdens instead of alleviating burdens. People in church will fall into sin. We can use that as on opportunity to pick them up, or to step on them and try to make ourselves look higher. Meekness preserves love and causes God to help us resist sin. Pride alienates others and provokes God. A good indicator of my spirituality is not how I measure up to others (Can I carry a heavier load than him?), but “Am I bearing my own burden when it used to be too heavy for me?” In other words, the test is how I measure up to what I used to be.

There are burdens which are not meant to be carried alone, and then there is the soldier’s pack, which it is his responsibility to bear on his own as he serves a greater cause.

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Galatians 6:10

In giving help to others, we are also helping ourselves, but the secret is to give in love: not giving to get.

For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Galtians 6:8

Sowing to the flesh reaps corruption.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Galatians 6:9

Remember, the reaping is in “due season.” Not every day is harvest day. Remember to pray to keep from fainting (Luke 18:1). Remember to eat (read the Bible) for spiritual strength.

Near the end of Galatians we are reminded that freedom brings responsibility.

As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

Galatians 6:12-13

We have a responsibility not to brag about our freedom, or what it allows us to do.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Galatians 6:14

We should “brag” on the Redeemer, rather than the “elite” status of being redeemed.

Fellowship / Faults

August 6, 2014 at 2:11 pm | Posted in Two Sides to Every Comfort | 1 Comment
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Fellowship

Aren’t you glad to be part of a church fellowship? I hope you are. There may come a time when you need the help of a brother and sister in Christ. God made us for community – and not just in the good times, but also in the bad. That’s one reason fellowship is so comforting.

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

The law of Christ is loving God with all your heart, and loving your neighbor as yourself. It can be extremely comforting to have someone to help you bear your burden, or to bear it for you. But, there is a flip side to the comfort of fellowship, which is:

Faults

Faults are not precisely the same thing as sins – although the faults certainly can be sins. Take someone who talks too much, for example. That’s not necessarily a sin, but it is a fault. Or someone who gets sick every time it’s her turn to work in the nursery – or his turn to help count the offering. Those are not sins, but they can be faults. Some people are really clumsy. It’s not sinful to be clumsy, but being clumsy and volunteering to carry a crystal tray of punch across the foyer carpet is a fault.

Faults are comforting because they help to integrate us into Christian fellowship, and because they remind us that: (1) we’re part of a Christian fellowship; (2) as fellow Christians, we’re all in this together; and (3) we need each other.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Galatians 6:1

The comfort of fellowship is like a body. All the parts are important and all are supposed to work together. But when one part’s not working right the other parts pick up the slack. They bear burdens in fellowship and bring comfort in faults.

Pass It On and Pour It On

December 23, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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Last time we examined two principles that exhort Christian men to work hard:

I. Put It On
II. Pack It On

Now we will think about the exhortation to:

III. Pass It On

If you are a Christian, then God is always teaching you a lesson – but the lessons have two purposes. The first purpose is that whatever you are supposed to learn is going to be for His glory and your sanctification. The second is so that you can pass it on to somebody else.

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

II Timothy 2:2

The application of true Biblical doctrine that is passed on to us by our brothers and sisters in Christ is not to be kept to ourselves, pridefully “shown off,” or simply meditated upon. No, it is to be passed on to other faithful believers, who, in turn, will likewise share it again. Specifically, the Bible says we are to pass it on to other men. The Bible uses the word “teach” rather than “share” (which coincidentally sounds a little more “manly”). If you are a Christian man, when God teaches you a lesson, teach it to your son or another young man in your church family. Find a single mom who has a son that is being ignored by his selfish dad, and take the kid fishing and teach him what it means to be a man of God. Real men are not sophisticated monkeys, nor overgrown boys who can shave, nor girls with some different body parts. We are imago Dei – the image of God Himself – and we were not created to take up space, to play with toys, to be attractive to women, or to prove how tough we can be. We were made to serve the living God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, the Great King – and we had better start acting like it and we had better be passing it on to the next generation, or the next generation will be emasculated and routed by the enemies of God.

IV. Pour It On

One of the worst things you could be called when I was a kid was a quitter. God has not called you to be a quitter.

He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.

Proverbs 10:4

The Bible condemns “slackers,” and contrasts them with hard workers.

The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.

Proverbs 12:24

The non-quitter is going to have authority. He’s going to lead. The quitter is going to have to pay an unpleasant price, and he will not be the one making the important decisions.

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

Proverbs 22:29

The non-quitter is going to have a good, respectable employer. The quitter is going to wind up working for a petty jerk.

If you are a man, pour it on: Work hard and don’t quit.

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

Work hard at your secular job, then work hard for Jesus; don’t be a secular quitter, and don’t be a spiritual quitter. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Did Jesus ever give up? Of course not!

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.

Galatians 6:2-5

If you are a man, here is what you are called to do: Be like Jesus and bear your burdens, yes, but do not be a “Stoic.” Stay involved with difficult people. Christian men bear their own burdens and they bear other people’s burdens. Your wife doesn’t respect you like she should? Tough – you’re a man – pick up that burden and carry it. Be respectable whether you earn her respect or not. Trouble with your finances? Pick it up and carry that burden, working hard and trusting God! Health problems (physical or mental)? Pick it up! No help with the kids? Pick it up! Difficulties with your nieces, nephews, single moms you know, neighborhood kids? Pick up those burdens and carry them the way Jesus did! You are a man. That’s what Christian men do – they carry other people’s burdens, and they do it in love, fulfilling the law of Christ.

Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

II Corinthians 5:9 (emphasis added)

Trying to win Christ’s approval (while still knowing the security of our justification and sonship) will often require us to forsake the approval of the world. We are not to care what they think if we are pleasing Him. Let them jeer, taunt, boo, scoff – we are seeking to please our Master! When we are light in this world, burning with candles lit from Christ’s torch, the darkness will push back. We might lose friends, the love of family members, or jobs. We might get passed over for promotions, and the cool people won’t invite us to their tailgate parties or Christmas parties. But we worship Someone who let Himself be tortured, abused, and ridiculed by vile sinners! He took it all for us; the least we can do is take a little for Him!

Beware the Fatigue of Failure

June 28, 2013 at 10:24 am | Posted in Luke, The Fives | 5 Comments
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And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.

Luke 5:5

Simon Peter had a fishing boat. Jesus was speaking to a large crowd which was pressing in upon Him as He preached on the shore of Lake Gennesaret, so He climbed into Peter’s boat, finished His sermon, and commanded Peter to launch out into the deep. Once this was done, Jesus further instructed Peter and his fellow fishermen to let their net down and catch some fish.

Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? But Peter had an objection. He had been using this method of fishing all night long, and hadn’t caught a thing. It is not possible for us to know Peter’s exact tone of voice when he said, “We have toiled all night.” Maybe it was just an explanation of what happened. Maybe it was said with a touch of humor at being told to do again what he had just finished doing repeatedly with no success. I suspect, though, that there was at least a touch of exasperation in Peter’s voice. I would imagine that when he followed up with, “nevertheless…” he did so with a sigh of resignation, not really believing that the exercise would be anything other than pointless.

There was a time (albeit a very brief time) in human history when manual physical labor was neither exhausting nor frustrating. When Adam was given a garden to tend and keep in Eden, sin had not yet entered into the world. It was only after Adam disobeyed God that God placed a curse upon the world and mankind, so that now our labor has become “toil:” something unpleasant, difficult, and often unproductive.

And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Genesis 3:17-19

Working hard in a fallen world can still be rewarding, in a sense. Even the fatigue brought on by long tough physical labor carries with it a certain peace, and sometimes a feeling of accomplishment. But, if you’ve ever worked really hard at something, only to experience failure over and over again, you know that your mental state can really play havoc with your physical state. How is it that, when I was younger, I could play baseball in the middle of July from sun-up to sundown and still be full enough of energy to fight off bed time until the wee hours? But the following week, a mere four hours of painting the eaves of the house left me spent, drained, and irritable for the rest of the day? Physical activity is tiring, but somehow successful or fun activity seems way less tiring than physical activity ending in failure.

I suspect that this is what Peter was expressing in Luke 5:5. If he had spent all night catching fishing instead of fruitlessly lowering and raising empty nets, he would have been a little more eager to do as Jesus asked. However, the “nevertheless” which Peter speaks forth without any further urging is a good reminder to us to heed the words of Christ even when they may not be to our liking at the moment. “Toil” is not our preferred word for describing the work of our Lord, but neither is it an excuse for goldbricking. The Christian life ought to be a life of service, and service can make us weary, but, thankfully, we serve a kind and loving Master, and our spiritual labors, unlike our physical labors, will never be in vain.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Galatians 6:9

But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

I Corinthians 15:57-58

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