Buried Treasure

August 4, 2016 at 10:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Isaiah 53:9

The prophecy that Christ would be buried with the rich was fulfilled by the actions of Joseph of Arimathaea. Jesus’s death and Resurrection are integral parts of the Gospel, but so is His burial.

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, [how can a dead man with no children have descendants? he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Isaiah 53:10

The Lord Jesus bore our sin to the Cross, but it is not the weight of that sin that crushed (“bruised”) Him; it was the weight of God’s wrath. Jesus was childless in the biological sense, and, furthermore, the prophecy describes a dead man “seeing his seed.” How could this be? It was fulfilled in Jesus’s Resurrection and the spiritual children He would regenerate and adopt.

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Isaiah 53:11

God the Father was not “satisfied” in the sense of taking delight in Jesus’s suffering, but His righteousness, law, holiness, and justice were satisfied by payment in full for the entire sin debt of His people.

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53:12

Jesus on the Cross made intercession for transgressors, and He’s still doing that today.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:17

Let us esteem Jesus Christ better today than men did when He came to die for us. Let us look at what they esteemed instead of Him, and ask ourselves if we esteem those things more than Him today. He was poor. Do we esteem wealth? He was an outcast among the religious establishment. Do we esteem popularity and acceptance? People lied about Him and said vile things. Do we fight for our good reputation with plans and schemes to get even, and with our own get-back-at-you gossip? Which do we care about more – that we look good to men, or that God looks great to men? He came to serve and to die. Do we dare to try to get ourselves in the position of being served by someone else? He suffered hardship and discomfort and a life of hard work. Will we dare to pamper ourselves?

Jesus is rejected so much today, for so many of the same reasons He was rejected back then – He represents everything that carnal men hate. He is worthy, and that’s an thing easy to sing, but do our activities and attitudes and awe prove that He’s our Treasure?

The Assurance of the Blood

December 28, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Posted in Eternity, Hebrews | 2 Comments
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Perhaps over the past year you have done some good works. Perhaps you have done God’s will. Perhaps you have even – dare we say it without sounding proud? – done some things which were not only PLEASING in the sight of the Lord, but which were WELLPLEASING to Him?

If so, we have Him and Him alone to thank for these accomplishments and blessings – since these types of deeds and activities would not be possible with anything less mighty, amazing, and all-sufficient than Resurrection power, perfectly good and great shepherding, and all-powerful blood which purchased and confirmed an everlasting covenant!

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 13:20-21

Perhaps you feared God more over the past year than you ever had before. If so, and if this fear was a holy and reverent fear given to you by God in His grace, then it is very likely that He has also caused you to grow in knowledge and wisdom. These things, too, were and are secured by His blood-bought covenant!

And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.

Jeremiah 32:40

Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

Luke 22:20

Among the assurances that will keep you going as you face the trials, struggles, temptation, troubles, and battles that a new year will surely bring, I hope you will resolve to look to: (1) God’s own Word, preserved in the Holy Bible; (2) the seal of the Holy Spirit upon your soul; (3) the facts of the Crucifixion, burial, and Resurrection of the God-Man, Jesus Christ. But don’t forget this one, too: The everlasting Covenant – wholly the act of the Triune God – found in the shed blood of the Savior.

Douglas Wilson on Why We Must S.W.I.M.

October 13, 2015 at 1:07 pm | Posted in Quotes | Leave a comment
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There are Christians who say that we ought not protest abortion, but rather preach the gospel. We ought not to oppose the official degradation of marriage, but rather preach the gospel. That is like training lifeguards to rescue people without any references to water. That is like watching millions of people drowning in the same ocean, and holding pep rallies on the beach.

And this brings us back to the point about story. The old stories train us to recognize scribes who speak with no authority, lifeguards who never swim out to anybody, cancer surgeons who are scared of scalpels, firemen who never jump on a truck, jet pilots who never scramble, guardians who will not guard, and gospel preachers who keep muttering peace, peace, when there is no peace.

Douglas Wilson

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Romans 1:16

And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

Jude v. 23

Sleeping with the Enemy

September 16, 2015 at 2:25 pm | Posted in Weeping Creeping and Sleeping with the Enemy | 1 Comment
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In a previous lesson I discussed the blessings that Phinehas somewhat surprisingly received from the Lord for his violent attack on Zimri and Cozbi. When thinking through the reasons for this it is important to remember that Phinehas, unlike so many of his compatriots, had not joined himself unto Baal, and so his thinking was not cloudy or unclear or tainted by self-interest. He was thinking like God, and therefore He had a zeal – even a violent passion – for the holiness of God

Phinehas expressed God’s wrath in an atoning way. He did not kill the offenders because Zimri had personally ticked him off. It wasn’t because he was jealous that Zimri appeared to be getting away with what he wanted to be doing. It wasn’t because Phinehas wanted to show off, or because he was a sadist who just liked a good spearing. What motivated Phinehas was his intense hatred for what Zimri’s actions said about the Lord his God, and he discerned that it was time for something extreme.

As stated in the previous lesson, though, extreme physical violence inflicted upon sinners is not commanded for New Testament Christians. A principle to be taken from Phinehas’s attitude, however, is that there is a time for something as extreme as telling the truth in actions, not just words. Too many Christians today are sleeping with the enemy – if not physically, then intellectually, practically, and even spiritually. This is seen most blatantly in the ecumenism invading Christian churches, homes, and families. An adulterated, watered-down version of the Gospel deserves pointed and harsh truth. A hybrid bastardized version of the Gospel – part Christianity and part pragmatism, right in the midst of the camp, right in the middle of a ministry that calls itself by the name of the Lord Jesus – deserves pointed and harsh truth.

When Phinehas took up his spear, it looked like it was over – like it was too late. Have we lost the battle for the truth in our culture? Is right now wrong, and wrong now right? Is there now just no such things as “right” or “truth?” This is going to sound bad, but, in a way, I hope so. I hope the battle that we’ve been trying to win in our strength is over – that we’ve lost – that it’s too late. God often comes to the rescue when all seems lost. It was too late when Phinehas stood up and executed judgment. It was too late for the Israelites, and it may be too late for us, but when it’s “too late” by our estimate, that is often when God shows up – when He sends someone with the courage and the conviction, with the disregard for popularity, to take a stand and to symbolize atonement.

Phinehas stopped the plague because God really stopped the plague. Jesus didn’t make atonement by impaling us sinners on the point of God’s wrath, although that’s what we clearly deserved. He stopped God’s wrath by offering Himself as the atoning sacrifice. Will you and I weep rightly? Will we stop creeping around with the enemy? Will we stop sleeping with the enemy? Will we get out of bed with the enemy and get on board with God? May He help us.

Christ’s Childhood Preparation

December 19, 2014 at 10:55 am | Posted in Matthew | 3 Comments
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In the book of Matthew, as we study the beginning of Christ’s life on Earth, we learn that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, was taken to Egypt for His protection, and actually grew up in Nazareth.  He was sometimes called “Jesus of Nazareth.”

Nazareth was a disreputable place, and must have seemed hardly a fit background for the King of Kings.  However, it may be that Jesus’s childhood home was one of the things that prepared Him for a life of humility.

God’s desire for Christians is that they actually be conformed to the image of His Son.  Are we keeping this in mind in our prayers for our children today?  If we are praying in God’s will that they be conformed to the image of Christ, then we may be seeing those prayers answered when our children experience rejection, pain, or humiliation from their peers.  Parents may grieve over this, but, really, it should bring us joy.

After all, will a child who has never experienced the “embarrassment” of dressing modestly in carnal world, or who has never expressed disapproval over the foul language of his classmates, ever have the nerve to stand up in public and proclaim Christ, or the courage to knock on a stranger’s door and share the Gospel?

Catechism Question 14

December 1, 2014 at 3:33 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism | 3 Comments
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Question 14: What has God done for you so you can have eternal life?
Answer: He sent his Son.
Prove it.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

God came into this world in the Person of His Son, Who became a man while remaining fully God. He started out His earthly life by being born of a virgin, and then growing into manhood, all the while living a perfectly righteous and holy life, never sinning.

He purchased eternal life for all who would believe on Him by taking our sins upon Himself on the Cross, paying for them fully as He died, then rising from the dead.

Other verses to consider:

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,

Galatians 4:4

Clear Calls for Christians: Point Upward

September 3, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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As Christians:

I. We are called to Pure Upgrade.
II. We are called to Proper Unity.
and
III. We are called to Point Upward.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

I Corinthians 1:26

We are called to recognize our weakness, our foolishness, and our lack of nobility, and to still believe and act as though this message from our King and Redeemer will confound the mighty.

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

I Corinthians 1:27

We are called to believe and act as though the message will conquer the world. We are called to admit that we do not deserve to be loved and helped by this King. God calls the weak and the foolish, not because He has a weak spot for the helpless, not because it’s His fault that we are like that, not because He has to take what He can get. No, the primary reason He uses the weak and the foolish is to show off His glory.

That no flesh should glory in his presence.

I Corinthians 1:29

Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 9:23-24

We are called to preach and live the Gospel, and – when it works – to point straight upward.

Our Part with God

June 10, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Posted in Galatians | 2 Comments
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Galatians Chapter 3 contains some of the strongest writing in the whole Bible. It has the logic and language of a brilliant lawyer who is arguing for his own life. It combines the truth about what happened to Jesus and the readers’ own experiences with Old Testament Scripture, and then combines the two together in a masterful closing argument.

Experience

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

Galatians 3:1

The Greek word translated as “foolish” is the word for a barbaric fool, and it would be similar in our day to calling someone an illiterate blockhead. When Paul says “who has bewitched you?” he is asking them, “Who waved a shiny little trinket before your eyes, and led you over a cliff? Who led you into this ridiculous state by tricking you? The fact of Jesus’s crucifixion was placarded (“evidently set forth”) before your very eyes! Why do you think He had to die like that if there’s still something you can do to save yourself?”

This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Galatians 3:2

As we read this today, we need to ask ourselves the same question. In your own experience, how did you receive the Holy Spirit? Did you receive Him by being sprinkled with water? By paying money? By joining an organization? By keeping rules? By jerking or twitching or rolling on the floor or barking like a dog? No! It was by the hearing of faith! You heard the truth, and you believed the truth, and you received the Holy Spirit! What makes you think you are going to become more spiritual, or more “complete” by working? Or by keeping rules? Or by following the traditions of men? Foolish! The Apostle tells them that they’ve been suffering for nothing, if that’s what they were suffering for!

Scripture

Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

Galatians 3:6-7

The Gospel came from God; it came through the Jews; but it was intended for all men, or else God was lying.

Recap: The Galatians’ experience was that they were saved, and received the Spirit, through faith. The Scriptures – God Himself – said it was through faith. Therefore:

But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

Galatians 3:22

No one is righteous by birth, by nature, or by deed, but anyone can believe.

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

Romans 3:24

The purpose of the Old Testament Law was to teach people that they were lost. The purpose of the whole Bible is to point people to Jesus Christ. Not so we can start working for Him. Rather, so He can start working in us.

For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:26

Apart from Christ, we have no part with God. We are utterly alienated – not related by birth or adoption. But in Christ, we have a part with God – and not a distant, academic part – we are His children! We are servants, yes, but more than just servants. We are friends, yes, but more than just friends. Children. Beloved. Sons and Daughters of the Most High God.

Children serve their parents, and that is right, but when children disobey, they are still children by birth of those same parents.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

Your nationality, social status, gender, or skin color do not matter a whit to God in the sense of your justification. If you are truly a Christian, you stand before God on the same level as Queen Esther, Billy Graham, and the Apostle Paul. God is a loving Father, and He has more than enough love for every one of His children.

Overcoming Shame

November 28, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Posted in Mark, Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Romans 1:16 (emphasis added)

The Apostle Paul made a point of stating that he was not ashamed of the Gospel. Why would the Holy Spirit have him say this? Why would you go out of your way to tell someone that you are not ashamed? No one says, I am not ashamed to dunk a basketball, to score a touchdown, or to hit a home run. No one would be ashamed to say that he is the most popular person in his group of friends. He might be humble about it, but he wouldn’t be ashamed. But for some reason there is a tendency to be ashamed when it comes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit and the Apostle Paul realized this, and they wanted us to know that it is a tendency which must be overcome.

Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

Mark 8:38

Here are three things which might make you ashamed of the Gospel:

1. You don’t know it.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

II Timothy 2:15.

There’s a word for people who talk about things they don’t know anything about: agnostic. Agnostic is from the ancient Greek language, and it means without (a) knowledge (gnostic). When it comes to the existence of God, many people proudly proclaim themselves “agnostic,” when they would be better off using the Latin form, “ignoramus.” If you claim to be a Christian, don’t be a Gospel ignoramus. Learn it. Study it. Think about it. Live it. Then you won’t be ashamed to talk about it.

2. You don’t love it.

Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

II Timothy 2:8-10.

If I showed up at a social function with really bad breath, and someone was kind enough to give me a mint, I would try to thank them for it. I might even mention it to my wife or a friend afterwards, but I’m afraid it would raise my esteem for the person only slightly. However, if the doctor told me my heart was about to stop working, and without a new one I would die, and then someone gave me his heart so I could live, I don’t think I could stop extolling the praises of that person. Why not? Because such an act of self-sacrificial giving would make me love him.

You can see the practicality of this principle at work all the time. Nobody has to twist your arm to talk about your children or your grandchildren, or that game-winning home run you hit way back in high school, or that blockbuster movie you saw last weekend. We talk about who or what we love. It just comes naturally. We need to love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the ways to love it more is to remember the price of your forgiveness and how bad you and I needed that forgiveness. It’s the greatest story ever told, and, through it, you can have a new heart and everlasting life.

3. You don’t believe it.

This is the one that frightens me the most. I’m not saying that everyone who doesn’t evangelize the way we should is not really saved. But I am saying that if you have truly believed the Gospel unto salvation, then you have to realize that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the best thing that has ever happened. And it is true. Jesus Himself said, “…repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) If you believe it, you must tell others who need to hear it – even if it makes you (and them) uncomfortable.

The Men Who Worked on Skyscrapers

October 17, 2012 at 9:42 am | Posted in Salvation | 6 Comments
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And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh. Therefore the children of Israel eat not of the sinew which shrank, which is upon the hollow of the thigh, unto this day: because he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh in the sinew that shrank.

Genesis 32:24-32

There are regulations in place these days for the safety of men who work on skyscrapers. They are required to be harnessed. They wear straps and belts and they follow rules designed to make sure that they are not in real danger of falling. But it was not always so.

lunch-atop-a-skyscraper

Years and years ago, the men who built the skyscrapers that make up the skyline of big cities like New York and Chicago and Houston had a special knack for working at dizzying and terrifying heights. They became so accustomed to walking on beams and girders with nothing to hold onto for balance, that they hardly noticed anymore the perilous conditions under which they existed every day.

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They strode back and forth, over and around, in and out of the maze of the steel frameworks that extended 50, 60, 100 stories into the sky. They no longer noticed the gusts of wind, the creaking of the infrastructure, the shadows and glaring sunlight. You may have seen this picture of the construction workers balanced on each end of a suspended beam, eating their lunch in midair, as if they were on a bench at the park and not precariously balanced thousands of feet from a gruesome mortality.

https://i1.wp.com/cache2.artprintimages.com/p/MED/51/5105/WRFEG00Z/art-print/workers-sitting-on-steel-beam.jpg

They became sure-footed without thinking about it and forgot about the danger. Until one day. Once in a while, one of these workers would be strolling at a rapid clip, a riveting gun in one hand, his lunch pail in the other hand, and his work boot would slide on a loose bolt, maybe a piece of paper from the foreman’s plans, maybe a tiny puddle of water, and suddenly – his arms began to pinwheel – he teetered out into the abyss – and like a bolt of lightning he suddenly realized where he was and what was happening. This fall would not result in a skinned knee or even a bloody nose crunching into the ground. No, this fall would result in 60 seconds of gut-wrenching screaming, followed by certain death. His co-workers wouldn’t even be able to identify anything except the greasy spot and a pock-mark in the earth. Desperately, he reaches out – for something – for anything – and he seizes hold of a nearby girder. He holds this girder in a death-grip. His whole world has taken a seismic shift, and his reality has narrowed to one thing and one thing only: DO NOT LET GO OF THIS BEAM.

Completely gone is the sure-footed, fearless skywalker. No more careless disregard for the height. His friends come to his rescue, but they are utterly unable to pry his fingers from the beam. He is stark white, fixated on the distance to the earth below, and his hands have cleaved unto the life-saving girder. Eventually, his fingers must be pried loose with a crow-bar, breaking several of them. He will never scale a skyscraper again. He will never be the same.

When I was younger I was like those construction workers who worked on skyscrapers. But my paths were not beams of steel 80 stories above the ground. My paths were the paths of sin. I grew up in a part of the country where men solved their problems at the bottom of a bottle or at the end of a fist. And I was well on my way to being just like them. I was extremely well-acquainted and sure-footed with sin. I lied just because I liked to lie. I had thoughts about girls – and would have made those thoughts a reality if I could – that were so wicked and perverse that if I told anyone the least offensive of those thoughts, no one would ever be my friend or speak to me again. I would hurt anyone that I could – including my parents, grandparents, teachers, and friends – if I could get an advantage by doing so. I loved me more than anyone else and I gave all my worship to me. I would have told you I believed in God, but I had made up a god with my own mind who could help me out on report card day and keep me from getting in too much trouble, but who really didn’t mind my sin all that much, and who thought I was a pretty swell fellow. In my imagination he was keeping track of my good deeds versus my bad deeds to see if I could go to heaven one day, but I was pretty sure that he would slip his finger on the scale on the day of judgment to get me in, because, after all, heaven just wouldn’t be heaven without me there.

I don’t want to give you the impression that I was noble in my sin, either. I was not like Robin Hood, robbing from the rich to give to the poor, or like James Dean, struggling against a society that just didn’t “get me.” Most of my sins – I thought – were secret, so I can’t brag about how “tough” or even “rebellious” I was when it came to authority figures. But one day, I heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and my foot slipped on the blood which had poured down Calvary onto the beam of my sin. And, clutching desperately, I grabbed for Jesus, and I have never let go. It is His strength that strengthens my hands and fingers. Now I do not walk with a physical limp like Jacob, but I am no longer completely “in-step” with the ways of this world. When I am yielded to the Spirit there is something different about my “walk” that should be noticeable to others. Jesus allowed me to grab hold of Him, wrestle with Him, and get the “blessing.” But my world has never tilted back. We must see what we need to be saved from. We must see the One Who can save us. We must reach out without pride – with our sense of self-sufficiency completely broken. And we must never forget what we were leaning and wheeling toward when He caught us and saved us.

If you’ve never had a moment like that, then how are you going to love Him? How are you going to see Him for Who He really is? How are you going to see yourself for who you really are? And how are you going to serve Him when nobody else is? Jacob dared to wrestle with the Lord because He was scared, and the Lord let him prevail and blessed him. Your sin ought to cause you to wrestle with God, not flee from Him.

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