Friday, December 24, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Monday, August 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Thursday, May 27, 2010
I have often heard in religious settings people warning me to beware of becoming a “church hopper”. Church hopping is always spoken of in a negative way and something that is looked down upon and something we should avoid. The thing is, as I see it, it is impossible to be a “CHURCH HOPPER.” The term “Church Hopping” is an oxymoron. It cannot be done.
Now I know what these people mean who talk about “church hopping.” They are talking about individuals who attend an assembly of believers for a while, something upsets them or they get their feeling hurt, so they leave that fellowship and move to a different assembly of believers. Once they are there for a short amount of time they are once again offended and so they move on from there looking for somewhere else to attend. This jumping from congregation to congregation is referred to as “church hopping.”
As one studies the Biblical references concerning the Church (the Ekklesia) you will soon see that the Church is not a place. The Church is not a building that can be “hopped” from! The church is not somewhere you go, but rather something you “are.” The Church is the body of Christ; it is the assembly of believers throughout the world. Anywhere members of the body of Christ are, that is where the Church is. As we use to sing in Sunday school years ago, “I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together.” So you see, one cannot “hop” from church to church, because there is only ONE church. You are either a member of this Church or you are not, there is no middle ground. In Matt. 16:18, Jesus says to Peter, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Jesus was not telling Peter that he was going to construct a building on top of him. Rather, Jesus was saying that He would build an army of disciples out of those who get the revelation of who Jesus is, and what His Kingdom is. My guess is that many of the so called “church hoppers,” are not members of this true church at all. That is why they are so discontent. They are trying to fit into a body of which they are not a member, but are actually aliens to. It is like trying to graft a piece of a Buick into a human body, the two are just not compatible. We first must be regenerated by the blood of Jesus and become a new creation in Him before we will truly fit into this body (the Church).
The fact, then, that there is only one church and one body should change the way we view those who attend other fellowships than ours, or leave our fellowship to attend another. Even though those who meet down the street in a different building may believe a little differently from me, or have a different style of worship than I do; as long as they have been washed in the blood of Jesus, they are part of the same body (the same church) as me. Different fellowships of believers have different purposes and meet different needs upon the earth. A hand has a different purpose than a kidney but one is not more important than the other. They must work together in order for the body to function properly. Religion fears people leaving their assembly and going to another when that may very well be what that individual needs to do in order to fulfill his Kingdom purpose. Look at it this way-- suppose I am a surgeon and I join a group of volunteers with “Habitat for Humanity” that is building houses for the poor. I may be able to drive a nail or put up drywall and I am doing some good, but my specialty is going to waste because I am in the wrong place. My place would be to volunteer on “Mercy Ship” or some other medical charity organization in order to use my skills and fulfill my purpose to its full potential. People need to be set free and even guided to find their place and purpose, rather than being prevented and discouraged from discovering where they best belong. Whatever best fulfills Kingdom purpose is what should be our highest priority. It is not about what’s best for me or what is best for my fellowship of believers, it is about what will best advance the Kingdom and glorify the King. I don’t believe in “fellowship hopping” just because we don’t like something or because someone has offended us. However don’t let “religious guilt trips” stop you from finding your true place in the Kingdom.
The King and His Kingdom are on the move, and I certainly don’t want to be left behind because I am out of place. As a friend of mine always says, “Don’t just GO to church, BE the Church!”
“For as the body is one and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jew or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free: and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member but many. If the foot shall say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now God hath set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him.” “But now we are many members yet but one body.” “And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now we are the body of Christ and members in particular.” I Cor. 12:12-18, 20, 26-27
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Does it ever seem odd to you that Christians are often so weak and powerless when we have the omnipotent, all powerful Creator dwelling inside of us? Shouldn’t the sons and daughters of the King of the universe be walking in and demonstrating Kingdom rule and authority? This blog addresses one major reason I believe Christians are living much lower that we are called.
Listen to what is says in Revelation chapter 12 where it tells of a war that is going on in heaven. Michael and his angels are fighting Satan and his angels over rulership of heavens. When Satan is defeated, he is cast out of heaven, and then the following is announced. “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.” (Rev.12:10) Did you get the magnitude of what that said? I have read this verse many times before but I never noticed it until recently when the accuser was cast down in my own life. It say now “salvation” has come, now “power” has come, and now Kingdom rule and “authority” has come. When did the power and authority come? Immediately after the “accuser” was cast down.
I believe that the fore mentioned scripture was an actual event which took place in history, but this scripture teaches us a deep truth related to our spiritual journey. If we expect to walk in Kingdom power, and authority, the “accuser” must be cast down and hurled out of our life and mind before Kingdom power and authority can come and operate freely in our lives. We cannot live with the constant guilt and condemnation of sin and the law hanging over us day after day and yet walk in the fullness of Christ’s freedom, having full access to His power and authority. The weight of Satan’s accusations and the resulting shame will keep us in bondage. It is not Jesus who accuses and condemns, but Satan (using the law) who constantly accuses and condemns us of our sin. Jesus said in John 3:17-18a, “God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already.” Furthermore the scripture teaches believers to, “Consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Jesus Christ.” (Rom.6:11)
Once we have been born again through faith in what Jesus’ blood has accomplished on our behalf, we are “made” righteous by God. “Now being made free from sin..” (Rom. 6:20) Salvation is a gift we receive through grace, not something we do or earn. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9) If we are without this proper understanding of grace and what Jesus has purchased for us on the cross, but instead are looking to our own actions to be holy and good enough to obtain Gods approval: we will feel as though we are clinging by our fingernails onto the edge of a cliff which overhangs hell, living in constant fear that we might slip up and plunge into the fiery pit. Even though I was a born again Christian, I lived this way for many years, trying to be good enough and live holy enough to meet God’s holy standards. Unfortunately religion wasn’t helping to set me free but instead was reinforcing my bondage. Each week the law was placed before me and I was reminded of all my sins and failures. Each week I would come away depressed but determined to grasp the edge of the abyss a bit more tightly less I fall to my demise. Guilt and condemnation were my constant companions and the peace and freedom the Bible spoke of were ever elusive. Walking in Kingdom power and authority was impossible, for just staying saved from week to week took my full attention. To have Kingdom power and authority one must abide in Jesus and walk and commune closely with Him. But no one likes to hang out with someone who makes them feel guilty or is constantly pointing out their failures. We will avoid them instead. So believing that God is constantly accusing us of sin and expecting us to perform the perfection that the law requires, makes it nearly impossible to truly love Him or commune with Him.
But the good news of the gospel is this. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1) Once we are “In Christ” condemnation ceases. Though, “the wages of sin is death,” Jesus has paid that death penalty on our behalf. He has fulfilled all the law’s requirements by living the perfect, sinless life. Jesus has finished all that needs to be accomplished to secure our redemptive pardon and has now sat down at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us. Through the blood of Jesus, grace has set us free. Now when Satan comes around accusing me of sin, I turn to the cross where I fall to my knees in gratitude, boldly and joyfully declaring that all my sin and failure has been placed upon, and born in the body of Jesus. So Satan, take a hike, I cast you down! Salvation and redemption is a free gift of grace that flows down upon us from the pierced hands and feet of Jesus. So go be free, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts.” (Col. 3:15)
I know there are some who will say, “Doesn’t giving that much grace give people a license to sin?” My answer is simply this, anyone who would continue to purposely live a sinful lifestyle after receiving the gift of grace, certainly does not understand grace and therefore probably has not truly received the gift of grace in the first place. Grace will set you free, and no one who has ever been in bondage and is truly set free, ever desires to return back into their chains. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal.5:1 NIV)
Sunday, April 18, 2010
As I watch what’s going on in the world these days, it seems as though Christians and Christian values are being trampled by the culture in which we now find ourselves living. Jesus, speaking to his followers in Matthew 5:13 says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and be trampled by men.”
I fear the reason Christian values are being trampled may simply be that “we,” the church at large, have lost our saltiness! Saltless salt is no longer a cleaning agent. Saltless salt, no longer preserves from decay. Saltless salt, adds no flavor to the blandness of life. Saltless salt, is certainly of no value to anyone.
Jesus, have mercy upon us, and make us salty once again! It is only through your grace that we can ever hope to be salty again, therefore we humble ourselves before You! Lord, for Your glory make us salty once again, that through us You may reverse the decay and bring the flavor of purpose and joy back to our world.
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do men light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven.” Matt 5:14-16
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Ever since the dawn of creation man has been trying to do things to get God's approval, acquire His favor, or demonstrate to Him their love or dedication. Men give up things they love and give away their possessions, they perform all kinds of strange and bizarre rituals, they deny themselves pleasures, and treats their bodies harshly. Some have gone so far as to commit suicide, all in an attempt to get God's attention, forgiveness, or invoke His favor.
The first recorded incident of man bringing an offering to God is found in Genesis 4:1-4 where it reads, “Adam knew Eve as his wife, and she became pregnant and bore Cain;… next she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground. And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions.” We do not know Cain’s or Abel’s motivation for bringing the Lord this offering and the text doesn’t indicate it to us. However what transpires next has been a source of contention between men and God every since. “And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering. But for Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard.”
Cain was a farmer, and Abel was a rancher, so it would appear on the surface that both of them brought to God an offering out of what they loved and what they did. Abel’s offering was accepted by God, but Cain’s was not. This story used to bother me greatly, for Cain was bringing to God a sacrifice of the best that he had. He was a farmer so he offered to God what he deemed most valuable. He probably offered the best of his grain. He did not raise livestock so it seems reasonable that he would not bring to God an offering of something he did not have. He offered to God that which he had. But God did not accept his sacrifice. Cain became so upset and enraged because his sacrifice was rejected while Abel’s was accepted, that his jealousy soon led him to murder Abel.
We learn from this incident that some offerings and sacrifices God accepts, and some he does not. So what is it that God wants? What can we do for Him or bring to Him to get His attention, demonstrate our love, or receive His favor? What is an acceptable sacrifice in God’s eyes, and what is not?
We often hear things like, “What God wants is just our love!” While it is true that God does desire that we love Him, --- our love is not an acceptable sacrifice. Some may say, “What God wants is our heart and our devotion!” While this is also true, --- giving God our heart and our devotion is not a sacrifice God can accept either. Others say that, “What God really wants from us, is for us to repent and turn from our sin!” While it is true that in order to come into relationship with God we must first recognize our sinful state and make a decision to turn away from our sin and self and turn instead to Jesus,--- repentance is not an acceptable sacrifice, and just like Cain’s offering, it too will be not be accepted. We cannot receive God's acceptance by giving money, fasting, doing works of charity, performing religious duties or rituals, or even bawling our eyes out with sorrow. So with all that said, why then was Abel and his sacrifice accepted, while Cain and his sacrifice was not?
Cain brought to God an offering out of his own labor. An offering from what “he” loved, from what “he” found most valuable, rather than an offering that “God” loved and one that “God” found most valuable. Cain’s offering was a product from out of the ground that God had cursed. (Gen. 3:17) Man in himself never has anything to bring to God that is not the fruit of his own labor or self effort. Self effort can never and will never be an acceptable sacrifice.
Abel on the other hand brought to God a sacrifice that was a foreshadow of what “God” loved most, a foreshadow of what “God” deems as most valuable. A foreshadow of His own beloved first born Son whose blood would be poured out as a payment for your sin. Whose body would be crushed and bruised to bring you healing. Abel brought the only sacrifice that demonstrated the act of grace where by the life of the innocent was given as a substitution for the life of the guilty. Here is the bottom line, the only sacrifice that God can or will accept is the life blood of His Son Jesus Christ. Through the sacrifice of the death of Jesus Christ, we can receive forgiveness of all sin and enter into and sustain a relationship filled with the favor of God.
Therefore let us stop bringing sacrifices to God of what “we” love, of what “we” think is valuable, and of what “we” want to give, but rather bring to Him the ONE and only sacrifice that “God” loves and deems worthy and of utmost value. Let us stop bringing to God sacrifices from the works of our self effort and goodness, expecting them to somehow please Him; but rather let us offer to God the blood of His own Son, the spotless sacrificial lamb that He gave for us. Let us stop trying to “earn” God's favor and instead realize that all of God's favor already rests upon His Son Jesus Christ, and that Jesus has already done all that is needed, and has already “earned” God’s favor on our behalf. We need only to be “IN” Him (Romans 8:1) and trust fully in His blood and grace to have all Christ’s favor now rest upon us as well. So offer to God “Jesus” as your only sacrifice, offer “Jesus” as your only righteousness, offer “Jesus” as your only need.
Father God, I bring to you this day as my offering and sacrifice; the broken body and the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Knowing there is nothing else that I could bring that would be an acceptable sacrifice. I make no attempt to bring you anything of my flesh, my goodness, or the works of my hands; but as I humbly bow before you, I offer up only the blood and body of Jesus. In so doing, I express to you my love and devotion; and by grace, through it receive forgiveness of sin, and obtain your favor. I thank you and praise you for your mercy and your grace. Amen!
“For it is by free grace (Gods unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through your faith. And this salvation is not of yourselves (of your own doing, it came not through your own striving), but it is the gift of God.” Eph.2:8 Amp.
“For by a single offering He has forever completely cleaned and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy.” Heb.10:14 Amp.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
This weeks’ blog is just a short follow up to my last blog, Finding the “One.” Although it has been a long time since I dated (having been married now for 31 years) I have a small nugget of dating advice to share with those of you who are single. The best dating advice that I have ever heard was spoken, I believe by Tommy Nelson, who as I recall said something to the affect of the following, “Instead of running around dating or running to find a mate, start to run after Jesus with all your heart. One day as you are running along in your pursuit of “Him” you will look over and see someone else who is also running after Jesus with all their heart. Then you can just move over close to them and run together.” Wow, what an amazing picture. Running together in your pursuit of “The One” and in the process discovering that special someone you can share that journey with.
We often hear that to have a great marriage a couple needs to be similar and have shared interests. My wife and I are nothing alike in the way we think, nothing alike in the way we deal with life situations, and we have few shared interests. However we are “Soul Mates” in a very literal definition of the term. At a heart level we have spiritually always understood each other. God has always taken us on our spiritual journey together. We share a spiritual intimacy that is indescribable. We “together” are one with “The One.”
So run after Jesus with all your being and in faith wait upon Him to bring into your jogging path that soul mate you long to share your heart and journey with. He will not disappoint.
“..let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us. Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and Source of our faith..” Heb. 1b-2a Amp
Saturday, February 13, 2010
It Is that time of year as Valentine's Day approaches that we are inundated with images of love and finding that perfect some”ONE” who will make our heart dance and fulfill our hearts deepest desire. There are love songs and romantic movies galore giving rise to expectations that “if” we could just find the “ONE” all would be well in the world. We could face any obstacle or hardship that life throws at us. We could climb any mountain or swim any ocean if we just had the “ONE” by our side, giving us the assurance of there constant love, support, and strength. Oh how our souls leap at the prospect of this kind of love. Regardless of how sappy or unrealistic our minds might find the idea of there being that “ONE” who will give us the unconditional love we crave, fill all our emptiness, and heal all our brokenness, our hearts refuse to relent and instead continues to cling with hope beyond all hope to its reality. It feels so real, it feels so right, and surely it must be true! There must be “ONE” out there somewhere made just for me!
Unfortunately, when two people come together, both expecting the others love to fulfill all their needs, and make them happy and whole, they are on a collision course with disaster. The close and personal dynamics of marriage and intimate relationships does much more to expose and highlight our brokenness than it does to heal it. The love and support of a mate is a wonderful thing, but it can never make us whole or heal our emptiness. Marriage was never designed to do that, and thus that expectation puts undue and unrealistic pressure upon our mate and the relationship, thus causes many to fail.
It is right however that our souls cry out with such longing passion, for the “ONE” who will give us this unconditional love our hearts so desire. For such a love is indeed a truth that can be obtained, however not in the ”Barry White”, or “Sleepless in Seattle” sort of way. The “ONE” that our hearts are longing for, the “ONE” that we are dreaming of, is not your typical lover. He is not the Greek god type with the great tan and the rock hard abs, or the goddess with the blue eyes and the long flowing hair. No, our “Lover“, the “ONE” our heart desires is none other than the great “I Am” himself, the creator Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only “ONE” who truly understands us and gives us unconditional love. He is the only “ONE” who can see inside our heart and heal all our brokenness. He is the only “ONE” who can fill up all our empty places and makes us whole. He is the only “ONE” who can give our life true meaning and everlasting purpose.
Jesus is the “ONE” you have been looking for all your life. Without Him you will never truly know or experience what true love is. No flesh relationship will ever meet your need or be what it was meant to be without Him. Regardless of the stuffy religious images many of us have of God regarding intimacy, He is not really like that at all. Who do you think invented romance and sex in the first place? Jesus is a very passionate lover who not only longs to be with us, but longs to give Himself “to” us as well. Listen to what He says to us in the Song of Songs chapter 4. “How beautiful you are, my darling. How beautiful you are! Your eyes are like doves behind your veil…Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely…You are altogether beautiful, my darling, and there is no blemish in you. Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, may you come with me…You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride. You have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes, with a single strand of your necklace. How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than all kinds of spices! Your lips, my bride, drip honey; Honey and milk are under your tongue, and the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon. You are a garden spring, a well of fresh water, and streams flowing from Lebanon.”
Meditate on that awhile. The creator of all the universe thinks you are “altogether beautiful” and sees “no blemish in you.” His “heart beats faster” at the mere sight of you. Or as the amplified Bible says it “you have ravished my heart.” Think on that, “you have ravished Gods heart.” Selah. Oh how he loves you, and desires to “share” deep intimacy with you. He wants to know you and be known by you. So won’t you let Jesus be your lover this Valentine's Day. Make Him your “one” and only, for He is the “ONE.”
Thursday, January 21, 2010
In the book of John chapter 11, the Bible recounts the time when Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus was sick. The sisters sent word to Jesus of their brother’s illness, obviously expecting that Jesus would cancel all His plans and come to them right away. The scriptures tell us, “when he (Jesus) heard that he (Lazarus) was sick, he then stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” Why did Jesus wait two days? Didn’t he know the gravity of the situation? Didn’t he care? This is certainly not the case, for verse 5 clearly states, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”
After waiting two days Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” To which the disciples objected saying, “the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus gives a seemingly very strange and unrelated answer to there question, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” I suspect the disciples must have thought to themselves, “there are people trying to kill you Jesus, and your response to this threat is that if you walks in the day you will not stumble because you have light. But if you walk in the night you will stumble because you don’t have light! Jesus, what on earth are you talking about?” At fist glance Jesus answer seems strange indeed. But after deeper review I see that Jesus response is a lesson to us on how to live our lives in these uncertain and perilous days.
Before I proceed, [if you dare] try a little experiment with me. Closes your eyes tightly, get up from your chair, and walk through your house, (no peeking) now go outside, down your driveway and get into your car. You will find that this simple and familiar task can be a very treacherous journey when taken in the dark. You risk running your head into the door. You might trip over your spouse’s shoes or the kid’s toys. You may misstep and fall off the stairs, slip on the ice in the driveway, or trip over the cat. Now open your eyes and try it again. You easily avoid the door. You go around the shoes and step over the toys. You quickly descend the stairs while sidestepping the ice and the cat. All dangers easily avoided or overcome. When we walk in the light we can see where we are going and can easily avoid or overcome the obstacles in our way. However, when we walk in the darkness we are in danger of running into or stumbling over even the simplest of obstacles.
I believe that this principle is what Jesus was teaching his disciples. Because Jesus was walking in the light, being led by the Spirit, he didn’t need to fear the Jewish leaders attempts to kill him or that he would arrive too late to meet Lazarus’s need. For as long as he followed the Spirit's light and leading, his timing would always be perfect, thus bringing the most glory to God concerning his friend Lazarus, while at the same time avoiding the Jew's traps to kill him. If Jesus was to rush to Lazarus based on his emotions alone, without regard to the Spirit's leading, he would be walking into the dark, not knowing what lay ahead, and not having the Spirit going ahead of him preparing the way. Jesus taught that If we are walking after the flesh timing doesn't matter, but if we are walking in the Spirit timing is everything. "Jeus told them, The right time for me has not come; for you any time is right." John 7:6
As followers of Christ, we “can’t” see what dangers and traps lay ahead of us. But If we, like Jesus, will pray and wait upon God, so that we too are led by the Spirit, we can confidently know that the Spirit will go ahead of us, into the unknown, and clear the path for us. He will pick up the shoes and the toys that are strewn in our way so we won‘t be tripped up. He will guide us past the closed doors and through the open ones. He will lead us by the hand down the stairs, over the ice, and do so at a time when the cat is sleeping in the chair.
As we learn to be led by the Spirit, we will become “Indiana Jones Christians.” What I mean by that is this; thou there are traps, snares, and dangers all around us, we can confidently proceed forward knowing the Spirit is ahead preparing the way, and lighting each new step we take. Like Indiana Jones, we will pass through the pit filled with vipers and yet live to see another day. We will dodge the rolling boulder coming to crush us, avoid all the poison arrows meant to immobilize us, and step by step safely find the path across the bottomless pit. Then one day when we reach our journeys end, we like Indiana, will see and touch for ourselves the most glorious treasure known to man. Jesus Christ himself!
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psm.34:19
“You shall not fear the terror of night not the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. If you make the Most High your dwelling even the Lord, who is my refuge--then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways…You will tread upon the lion and the cobra: you will trample the great lion and the serpent…With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psm 91:5-7, 9-11, 13, 16