Archive for the ‘in Christ’ category


October 15, 2014

tree-66465_1280We have seen it on the hospital dramas: “He’s going into cardiac arrest! Give me the paddles. Clear!” Zap. Beep…beep…beep. “He’s back.” We were all dead in sin: drug dealers, pimps, sex offenders, gossips, unforgiving or prideful. All equally dead. Just another cold corpse in the spiritual morgue that stretches for miles. But God… I call it the divine hinge on which everything turns. Here comes the power. We were flat lined spiritually and He put the paddles to our chest, “Clear!” and gave us a good zap. Beep…beep…beep.  God didn’t just bring us back to life…

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Mind Renewal

August 11, 2014

You may heard it quoted that we only retain 10% of what we read, 20% of what we see, 30% of what we hear. I don’t think I come anywhere close to that. I can’t remember what pastor said a month ago. So was it a waste of time? No, hearing his teaching is part of my mind renewal. What am I filling my mind with? 1Corinthians 10:5 commands me to “take every thought captive.” What does that really mean? What does that look like in everyday life? I compare it to sorting a deck of cards. Heart-Out. Diamond-Out. Spade-Keep. Diamond-Out. In my thoughts it’s: Bitterness-Out. Lust-Out. Kindness-Keep. Hope-Keep. Fear-Out.

If I want to take thoughts captive, I need to…

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Get Ahold of Hope

May 23, 2013

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There really is something worse than being poor, sick or in jail. It is living without hope. We need to get ahold of hope. The Israelite nation was delivered out of slavery in Egypt. They saw God perform great miracles, even parting the Red Sea. Yet, when they came up to the border of the Promised Land, they faltered. They had not grasped the vision of their possessing the land.

I am not going to spend my life talking about the Promised Land; I am going to go in and possess it. I have decided…

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Foundation Stones

March 16, 2013

Jesus is our hope. Hope says that my life doesn’t have to stay the same, tomorrow can be better than yesterday. Hope lifts us up and propels us forward to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives. Proverbs 4:18 says, “The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.”

The world sees a future without hope and hopelessness breeds helplessness. We feel stuck. We think, “Nothing is going to change. Whatever I do won’t matter. I’ve tried before to no avail.” God doesn’t speak about me that way. God says I am made in His image (Genesis 1:27); I have dominion (Genesis 1:28); I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). That’s what makes us as Christians different from the world.

Romans 12:2 says don’t be conformed to the world. The world’s view is I am a victim, helpless and hopeless. Recognize that losers think a certain way; champions think a certain way. What makes the difference? Primarily what I am letting in. Is my choice of radio station: KLUV vs. KFunk? What books am I reading: trash or growth focused? Is my TV time saturated with Oprah, Day of Our Lives and The Simpsons? Mark 4:24 (Amplified) warns: “Be careful what you are hearing. [The measure] [of thought and study] you give [to the truth you hear] will be the measure of virtue and knowledge] that comes back to you–and more [besides] will be given to you who hear.”

Change a thought, change your future. I might battle addiction to drugs, alcohol, pornography, fast food, or negativity. Only if I change a thought can I change direction. Repentance isn’t about feeling sorry. It isn’t about feelings at all. Repentance is above all a change in the way I think.

Why do I think the way I think? Is it because of the way I was brought up? Something Uncle Joe said? What I heard on Dr. Phil? Or is it based on the Word of God?

The devil is probably whispering, “It doesn’t matter. It won’t work.” How do we counter that? We need the right foundation. Construction of a skyscraper starts with digging a proper foundation. The higher the building, the deeper the foundation must be. In the construction of the Empire State Building, they first dug down 55 feet to bedrock. The Sears Tower in Chicago required a foundation 100 feet deep. Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world, has a foundation that goes down 164 feet! Matthew 7:24-27 tells us we must build on the rock of God’s truth.

Here are a few key foundation stones you might want to apply to your life:

1. Identity: Do I know and believe who I am in Christ? 2Cor 5:16-17 says I am a new creation, the old things have passed away and everything about my life, my future is brand new. I am valuable, loved and chosen. I am what the Bible says I am. Perhaps someone has told you, “You’re stupid.” or “You were just an accident.” We often blame ourselves for actions of others, whether that be divorce of our parents, physical abuse or sexual abuse. I can prevent God’s power from working in my life by my negative identity. Ever heard the saying, “God don’t make no junk.” It’s true! I am not defined by the flesh: black, white, brown, young, old, handsome or ugly (Don’t point at the person next to you). Think about a newborn baby. (Our 10th grandchild was just born and our first great-grandchild is due in a few weeks). All they can do is eat, sleep and poop but we call them precious. How much more valuable are you? Luke 12:7 (GNT) declares, “Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth much more than many sparrows!” Psalm 8:4-5 declares, “What is Gill, that You think of him? The son of man, that You care for him? For You have made Gill a little lower than God, and crowned Gill with glory and honor.” I am valuable to God.

2. Destiny: Phil 3:12-14 encourages us to press toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. I have a purpose from God. Am I just trying to pay the bills? To get a new truck? To just make it to the next paycheck? No, that is not my God-given purpose. What is that prize? It is to impact the lives of others, to call them into a relationship with the living God. Others are watching. How are you influencing others? Is it drawing them closer to God?

3. Strength through faith: Romans 6:10 challenges us to “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” My strength is not from Red Bull, Rock Star, protein shakes or steroids. My strength comes from my spirit being connected to God. In Mark 9:23, Jesus says, “All things are possible to him who believes.” The more I build my faith, the stronger I will be when I face life’s challenges. I can do anything I choose with my time. I can choose to watch hours of football on TV, sleep in on Sunday morning instead of attending church or fill my afternoons with soap operas. Joshua 24:15 is the verse quoted at our front door: “As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” I choose to build up my spirit by reading my Bible, prayer and going to church. The economy may go up and down, but Psalm 121:2 says, “My help comes from the Lord.” He is the source of my strength for living.

What motivates you, what is your passion? Is it prestige, possessions, peer pressure, power? In Matthew 9:36 we are told Jesus was motivated by God’s love, He was moved with compassion. 1Cor 13, the “love” chapter ends in verse13 with, “But now remain faith, hope, and love: these three. The greatest of these is love.” When this world fades away, what will be left? Our faith in God, our hope in His promises and the love we have shared with others. Love is not a feeling but a choice. What will you choose?

The Best Gift I Can Give Myself

February 14, 2013

A quote from an unknown source reads: “Forgive your enemies. It’ll drive them crazy.” We are going to focus on one of the most important subjects of our Christian walk: forgiveness.

I will not let the past determine my future. How I handle hurt determines how I will move forward. I may have had a friend who wronged me, a parent who abused me, or a mate who betrayed me. The key is forgiveness: nothing is more difficult, nothing is more essential.

What is God’s attitude toward us? Romans 8:1 says there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ. 1John 1:9 promises that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. God is all about reconciliation, restoration, forgiveness. Romans 4:8 says, “Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” Colossians 2:13-14 from The Message puts it this way: “When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross.” I remember the day we paid off the loan on our house and received the mortgage back stamped: Paid in full. On the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished.” The payment was complete.

If God has forgiven me how can I not forgive others? In the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:14-15), Jesus instructs us to pray, “Forgive us our debts AS we forgive our debtors.” God, forgive me to the extent I am willing to forgive others. Don’t like that? Maybe you want to tear that out of your Bible. You will have to tear out quite a bit. Jesus says the same thing in five places in the Gospels: Matthew 6:12, 14-15, Matthew 18:35, Mark 11:25, Luke 6:37 and Luke 11:4.

Let’s look at the signs of unforgiveness. To do that we will look at the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son. If you are not familiar with the full story, you can read it in Luke 15:25-30.

  • Unforgiveness keeps score. The older brother whines, “All these years I’ve served you.” Peter was doing that in Matthew 18:21, “How many times must I forgive? Seven time?” Jesus corrected him, “Seventy times seven times.”  1Cor 13:5 warns, “Love doesn’t keep count.” Our flesh wants to keep dragging things up from the past and the result is the list of offenses gets longer and longer, the bondage stronger and stronger.
  • Unforgiveness has a superior attitude. “I’ve never transgressed your command.” The older brother is saying, “I’m good and he’s bad.”
  • Unforgiveness is a complainer. “You never did anything for me.” In unforgiveness we see only negative, not positive.
  • Unforgiveness has a martyr complex. “I did all the work.” This is an exaggeration, of course, but the hurt and bitterness blinds us.
  • Unforgiveness brings division. The older brother doesn’t refer to “my brother” but rather “your son.” Unforgiveness      causes us to withdraw and see the world as “them” against “me”.

“But they never asked for forgiveness!” That doesn’t matter. I once had a boss who said glowing things about me to my face and then cut me down behind my back. The result was I lost my job. Several years later I was walking into the grocery store just as he was walking out. I said, “Hi” and continued into the store. Once inside the Lord stopped me and said, “You haven’t forgiven him, have you?” “Darn right I haven’t!” (pause) “Well?” (longer pause) Finally through clenched teeth I said, “I forgive him.” “Again.” “I forgive him.” It took a few times but eventually it took root in my spirit. A few years later I saw him again in a restaurant and I could go up to him and say, “It’s good to see you. I hope all is going well for you.” And I meant it. There was no sign of repentance on his part but now I was free.

When we choose unforgiveness, we choose bitterness. Our son and his fiancé were killed by a drunk driver. At that time we faced the opportunity to adopt a victim mentality. We went to Ephesians 4:31-32 where we are told we must forgive one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven us. Hebrews 12:15 warns us to see to it that no one misses the grace of God, that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble defiling many. We can miss God’s grace through unforgiveness. That root can go down deep. The longer I hold on, the deeper it goes. It affects every aspect of my life: relationships, job, and spiritual walk. Ultimately it will defile those around me.

OK, sure. We know we need to forgive. But there is a difference between knowing and doing. Here are six things to keep in mind in order to step into forgiveness:

  1. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. Ephesians 6:12tells us, “For Gill’s wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Don’t give Satan an open door through unforgiveness.
  2. Forgiveness is not forgetting. We will always remember the death of our son, but we can still choose to forgive. Healing cannot occur until forgiveness takes place. Until then Satan has the advantage.
  3. Forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. Without forgiveness I am still hooked to them, still chained to the past. Do I keep a doll up on a shelf to remind me of that person and take it down periodically to beat on it? Who is that hurting?  “You don’t understand how much so-and-so hurt me.” And they continue to hurt you until you let go. I don’t forgive for their sake but for mine. I will live with the consequences of their actions. It is my choice whether I will live in bitterness or freedom.
  4. Change the channel. When thoughts of unforgiveness and bitterness come in, don’t grab the popcorn and settle back in your recliner. With that approach, is there any wonder you are bitter and depressed? 2Corinthians 10:5 warns us to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”. Choose where your thoughts will focus.
  5. Forgiveness does not necessarily entail reconciliation. It is a good thing but not always possible. An abused wife can forgive but not reconcile to her husband. Reconciliation requires reestablishing trust through repentance, rehabilitation and restitution by the offending party. (That is an important process to remember when we are the offender: repentance,      rehabilitation and restitution.) Unforgiveness by the offended party only keeps them bound to that hurt. Unforgiveness is a prison. Let God be the debt collector so you can get on with your life.
  6. Don’t wait for them. Jesus didn’t wait for you. Romans 5:8 says that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. When we choose to forgive, Satan loses his power in that area. At the cross, Jesus defeated Satan’s power. Let’s not give it back through unforgiveness. Rom 12:21 commands,  “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Here is the challenge: Take the time to recall each of those who have hurt you. It might be father, mother, brother or sister. Perhaps a girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse. We may have to forgive God if we have felt He didn’t come through in a way that we wanted. Most certainly we need to forgive ourselves for poor choices that have brought unwanted consequences. Now, pray this prayer: “Lord, I forgive each of those who have hurt me. I choose not to hold any of these things against them any longer. I thank you for setting me free from the bondage of bitterness. I ask You to bless each of them with the fullness of your love in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Maybe you felt a burden lift as you said that prayer; maybe you felt a warmth flood over you; maybe you felt nothing. The feeling is not the important thing, the decision is. Corrie Ten Boom, a survivor of the Holocaust death camps, wrote, “Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free, and to realize the prisoner was me.” Don’t live in bondage to that hurt any longer. Do yourself a favor, step into freedom. The best gift you can give yourself is to forgive.

Welcome Aboard

January 29, 2013

We are going to start this study with a word game. I am thinking of a word and I’ll give you hints to guess it:

• This might be the most important word in the Bible: ‘Jesus’, ‘love’, ‘salvation’?
• It applies to every human being: ‘sin’, ‘redemption’, ‘mercy’?
• It determines our eternal destiny: ‘the Cross’, ‘forgiveness’, ‘grace’?
• Final clue, its only two letters: Did you guess it? ‘in’.

When I was born, I was in Adam; when I was born again, I became in Christ. In Adam, I shared in his past defeat, his present defeat and his future defeat. In Christ, I share in His past, present and future victory. Here is the entire Gospel in two words: “In Christ”. To me that is exciting, amazing and humbling. I was a Christian for over 10 years before I started to understand my identity. When I did, it changed my life.

Hebrews 2:15 says Jesus “came to destroy him who had the power of death.” At the cross, the devil was defeated and rendered powerless. Through sin, Adam surrendered authority on the earth to Satan, but Jesus paid the price to take back that authority.

Through the cross Jesus brought us into a new creation reality. 2Corinthians 5:17 is key: “Therefore if Gill is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new.” I am no longer tied to an old past, I have new life! Romans 8:29 in The Message says: “The Son stands first in the line of humanity He restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in Him.” My true identity is not what the devil says about me. My identity is “in Christ”.

As a new creation, I am qualified for an inheritance. Colossians 1:12-14 declares, “Gill may give thanks to the Father, who made Gill fit to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light; who delivered Gill out of the power of darkness, and translated him into the kingdom of the Son of His love; in whom Gill has his redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of his sins.” I have been removed out of the kingdom of darkness, out of the defeat, the fear, the oppression, the hopelessness. We were all there at one time, but we don’t have to live there now.

Salvation is more than a ticket to heaven. It is living in my inheritance as a son of God here and now. The devil doesn’t want us to understand our identity. When we do, his defeat is complete.

What aspect of your Identity do you struggle most to believe?

• I Am Forgiven: Romans 3:24, Romans 8:1, Ephesians 1:7-8
• I Am Valuable: 1Cor. 3:16, Ephesians 1:11, Ephesians 2:10
• I Am Loved: John 3:15-16, Romans 8:38-39, Hebrews 4:16
• I Am Victorious: Romans 8:37, Philippians 4:13, 1John 5:4-5
• I Am Complete: 2Cor. 5:17, 2Cor. 5:21, Colossians 2:10
• I Am Chosen: 2Cor. 5:19-20, Ephesians 1:4, 1Peter 2:9

Matthew 7:21-23 is one of the scariest verses in the Bible: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven; but Gill if he does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will tell Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name do many mighty works?’ Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who work iniquity.’”

The Lord recently woke me up at 3:00 AM to a vision I want to share with you. (This was NOT a pizza dream, although I suppose it might have been a brownie sundae dream.) I was in the boarding area of our local airport. I saw the details of the TSA station, the gate seating and the boarding podium. All was normal until I looked out the window and saw lined up on the tarmac fiery chariots. It was then that I knew this was the place for souls to be taken to their eternal reward. The man just in front of me in line stepped to the boarding podium and announced, “I am Jonathan P. Quigley, III. I have given millions to charity, I was a deacon in my church, I was chairman of the building committee. I was…” The boarding agent interrupted, “Excuse me Mr. Quigley. Please step over here to the side.” Once he did, the agent read from her book, “It is recorded here, ‘I never knew you.’” With that a trap door opened and he disappeared from view. I was next, gulp! I was just ready to hand my ID to the agent when I looked at it. To my horror, the picture on my ID was not mine. I stammered to the agent, “I.. I don’t know what happened. My picture is not on my ID.” She took it and looked at it with a frown that quickly turned into a smile. “That’s right. It’s not your picture. It is Jesus. You are in Christ. Welcome aboard!”

When the Father looks at me, He doesn’t see my failures, my sin, my past. He sees Jesus. Romans 5:1 promises: “Therefore being justified by faith, Gill has peace with God through his Lord Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 10:19-20 tells us, “Gill having therefore boldness to enter into the Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He dedicated for Gill, through the veil, that is, His flesh.” The Father opens His arms to everyone who is in Christ: “Welcome aboard.”

The Voice of Truth

January 5, 2013

“God is in control.” — Really? Too often we use that statement as a cop-out to keep from taking responsibility for our decisions. Our role is not passive.

Ephesians 6:10-17 says, “Finally, Gill is to be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Gill is to put on the whole armor of God that he may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For Gill’s wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, Gill should put on the whole armor of God, that he may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. Gill must stand therefore, having the belt of truth buckled around his waist, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having fitted his feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking up the shield of faith, with which Gill will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. And Gill must take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

“Be strong” “Put on” “Stand firm” “Take up” “Resist”: those are all words that show we are actively involved. These verses are not about a belt, they are about truth; they are not about a shield, they are about faith. When we put on the armor we are putting on Christ’s character. In so doing, we take ourselves out of the realm of the flesh where we are vulnerable to attack and place ourselves within the dominion of Christ where the evil one cannot touch us (1John 5:18).

Donning the armor of God is each believer’s individual responsibility. I can pray for you, encourage you and support you, but if you go into the battle without your armor on, you will get hurt. What makes up the armor?

  1. Belt of truth: If Satan can deceive me into believing a lie, he can control my life in that area. John 8:32 promises, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” We love to talk about “the truth will make you free” but let’s not miss that it is the truth that you know that will make you free. That takes being a disciple, studying the Word and making it an integral part of your life.
  2. Breastplate of righteousness: 1Corinthians 1:30 in The Message says, “Everything that we have – right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start – comes from God by way of Jesus Christ.” My life is not based on my righteousness, but on Christ’s. We need to recognize that our righteousness is as filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6). We must acknowledge our dependence on Christ. According to 2Corinthians 5:21, “For Him who knew no sin He made to be sin on Gill’s behalf; so that in Him Gill might become the righteousness of God.”
  3. Feet shod with the Gospel of peace: Colossians 3:15-16 tells us the peace of Christ must rule in our hearts. I must choose to walk in that peace daily and refuse to listen to guilt, shame or condemnation when it knocks on the door of my heart. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)
  4. Shield of faith: Satan’s fiery darts are lies, accusations and temptations bombarding our minds. Our shield is faith in the Word of God, His promises and His provision which counters those darts. I must have that shield ready to stand against Satan’s attack.
  5. Helmet of salvation: The mind is where spiritual battles are fought. Romans 8:35 declares that nothing can separate me from the love of God. Satan may disrupt my daily victory, but he can do nothing to disrupt my position in Christ. “How can you call yourself a Christian?” Will I choose his thoughts or the truth of the Word? Philippians 4:8 encourages us to think on what is pure, lovely, admirable.
  6. Sword of the Spirit: I need to be speaking aloud God’s truths, to declare what God says about me. Joshua 1:8 tells us to meditate on His Word day and night. This is not eastern religion meditation to empty your mind. This is filling your mind with the Word. Did you know that worry is meditation, filling my mind with the negative? That is why a daily devotional is so important so that I focus my thoughts on the right things.

I have all the resources and protection I need to live a victorious life in Christ every day. If I am not, it’s my choice based on what I have chosen to believe and the actions I have taken based on those beliefs. When I leave a door open for the evil one by not resisting temptation, accusation and deception, he will come in.

My eternal destiny is secure but I am still vulnerable to Satan’s lies. 2Corinthians 10:5 commands me to take every thought captive. That means choosing truth in the face of every lie. Why does a lion roar? To paralyze its prey with fear. Peace can only be found in the Prince of Peace. Psalms 23:4 says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, because I am the biggest, meanest son of a gun in the valley.” No, that only works until a bigger, meaner son of a gun show up; then you are in deep trouble. Instead the truth is: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, because You are with me.”

The essence of temptation is the enticement to have legitimate human needs met through the resources of the world and the flesh instead of through God and His ways. Philippians 4:19 promises, “My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” Every temptation is an invitation to live independently of God. Push something beyond the boundary of God’s will and it becomes sin.

  1. Lust of the flesh: Food is a necessary part of life but pushed beyond boundaries it becomes gluttony; rest taken to excess becomes laziness; sex out of bounds becomes perversion.
  2. Lust of the eyes: This comes in the form of greed, jealousy, envy, etc. I must choose if I will believe what I see or believe God’s Word. 2Corinthians 5:7 says we must walk by faith not by sight.
  3. Pride of life: Pride tells me I must direct my own destiny, but that attitude destroys obedience. The arrogance of “I know what is best.” is destructive. I need submission and humility before God because without Him I can do nothing (John 15:5).

On a daily basis I face the decision to walk by the flesh or walk by the Spirit. Let’s compare Judas and Peter: for Judas condemnation led to death, for Peter conviction led to repentance, restoration and life. If I see myself as a worthless nobody, I will live as a worthless nobody. I can’t model perfection, I can only model growth. As I begin to learn the truth of my identity in Christ I become free of the bondage of Satan’s lies. 2Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if Gill is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new.” That’s where I’m going to live.

Casting Crowns has a powerful song, The Voice of Truth. Here is a portion of the lyrics:
Oh what I would do to have
The kind of strength it takes to stand before a giant
With just a sling and a stone
Surrounded by the sound of a thousand warriors
Shaking in their armor
Wishing they’d have had the strength to stand

But the giant’s calling out my name and he laughs at me
Reminding me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed
The giant keeps on telling me
Time and time again “Boy, you’ll never win!
You’ll never win”
But the voice of truth tells me a different story
And the voice of truth says “Do not be afraid!”
And the voice of truth says “This is for My glory”
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth.

What is the giant in your life? We all have at least one. It might be fear, depression, addiction, pride. What is the “voice of truth” to counter the giant’s voice you are facing in your life? What voice will you choose to listen and believe?