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Posts Tagged ‘Christian Living’

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool [afternoon breeze] of the day, so the man and his wife hid and kept themselves hidden from the presence [face] of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” [Gen3:8 AMP]

What Does God Sound Like?

I often wonder what would it sound like to hear God walking in the garden…would there be a mighty roar of wind?…would there be a gentle rustling of leaves?…would there be the sound of God’s footsteps?…or perhaps ‘the sound of the Lord’ relates to a sixth sense, a ‘spirit to Spirit’ sense that Adam and Eve were aware that the Lord was in the garden. Indeed, God did create them in His image [Gen 1:26-27] – which would include a spirit, as well as the soul and body.

God Confronts Adam and Eve

And the mystery of God’s presence being in the garden (more than in any other place) really points to God having a form which, for me, points to Jesus. So my long bow with this verse is that from time to time, or probably daily (knowing the love and character of God), Jesus would walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening (as He also did with His disciples when He was here on earth). You know, I believe sometimes we can get caught up in the harshness of the Old Testament and we can really miss this altogether – How great is the Father’s love is for His creation and how He longs and loves to fellowship with it (and how disappointed He must have been that Adam and Eve were attempting to hide from Him).

In any case (even if you do not agree with the above), Adam and Eve were familiar with the ‘sound of Lord’ and they knew He was in the garden and yet they did not go to Him as I suspect they usually would have, because of their sin. Fellowship and relationship with God was broken that day and instead of perhaps running to Him they hid from His face. This was a very sad day for humanity and for God!

But here is the Good News :-)…

Jesus came to restore everything that was lost through Adam at ‘the fall’!

(‘the fall’ = the fall of humanity through the sin of Adam and Eve)

To understand what has been restored through Jesus let us have a look at what has been lost through Adam.

Through Adam relationship and intimacy with our Heavenly Father have been lost. Our inherited sinful nature rebels against God and His Word. The penalty for our sin and rebellion is death and Hell. We are lost, we are condemned, we are without hope, we are without a purpose, we are without a future, and we are completely powerless and helpless to do anything about where we are heading. There is no way of escape and, because of God’s perfect judgement, nor do we deserve a way of escape.

Now putting the bad news aside here is the Good News :-)…

Jesus came to restore everything that was lost!

Through Jesus and His death and resurrection, our judgement and condemnation has been fully paid for through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. We are no longer lost but we are saved by God. We are no longer hopeless but now have great hope in our Saviour and we live in the purposes and calling of our Heavenly Father which He has planned for us before the beginning of time. We are no longer powerless and helpless against the schemes of the enemy but we have given given authority in the name of Jesus through his great victory over the devil at the cross. The authority that had been forfeited by Adam has been restored by Christ. The devil doesn’t even have the keys to His own jails anymore. He is rendered powerless! All he has is lies and tricks. All authority has been given to Christ and to all who are in Christ, Jesus has given His authority. So if we don’t fall into a rebellious life or we are not tricked by the devil schemes we are truly free, free indeed [John 8:36] by the finished work of Jesus on the cross!

Additional reading here Romans 5:12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15:45-49

A Life of Abundance!

Even further, as if this was not enough, Jesus came to give us far more than we could ever hope for or imagine[Eph 3:20]! Jesus calls us not to a life of mediocrity but a life of abundance!

In John 10:10 Jesus says “I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].”

When I mention abundant life I am not overlooking troubles that can come our way from time to time that can place great demands on our faith and our character. In John 16:33 Jesus was aware of these and said there will be “tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]  and He said this so that in Him “we may have [perfect]peace.”

This abundant life that Jesus speaks of in John 10:10 is created by the Author and Creator of life himself. The One who gave us life is the One who can give us our best life. God knows all about us and He has made each one of us a perfect and abundant life plan for our lives – imagine a life to the max – a life overflowing in abundance! A life of perfect peace! How can this be possible?

Getting Back to the Garden

What was life like in the Garden of Eden before the Fall and how do we get back there?

Here are a few observations about the Garden of Eden before the fall. The Garden was:

  • a place created by God for Adam and Eve to live and enjoy.
  • a place where God could enjoy and commune with His creation.
  • a place for Adam and Eve to fellowship with one another and to fellowship and commune with God.
  • a place for Adam and Eve to rule and to have dominion over all of creation.
  • a place that displayed the magnificence, creativity and glory of God.

I’ve had a revelation (which I don’t mind if you accept or reject) the Garden of Eden is no longer a physical place but a Spiritual place.

If the Garden of Eden is no longer a physical place but a Spiritual place how do we get back there?

Just before Jesus ascended He said to His disciples “don’t leave Jerusalem until you are baptized, empowered and united with the Holy Spirit” [Acts 1:4-5].

The key here is a life empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit comforts us, gives us peace, teaches us, counsels us, encourages us, exhorts us, gives us wisdom, gives us Spiritual gifts to help others, helps us to worship God, convicts us of sin, gives us strength, shows us the truth, guides us, helps us to pray, produces fruit in our lives – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, and is always with us everywhere we go.

The Garden of Eden or Utopia or Shangri-La or Paradise or any other place of contentment or peace or rest are not found in a physical place but found in a place in our heart where Jesus comes to live with us by His Spirit.

Jesus says:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.” [Matt 11:28-30]

True contentment or true peace or true rest for our souls is found in Christ alone. This is not a physical place (like the Garden of Eden) but it is a Spiritual place. It is a position or posture of our heart to receive the Good News about Christ, and to receive the infilling of His Holy Spirit. Then, as God’s Word says, “our new, real life is hidden with Christ in God” [Col 3:2-3] – the safest, most peaceful, most restful and most contented place we can find!

This life is available to everyone but not everyone finds this life:

See why in Matthew 13:1-23.

Chapter 1: Life in the Garden or Getting Back to the Garden
Communication and fellowship as it should be – life in the garden.

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I have ruminating over this verse below for the last few days and its implications for my life and for those in my influence…

In Luke 4:13, just after Jesus was tempted in the desert by the Devil, the scripture says,

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him[Jesus] until an opportune time“.

Now I am thinking,

What would constitute an “opportune time”?

Would an “opportune time” be the Garden of Gethsemene?

Yes!  That would be an “opportune time” for the Devil to tempt Jesus.  At Gethsemene, Jesus is in absolute anguish over what He ‘must’ do.  The battle between the flesh and the Spirit is very intense and yet Jesus prays Not my will Father, but yours.

Would an “opportune time” be the actual crucifixion?

Yes!  That would be an “opportune time” for the Devil to tempt Jesus.  At the cross, Jesus was worn out, in extreme pain, rejected, hated, tormented and yet, Jesus prays “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”.

Now how does this relate to me?

Well, you see, the Devil is prowling around waiting for that “opportune time”, that moment of weakness, to pounce and devour me.

“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” [1 Peter 5:8].

Do I ‘simply’ eliminate those moments of weakness so I can avoid the temptation?

Well, that depends on whether I am talking about managing my weaknesses or am I talking about transformation?

Soul management or Spiritual transformation?

Let’s apply this soul management to Jesus for a moment.  I mean, what if Jesus managed to avoid all of His weak moments?  There would  be no fast in the wilderness, no Gethsemene and no cross.  No, no, no.  Avoidance of our weaknesses is not the solution.

So, IN that moment of weakness, that “opportune time” of the Devil, what do I do?  What is the answer?

Here is the solution.  God says…

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

[2 Cor 12:9]

“I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong“. [2 Cor 12:9b-10]

In our moments of weakness (when the Devil is prowling) CHRIST’S POWER can be manifest in our lives through the honour and glory we give our Heavenly Father by the choices that we make.

As with Jesus…

Our weakest moments will be His sweetest victories

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast
“. [1 Peter 5:6-10]

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For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say

“No”

h
h

to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age

[Titus 2:11-12]

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In John 6:28 Jesus is asked a question…

“What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”

This is a great question BUT, in the context of the passage, what was the heart behind the question?  What was the heart of these ‘Jesus chaser’s?  Was it a genuine seeking of God’s Kingdom come here on earth as it is in Heaven?  I feel the answer to this has much relevence for today’s Christian culture as well.

Before we look at the answer to this and also Jesus’ response let’s have a look at a similar situation in Acts.  This is where Simon the Sorcerer (or ex-sorcerer) sees what the apostles were doing and wanted to do the same.

Acts 8:18-23
And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”  NKJV

Wow,  Peter doesn’t mix his words here!  Simon wants to ‘work the works of God’ and will pay money for that priviledge.  Simon saw what the apostles were doing, he was focussed on the power of the Holy Spirit and he wanted that for himself.  Is this a bad desire?  NO, the desire in itself is not a bad desire BUT when it comes from a self centred desire to have the power instead of a God centred desire it is completely wrong.   Coming out of a life of sorcery, Simon saw the Holy Spirit as a power he could add to his ‘ministry’.  That is, the plans and purposes of the Kingdom of God came in a poor second to the kingdom of Simon. 

The Lord will not share his glory with another!

“I am the LORD; that is my name!  I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. [Isa 42:8]

But hold on a minute, didn’t He give His glory to Jesus?  Answer: Jesus was God, God wasn’t sharing His glory with Jesus.  Jesus was God and God was Jesus!  He and His Father were one.

John 14:9-14
9 Jesus answered:  “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? ANYONE WHO HAS SEEN ME HAS SEEN THE FATHER. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I AM IN THE FATHER, and that THE FATHER IS IN ME? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, IT IS THE FATHER, LIVING IN ME, WHO IS DOING HIS WORK. 11 Believe me when I say that I AM IN THE FATHER AND THE FATHER IS IN ME; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

But hold on another minute, doesn’t God share His glory with us?  Isn’t He changing us from glory to glory?  Answer: As we become less, God becomes more, so it is God shining through us, not God sharing His glory with us.

John 17:20-23
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that ALL OF THEM MAY BE ONE, Father, JUST AS YOU ARE IN ME AND I AM IN YOU. MAY THEY ALSO BE IN US so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I HAVE GIVEN THEM THE GLORY THAT YOU GAVE ME, THAT THEY MAY BE ONE AS WE ARE ONE: I IN THEM AND YOU IN ME. MAY THEY BE BROUGHT INTO COMPLETE UNITY to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

Getting back to the John 6 passage, these ‘Jesus chasers’ were focused on the ‘works of God’.  In other words, they were focused on the ‘Spiritual tricks’ Jesus was doing rather than on God Kingdom come.  They saw it and they wanted it.  Looking at the context (check it for yourself) maybe they were looking for their ‘miracle’ breakfast.

It any case, Jesus used the situation to give the Spiritually correct answer…

Jesus answered and said to them,

“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

Sounds easy doesn’t it – just BELIEVE!  Believe in miracles?  NO!  Believe in Jesus!

Let’s move down chapter 6:

John 6:53-69
53 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, UNLESS YOU EAT THE FLESH OF THE SON OF MAN AND DRINK HIS BLOOD, YOU HAVE NO LIFE IN YOU. 54 WHOEVER EATS MY FLESH AND DRINKS MY BLOOD HAS ETERNAL LIFE, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 FOR MY FLESH IS REAL FOOD AND MY BLOOD IS REAL DRINK. 56 WHOEVER EATS MY FLESH AND DRINKS MY BLOOD REMAINS IN ME, AND I IN HIM. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so THE ONE WHO FEEDS ON ME WILL LIVE because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. 60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” 61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 THE SPIRIT GIVES LIFE; THE FLESH COUNTS FOR NOTHING. THE WORDS I HAVE SPOKEN TO YOU ARE SPIRIT AND THEY ARE LIFE. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” 66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” NIV

On the surface this seems a hard (and offensive) teaching but Jesus gets to the heart about what belief in Him really is.

To understand what Jesus is saying let’s go over to the woman at the well…

John 4:31-38
31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
33 Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

What was Jesus’ food?  Answer: To do the will of His Father and to do it now (not in 4 months time).  To live, breathe, eat the Kingdom of His Father.

What is our food?  Answer: to eat, drink, live and breathe Jesus.  To completely consume and be consumed by Jesus and therefore be Jesus and do His will (which is the Father’s will)

May the Spirit bring you understanding.

Blessings

Steve

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I have a thought (or rather a question) this morning…

How often do we do nothing for Jesus?

How often do we do ‘nothing of eternal value’?

Well, I believe, that would be everytime we do not REMAIN IN Jesus.  Jesus said in John 15:5:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man REMAINS IN ME and I in him, he will bear much fruit; APART from me you can do NOTHING”

And what does that NOTHING mean?  It means NOTHING!  It means we can do absolutely nothing of eternal significance apart from Jesus.  That is, all our ‘righteous acts’ are like filthy rags [Isaiah 64:6] to our Heavenly Father.  By ‘righteous acts’ I mean ‘self righteous acts’ of our flesh that come out of our pride / our spiritual pride / our religious pride.

Further, Jesus gives us this warning in verse 6:

“If anyone DOES NOT REMAIN in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned”

And in verse 7 He gives us this promise:

“If you REMAIN in me and my WORDS REMAIN IN YOU, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you”

Now there are some words that could appeal to our flesh!  “Ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you”.  Hmmm, I’ll have a new car and a new house and a new stereo.  SPEW!  What am I saying!  These are Spiritual Words for our spirits!  It is a conditional promise based on us REMAINING IN Jesus and HIS WORD REMAINING IN us.

Let’s skip over to the amazing prayer of Jesus’ in John chapter 17.  Note also that Jesus’ prayer was not only for His disciplines but it is also for US [John 17:20-23]:

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that ALL OF THEM MAY BE ONE, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. MAY THEY ALSO BE IN US so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, THAT THEY MAY BE ONE AS WE ARE ONE: I IN THEM AND YOU IN ME. MAY THEY BE BROUGHT INTO COMPLETE UNITY to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

OUR GOAL: is to be ONE with Jesus and therefore ONE with the Father through Jesus.  Of course, this is enabled by the Spirit of Jesus living in our hearts.  Listen to verse 3:

“Now THIS IS ETERNAL LIFE: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

Your eternal life, my eternal life starts today.  Throughout all of history til today the choice that man has had has always remained the same:

Are we going to choose life or are we going to choose death?

From the tree in the Garden [Gen 2:16-17]

“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

to Moses and the Israelites [Deut 30:19-20]

“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

to Jesus’ words and prayer in John 17.

Today, if we are listening and hear His voice Jesus wants to separate us for the work of His eternal Kingdom [John 17:17 “Sanctify  them by the truth; your word is truth”], do we choose to be ONE with Jesus, in the same way that Jesus is ONE with the Father?  Jesus prayed it for us!  This is available to all those who are called by His name.

…”I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my JOY within them.” [John 17:13]

“I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be IN them.” [John 17:26]

May Jesus, and His joy, and His love, be IN you.

Blessing, Steve

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Well, I haven’t posted anything since September 30 – WOW!

There has been much happening.  Our Senior Pastor’s son Sam went to be with the Lord suddenly (he didn’t wake up one morning).  This was a great shock and was, and still is, a difficult time for many, especially his parents and family.  Friends from the small group that we lead were involved in a serious car accident and one has had her lower leg removed.  My wife’s parents were involved in a serious car accident and her mother is still recovering (she is going OK).   I have changed jobs – this has been unsettling for me.  We had a very large tree fall on our house (it landed mainly on the garage – praise God) and my dad has been battling (and winning) with a stomach cancer.

img_1301a1

Hmmm, if I am honest I would have to say, by the grace of God, we have coped quite well.  I can honestly say the Lord had prepared us and sustained us.  This is not to say I wasn’t distracted by the events – I was.  I mean, at times, there was a numbness and a ‘shellshock’ness.  When I mean distracted I mean taking my eyes off the Lord.  I remember saying to myself and the Lord that “I’m not quite right am I”.  I mean there are parts of my ‘being’ that have been crying out for the Lord refreshment and this is happening (really – don’t worry 🙂 ).

I’ve been wondering, when end times come and there is great hardship and suffering and persecution will I be distracted and take my eyes off Jesus?  Not if I am prepared.  Not if I build my house upon the rock and not upon the sand.  Not if I am serious about becoming a real man of God.

Here is a great Word to men about ‘Being a Man of God’ preached by Paul Washer.  I found this one over at here

Blessings

Steve

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A small ‘word’ on prayer…

Pray and Don’t Give Up!

Have you ever prayed for something or someone and it appeared that nothing happened? (Haven’t we all) Perhaps it was a desperate cry for help from the Lord and it looked as though God was out to lunch. Are you praying for something right now and God seems quite silent? I want to encourage you… KEEP PRAYING AND DON’T GIVE UP!

In Luke 18:1-8 Jesus says:
18:1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 2 He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3 And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
4 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!'”
6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
NIV

Notice the last verse, ‘when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?’ Prayer and faith are intimately inter-twined! We live in an ‘instant’ culture with instant solutions and instant gratifications. ‘God time’ can be very different to our time and the world’s time.

CONTINUE TO PRAY IN FAITH!

In James 5:15 the Word says:
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. NIV

Has a (perceived) lack of a response from God had a negative effect on your prayer life and on your faith?

Do you pray less because of the lack of answers to prayer? Have you given up on prayer? I heard a wise saying last year at the Hillsong Conference

“If you want to see more people healed PRAY FOR MORE PEOPLE”

God is calling us to pray!

The results of prayer are up to God and not to us. God is ‘just’ calling us to pray.

Has the results of prayer (somehow) wrapped themselves into our egos?

If someone is healed because of your prayer do you take the accolades? No way! Conversely, do you take the ‘blame’ if someone is not healed through your prayers? No way! God is ‘just’ calling us to pray. Forget about past results! JUST PRAY!

Prayer makes a difference even when we physically can’t see the results. Genuine (God’s heart) prayer’ at the very least, changes our hearts into line with God’s heart but (I believe and I am sure many others believe) it does a whole lot more than that. It ushers in the Kingdom of God here on earth. The Kingdom of God is established here on earth through the prayers of His people.

KEEP PRAYING!

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