Monday, May 22, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 86

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Day 86: Be a Servant

Please read the Bible verses for today:
Matthew 20: 20-28

A Mother’s Request

20 "Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him." (Matthew 20:20) 
I am a mother and I pray for my children every day, and like most mothers, I want the very best for my children, but I have never asked Jesus what this mother asked Him.
21 “What is it you want?” he asked.
She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
“We can,” they answered. (Matthew 20:21-22)
If they really knew what Jesus was asking them, I do not think they would have readily said, "We can." Even now, as I live my life devoted to Jesus, I think, "Could I drink the cup that Jesus drank? Could I deny my life, and resolutely claim Jesus as my Lord, if I was to be tortured through flogging and crucifixion? I hope I would, but I could not say, "I can" with confidence. 
23 "Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” (Matthew 20:23)
I wonder who will be sitting at Jesus' right and left hand. My guess is Peter will sit at one side, but for the other side, I have no idea. Peter was among the very first missionaries and endured the cross, (upside down!) Peter lived a life completely devoted to the work of Jesus- to love and save the lost. But either way, I am excited to see who it will be and have no expectation that it will be me. I am content and happy that my name is written in the Book of Life and I will see my Jesus one day. 
24 "When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:24-28)

And here is the lesson we all need to learn: "Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26b-28) It's not about a competition. It's not something to desire. If we live our life with a true heart to follow Jesus, our heart will be content to do whatever He asks us. It's interesting that I am reading this, this morning. Yesterday after church we were all heading out to do an outreach. (We were giving free car washes to the anyone who came by and sharing with strangers the love of Jesus). I was one of the last ones to leave the church, when I heard a husband tell his wife, "You go on without me, I'll catch up." My friend and I went back into the church to see what the hold up was, and there we found him in the back helping another young man clean up the church. The two of them were happily cleaning up the church, while everyone had left with excitement to serve the community. I bet these two guys wanted to be with everyone. I bet they were excited to leave too, but they stayed behind and worked while no one was looking. Later, I heard that this same husband was one of the guys working hard washing down all the cars. I have been so touched by his heart to serve. A heart to serve his Lord Jesus without any thought of himself. He serves with a humility that inspires me. 

Pray with me:
Thank you, Jesus, for all you have done for me. Thank you for allowing yourself to be flogged and crucified to save my life. The words, 'Thank you' aren't enough- my heart wants to say more! Thank you that your ways are not like this world- I do not have to compete for your attention and love. Thank you that you give it to me freely. Thank you that you are my Good Father. Help me Lord to serve you with a humble heart. Help me to serve you with my eyes on you and not on gaining man's attention and accolades. Help me to serve where ever I am needed. Make me a servant. I love you with all my heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 85

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Day 85: He WILL

Please read the Bible verses for today:
Matthew 20:17-19

Jesus Predicts His Death a Third Time

17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” (Matthew 20:17-19)

The great thing about only reading a few verses a day is that you get to see things you wouldn't have if you had put on yourself to read a whole chapter in your quiet time. In reading only two verses, the pressure is off to finish Bible reading and get on with your day. In reading only two verses there is a peace and a freedom to hear from Holy Spirit what He wants me to see and learn. So, let's see what He wants us to learn today =)

Each night I read the next days 'reading for the day' so I can rest, thinking on what the Lord has for me. When I read these verses last night, I heard the word 'will' repeated. 

"The Son of Man WILL be delivered over to the chief priests..." 
"They WILL condemn him to death..."
"...and WILL hand him over to the Gentiles..."
"On the third day he WILL be raised to life!" 

Many times my husband will say something like, 'That's great! (in a sarcastic tone) Now there's a crack and it will break and we will have to buy a new one.' My response is always...'Don't say that! It doesn't have to happen." My point? If I had been one of Jesus' disciples and heard Him say, 'WILL' four different times, I would have argued with Him! I would not have wanted to hear those words and I certainly wouldn't have wanted to hear Him say it WILL HAPPEN with certainty. I cannot imagine being one of the disciples and hearing that my Jesus WILL BE 1) handed over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. My mind would have been so confused that the 'holy men' of the time would be the ones to arrest my Jesus. 2) They will condemn Jesus to death, hand Him over to the Gentiles (which means, Jesus will not be stoned to death, but receive the punishment of crucifixion). 3) He will be mocked, flogged and crucified! And I know myself, I would have been so shocked that I wouldn't have heard the Good News... 4) "On the third day he WILL be raised to life!"

Setting aside for a moment that I would have been shocked and terrified and confused in hearing Jesus' words, what touches my heart is that Jesus was talking about all these horrible things happening to Himself and still said, "WILL." He didn't say, 'might' or 'God willing these things won't happen to me.' He confidently said, 'will' four times. He was determined to obey the Father, however horrible a path He had to walk down, Jesus was determined to obey.

This is why I want to be like Jesus. He asked the Father to guide His path, He looked at the trial He had to face, and still walked down the path-completely obedient to the Father's will. I want to face the trials that come into my life and say, "xyz...WILL happen, and the Father WILL bring me through." I don't want the trials to slow me down or stop me from continuing on my path. I want my walk with Jesus to be a confident one no matter what the road ahead of me brings. I want my faith to be stronger.

Pray with me:
Dear Jesus, thank you for all that you have done and for how you lived your life on earth in perfect obedience to your Father. Help me to live a confident, faithful, and obedient life to the Father. Help me to face my trials as you did- with the assurance that God the Father will be with me and will see me through and will give me the victory! I love you Jesus! You are my hero! Change my heart to be ever faithful. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 84 Matthew 20

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Day 84: Works or Grace?

Please read the Bible verses for today:
Matthew 20:1-16

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.
“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:1-16) 

This story is perfect, (of course), in showing us the Father's heart in wanting all to come to salvation. I personally asked Jesus to be my Lord and Savior thirty years ago this coming October. My name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life and I will go to heaven when I die. Now if someone asks Jesus in their heart today, their name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life and will go to heaven too. If we both die tomorrow we enter together. Me with my thirty years, the other person with their one day. I rejoice in it! I love the Father's generous and loving heart, but there are those who do not like this idea. There are people who do not think it fair to have someone who lived their whole life hating Jesus, living against His will enter heaven just because he prayed the prayer of salvation in his final hours on earth. They think if unfair. Well, what that only shows me is that those who think that unfair, have religion and not a relationship with Jesus. These people think in terms of works and earning their salvation. They think that being good and following the Ten Commandments will secure their heavenly position, but they are wrong. They do not understand the power of Grace. There is this quote I heard a long time ago, I believe it was Thomas Aquinas who said it, "Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and then do whatever you want." You see, if we are loving Jesus with all that we are, the 'do whatever you want' part will be everything that Jesus wants us to do. We will be close to the heart of God and desire the things of God and we will certainly rejoice in someone giving their heart to Jesus at any hour.

Pray with me:
Father, thank you for your grace. Thank you for your generous love. Thank you for calling me into a relationship with you when I was only seventeen-years-old. Thank you for turning my life around and bringing healing to such a broken heart. Father, I pray for those who do not know you. I pray that you would appear to them in a vision, in a healing, in a miracle in their life so that they too may know you today. I thank you that you desire all to come to salvation! Thank you for your generous, loving heart that is filled with grace. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 83

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Day 83: Heaven or Hell?

Please read the Bible verses for today:
Matthew 19:16-30

The Rich and the Kingdom of God

16 Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (Mathew 19:16)
Growing up in the Catholic faith, this was a question I always asked. What do I have to do to make it into heaven? It seems like I had to be practically sinless just to make it into purgatory and I knew that I was not close to being sinless. There were times where I was really scared. I couldn't imagine going to hell, but there didn't seem like there was any hope to make it into heaven and purgatory was a place outside of heaven where you had to go to work out all your sins from earth and that seemed scary too. This man is asking about works- what works can I do to earn heaven? 
17 Why do you ask me about what is good? Jesus replied. There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” (Matthew 19:17)
I love Jesus' response-  There is only One who is good." God is good. We cannot be good without Him. We cannot do 'good things' without God. Eternal life has nothing to do with 'being good,' but everything to do with knowing the Father. We cannot earn heaven no matter how good or perfect we think we are. 

18 “Which ones?” he inquired. (Matthew 19:18) 
I'm not really sure what this guy was fishing for- Jesus just said, "If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” There are ten commandments- keep them. 
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 19:18b-19) 
I love how Jesus begins to list the Ten Commandments from Moses and then adds..."love your neighbor as yourself." No one that I have ever met, and I know some really sold out people for Christ, have loved their neighbor as themselves. Some have come close, but there is no way this command could be obeyed without Holy Spirit. We are inherently selfish and self-centered and without submitting our lives to God, there is no way one can obtain this law. 
20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” (Matthew 19:20)
Okay, let us look at the Ten Commandments as a refresher:
1. I am the Lord thy God, no other gods before me
2. You shall not make any graven images
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain
4. Keep holy the Sabbath day
5. Honor thy mother and thy father
6. You shall not murder
7. You shall not commit adultery
8. You shall not steal
9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor
10. You shall not covet your neighbor's house, wife, servant, donkey or anything that belongs to him.

I know I haven't kept the Ten Commandments perfectly. I do not say it with any pride, I just cannot keep them perfectly. I am a sinner who needs a Savior.
But can you believe this guy? He is saying, "I am perfect, Jesus, so come on you can say it, in front of all these people, say it- "My boy, you ARE perfect and you shall be the first one to enter into through the pearly gates!" His pride is sinful and he doesn't even see it. He may work hard at being good and obeying all the commandments, but he forgot about his own heart of pride and arrogance. The sin of the heart. God isn't about works, He is about humility. He is about surrendering your life to Him and allowing Him to be Lord.  
21 Jesus answered, If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)  
This man could not see that he needed Jesus, His Savior. The only way for this man to see that is by removing his money, his god, and follow Jesus. This man, in my opinion, had a god already and it wasn't Jesus, it was money. God must be our only God. 
22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
26 Jesus looked at them and said, With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:22-26)
And there is your answer! We cannot earn heaven- we cannot. No amount of good deeds will get us there, BUT with God all things are possible. With God it is a one way ticket to eternal life- heaven, with no stops to purgatory! Hallelujah! 
27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
28 Jesus said to them, Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first." (Matthew 19:27-30) 

Thinking about eternal life used to be very scary for me because I didn't know where I was going, but now I am not afraid. I know my name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, and I will be welcomed into heaven. And it is not because I am a good person, that I read my Bible, and that I write a blog on the Scriptures- it's not. All I do for Jesus comes from an overflow of love for Him. I want to do what He asks me. I want to read and journal the Scriptures because I love Jesus and want to know Him more. It's not about works and being good. It's about surrendering my life to Jesus, allowing Him to be Lord of my life, forgiving me of my sins and making me new. It's about knowing Him and having a relationship with God. 

If you would like to ask Jesus to be your Savior and have the assurance of heaven, Pray with me:

Dear Lord Jesus,

I know that I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness. I believe that You died on the cross for my sins and rose from the grave to give me life. I know You are the only way to God. So now I want to quit disobeying You and start living for You. Please forgive me, change my life and show me how to know You. In Jesus' name. Amen.
If you would like more information and help beginning your walk with Jesus click on the link: Prayer of Salvation

Pray with me: 

Lord Jesus, forgive me for trying to life without you. Forgive me for not surrendering all the things in my life to you and asking you to guide me. Forgive me for being controlling. Help me Lord, to surrender everything. Help me to trust you. Help me to know you and see you as you really are- a loving, compassionate, forgiving God who wants to know me. I love you Jesus and give you my life. I will fear nothing for you are with me. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 82


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Day 83 He Calls Me to Come

Please read the Bible verses for today:
Matthew 19:13-15

The Little Children and Jesus

13 "Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them." (Matthew 19:13)
That would have been me. I can see myself making all my kids shower and dress nice and then packing them up and taking them to see and meet Jesus. I know I would be thinking, 'I need to get to Jesus and have Him touch each one of my children and speak into their lives.' I am a mom who wants more, much more, for my children than I ever had. I want more for them in their spiritual and natural life. I would travel even today if Jesus was walking on this earth to bring them to Him. I intercede for my children every day. I bring them before the Heavenly throne of God in prayer and pray for their hearts, minds, and life. I'm that momma. So, with all good intentions of bringing my children to Jesus, to hear that the disciples rebuked them, hurts my heart. 
14 Jesus said, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there. (Matthew 19:14-15)

On Sunday we had a guest speaker preach. He shared from the book of John, chapter five, 19 "Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed." Here Jesus says, let the little children come- that is the heart of the Father too. The Father told Jesus to allow the children to come to Him and Jesus did. In everything we see Jesus do, we can be assured it is what the Father would want also. And in Matthew 18:2-4,  Jesus says, Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me." Jesus and the Father beckon us to come. We are His children. He does not send us away. He calls us to come, even us adults, for we are His children if we believe in Him. 

Allow yourself to hear Jesus and the Father say, "Come." See Jesus. See the Father. Go to them. Sit in their presence. Hear what He will say to you. Be healed.

Pray with me:
Jesus, Father, thank you for calling me, your child, to come to you. Thank you that you call me and do not send me away. Thank you that you love me and want me to know it. Thank you that your heart loves me. Thank you that in your presence there is healing, there is peace. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 81 Matthew 19

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Day 81: Jesus Heals Marriages

Please read the Bible verses for today:
Matthew 19:1-12

Divorce

19 "When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan. Large crowds followed him, and he healed them there." (Matthew 19:1-2)
Jesus never tired of teaching, and healing.Everywhere He went crowds followed Him and He treated everyone the same- He talked with them and healed them. He never said, 'I'm too tired. Go away and come back tomorrow.' He always allowed and welcomed the people to come and be healed. There's a lesson in that for us. Jesus beckons US to come and be healed. 
3 "Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
Haven’t you read,” he replied, that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:3-6)
I love that Jesus starts with, 'Haven't you read...' Jesus was being tested by the Pharisees, teachers of the law. They should know the answer and Jesus knew that they did. He was aware of their scheme to trick Him. 
“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
Jesus replied, Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:7-9) 
Jesus says that He allowed divorce because 'your hearts were hard.' I cannot imagine how, if anything, has changed in the heart of man, but Jesus changes the law concerning marriage right in front of them. " I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:9)

10 The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.”
11 Jesus replied, Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” (Matthew 19:10-12)
I believe Jesus is saying that it is good to marry, but there are cases where someone cannot.

Pray with me:
Father, Jesus, thank you for always welcoming me to come and be healed. I pray for my marriage and the marriages of my friends today. I pray that my husband and I will grow ever closer. I pray for forgiveness for the things that I have said and done to hurt him and I pray he will forgive me. Heal his heart. I pray that you will heal my heart too. Lord, make us one. One in mind, and heart. Give us your vision for our marriage and help us to walk in it. I lift up my friends too, that you will bring healing to their marriage. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Morning Moments with God: Day 80

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Day 80: Forgive

Please read the Bible verses for today:
Matthew 18:21-35

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." (Matthew 18:21-22)
I remember reading this for the first time back in 1990 and thinking, 'Wow Peter! seven times a day! That's too much!' Then I settled my mind with the thought that I should forgive my sister seven times a day. Next, I read Jesus' response. I was completely overwhelmed. How? Why? My sister didn't deserve forgiveness that many times. There had to be a limit- a punishment for her sin. Then I read verses 23- 35 and understood. 
23 Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold[i] was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
26 “At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21-35)

Ten thousand talents was equivalent to several million dollars and a hundred silver coins was equivalent to a days wage. Here, Jesus is making the point of the grace He gives us for our sin is much greater compared to the grace we need to offer to our fellow man. There is no comparison. We need to forgive others, for He has forgiven us. We need to forgive 'seventy-seven times,' an unlimited number, each day for Christ has forgiven us. He has forgiven our past, present and our future. 

Forgiveness isn't easy, but we are called to forgive everyone. 

Pray with me:
Jesus, thank you for forgiving me of all my sin, past, present and even future. Thank you that there are new mercies waiting for me each new day. Jesus, I forgive all those who have hurt and offended me. Help me to move in forgiveness and love towards them. Help me to set them free and my heart free through the act of forgiveness. Heal my heart Jesus. Help me to trust you to protect my heart from them hurting me again. I love you, Jesus and want to live according to your plan. In Jesus' Name, Amen.