United in the Spirit While Completing the Assigned Task

BLCF: Lord-Jesus-animated

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

’United in the Spirit While Completing the Assigned Task’

© November 22, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin November 22, 2015

BLCF: HOLY_SPIRIT_DOVE_ANIMATED_GIF

Responsive Reading #661: The One True God (Acts 17); Prayer

Opening Hymn #79: We come, O Christ, to Thee; Choruses

Tithing and Prayer; Hymn #572: Praise God; Prayers

Today’s Scriptures: Genesis 3:1-7, Genesis 11:1-9, Mark 10:35-45, and Matthew 26:14-16

BLCF: the-church-works-best-when-we-work-together

Let us pray…

Our lesson today, ’United in the Spirit While Completing the Assigned Task’, we look at the challenges a Christian believer faces, while following the path set by the Lord. Those challenges include avoiding any stumbling blocks that Satan places in the path that the Lord wishes us to follow.

The Christian Church is composed of a body of believers. But is that same church of believers that Satan desires to confuse and corrupt away from the presence of God. The Reformist, Martin Luther describes the devil handiwork as follows: “For, where God built a church there the devil would also build a chapel.”

the-church-is-a-body

Satan loves nothing better than running interference to Christians’ understanding of the Lord, as we see in the various Scripture verses listed in today’s BLCF Church Bulletin.

The first Scripture Verse, Genesis 3:1-7 (ESV), describes how Satan tempted both Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to eat fruit forbidden by God. The temptation challenged the Lord’s authority by lies that indicated that eating the forbidden fruit would not bring a death judgement upon them, instead the fruit would open their eyes to understanding good from evil and elevate them to possessing the knowledge like God:

The Fall

BLCF: Adam_and_Eve

3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You[a] shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,[b] she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 3:1 In Hebrew you is plural in verses 1–5 b. Genesis 3:6 Or to give insight

We see that instead of being elevated, their sin caused them a separation from God, along with guilt, shame and eventually ejection from the garden.

The second of today’s featured Scripture verses, Genesis 11:1-9 (ESV), tells how following the Great Flood, humanity spoke the same single language, sought to build a great tower to heaven. The builders expected that the tower bring fame, unity of purpose, and help them from being scattered over the face of the earth. This second sinful act of arrogance that was an overt challenge to the authority of their Maker resulted in God bringing confusion of different languages among the builders of the tower. And the disparate languages, by their very nature, caused the people to scatter over the face of the world.

The Tower of Babel

BLCF: Tower-Babel

11 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused[a] the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 11:9 Babel sounds like the Hebrew for confused

While the Babel account does not indicate Satan’s direct involvement in influencing the people in their decision to build themselves a tower to heaven, we know that their sinful nature is a legacy from Adam and Eve original sin in the Garden. But the same sinful arrogance is exhibited by two of Christ’s disciples, described in Mark 10:35-45 (ESV):

The Request of James and John

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35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,[a] 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave[b] of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Footnotes: a. Mark 10:43 Greek diakonos b. Mark 10:44 Greek bondservant (doulos)

In this account, James and John asked to share in the glory of the Lord, by being given seats on either side of Christ. Jesus replied that their request indicated an ignorance of what Jesus was expected to face, which is his suffering and death on the cross in order to fulfill God’s plan for reconciliation and forgiveness. In order to be glorified, Jesus needed to suffer the pain of judgement for the sins of all of humanity. As Day of Pentecost had not arrived, the disciples did not have the benefit of the presence of God’s Holy Spirit to help them discern the foolishness of their request.

Our Scriptures describe an assortment of sinful actions that people committed in order to obtain a share of God’s knowledge, His Presence and His authority. These actions can be described as peoples’ desire to put lightning in a bottle:

Lightning in a bottle

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Capturing something powerful and elusive and then being able to hold it and show it to the world.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=lightning%20in%20a%20bottle

The only thing worse than defying the authority of the Lord is betrayal, Matthew 26:14-16 (ESV):
Judas to Betray Jesus

14 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

Judas’ betrayal happened after the spirit of the devil came upon the disciple. The expectation of the betrayal was not to bring the person to the same level of the Lord. By accepting blood money for the Lord, Judas decided to elevate himself above Christ. The price of this elevation was 30 pieces of silver.
We throughout history, a desire by believers and non-believers, alike, to understand the workings of the universe, as we see in this quote from Shakespeare Quick Quotes:

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There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
– Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

your philosophy ] i.e., philosophy (or learning) in general.

The emphasis here should be on “dreamt of”, as Hamlet is pointing out how little even the most educated people can explain.

http://www.shakespeare-online.com/quickquotes/quickquotehamletdreamt.html

But the great minds can only postulate theories based upon their limited understanding of the nature of the world. And what is a theory?

theory – noun, plural theories. (dictionary.com)

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1. a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena:
Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Synonyms: principle, law, doctrine.

2. a proposed explanation whose status is still conjectural and subject to experimentation, in contrast to well-established propositions that are regarded as reporting matters of actual fact.
Synonyms: idea, notion hypothesis, postulate.
Antonyms: practice, verification, corroboration, substantiation

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/theory

BLCF: Einstein_1921_by_F_Schmutzer_-_restoration

Albert Einstein, who was considered one the world’s greatest minds, authored the theory of relativity, based upon astute observations of the natural behavior. Einstein, who described himself as an agnostic with respect to the existence of God, advanced a theory to replace Sir Isaac Newton’s Laws of Nature. Newton is a firm believer in God.

While Relativity could account for the behavior of matter in most circumstances, there were some aspects of particles fell outside the framework of this theory, which resulted in another theory, the Quantum Theory to be advanced. But Einstein believed that a Unified Theory could be created to bridge the two theories, Relativity and Quantum, and act a single Theory of Everything:

Classical unified field theories – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

BLCF: theory-of-everything-stephen-hawking

Since the 19th century, some physicists have attempted to develop a single theoretical framework that can account for the fundamental forces of nature – a unified field theory. Classical unified field theories are attempts to create a unified field theory based on classical physics. In particular, unification of gravitation and electromagnetism was actively pursued by several physicists and mathematicians in the years between World War I and World War II. This work spurred the purely mathematical development of differential geometry. Albert Einstein is the best known of the many physicists who attempted to develop a classical unified field theory.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_unified_field_theories

Unified field theory Main article: Classical unified field theories

BLCF: Theory_Of_Everything

Following his research on general relativity, Einstein entered into a series of attempts to generalize his geometric theory of gravitation to include electromagnetism as another aspect of a single entity. In 1950, he described his “unified field theory” in a Scientific American article entitled “On the Generalized Theory of Gravitation”.[153] Although he continued to be lauded for his work, Einstein became increasingly isolated in his research, and his efforts were ultimately unsuccessful. In his pursuit of a unification of the fundamental forces, Einstein ignored some mainstream developments in physics, most notably the strong and weak nuclear forces, which were not well understood until many years after his death. Mainstream physics, in turn, largely ignored Einstein’s approaches to unification. Einstein’s dream of unifying other laws of physics with gravity motivates modern quests for a theory of everything and in particular string theory, where geometrical fields emerge in a unified quantum-mechanical setting.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein

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But does the Bible give any indication as to why scientists have failed to come with a single theory that accounts for the behavior of all aspects of the behavior matter and energy, from the beginning of the universe until the present? The answer to this question could be found in verse 11 of Ecclesiastes 3:9-15 (ESV):

The God-Given Task

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9 What gain has the worker from his toil? 10 I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12 I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.
14 I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. 15 That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.[a]

Footnotes: a. Ecclesiastes 3:15 Hebrew what has been pursued

There are aspects of our nature that fall beyond the scope of the physical universe, such as mercy, love, grace, and kindness. All are given in reward to faith, us to be seated by Christ. God has granted humble believers a way, through Jesus, to be raised up to be with the Lord, without the help of forbidden fruit, elaborate towers, or a request that put the Lord to the test. Let us take joy in all the He has given us.

1 John 1:1-4 (ESV) The Word of Life 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our[a] joy may be complete. Footnotes: a. 1 John 1:4 Some manuscripts your

1 John 1:1-4 (ESV) The Word of Life
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that your joy may be complete.

And the certainty of experiencing joy comes from Christ Jesus, Ephesians 2:4-7 (ESV):

4 But[a] God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made  us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Footnotes: a. Ephesians 2:4 Or And

 

BLCF: may-the-God-of-hope-fill-you-withl-joy-peace

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn #177: Rejoice, the Lord is King

Benediction – (Philippians 4:7): And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

BLCF: James_1_12

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GOD’s Invitation: To Walk In the Light of HIS Glory and Grace

BLCF: IT COSTS TO FOLLOW JESUS

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

GOD’s Invitation: To Walk In the Light of HIS Glory and Grace’

© February 8, 2015 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin February 8, 2015

BLCF: encouragement truth freedom lies hostage

 

Responsive Reading #613 (Gr of PrayerOD’s Invitation – Isaiah 55); Prayer

Opening Hymn #451: I Have Decided to Follow Jesus; Choruses                                                                                    

 Prayer and Tithing: Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings Handiwork I See                                        

Scripture Verses: Genesis 3:1-7, Matthew 19:16-22, 1 John 2:15-17  

Golgatha

Let us pray…

Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship’s Sunday Praise and Worship Service. For our lesson today, I would to talk about GOD’s Invitation: To Walk In the Light of HIS Glory and Grace, which is the title of our message.

To better understand what it is like to walk in the light of GOD’s glory and grace, it might be better to understand when we are not walking in the “light of the Lord”.

In our lives, we have a choice between following two paths: the path of the world or the path of the Lord.

The path we follow is sometimes not directed by our hearts or our minds; but by our eyes. For those of you who drive a vehicle, you are likely aware that where the eyes stray, there is the tendency to steer the vehicle in the same direction. That is why traffic officers try to clear the scene of an accident as quickly as possible, before the so called “rubber neckers” steer their vehicles off the road, after being distracted by the scene of an accident. Until a traffic accident is cleared, the officers will slow the speed of vehicles down to a speed which allows passing drivers enough reaction time to avoid becoming part of another accident scene. Still, some drivers will let their vehicle follow their eyes, and another accident ensues.

Our first Scripture passage, which is: Genesis 3:1-7, describes how Eve and Adam were tempted by the appearance of the forbidden fruit in the garden, seeing the fruit was good for food and a delight to the eyes.

Genesis 3:1-7 (ESV) The Fall

BLCF: garden-of-eden-first-sin

3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You[a] shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,[b] she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 3:1 In Hebrew you is plural in verses 1–5 b. Genesis 3:6 Or to give insight

The visual attraction of the forbidden fruit, gave way to a desire to eat the fruit and become wise. Having eaten of the forbidden fruit, both Adam and Eve had their eyes opened, and they saw their nakedness and became ashamed. We must give credit or discredit to crafty Satan, who tempted the pair by telling them that the fruit would open their eyes to good and evil, making them like GOD.  Satan was the distraction, appealing to a desire to be wise like GOD, led Eve and Adam, who was with her, away from the righteous path to disobey GOD’s commandment.

The temptation caused by vane desire to be like GOD, and to question HIS authority, led to their downfall. This fall from GOD’s grace, by desiring that which appeals to our vanity and ego, is repeated over and over again, as we see in our next Scripture passage, Matthew 19:16-22, tells of a wealthy young man, who approaches Jesus, and asks the Lord: what good deed must he do in order to obtain eternal life or righteousness with GOD?

Matthew 19:16-22 (ESV) The Rich Young Man

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16 And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Jesus then tells the young man to be good he must follow the Ten Commandments given by God, delivered to the people of Israel by Moses. The young man replies to the Lord that he has obeyed all the commandments, asking what else must he do? Jesus tells the young man that in order to be perfect he should sell all his possessions, give the proceeds to the poor, and then follow the Lord. I believe the Lord discerned that there remained one stumbling block, which was his wealth and possessions, that he valued more than following the path of GOD. The man became sorrowful, as he could not part with his great worldly possessions in exchange for the promise of treasure in heaven.

This is the problem with desiring and then acquiring something that appeals to our vanity that we value above anything else, is the consequence that achieving the object of our desire usually results in shame, as was the case of Adam and Eve, or in sorrow, as happened to the rich young man who sought eternal life.

The Apostle John pointed out this dilemma in 1 John 2:15-17, by admonishing us not to place our love and affection upon things of the world:

1 John 2:15-17 (ESV) Do Not Love the World

BLCF: darkness_vs_light

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[a]—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Footnotes: a. 1 John 2:16 Or pride in possessions

We see how easy we, like Adam, Eve and the rich young man, can be tempted by the desire for things of the world, which draw us away from GOD’s grace and the promise of eternal life. For the path of the world, which is Satan’s road, leads to sin, our sin, which keeps all of us apart from the light of the Lord, HIS glory and HIS grace.

BLCF: worship-spirit-truth

How,  then, do we discover the way back from a life of sin, and come back to worship GOD in truth and spirit? GOD gave us HIS son, Jesus not just to remove from all of us the judgment of sin, but to be our advocate in heaven. If we decide to abide in Christ and follow the illuminated path, which is the “Way of the Lord”, as we see in 1 John 2:1-11 (ESV):

Christ Our Advocate

BLCF: Christ pleads as an advocate for his people_

2 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

The New Commandment

BLCF: new-commandment

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because[a] the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him[b] there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

BLCF: The-Greatest-Commandment

The Apostle John reaffirms Christ’s New Commandment in 1 John 2:1-11: By loving GOD and by keeping HIS word or commandment of loving GOD and loving our brother, is the only way to keep us on the path of light, provide by our Lord, Jesus.

We know that desiring worldly things is to follow the path of darkness, which lead to  sin, shame, sorrow and ultimately to death. The Lord’s path of light is the only way to salvation and eternal life.

In order to discern, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, sent by our Advocate, the Lord Jesus, to help us understand and value not worldly wealth and treasures, but that which is true treasure: His Word and  the path of the Spirit, as described in Paul’s epistle, Ephesians 1:16-21. For what Paul wrote to the church, which are the believers in Ephesus, applies to any body of Christian believers, who see to worship GOD in spirit and truth:

Ephesians 1:16-21 (ESV):

 BLCF: Ephesians_1_18

16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

I would like to conclude our lesson today, by reading from Psalm 119, verses 33-40, as a prayer for our own faith and understanding. May we seek to turn away from treasures of the world, seeking, instead, to find our heavenly treasure, which is eternal life by way of our Lord Jesus:

Let us pray…

Psalm 119:33-40 (ESV)

BLCF: Psalm119_35

33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes;     

and I will keep it to the end.[a]

34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law     

and observe it with my whole heart.

35 Lead me in the path of your commandments,    

 for I delight in it. 36 Incline my heart to your testimonies,     

and not to selfish gain!

37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;     

and give me life in your ways.

38 Confirm to your servant your promise,     

that you may be feared.

39 Turn away the reproach that I dread,     

for your rules are good.

40 Behold, I long for your precepts;     

in your righteousness give me life!

AMEN.

Footnotes: a. Psalm 119:33 Or keep it as my reward

at_the_end

Closing Hymn #252: O Soul, Are You Weary and Troubled?                                    

Benediction – Ephesians 3:20-21:

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

 

 

BLCF: esa of Avila Blue