Honouring God, encouraging faith in Christ and serving our community.

Thought for the Week

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Friar Lane & Braunstone Baptist Church is feeling thankful.

All change!

We have taken the decision to change our 'thought for the day' posts to a weekly 'thought for the week' instead. This is for two reasons; to create space for new social media content (watch this space) and we have a smaller team of contributors then we did.

The thought for the day was originally setup in lockdown so huge thanks to everyone who has contributed in that time. Also thanks to those distributed paper copies to those who needed them. Final thanks Tina and David who have made sure these get posted to Facebook and the website at the relevant time.

Tony, Marlene, Christine and myself (Jon) will be writing the thought for the week starting with yours truly on Wednesday. If you would like to join the team to write please do get in contact with myself at minister.flab@gmail.com

Thanks Jon.

Thought for the Week, Wednesday 10th April 2024, by Christine Cook.

Christine

Thought for the week Wednesday 10th April 2024

Yesterday evening, as I rather belatedly switched on the evening news, I saw someone speaking fluently in different languages into his laptop by using AI. Then by using a camera to watch what he was saying someone else was able to translate this and then respond in the same language as they spoke back on the web. I had not seen the start to explain exactly what was happening, and how this was being done. But presumably this may become reality soon.

Some words came into my mind which I had heard someone preach on when I was a student in London. The preacher was Welsh and he preached powerfully for some time on a few words from Acts ‘We cannot but speak of the things we have seen and heard’. He was talking about the resurrection of Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and the way in which people’s lives were dramatically changed because of the good news of Jesus.

How easy do we find it to talk about Jesus today to the people around us? We no longer live in a fairly uniform society, in small towns and villages where we know people, and have an easily identifiable culture. Increasingly people communicate electronically via e mails, WhatsApp groups, social media, etc instead of face to face. Then it is so easy for things to be misunderstood by mistyping, or by pressing the off button when we don’t like what’s being said, instead of talking something through face to face

Yet as Christians we are called to talk about Jesus in our everyday lives, otherwise the people around us will never learn about all the good things which Jesus has done for us, and experience the reality of knowing God. What we have to remember is that God knows the heart and minds of the people we come into contact with, and if we pray for him to lead us every morning as we wake up, he will provide the opportunities to talk about him to others. God translates our emotions and feelings and words to fit the needs of those he wants us to speak to. Divine knowledge rather than Artificial intelligence.

   

Thought for the Week, Wednesday 3rd April 2024, by Rev. Jon Grant.

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Thought for the week.

Luke 24:28-45

The everyday God.

The passage I have chosen this week starts on the road To Emmaus where unbeknown to them Jesus has been walking with two followers who have left Jerusalem following his Death. It is post resurrection, but they do not realise what has happened. Later in chapter these two return to Jerusalem to tell the disciples Jesus is alive and as they do Jesus appears with them much to there fright!

What struck me about these two accounts mixed into one, is that it is in the ‘ordinary things’ where the disciples seem to truly understand and believe who Jesus is. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus shows his scriptural and theological knowledge, but it is only when Jesus breaks bread that the two understand who he is. The breaking of bred is an ordinary act, which Jesus would have done many times before, including that significant time at the last supper. Back in Jerusalem the same thing happens. When Jesus appears in the room, understandably, it gives the disciples a fright. Even when Jesus shows them his hands and feet and invites them to touch him, they do not believe it is him, such is the joy and amazement. They seem to be thinking it can’t be him. But then Jesus eats, another mundane ordinary act, and after this the Disciples seem to calm down enough for Jesus to explain who he is and “open there minds so they could understand scripture” i.e learn from him once more.

As Christians we know that God can and does work in the supernatural, the unexplainable and the divine. But the God we worship seems time and time again just as interested (if not more interested) in the day to day and mundane. When the law code was given to the Israelites centuries earlier, it was not given them a supernatural experience (though these were plentiful) but so holiness could be knitted into the everyday. The same with Jesus, there are supernatural moments in his ministry, but Jesus teaching and conversations focus on the everyday ways that people live and treat each other. What we have when it comes to faith in Jesus then, is not an invitation to far off supernatural existence removed from the everyday, but everyday change, everyday growth, as we welcome God through faith in Jesus into our work, relationships and ways of being in the world. When we are able to do this our faith connects to the very places God has promised to transform, the world and people around us.

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Thought for the Week, Wednesday 27th March 2024, by Marlene Brooker.

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Miscarriage of Justice

Matthew 27:20-26

But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered. “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!” Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

Pontious Pilate had the power of a supreme judge which meant he had the authority to order criminals to be freed or executed.

The religious leaders were envious of Jesus because He was popular. This tells us what their hearts were like.

Jesus was brought to trial and there was no possibility of a just verdict even though Jesus had no criminal record.

Pilate tried to free Jesus three times but he was afraid of a riot and was also afraid of the people; was Pilate weak? Pilate was definitely under pressure. The Jewish leaders schemed to put an innocent man to death.

Pilate didn’t control Jesus’ destiny but God the Father did. God is sovereign and He can bring great good out of the evil intentions of humans.

An innocent man was crucified whilst a murder, Barabbas, was set free. It has been said that the cross was meant for Barabbas and in a sense the cross was intended for us.

Perhaps you have been accused of something you didn’t do and have been punished for it. God knows the truth and His knowledge of the truth is worth much more than human knowledge… God is a just God and He can bring good out of bad.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for sending Jesus. He died a cruel death for me. It’s not always easy understanding why bad things happen to innocent people; thank you that it worked out for good and that because of Jesus’ death I can have a relationship with you. Amen.

   

Thought for the Week, Wednesday 20th March 2024, by Tony Richard.

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From here to eternity.

First, a story to illustrate a point!

Two people wanted to become parachutists and after paying the fees underwent training to successfully jump before getting into the plane. When the time came one jumped out expectantly and without a second thought whilst the other despite all of his studying could not jump and so never made the leap.

Like you perhaps, I relate more to the non-jumper who missed out on what is described as a wonderful experience! Using this story spiritually, despite reading the Bible (my training), instead of thinking about the wonderful and fulfilling experience of serving God and therefore others, I am often more concerned about what might go wrong!

Human nature inclines us toward such areas as personal security, acceptability by others, and retaining control in situations, is this why we generally value our houses, finances and not stepping out as our greatest priority? Despite the Holy Spirit's promptings when we study the bible to depend on our faithful God’s overwhelming and proven love?

Ironically, all too often when we choose the things of this world over all that Jesus taught and showed us, we continue however to make great sacrifices, both large and small. By effectively choosing the short-term answer which will inevitably create a long-term problem. Oh, that I, that we, would realise that when putting discipleship first the seemingly short-term problem is used to produce a long-term solution!

Parachuting I understand is one of the safest activities and many have spoken of the incredible enjoyment they got in their descent. When serving the Lord however the opposite is true, as we rise towards rather than descend to our Lord by obediently serving Him, we can encounter the greatest feeling of all, namely fulfilment at the very highest level.

As we serve our Father by lovingly meeting the needs of those we are called to, who are in need.

What if we make mistakes along the way? Well, He’s already lovingly paid the price and settled our greatest mistake.

   

Thought for the Week, Wednesday 13th March 2024, by Christine Cook.

Christine

Thought for the week Christine Cook 13th March 2024

Over the last few months the Wednesday morning prayer group have been reading through the life of Joseph in chapters 37- 50 in Genesis. Many people will have heard of him through the musical about his multicoloured cloak, but there is so much more to learn from his life than the colour of his cloak. He was arrogant and boastful as a young man, and favoured by his father. Consequently his older brothers were jealous of him and hated him. The result was they sold him into slavery in Egypt, but because through God he was able to interpret dreams he ended up being Pharaoh’s right hand man ruling Egypt.

His brothers were now ruled by him when they had to go to Egypt to buy food because of the several years drought, and they were afraid he would take revenge on them at some point. So when their father died they said to Joseph their father had asked them to beg Joseph to forgive their sins and the wrongs they had committed in treating him so badly. So they continued to lie to Joseph in order to ensure safety for themselves.

But Joseph was a changed man Genesis chapter 50:19-20 ‘Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.’ Joseph knew that his life had been changed by the grace of God. The trials and difficulties he underwent changed him form an arrogant boy into a caring, honest and upright man who ruled for the good of nations and not for himself.

So remember when everything seems to be going wrong that God will be there helping you through them, so that you grow as a Christian, and he will be using the things you have learned in your life, to help others that you meet in the journey of life before you.

  

Thought for the Week, Wednesday 6th March 2024, by Rev. Jon Grant.

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Word for the week - Jon Grant

We continue to look at our verse for the year this week from Isaiah 40:31

" but those who hope in the Lord

will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint."

When we had been married for a year Hannah (my wife) and I decided we would walk up Snowden in Wales. We were young, healthy and (more now then ever I realise the benefit of this) childfree; so could get a good night’s rest before the walk/climb/(and at the end) scramble.

We had been walking a short time when off in the distance we saw someone else clearly on the same path we were on. An older gentleman, stick in hand, slowly putting one foot in front of the other. At first it was a passing notice but soon I realised we were starting to gain on the gentlemen who, thinking I was hilarious, I nicknamed ‘old ploddy’ plodding along, one foot in from of the other at no great pace. Around an hour or so later we had made great gains on ‘old ploddy’. A quick good morning to him as we went past, and I thought we’d never see him again. Afterall he must have started the walk much earlier then us, and, confidently I predicted, he would finish several hours later. Another hour or maybe a few later we stopped and looked where we had just walked and there off in the distance was ‘old ploddy’ plodding along way behind.

Now the gradient of the walk, the weather, and the pace we had decided to go at started to tell. The bag we had seemed much heavier, the ground more uneven and the whole thing a bit more of a challenge. We had to stop a fair bit more to rest, swap the bag or, in my case, have a good moan. At one point I looked back – to my surprise ‘old ploddy’ had halved the distance. A bit later it was halved again, and it started to dawn on me that maybe he wasn’t as slow as I thought, maybe he knew something we didn’t, maybe one foot in front of the other at his slow pace was tactical. What happened in the end? You guest it. As we stopped before the final push up the to the summit. There went ‘old ploddy’ plodding on right past us, where he stayed. Stopping for his lunch at the top waiting for us when we arrived. Fair play.

   

Thought for the Week, Wednesday 28th February 2024, by Marlene Brooker.

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You are important too

‘…Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.’ John 5:1-9 (NIV)

We read the story of a lame man who was sitting at a pool. Jesus specifically went to the area and singled this man out. Jesus knew this man’s heart and knew this man had been sick for a long time. Jesus knows what’s wrong with us without us telling Him.

Jesus was no ordinary man He is the Son of God. He has supernatural power.

Who can heal? Doctors can help the process to healing and medication, even an operation can remedy all affliction but only Jesus can give us total healing, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

What is your need today? Jesus is singling you out of the crowd because He wants to help you.

Prayer: Jesus, I need some of your supernatural power in my life today. You know my need. Please resolve my situation. Amen.

   

Thought for the Week, Wednesday 21st February 2024, by Tony Richard.

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As I understand when King David’s repentance stopped God’s plague at the threshing floor situated in Mount Moriah (2 Samuel 24 v18-25) it was subsequently decided that the Jews had found their spiritual “home”. This area later became part of Jerusalem.

Despite its continuing importance we have another special place called “home”, as the following tells us!

Remember when Jesus told His disciples in John 16 v 12, Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

Also.

1 Corinthians 6 v 19 says Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.

For you and I as Christians to facilitate these moves a heart transplant is required as Ezekial 36 v 26 says.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

The Pharisees in Jesus’s day showed under the O.T. law that their hearts of stone developed hardened hearts. They were more influenced in their religion by both personal gain and security, irrespective of the personal cost to others.

In 1 John 4 v 8 we learn: Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. In the same book we also discover in chapter 3 v 16. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

A complete contrast to the heart of stone! The heart of flesh where love resides is totally the opposite. As Jesus clearly showed when providing Grace which brings compassion, forgiveness, and empathy, despite the great personal sacrifice serving others involved.

For you and I our heart of flesh is where situations touch us emotionally in a loving way and faith then operates which makes us responsive to the needs of others first, in order to show our love for God.

So, may we guided by the Holy Spirit who has made His home in us, seek to grow our loving hearts of flesh. Amen.

   

Thought for the Week, Wednesday 14th February 2024, by Christine Cook.

Christine

Thought for the week

February 14th February 2024

Psalm 121

This psalm is a song which was sung by pilgrims as they made their way to the temple in Jerusalem to worship at one of the major religious festivals. They would have been surrounded by mountains and this sight is reflected in the first line when the psalmist looks to the mountains and asks where his help comes from. The resounding answer throughout the following 7 verses is that his help comes from the Lord. Verse 2 shows the power of the Lord by saying that he is the maker of Heaven and Earth, that he created the mighty mountains which they can see. The actions which the Lord takes to help him, are clearly defined in the following 6 verses. I suggest that you try and learn this psalm over the week by repeating verse 1 and 2 to yourself on the first day of the week, and then the next verse 3 on the next day, and so on. Then by the end of the week you will have learned a psalm which you can say to yourself whatever situation you are in. Whether it is a beautiful view on holiday, or when you can’t sleep because something is troubling you, or you are in one of life’s trick situations. So start today with verse one and two.

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‘I lift up my eyes to the mountains- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.’

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SOME THOUGHTS OF THE WEEK

I pray that from God's glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong.

  

      

Thought for the Week, Wednesday 7th February 2024, by Rev. Jon Grant.

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We continue to look at our verse for the year this week from Isaiah 40:31

" but those who hope in the Lord

will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint."

When a runner prepares for either a sprint or a marathon, it is not simply about the moment of running itself – but the preparation that goes into it. They prepare well by thinking about what they eat, they prepare well by having a training plan, they prepare well by working with a coach, they prepare well by both working and resting their body.

When we turn to the gospel and we look on the life of Jesus we see that God fully displayed in all that Jesus did, and yet Jesus also prepares well a bit like a runner. Though the teachers were amazed by his knowledge Jesus spent time in the temple and his faith community before his ministry began, we see from his very first sermon he was known as the carpenter’s son. As his ministry began Jesus also went through a time of testing in the wilderness, a time to both prepare himself and also for the first time come up against the opposition which tried to stop what he was doing over the next three years. Finally within his ministry Jesus often withdrew to quiet places to spend time with the father.

There is a important message here for us as disciples of Jesus. Following Jesus is not about just going to church or being a nice person, it is bringing ourselves closer to God. Preparing our thoughts, hearts and actions by getting to know God deeper each day. Very much a marathon not a sprint! Since the start of February we have been thinking about the tools of discipleship we have been given which help us know God more. We have / will be looking at reading the Bible, Prayer, Church fellowship and The Holy Spirit all way we can prepare so we can know God more, so we are ready to run the race prepared for us.

  

   

Thought for the Week, Wednesday 31st January 2024, by Tony Richard.

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Perhaps the person who has this, has everything!

What is this? Well, it's peace, our ability to remain calm/faithful in all situations, whether personal or world events.

Attaining this perfect state is challenging. There are so many destructive influences, such as the Israel-Palestinian and Ukraine–Russia conflicts that the media shows so sensationally and graphically. Or the effects of higher inflation where even basic items such as food and utilities have now risen significantly and then there’s the harsher climatic conditions where fire and floods have done so much damage.

It’s hard sometimes not to feel like Custer at his last stand, totally surrounded by hostile forces!

In Romans 3 v 10-18, Paul catalogues the state of humanity and its consequences. No one escapes, all have gone their own way and fallen (well) short through what they think, say, and do. The writer ends damningly with their swiftness to shed blood and then verse 16 confirms the bleak consequences, destruction and misery are in their ways. This description could still be used today. Paul then shows the consequences of their actions in Romans 3v17, And the way of peace they have not known.

So where can our peace be found?

According to Ephesians 2:14, it’s Jesus and without faith in what He achieved for us there is no true peace (Romans 5:1). Many also think that peace means no problems!! If only! Perhaps that’s why Philippians 4:7 says it’s the peace that passes all understanding because Jesus’s peace is far beyond natural human peace. To illustrate this Paul also says in Philippians 4:11, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

So how do we need to change to get this overcoming peace? Isaiah 26:3 gives an excellent insight, that those who keep their minds stayed on the lord will have perfect peace and 2 Peter 1:2 tells us how, that peace comes through the knowledge of God.

We can waste great amounts of energy and time by worrying and fretting, as our anxiety develops and let its limiting effects dominate us. Alternatively, we can regularly open our Bibles to bring God nearer with the assurance of His cast-iron promises through Jesus and then by trusting Him true peace grows and we can enjoy life to the full.

  

Thought for the Week, Wednesday 24th January 2024, by Marlene Brooker.

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There is Hope

“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” John 11:1-3

We read about a man called Lazarus who was ill and later the Bible tells us he died.

In the last ten months I have lost friends and family. What do you do when you have so much grief? Shout, cry, blame, you need to get it out of your system. Talk to someone, talk to God. Sometimes your friends and family may not be there 24/7 but God is always there. He is the great Comforter and wants to strengthen you and take you out of the valley onto the mountain tops (the pleasant places). He is always beside you, He will never leave you nor forsake you, even when you’re not aware of it.

Later in the story of Lazarus we hear that Jesus rose Lazarus from the dead – a great miracle. When you put your trust in Christ and surrender your life to Him be assured that you too will raise from the dead on resurrection day and live for eternity with Jesus.

Maybe you’re in need of comfort today for whatever reason, remember that God is the Great Comforter and wants to comfort you today. He loves you more than you’ll ever know.

Prayer: God, I leave all my heartache, my longings, my weaknesses with you. Please give me divine strength today, please give me divine comfort I pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

  

Thought for the Week, Wednesday 17th January 2024, by Christine Cook.

Christine

January 15th 2024 Thought for the week.

‘ My time is secure in your hands.’ Psalm 31:15 line 1

Psalm 31 is written by David thinking about his relationship with God. About how God meets his needs for comfort, love and support through all the trials and tribulation which he faces, and all the good times when God has been there for him. At the beginning of a New Year we often reminisce about the past year, the good times, the bad times, and ask where did the time go. The older we get the more there is to reminisce, and the recognition that we have forgotten so much more than we remember. But for all of us there is the excitement of planning for the New Year, planning holidays, finding a new job, meeting old and new friends. Plus the things we really must do this year because we never seem to get round to them! Also the things we have to do, but are not looking forward to, and wonder how we will manage to do them.

This psalm, and this line in particular remind us that time is eternal in the hands of God. Time is what we make it in our minds. Time drags when we are eagerly awaiting some special treat, or takes forever when there is something we really don’t want to be doing. The important thing to remember is that whatever we are doing, that time is secure in God hands. Just think about God’s hands, large enough to create the whole universe, creating light, separating continents and oceans, forming mountains and ocean depths. In human form Jesus’ hands blessed those around him, healed many of their physical sickness and mental health problems, fed the multitudes who came to hear him, overturned the tables of those cheating the poor in the temple and finally hung on the cross to secure our salvation.

David poured out his needs to God and poured out his praise as his needs were met. His time was secure in God’s hands. We don’t know how much time we have left to do the things we want to do but we know that we are in safe hands as we face the New Year.

  

Thought for the Week, Wednesday 10th January 2024, by Rev. Jon Grant.

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For my first three thought for the week contributions I am going to be unpacking the images within our verse for the year Isaiah 40:31

" but those who hope in the Lord

will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint."

I don’t know if you have ever watched a bird fly and then hover or soar above you, suspect you probably have. Sometimes it can seem like a seemingly invisible force is keeping them flying. Of course this is not actually the case the bird is using the wind to glide and hoover (soar) where it wishes too. Take this concept a touch deeper and we understand that the bird doesn’t just hope the wind will help but uses it’s feathers and wings to make the wind work with it the achieve it’s goal.

Here there is a lesson about faith and being a disciple of Jesus as we enter 2024. Sometimes when speaking about faith it can seem like talking of a invisible force, which, maybe mysteriously, can have an impact on who we are and how we live. And yet, like the wind though physically unseen, the revelation and experience of God when we pay attention to it is clear. This is why word became flesh and Jesus worked amongst us to make this clearer, this is why we are handed to Holy Spirit when Jesus rose to allow us to connect to God, the force behind all life, deeper.

Like the bird then, we do not have to hope that God will turn up an reveal himself at the right moment (though God can and does do this sometimes) but the art of discipleship is using our God given capacities to achieve the goal of greater understanding and living with relationship with God through Christ. Our capacity to manage our time, our capacity to choose, our capacity to wonder and explore and think all are ways that we can open ourselves up to God in greater and deeper ways, ways we can learn to soar on his strength no matter what we face in life. So this week why not get good at soaring by spending time praying and pondering with God, choosing to read the Bible and thinking about what that means for you. This is how we can hope in the Lord and soar like eagles.

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