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Posts Tagged ‘future’

By Mike Edwards

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Is God all in for me? Does God feel the same about me that I do about God? All I know is when my parents, partner, or friends believe in me, respect me, hope or trust in me – I am more inspired. It has been said that God created us to remind God how great they are, or we can go to Hell! Sorry, doesn’t sound like a God I can get close to. Why would an all-powerful God give us uncontrolled freedom unless seeking a mutual relationship?

How dare you compare God’s love to human love!

Even the Bible suggests God’s love is the same as perfect human love: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48); be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1); be merciful like God (Lk. 6:36). How can we be merciful if clueless what mercy is or God is mysterious? The best way to understand God’s love is to compare to perfect human love. God must love like perfect humans. Bible folks say we are made in the image of God. God is made in our perfect image!

It is only intuitive that God’s love means what we mean when saying we love others on a deep level. Even those who accuse God of being mysterious agree. When one’s interpretation of Scriptures suggest God appears evil from a human perspective, they are assuming God and human love are the same by accusing God of being mysterious.

God is love but what does that mean?

God’s love surely is the same as supreme parents – other-directed not self-consumed. Love gets excited when we do well and make a difference in the lives of others. Love anticipates, hopes for my success, believes in me. God is pulling for me, even when failing, because I do the same for my children. We doubt God but God still loves. God may worry but still hopes.  We are dependent on our children for intimate relationships. God is dependent on us. God puts trust in us by giving us freedom. A parent who claims to love but doesn’t believe or pull for us doesn’t love us at all. A God who claims to love but doesn’t believe in, hope for us, doesn’t love us at all.

God can’t know the future and love!

Freedom in relationships is necessary for true love. If the future is predetermined or knowable, I can’t act otherwise. God can’t love and know the future. God must have faith too just as our parents did when having us. Even the Bible agrees God doesn’t know the future because the future is open. God regrets (I Sam. 15:10-11); God relents (Jonah 3:10); God is surprised (Is. 5); God changes their mind (Jer. 18:8-10). God either puts their hopes and trust in us as do loving uncontrolling parents, or God is uncaring.

We matter to God!

It pumps me to no end when my parents or partner feels genuine respect for me! They committed to me not knowing how the relationship would turn out. God too! If you claim to love someone, you trust them, you hope they succeed, you have faith in them. Even some who don’t believe Jesus was really divine and human, they believe Jesus may have been the most perfect person in the world like God. Jesus had trust, hope, and faith in others. So does God! God is the kind of spiritual Parent I have longed for in my journey to love others like I want to be loved.  How do you want to be loved by your parents? That is how God loves you!

Resource and must read: Wm. Curtis Holtzen, The God Who Trust: A Relational Theology Of Divine Faith, Hope, and Love

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By Mike Edwards

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Those who didn’t grow up with the Bible maybe aren’t familiar with the Holy Spirit. Some Bible translations refer to the Holy Ghost which may bring Casper the friendly ghost to mind. We can think of the Holy Spirit as God’s Spirit or Presence. Even the Bible suggests to look for God’s guidance through a Spirit than a Book (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:13). The context of these passages though suggests guidance in spiritual or moral truth as opposed to future, specific, individual decisions.

A word of caution when advocating God’s Spirit or the Holy Spirit speaks to us today.

Christians often encourage being still and listening so you can hear the Spirit’s voice. Such statements without explanation leave others feeling spiritually inferior or confused. You aren’t less spiritual if you can’t distinguish a supposed voice from inner impressions. At least I can’t. We can’t really know when personal desires impact our understanding of God’s voice. This doesn’t mean God can’t guide us through intuitions and the influence of others.

How might God speak to us morally?

A Book such as the Bible can’t be our only moral guide. Biblical scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures interpret differently what God guides morally regarding divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, etc. One possibility for a universal compulsion to treat others like we want to be treated is an external force communicating through our moral intuitions. Common moral sense isn’t the enemy when making moral decisions. Be careful though because rational folks often don’t agree what is our moral obligation when it comes to important matters.

How might God speak when we disagree what is moral?

Rational people don’t always agree morally concerning immigration, climate change, abortion, health care, taxes, or responding to evil dictators that murder their own people. Truth often exists on both sides of the fence. Certainty has led to justifying verbal or physical violence in the name of God or morality. Calm, open dialogue allows evaluating the most loving approach to complicated challenges we face. Certainty isn’t always less chaotic than uncertainty. See here.

God isn’t hiding an unknown future in non-moral decision-making.  

A predetermined future makes freedom nonsensical. God can’t know an undetermined future. God isn’t keeping secrets. God can’t tell you if your partner will end up betraying you or the job you take won’t be phased out. Many who speak of an “inner voice” assume God knows the future. God took risks creating us free; we must take risk making decisions. Stay connected with God choosing the wisest path at the time based on past experiences, current circumstances, and future aspirations. Do all the good, in all the places, to all the people you can.

What about biblical examples of clear guidance?

There are biblical examples where God communicated clearly. It was infrequent but if God speaks to you through a burning bush like Moses (Ex. 3), through a donkey (Numbers 22:28), or a voice from heaven that others heard like Paul (Acts 9), you might want to take notice. This just isn’t my personal experience or most I come in contact with. Inner impressions, often thought of as God’s voice, are not the same as clear communications.

Maybe the Spirit speaks or guides us through an indescribable, quiet influence.

Don’t we recognize the Spirit’s influence when we have wronged someone, we quickly confess and make amends? Maybe all we have to do is be open to the Spirit’s influence. Humans inspire by their example without speaking. When I am trying to discern the Spirit’s influence, and often it is about relationships, I aim to make a wise decision if to take the risk. If it works out, I don’t know if coincidental or not. In an unknown future God doesn’t know if it’s going to work out either.

I admit I have minimized God speaking clearly to us but if God was more demonstrative, we might use it as a club to beat the Truth out of people like we have with the Bible. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may allow the road traveled of learning and reflecting leading to lasting convictions. Much of moral knowledge isn’t hidden. Honest open dialogue, not claiming certainty, best leads to loving decisions when there is disagreement. Future decisions are open. One is surely guided by the Spirit of Truth when following Jesus’ example and not demonizing others when there is genuine disagreement.

For another view consider Woodland Hills sermon series beginning January 26, 2020. See here.

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By Mike Edwards

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Why isn’t the Bible clearer about divorce, gays, women’s roles, heaven and hell, etc.? If God hates evil so much, why doesn’t God intervene more in our world? Why isn’t God clearer about origins since so many people lose their faith because of their scientific understandings and what the Bible supposedly says? Decide if the below are just rationalizations.

Can we stop claiming the Bible says whoever doubts God is in denial!

The Book of Romans is most commonly used to claim the Bible teaches all who don’t believe in a Creator are simply suppressing what they know to be true deep down. Romans actually says: “many knew God…they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God” (Rm. 1:21, 29). The writer’s audience simply sought to justify evil ways. Those who believe aren’t needing a crutch and those that don’t believe aren’t wicked and don’t know their feelings. I would struggle to believe in God if I thought Hell was real. There are valid reasons for believing or not believing.

God may not be as hidden as it seems.

A universal desire to treat others like we want to be treated may be a personal external force communicating through our moral intuitions. We seem to know we ought to abide by the golden rule. We all have an innate knowledge of right and wrong. What rational person doesn’t believe murder, lying, stealing, or adultery is wrong? Most criminals don’t defend but deny their actions.

Maybe God doesn’t have to speak to influence. 

A parent’s example, not commands, often speaks louder to a child. Doesn’t God mostly speak through influencing? The Bible refers to the Holy Spirit guiding us in truth (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:13). We know the Spirit’s influence when we have thoughts to be the perfect partner, parent, or friend we desire to be deep down. Is the Spirit influencing when we quickly confess and make amends if wronged someone? That’s just not always natural. Maybe we just have to be open to God’s Spirit.

At least God isn’t hiding an unknown future. 

It is natural to think an all-knowing, power God has special insights into future outcomes to help us avoid problems. To say God knows the future suggests a predetermined future making freedom nonsensical. God can’t tell you if the person you want to marry won’t end up betraying you or the job you take won’t end up being phased out. Freedom must be important to God as controlling love is an oxymoron. God joins us in an open future. We surely have God’s blessing choosing the wisest path at the time based on past experiences, current circumstances, and future aspirations. 

How was it when God spoke more or showed up in person?  

Direct communication isn’t always magical. God supposedly spoke audibly when giving Moses the Ten Commandments. Some misunderstood God by not helping an injured soul on the Sabbath. Jesus was said to be God in person, but His miracles didn’t obtain results suggested if God would just stop hiding. Jesus had a 24-7 relationship with twelve men, and they struggled to believe everything that came out of Jesus’ mouth. Jesus’ example than words seems to change the world.

Maybe God speaks to us in non-dramatic ways out of love! 

God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. When parents push their agendas, even if in their children best interests, they may resent or rebel against coercion and never turn back. If God communicates in less demonstrative ways, this may allow for heartfelt choices. The road traveled of learning and reflecting may best lead to lasting convictions. Loving parents want their children to freely reciprocate their love, not feel manipulated.

My grown kids don’t always seek my advice to avoid problems. We are close. I am a counselor by profession so geez – I have a few relational skills. Heck, I announced when teenagers my role was changing to being more of a mentor than authority figure. What teenager doesn’t dig that? Well, my grown kids – old enough to get over any resentments – aren’t runny to catch honey from my lips. Then again, I am not knocking down doors for advice from others. We may all need to travel the journey toward wisdom at our own pace without any pressure.

God can still love us despite being hidden.  

Freedom is absolutely necessary for authentic relationships. God’s constant interference and presence could prevent a superior world from emerging. Moral knowledge isn’t hidden. Non-moral decisions are open. A Creator may not reveal themselves for humane reasons we haven’t thought of. The Bible was more direct communication, but it has been used to force beliefs on others despite subject to interpretation. Uncertainty, not certainly about God, protects against imposing beliefs on others which is not God’s nature. Different opinions communicated respectively can stand together as we continually evaluate the most loving approach.

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By Mike Edwards

I guess depends if he gets impeached! Religious leaders say the darnest things. God gets a bad rap when Christians make certain claims about God and events in the world. Even “it was meant to be” implies God is responsible for suffering in the world. God ordaining who wins elections means you weren’t really free to vote anyway other than what God had determined. This makes a mockery of the freedom God has given us. An uncontrolling God may be a more satisfying alternative.

It matters if we claim God controls or knows the future.

A young woman may ask God for wisdom in marrying their partner. It seems a match made in heaven, but their partner becomes abusive and the children suffer too. If God supposedly knows the future, why didn’t God warn the young woman? A human parent would if they knew ahead of time. A controlling God can lead to asking “why or what is God punishing me for” or “God, do you really love me?” There really isn’t freedom if the future is already known thus determined.

But the Bible says…

It is commonly thought that an all-powerful Supreme Being must know the future much less control the future. Yet, the Bible speaks about God regretting decisions (i.e. Gen. 6:6). If God knows the outcome of decisions, why does God make regrettable decisions? Many biblical passages refer to God changing their mind depending on what choices humans freely make.

Did Jesus simply peer into the future when predicting Peter would deny Christ three times before it actually happened? Could Peter really resist? Why would Jesus pray Peter’s faith would succeed if failure was inevitable (Luke 22:32)? Jesus’ prediction could have been a warning to Peter to prepare for upcoming faith challenges. A professor may observe a student and warn they will fail their class but hoping the student avoids such failure. Biblical prophecies aren’t peering into a determined future but can serve as warnings. They only come to past if not heeded.

There are freedoms in God not knowing the future.

God guidance isn’t some mystery. God isn’t hiding a “known” future for important decisions. We don’t have to live in fear of making “right decisions.” We already know the mind of God when it comes to moral decisions; otherwise, God supports us in making best decisions at the time that make our lives and the lives of others better. The future is open. There isn’t one correct decision. Joy and good can be achieved by taking any number of paths and avoiding immoral paths. 

God is not controlling. 

God can’t control the future without making a mockery of freedom. God wants us to feel free without strings attached, unlike what we may feel from human parents when making decisions. If God can’t control the future, can God make any promises? A God who creates can surely guarantee eternal life after life here on earth for those who desire to be with their Creator. Meanwhile, God seeks to partner with us to make for a better world. God doesn’t control lives or elections!

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By Mike Edwards

I can’t prove God exist but millions including me aren’t irrational to think a Creator created the world around us. Atheists and believers agree. The only God worth believing in is a perfect God. We can only understand perfect love through the lens of human love. We don’t always agree what such loves looks like but human love is a reasonable starting point. The main reason many oppose views below is out of devotion to God because what they believe the Bible says about God.

God couldn’t be a Bible worshipper

First, we can’t prove the biblical writers always understood God perfectly unless you take their word for it. Secondly, literature requires interpretation so no one can claim their view is the right one. We can’t ask the writers what they meant. Thirdly, the Bible isn’t likely a Creator’s main communication, because the majority born into this world never had a copy or knew of Jesus.

God couldn’t have created Hell

God is not a sadist. A God who teaches forgiveness seventy times seven couldn’t possibly create Hell to torture anyone forever. Such pain serves no lasting purpose anyway. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. The traditional understanding of Hell doesn’t exist in the Bible. The word hell, a substitution not translation for certain Hebrew and Greek words in the Bible, appears to have been invented over the centuries to scare people into obedience.

God couldn’t only let Christians into heaven

A loving God wouldn’t only let Christians into heaven when the majority of people born into this world died without knowledge of Jesus the Christ. Secondly, one’s religion, or rebellion against a certain religion, is often based on the family born into whether it is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. Is God a God of chance?

God couldn’t condemn gays

A loving God couldn’t possibly condemn gays when they can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? If you are a straight man, don’t you naturally have to fight not looking at naked women than men. Ask gays their battle! Who chooses to be gay when one has to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility?

God couldn’t be a sexist

God surely wouldn’t put men in leadership position over women which has encouraged dominance on the man’s part leading to atrocities women face at the hands of men. Like many views about God, the Bible can also be interpreted to endorse roles according to gifts not gender. God can lead women and men in trying to out serve one another. Shouldn’t the most qualified or gifted, whether male or female, be appointed CEO, preacher, or priest?

God couldn’t be an extremist or terrorist kind of God

Terrorists seldom are Jesus-type individuals who seek to love others like they want to be loved. Doesn’t true religion seek to serve not be served? Loving spiritual or human parents bring children into the world hoping their children freely reciprocate their love for authentic relationships. Forced love is an oxymoron. God couldn’t possibly want to control beliefs through fear.

God couldn’t be a moral hypocrite humanly-speaking

Even atheists believe One claiming to be God must be perfect. We must question biblical writers’ understanding of God if interpretations are contrary to people’s ideas of a perfect, loving God. When the Bible challenges us to be perfect like God (Mt. 5:48), the assumption is we can know what perfection is. Godly and human perfect love must be one and the same.

God can’t control evil and suffering without help

The magnitude of evil in the world is a main reason people indicate they don’t believe in God. It seems God creating freedom necessitates one being able to do as much harm as they can do good. Authenticity, the highest good in relationships, is impossible without freedom. Not even God can force true love. It can be misleading when we say God “allows” evil, as if God stands by when God could stop evil. God can’t control or violate freedom and love perfectly. God can only stop evil with the help of others or not create freedom.

God couldn’t be a prayer genie

Praying doesn’t make God more caring. God is already doing all they can in a free world. Pretending God can simply heal without accounting for freedom can makes one’s suffering worse. Did I not pray or beg enough? Prayer isn’t about manipulating for gain but pursuing a relationship with our Creator for self-examination, sharing concerns, and not feeling alone in a chaotic world. God is not a Genie in a bottle who can singlehandedly all by themselves make things instantly happen without our help to change the world for good.

God couldn’t be a future fortune teller

Most probably don’t think much about whether God knows the future or not. The truth is not even an all-powerful God can do the impossible such as change the past or know an undetermined future until it happens. God isn’t failing to communicate a “known future” so we can avoid bad relationships or decisions. God suffers with us rather than simply gaze into a future crystal ball. God created freedom and seeks to partner with us to make for a better world.

Notice I didn’t suggest what I think God believes when it comes to issues such as immigration, taxes, climate change, etc. Total certainty, unless beheading people for not sharing your beliefs, is an illusion. What we need is honest, open dialogue. Opinions must stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving approach. Problems often begin when we claim moral superiority either from our own moral intuitions or our understanding of a Book.

See here for further defense: http://what-god-may-really-be-like.com/why-and-what-i-believe-series/

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By Mike Edwards

I understand many may not think about or find all that relevant whether God knows the future or not. It may sound sacrilegious or odd to suggest an all-powerful God doesn’t know the future. But, even an all-powerful God may not being able to do the impossible such as change the past, force true love, or know an undetermined future until it happens.

It matters if God can know possible future suffering.  

A woman asks God for wisdom in marrying their partner. All think it is a match made in heaven, but the husband becomes abusive and the children suffer. It is hard to imagine God wouldn’t warn if God knew this was going to happen. Much of suffering is the result of current and future human free decisions. God and parents risk creating knowing this can lead to great joy or great pain. Not even an all-powerful God can create free will necessary for genuine relationships and guarantee life without death, violence, suffering, and struggle.

Decisions and our relationship with God are less complicated if the future is open.  

The greatest freedom perhaps in believing God doesn’t know the future is realizing God isn’t failing to communicate or we may disappoint God with decisions. God isn’t hiding a “known” future for important decisions. We already know the mind of God when it comes to moral decisions; otherwise, God supports us in making decisions that make our lives and the lives of others better. There isn’t one correct decision to make in a free world. Joy and good can be achieved by taking any number of paths and avoiding immoral paths. God wants us to feel free without strings attached, unlike what we may feel from human parents when making decisions.

It matters relationally if freedom is real.

Most agree love must be freely chosen, or we are simply robots than humans. How am I truly free to make decisions if the future has already supposedly happened? A determined future contradicts that God created us with the freedom to make our own choices. We don’t have to rationalize God created freedom but somehow future decisions are predetermined.

A God who doesn’t knows the future is more relatable. When the Bible says God grieves with us in our suffering, we can know God agonizes with us each step of the way and deters any suffering possible without violating freedoms. God is not aloof as if simply gazing into a future crystal ball. God’s uncontrolling nature doesn’t mean God isn’t active in making for a better world. God constantly seeks to inspire us to shun evil and strive for a better world.

What about the Bible or prophecy? 

Hundreds of biblical passages could be cited to defend either God does or doesn’t know the future. The Bible speaks about God sometimes regretting certain decisions (i.e. Gen. 6:6). If God knew the outcome of certain decisions by knowing the future, why would God make such regrettable decisions? Does God really know what decisions are made ahead of time but pretending otherwise? The Bible often speaks as if God thought the future was open, thus undetermined and unknown.

Prophecies aren’t peering into the future but can serve as warnings. Jesus predicted Peter would deny Him three times but Jesus also prayed Peter’s faith would not fail (Lk. 22: 32-34). Predictions by God can be conditional. A professor may observe a student and warn they will fail their class but hoping the student avoids such failure. Keep in mind the future is not totally unpredictable for humans much less God. A skilled physician can predict the death of a seemingly healthy individual because of symptoms that escaped the untrained eye. Remember, God’s Spirit is present everywhere, thus God’s knowledge is unimaginably extensive.

God is loving not controlling.

God can’t control the future if God is to act uncontrolling and respect freedom. God can’t make someone truly love others and not harm others. If God can create, God can fulfill a promise to provide eternal life after life here on earth for those who desire to be with their Creator. Meanwhile, God seeks to partner with us to make for a better world.

 

MORE POSTS IN SERIES: I DOUBT GOD REALLY ……

Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed To Anyone After Death

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real

Why I Doubt God Is A Homophobe

Why I Doubt God Is A Sexist

Why I Doubt God Is A Mysterious, Moral Hypocrite

Why I Doubt God Is A Blood-Thirsty Child (Jesus) Killer

Why I Doubt God Expects Every Word Of The Bible To Be Viewed As Inspired

Why I Doubt God Is An End-Of-The-World Doomsayer

Why I Doubt God Is An Angry Egomaniac

Why I Doubt God Is A “Hidden Agenda” Proselytizer

Why I Doubt the god of Extremists Or Terrorists

Why I Doubt God Is A Prayer Genie

Why I Doubt God Controls Evil And Suffering

 

 

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By Mike Edwards

It isn’t always easy to believe in an invisible God; it isn’t always easy to know how an inaudible God is speaking or guiding us. If God was more visible or audible, wouldn’t our spiritual journey be easier? Jesus established a 24-7 relationship with twelve men and they struggled to believe everything that came out of Jesus’ mouth. Today, God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. I am convinced the road traveled of learning and reflecting better leads to lasting convictions. Maybe God speaks to us in non-dramatic ways out of love!

We are right to look for God’s direction through God’s spirit.

It is reasonable to imagine that since God is invisible that God’s Spirit resides in us and somehow guides us. There is rightly an emphasis in Christian circles that God guides up by their Spirit as opposed to the Bible (i.e. Holy Spirit). When Jesus was leaving this earth, He said the Spirit not some Book such as the Bible guides us in truth (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:13). How do we discern such guidance?

We have more freedom than we realize if God truly created genuine freedom.

We often seek God’s voice in important decisions such as career or marriage. It is natural to think an all-knowing, powerful God has special insights into future outcomes to avoid problems, but creating freedom requires an undetermined future. To say God knows the future suggests a predetermined future which makes freedom nonsensical. God can’t tell you if the person you want to marry won’t end up betraying you or the job you take won’t end up being phased out. God is in life with us. We are free to make our own decisions while being open to the Spirit’s influence to act in the best interest of not just ourselves but others.

Doesn’t God mainly guide through influence?

The example a parent sets, than direct commands, is often how best to guide children to make wise decisions. Doesn’t the Spirit mostly speak through influencing? We know the Spirit’s influence when we have thoughts to be the perfect partner, parent, or friend we desire to be deep down despite our constant failures. We know the Spirit’s influence when we recognize violence begets violence and respond non-violently. We know the Spirit’s influence when we have wronged someone, we quickly confess and make amends. That just isn’t always natural. All we have to do is being open to the Spirit’s influence.

Isn’t the Spirit’s voice only human impressions or thoughts so we can never be certain?

I mentioned Jesus left this earth saying we would be guided by God’s Spirit in discerning Truth (Jn. 16:13). Jesus didn’t seem overly concern that Truth requires discernment. Jesus didn’t spell out what those specific Truths are. Which decision to make depends on individual circumstances. What may be best for one person about their marriage may not be best for another person. Relax, there is practically universal agreement on most moral matters. Criminals don’t defend their murderous actions; they deny they committed such actions. Certainty when it comes to politics or God has only led to justifying verbal or physical violence in the name of God or morality. Keep an open mind to what God is like!

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Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…..

A pastor friend of mine talked about this verse once and I liked what he said. The word Now isn’t just to start a sentence but to mean ‘Now faith’. Our faith is always in the now. The past is done, the future isn’t promised. We are to live our faith in the now, in the present.

NowFaith

Our faith is in our God and we are assured that He has our best in mind and will provide what we need when we need it. It is not always easy in our world today, but we know that God will come through and take care of us, provide our needs and walk with us daily in the now.

Are you feeling guilty over past mistakes? Are you fearful of the future? The past is gone, the future is not here. God is with us….now. He will provide and bring to reality what He knows is best for us.

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