Scripture was given by the Holy Spirit of God to the apostles in words

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This will be the last post till 12/31

Difficult Times and the Defense – 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Timothy is to commit the Gospel message to faithful men who will teach the same Gospel message to the third generation of preachers and teachers (2 Tim. 2:2). In chapter 3, Paul gives characteristics of this ungodly age, including false teachers, and tells Timothy what to do in defense of the truth. Let’s feed on God’s word…

Simply put, Paul tells Timothy to Follow the Scriptures – 3:14-17. The primary tool of defense against deceitful false teachers is a dedication to the Scriptures…

Verse 14 begins with an emphatic “you” and has the last command in this chapter: “Continue.” Timothy is to continue what he had seen and heard in the apostle Paul, just as he had said to the Philippians (4:9).

How can I emphasize that what Paul taught is a pattern for what we are to do and teach today? To give one illustration among many… Paul taught the churches in Ephesus, Colossae, and Corinth, to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs without the accompaniment of mechanical instruments of music. It is a matter of historical record that the people used instruments in worship when they were pagans. They used instruments when they were Jews. But when they became Christians, they left their instruments behind in their former unenlightened religion and began singing only, teaching and admonishing one another acapela.

Paul tells Timothy here to continue in what he had learned and “firmly” believed, knowing from whom he had learned it. That’s why Paul calls himself an apostle in 1:1. Timothy, of course, had also learned it from his mother and grandmother as well as others we have mentioned before, such as Barnabas and Silas.

Verse 15 shows this Gospel message that Paul taught was consistent with what Timothy had been taught from childhood. Timothy had become acquainted with the “sacred writings,” which are able to make him, you, and me – all of us – “wise for salvation” (cf. Psalm 19:7) through faith/trust/commitment to Jesus Christ.

Verses 16 and 17 give a tremendous amount of information about the Sacred Writings, to which we will dedicate an extra Bible class lesson. The basis of the profitability of the Scriptures is its divine nature.

First, Paul says Scripture is “inspired” of God or, as the ESV translates it: “All Scripture is breathed out by God.” That’s what the word “inspiration” means. Observe the two words: “in” and “spire:” “Breathe into.” The Greek word is a combination of “God” and “wind/Spirit.” The Romanian word for “word” is “cu” (with) “vânt” (wind). That means Scripture was given by the Holy Spirit of God to the apostles in words.

This inspired, guided message of God is profitable/fruitful/useful (cf. Rom. 15:3-4; 1 Cor. 9:10; 10:6, 11) for: Teaching; Reproof – “exposing”; Correction; Training in righteousness.

Finally, verse 17 gives us the purpose of the inspired writings – “that” the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. This shows that we need nothing else than God’s holy word to be complete and perfect in the eyes of God and to combat false teaching.

–Paul Holland

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Unity in the midst of diversity?

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A CASE STUDY IN CAPERNAUM:

The existence of division in the religious world rightly disturbs many people. The question we have to ask is, however: What can we do about it?

One suggests that acceptance of one another’s religious convictions & foibles is the solution. Basically, let’s “agree to disagree.” But that is not the solution. Coming together on Truth is the solution.

Some use Mark 9:33ff as a “prooftext” in this effort to have unity in the midst of diversity. It is true that the context of Mark 9:33ff is not about “doctrine” or “teaching.” But even in the context of egos, the first answer is to submit to Truth – the truth that all people are inherently valuable before Jesus Christ. The context is not dealing with such differences as exist in the “Christian world,” doctrinal differences.

In the context, the disciples recognize that this man was “casting out demons.” Jesus instructs them that a man cannot cast out demons, “perform a miracle in My name,” who can speak evil of Him (9:39). The man was teaching the Truth! That’s the point of Jesus’ answer and it is a refutation of this modern use of the passage. He wasn’t teaching his own doctrine! He was teaching the Truth! No man can perform miracles unless God is with him, as Nicodemus recognized in John 3:2. God would not empower a man with miracles who would then teach error.

Just because this man was not a part of the twelve doesn’t mean he wasn’t sent out by Jesus (or even John!) at some other point. Jesus had a multitude of followers and even sent out 70 on at least one occasion (Luke 10:1).

These men were, in fact, teaching the Truth so this passage does not support accepting diversity among denominations today.

One author “praises” the Brazilian Pentecostal, the British Anglican, the Southern Baptist, the Presbyterians, the Catholic, as well as others. This is simply a fallacy. What does all that prove? It proves nothing. So what? Just because a Pentecostal might teach me something does not mean he’s a member of Christ’s Church. That’s not what makes someone a Christian.

Let’s not ignore what Jesus teaches in order to sound pious and godly. It’s dedication and obedience to the Truth that makes one a child of God (Galatians 3:26-27).

We can deceive ourselves so very easily and say that what we are doing “gives glory to God.” But if it’s not obedience then it is vain! Jesus’ words from Matthew 7:21-23 are not hard to understand. But it does take humility to submit to Him.

–Paul Holland

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Psalm 65 Bible study

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Hope of All the Earth – Psalm 65

The state of California has been experiencing one of its worst droughts ever. In 119 years of recorded history, 2013 was its driest calendar year. On January 17, 2014 California State Governor, Jerry Brown, declared a drought state of emergency. This week and next week, California is supposed to be getting a few inches of rain so that will provide some relief. But, it is clear the farmers need much, much more.

How pleasant it is to receive rain when you desperately need it. A slow, steady rain in the summer, spring, or fall is just as soothing as a snowfall in the winter.

In Psalm 65, David reflects on the blessings of God as they are revealed through a good rainfall that produces an abundant harvest and fulfills the shepherd’s and the farmer’s hope. And, reflecting on that rainfall, David is motivated to worship God, to praise God in hope, for the forgiveness of his sins.

Psalm 65 sort of works backward. In many psalms, the writer will give us the reason for the worship and then tell us about the results of that worship. But, here in Psalm 65, David will talk about the result of his hope (worship) and then tell us about the inspiration for that hope (rainfall and an abundant harvest).

Let’s be inspired by David and his “rainy night.”

THE RESULT OF HOPE:
Praise in worship – Strophe 1 (verses 1-3). Notice the emphasis here, in all three verses, is on God. The dominant note of verse three is grace! Jesus made the statement in Matthew 5:45 that God sends rain on the just and the unjust and sunshine on the evil and on the good. Paul writes in Romans 2:4 that this goodness of God should lead us to God, in repentance, in obedience, in worship.

Praise in His goodness – Strophe 2 (verses 4-5). Here is joy presented, in the worship of God and His goodness. Verse 5 is the “pivot” of the psalm. It ties together the result of hope (Strophes 1 & 2) with the inspiration of hope (Strophes 3-5). Fearing God and trusting/hoping in God can be done because God does not change. He is dependable and His nature is constant.

THE INSPIRATION FOR HOPE:
God’s power inspires us – Strophe 3 (verses 6-9). Stanza 1 – God’s power in nature (verses 6-8). Mountains are emblems of stability, perseverance, and firmness. But God is more stable and more dependable than the mountains!

The power of the seas can generate energy to power homes and businesses. But God can still the roaring seas and the rage of the waves. Just as Jesus stilled the storm on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:35-41). God can also calm the tumult of warring peoples and nations.

Stanza 2 – God’s power in the harvest (verse 9).

God’s power sustains us – Strophe 4 (verses 10-11).

God’s power is universally recognized – Strophe 5 (verses 12-13).

The rain, as it replenishes the earth and makes new life grow, and the snow, as it blankets the earth, covering all the dirt and ugliness, both remind us of the mercies of God that are new every morning. Both the rain and the snow remind us of the freshness of God’s forgiveness that we enjoy in Christ and all the other abundant blessings.

Be satisfied with the goodness of God and praise Him.

–Paul Holland

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Dry baptism and the Bible

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A Dry Baptism

The more Bible studies you are in, the more weird ideas you hear. Recently, I was exposed to the concept of “dry baptism.” That was the gentleman’s remark relative to Romans 6. He sat in my office, not intending to study nor to defend what he believed. He just wanted to tell me what he believed.

It is a strange behavior to make up your own religion. “Dry baptism” is just that. It is an effort to get around the plain meaning of the text.

John’s baptism was not dry. It was in water (Matt. 3:11). The new birth is not dry. It involves water (John 3:5). Aside from the very unique experience of baptism in the Holy Spirit, Jesus did not baptize dryly. He used water (John 3:22-23).

The Ethiopian nobleman did not experience a dry baptism. His involved water (Acts 8:36, 38-39). Cornelius’s baptism for forgiveness was not a dry baptism. It involved water (Acts 10:47).

The baptism by which we are sanctified and cleansed is not a dry baptism. It involves water (Ephesians 5:26). The baptism that accompanies drawing near to God in full assurance of faith and hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience is not a dry baptism. It involves water (Hebrews 10:22). The baptism that “now” saves us is not a dry baptism. It involves water (1 Peter 3:20-21).

If one wishes to call “Holy Spirit” baptism dry, then so be it. But there is now only one baptism (Ephesians 4:5) and based on the passages mentioned above, their context, and various other passages, Holy Spirit baptism is not that baptism!

The baptism that saves is baptism (“immersion”) in water for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).

–Paul Holland

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Sermon outline on the flood

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Surviving the Flood – Genesis 6-8

The story of Noah’s ark is very popular with kids. But, as you would guess, there is a deeper significance to building the ark than just to entertain and “wow” children. Noah building the ark is a study of the grace of God!

GRACE RECEIVED – Genesis 6:
The account of Noah begins (vs 1-2) with an emphasis on how wicked the world was (vs 5-7). Count how many times Moses emphasizes Man’s wickedness in verses 5-7 and 11-13.

But, the text says, “Noah found favor [grace] in the eyes of the Lord.” Noah found grace in the eyes of God. Why? Simply saying that Noah found grace tells us two things: 1.) Noah did not deserve what God was about to do for him. That means that Noah was not sinless. Noah was not perfect. But: 2.) It shows us that Noah did respond to God’s instructions in some way with some degree of faith.

We see this in verse 9: “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God.” Noah knew there were certain expectations from God about how he was supposed to live and Noah did those things to the best of his ability.

Notice how Noah responds to God’s grace – “Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.” Noah obeyed the grace of God. If we understand 6:3 correctly, Noah had 120 years to build the ark and during that time, 2 Peter 2:5 tells us, Noah also preached to his generation to repent and respond to God in order to avoid the coming destruction. So, God’s grace preserves Noah…

GRACE PRESERVES – Genesis 7:
Once Noah and his family and all the animals were on the ark, God shut the door. God’s Spirit will not always be patient with man. When God decides, in His infinite wisdom, to bring His justice, then the time to respond to God’s grace is over. Noah, his family, and those animals were on the inside of that door. They were going to be preserved from the destructive waters of the flood.

Because Noah obeyed the grace of God, then God preserved Noah (7:21-23). They had responded to the grace of God with obedience, so God’s grace preserved them. But, God’s grace did not end once they were on the ark. God’s grace extended beyond the ark…

GRACE EXTENDED – Genesis 8:
Noah and his family spent almost an entire year on that ark! God preserved him on the ark. Because of Noah’s faithful, obedient response, God extends grace to Noah.

Notice in 8:20 that the first thing Noah does when he gets off the ark is to build an altar and worship God! Yet again, the response to grace is obedience; it is worship. That’s what Noah does and because he responds to God, God extends His grace yet again (8:20-9:3).

God extends His grace to Noah by: 1.) Promising to never again curse the ground for the sake of man; 2.) He will never destroy every living creature again; 3.) The climate will largely stay consistent; 4.) Noah and his children can once again have children and grandchildren; 5.) All living creatures may be eaten as food.

How wonderful is the grace of God! God extends His grace to us. We must obey that grace.

–Paul Holland

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Sermon on the word flee

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FLEE

 

  • God believes and God says there are times when saved people need to “flee.”
  • 2:13 – READ
    1. In Mt. 10:22-23 – Jesus warned about the need to “flee” when persecution arose.
    2. 24:16 – READ    Mt. 24:17-18 – READ

 

APPLYING THE CONCEPT OF “FLEEING” TO THE CHRISTIAN LFE.

 

  • Can the devil run?
  • 4:7 – READ In Jas. 4:7 the Bible says the devil can and will “flee” in a certain set of circumstances.
    1. 4:8 – READ
    2. One of the primary ways we “resist” Satan is “drawing nigh” (getting close) to God.
    3. 1 Cor. 6:18 – READ
  • A very loose translation says “run from sex sin.”
  • All sexual activity not authorized by the Bible is “fornication.”

 

  • In 1 Cor. 10:14 Paul told the Corinthians to “flee from idolatry.”
    1. The preposition “from” hopefully appears in your translation and this word is significant.
    2. Paul not only meant “flee FROM the sin of idolatry, but flee from the things that CAN LEAD TO IT!

 

  • An idol is something that replaces God.
    1. Our idol may be a relationship – a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, children are our 1st
    2. A business may be an idol, as may be sports or entertainment.

 

  • Paul says “flee” whatever thing or things may cause us to put God in the wrong place.
  • When we put God first – “drawing night to God” – Jas. 4:8 – we flee things and the devil flees from us.
  • 2 Tim. 2:22 – “flee youthful lusts.”
  • When items come up that are tempting but wrong, “flee” them.
  • Don’t hesitate or try to compromise; “flee.”
  • Pray for the strength to flee, the opportunity to flee, and whatever else is needed to get away.
  • Flee should be one of those words which is never far from our minds.
  • There is no shame in “fleeing” (saying no and sticking by our decision).
  • The time to start a life of flight, if we have not yet done so, is today.
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Free sermon outlines on 2 Timothy 2

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“Don’t be ashamed or Rude” – 2 Timothy 2:14-26

Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus to “do the work of an evangelist” (4:5); yet, he has called Timothy to leave Ephesus and come see him in prison in Rome (4:9). There is a very present danger, however, in that false teachers are popping up all over the place, including Ephesus. Paul had warned the elders in Ephesus back in Acts 20 about these false teachers and here, Paul issues a very clear warning to Timothy.

False teaching always has its appeal. That’s a part of its deceitfulness. False teaching tells us what we want to hear, not what God wants us to hear. We always create gods after our own image and so-called Christians have created a gospel after their own image and a “Jesus” after their own image and a “Holy Spirit” after their own image (Cf. 2 Corinthians 11:4).

So, in responding to false teaching, Paul gives Timothy three more imperatives from here to the end of the chapter…

Verse 22 – “Flee!” youthful lusts – whatever might be appealing when it comes to false teaching – flee those desires. Is it more money? Prestige? Popularity? Ambition? Novelties? Nothing is worth the price of destroying the Gospel of Christ which destroys the faith of other people and, of course, will cause one to lose his/her own soul.

“Pursue!” (another imperative) Christian virtues as: righteousness, faith, love, and peace (quiet composure) in the atmosphere of the church, described here as those who “call on the Lord from a pure heart.” Spend time with those whose hearts are pure in the eyes of God, fellow Christians, people of “like precious faith” (cf. 2 Peter 1:1).

Verse 23 – This is the final imperative in this section – “Refuse” or “have nothing to do with” foolish and ignorant (“unlearned” and “uneducated”) speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. “To carry on a sustained argument with a fool is to show oneself to be of the same mentality” (Jackson, 248).

God does not place a premium on “quarreling.” Yet, we are to “contend earnestly” for the faith (Jude 3). The difference is in our motivation and our attitude. Is our motivation to win an argument or to win a soul? Is it to show ourselves superior to someone else or are we honestly trying to defend the honor of Jesus Christ?

Verse 24 – The slave of the Lord must not be quarrelsome. Rather, he is to be kind to all, able to teach, patient (or tolerant) when wronged (Eph. 4:15). “Even if the listener is angry and rude, the Christian teacher must try to not retaliate in kind” (Jackson, 249).

Verse 25 – Paul further says we are to be gentle in correcting those who are in opposition to the truth, if perhaps God may give them repentance, leading to knowledge of the truth. The goal of our education is to lead to repentance through knowledge of the truth. “Gentle” can be translated as “meek” and it carries the idea of approachability; in other words, one humble enough to be taught something new.

Verse 26 – Additionally, they might just “come to their senses” and escape the snare laid out by Satan through his deception, who had previously been held captive by Satan to do his will – that is, leading others astray through deception (cf. 3:13). These false teachers are pawns of Satan, doing his will be deceiving people. What is the defense against false teachers? Paul will tell us in chapter 3 – the inspired word of God.

–Paul Holland

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By one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit

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Four Baptisms – Four Paths

First, a man had visited worship several years ago, as well as visiting other churches. He had wanted to have a systematic study of the Bible. When I settled in (in fact, he may have called before the boxes were unpacked!), he gave me a call and said he wanted to study. He had been baptized as a child and in younger days into a denominational church. We began by studying the nature of God. After nearly six months of weekly study, he realized he had not been baptized for the forgiveness of sins. So, we helped him obey his Lord.

Second, a retired man decided that when he was baptized at the age of 23, he had not been as convicted as he should. He also had been unfaithful for many years, working seven days a week. For the past ten years, he had been questioning his decision and his baptism. So, he decided to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.

Third, a woman brought her family to Vacation Bible School back in the summer. She told the two children they had to stay the first night. If they did not like it, they did not have to go back. They liked it; they came back. The mom and dad were influenced to return on Sunday. They felt good about their visit and came back again and again. Then, the parents decided to study the Bible. The mom also sat in the women’s class taught by an elder’s wife. All the influences combined to motivate her to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.

Finally, another woman gives me a call at the church building. She had been baptized in the 50’s in a denominational church that does not baptize for the forgiveness of sins. She has worshiped with the Lord’s church for years. Finally, after reading Muscle and Shovel, she realized that she had not, in fact, obeyed Jesus Christ. So, she was baptized for the forgiveness of sins.

Two men. Two women. Two races. One Savior. One baptism. We are brought together through one method, one avenue and made into one body, one family.

“By one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

–Paul Holland

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A Bible study on Andrew

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Make Disciples – A Study of Andrew

How does one reach a thousand? How does 1.2 million Christians reach over 7 billion? More importantly, how does one reach the neighbor across the street? How many of the Hindus can we convince that there is only one God? How many of the atheists can we convince that there is a God? Can we show the Muslims that God is Jehovah and not Allah? Will they accept Christ as the final prophet of God rather than Mohammed?

How many of the Jews can we convert to Christ, the Messiah promised in the Old Testament? How many of the Catholics can we convince to give up tradition and worship neither man nor icon? How many Protestants can we convince to give up the doctrines and commandments of men? How many of the secular world can we convince to prepare for eternity? How?

Consider one of Jesus’ disciples, the brother of Simon Peter, whose name was Andrew. The apostle John gives us three events in the life of Jesus which involve Andrew and all three times, Andrew is bringing someone to Jesus. Ultimately, that’s what Christianity is about – bringing people to Jesus. Making disciples.

ANDREW BRINGS PETER TO JESUS – 1:35-42:
Andrew’s first target was family, specifically, his brother. “We have found the Messiah.” Our evangelism does not have to get complicated. It can be as simple as saying, “I have found the Savior.” Now, it is more involved than just that, but we have to get the conversation started somewhere. “I have found the Messiah.”

We have to be convinced that Jesus is the source of all blessings; that Jesus will bless all of our family and friends if they will simply come to Jesus. But, even if we are convinced of that fact, it will do no good if we do not share that message with others.

ANDREW BRINGS A BOY TO JESUS – 6:1-14:
Jesus is certainly the one who feeds the 5,000, but Andrew is the one who found this boy and brought him to Jesus. Again, bring someone to Jesus. Let Jesus bless that individual and then Jesus, through that person, will be a blessing to others.

Let me point out something else. Andrew could have said this very same thing, to himself, when he found the boy and, based on the small “gift,” decide not to even bother Jesus with it! Yet, he did not. Andrew did not “despise small things.” He brought this “gift” – both the boy and his lunch – to Jesus and allowed the Master to decide what to do with it. What an important lesson for us! Do not underestimate what Jesus can do with what we offer Him! Give faithfully what you can and allow Jesus to multiply it!

ANDREW BRINGS NON-JEWS TO JESUS – 12:20-26:
Some Greeks were among those who had gone up to worship at the feast of Passover and they want a personal interview with Jesus. So, they come to Philip, first.

But, Philip brought them to Andrew, and Andrew – true to his nature – brings them to Jesus. It is at this point, and this is a literary feature of the Gospel of John, that Jesus says, “The hour has come.” The hour for Jesus to be glorified.

He may have been introverted. He certainly did not have the personality that his more flamboyant brother, Peter, had. But he did what he could to serve his master, Jesus Christ. He brought his brother. He brought a boy. He brought non-Jews to Christ.

Make disciples of those around you – bring them to Jesus.

–Paul Holland

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Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you

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Clean out the Buffer

Recently, I was in a Bible study with a new Christian and discussing living the Christian life. With a background in electronics, he said that one must “clean out the buffer” when he becomes a Christian.

A buffer is a temporary storage capability in computers. The buffer holds information temporarily until it can be saved to a storage device or to the central processing unit. For example, when you type in a word processing document, your typing is stored in a buffer until it is saved on the computer. When you watch a video on the internet, the video is first loaded to a buffer before you can watch it on the computer. The faster your computer, the less you see the impact of a buffer.

So, my new Christian friend was suggesting that a new Christian needs to clean out old habits, sinful tendencies, attitudes, and actions. Not only must a new Christian do such but experienced Christians need to work on it too. As one preacher said, “Baptism does not drown the devil.”

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation” (Matthew 12:43-45).

In other words, clean out the buffer. Focus on ending those sinful habits that you did before you became a Christian. Make an honest effort to put those behaviors behind you so they will not recur.

Simon, of course, is a clear example of this concept in Acts 8. Simon is first introduced in verse 9 as one who “practiced magic” and through that deception “amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying ‘This man is the power of God that is called Great’” (8:9-10).

When Simon tried to buy the ability to pass on miraculous gifts from the apostles, Peter told him he needed to “clean out the buffer:” “Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you” (verse 22).

If you find yourself committing the same sins now that you did when you were not a Christian, maybe you should clean out the buffer!

–Paul Holland

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