Friday, August 8, 2014

My Salvation Story In Jesus Christ, the LORD, Through the Holy Spirit of God

 
Jesus Love

>>> This picture is from lostseed.com, which I greatly appreciate.
"Jesus Love"






What you are reading is true. I experienced it, and having told many family and friends throughout the years, I remember everything well.
I have felt a strong urging from the Lord to tell you for some time, actually, several months, and I have been writing and fine-tuning this posting and several others.

I was raised in the church, The First Christian Church in Emporia, Kansas. Our mother, Dorothy McCoy, took my sister Sherry and me to church every Sunday. We would each attend our Sunday School class according to age, and then we would go to the service in the large sanctuary for the whole congregation to worship God in prayer and music and to hear the sermon.  During the summertime, Sherry and I always attended the Vacation Bible School at our church and had a really good time!


Mom had a solid, exceedingly strong faith in Jesus Christ: His salvation power and the power of prayer, so, of course, she was always at church with us and made sure we attended. God was the Lord of her life, each day.  Mom played the piano beautifully and would come to each classroom during Sunday School to play several songs, then she would go on her way to the next one. I can still see her beautiful dark hair and eyes, her light skin, smiling face with red lipstick, high heels, and in those days she wore a mid-length straight skirt with a crisply~ironed and feminine blouse, tucked in. 
***(Read on to the end and then you will see where I explained a bit further about how the Disciples of Christ, where I was raised in the church, have an important aspect of the worship in music and the sermon in the sanctuary, and we always had communion together each Sunday as part of the service. 
My Story
Church:  Our teachers taught us in special, short-term classes~ about accepting Christ as my personal Savior and also about baptism to be sure that I knew that Jesus, the Son of God, died on the cross for my sins, arose on the third day, and later arose to Heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father; that my accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior was giving my life to Him; and  that the Holy Spirit would help me to live a life as much like Jesus as possible.  We understood that the two greatest commandments are to love the Lord God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, then to love others as myself.  So, when I was 9 years old, my sister, my dad and I were all baptized!  My dad attended church at Christmas and Easter time.  Mom had been baptized as a very young woman.  I know that she definitely made the choice for Christ as her personal Savior...this simply means to accept Jesus and to have a relationship with Him; He is her Lord God, her Savior, and she is His true child...it is not a cut-off, impersonal and cold relationship, and it is not on-again, off-again, a casual thing.  It is a living, breathing, a most close relationship that lasts forever.  He never leaves you or forsakes you no matter what!  I would learn this lesson so well as my life carried on from childhood into adulthood and looking back at times when I knew he fully protected me and never failed me. 
Throughout the years, Mom and I discussed these matters.  I think Mom was so very close to the Lord and didn't go through a lot of angst as some of us do in our decision to accept God's gift of eternal life, so it came out of a very natural place~ calm, sure, always~ as though it had been secure between Jesus and herself from the beginning of her life when she knew to understand what it is to accept His gift of salvation.  Mom's mother, my Grandma Binder, read the Bible every day and even with a total of 10 children, they knew NOT to bother their mother when she had her special time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer!

Family: My parents were divorced, which occurred when I was 12-years-old.  My mom did not want the divorce, nor did she cause anything around the fact.  She later in life told me that she would have lost her mind if she had not had Jesus and her sis, my Aunt Virginia, to help her through such an ordeal.  When my dad left us, I remember feeling as though the rug had been pulled out from under me.  I was very close to my dad, it was devastating for many decades- to Mom, my sis Sherry, and me. 

Teen and College, Young Adult Years: I had great friends my teenage years (our parents were good people); however, we were "wild" teenagers.  Some of it came from the times when we were growing up, but these stories are thousands of years old, and we made our own choices.  We definitely live in a broken world.  (Most certainly, there are many young people who do NOT do a lot of wrong things as they grow up- praise the Lord for His wisdom and for these young folks' good scruples and discretion.)
There was a lot of illegal drinking going on during the teen years- parties at the lake, which were "woodsies" (in the woods) with cars, friends, and a keg or two of beer.  These practices seemed fairly common at the time and were, nonetheless, so dangerous and illegal since we were too young to drink alcohol, and we were driving with less than full capacities of the brain in function; our brains were immature and inexperienced. 
Most of us made very good grades while being involved in school activities, and many of us were in church on Sundays!  We were binge drinking on the weekends, and it is only by the grace of God that we survived; some young people have not survived those activities. 
God loves us, whether or not someone was doing something wrong.  I am not at all saying that He loves anyone more than another if a person is saved to stay in this life, or an individual was taken to eternity.  I realize in retrospect how much my Lord watched over me and so many others, keeping them safe, working in natural and supernatural ways that, most of which, we will never know unless He divulges those ways to us in Heaven one day.  He has His Almighty reasons and purposes for each of us.  I am as aware as a human can be that He has intervened many times to protect me.  

This time of living as a teenager and also throughout college and shortly thereafter, I was looking for love in all the wrong places!  I was searching for the right boyfriend/then man to fulfill my need for my first, most important love, whom I had lost in many ways, my dad. 

Even though I was taught in church, I was too young yet to realize that only Jesus Christ would ever fully love me like no one else ever could and also that God's timing is truly perfect! in pairing me with my husband, for life.  If we pray, stay in the Bible, go to a good church (not a false church, group, or cult or false faith/religion) and fellowship with people who fear and yet very much love God, and will but wait upon the Lord, He will give us our hearts' desires.  Sometime the answer is waiting, or it can be in a different way that He knows is truly better. The yearning for someone to love me to fill that hurt, vacant spot where my father had been was ever-present even though many times I was not truly aware.

Forgiveness 
I had some counseling therapy at about age 20 (and have at significant times throughout my adult life), but with that particular therapist, I look back now and whom I could have truly benefited would have been a wise, Christian pastor or counselor. 
I later forgave my father at the age of 40.  At that time I was in group therapy with other women; we all had health/physical/emotional needs.  One night as our group was talking together, I heard in my mind very clearly, "Take your father back for yourself."  It was quite distinctive, and it was not my voice; it was the Lord God's Voice speaking to me directly.  I am not exactly sure if I realized at that moment it was the Lord, but it definitely made an impression on me!  On the way home from therapy that night in my car, again, God said or made known something to me, but I do not remember what it was, although it was in the same vein as the earlier message.  I was definitely going to act on this directive. 
In the next couple of days, I called my dad and asked him to lunch; I said that I needed to meet with him alone.  We sat in his car outside the restaurant and talked before going inside.  I told Dad how I devastated I was when he left us, that I felt as though a rug had been yanked out from under my feet; I felt left alone and missed him more than I could explain.  We both cried together~ a lot, especially my dad; the words imparted and meaning had an extraordinary impact on him.  Somehow, I think he was both very hurt, and, yet, extremely relieved by our conversation- truth and forgiveness are powerful forces for the Good, when done in real love.
  I told Dad that I forgave him, and I remember telling him how I had heard the Voice saying~~~ to take him back.  It was a real breakthrough in Dad's and my relationship (there would be other little steps back and more breakthrough...), many years of suffering and pain and feeling abandoned.  We talked about our family.  Dad told me that he always thought that mom would re-marry, and he was so surprised that she had not, that she was a very good woman.  I think it was his way of saying to an effect, I am so sorry I left your mother and wanted her to be happy, fully believing that she would find someone and be re-married.  Our dad always had loved Sherry and me very much, evenso, our beloved mother, his first wife.

How God worked through life circumstances and happenings to bring me to meeting the love of my life, my earthly rock!~ my husband, Royce, is, well, amazing and incredible as only God can do for His flock.  All of this leads to my salvation in Christ Jesus~!
Salvation Found; It was Always There for Me to Accept~!
Some of those years, particularly later high school, college, then after graduation living and working in San Francisco, I desperately needed someone to love me; to share love with me; to have a hope and a real future
***(see Jeremiah 29:11 below): a life filled with love, family and all of the things we hope our lives will give us.
What I did not realize was that my Heavenly Father already had selected the man He had in mind just for me!  And vice versa- me, the woman He had in mind just for my husband to marry!  What had been so sad and depressing less than a year before in "having" to return home to finish school, turned out to be the direction and grace of God.  Such occurrences happen quite obviously at pivotal times in our lives.  I can see it so clearly:  how perfectly the Lord had moved things/situations, stirrings within people's minds and hearts and my own.

While my girlfriend and I, along with three other young women, were living and working in San Francisco, California, I very much wanted to attend graduate school there! 
As the Lord would orchestrate things in my life, I was not accepted into the college of choice there (later after I had already left the geographic area, the opportunity did come through).  However, at that time in the summer, I was offered an assistantship while I would work on my master's degree in psychology and special education to teach, so I took the offer from Emporia State University, which meant that I would be returning to my hometown and where I had stayed for four more years already attending undergraduate school there.  Was I quite, quite sad, regretful and disappointed to be going back to my hometown (later, I was extremely grateful for the opportunities: a good education, to be near my mother, and the Lord in all His love and mighty abilities, working situations so that I could eventually meet the man He had for me)!
I cried and cried because I wanted to stay in that big-life, gorgeous city, much more exciting, far away from where I had grown up.  It truly was empty, though, when I think of my life as it actually was there.  I praise God for helping me in these ways because He knew that I needed to be back in Kansas.  I could not hide the truth of how I felt, and I know I hurt my mother's feelings!

I cannot see around corners as the Lord is able, so I had no idea that in retrospect and in maturity, even moreso, that it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me!  To be with my beloved, awesome mom more time; to get a fantastic degree at a great university; to make that next stepping-stone on the path to work at Prairie View Mental Health Center to teach children, my first real, paid teaching job!  The Placement Office at my college helped me find a wonderful job with a veteran teacher and eventually within that first year~ the most loving man and husband who is faithful, protective, loving, and providesHe loves me more than anything, and I, feel the same way about him.

That School Year of Teaching that Lead to My Salvation Experience...
 My first month with my Phyllis DelVecchio; oh, how I love her, and she will always be so precious to me.  She went to Glory in Heaven to be with her Lord some years ago now.  Phyllis was a veteran school teacher, and I was an ingenue~ totally new, never taught before except in practica where I taught as a student for "practice" under the supervision of an experienced teacher (during my college years).
This woman, Phyllis, was so close to the Lord, and she exuded Joy in Him.  We talked about everything: our families, our lives, the children we taught, how best to reach them, and many things.  Most of all, she would mention Jesus and her relationship with Him.  God had helped Phyllis in all of her life, even as a child; He stood by her, acted on behalf of her needs and goodness, and was her faithful Savior and the Lord of her life.  I listened a great deal and asked many questions over the months of working together in the classroom and as we would stroll back and forth from the main building that housed the cafeteria where we would have lunch together each day.  Phyllis invited me into her home where I grew to know her husband and her four children; we did things together such as going to church bazaars.
In that first month of school, enter my husband-to-be!  I was struck with his presence, smile and genuine interest in the children.  He had moved back home from college to help in his family's business and wanted to put to the good some of the things he had learned in social work and education.  (Little did Royce and I know that we would be married within that school year.)

We had a lovely wedding in a church, where our mothers wanted us to be, not out in the beautiful park that we had selected that was rained out that day with inclement weather, much to our chagrin and our mothers' delight because a church wedding was best, they believed :)  Royce and I went on our honeymoon, returned in a week, and I continued working because this school went 12 months per year, year-round.

I must stop a moment to give you some "inside" information.  As you know, I had been raised in the church, baptized when I was 9, "accepted Christ," then later went on my own way, away from God.  Royce was raised in the church, our parents were definitely Christ-following and loving, church-going people, true believers in Jesus as their Savior and the Lord of their lives.
I did not know until later, but my beloved mother, Royce's dear, dear parents, and he himself had been praying for me to "come back to Jesus."  I certainly did not feel "saved," and only God knows the truth of that.  He might share with me in Heaven one day exactly when I was saved in Christ.  I will tell you this truth: I would not want to have continued the way I was going, feeling and being estranged from the Lord because I probably would not have been included with God's saints, His believers, for eternity!  I would never have wanted to stake my eternal existence and Life on "if" I had been saved as a child, and then gone forward, living like Hell!  Even if I had lived a "good life" and done many great, loving and helpful things for people~~~no woman or man, can boast that s/he is perfect, and, therefore, going to Heaven on one's own works.  If you are thinking this way, which Satan loves for you to believe (completely mistakenly), it is NOT the Truth; it is what the world wants you to believe...and then one day when you pass on from this life if you have decided NOT to accept Christ, it is too late.  The Bible says:
Romans 1:20
New International Version (NIV)
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 
~~~A new, good friend in the Lord, Teri Anderson, from Community Life Church told me just the other day that I was saved in the Son of God, Jesus, back when I was 9 years old when I stated so at church and was baptized that day.  Further, she believes that I already had been saved at the age of 6, that I was sealed in Christ and the Holy Spirit at that time.  Although I have no exact awareness of anything like that during my early childhood other than being in church and learning about Jesus and loving to hear stories about Him, she is probably right~~~ Praise God!  However, I do stand on what I told you about how I would not have "bet my life" that I was already saved when I came back to the Lord at the age of 25...More recently, a very close friend of 10 years now named Karen Clough, where we met originally at church, wrote to tell me that she believes I was truly saved at 25 and that my baptism needed to be after I accepted Christ (often, they are done at the same time~ acceptance, then baptism by water...she is absolutely correct, but did not realize that I had been baptized the second time just a few years ago :)  I am so appreciative that she cared enough to tell me!!!  Accepting Jesus as your Savior and Lord is necessary for Salvation to Heaven, eternal life with God, NOT separated from Him in Hell; however, baptism is NOT what gets one saved.  It is a directive from God, not a request, but baptism is the part that makes the announcement to all that you have accepted Him as your Savior!  
PLEASE be sure for your own Life for eternity that you ARE with God
(not separated from Him forever) by making that Choice and speaking from your heart to Him that you believe in Jesus as your Savior and the Lord of your life, that you know He died for your wrongs, and that you want Him in your heart and life forever.  You will not know or understand everything- no one understands everything about God or even the Bible, but we can and want to learn and to keep growing closer to Him.  I can promise you: that you will have a life here on earth, for now 'til you go to Heaven, that will be guarded by and lead and loved by your
Heavenly Father.~~~  
How I Came (...Came Back) to the Lord Jesus Christ
After our wedding, and the honeymoon, then being back at school in the summer session with the children where I taught, I drove to work each morning in my old, gold 1967 Chevy II; it was so solid and heavy that it felt like a Mac truck (loved that car, can still see how it felt and looked as I sat inside driving those special days just before I came to Christ for certain in my mind, returning to Him forever).  As I would be driving on my way to school each and every morning, I would "hear" the old hymns that we had sung for years from my church as I was growing up, years back.  Truly, I am not sure if the music was audible or in my head (I had absolutely NO musical means in that car~ electronic or radio!).  I do know that as I drove each morning to school for work, for two weeks, as I heard the hymns, I would be crying and sobbing very hard, feeling extremely sad, as though my heart were lost forever.  I had no control, whatsoever, over this happening to me!  Finally, after experiencing the music I had grown up with daily and the wrenching deep pain and sorrow, I was desperate for relief, yet I was powerless to stop this daily event occurring.  I told my husband Royce, "We have to do something about this music and crying I have every day on the way to work!"  He said that we should go see his youth pastor, Gene,  who was still a member at the church, from Royce's growing up years there.

Royce and I made an appointment and went to visit with Gene at his home.  I told Gene about the daily experience with hearing hymns and then being distraught...what was I to do?  He read to me from The Holy Bible passages about how much God loves me, that Jesus the Son of God, died on the cross for me to take away my sins so that I could be with Him in Heaven one day, since God is completely Holy, and Jesus was the Perfect Lamb Who stood in my place...that all I needed to do was to accept His offer and gift of salvation. 

To tell you the truth, I had been so terribly, horribly mixed up by this crazy world and the devil himself and my own upset mind that even though I had been raised in the church and heard hundreds of Bible stories and sermons over many years, I did not have one clue as to what to do to be saved!!!  It sounds crazy, but it is absolutely fact---do you, or have you felt that way?

Gene said I only needed to pray to God to ask for forgiveness and to invite Jesus into my heart as my personal Savior.  I was embarrassed and self-conscious, so I said that Royce and I would go home and think about it.  We thanked Gene for his help and went home to our very tiny house where we lived.

When we got inside and were getting ready for bed, I said to my husband, "I would like to say that prayer and to accept Christ, Royce."  We stood by our bed, held hands, and prayed together.  I cannot tell you who said what, but right then and there I was born again- truly!  I have never been the same since that night, in that my life is CHANGED forever.  I am sealed by the Holy Spirit of God in Christ, forever.  NOTHING can ever change that.
My life has been incredible, filled with the Master's protection and love and good things!  I can see His moving to the good in my life and the lives of loved ones, friends, and others; it is the most fantastic, satisfying thing to realize and witness.  The Lord NEVER ceases to amaze and dazzle me with His Holy Love and Power and Authority!!  Is everything easy and with no problems?- not at all!  Do I know Who holds me and keeps me, and do I see His supreme action in my life and the lives of others?  Absolutely!!  I cannot recommend one other thing in the whole universe that equals my relationship with my Lord God.  It is the most priceless possession that I will ever own.
I love you, Sweet Lord, and dear friend as you read this and make your decision!
2 Corinthians 4:8-18, English Standard Version (ESV)
8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.

13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

  I am not being melodramatic, just stating the truth after much thought and awareness and of course with God's incredible Light in my life to help me figure things out!  These hardships and trying times are real, but on the other hand, we must press on to persevere in Christ.  My current pastor Chris Winn (www.communitylifechurch.com) of 10+ years now has said that when considering a decision or matter in life, after we have prayed and listened to God in those ways I mentioned- in His Word, with Spirit-filled believers, etc.- we can take a step forward in the direction we believe we should and then see how God opens or shuts a door/s for us.
Through that first year of my teaching at Prairie View Mental Health Center, I had my mother, most certainly my aunts and others praying for me.  I know, also that Phyllis DelVecchio was praying for my salvation/return to the Lord as she ministered and testified to me!!  As I said, when Royce and I married, his parents and he were praying for me- I am sure his two sisters, also, to return to the Lord Who always loved me, no matter what.  That is the kind of Christian husband I am so blessed by- he, like Christ, loves and takes care of me- that is what Royce is called to do in our faith.  To Love me like Jesus does.
What a breathtaking Almighty Lord Jesus we love and serve!!!  He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.  We move, breathe, and have our being in Him, alone!!  Without Him, there is nothing in heaven or earth - or anywhere in the universe, nothing at all- because HE is the Creator, the Lover of our souls, and He is the Only One in Whom we can be restored and rectified, made right.  We are redeemed, being transformed and made whole, only through Jesus Christ. 
God bless you so very richly in your faith in Jesus.

Romans 5:1-11, The Holy Bible, The Message (MSG)
The following passage:
Developing Patience
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with Him, make us fit for Him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.
Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!

***Jeremiah 29:11 English Standard Version (ESV)  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.***
***In our church, we always had communion each Sunday in the sanctuary; this is one of the outstanding features of our denomination (the Disciples of Christ).~~~ Communion is where the bread and the cup are spoken their symbolic meaning from the Scripture pertaining to the Bible and in personal words from the minister of deacons/deaconesses reading, during a small and important ceremony. The Body and the Blood represent Christ's actual death that He gave for you and me and every single person who has or ever will live- and then partaken, bread and red wine or grape juice, by all the believers. It is the symbolic realization and re-enactment that in Jesus Christ, we are acknowledging what He did for us~~~He was crucified and murdered on the cross~~~ died, and the veil that was on the door of the temple was ripped and torn asunder, top to bottom. Jesus had said to the Father before He, Christ Himself, died, "Forgive them for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:24)
We remember the Last Supper that Jesus and the twelve disciples had, wherein Jesus broke the Bread and served the Wine (representing His Body and Blood that were to be shed for us on the following day). Jesus tried, as He had other times, to explain to the Disciples what He was about to go through- all, so that His life would have the One-and-Only, most important happening for the sake of each human being in humanity- into eternity and forever and ever!  His Perfect Sacrifice was the only acceptable and complete one that was once and for all, torn asunder as was the veil, from top to button when "It is finished."I have finished the work which You have given Me to do —John 17:4. The death of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment in history of the very mind and intent of God. Oswald Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest, one of the greatest Christian devotional books ever written.
 Jesus Christ did what no other person or god could do for us to be acceptable to enter into Heaven (like Paradise, once again, the Garden of Eden, where we started and intended to be forever.)
Please read on from the New Testament in Matthew to see what the Lord has told us regarding being His disciples.  Let us go do as He said!  Bless you in the Messiah, Yeshua, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, Who is: The King of kings and the Lord of lords! Hallelujah!  So be it :)
Donna

Matthew 10

New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Sends Out the Twelve

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
“The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!
“So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
    a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

Donna M.