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Women in His Presence

by Erica Salazar

Altars & Offerings: Week 1-Abraham Tested

Genesis 22: 1-19 Abraham Tested

Monday: The Rest is History

Read Genesis 22:1

Verse 1 says that “ Some time later, God tested Abraham.”

1. Read Genesis 11:30 and write down what it says about Sarai.
2. Read Genesis 15:1-5. Keeping in mind what was stated in Genesis 11:30, write down all the logical responses/emotions Abram could have after hearing this statement.
3. Read Genesis 15:4-5 and write down what the word of the Lord said to him.
4. Read Genesis 15:6 and write down what Abram’s response was.
5. Read Genesis 17:1-8. Write down and explain the covenant that God made with Abram and also include the major change that occurred.
6. Read Genesis 21:1-6 and write down what happened and how old Abraham was when it happened.

In verse one, “some time later” is the time following a chunk of Abraham’s history. Starting in chapter 11, we are introduced to Abram. We begin to journey with him as he enters into his calling, travels, family highs and lows.

However, the most important thing we are privileged to is the relationship he had with the Lord.

At least 19 times, from chapter 11-21, we read where scripture gives us the direct dialogue or communication of the Lord to Abram/Abraham.
Examples:
1. The LORD had said
2. The LORD said
3. Then the word of the LORD
4. Then the LORD said to him
5. The LORD appeared and said
6. Then God said

Keep this mind as we continue to read Genesis 22:1-19.

Tuesday: Weren’t There Two Sons?

We learned Monday that when God promised the impossible to Abram, scripture said he believed when the promise was initially given to him in Genesis 15:1-5.

My mind wants to think that the promise was a test to Abraham. But according to Genesis 18:10-15, it seemed to have tested Sarah’s faith and belief in God’s strength.

Read Genesis 22:1-2

1. When God called Abraham, what punctuation was used?
2. How did Abraham respond and did he ask who was speaking?
3. What are the two ways God describes Abraham’s son in verse 2?
4. Read Genesis 16:15-16 and write down what happened and how old Abram was?
5. Read Genesis 17:19-22 and write down who God’s covenant was going to be established with.
6. According to 17:10-13, what is God asking of Abraham in order to keep the covenant?
7. Read Genesis 17:23-26 and write down how old Abraham and Ishmael were when Ishmael was circumcised.

Wednesday: Burnt Offering

Read Genesis 22:1-2

1. According to Genesis 21:32-33, where was Abraham living and where was he suppose to take Isaac according to Genesis 22:2.
2. What kind of sacrifice was Isaac to be?

Burnt Offering Facts
https://bible.org/seriespage/2-law-burnt-offerings-leviticus-11-17
1. Was voluntary as a personal offering
2. Most common and offered on a great variety of occasions
3. Could occur during the morning, day, or night
4. Required for cleansing and offered purification, consecration, atonement for sin
5. Offering could be a from a herd (bull), flock (male sheep or goat), birds (turtle dove or pigeon). Your wealth determined which of these you could afford to use as an offering.
6. The animal offered was of highest quality. It was offered at an age when it was about to mature and could have been used to multiply, except it was sacrificed as the offering.
7. The offerer was the one who put the animal to death and would then cut it into pieces unless it was birds. The priest provided the fire.

3. After reading these facts, write down what Abraham would have known in your own words the moment he heard God tell him Isaac was to be a burnt offering. Think back to God’s covenant with Abraham as well.
4. Based on prior reading, about how old was Ishmael and what would disqualify him from being a burnt offering?
10. What was Abraham called at the age of 99?

Thursday: The Journey

Read Genesis 22:3-5 three times.

1. When did Abraham leave? What does the time of day show about his obedience?
2. Who did he take with him? Could any of them become a “back-up plan” for the burnt offering? How does this show Abraham’s obedience.
3. Why do you think Abraham brought enough pre-cut wood prior to departure and how does that his show obedience? https://godasagardener.com/tag/mt-moriah/
4. How many days did it take to get to the location?
5. Who does Abraham say will come back with him?

Friday: Isaac Asks

Read Genesis 22:6-12 three times.

1. What can we infer about Isaac’s age since Abraham placed the wood on Isaac’s back to carry?
2. How does this relate to the burnt offering requirements?
3. What did Abraham carry?
4. In the NIV version it says that Isaac spoke up. What are people feeling prior to when they speak up about something?
5. What punctuation is used when Isaac says, “Father,” and why is it important?
6. What observation does Isaac have and what question does he ask his father?
7. Base on this information, what knowledge does Isaac have of a burnt offering?
8. How does Abraham respond?
9. Who provided Isaac?
10. What does an offering of a lamb communicate about the wealth of Abraham in reference to a burnt offering?
11. Did Isaac have any further questions?

Saturday: The Moment of Truth

Read Genesis 22:9-three times.

1. List the first four steps that Abraham took before reaching for the knife.
2. Who called out to Abraham?
3. Where did he call from?
4. How many times was Abraham’s name called and with what punctuation?
5. Compare how Abraham responded to his response at the beginning of Genesis 22.
6. Read Leviticus 1:3-4 and pay special attention to verse 4.

Next read Genesis 22:12. What is Abraham told not to do which is part of the burnt offering?
7. Compare how Isaac is described in verse 12 to verse 2.
9. Put yourself in the shoes of Abraham. Imagine you are in the moment of holding the knife about to slay your son. If your eyes were closed during this event, what could possibly happen as you bring the knife down? How would your hand have to be positioned over Isaac?
10. Read verses 13-14. When Isaac looks up, he is looking straight ahead. What did the Lord provide?
11. How is it beneficial that the the horns were tangled in a thicket?
12. Does the ram meet the burnt offering requirements?

Sunday: Promise Completed Through Obedience

Read Genesis 22:15-19

1. Read Genesis 12:1-3. In your own words, what promises is the Lord making.
2. Read Genesis 15:4-5. How is the promise further clarified here?
3. Read Genesis 17:1-8. How has the promise been reinforced?
4. Read Genesis 17:19-22. How has the promise been clarified even more?
5. Read Genesis 22:15-19. What promise has come to pass? What promise has been reinforced? What promise has been enhanced due to Abraham’s obedience?

 

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Reading the Bible: Why Should I and Where Do I Start?

Attempting to read the Bible can be intimidating. This is because we have the misconception that it’s too hard, too long, and we really don’t understand why we should.  We think we are too busy, it’s not relevant, and it’s made up of stories that aren’t real. Most of all, we think it’s filled with a bunch of rules we must follow.

When it comes to attending a Bible study, we are afraid to participate.  We think reading the whole thing is a prerequisite for participation. We think we have to actually own a Bible. We think behind those church doors are really smart people engaging in this high level conversation.

But none of that is true.

However, just a little over ten years ago, I was there.  I believed in God and that Jesus died on the cross.  I had faith.  I wanted to start attending church regularly.  I tried to be a good person

Wasn’t that enough?

Well the problem that I ran into once I started reading the Bible was…..

  1.  I realized that prior, I didn’t know what it actually meant to be a follower of Christ?
  2. What I thought was good, ok, or not a big deal, did not line up with the Word of God.
  3. The “rules” were a protective covering that kept me feeling whole, loved, safe, and not lacking.

What I started to gain by reading the Bible….

  1. A personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
  2. A desire to read the Bible out of enjoyment and not out of requirement.
  3. I started to feel alive and complete.
  4. It became my anchor in a storm.
  5. It gave me ability to heal, love, and forgive when I should naturally be bitter.
  6. Etc…..The list could go on forever.

Overall, it unlocked this whole new world that was better than before.  Sure, life still happened.  But, more and more instead of turning to outside solutions to make me feel good, I turned to my Bible.

It is the place where God guides me.   It’s the place where He speaks to me. In there is the truth about life, circumstances, and choices.

Its the only place I can go that gives me peace, comfort, excitement, adventure, purpose, and an understanding of the condition of my heart.

I encourage you in 2018 to give it try.  Journey with me, by reading a Proverb a day.   It’s a great place to start and very applicable to everyday life.

Don’t be afraid.   Be ready to be amazed.

 

Ready for War

He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow, and concealed me in his quiver.

Isaiah 49:2

As the year comes to an end, 2017 has been a year of new firsts, a season of waiting, and a total dependence on the Lord.

As the past lingers with unexpected reminders, so does God’s Truth. It hits hard and is a constant reminder of how things work when someone steps out of God’s will and when you remain under his covering.

It’s been a year of experiencing the truth of living in the light and witnessing when someone chooses to live in the dark.

It’s been a year of focus when God is first, and yet a year of distraction when a career grabs a hold of my heart.

It’s been a year that magnifies the areas of my flesh that need to be scrubbed away. At the same time, I’ve seen how he has also slowly transformed me and my heart.

Overall, it’s been a lesson that’s preparing me to pick up the Sword of the Spirit in 2018 and really fight for the kingdom of God.

I’ve been too passive.
I’ve been too complacent.
I’ve been too worried what people will think.

All the while, people are lost.

I haven’t spread the gospel the way I’ve been called to. I’ve kept too much in, because I’m so focused on something that is God’s business. It involves me, but the saving, healing, and mending is not mine.

He has simply called me to obey Him and wait.

I however, have been too busy wasting time trying to understand it. I’ve wasted time letting my flesh fight being obedient.

But not anymore. I choose YOU-God.

As 2018 approaches, let me encourage you to choose Him too.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t realize that choosing Jesus meant dying to self and living by the Spirit and not the flesh.

It is a constant wrestling, but the Spirit is winning more and more. I’ve been stretched beyond what I thought possible. But it is undeniably comforting, peaceful, and exciting.

When I gave my life to Christ, if I would have known before hand the fire and refining I would go through, I would have been too afraid to proceed. But coming out of it polished and sharpened, I can’t imagine living my life without going through it.

2018 will be a year of conquering and gaining ground.  It will be a year of harvest and hard work for the kingdom.

Set your eyes and heart on the Lord this year.   Let he truly be the king that reigns in your heart.

To God be the Glory

 

Relentless

My grandma has always had a special touch in making a backyard look special and relaxing.

This Thanksgiving morning, I sit in the backyard reflecting, resting, and enjoying the birds, fresh air, and just being alert to what God has to say today.

 

RELENTLESS.

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He reminds me that his love is relentless and so should mine.

I am a STANDER.

Many of you may not know what this is, but it means you are waiting for your marriage to be restored. You are standing in the gap for your spouse in prayer and petition. You do not date. You wait even in they are in a relationship. You wait even if they remarry. You wait for God’s perfect timing for your marriage to be restored. Even if it takes twenty years.

It’s not always easy and it’s flat out crazy, but it’s not as uncommon as you would think. In fact, there are many amazing testimonies and they all have common patterns that include what led to the divorce as well as what happens when restoration begins.

Like Jonah, a stander cannot run from their calling. God makes it clear over and over. He always answers to stay the course when logic and flesh want to take over.

It seems so impossible. There is nothing in the natural that I can see to even have hope for. But, my God is a God of faith, hope, and love.

I am thankful.

1. Thankful for a trial that is truly testing my faith.
2. Thankful for a trial that can only end by God’s strength and power.
3. Thankful for the awareness that I need to grow in prayer and faith.
4. Most of all though, I’m thankful that God has given me the ability to truly love RELENTLESSLY just like he loves us.

It’s the only way to love if you are a stander, because it can be very easy to quit when you are not seeing God’s promises formulating quickly.

RELENTLESS

It’s a strange word that almost sounds violent. Which then reminds me of the cross. Reminds me that Jesus Christ laid down his life for us in the most uncomfortable and painful way.

For us
A group of undeserving sinners
Definitely not logical

So….

Who am I to limit my love, my life, my time, my heart?

You see, what seemed illogical becomes the most logical thing to do when the perspective is through the lens of unconditional love.

Loving like Jesus.

I wear Biblical glasses with lenses set on a prescription of scripture giving me insight to the love of Jesus Christ.

I loved you at your darkest.
Romans 5:8

To God be the Glory

Relentless

My grandma has always had a special touch in making a backyard look special and relaxing.

This Thanksgiving morning, I sit in the backyard reflecting, resting, and enjoying the birds, fresh air, and just being alert to what God has to say today.

RELENTLESS

120DFE1E-73D9-44ED-A5E8-B04D6AEB7C47.jpeg

He reminds me that his love is relentless and so should mine.

I am a STANDER.

Many of you may not know what this is, but it means you are waiting for your marriage to be restored. You are standing in the gap for your spouse in prayer and petition. You do not date. You wait even in they are in a relationship. You wait even if they remarry. You wait for God’s perfect timing for your marriage to be restored. Even if it takes twenty years.

It’s not always easy and it’s flat out crazy, but it’s not as uncommon as you would think. In fact, there are many amazing testimonies and they all have common patterns that include what led to the divorce as well as what happens when restoration begins.

Like Jonah, a stander cannot run from their calling. God makes it clear over and over. He always answers to stay the course when logic and flesh want to take over.

It seems so impossible. There is nothing in the natural that I can see to even have hope for. But, my God is a God of faith, hope, and love.

I am thankful.

1. Thankful for a trial that is truly testing my faith.
2. Thankful for a trial that can only end by God’s strength and power.
3. Thankful for the awareness that I need to grow in prayer and faith.
4. Most of all though, I’m thankful that God has given me the ability to truly love RELENTLESSLY just like he loves us.

It’s the only way to love if you are a stander, because it can be very easy to quit when you are not seeing God’s promises formulating quickly.

RELENTLESS

It’s a strange word that almost sounds violent. Which then reminds me of the cross. Reminds me that Jesus Christ laid down his life for us in the most uncomfortable and painful way.

For us
A group of undeserving sinners
Definitely not logical

So….

Who am I to limit my love, my life, my time, my heart?

You see, what seemed illogical becomes the most logical thing to do when the perspective is through the lens of unconditional love.

Loving like Jesus.

I wear Biblical glasses with lenses set on a prescription of scripture giving me insight to the love of Jesus Christ.

I loved you at your darkest.
Romans 5:8

To God be the Glory

It’s Mine….SNATCH!

My two labradors, Watson and Savannah, love to play fetch. However, Savannah is pretty ruthless at it. If Watson gets to the toy first, she will charge him and snatch it out of his mouth.

He has always relinquished it quite easily the moment she gets in his face. He knows the pecking order, and Savannah is his mom. However, this past year he has been gaining some confidence and attempting to keep it from her.

If he gets to it first, he begins to look like a basketball player. He backs himself into her and looks nervously left and right and then spins around her rushing to me. Of course, she follows which results in her snatching it the moment he stops and waits for me to grab it.

If I throw it in the water, Watson will run along the pond and jump in at a location that is closer. I think he does this because Savannah, although older, is a better swimmer. IF he gets there first, she proceeds to snatching it out of his mouth in the middle of the pond. For a moment, I hold my breath as she pins him momentarily in the water before snatching it.

Today was different though.

As Watson ran along the pond to jump in at a closer point, she stayed in the water swimming. BUT, she wasn’t swimming to the toy. She was swimming towards Watson’s return path back to land. She was allowing Watson to retrieve the toy, but she was timing an interception on his return.

It was brilliant! The first time she did it was as if she was saying, “It’s Mine! I’m going to bring it back.”

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In that moment, God impressed something special to me. It was as if he was showing me through that scenario that He is like Savannah.
1. He knows the devil has fetched something I held, but He has allowed it and is aware of it.
2. Like Savannah, he loves that item fiercely and is going to get it because it’s His and He wants it.
3. The devil thinks he has finally gotten an advantage, but really he is playing right into God’s hand.
4. The devil knows the moment God confronts Him that he must relinquish it immediately. The devil knows the pecking order.
5. God has timed the snatch perfectly.
6. Last, He WILL bring it back to me.

LORD, have mercy on me. See how my enemies torment me. Snatch me back from the jaws of death. Psalm 9:13

To God be the Glory

 

 

 

Uprooted

I had a really difficult time about thirteen years ago moving from Houston to a small south Texas town. Even though I had gone to college there, it was still a drastic change from the big city of Houston.

My second year living there was the first time I had heard the saying, “Bloom where you are planted.” From that moment on, I began to embrace the differences and adapt to my new home. It was slow progress, but eventually I loved it. Everywhere I went, I ran into somebody I knew. Wal-Mart was my go to place when I was bored. A drive down the backroads was always relaxing and the outdoors was always near. Friends were like family and across town (15 minutes) seemed far. Traffic was never an issue and summer always brought the best snow-cones and fire flies. No matter the season, the stars were always in view and home was where my heart was.

Uprooted.

Everything I grew to love began to slip through my fingers. It started small, but eventually led to me moving back home to Houston to be near family, find work, and start over with a divorce in the works.

Uprooted.

It hurt. Every root that grew down was tangled around a dream, a spouse, normal routines and friends. And then, it all got pulled out. Trying to cling to every grain of old soil, I fpund that the process rips. Roots don’t let go easy and they take a piece of that earth with them no matter what.

When I saw this tree in the middle of the road I found it to be very interesting. It’s so grown and not like a seed that’s expected to bloom where it’s been planted. No, this seed bloomed already. In fact, it even reproduced. It’s gone through years of growing, storms, branch breaking, and leaves falling and growing.

I wondered, how does it live and not die of shock in the replanting? How do the roots get ahold of something that they never held before? This is new soil. A new territory.

For me, it took support. Luckily I had family to lean on. But, the biggest support was God. Only through the Word of God, could I receive healing. Only through the Word of God, could I receive understanding. Only through the Word of God, could I receive the most delicate pruning. And only through the Word of God, could I have received comfort through this shocking process.

I’m not going to lie. Some of my roots feel a little lost as if nothing quite feels right. Part of my heart isn’t home. Some of my roots are growing deep excited about the new growth to come. But my core root knows to hold tight to only one thing. The root of Jesus Christ. It will always comfort, always provide, and always bring life to my soul.

“For there is hope for a tree, When it is cut down, that it will sprout again, And its shoots will not fail. “Though its roots grow old in the ground And its stump dies in the dry soil, At the scent of water it will flourish And put forth sprigs like a plant.

Job 14:7-9

To God be the Glory

 

Week 3: Threshing

The past two studies, focused on the action of planting, sowing, and harvesting. This study is a little different. It takes us to the Judges 6 where we find Gideon threshing wheat in the wine press.

Day 1: Consequences

Read Judges 6:1-2 and Judges 6:10

1. Because the Israelites had done evil in the eyes of the Lord, how long were the Israelites in the hands of Midian?
2. Reflect on anything you feel has you and think about whether or not it is an outcome/natural consequence to sin.
3. Where did the Israelites seek shelter and why do you think they chose that environment?
4. What would be some advantages and disadvantages of that location?
5. How have you tried to adjust to an uncomfortable or unwanted situation?

Day 2: Looking Down on the Impossible

Read Judges 6:3-5

During this seven year period, their harvest was being attacked.

1. Who was attacking them?
2. What were they attacking and doing?
3. Was this year round or for a season and how do we know that?
4. Based on the description, list what shows this to be an impossible hopeless situation.
5. If you notice, the Midians are attacking the Israelites food source. What might this force the Israelites to do?
6. Although the Midian’s goal was to “leave no sustenance” somehow each year the Israelites were able to sow and had livestock available to kill. How do you think this was possible?

Day 3: Breaking Point

Read Judges 6:6-10

1. The Midians were attacking the Israelites’ Harvest for seven years. Look back on verse 4-5 and list what the Midians would do. How did this affect the Israelites emotionally?
2. How did they react to this low point?
3. Reflect back on some of your low points where you cried out to the Lord.
Read verses 8-10
1. How did the Lord respond?
2. How would you describe the tone of the prophet?
3. What does the prophet remind them of?

Day 4: Gideon Threshing in the Wine Press

Read Judges 6:11-14

It’s interesting that the prophet is talking to the Israelites and scripture does not show or say their response. To me, it’s kind of like a mic drop: speechless. There is nothing to say to that.

However, It shows us that Gideon was not with them. He was separated from them because he was trying to save wheat by threshing it in the wine press.

Even though, the Midians were attacking the harvest, somehow Midian has salvaged some. And some how, the past seven years despite the fact that the Midians aim to leave no distance or sheep, is, or donkey, they have been able to eat because they are still surviving.

1. What did the angel of the Lord do under the tree? I find this interesting because Gideon is working hard while the angel sits.
2. In verse 12 the angel of the Lord then appears to Gideon and the first thing out of his mouth is that the Lord is with Gideon and calls him a valiant warrior. How would you respond if you are going about your business doing normal work and someone came up to you and called you a valiant warrior?
3. Notice in verse 13, Gideon responds but makes no mention of the label he has been given. In fact, describe in your own words his response?
4. It’s interesting, the first thing he mentions is what the prophet had told the Israelites. But rennet, Gideon wasn’t there. The prophet of the Lord had to remind them who their Lord is. Gideon on the other hand knew. It fact, it’s as if he had been dwelling on it as wondering where is there miracle. Gideon knew God’s character so he is wondering why has God abandoned them? Have you ever prayed for a miracle that falls inline with God’s character, but frustrated that you aren’t seeing it? Have you ever cried out to God, “Where are you in this?”
5. The angel of the Lord does not respond like the prophet did stating the reason why. From scripture that comes later, to me this shows that Gideon was obeying God.

Day 5: The Calling

Read Judges 6:14-19

1. In verse 14, what was God’s directive to Gideon?
2. Who looked at Gideon and how would you feel if that was you?
3. Describe the conversation between them in verses 15-18.
4. Why do you think Gideon wanted a sign that it was God he was speaking to?
5. Think back to the beginning of this chapter. How would you describe the availability of food and livestock.
6. Reflecting on that and Gideon’s immediate desire to give an offering, what can we learn from Gideon here?

 

In My Presence

My dogs Watson and Savannah love playing fetch, running off of the leash, and swimming. Today was one of those days they were able to do all three.

I took them to one of my favorite spots that has a pond that is nestled just enough away from the encroaching new subdivision.

When play time with me was over, I sat myself up against a tree, leaned back and closed my eyes. Now this transition into quite time wasn’t necessarily smooth. My dogs approached me expecting me to still play fetch. I had to repeatedly tell them no until they got the hint.

Today in particular, Watson scampered off to dip into the pond and run around while Savannah dropped her ball beside me and took a few steps back and waited.

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Savannah has always been obsessed with playing fetch. She will just stare at the ball intently while she waits. If I don’t get it, she picks it back up and tries again. She repeats this until she realizes that it “ain’t gonna happen.” At that point she takes her ball and leaves.

Today was different though. She didn’t leave me.

Instead, she let the ball stay and positioned herself at my feet and relaxed and stopped focusing on the ball.

I can’t explain the joy I felt to have her just want to be near me. It caused me to actually pay more attention to her.

I then realized this is how God feels.

We tend to want to be in His Presence when we have a prayer request. We drop the prayer and wait. When it’s not answered we pick it up and go about our business and then give it back the next day in prayer. How many times are we in His presence wanting something: a sign, answered prayer, encouraging word.

Those aren’t bad things to do or want, but do we ever just want Him?

Is HE really enough for you?
Or is he only enough because you know He can provide, bless, and answer prayers?

If he couldn’t do those things, would you still want a relationship with Him?

You see, God doesn’t need anything from us.
He doesn’t want a relationship with us so he can get something from us. And yet he still wants to be with us.

He doesn’t love us, based on our actions or displays of affections.

It’s about company and companionship. The feeling of joy, peace, and love that exists because we are near each other.

As I write this, he is speaking to me. The walk over to the pond, I was sharing with Him a bit of sadness. Last night I may have experienced some premenopausal symptoms: night sweats.

This saddened me, and I went into strategy mode. “Maybe I could get some of my eggs frozen,” I thought. Then I started thinking about God’s promises he gave me, and scriptures that confirmed I would have kids from me, and now it seems IMPOSSIBLE.

Forty, divorced, and being called by God to stand and wait for marriage restoration makes it all more disheartening.

But…..at the end of the day, God is enough for me so I just can’t focus on those things anymore. I just have to let go, relax, and sit at his feet.

One night crying I asked God, ” Why didn’t you save my marriage before divorce?”

He answered back, “Aren’t I enough?”

Luke 10:38-42 NASB

Martha and Mary
38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.40 But Martha was distracted with [q]all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

To God be the Glory

 

 

 

 

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