Saturday, December 24, 2011

Light to them that sit in darkness


It's Christmas. What an exciting time of the year. All the bright lights, the presents, houses decorated and lots of lovely food. Well that is the way it is in our country but I appreciate that for many people it is not that pleasant.

When the old priest Zacharias heard that Mary was 'with child' and that her baby would be the Son of God he burst into a song of praise for all that God was doing. For him it was a very exciting time. One of the things that he said was that God was visiting His people to 'give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace'. What beautiful words!

God did indeed visit the world when Jesus came. One of His names is Emmanuel meaning "God with us'. If you are in any doubt that this is true then consider his life again - His miracles, His teaching, His sinless perfection, His fulfilment of ancient predictions, His death and resurrection. Truly it can be said 'the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world'.

What about the light. He is, was and always will be "the light of the world". If we follow Him "we will not walk in darkness but will have the light of light". We do indeed sit in darkness and face death and the live in the shadow of it. So the coming of Christ meets a need we cannot meet from our own resources. We need life, we need peace, we need Christ.

Will you confess your need, confess your sin and trust Christ for salvation this Christmas. I am praying that you will do.
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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Here we go again!


Do you ever get frustrated about jobs that never seem to go away. Whether it's cleaning the house, washing the car, shaving or submitting your tax return it just seems like yesterday since you last did them. The unending cycle of repetitive jobs. Wouldn't it be good if some jobs could be done once, never need repeated and the effect of the initial work never went away. There are very few things in this world that are like that, in fact I can't think of any at the moment.

Please read on....

The Bible teaches that there is something that was done so well, that it never needs to be repeated and its effect is for ever. What is it you might say? Let me quote the Bible to you again. It says about Jesus that 'once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself' (Hebrews.9.26). The Bible says that 'this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God' (Hebrews.10.12).

You can know the everlasting effect of the work that the Lord Jesus did when he died on the cross. He came that we might have life. He promises that if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us.

Will you trust him and experience the everlasting effect of salvation?

Listen to seekthetruth for more information.

Thanks, Stephen
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Friday, December 02, 2011

Good Will




The Christmas season is looked upon as the time of goodwill but will it be for many people in different parts of the world, particularly the Middle East? Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, Israel to name but a few. Problems of political contrasts, social and religious divides cause an absence of goodwill. Some of their leaders have had to either stand down or be executed, having lost the confidence and goodwill of the people.

Back in July Dr. James Zogby, Founder and President of the Arab American Institute wrote an article entitled Diminishing goodwill for U.S. Middle East policy. He stated ‘A few months back I had a quick exchange with President Obama about the U.S. standing in the Arab World. When I mentioned that we would be conducting a poll to assess Arab attitudes two years after his Cairo speech, he responded that he expected that the ratings would be quite low and would remain low until the U.S. could help find a way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Well, the results are in, and the President was right. In our survey of over 4,000 Arabs from six countries (Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE), we found that favorable attitudes toward the U.S. had declined sharply since our last poll (which had been conducted in 2009 after Obama's first 100 days in office). ……If anything, the results of this latest poll of Arab opinion demonstrates how precarious the position of the United States is in the Middle East and how important it has become for American policy makers to pay attention to what Arabs are saying. Some may play politics with critical Middle East issues and gloat at their success at having stymied the President's efforts to make peace and restore America's image in the region. But as the results of this survey make clear, their success has come at a price; one that is being paid by the entire country.’

Is there any goodwill being shown in the demonstrations, riots or strikes in so many places? Folk have their own agenda and give little thought to the consequences of their actions as it relates to the disadvantaged. Many suffer loss as a result of violence and selfish behaviour.

Allow me a moment of fantasy. How if top managers and CEO’s were only rewarded for success and not failure and that their bonuses bore semblance to the level of success and did not put the rewards of their emplyees in the shade. What if young men and women, instead of defacing and trashing their enviroment used their energy and ability to improve their locality and assisting elderly or disabled people to cope with daily life. Some business people do show goodwill to their employees wth an appropriate gift at Christmas. A generous boss will secure the loyalty of their workforce when production is required to rise, or overtime to be worked. Goodwill is a two way street and has a tendacy to improve relationships and the well being of all that benefit.

There are five quotations of ‘Good will’ in the Bible, the first in Deut.33 is the blessing of the tribe of Joseph by Moses before he died, “And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the LORD be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush: let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren. Moses showed plenty of good will himself to Joseph but also wanted God’s good will upon him.

The first New Testament quote is probably the best known one, it is Luke 2;14, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” It was when the heavenly host of angels announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds at Bethlehem. Their song was only fourteen words, revealing three precious aspects of truth. They sang, “Glory to God in the highest”, giving praise and worship to God for sending His Son into the world to be the Saviour of sinners such as us. Salvation finds its source in the deep love of God; we owe everything to Him for sending and giving His Son ultimately to die on a cross at Calvary. They sang, “And on earth peace,” this poor old war-torn world that is marked by such daily blood shed, will soon enjoy the blessing of this heavenly melody when the Prince of Peace returns to establish His kingdom. I think that the last four words, “Good will toward men” would have been a crescendo of praise by the sweetest of voices, expressing the desire of God’s heart for the blessing of all mankind. God desires that all should be saved, be born again, His good will is seen in sending Christ in order that mankind might be blessed with salvation. But everyone will not be saved, because not everyone believes in Christ nor have received Him as their Lord and Saviour, never been born again. John said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” to enter the kingdom of God one must be born again.

Now think of this! At the time Christ sets up His kingdom on earth, every person entering in will be born again. There will be peace on earth for the government shall be upon His shoulder. Bloodshed of man will not be a daily thing, it will not happen; all on earth will experience the good will of God. Hallelujah! What a Saviour!

Written for Stan Burditt and published on Stephen G Baker’s Blog

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Old shoes are the best


Some things in life are so normal that we don’t think about them and then when they happen we seem surprised. Take for instance things wearing out and needing to be replaced. Shoes for instance. We feel comfortable in them, they seem to grow with us and we are quite happy to wear them for a while longer but sometimes they just need to be replaced. They grow used, worn and old and we don’t even notice it.

Lots of things are like this in life in fact nothing really is permanent. But we all like constancy to some extent and even people who are constantly up for new things have habits and routines in the way that they do certain things. To some extent you could say that we yearn for things that are lasting and eternal.

My blog today is written to remind you that the God I trust is an eternal God. Even Jesus, the Son of God, when described by a prophet hundreds of years before his coming is described as the one ‘whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting’ (Micah.5.2). He is also described as ‘the everlasting Father’ or the ‘Father of eternity’ (Isaiah.9.6). God is an eternal being, the great un-begun beginner and the ultimate originator of everything.

Life is not eternal on this planet everything is degenerating. However humans were created in the image of God and are in eternal in the essence of our being i.e. as the old preachers used to say “we have a never dying soul”. Quaint but true!

The question is where will be in the great eternal existence that lies beyond this world? How do we know it exists? Why are Christians so convinced? All the questions are answered in one person, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Son of God who came into the world from heaven. He has all the hallmarks of being God - supernatural power, knowledge that is beyond the mind of humans, fulfillment of prophecy, the virgin birth, flawless humanity – which is why Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God but that discussion is not for just now.

What can the Lord Jesus offer to us creatures of time who have a longing for eternal life and all its values? Jesus said that He came that we might ‘have life’; He gives to those who realize that they are spiritually dead in sin, ‘eternal life’. He can offer this because he by his death ‘offered one sacrifice for sins for ever’ (Hebrews.10.12). The question is have you got eternal life? If not your soul will be lost forever. This is not annihilation but an eternal existence separated from God and all that he is i.e. love, justice, peace, safety, strength and so on. The solution is ‘believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved’. Salvation is freely available through faith in Jesus, the Son of God.


Listen on seekthetruth.org.uk

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Twenty five life changing words

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

To most Christians these are familiar words. When I was young old preachers described this verse as 'the gospel in a nutshell'. They meant that this one verse sums up the good news of what Christianity is all about in 25 words.

If you count 12 words from the start of the verse the next word is SON

If you could 12 words from the end the next word is SON

Do you think it is significant that the central word of the verse is SON, I do? Jesus Christ, the SON of God is central to the Christian message.

He was born of a virgin girl as predicted in the Bible.

He is the perfect Son of God but he lived for 33 years in an imperfect world and contrary to all the norms of life he was perfect and faultless - the Bible calls it, sinless.

He lived a life to display what God is like. The Bible describes Him as God revealed in flesh.

He died for our sins. The Bible says this in numerous places i.e. 'Christ died for the ungodly' (Romans.5.6), 'while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us' (Romans.5.8).

He is the only way of salvation. The Bible says 'neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved'

Finally one of the ways of reading the verse that was explained to me was to insert your name into the text. It makes the verse keenly personal to you. Why not try it but best of all believe it.

For God so loved Stephen Baker that he gave his only begotten Son that if Stephen Baker believes in him Stephen Baker should not perish but have everlasting life.

By the way the verse is written to apply to all. If it had my name in it it would exclude you. If your name was there it would exclude me but it says WHOSOEVER which means it includes everyone.
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Monday, November 07, 2011

Inevitable


The late Harold Wilson, former Prime Minister and leader of the U.K. Labour Party said, “A week is a long time in politics”. The last week of October must have been so for the Eurozone leaders when they met in Brussels to find a solution to the Euro crisis. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor said, “If the Euro fails, Europe fails.”  There is an inevitability about her words and possibly caused her fellow national leaders to pull back from the brink of total collapse. They agreed a bailout plan initially for Greece but also for other countries that are tottering such as Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland, who also have major debt problems. Many newspaper financial commentators are sceptical about how this plan is going to be implemented in time, they have heard euphemisms before but they want to hear words that will work. One lady said that they were just kicking the can down the road. We understand her words to mean that at some point in time someone has got to pick the can up, though battered and damaged, it has got to be addressed, there is no point in kicking it further down Debt Avenue.

When I worked with our Gospel Van in Cornwall, it was said of the weather, that if it rained for two weeks there would be floods and if it didn’t rain for two weeks there would be a drought! It was inevitable! It always puzzled me as to why an area that has so much rainfall, could not conserve it in reservoirs for the influx of tourists that can treble the population of the county when the sun shines. Management of the earth’s resources is vital as the world’s population tops seven billion people and over one half of them live in poverty and with no clean water supply. Every human being is dependant on water, our bodies are seventy percent water and we cannot survive many days without it. In many places in Africa they don’t kick their cans down the road, they carry them to a point where clean water is available, fill them up, put the vessel on their head and carry it home, sometimes at a great distance. Share Africa is a Christian Charity that is helping village communities in different ways, paying for books and the education of children. They also have a well sunk in the village and pump the water up into a storage tank for families to draw their water from and save them a long walk to the river. Other charities do similar things and are commendable for their involvement.

If you jump off a cliff with nothing to control your rate of descent, you will according to gravity go downwards, accelerating at 32 feet per second, per second, it is inevitable that you will hit the ground, damaged or dead.

 If you hold a live power line in your hand with bare ends and if you touch those ends together, either a fuse will blow or you will suffer a shock that could kill you. 

If you hold a gun to your head with a chamber full of bullets and squeeze the trigger, it is inevitable that you will die. You do not need me to illustrate incidents that are life threatening, it is common sense to avoid such situations.

Allow me to ask you a question and in so doing I am not insulting your intelligence. If you can reason that things that are fatal must be avoided, why are you choosing to ignore the warnings in the Bible about your agnostic/atheistic position and where you will spend eternity?

It is inevitable that a person who believes that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Saviour will spend their eternity in Heaven, whereas an unbeliever will be in Hell. I can almost hear the shouts of disapproving readers, so I will tell you what the Apostle John said in ch.3:36, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” That is conclusive isn’t it? These are not my words they are God’s words and we should sit up and take notice. It is futile to play the ‘good-works-card’ to deceive oneself into thinking, I’m all right, I’ve never done any one any harm, I always pay my way and never steel anything from anybody. I’m all right, I can carry on living as I do and when it comes to the end, if there is a Heaven, then I will go there because God would never send me to Hell.
Is the direction your life is taking leading to an inevitable outcome?

Jesus said “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” If a person builds their life on the shifting sands of the philosophies of men, that life will catastrophically fall, it is inevitable. The life that is standing on the Rock Christ Jesus will never flounder but will stand for all eternity.

I have heard Anguillians call their island, ‘The Rock’. People from other places may not have heard that but to folk that live there it means something to them. The Lord Jesus Christ is also called the Rock and to those who believe, He is the most precious person alive. Augustus Toplady wrote, ‘Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee; let the water and the blood, from thy wounded side which flowed, be of sinthe double cure; save from wrath and make me pure.’ 
In the wilderness the children of Israel drank of water from the smitten rock, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:4  “And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.”
The soul that stands on the Rock Christ Jesus is saved and satisfied, both are inevitable. Why? Because He said so!
God bless.


Written by Stan Burditt Nov 2011  
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Monday, October 24, 2011

I was reading today in the book of Deuteronomy in the Bible. This book title means the second law. It is the second account of how God spoke to Moses and how Moses received the Law of God and the Ten Commandments. It makes an interesting read and it is not as hard going as you might imagine. The reason it had to be rewritten was in effect because before the law had been written down the first time the nation of Israel had already broken it. As Moses came down Mount Sinai he and Joshua thought that they heard the shouts of people at war. In fact they were hearing the noise of a wild party where their people were dancing and worshipping a golden calf.





What did God do then? Before Moses left the presence of God he had been warned what was going on at base camp. God had threatened to destroy the nation and start a new one through Moses. Moses in a characteristic act of humility and bravery reminded God of the shame and criticism that God would bring on His name if he destroyed his own people and in an amazing turnaround God agreed not to judge them. Now I don't really know how all this works but it seems to me on a simple reading of scripture that there have been a few men who had real power of persuasion in the presence of God (Moses, Abraham and Jacob to name a few) and God responded to their prayers - that should give us all hope.


As I close I want to summarise by pointing you to a couple of verses in Deuteronomy:


Deut.4.24 - "The Lord thy God is a consuming fire even a jealous God". This is so true and reflects the power and holiness of God. He is jealous (this is not an evil sense of the word jealous) of His holy character and will not allow it to be violated. So where does that leave flawed and sinful people like you and I - look at the next verse and also bear in mind Moses prayer.


Deut.4.31 - "For the Lord thy God is a merciful God". Is this a contradiction in terms? I personally don't think so. God preserves His character and will not allow it to be defiled but in grace he makes provision for sinful people to be forgiven. In the Old Testament it was sacrifices that had the temporary effect of covering sin. These sacrifices pictured the death of the Lord Jesus on the cross. His ultimate sacrifice makes it possible for us to be forgiven and experience the mercy of God. Scripture says "if we confess our sins, he faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1.John.1.9).



May the Lord bless you in this manner today.


Stephen


PS please watch my latest video on Moses and the Passover



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Monday, October 17, 2011

Bible Exhibition

I am in Wallingford this week working with a Gospel Hall. The Christians who meet in the Gospel Hall have erected a Bible Exhibition so that people will be made aware of the history and message of the Bible. From tomorrow we will have schools in visiting every day. This evening we had an invite only event for adults. It was great to share with people the history and truth of this wonderful book that God has given to us and preserved for us.

If you are not familiar with the Bible it is worthy of your attention. Even extreme atheists such as Professor Richard Dawkins agree that the Bible should be read by everyone, of course I know he means from a literary point of view as he does not enjoy the blessing of faith in Christ for salvation but nevertheless you should read it.

Maybe you have an unread Bible at home. Go and get it. Read the word of God, it is able to make you wise unto salvation. Believing and resting on what God has done through Christ for your eternal blessing is what it is all about. Having said that you will not appreciate your need of God's salvation until you admit that like the rest of us you are a sinner. When you do get to that point remember 'Christ receives sinners' and that He came 'into the world to save sinners'. Repentance toward God (or turning away from sin and turning to God) and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ are the key ingredients in recipe that God has provided for our forgiveness and salvation. May God bless you.

Stephen

(listen to www.seekthetruth.org.uk or visit me on http://www.facebook.com/StephenBakerGoodNews4U)  
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Friday, October 07, 2011

Busy Busy

I don't know about you but I am having a hectic time at the moment. It seems hard to fit everything in and yet I must admit that I really enjoy all the biz! I would be bored if I was not busy.

However we can be too busy! If any of my friends and family are reading this they will probably laugh at me admitting this but it is true. If we are too busy to spend time with our spouse or children then it will damage our relationship with them. If we are too busy to pay our bills or eat properly other consequences will arise. Many things can and do suffer if we do not allocate time to them and give them appropriate attention.

If you read my blog regularly then you will know that I spend a lot of time preaching about the bible and interesting people (or trying to) in their relationship with God, or the lack of it. It is essential to spend time on this part of our lives as this is the only bit that survives.

I was saddened to hear of the death of Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. I know it was inevitable due to his illness but it is always sad when it happens. You feel for his family, friends and colleagues of many years. He will no doubt be remembered for quite a long time by our techie generation but all the success of his life was only for this life. The Bible says we come into the world naked and we leave it in the same way.

Please take time today to consider your soul and your need to eternal life. If you want to know more read my other blogs to listen to some of my podcasts on www.seekthetruth.org.uk. Alternatively follow me on Facebook - www.facebook.com/StephenBakerGoodNews4U.
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Monday, October 03, 2011

Appearances can be deceiving!


It would appear that pilfering money internally from a Bank is easier than an external attempt by seasoned bank-robbers with their elaborate plans involving explosives and getaway vehicles. In the early to mid 1990’s Nick Leeson worked in Singapore for Baring’s Bank as general manager of their Futures Markets. By the title of his book he became a ‘Rogue Trader’, meaning that he fraudulently ran up debts against the Bank of US$1.4Billion. Eventually, in 1995 he was charged with fraud and sent to prison for six and a half years but was released in 1999 having been diagnosed with colon cancer. It was alleged in the New York Times that the British Press had uncovered accounts linked to him for the value of US$35million.

Springtime 2008 at Societe Generale Bank was not a happy place to be. In January another trader, Jerome Kerviel caused the Bank losses of US$7.2Billion by fraudulent trading. Then in March the Bank sued a Turkish Jeweller for the non payment of 15 Tonnes of Gold, the Jeweller accepted responsibility of payment for only 3,250 kg of the precious metal valued at US$94Million. This now you see it, now you don’t, has all the appearance of a massive scam.
German International Broadcaster Deutsche Welle, reported on 24th. September, ‘The chief executive of Swiss banking giant UBS, Oswald Gruebel, resigned on Saturday in the wake of a rogue trading scandal that cost the bank some $2.3 billion (1.7 billion euros).’ A London based trader for UBS, 31 year old, Kweku Adoboli has been charged with fraud and if found guilty could face a long custodial sentence. Barings, Societe Generale and UBS all appeared to be sound financial houses but each were found wanting in relation to security, no proper checks and balances were in place to avert such happenings.

About 25 years ago, my wife and I took our Motorhome/Gospel Van to the ‘Elephant Fayre’ in Cornwall. A word about the title, it had nothing to do with elephants other than if you look at a map of S/W England you will see that the County of Cornwall is shaped like an elephant’s head. The three day Rock/Arts Festival was staged at Lord Elliot’s estate at St. Germans, styled on the Gladstonbury Festival. Drugs and alcohol being an indulgence of many of the 30,000 people attending. We attached a market type stand to the side of our van, displaying free literature and presented a Gospel Witness to those that passed by, promoting some good spiritual conversations. Two young ‘Punk Rockers’ presented themselves to my wife with the question. “Does your religion give a cup of tea away?” She replied, not only so but if they wanted to join her in the van she would prepare them some cheese and tomato sandwiches. Their faces brightened, then they told her that they had been living out of the bins the past few days. I joined them at the table in the van and got talking to them and my heart went out to them as I told them the gospel. We had two sons of similar age to them! Their appearance was typical to their following, both had mohican hair cuts, one was dyed pale green, the other orange. From a distance you might have thought that they had got a parrot on their head. During the conversation one boy said to me, “Don’t judge us by our appearance”. I replied that I never judge a book by its cover! Their brashness seemed to disolve as we got under their radar and targetted their souls with the life giving message of the gospel.

Some appearances can be pretence, but the three appearances of the Son of God in Hebrews ch.9 have nothing false about them. “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

The first reference tells us where Christ is presently; He is in the presence of God in Heaven. This statement confirms the fact that He is a living Saviour and that He is there FOR US! People that believe on Him and have committed their life to Him have the assurance that their Saviour is presently in Heaven for them, interceding on their behalf. It is good to know that one’s life is in the hands of the highest person in the highest place.

All this has been secured because in time passed He appeared on earth to deal with the offensiveness and guilt of man’s sin. He did this by giving His life at Calvary, where He died on our account that He might bring us undeserving sinners back to God. I love the gospel because it tells me of the grace of God (GRACE = God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense). He loved me and gave Himself for me. Paul said that and so can all those that are saved by faith in His death and resurrection.

Soon that third reference will take place, He is going to appear the second time, apart from the sin question, because He is coming to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

It is not popular in today’s secular atheistic world to believe in any of those three appearances of Christ found in Hebrews ch.9, but I do and would encourage you to start with the middle one relating to the past, He appeared to put away your sin. Believe that and your present life will take on a different meaning and your future will be no pretence but you will appear with Him in glory. How about that?  God bless.

Written for Stephen Baker by Stan Burditt of Northampton       


For further information visit www.seekthetruth.org.uk
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