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Today's Devotional from Grace in the Workplace
Thursday, December 31 2015

Verse of the Day

 

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and Amen. [Psalm 41:13 – NIV]

  

Human beings like (and need) milestones. God programmed us that way. We have days, months, years, and we have the seasons. This kind of repetitiousness is intentional. We are slow and dense and need to learn. Anyway, how do you feel about last year and what about the year that lies ahead? As you reflect on the past year, do the good things come to mind or are you burdened by memories of pain, disappointment, and sorrow? What about the future? Are you encouraged about what God has in store for you or are you resigned to a boring, miserable, and unsatisfying life?

 

If you are worried and unsure about what the future holds for you, guess what? We are right back in the midst of the attitude thing! Accentuate the positive! It is not too difficult to see all the wondrous things that God has blessed you with. And never give up on the future. Trust and obey God. The Lord has promised good to you and to me and you can take that to the bank! One last thing, God is omnipresent. He is everywhere at once. He is Alpha and Omega. That means that He existed at the beginning of time, He is here in the present, and He is already out in the future. And since He is in the future right now, He is busy preparing it for you and for me. You can take comfort and great joy in that!

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Wednesday, December 30 2015

Verse of the Day

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” [Micah 5:2 – NIV]

“O little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie…” So begins the first stanza of one of the best loved Christmas hymns ever written and one of my favorites, too! Part of my affection for it is based on my growing up in Bethlehem, PA, the “Christmas City,” but that’s certainly not the only reason for my fondness. There is something about the birth of the Christ Child that touches all of us. His humble birth in Bethlehem is a very compelling story.

So why in the world did God pick Bethlehem as His Son’s birthplace? After all, one would expect that the Son of God would be born in a city of significance, Jerusalem for example, and not a little town that nobody paid much attention to. Today’s passage makes clear that Bethlehem was indeed chosen by God to be the birthplace of His Son. Bethlehem was the city of David, and it was foretold that the Christ would be of the lineage of King David. Jesus, like his ancestor, David, came to earth as a humble servant. A humble birth was only appropriate for Him.

Although Jesus made clear that He was God’s Son, He never used the title “Son of God.” Instead He preferred to use “Son of Man” so as to identify Himself with us. The Messiah came to be a servant. He was humble, caring, loving, kind, compassionate, and full of grace. He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. What better place than Bethlehem for His birth? Let’s prepare for Him in our hearts as we celebrate this Advent season.

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Tuesday, December 29 2015

Verse of the Day

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. [Jeremiah 23:5 – NIV]

The Old Testament is replete with references to the coming of the Messiah. Every book in the Bible shouts His Holy Name. No human king could ever reign wisely and do what is just and right. Only Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, could fulfill this prophesy. We look forward with eager anticipation to the Second Coming!

And He will reign forever and ever. Come Lord Jesus! Hallelujah!

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Monday, December 28 2015

Verse of the Day

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. [Isaiah 7:14 – NKJV]

The Old Testament is strewn with references to Jesus’ birth, His life, and His death from the first book to the last. The messianic prophesy is very compelling. It really is hard for us as mere mortals to grasp or comprehend the fact that God came to earth to live with us. Just imagine Immanuel, God with us! And He wasn’t just with us, He was one of us! Amazing, isn’t it?

And so this Advent season as we prepare our hearts for the birth of our Lord, let’s never forget that He came to earth to live with us. O come, o come, Immanuel!

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Wednesday, December 23 2015

Verse of the Day

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. [John 3:16 KJV]

As Believers, we are called to give of ourselves constantly. This commandment is one that we obey joyfully by giving our all, as expressed by tithes of our financial resources, time, and talent, all in good Christian stewardship. This is perhaps our defining attribute as we reach outward to our community and the world around us.

Although giving is really a year-round thing, it takes on special meaning for us during the Christmas season. Not only do we give traditional Christmas gifts to our family and friends, but we also give generously to all kinds of charities and other worthwhile causes. All of these opportunities to bless and serve others are truly wonderful gifts, but they pale in comparison to the gift that God gave to us, the “ultimate gift”—His son, Jesus Christ!

Christmastime is so very special to us as Believers, because we are like little children who go to bed on Christmas Eve with a great anticipation of the many wonderful gifts that will be under the tree when they awake on Christmas morning.  Our excitement, however, is the tremendous expectation of God’s gift to us, the ultimate gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you, God!

Merry Christmas!

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Tuesday, December 22 2015

Verse of the Day

 

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” [Luke 2:14 – NKJV]

 

Christmas is such a special time of year! Is it just me, or does it seem like everyone is a little kinder, gentler, more tolerant, and even, Heaven forbid, actually civil to one another? People on the streets and in the malls are happy, merry, jolly, and downright friendly. There really is joy in the air. But, if we delve down under the surface, many of us are not filled with the Christmas spirit. If you guessed that I’m referring to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the needy among us you’d be wrong. No, I’m referring to the lonely, the depressed, the brokenhearted, and the bitter, miserable souls who sit at home at Christmas crying themselves to sleep. People who have recently lost a spouse, a child or other loved ones, those without jobs, those who for whatever reason feel all alone in the world—all of these go into a downward spiral at Christmas time.

 

Compare these folks to the rest of us who are blessed with family and friends, go to parties, feel festive, sing Christmas hymns and carols, shop for gifts, play with the grandkids, and celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. What a contrast! So, please be aware of the people around you. The sad and forlorn are not always visible. You never know, the person in the cubicle next to you could be suffering this Christmas. So, make a special effort to let Jesus shine through you this Christmas. Be kind to everyone you meet. Make sure you share the joy of Jesus’ birth in a way that lifts the spirits of those around you! Let love and mercy rule the day!

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Monday, December 21 2015

Verse of the Day

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. [Isaiah 9:6 – NKJV]

It’s not my favorite Christmas hymn, but “Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming” is one that I really do enjoy. Truth be told, I love all Christmas music, hymns, carols; they’re all special. Singing praise about the birth of our Lord and Savior—what could be better? Anyway, back to “Rose.” The second verse begins with some of the most memorable and uplifting words in any Christmas hymn: “Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind.” The specific reference is the Immanuel prophesy in Isaiah 7:14-17. However, Isaiah goes on in today’s passage to proclaim Jesus’s birth.  He describes the names of Jesus as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. How can you not have faith in Jesus, who is our Everything? Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

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Friday, December 18 2015

Verse of the Day

The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. [Isaiah 40:5 – NKJV]

There is so much substance in Isaiah. What an amazing and fascinating book! In today’s passage, God’s prophet Isaiah tells the Israelites to prepare for the coming of the Messiah. The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and that glory was revealed through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior! Nothing more needs to be said. The mouth of the Lord has spoken it, and His Word is the Gospel truth!

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Thursday, December 17 2015

Verse of the Day

Fear God and keep His commandments… [Ecclesiastes 12:13 – NKJV]

King Solomon started off strong in his walk with the Lord, but eventually he lost his way. His downward spiral was attributable to the two things he railed against the most in Proverbs: women and money. Like many in the secular world today, he found life to be empty, meaningless, pointless, and futile; eventually he hit rock bottom. Later in life he “rediscovered” God. Solomon chronicles his life experiences in the book of Ecclesiastes.

Today’s passage provides the answer to Solomon’s search for meaning and purpose in life: “Fear God and keep His commandments.” Ecclesiastes is a very profound book; it speaks to Believers and non-believers alike.

It’s a powerful message for the non-believer because Solomon walked in his/her shoes. If you are trying to find meaning in life by climbing the corporate ladder in a search for wealth and power; by buying a mansion in a gated community or a Ferrari for your garage, or hanging with the “in crowd” to elevate your social standing, you will no doubt become disillusioned, discouraged, and depressed. You will find life meaningless and without purpose. For a non-believer the only way to really discover the meaning of life is to “discover” God. A relationship with Jesus Christ is the key to a full and complete life. After all, our purpose in life is to worship and glorify (and enjoy!) the Lord our God.

Much as we hate to admit it, we Believers also go through times of disillusionment and depression. We occasionally see life as meaningless and futile. The book of Ecclesiastes is a great reminder for us that our lives have meaning and purpose only if we “fear God and keep His commandments.”

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Wednesday, December 16 2015

Verse of the Day

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. [Jeremiah 23:5 – NIV]

The Old Testament is replete with references to the coming of the Messiah. Every book in the Bible shouts His Holy Name. No human king could ever reign wisely and do what is just and right. Only Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, could fulfill this prophesy. We look forward with eager anticipation to the Second Coming!

And He will reign forever and ever. Come Lord Jesus! Hallelujah!

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Tuesday, December 15 2015

Verse of the Day

And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” [Genesis 11:4 – NKJV]

We have always been fascinated with the heights of buildings, skyscrapers that touch the heavens. This fixation with reaching into the sky has been part of all religions for centuries as mankind tries to connect with their gods. When the Israelites wandered away from the Lord their God, they worshipped the gods of the pagans in the “high places.” Clearly getting closer to the stars has meaning when trying to reach a higher power.

In today’s passage we see the futility of mankind after the Flood as they disobey God and build a tower to reach into Heaven. Ironically, the tower was probably only about seven stories tall, but that’s not the point. God disrupted their plans, confused their language, and the Tower of Babel was no more. But what about today?

Skyscrapers have been a part of our landscape for more than a century. There are good reasons for their existence: limitations on land use, the cost of land, economies of scale, etc. Most of these factors have to do with how our cities have developed, but that is certainly not the only reason that man seems to be so fascinated with the heights of these modern-day behemoths. There is always a competition going on, isn’t there? Who has the tallest building? New York? Chicago? Los Angeles? In the old days it was the Empire State Building and the Sears Tower. Then, we had the World Trade Center, which was tragically destroyed by terrorists on September 11, 2001. Today there are the competitors from other counties, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, and China. What’s up with all of this? Is man still fixated with trying to reach into the heavens? I think the answer is an emphatic “yes!”

Don’t you know that God is looking down on us and wondering why we don’t get it? We just never seem to learn, do we?

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Monday, December 14 2015

Verse of the Day

 

Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. [Luke 1:38 – NKJV]

 

There are several examples of people of great faith in the New Testament: the centurion in Mathew 8, the Apostle Paul, Stephen, and the “heroes” listed in Hebrews 11, but there is perhaps no greater example of faith than that of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

 

Just imagine that you are a young teenage girl betrothed to be married and one day the angel of the Lord shows up and tells you that, oh by the way, you are going to give birth to the Son of God. Surely she was frightened, terrified, confused, and doubtful. Mother of the Messiah, how can it be? And she a virgin! Despite all the emotion that was swirling around in her head, her response was one of resolute faith.

 

As today’s passage tells us, Mary did as the Lord commanded. Her response to the angel, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” demonstrates her complete obedience and trust in the Lord. There is no greater faith that this.

 

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Friday, December 11 2015

Verse of the Day

“If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” [John 14:7 – NIV]

What is the Father like? If you want to know Him intimately, learn His ways; get to know Jesus. Read about Jesus our Lord and Savior in the New Testament and you will see God. You will learn His likes and dislikes; how He treats His people; what’s really important to Him and what’s not; and on and on. You will also learn that God has emotions. He is not some cold, distant god; He is not an automaton. Our God has feelings. He loves and hates; He gets angry. After all, He is God and He has a right to. He is righteous and holy, but even thought He is set apart He has a real love for His children and wants to be with us.

You might be surprised to learn that God has a sense of humor. In fact, as you get to know Him better you will learn that you can really identify with God in many ways. Getting to know Him is like getting to know an earthly friend. So, start getting to know Him today! He wants to have a close, intimate relationship with you. Read His Word; it’s the best way to learn more about Him. If you know Jesus, you will know the Father!

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Thursday, December 10 2015

Verse of the Day

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. [Romans 1:28 – NIV]

Paul certainly hit the nail on the head in Romans. He really tells it like it is. The evil one may be able to portray the secular world as an attractive and desirable alternative to following God’s ways, but appealing to our base instincts really is self-defeating in the end. As we grow up, we are brainwashed into believing that the world has so much to offer us, but does it? On closer examination, it’s really an evil, vile, detestable place; dark and evil.

The tragedy is that as Paul says, the lost “know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” They really need to hear the Good News! Let’s make sure that we share Jesus with all we meet today!

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Wednesday, December 09 2015

Verse of the Day

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” [Colossians 3:23 – NIV]

We are inundated nowadays with the view that our “exercise of religion” is limited to worship services on Sunday and that our religious beliefs and convictions have no relevance or place in our lives on the other days of the week. Don’t allow yourselves to be brainwashed into believing that your faith has no place at home, at work, or anywhere else that you may find yourself during the week.

The secular world is waging war on religion, especially Christianity. Of course, despite what you may hear on cable news or read in the newspapers, this is not exactly breaking news. It’s been going on for years; sometimes it’s subtle and sometimes not. It’s important, in fact critical, for Believers to resist this message.

As today’s passage reminds us, we work for God. He’s our Boss. So don’t leave your Bible at home when you go to work, but take His Word with you. Every aspect of your life, the decisions you make, your relationships, how you behave—all of it is based on your relationship with God. We don’t have two sets of rules in life. God’s Word is the only thing that matters in our lives. His rules are the ones that we should live by every day of the week!

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Tuesday, December 08 2015

Verse of the Day

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. [Matthew 6:33-34 – NIV]

Businesses in America are always going through changes. There are mergers, acquisitions, downsizings, and other realignments. Many of you are facing a “life-changing” event. Some of you are losing your jobs. Some of you are moving forward with different companies. And others are virtually unaffected.

For those that are facing change, God has one thing to say to you: He will provide. You can take comfort in His Word. Trust in Him and He will provide. Change in corporate America is not an uncommon thing. Acquisitions are really not a bad thing, and you will be amazed at the future that is in store for you. Just wait for six months or so and you’ll see. And for those of you who are losing your jobs, believe me, God will provide new opportunities for you. Who knows? You may find your dream job, but regardless, He will provide.

The key is to trust and obey. Remember—don’t worry about tomorrow!

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Monday, December 07 2015

Verse of the Day

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” [Micah 5:2 – NIV]

“O little town of Bethlehem how still we see thee lie…” So begins the first stanza of one of the best loved Christmas hymns ever written and one of my favorites, too! Part of my affection for it is based on my growing up in Bethlehem, PA, the “Christmas City,” but that’s certainly not the only reason for my fondness. There is something about the birth of the Christ Child that touches all of us. His humble birth in Bethlehem is a very compelling story.

So why in the world did God pick Bethlehem as His Son’s birthplace? After all, one would expect that the Son of God would be born in a city of significance, Jerusalem for example, and not a little town that nobody paid much attention to. Today’s passage makes clear that Bethlehem was indeed chosen by God to be the birthplace of His Son. Bethlehem was the city of David, and it was foretold that the Christ would be of the lineage of King David. Jesus, like his ancestor, David, came to earth as a humble servant. A humble birth was only appropriate for Him.

Although Jesus made clear that He was God’s Son, He never used the title “Son of God.” Instead He preferred to use “Son of Man” so as to identify Himself with us. The Messiah came to be a servant. He was humble, caring, loving, kind, compassionate, and full of grace. He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. What better place than Bethlehem for His birth? Let’s prepare for Him in our hearts as we celebrate this Advent season.

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Friday, December 04 2015

Verse of the Day

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit;” whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. [James 4:13-16 – NKJV]

We all like to boast. Whether it’s our golf game, cooking, business accomplishments, you name it. For the most part we have a high opinion of ourselves, which is generally undeserved, but, that’s not the point. The businessmen in this “parable” were boasting with certainty about the outcome of future events. They were going on a business trip and it was, without a doubt in their minds, going to be a success. They were going to sell things and make a huge profit. The only problem for them and for us is that none of us knows what will happen tomorrow, much less in the next minute or two. Only God is omnipresent. Only He transcends time and space. So, it is boastful indeed for us as mere humans to make statements with absolute certainty about future events. As James says, such boasting is sinful.

Does this mean that we are not to plan our lives, to think and dream about the future? Absolutely not! But when we dream and when we plan, we are to do so by seeking God’s Will for what we should do. After all, entrepreneurs, inventors, artists, and many others with creative spirits have great dreams about what the future holds for them, but these dreams need to be in accordance with God’s Will and grounded in His Word. Make sure you pray to God about what His Plan is for your future.

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Thursday, December 03 2015

Verse of the Day

For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. [Romans 7:5-7 – NIV]

In the Old Testament, the Israelites lived under the Law. It consisted of the Ten Commandments and many other commands and rules that God provided to ensure that His people were holy. The Law provided a means of covering sin, but it did not eliminate it. The Sadducees, Pharisees, and other religious leaders became very adept at keeping the letter of the Law; appearances mattered to them. Form over substance, so to speak. Thankfully, this all came to an end thanks to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. His death and resurrection put an end to the Law. But did it?

In one sense, yes; because we no longer need the Law and its system of sacrifices to cover our sins. But as the Apostle Paul suggests, we still need the law to reveal sin. That is one of the many gifts of the Spirit. The Spirit helps us identify sin in our lives. Once revealed, we need to repent and sin no more. Sin is still with us and we still need a means of dealing with it. But Praise God for His Son, Jesus who has freed us from the penalty of sin forever. Hallelujah!

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Wednesday, December 02 2015

Verse of the Day

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. [Matthew 5:16 – NKJV]

It’s 6:15 a.m. and you’ve got a long bus ride to work. A grumpy man plops down in the seat next to you and immediately starts a loud and annoying conversation on his cell phone. Later, as you wander into the coffee bar for your third cup of coffee, you overhear a conversation about how the company is about to lay off half of the people in your department. You get back from lunch and your boss drops by to visit. She tells you that you’ve got to stay late to get a rush project done before the board meeting. Finally, as you pull out of the bus lot on the way home, one of your fellow drivers cuts you off. How do you handle these and the myriad of other things that pop up during the typical day at work? Do you gossip or complain? Do you lose your temper? Do you let your pride get in the way of having a congenial, respectful, and productive relationship with your coworkers and boss? If so, then you are straying from God’s path as you go about your daily life.

In today’s passage, Jesus tells us that we are to let our light shine. More precisely, as Believers we are to let the light of Jesus shine through us. After all, we are His “ambassadors” sharing the Good News with the rest of mankind. When those around us see that we are living in accordance with His Word, it is a testimony to His presence in our lives and “glorifies our Father in heaven.” Your words and actions at work and elsewhere else do make a difference. They matter. Our behavior says a great deal about what and who we are. One of the most effective techniques for sharing Jesus at work is just being you. So, let the light of Jesus shine through today and every day and give God the glory!

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Tuesday, December 01 2015

Verse of the Day

They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. [Psalm 24:5 – NIV]

Wow! It didn’t take long for Thanksgiving to be over this year; in fact, it was over long before midnight. Many of our favorite brick and mortar stores opened early for their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving evening while many of you were still spending “family time” together. Yes, there were “door busters” galore with big-screen TVs for rock-bottom prices and the newest Play Station cut to pennies on the dollar. What’s the point of all this mayhem?

It seems like Thanksgiving is an afterthought nowadays; kind of the “forgotten holiday.” It’s really getting squeezed by our secular, commercial society and, tragically, seems to have lost its meaning and purpose. It’s up to us to fight for this day of thanks. God has truly blessed us and this is a day to reflect on what He has done for us, individually and collectively. We should give Him thanks for the many blessings that He has bestowed upon us. Also, as today’s verse points out, this is a great day to give thanks to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ for what He did for us on the cross. Thank you, Jesus!

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