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Archive for January, 2008

Lord’s Prayer

70. Partake – The Christian Disciple and Lord’s Prayer

Jesus speaking in Matthew 6v9-13

“This, then, is how you should pray:

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

Amen.”

This is, in all probability, the prayer that is most frequently used, and repeated, by those professing to be Christian Disciples and also by those who are not. It is often called the “Lord’s Prayer”. This is not because Jesus, Himself would have prayed it, for as He was sinless, He would have had no need to have said to God, “forgive us our debts” (Matthew 6v12). It was given by Jesus as a model for His Disciples prayers to be like, hence Jesus saying “how you should pray” (Matthew 6v9). When it is spoken and prayed, I wonder if some people truly understand what is being prayed?

Father: By calling God, “Father”, this implies that God is in a personal relationship with the Disciple, and that be recalling Him as a loving and generous Father. God is not impersonal, but wants to be approached intimately as a child approaching its daddy. By saying “our Father”, the individual Christian disciple should realize they are not alone, but are part of a wider church family.

Holy: When we call God Holy, it is symbolic of our intimate adoration of Him and means that we are to place Him and His purposes at the top of our list – God is to be number one priority in all aspects of life and the world. His glory, His kingdom and His will are to be our supreme concern high above our own needs.

Kingdom: God is a King and He rules! This is where the Christian Disciple prays that the Gospel will spread far and wide, and God’s Kingdom will grow until the time when Jesus Christ returns in glory, to rule with majesty and honour.

Will: As God is holy and a king, His Will is already being done in heaven. The Christian Disciple is to pray that life here on earth will approximate life in heaven! The Christian Disciple wanting to place God as number one priority and to see God’s kingdom spread, will also pray that God’s Will be top priority as well! They are the three priorities for a Christian Disciple: God will be number one; His Kingdom will spread and His will, will be done on earth.

Supply: This signifies that the Christian Disciple needs to rely on and trust in God for all things that are necessary for life to continue. So often, particularly in the Western world, we rely on our own finance, our own goods, to supply our needs and forget that God has provided for our needs that way. As Christian Disciples, we are to be thankful, for all the good gifts that God our Father has supplied to us: often without our needing to ask Him!

Forgiveness: Forgiveness of course is a major part of Christianity, both in the way that God forgives us when we come to Him in penitence and repentance, but also in the way Christian Disciples forgive others and themselves! Asking for forgiveness can be one of the hardest things we need to do. In times like that, we need to stop and consider Jesus Christ and the enormity of His forgiveness. If He forgave us for all we have done wrong, then we also should forgive others, regardless of how difficult that might be to do. Forgiveness deals with our emotional response/s toward an offender. Forgiveness enables us to have the same openness toward the person after they offend us, as before. When we forgive the offender, the hurt and the wound will start to diminish. This is helped when we realise Jesus Christ understands and we can use these experiences for our eternal advantage.

Temptation: It’s an undeniable and inevitable fact of the Christian Disciple’s life! But it is good to know that temptations are common experiences for all Christian Disciples, and not just for us as individuals, no matter what we may think! An important thing to note is that temptation itself is not sin! Rather it is the giving into temptation that causes the Christian Disciple to sin. One of the keys to living a righteous life and not sinning is by dealing with temptation the very moment it confronts us. As Christian Disciples we face temptation from three different angles: the world, our old nature and satan. It is not just temptation that Jesus means but trials of life as well. The Christian Disciple is to overcome both temptations and trials, in order that their character may through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit become more like Jes-us Christ the Master.

Deliver: This is better translated as “evil one” rather than “evil”. Satan is the one who tempts the Christian Disciple. It is he who suggests to the Christian Disciple not to forgive others and to trust in themselves for their own needs. It is he who does not want God to be number one or for His will to be done on earth as in heaven. It is he who does not want God’s kingdom to be spread. Neither does he want Jesus Christ to return in glory. Therefore as Christian Disciples we are to pray for these things and that we need to rely and trust on God for delivering from satan, who wants to snatch the Christian Disciples inner joy and dependence on God.

Your power: How can God deliver us from temptation, trials and satan? He can, because He is always all-powerful and eternally almighty. Christian Disciples are to rely on God’s strength to overcome temptation, trials and satan, and not to rely on their own strength. By relying on their own strength, failure is imminent but by trusting in God and His power and strength, overcoming temptation, trials and satan is assured.

Your glory: What is the aim of a Christian Disciple? To give all glory to God regardless of what personal achievements have been gained. His glory is to be our supreme concern, so that God is number one in the life of the Christian Disciple, His will is done in the Christian Disciple and in the world and that His kingdom continues to grow until Jesus Christ returns in majesty and glory.

For more to think about please do read for yourself Matthew 6v9-13. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. In what ways can I as a Christian Disciple adapt my prayers to follow this model given by Jesus?

Q2. How can my prayer life reflect attention on God’s name, will and kingdom?

Q3. How often do I lead myself into temptation and blame others for it?

As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partake(at)hotmail.co.uk. Thank you.

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United

69. Partake – The Christian Disciple and Unity

Paul writing in Ephesians 2v19-21: “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.”

As the church, we are to be one and unified through and in Jesus Christ! The universal Church is one around Jesus Christ, but churches on a local level frequently engage in acts of disunity rather than unity. Churches and Church denominations fight over minor details. So how can we as Christian Disciples show unity, to a world that sees the Church fragmented. Paul when writing to the Ephesians challenged the two groups of believers, Jews and Gentiles, to be unified in order for the church to grow and Jesus Christ to be glorified.

1. Alienation – Jews and Gentiles

There was alienation, evident in the church. Most of the converts in the church of Ephesus were Gentiles. For centuries Jews (the “circumcision”) looked down upon the Gentiles (the “uncircumcision”) as an inferior people. Israel (the Jews) were to be the light of God to the whole world. However, the physical mark of being a Jew was no proof of a man was a man of faith (Romans 2v25-29; Galatians 5v6, 6v15)

The best word to describe the Gentiles is without

a Without Christ

b Without citizenship

c Without covenants

d Without hope

e Without God

2. Reconciliation – One Jesus Christ

“But now…” (Ephesians 2v13) is linked with “But God…” (Ephesians 2v4). This is God’s grace and reconciliation. Enmity is a feeling of war and hostility. Reconciliation means to make peace between enemies and to bring together again. Sin is the separator – Adam & Eve; Cain & Abel; the Flood; Tower of Babel; leading to Abraham & Israel (Genesis 12)

a. Enmity between Jew and Gentile

Jews were different from Gentiles in religion, dress, diet and laws. Until Peter was sent to the Gentiles (Acts 10), the church had no problems. But placing the salvation of the Gentiles on the same level as the Jews caused problems.

Acts 11 – Peter was told off for going to the Gentiles and eating with them.

Acts 15 – Apostles meeting – both Jews and Gentiles are saved in the same way.

The barrier or wall between Jew and Gentile was the Law (Leviticus 11v44-47; Ezekiel 44v23).

Jesus breaks the barrier in His death (Galatians 3v10-13). Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Romans 10v12-13)

The Lord Jesus is our peace (Ephesians 2v14) and made our peace with God (Ephesians 2v15)

The Gentiles

Old position

New position

“Christ-less”

In Christ (Ephesians 2v13)

“aliens”

A holy nation (1 Peter 2v9)

“strangers”

“no more strangers” (Ephesians 2v19)

“hope-less”

“called in one hope” (Ephesians 4v4)

“”God-less

The God and Father of out Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1v3)

b. Enmity between God and man

God had put a difference between Jew and Gentiles, so that His purpose would be done. These differences were erased through the reconciliation of Jesus’ work.

Acts 15 – All people both Jew and Gentile need Jesus’ reconciliation.

3. Jesus’ Living Work

1. Jesus work has made

i both Jew and Gentile one (Ephesians 2v.14)

¨ “one new man” (Ephesians 2v.15)

¨ “one body” (Ephesians 2v.16)

¨ “one Spirit” (Ephesians 2v.18)

2. Jesus has made

i one nation (Ephesians 2v.19a)

ii one family (Ephesians 2v.19b)

iii one temple (Ephesians 2v20-22)

¨ God lived with His people (Exodus 25v8)

¨ God lived in His tabernacle (Exodus 25v8)

¨ God lived in His temple (1 Kings 8v1-11)

¨ God lived in Jesus (John 1v14)

¨ God lives in His people through the Holy Spirit that indwells us. (1 Corinthians 6v19-20)

¨ God lives in the church, His body (Ephesians 2v20-22)

3. Jesus is the chief cornerstone (Psalm118v22; Isaiah 8v14; Ephesians 2v21, 4v16)

A Cornerstone is the main part of a building and it holds the whole structure together. Jesus said in Matthew 16v18 “I will build my church”. Jesus Christ has united the Jews and Gentiles. Just as even though the universal church has many different denominations, Jesus Christ holds them together in unity. But how can we as Christian Disciples show unity when we have so many diverse parts to the church? Where does the source of authority for our unity lie?

Authority

By authority, I do not mean authoritarian, but rather total obedience to a power or force. However, the world today baulks at both. People constantly rebel against the authority of the Police and Government. Today, particularly in the Western world, the only authority a lot of people accept particularly in regards to morality and how to live is their own self-deducted authority.

As Christian Disciples, our supreme authority is to be God Himself. We are of course free to disobey His authority, but in doing so, ignore His better wisdom. When this occurs our conscience testifies that God’s authority regarding His wisdom and we repent of our disobedience.

Source of authority

So if God is to be our authority, where can this authority be found?

Historically, the church has had several sources of authority. There are the historical creeds and confessions such as the Apostles Creed and the Westminster Confession. Creeds are valuable in order to gain insight on Christian doctrine, but there are two main problems concerning ultimate authority. Firstly they are too general and in no way be used to fully explain Church doctrines and beliefs. Secondly, the creeds and confessions are under authority themselves as they are based on the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles.

Then there is the “mind of the church”. This dictates that God’s mind & will can be discovered through opinion and consultation. This is of course, partly true. However, it is not our ultimate authority due to individual belief concerning such things as the sacraments, Spirit baptism and other doctrines. If there isn’t unity of mind on these things, then how can the church progress past the impasse?

Then of course there is experience in the life of the Christian Disciple. Whilst experiencing God is vital, how can we know our experiences are truly under His authority and not just our old sinful nature raising its head? Again it is not the ultimate authority, because many great Christian truths fall outside of personal experience.

Whilst the creeds, confessions and “church mind” are indicative of the historical Church, they are not of themselves to be our ultimate authority. God as Father, Son and Spirit are to be the ultimate authority for the Christian Disciple. This triune God is known through the Bible, and the Bible is our authority. It is God-breathed and is to be revered and obeyed. By submitting to the authority of Scripture, we bow the knee to the God who is alive in us through the indwelling Spirit. In doing so, we give authority to Jesus Christ, who has the “supremacy over all things” (Colossians 1v18). Before His ascension, He said “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28v18). As His Christian Disciples, Jesus Christ is to be our ultimate authority and the Bible reveals Him supremely to us.

For more to think about please do read John 17v6-25. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. How can I exhibit unity with those I disagree with regarding points of bible teaching?

Q2. Are there those in my local church with whom I need to reconcile with?

Q3. What and who is the source of my authority as a Christian Disciple?


As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partake(at)hotmail.co.uk. Thank you.

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YouTube Connection

http://www.youtube.com/cp/vjVQa1PpcFO5nG_nA63Du-11rOACoSj6HRsnIhFZcxM=

copy for a series I am hoping to distribute on DVD to those who are housebound in our local congregation…

Overcoming Sin

68. Partake – The Christian Disciple and Overcoming Sin

Paul writing in Romans 8v12-15: Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

As Christian Disciples, we face a constant battle against sin and constant pressure to disobey God our Father. Elsewhere in Romans 12v9, we are told to “hate evil”. And yet we succumb to sin’s trap so easily. As Christian Disciples we are to live under the grace given to us through Jesus Christ. It is by doing this, that we can overcome sin and its power.

1. The Inner Struggle

As Christian Disciples, we have chosen to take up God’s offer of salvation. But what has happened to our old spiritual nature and where does my new spiritual nature fit into the picture?

a. In the Past

Our Internal Status – we all have an old spiritual nature

Our Spiritual Status – we were separated from God by sin and our sinful nature

What God did – God made the offer to have peace with Him. He takes care of the past and He no longer holds our sin against us.

b. In the Present

Old Spiritual Nature vs New Spiritual Nature

Our Spiritual Status – As Christian Disciples we have a new spiritual nature to help us fight the struggle against sin.

What God has done – we have immediate access to God, which takes care of our present – we can come to Him whenever we choose. He gives us a new nature to fight the power of sin and our old spiritual nature.

c. In the Future

Our Internal Status – a new Spiritual Nature

Our Spiritual Status – One day we will be totally released from the power of sin.

What God has done – A glorious hope takes care of the future – all Christian Disciples will one day share in His glory.

2 objections people come up with :

·‘If God’s grace abounds when we sin, then lets continue sinning so we might experience more grace’ – (Romans 6v1)

·‘If we are no longer under the Law, then we are free to live as we please’ (Romans 6v15)

2. Know, Yield and, Count

a. Know (Romans 6v1-10)means “to understand”

·Know that you are dead to sin (Romans6v2-5).As Christian Disciples we cannot deliberately sin because of our new identification with Jesus.

·Know that you are not to serve sin (Romans6v 6-10). Now, sin wants to be our master and wants to control us. As Christian Disciples, we are freed from the power of sin (Romans 6v7)

b. Count (Romans 6v11)means “to calculate, estimate, take into account”

·This means to act upon what God has said.

c. Yield (Romans 6v12-23)means “to present as a sacrifice”

·How are we to yield? (Romans6v12-13). We present ourselves daily to Him for His use.

·Why are we to yield? (Romans6v14-23).

qFavour (Romans6v14-15) – It is because of God’s grace, His unmerited favour, that we give ourselves to Him. We are not saved by anything, but grace.

qFreedom (Romans6v16-20) – Now we are Christian, we are freed from the power of sin and become servants of God. We should show God, our joy for releasing us from the gripping chains of sin.

qFruit (Romans6v21-23) – Sin pays wages – death. God always pays wages –holiness and eternal life. In our new life, we are to produce fruit that brings glory to God and joy to our lives.

3. Overcoming sin(Romans 7v14-25)

a.Romans 7v14 – All people are controlled by the old sinful nature from birth – slaves to sin.

b.Romans 7v15 – This is the fight going on in our minds between the Holy Spirit and our sinful nature.

c.Romans 7v16 – Paul does what he does, not what he wants to do and sins. The Law is good.

d.Romans 7v17 – The sin living in me, is our natural impulse to sin. It is not our new self that sins, but our old spiritual nature. Inside our bodies, there are two natures fighting with each other. Our old sinful nature fighting against our new Spiritual nature.

e.Romans 7v18 – There is from birth, no good in us – our sinful nature. The desire to obey God is present in our inner being, our new Spiritual nature.

f.Romans 7v19 –Paul continues to sin, even though he doesn’t want to.

g.Romans 7v20 – Paul again repeats that it is the sinful nature that causes us to sin.

h.Romans 7v21 – What law? The continual fight between good and evil within us.

i.Romans 7v22 – Inner being means our human spirit linked with our conscience. In the eyes of God, our inner being is more important than our outer body and behaviour.

j.Romans 7v23 – When Paul uses the word Law here he means principle. ‘Law of my mind’, can also mean ‘the rule of my mind’. In every Christian this fight continues. The ‘law of sin’ makes Paul’s hands & feet do evil. This ‘law of sin’ works to make Paul a prisoner to sin.

k.Romans 7v24 – Who will rescue us from the body of death?

l.Romans 7v25 – We have a rescuer!

A lot of people think their eternal life will start when they die.But our eternal life with Christ has already started, so we are to live now as we will then!But we do sin, so what do we do about it?One man who knew what to do was King David in the Old Testament, and Psalm 32 typifies his reaction to his sin! In that Psalm he speaks of his confession of sin and his abandonment of it.That is also to be our reaction to when we sin!We are not to just ignore it! We are not to wallow in self-pity!We are to take God’s view of it and call it sin!Nor are we to claim we are without sin, because as John writes in 1 John 1, we are living in self-delusion and we make God out to be a liar!So, when we realise we have sinned, we are to confess it quickly and ask for our Lord’s forgiveness and for him to cleanse us anew!For as John writes in 1 John 1v9, “he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”That is why it is a very good idea to start the day with a simple prayer of general confession so that your fellowship with Jesus through the day will not be scarred!That is why in a lot of churches, there is a general confession at the start of the services.Jesus wants us to have complete fellowship with him, and by confessing sin; our fellowship with Him is made richer. Through Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can overcome this ‘law of sin’ within us, and as His children and as Christian Disciples, we can truly live a life under grace.

For more to think about please do read Romans 8v18-39. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them.Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. Are there sins in my life that hold me habitually?

Q2. How can I remind myself that I am a child of the living God?

Q3. How does the Holy Spirit help me when I am weak?

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Love Happy Joy Joy

Suffering

67. Partake – The Christian Disciple and Suffering

Jeremiah 37v11-16: After the Babylonian army had withdrawn from Jerusalem because of Pharaoh’s army, 12 Jeremiah started to leave the city to go to the territory of Benjamin to get his share of the property among the people there. But when he reached the Benjamin Gate, the captain of the guard, whose name was Irijah son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah, arrested him and said, “You are deserting to the Babylonians!”

“That’s not true!” Jeremiah said. “I am not deserting to the Babylonians.” But Irijah would not listen to him; instead, he arrested Jeremiah and brought him to the officials. They were angry with Jeremiah and had him beaten and imprisoned in the house of Jonathan the secretary, which they had made into a prison.

Quite possibly the biggest question Christian Disciples ask themselves or is asked of them by others concerns the problem of suffering. I will start out by saying I don’t have all the answers, but hope to give some idea as to what the Bible says about suffering. Many people mention suffering as the main reason they do not believe in any form of God, whether that be a personal God or an impassive God. What is true of all humans, is that we all suffer in some way. It is an endemic part of human life. Suffering of any kind leaves some sort of scar or mark. Do you have scars? Physical, emotional or mental scars due to sickness, somebody else sinning against you or as a result of your own sins? Scars come as a result of human life. Are you suffering today from sickness? Are you suffering today because of somebody else?

One man, who knew suffering, was the man Jeremiah. Not just the suffering in the passage we read earlier but he also endured:

a. Persecution from his family (Jeremiah 12v6)

b. Mocked and despised by his peers (Jeremiah 20v1-9)

c. Arrested, beaten and falsely imprisoned (Jeremiah 37v11-16)

Kinds of suffering

There is man’s inhumanity to man, which causes suffering. There is suffering from man’s wilful disobedience against God as when Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3). Suffering was not part of God’s original creation and only came in after this event. There is also suffering as a result of the actions of others, as in the story of Joseph being sold into slavery (Genesis 37). There is physical suffering (John 9v1) and mental suffering (1 Corinthians 2). Finally there are spiritual sufferings: the work of satan, such as Job endured (Job 2v7); from the world (1 john 2v15-17); persecution because of maintaining Christian beliefs (Acts 16v19-24) and the Christian Disciple’s old and deceptive sinful nature (Romans 7v18-24).

Purposes of suffering

Often when confronted with suffering, the main question asked is “Why would a loving God allow suffering?”

Scripture offers a little insight into the purposes of suffering.

a. Suffering produces fruit such as patience (Hebrews 10v36); joy (Psalm 126v6); wisdom (Psalm 94v12) and maturity (1 Peter 5v10).

b. To silence satan. Just as God allowed satan to cause Job to suffer, in order for Job to prove that he loved God for who God was and not for what God gave him (Job 1v8-11).

c. That God is glorified (John 11v1-4)

d. To continue transform us into the image of Jesus who being fully God and fully man, endured the suffering of the cross for the sake of humanity (Philippians 3v10).

e. To teach us dependence upon God and to have faith in Him (John 15v1-5).

f. To increase our witness to those outside of the Christian faith (2 Corinthians 1v3-7).

Responding to suffering

How is the Christian Disciple to respond to suffering? Naturally, we either treat it too flippantly or we take it far too seriously. The response that God wants His disciples to have to suffering is to be exercised by it. The Christian Disciple is to commit any suffering we endure to God and understand that He is faithful and that it will eventuate in His glory and for our own good (Romans 8v28; 1 Peter 4v18). We are to be joyful when enduring suffering (James 1v2). Now I admit, that that can be hard to do, but we are not left alone. The Holy Spirit indwells us and as one of His names suggests, as the Comforter, He provides comfort during the times of suffering.

What is God doing about suffering?

We know that God is personal and we know that as Jesus was both fully God and fully human, that God has suffered. God, who is without sin, became sin. The great God, who is outside of time, entered time. The God of the Christian Disciple intimately knows what suffering is like, because of the suffering Jesus endured on the Cross. Before He was arrested, Jesus suffered such anxiety, that he perspired blood (Luke 22v44). That is why as Christian Disciples we have a hope. Because the God we serve, personally knows our suffering and has endured suffering just like us. That is why we know God is a personal God. And what is God doing now about suffering?

Well one day, one glorious day, every kind of suffering will be banished for those of us who love Him. Revelation 21v4: “God will wipe away our tears. There will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying and no more pain, for former things have passed away.” Take that verse to heart. What a glorious day it will be for those of us who love Him now. God Himself, with our face in His hands, wiping away our tears… When our King returns, there will be no more terrorism, missiles, guns, wars or bombs. No more will man’s inhumanity to man be allowed. No more torture, rapes, muggings or robberies. No more poverty or famine. No more religion, idols or icons. No more gossip, fornication, adultery, lying or debauchery. No more cowardice. No more pain. No more death. No more suffering. No more sin. Humanity’s sin is the creator of suffering, not God, as critics of the church maintain.

For more to think about please do read for yourself: 1 Peter 3v13 to 1 Peter 4v19. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. How am I to respond to the suffering I endure?

Q2. What is my reaction to knowing that God suffered?

Q3. What hope does Jesus’ resurrection from the dead give me to endure suffering?

As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partake(at)hotmail.co.uk. Thank you.

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Psalm 23

Rudimentary copy of a movie for a series I am hoping to distribute on DVD to those who are housebound in our local congregation…

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Psalm 23
A psalm of David.

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

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