When we change the Father responds ∙

When we change the Father responds ∙

The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. – Lamentations 3:22

1 Samuel 15:29 “Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.”

1 Samuel 15:29 And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.” (ESV)

1 Samuel 15:29 And he who is the Glory of Israel will not lie, nor will he change his mind, for he is not human that he should change his mind!” (NLT)

“I may be wrong regarding any or all of them; but holding it a sound maxim, that it is better to be only sometimes right, than at all times wrong, so soon as I discover my opinions to be erroneous, I shall be ready to renounce them” (Abraham Lincoln).

Difficult as it may be to admit at times, we all make mistakes. Even the best of us including the likes of Abraham Lincoln. But what of God the Father? Does He make mistakes? Does He find it necessary to change? And what about immutability? If God is immutable what actually changes?

Immutability is an attribute of God. God is unchanging in His character, will, and covenant promises.” God does not change in His being, perfections, purposes, or promises (Berkhof). The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that “[God] is a spirit, whose being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth are infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.” Those things do not change.

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

What can change? We are often puzzled, if not perplexed regarding this question.

The confusion has to do with the difference between the Father’s divine attributes and His characteristics as a person. The Father’s attributes never change. But in personal interactions with people, He reacts. He feels joy and sadness. He feels satisfaction but also regret.

Stop to think about it the Father, the Lord God omnipotent, truly interacts with mere humans in space and time. He is watching and paying attention. He is sensitive and aware of the smallest details. He cares. He becomes personally involved. The Father responds to us when we respond to Him. He chooses to be in a personal relationship with us. He reacts.

How can we possibly describe this interaction? The human intellect is limited and unable to fully comprehend it. Also, there is a paucity of the human language to describe it. We can only make feeble attempts to explain our limited understanding of the personality and characteristics of the Father and His interactions with us. But a place to start might be to think of Him as responding and reacting, rather than repenting and changing His mind.


When we change, He responds.

Father thank You that You are always willing to receive me just as I am.


Several Scriptures refer to the Father changing His mind. He relents and often reveals a sense of regret (Genesis 6:5-6, Exodus 32:14, Jonah 3:10, 2 Samuel 24:16).

The English word rendered regret, repent, relent, change one’s mind comes fromthe Hebrew nacham. Nacham is an onomatopoeia, it sounds like the action that connotes: to draw breath forcibly, pant, or groan. Visualize a disappointing loud sigh. The term reflects and extends the idea of “breathing deeply,” hence the physical display of one’s feelings, usually sorrow, compassion, or comfort (TWOT).

The Hebrew term nacham signifies a state of sorrow or regret regarding a perceived wrong. Embedded within, is the desire to change or cease a particular course of action.

It is a response, a change of heart, in reaction to the actions of others. It has the sense of changing one’s mind, being sorry, repent, relent, rue, regret, grieve, be moved to pity, or have compassion.

While nacham is translated as repent, relent, or change mind, a somewhat wordy paraphrase might be the Father being sensitive and in relationship with man, interacts, and responds.

Immutability has nothing to do with it.

It is like trying to compare apples and oranges. On the one hand, immutability has to do with the attributes of God. While interacting and responding to people has to do with the personality of God.

In 1 Samuel 15, the Hebrew word nacḥam expresses two contrasting, seemingly polar opposite sentiments.

1 Samuel 15:11 “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following Me and has not carried out My commands.”

1 Samuel 15:29 The Glory of Israel does not go back on his word or change his mind, for he is not a human being who changes his mind.”

When the Scriptures speak of the Father not changing His mind the focus is on His integrity. He does not lie nor does He go back on His word. He is consistent and can be trusted. Our faith in His promises rests upon this foundation.

Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?

Titus 1:2 This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God – who does not lie – promised them before the world began.

People are fickle and capricious. They flip-flop. The Father does not. He does not capriciously change His intentions or ways of acting. However, when people or circumstances change, the Father responds to the changes. As a result of Saul’s change in behavior, the Father expresses regret. Often the Father graciously responds to changes in people’s circumstances and conditions.

In the book of Jeremiah, when the people repent and change their ways, the Father repents and changes His mind in response (Jeremiah 8:6, Jeremiah 31:19) The same is true of human prayer. The Father responds to the pleas of Amos on behalf of Israel (Amos 7:3, 6).

The Father delights in responding to our change of heart, our repentance. He interacts and responds.

He richly pours out His love and forgiveness on the undeserving. It matters not what we have done or how many times we did it. He takes great pleasure in restoring His children to close fellowship with Him. God is always willing to begin again. Do-overs are an ever-present reality from His loving heart.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,

There is no shadow of turning with Thee;

Thou changes not, Thy compassions, they fail not

As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

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Trust is learned, not earned ∙

Trust is learned, not earned

We give you only what you first gave us! – 1 Chronicles 29:14

1 Chronicles 29:14-16

 14 But who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us!

 15 We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.

 16 O LORD our God, even this material we have gathered to build a Temple to honor your holy name comes from you! It all belongs to you!

What is trust? Trust may be defined as the firm belief in the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing. Synonyms or near-equivalents of trust are confidence, assurance, faith, reliance, or freedom from suspicion.

How is trust developed? Many believe that trust must be earned. People often begin with the idea that I will trust you if . . .. Yet in the Scriptures, the Father chooses to trust us without consideration of our performance. He freely gives His trust without preconditions.

It seems unnatural and even dangerous for someone to trust another person without first “checking them out.” The Father creates and nurtures our trust in Him by allowing us to know about Him through His Word. He reveals His unfailing love, commitment, power, and strength. As we get to know Him, we can confidently trust Him. For children of the King, faith grows out of their trust in the Father’s character and integrity. It is the natural byproduct.

Near the end of David’s reign, he prepared the way for the nation of Israel to build the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. David himself was prohibited from building the Temple (1 Chronicles 22:8-10). That task would fall to his son, Solomon. Everything that was needed was gathered together in advance. This required the people of Israel to chip in and part with whatever was required. They gave and gave generously for its construction.

Why did they give freely and generously? They realized that all that they had, came from the Father. David said, “We give you only what you first gave us”! (1 Chronicles 29:14) David and the people were only returning to the Father what they had already received from Him.

Giving back what we have received provides a guideline for cultivating trust. As we are trusted, we are enabled to trust back.

The Father has a remarkable way of developing our trust in Him. He begins by first trusting us.

The Father entrusts us with abilities, talents, gifts, possessions, and for a few, wealth and power. And then He waits to see what we do with them. If we are trustworthy, we attempt to do what we believe is right with what He has given us. Now we may not always do what is right, but the important thing is that we want to do what is right. Our trustworthiness is demonstrated by our actions.

It is easy to trust someone who first trusted me. When we trust, we give. “We give nothing to God that He has not first given to us” (Stanley).

Eventually, we figure out how to become more trusting. We leave behind our immature, natural thinking in exchange for a better way. The reasoning is quite simple.

If the Father trusts me, then I can trust Him.


Because the Father first trusted me, my ability to trust was awakened. Now I can fully trust Him.

Father, what a hard lesson to learn. Thank you for teaching me and showing me how to trust. How I long to trust You fully and completely.


Trust is learned, not earned. Upon reflection, David is reminded that everything good comes from the Father. He learns more about the Father’s nature and purpose. Several questions are asked and answered. What is my relationship with the Father? Who am I? Who are the people of Israel? The Father decided to love David and the nation of Israel. Nothing was done by the people to elicit the Father’s love. It was His sovereign choice.

Deuteronomy 7:7-8

 7 The LORD did not set his heart on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations!

 8 Rather, it was simply that the LORD loves you, and he was keeping the oath he had sworn to your ancestors.

David meditates upon Who the Father is, what He is like, and His trustworthiness

1 Chronicles 9:11-13

 11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O LORD, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things.

 12 Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion, people are made great and given strength.

 13 O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name!

If the first part of David’s prayer sounds familiar to many. It is part of the liturgy of many churches: “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory.”

David elevates his thoughts to the highest strata of theological grandeur. David is awestruck by a vision of the Father’s glory. David sees and acknowledges the Father’s unequivocal sovereignty, vast power, authority, and regal majesty. David’s acknowledgment is extraordinary. He exudes devotion, awe, and appreciation of the Father’s magnificence and splendor.

For David, the mere sound of the Father’s name was glorious. The Hebrew word translated glorious is tipharah. It connotes an intrinsic sense of beauty, being magnificent and splendid. It is frequently translated as beautiful, magnificent, or adornment.

There is something about the Father’s name that touches and resonates within David’s soul. His name is wonderful. Imagine the scene of David worshiping the Father in prayer. Can we see visualize David spontaneously weeping tears of joy?

How about your eyes?

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Just a little bit more ∙

Just a little bit more

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. – Psalms 16:11

Psalms 16:1-11

 1 Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge.

 2 I said to the LORD, “You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.”

 5 LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. You guard all that is mine.

 7 I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night, my heart instructs me.

 8 I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

 9 No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety.

 11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

John D. Rockefeller was asked, “How much money is enough money?” He replied, “Just a little bit more.” What makes him problematic, and why he continues to inspire ambivalent reactions, is that his good side was every bit as good as his bad side was bad. Seldom has history produced such a contradictory figure.

Rockefeller may ultimately be remembered simply for the raw size of his wealth. In 1902, an audit showed Rockefeller was worth about $200 million – compared to the total national wealth of the United States that year of $101 billion. Rockefeller’s net worth, over the last decades of his life, would easily place him among the wealthiest people in history.

In many ways, Rockefeller echoes the hunger in the hearts of most people. Often, it is a vague, nondescript, wistful longing for “more.” But in reality “more” is never enough.

There is a more excellent way. David king of Israel found it and lived it. Repeatedly, David expresses his heart hunger in the Psalms.

Psalm 16, is a Psalm written by David. David recalls the sheer joy of experiencing the Father’s sublime goodness when he enters into His presence. The Father is utterly delightful and pleasant. David recognizes that all good things in his life have come from the Father. His words are filled with a combination of joy, praise, humility, and total acceptance of the Father’s will.

David depended upon the Father for safety. He needed the Father’s continual protection and oversight of the wonderful things He had graciously bestowed upon him. But the value of the good things given to David paled away into insignificance in comparison to the value of the Giver Himself. He treasured the Father before and beyond all else. He is the fountain from which all good things flow.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.

The Father “is a flawless Giver, unlike all earthly givers. Every good and perfect gift is from Him . . .. We might have expected James to say that God only gives good and perfect gifts, but in fact he says more than this. Wherever there is such a thing as a flawless gift, that gift is necessarily from above. All human gifts, by contrast, are flawed in some way because the human giver is flawed. Only God can give perfect gifts” (Zane C. Hodges).


Wanting more in and of itself is not a bad thing. Wanting more of the Father is a great thing.

Father how I long to have a heart like David had and his great love and devotion to You. I know that nothing on this earth will ever satisfy me as You alone.


Regrettably, the longings of human hearts frequently send people on desperate futile quests for satisfaction. David shows us a better way to live. Rather than seeking more things, more wealth, more power, more recognition, etc., David found true contentment was not found “out there.” Rather, he learned to enter into and make himself at home in the Father’s presence.

Psalms 73:25-28

 25 Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.

 26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.

 28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.

David truly delighted in just being close to the Father. Being with the Father was the source of his greatest joy and pleasure.

Psalm 16:11 “is unsurpassed for the beauty of the prospect it opens up, in words of the utmost simplicity. The path of life is so called, not only because of its goal but because it is a way to live . . .. It leads without a break into God’s presence and eternity” (Kidner). The joys and pleasures of which David speaks are wholly satisfying and endlessly varied. They are found in what the Father is and what the Father gives (Kidner).

Dwelling in the Father’s presence for all eternity is far beyond anything we can imagine or think.

“In our glorified bodies, we shall be like Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20-21; 1 John 3:1-3), and we shall worship and serve Him forever. The pleasures of heaven will be far beyond any pleasures we have known here on earth, and as we enjoy the Lord and serve Him, we will not be restricted or encumbered by time, physical weakness, or the consequences of sin” (Wiersbe).

We are not ready for such a magnificent reality. contemplating his perfections will be an unceasing sweep of glory for all eternity (Carson).

But something wonderful will happen to us that opens the door to the glorious face-to-face presence of the Father.

We will be so remarkably transformed that our sinfulness, as it were, will have been burned away, the last stages of the old nature, and its sinful desires all gone. We will then have the privilege of gazing at the Father in all of His transcendent holiness (Carson).

We will no longer desire or need just a little bit more!

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Poor giving ∙

Poor giving

And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. – Luke 21:1

Luke 21:1-4

 1 While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box.

 2 Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.

 3 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them.

 4 For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

Remember the “good old days” when you could take your piggy bank filled with coins to the local bank and have them counted out for paper currency? Those days are not completely gone. Enter Coinstar.

Coinstar is a company that provides coin-counting kiosks. Coins are counted and converted into cash, gift cards, or donations to charity. Many major US supermarkets have Coinstar kiosks. You can bring your coins and toss them in. Select your desired exchange option. Clink, clink, cha-ching, cha-ching, and you’re done

In the Jewish temple at the time of the Lord Jesus Christ, there was an area called the treasury. The treasury had thirteen trumpet-shaped collection containers. They were narrow at the top and wider at the bottom.

People would throw their coins into the trumpets. It does not take much imagination to visualize the coins hitting the top and ricocheting their way down making noise as they went. The bigger the offering the louder the noise. Perhaps the phrase, “blowing your own horn” is somehow distantly related to this.

Imagine the impoverished widow with her two coins. She tosses them in, and they almost imperceptibly go, clink, clink, clink. The rich man comes along and tosses in a lot of gelt. Imagine the sound, clunk, clunk, cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching. It would have been a proud moment indeed.

As the account plays out, the Lord Jesus Christ is watching. He is watching carefully. What does He observe? He sees one person who was extremely rich and another who was extremely poor. They are both doing the same thing, giving. Most observers would probably focus on the impressive, attention-grabbing, grand offering of the rich man. But the Lord Jesus Christ instead focuses on the poor widow. His words provide insight into the Father’s perspective regarding giving. What matters is not the size of the gift, but the size of the giver’s heart.

What is the motivation behind their giving? The why is more important than the what. The why reveals what makes giving poor or valued. What matters? It is not what we would naturally think. It is normal to be impressed with the size of a gift, with little regard to the personal sacrifice that went into it. The Father is not impressed by the size of gifts. But instead, He evaluates the attitude of the giver’s heart.

In doing so, the Father turns everything on Its head. What really matters is not how much someone gives away, but rather how much someone keeps. When we realize this, it should provoke a searching, somewhat humbling self-evaluation.

Two things determine the value of any gift. First, the spirit in which it is given. Good gifts are the inevitable outflow of a loving heart. The second is the sacrifice which it involves. That which is a mere trifle to one person may be a vast sum to another. The gifts of the rich did not really cost them much, but the gift of the widow cost her everything she had (Barclay).

Some people give because they cannot help it. There is a kind of reckless generosity at work. Others minutely calculate precise percentages to obtain their appropriate amount.

“No one has ever become poor by giving” (Anne Frank). Yet, people can become impoverished by not giving. 


“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness” (Martin Luther King, Jr).

Father encourage me to follow the example of the poor widow and be wise and generous in my giving.


Giving is not merely about money. It is also about time, caring, listening, sharing, nurturing, and being interested in and responding to the needs of others. In the Torah, the five books of Moses, the Father laid out principles of sharing. One of His principles is the practice of gleaning.

Leviticus 19:9-10

 9 When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop.

 10 It is the same with your grape crop – do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you

Gleaning is all about sharing the harvest. It is not about giving away the farm.

Giving generously is a skill that can be learned. We can learn to give generously, yet not give away the farm. Paul lays out principles in a matter-of-fact way on how to achieve this. As the Father prospers us, we share out of our abundance. In modern terms, we generously give out of our abundance, without diminishing our principal.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8

 6 Remember this – a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.

 7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”

 8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

“Paul’s emphasis falls on the value of advanced planning and preparation rather than last-minute scrambling and the resultant pressure” (Ciampa and Rosner). Good giving is planned giving. There was to be “No pressure, no gimmicks, no emotion” (Garland). As the Father provides success or prosperity, we are to set aside a portion of it for providing for others. The greater the abundance, the greater our ability to give. “Although he does not say as much, such a plan will also ensure a greater gift than a single collection” (Fee).

Each of us should set aside a portion of what we have received as a result of the Father’s blessing (1 Corinthians 16:2).

In the first century A.D., there were no paychecks or direct deposits. People that could, earned money through labor, farming, fishing, etc. Some weeks, or even seasons, there may be an abundance. At other times there may be nothing at all. Many of the children of the King were slaves and had no income.

Again, what matters is not the size of the gift, but the size of the giver’s heart.

Luke 18:27 “What is impossible for people is possible with God.”

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I want to be alone

I want to be alone

He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and He began to teach them many things. – Mark 6:34

Matthew 14:13-14

 13 Now when Jesus heard it, He withdrew from there in a boat, to a lonely place by Himself; and when the multitudes heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities.
 14 And when He went ashore, He saw a great multitude, and felt compassion for them, and healed their sick.

Greta Garbo was perhaps most remembered for her famous quote was “I want to be alone.” In 2005, the American Film Institute voted it to be the 30th most memorable movie quote of all time. It is derived from the 1932 Hollywood film Grand Hotel.

She speaks these words, first pathetically to her maid and manager, “I want to be alone.” She then repeats herself then as a plaintive cry; and, finally, as a futile declaration to a stranger, “I just want to be alone.”  

Garbo made a practice of shunning reporters, premieres, and fan mail during her career. According to an article in LIFE magazine in 1955, she clarified, “I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’”  “I only said, ‘I want to be let alone!’ There is all the difference.”

A portrait was made by C.S. Bull to promote Garbo’s film, Mata Hari. It became one of the most recognized “Garbo” images. Her hands frame her face, hair beautifully pulled back and her eyes looking slightly down. It epitomizes her image as being in her own world, distant, dignified, a true goddess in her solitude . . .  alone.

When difficult circumstances occur, some people want to be alone and regroup. While others want to find consolation with others. At this point in the Gospel of Matthew, a disappointing and seemingly tragic event occurred. John the Baptist had been executed by Herod Antipas. Even though He knew it was destined to happen, for the Lord Jesus Christ, John’s death, humanly speaking, was a great loss. They were cousins and no doubt knew each other growing up. Before John knew that the Lord Jesus Christ was the son of God, he was reluctant to baptize Him (Matthew 3:13-17).

Matthew 14:13 Now when Jesus heard it, He withdrew . . . to a remote area to be alone.

Matthew 14:13 when the crowds heard of this, they followed Him . . .

The Lord Jesus Christ, as the God-man, was undiminished deity and perfect humanity in one person. In this account, His humanity is clearly on display. Jesus would frequently seek to be alone and pray (Matthew 14:23). Being alone with the Father was a time of reflection, comfort, guidance, and focus. “The day’s events . . . sent Jesus to find solace in communion with his Father” (Chouinard).

“Jesus spent a good deal of His time alone with God in prayer. He made this a practice not only to make requests of His Father, but even more to stay in close fellowship with Him and enjoy His company” (Stanley).

The multitudes did the next best thing, they sought to be in the presence of the one who could comfort them, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. As a result, the solitude that He was seeking eluded Him.

The narrative provides a rare glimpse of the emotions of the Lord Jesus Christ and what motivated His actions. He observed the plight of the multitude and recognized their determined efforts to be in His presence. They were like sheep without a shepherd (Mark 6:34).

He was moved with compassion. He had compassion “his heart was filled with pity” literally means “his insides were stirred up” (UBS).

This is intended as a teachable moment for the disciples and through them, us. If we are to understand the person and mission of the Lord Jesus Christ and follow after him in service, “we must learn to see the ‘crowds’ through the eyes of Jesus, and take personal responsibility for their needs” (Chouinard).


The Lord Jesus Christ often withdrew to lonely places and prayed (Luke 5:16). Recall that Jesus had no home of His own during His public ministry as Messiah. He had no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20). To be alone, He had to withdraw from people.

Father, it is so easy to put off having a special time with You. Help me to reconfigure my thinking so that you are part of my daily routine.


If the Lord Jesus Christ needed time alone to be a part with the Father, how much more does each child of the King?

These periods of being alone with the Father to pray and meditate on the Scripture have come to be called quiet times. Following the example of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are to withdraw from the busyness and clutter of the world to a secluded spot to have intimate communion with the Father. Such a spot should be comfortable and without distractions. We do not have to go anywhere to do this. We simply set aside a place where we live, wherever we can be uninterrupted. What is ideal is a solitary, silent location where there would be no interruptions from family members, media, or cell phones.

This is where we meet with the Father one-on-one. Typically, it involves reading a portion of Scripture, reflection, and prayer. Often, the Father provides guidance and direction for what lies ahead. The length of the quiet time is flexible. But we should allow ourselves enough time to meditate on what we read and pray about it, along with anything else that comes to mind. A large number of us have daily routines that we follow when we wake up in the morning. Our quiet time with the Father simply becomes one more component of our daily morning activities.

Do not expect to have instant, mature quiet times or results. Like any relationship and effort worth doing, it takes repetition and practice. But once it becomes a regular habit, and we experience the delight of “face time” with the Father, it becomes something we eagerly look forward to. If we are too busy to spend time alone with the Father, we are too busy! We need to consider revising our priorities and scheduling.


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