Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | November 26, 2019

“If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 18:12-22.  Here is a link to this Scripture – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+18&version=NASB

I quote only the following verses.

“Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him were Priscilla and Aquila.  In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow.  They came to Ephesus, and he left them there.  Now he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews.  When they asked him to stay for a longer time, he did not consent, but taking leave of them and saying, “I will return to you again if God wills,” he set sail from Ephesus.

When he had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and went down to Antioch.”  Acts 18:18-22.

———————

Paul set a good example for us by stating:  “I will return to you again if God wills”.

Paul recognized that even if he strongly wanted to return to Ephesus, intended to return, planned and fully prepared to return, the purpose of his return was to preach the gospel and strengthen the church, and had every other good reason to believe that he would return, he was mortal and God alone was sovereign Who would totally control whether or not Paul would return according to God’s will.

Other doctrine believe and teach that events are controlled by man’s alleged free-will.

But, Reformed Doctrine believes and teaches that events are controlled by God’s will. 

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”  Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.  You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.  Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.”  James 4:13-15.

“The mind of man plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | November 25, 2019

“Do not be afraid any longer, … for I am with you”

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 18:1-11.

“After these things he left Athens and went to Corinth.  And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome.  He came to them, and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working, for by trade they were tent-makers.  And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.  But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads!  I am clean.  From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”  Then he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue.  Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his household, and many of the Corinthians when they heard were believing and being baptized.  And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent;  for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.”  And he settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.”  Acts 18:1-11.

——————

God calms our fears, telling us throughout Scripture:  “Do not be afraid”.

“When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them;  for the LORD your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you.  When you are approaching the battle, the priest shall come near and speak to the people.  He shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies today.  Do not be fainthearted.  Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’”  Deuteronomy 20:1-4.

“God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, “Jacob, Jacob.”  And he said, “Here I am.”  He said, “I am God, the God of your father;  do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you a great nation there.”  Genesis 46:2-3.

“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you.”  Deuteronomy 31:6.

“In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.”  Psalm 56:4.

“24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Do not be afraid of sudden fear
Nor of the onslaught of the wicked when it comes;
26 For the LORD will be your confidence
And will keep your foot from being caught.”  Proverbs 3:24-26.

“‘Do not tremble and do not be afraid;
Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it?
And you are My witnesses.
Is there any God besides Me,
Or is there any other Rock?
I know of none.’”  Isaiah 44:8.

“Do not be afraid of them,
For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the LORD.”  Jeremiah 1:8.

“But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I;  do not be afraid.”  Matthew 14:27.

“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid;  for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;  for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:10-11.

“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”  Luke 12:32.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 17:22-34.

“So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects.  For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’  Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.  The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands;  nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things;  and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us;  for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’  Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.  Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.”  So Paul went out of their midst.  But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.”   Acts 17:22-34.

——————-

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them;  for God made it evident to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.  For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”  Romans 1:18-23.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 17:16-21.

“Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols.  So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present.  And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him.  Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?”  Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.  And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming?  For you are bringing some strange things to our ears;  so we want to know what these things mean.”  (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.)”  Acts 17:16-21.

———————–

“…  Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?”  Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.”  Verse 18.

“For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;  but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”  1 Corinthians 1:22-24.

“10 “You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD,
“And My servant whom I have chosen,
So that you may know and believe Me
And understand that I am He.
Before Me there was no God formed,
And there will be none after Me.
11 “I, even I, am the LORD,
And there is no savior besides Me.
12 “It is I who have declared and saved and proclaimed,
And there was no strange god among you;
So you are My witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“And I am God.
13 “Even from eternity I am He,
And there is none who can deliver out of My hand;
I act and who can reverse it?”  Isaiah 43:10-13.

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”  1 Corinthians 1:30-31.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 17:1-15.

“Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews.  And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women.  But the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, formed a mob and set the city in an uproar;  and attacking the house of Jason, they were seeking to bring them out to the people.  When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also;  and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”  They stirred up the crowd and the city authorities who heard these things.  And when they had received a pledge from Jason and the others, they released them.

The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.  Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.  Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.  But when the Jews of Thessalonica found out that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul in Berea also, they came there as well, agitating and stirring up the crowds.  Then immediately the brethren sent Paul out to go as far as the sea;  and Silas and Timothy remained there.  Now those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens;  and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they left.”  Acts 17:1-15.

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The Bereans were praised for examining the Scriptures to see if the things taught by Paul and Silas were true.

Trying to follow their good example, the goal of Reformed Doctrine Daily Devotions is to examine all of the Scriptures to see generally whether Reformed Doctrine is true, including specifically whether “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, is the true doctrine of salvation.

Reformed Doctrine Daily Devotions goes through all of the Scriptures in its order, not only to present daily “today’s Scripture” (the next Scripture in line), but to also bring in other Scriptures, no matter where located, to helps us understand today’s Scripture.  The best Reformed Doctrine Daily Devotions are the ones where the Scriptures do all the talking.

What is the gospel?

Is the gospel only an offer of God to save, dependent on man being wise enough and “free-willing” enough, so to speak, to accept it?

Or, is the gospel God’s sovereign and comprehensive action, “the power of God for salvation” dependent on God alone, of God doing all that is necessary for man’s salvation from beginning to end?

Is the “offer gospel” good news to man dead in sin?

Or, is the “gospel of God’s sovereign and comprehensive action” good news to man dead in sin?

What does all of Scripture show?

Moreover, I, the author of Reformed Doctrine Daily Devotions, am only a layman.  In the concluding paragraph of “About Me” section of my web site, I state:  “Although I do my best to present true teachings, these are my teachings as a layman.  (I am an attorney, not a minister).  And, although I have been taught by and otherwise influenced by certain Reformed denominations through the years from a very early age to date, my teachings are not necessarily the teachings of the Christian Reformed Church, Presbyterian churches, the Protestant Reformed Churches, nor any other denomination.  The reader is advised to follow the example set forth in Acts 17:11:  “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.”

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 16:35-40.

“Now when day came, the chief magistrates sent their policemen, saying, “Release those men.”  And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The chief magistrates have sent to release you.  Therefore come out now and go in peace.”  But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us in public without trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison;  and now are they sending us away secretly?  No indeed!  But let them come themselves and bring us out.”  The policemen reported these words to the chief magistrates.  They were afraid when they heard that they were Romans, and they came and appealed to them, and when they had brought them out, they kept begging them to leave the city.  They went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia, and when they saw the brethren, they encouraged them and departed.”  Acts 16:35-40.

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What boldness by Paul!

Instead of leaving immediately in fear when the chief magistrates decided to release them, Paul threatened the chief magistrates.

The chief magistrates were the ones who were in fear when they heard that they were Romans and considered what they had done to them.

In addition to boldness, Paul showed love and discipline by encouraging the brethren in the house of Lydia before he left the city.

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”  2 Timothy 1:7.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 16:27-34.

“When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.  But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!”  And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.  And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.  And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.”   Acts 16:27-34.

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The jailer was not saved, nor proud of himself, for any wisdom or any alleged free-will choice of Christ.  “When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.”  Verse 27.

If not for Paul’s intervention, the jailer would have killed himself.  “But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!”  Verse 28.

The jailer was trembling with fear and did not know what to do.  “And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  Verse 29.

The response to the jailer’s question was not just an answer to the jailer’s question with only a hope that the jailer would use his wisdom and alleged free-will choice of Christ.  It was a sovereign act and command of God through Paul and Silas:  “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

And yet, other doctrine uses today’s Scripture as “a poster child” of its teaching that salvation is dependent on man’s wisdom and alleged free-will choice of Christ. 

But, Reformed Doctrine understands that salvation is dependent on God’s choice.  God saves only those whom God chooses to save and that God provides all that the elect need to be saved including faith.  

In summary, God opened the hard earth (earthquake), and God opened the harder jailer’s heart to believe.  Remember in this very chapter, we read about Lydia and how “the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.”  Acts 16:14.

It is not necessary for Scripture to expressly state every time that with everyone who receives preaching and teaching and who believes that God opened their heart.

“When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord;  and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”  Acts 13:48.

If God can turn a king’s heart “wherever He wishes”, then God can turn a jailer’s heart and everyone else’s heart whom He wants to save.

“The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD;
He turns it wherever He wishes.”  Proverbs 21:1.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 16:19-26.

“But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market place before the authorities, and when they had brought them to the chief magistrates, they said, “These men are throwing our city into confusion, being Jews, and are proclaiming customs which it is not lawful for us to accept or to observe, being Romans.”

The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods.  When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely;  and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them;  and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken;  and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.”  Acts 16:19-26.

——————-

Encouraged by other doctrine, we tend to isolate man from God.  We focus on man and his wisdom and his alleged free-will and ask:  “What will man do?

But when we are captivated by Reformed Doctrine, we never think of man apart from God.  We focus on God and what He provides to man.  We ask:  “What will God do?

Other doctrine thinks:  “Oh no!  The crowd is out of control.  What will Paul and Silas do?  They should be strong and endure the beatings.”  Other doctrine is bewildered by how Paul and Silas could pray and sing hymns of praise to God.

Other doctrine thinks that God only enters the scene when God causes an earthquake.  So to speak, other doctrine does not see the semi-colon (the connection as compared to a period) between Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God and the great earthquake.

In summary, we can only be strong and endure and pray and sing hymns and praise God as we should do when we are filled with the Spirit.  We should never isolate ourselves from God to try to prove ourselves.  We are always in Christ, and Christ is always in us.  “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.  I have been crucified with Christ;  and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”  Galatians 2:19-21.

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;  always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;  and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”  Ephesians 5:18-21.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 16:16-18.

“It happened that as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave-girl having a spirit of divination met us, who was bringing her masters much profit by fortune-telling.  Following after Paul and us, she kept crying out, saying, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.”  She continued doing this for many days.  But Paul was greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!”  And it came out at that very moment.”  Acts 16:16-18.

——————-

The words of the slave-girl (“These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.”) were followed by the power of God.  The spirit of divination in the girl was cast out of the girl by the power of God.

The way of salvation is the power of God.

Other doctrine believe and teach that the way of salvation is man’s work or at least man’s alleged free-will choice of Christ.

But, Reformed Doctrine believes and teaches that the way of salvation is the power of God doing all that is necessary for the salvation of man from beginning to end:  from the beginning of “Unconditional Election” through “Limited Atonement” through “Irresistible Grace” to the end of “Preservation of the Saints”, “U”, “L”, “I”, and “P” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, more fully taught in the Canons of Dordt. 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation ….”  Romans 1:16.

“and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”  1 Corinthians 2:4-5.

If there is is any feeling of superiority in us, thinking that we are nothing like the slave-girl and that we only need a little help, let us consider the concluding Scripture which puts us in the same boat of “Total Depravity” as the slave-girl and which shows us that we need the power of God to be saved.  

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith;  and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:1-9.

Today’s devotion comes from Acts 16:11-15.

“So putting out to sea from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and on the day following to Neapolis;  and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia, a Roman colony;  and we were staying in this city for some days.  And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer;  and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled.

A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening;  and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.  And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.”  And she prevailed upon us.”  Acts 16:11-15.

————————

“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?”  Jeremiah 17:9.

Yet, other doctrine trusts its own heart, its own wisdom, and its own alleged free-will to understand and obey the things of God.

But, Reformed Doctrine refutes the teaching of other doctrine of the ability of our own heart, our own wisdom, and our own alleged free-will to understand and obey the things of God through its teaching of “Total Depravity”, the first point of Calvinism, summarized by “TULIP”, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation as more fully taught in the Canons of Dordt.  

Article 3.  Therefore all men are conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, incapable of saving good, prone to evil, dead in sin, and in bondage thereto, and without the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit, they are neither able nor willing to return to God, to reform the depravity of their nature, nor to dispose themselves to reformation.  THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof of Canons of Dordt.

“10 as it is written,

“THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”  Romans 3:10-12.

Reformed Doctrine trusts God’s sovereign actions to understand and obey the things of God.  In the language of Canons of Dordt, God “not only causes the gospel to be externally preached to them”, God also “powerfully illumines their minds by his Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God”.

Article 11.  But when God accomplishes his good pleasure in the elect, or works in them true conversion, he not only causes the gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illumines their minds by his Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God;  but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit, pervades the inmost recesses of the man;  he opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities into the will, which though heretofore dead, he quickens;  from being evil, disobedient and refractory, he renders it good, obedient, and pliable; actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth the fruits of good actions.  THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof of Canons of Dordt.

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;  and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”  Ezekiel 36:26-27.

“… the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.”  Verse 14.

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