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The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. — John 10:10I realize that John 10:10 is a well-known verse to millions of believers around the world, but today I want to give you fresh insight into this powerful scripture. Rather than simply read it as you’ve read it a thousand times before, let’s dig a little deeper into the Greek words behind this verse to see what we can mine from the treasures of the Greek New Testament! Jesus said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). According to these words of Jesus, the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy everything good in your life. He wants to destroy your job, your joy, your happiness, your health, your finances, your marriage, and your kids. The thief just wants to ruin anything he can get his hands on! The word “thief” comes from the Greek word klepto, which means to steal. It gives a picture of a bandit, pickpocket, or thief who is so artful in the way he steals that his exploits of thievery are nearly undetectable. This reminds me of the pickpockets who work the streets in certain areas of Moscow. They can slip their hands into a person’s pockets, take what they want, and be long gone before that person discovers they were even there! Jesus uses this word to let us know the devil is very cunning in the way he steals from people. He knows that if he does it outright, his actions will be recognized; therefore, he steals from people in such a deceptive way that he often accomplishes his evil goal before they even know he has stolen from them! Often the devil injects thoughts into a person’s mind to steal his peace, his joy, and even his beliefs. The word klepto describes a thief’s uncontrollable urge to get his hands into someone’s pockets so he can take that which doesn’t rightfully belong to him. I find it very interesting that this is where we get the word kleptomaniac, which describes a person with a persistent, neurotic impulse to steal. Just as a kleptomaniac can’t help but steal, the devil can’t stop stealing because it is his impulse and his very nature to steal. This is precisely the nature and behavior of the thief Jesus told us about! Not only does the thief come to steal, but Jesus said that he also comes “to kill.” At first glance, it appears that this means to kill, as to take someone’s life. But the Greek word is thuo, which means to sacrifice. It originally referred to the sacrificial giving of animals on the altar. It could mean to sacrifice; to surrender; or to give up something that is precious and dear. It was particularly used in a religious connotation to denote the sacrifice of animals, and it had nothing to do with killing in terms of murder. Because Jesus uses this word to describe the work of the thief in John 10:10, He is telling us that if the thief hasn’t already walked away with everything we hold precious and dear, he will then try to convince us that we need to sacrifice or give up everything he hasn’t already taken from us. The thief cannot bear the fact that you possess any kind of blessing. Therefore, if he is unsuccessful at stealing the good things from your life, he will try to cunningly convince you to give up everything you possess and love — simply because he doesn’t want you to have it. He may even try to create stressful situations that cause you to conclude that your only solution is to sacrifice the things you dearly love. Then Jesus went on to say that the thief also comes “to destroy.” The word “destroy” is from the Greek word apollumi, meaning to destroy. It carries the idea of something that is ruined, wasted, trashed, devastated, and destroyed. By using this word, we discover that if the thief is unsuccessful in his attempts to steal from you or convince you to sacrifice what you hold dear, he will then try to ruin it!
An expanded interpretive translation of John 10:10 could read this way:
“The thief wants to get his hands into every good thing in your life. In fact, this pickpocket is looking for any opportunity to wiggle his way so deeply into your personal affairs that he can walk off with everything you hold precious and dear. And that’s not all — when he’s finished stealing all your goods and possessions, he’ll take his plan to rob you blind to the next level. He’ll create conditions and situations so horrible that you’ll see no way to solve the problem except to sacrifice everything that remains from his previous attacks. The goal of this thief is to totally waste and devastate your life. If nothing stops him, he’ll leave you insolvent, flat broke, and cleaned out in every area of your life. You’ll end up feeling as if you are finished and out of business! Make no mistake — the enemy’s ultimate aim is to obliterate you….”But Jesus went on to say, “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). The words “they might have” are from the Greek tense that means to have and to continually possess. The “life” Jesus offers us is zoe, which suggests a life that is filled with vitality. The word “abundantly” is from the Greek word periossos, and it means to be above, beyond what is regular, extraordinary, or even exceeding. This is not just abundance; it is super-abundance. What a comparison! The devil comes to steal, to kill, and to destroy, but Jesus comes to give life as we have never known it!
An expanded interpretive translation of this second part of John 10:10 could be as follows:
“…But I came that they might have, keep, and constantly retain a vitality, gusto, vigor, and zest for living that springs up from deep down inside. I came that they might embrace this unrivaled, unequaled, matchless, incomparable, richly loaded and overflowing life to the ultimate maximum!”In your walk with the Lord, you will experience times when the devil pushes buttons in your emotions to keep you all bound up and depressed. Other times the enemy will disguise his voice to make you think God is talking to you in order to get you off track or cause you to cast off your deepest dreams as pure imagination. But whenever these attacks occur, just tell the devil to shut up and stop dropping those dimwitted thoughts of nonsense into your head. Tell him to hit the road! Let him know you’re not going to bite that bait any longer, so he might as well go fishing somewhere else. You’re not a sucker anymore! You know how he works now, and you’ve determined that he isn’t going to steal, kill, or destroy one more good thing in your life! There’s no doubt about it!
- The devil wants you to be defeated.
- The devil wants you to struggle through your entire life.
- The devil wants you to be sick, depressed, down in the dumps, glum, and miserable.
- The devil wants you to feel like you will never hit the target with your life.
- But Jesus wants to give you a life that is unrivaled, unequaled, matchless, incomparable, richly loaded, and overflowing with life to the ultimate maximum!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I am so thankful that You came to give me real life! You didn’t save me so I could live the rest of my life in defeat and poverty. You didn’t redeem me so I could be sick, depressed, and sad. You came to give me life, and I am determined to enter into the reality of that life You promised me. Forgive me for ever allowing the devil to talk me out of the blessings You have designed for my life and my family. I’m taking my eyes off the low road, and I’m headed for the high road of blessing You have planned for me!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that Jesus Christ gives me a life that is filled with extraordinary abundance! He came that I might have, keep, and constantly retain a vitality, gusto, vigor, and zest for living that springs up from deep down inside me. He gives me a life that is not rattled or easily shaken by any outward event. I therefore embrace this unrivaled, unequaled, matchless, incomparable, richly loaded, and overflowing life that Jesus came to give me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. If an unbeliever looked at your life, would he say that you had an “abundant life” or that you lived a low-level, meager existence? What do you think “abundance” would mean to an unbeliever? 2. How do you gauge an “abundant life”? Do you measure abundance in terms of spirituality, finances, health, relationships, or employment? How many of these areas do you think Jesus was referring to when He spoke of living life “more abundantly”? 3. In what areas are you not experiencing abundant life? It would be very helpful for you to make a list of these areas so you can pray about them and begin to believe for God’s abundance to flow into these parts of your life.
…But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. — Romans 5:20I’ll never forget the time we were being attacked on every side by the enemy. It seemed like an all-out assault had been unleashed against us. At the same time we were exper-iencing this attack on our ministry, the city where we lived was in political upheaval. This chaotic situation was so terrible that a bomb was detonated just a two-minute walking distance from our apartment! We could feel our building shake as the bomb exploded. It seemed as if each day was bringing new problems to the nation and more threats to our ministry. All of this was occurring at a time when the Spirit of God had told us to launch out and take a new step of faith. It seemed like such a wrong time to take such a step of faith. Logic said, “Pull back! Protect yourself! Stop everything until the heat is off!” But the Spirit of God kept telling us, “Dig in deeper! Keep pressing forward! Don’t let up for one minute! This is a perfect opportunity for the Gospel message to be spread even further!” Right in the middle of all that chaos, we watched as God poured out His grace on us. Although it was a dangerous and difficult time, it was also a glorious moment to be serving in the Kingdom of God! God began to do marvelous new things in the nation where we lived. In that troublesome hour, people were open and hungry to know more about the things of God. They wanted answers and were willing to listen. As a result, people were saved; spiritual darkness was pushed back in people’s lives; and the Gospel was spread further than ever before! As God moved mightily in the nation, that very dark, precarious moment became a spiritually bright time as many were led into the Kingdom of God. This simultaneous operation of darkness and grace made me think of Romans 5:20, which says, “…Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” The word “abounded” that Paul uses to describe this abundance of sin comes from the Greek word, pleonadzo, which simply means more. It denotes something that exists in abundance. The Greek tense describes an abundance that is growing larger and more expansive with the passing of time. The implication is that sin is never stagnant but continually grows, increases, and expands. This means Romans 5:20 could be translated, “Where sin exists in abundance and is multiplying and constantly expanding….” This describes the growing nature of unrestrained sin. But Paul doesn’t stop there! He goes on to say, “…Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” The words “much more abound” are from the Greek word huperperisseo, which describes something that is growing out of measure, beyond proportion, and out of its banks to a far-stretched extreme. It is like a giant river that is being flooded with waters from upstream. Those waters are coming downstream so fast that the river can no longer hold the raging current in its banks. Its water rises, rises, and rises until it finally begins pouring out of its banks and begins to flood everything in sight. This is exactly the idea of the word Paul uses when he says, “…Grace did much more abound.”
This means Romans 5:20 could be interpreted:
“For wherever sin exists in abundance and is multiplying and constantly expanding, that is precisely the time and place where grace is poured out in a far greater, surpassing quantity.”Regardless of where we live and what we are facing — regardless of how bad the situation around us looks to our natural eyes — the grace of God is flowing downstream, and God is lavishly pouring it forth in abundant measure! In fact, it is impossible for us to imagine, measure, or even dream of the amount of divine grace God is sending in our direction. No banks can hold the flood of grace He is sending our way! It isn’t just “a lot” of grace; it is more, more, more, and much more grace! The flood of grace will always far surpass the flood of sin and darkness! Satan will try to stop you from doing the will of God, but never forget that the enemy cannot prevail against you if you will only yield to the Lord. You will find that God is supplying more than enough grace to match whatever the enemy is trying to do. If you will surrender to that divine grace, it will rise higher and higher until it eventually floods every area in your life. Instead of seeing the destruction of the enemy, you will see the awesome outpouring of the marvelous grace of God everywhere you look! So when a situation looks bad, as it did so many years ago when we were living amid troublesome times in our part of the world, don’t be too surprised if you hear God’s Spirit say, “Pour it on! Keep it up! Don’t stop for a minute! Keep pressing ahead! It is in dark and difficult moments like these that I love to work the most! This is when My grace super-exceeds the darkness of the world. Wherever sin and darkness abound is where I really pour out My grace!”
My Prayer for TodayLord, I thank You for pouring out Your grace in difficult, chaotic times. When sin abounds and darkness tries to reign, that is always when You reach out to seek and to save. Forgive me for giving way to fear and for thinking of retreating at this key moment when You are wanting to make a strategic advance. I choose to push away all my fears and to believe that You are going to do something miraculous to save the day! Let Your grace flow, Lord — pour it on! Please shine Your light in this hour of darkness!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that God’s grace is poured out mightily to drive back the forces of darkness during times of difficulty and chaos. God uses these dark moments as opportunities to pour out His grace and to show others who He is! The world may reel in fear and uncertainty, but God is always near. I declare by faith that God will reveal His power and intervene with His grace to bring the solution for this difficult hour!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Have you ever had a dark moment in your life when God’s grace was abundantly poured out in a measure that was far greater than anything you had ever expected or dreamed in your life? 2. Do you have any areas in your life right now where you need a fresh outpouring of God’s grace to combat the darkness? If yes, what are those areas in which you need this supernatural touch? 3. Can you think of a time in history when God has sent a nation-shaping revival in the midst of troublesome times? What happened as a result of that revival?
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. — Matthew 11:28-30When our family first moved to the Soviet Union, the Soviet economy was so collapsed and the system so broken that even the most basic supplies were difficult to find. One of those hard-to-find supplies was gasoline for one’s car — and not just for the car, but for any machinery that operated on gasoline. Because of this lack of fuel, few cars were driven, and people walked great distances. There was just no available fuel to put into the tanks of the cars parked inside people’s garages. At that time our family lived in a remote area on the edge of a small city where people were given small plots of land to grow gardens. One spring when it was time to plow the garden and plant seeds, I looked out the kitchen window of our house and saw something I could hardly believe! Our neighbor had taken an old harness, like one that would be normally placed around the neck of a cow, a horse, or an ox, and hooked it up to his wife! I watched in amazement as this man walked behind his wife, guiding the plow as she heaved forward with her neck and shoulders, dragging the plow through the hardened soil. The two of them were working to break up the ground so they could plant their seeds and produce their garden. They owned a small tractor, but because there was no fuel, they couldn’t use it. Therefore, this couple resorted to the action I beheld that day. I called to Denise and told her to come to the kitchen. She looked out the window with me and saw this poor woman hooked up to a harness and pulling the plow, with her husband trying to guide the sharp blade through that solid ground. Denise was speechless! What this couple was doing just outside our backyard looked so hard and difficult! We both wished we had a couple of oxen to loan them that day in order to make their job a little easier! Many times Denise and I have worked so hard in the ministry that we felt like we had given every ounce of our strength; yet there always seemed to be so much more that we needed to give. On several occasions, I told my wife, “I guess it’s time for us to hook up the plow and press through this hard ground! Let’s go for it, Sweetheart!” We’d laugh and then remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30, where He said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” The word “labour” in verse 28 is from the Greek word kopaio, which describes the most wearisome kind of labor. This is a person who is giving everything he has to a project or assignment. He is striving, laboring, and working with every fiber of his being. But the Greek tense describes people who have been laboring under this load without a pause for a very long time. Their work has been wearisome, exhausting, and unending. The words “heavy laden” tell us why these people are so weary from their labors. These words are from the Greek word phortidzo, which denotes a load or burden that is normal and expected for an individual to carry in life. It was a military term that described the backpack or bag that every soldier was required to carry as a part of his career as a soldier. Carrying such a weight was a normal and expected requirement for soldiers. The weight of these backpacks and bags was determined by the length of the soldier’s journey. If his trip was short, the weight would be less. But if the assignment mandated a longer journey, the weight of the backpack or bag would be much heavier laden. This means Jesus was referring to people who had been doing their job for a very long time — and their job wasn’t done yet. Their journey had not been a quick, short, and easy one, and much of it was still before them. They had quite a long distance yet to go before they reached their destination. Knowing how exhausted they were and yet how much further they had to go before they were finished, Jesus told them, “Come unto me…and I will give you rest” (v. 28). The word “rest” is from the Greek word anapauo, which means to rest, to relax, to calm, or to refresh. The root is pauo, from which we get the word pause. So in Matthew 11:28, the word anapauo carries the meaning of to pause, to cease, to desist, or to refrain. In our modern-day language, it could be translated to take a breather; to have a break; to have a hiatus, a lull, an interval, an interruption; or to take time to get away from something or some responsibility. Jesus never promised that He would take difficult assignments away from you. However, He did promise that if you would come to Him, He would give you the rest you need in order to be refreshed for the continuation and conclusion of the journey. So when it seems like you’ve given all you have, but there’s still so much more for you to do before you’re finished, just take a break from your journey and go to Jesus for some supernatural refreshing! Then in Matthew 11:29, Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you.…” The word “take” is the word airo, meaning to deliberately lift or to deliberately take up. The fact that Jesus used the word airo implies that one must deliberately invite Jesus into the harness so He can help you pull the plow. The word “yoke” is the Greek word zugos, which describes the wooden yoke that joined two animals together so they could combine their strength to pull a load that generally would have been too difficult for one animal to pull by itself. This “yoke” made the team inseparable. As a result, they were stronger, and their combined strength made their task easier. This is Jesus’ offer to the weary and tired worker. Jesus offers to come alongside the worker and join him in his assignment or affairs. However, the worker — the weary soul — has to make the deliberate choice to enter into this working relationship and to come under the yoke of Jesus. He has to take the “yoke” of Jesus upon himself, reaching out by faith to lift it up and place it upon himself. Becoming “yoked” to Jesus in your life, your ministry, your business, and your personal affairs is a premeditated, determined choice — not something that occurs accidentally. But just as two animals that are “yoked” together make a job much more easy and manageable, the strength of you and Jesus together is unbeatable! That is why the Lord went on to say, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). The word “easy” is the Greek word chrestos, meaning pleasurable, delightful, or comfortable. This means it is a delight to work with the Lord. When you are yoked together with Jesus, even the most difficult assignments become pleasurable! Situations that would normally make you uneasy become comfortable. Being “yoked” together with Him changes the atmosphere and brings peace and strength to your soul. It is the most pleasurable experience in the world! Jesus concluded this verse by saying that being “yoked” together with Him is “light.” The word “light” is the Greek word elaphron, describing something that is not burdensome, but light or easy. I can tell you from personal experience — what was once hard, wearisome, and troubling because you were doing it all alone becomes pleasurable and lighter when you are partners with Jesus! So what about you, friend? Are you going to keep pulling that plow through that solid ground all by yourself? Or are you going to allow Jesus to become partnered with you in your endeavors? Going it alone is the hardest course you can take. But when you choose to be yoked together with Jesus, you suddenly have the greatest Partner in the universe who will turn a once-hard situation into the most pleasurable experience of your life!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I admit that I’ve been trying to pull the whole load by myself, and I simply can’t do it any longer. I have given every ounce of my strength; now I need You to come alongside me and help me finish the task that is before me. I’m willing to do it, but I must have Your help if I’m going to do it with all my heart and finish it all the way to the end. So today I am asking You to become “yoked” with me in my job, my business, my ministry, my family, and in all my personal affairs.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that Jesus Christ is my Partner in life. He works with me; He walks with me; and He is my biggest Helper! Because of Jesus’ strategic role in my life, my attitude, my environment, my work, and everything connected to me has become better, higher, finer, and more pleasurable. My life assignment is not a burden — it is truly a delight!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer1. Can you think of an area of your life where you need to invite Jesus to become “yoked” together with you to make your journey lighter and more enjoyable? 2. Have you been trying to do it all alone? Is this the reason you are so exhausted from your labors? 3. Do you feel alone in your endeavors, or do you sense that Jesus is hooked up with you and that He is helping you pull the load?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance…. — Galatians 5:22,23Few people think of “meekness” as a desirable attribute. Most assume that if a person is “meek,” he must be “weak.” To these people, a meek person is one who is timid, shy, bashful, or perhaps introverted. But this is a grossly incorrect view of the New Testament word for “meekness.” In actual fact, “meekness” is one of the strongest attributes a person can possess, with a unique strength that has a dramatic impact on all it touches. In Galatians 5:22 and 23, meekness is listed as one of the fruits that the Holy Spirit produces in our lives. These verses tell us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness….” Meekness So what is “meekness?” The word “meekness” comes from the Greek word prautes, which depicts the attitude or demeanor of a person who is forbearing, patient, and slow to respond in anger; one who remains in control of himself in the face of insults or injuries. In the Greek language, the word prautes (“meekness”) conveys the idea of a high and noble ideal to be aspired to in one’s life. Although an injurious situation may normally produce a rash or angry outburst, a meek person is controlled by kindness, gentleness, mildness, or even friendliness. The word “meekness” pictures a strong-willed person who has learned to submit his will to a higher authority. He isn’t weak; he is controlled. He may in fact possess a strong will and a powerful character; he may be a person who has his own opinion. But this person has learned the secret of submitting to those who are over him. Thus, he is one who knows how to bring his will under control. In rare instances, the word prautes (“meekness”) was used to describe wild animals that had become tame because it correctly conveyed the idea of a wild, fierce will under control. This means when the Spirit is producing meekness in your life, you are controlled even in difficult circumstances. Rather than fly into a rage and throw a temper tantrum, you are able to remain silent and keep your emotions and temper under control. If you find yourself in a situation that you fiercely believe is wrong, you are still able to stay silent until the appropriate moment to speak or until you have been asked for your opinion. You know how to control yourself and your emotions. In addition to these meanings, the word “meekness” was also used in a medical sense to denote soothing medication to calm the angry mind. A meek person doesn’t project the countenance of one who is offended, upset, angry, or reactive to insults or injuries. Instead, he is so gentle and mild in his response that he becomes soothing medicine for the angry or upset soul, or for a troublesome or unsettling situation. So take a moment to examine the way you respond to insults, injuries, or volatile situations. Do you find that you are often a contributor to a heated and potentially explosive atmosphere? Or does your presence bring peace into the midst of the conflict? When others say or do something that could offend you, do you quickly retort with a harsh answer, or are you able to control your emotions and temper, remaining silent until a more appropriate time to speak? The flesh loves to rage out of control, but when meekness is being produced in you by the Holy Spirit, it will make you careful and controlled. Your very presence will become God’s soothing medication for angry, upset people, and you will impart peace to situations that hitherto were unsettling and unstable. Temperance Paul goes on to mention “temperance” next in his list of the fruit of the Spirit. But doesn’t “temperance” have almost exactly the same meaning as the word “meekness”? What is the difference between these two fruits of the Spirit? As noted above, the word “meekness” has to do with the attitude or demeanor of a person who can control his temper or emotions. But the word “temperance” comes from the Greek words en and kratos. The word en means in, and the word kratos is the Greek word for power. When compounded into one word, these two Greek words form the word enkrateia, which literally means in control and denotes power over one’s self; hence, it is often translated as the word “self-control.” It suggests the control or restraint of one’s passions, appetites, and desires. Just as a meek individual can control his attitude, a person with temperance has power over his appetites, physical urges, passions, and desires. Because the Holy Spirit has produced temperance in his life, he is able to say no to overeating, no to overindulging in fleshly activities, no to any excesses in the physical realm. A person with temperance maintains a life of moderation and control. The word enkrateia — “temperance” — could be thus translated as restraint, moderation, discipline, balance, temperance, or self-control. You can see how opposite temperance is to the works of the flesh. If the flesh is allowed to have its way, it will over-worry, overwork, overeat, overindulge, and literally run itself to death. But when a person is controlled by the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit produces in him a discipline over the physical realm that helps him sustain his physical condition, stay in good health, remain free from sin, and live a life that is moderate and balanced. Now that you better understand the meanings of the words “meekness” and “temperance,” consider how well you’re doing in allowing the Holy Spirit to produce these two spiritual fruits in your life. Do you demonstrate that you can control both your temper and your physical appetites and urges? Are you able to restrain your emotions and keep your flesh under control? Or would you have to honestly say that you have a hard time controlling your emotions and that your flesh is running the show? Take a good look at yourself today to see if meekness and temperance are being produced in you. And if the answer is no, take some time today to ask the Holy Spirit to start producing these two powerful fruits in your life!
My Prayer for TodayLord, I am so thankful that You are patient with me as I learn to walk in the Spirit and to produce the fruit of the Spirit in my life. Every day I am becoming more aware of my need to be changed. It is very evident that I cannot change myself without Your help. I know that I need meekness and temperance in my life. When I look at myself in the mirror, my physical image even tells me that temperance is greatly lacking in me. So today I am sincerely calling out and asking You to help me move up to a higher level of life. Produce these powerful, life-changing fruits in me. Change me, I pray!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for TodayI confess that I am becoming more and more controlled in my emotions and my physical life. Restraint, moderation, temperance, discipline, self-control — all of these are becoming a part of who I am and how I behave. The nature and character of Jesus Christ are being developed in me. The spiritual fruits of meekness and temperance are changing me — bringing peace to every situation I encounter and producing health in me as I learn to be moderate in everything that I do!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!