Are You On A Detour?

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Last week we were travelling to my husband’s place to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday and spend a few days with her. It wasn’t very good weather but still we decided to move on as we didn’t want her to be alone on her big day. It was the same week when our Kerala state was hit hard by heavy rainfall and flood. Though we were safe, most of the places we were travelling through had water overflowing onto the roads. It was rainy and windy weather which took us much longer than usual to reach home.

The usual time it takes to reach there is only one and half hours. But with the road blocks we needed to take a couple of detours along the way. In the rough weather, these unknown and unplanned detours felt very overwhelming, unending and uncomfortable. We felt lost and confused. The windy weather felt so threatening and all I could do was to pray for God’s protection over us.

The distance we would otherwise cover in a few minutes on the same roads had taken an hour as we had to take roundabout routes instead of the usual roads. A usually smooth journey became very exhausting, bumpy and time-consuming.

But these same detours kept us safe from the possible danger we would otherwise encounter travelling on those flooded roads. Through these detours we were able to get to our destination safe and sound. Without these detours, we might have ended up stopping our journey in the middle.

Detours of life

In our lives too, we sometimes have to face some unexpected & unintended detours. The challenging cicumstances of our lives force us to take a different turn. The journey isn’t always as smooth as we wish it to be. We get exhausted, it feels unending and uncomfortable being on these unknown detours of life. All we wish for is to have smooth and fast travel with no inconvenience or interruptions in-between. But most of the time, the same detours takes us to the right place we’re supposed to reach. These same detours make us resilient, determined to reach our goal and keep us safe from the possible danger of pride, personal glory and self-dependence. These unknown, uncomfortable and exhausting detours help us to focus more on the Lord for guidance, comfort and strength.

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Are you encountering any detours in your life?

It might feel longer, tiring and unending. There might be rough and stormy paths along the way. You may feel lost and confused. But let your focus be on Jesus. He will stand by you and get you through. Trust His heart of love. Though these detours may sound extensive, unknown and rough, they are the assured paths to your destination. They will guide you to go on with your life journey with focus, resilience, watchfulness, resolve and dependence on Him. And trust me these detours are much safer to travel on:)

 

 

 

 

When Your Faith Doesn’t Make Sense!

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A couple of weeks back we had an appointment for the assessment of our 6 years old son in relation to his inattention and performance issues in School. The assessment went on for more than two hours including separate counselling and Q/A sessions for both the parents. The assessment was much needed to help us understand his challenges and help him improve and perform well in all activities.

I sat in the glass cabin of the assessor at the assessment centre with my daughter on my lap as my son played in a room filled with toys, books & puzzles outside of the cabin. The assessor brought in a few questionnaires and began asking me questions. She asked about the family history, pregnancy complications, medications, challenges at home, Asher’s performance at home and school, difficulties he is facing, home atmosphere, family support etc. She filled all the needed information in the forms and gave one questionnaire for me to tick my choice of answers.

After completing all the questionnaires, and perhaps getting a glimpse of the depth of my emotional state, she couldn’t stop herself from asking me a very personal question – So how are you coping emotionally with all these challenges? What is the source of your strength?

….I told her that I have a faith in God and I believe He gives me strength to face each day.

I wondered how much my secret of strength made sense to her as all she knew about me was that I was someone who was in a complete mess – “a 4 years old child on my lap who is almost in a vegetative state, another child who is struggling to fit himself into a world which doesn’t function as per his system and I am a wornout mom, sitting in the assessment centre hoping that they track his uniqueness and not just his flaws and give me some handy tips to parent him well.”

….But to my surprise she nodded her head with a smile and tear-filled eyes, agreeing with me as to what I claimed to be my source of strength.

I thought my complicated life might disqualify me from sharing my faith in Jesus. But sharing my faith through my brokenness actually revealed His strength and power in my life. As Paul rightly says, His power is made perfect in our weakness.

“My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:8

Often we want to glorify God through our strength and we wait till all things get better in our lives. But God wants to use our brokenness too, for His glory. He wants us to share our faith right in the middle of our trials.

I love the words of Rick Warren in his book “The Purpose Driven Life”

Your weaknesses are not an accident. God deliberately allowed them in your life for the purpose of demonstrating His power through you. Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.”

If you are in the middle of pain and the darkest moments of your life, don’t waste your experiences. Use them to glorify God. Don’t wait till everything gets perfect. Let Him minister to others through your very chaos. Let His strength be shown through your brokenness as you lean on Him for courage. The very thing you feel disqualifies you from sharing your faith is the one thing which will become your biggest testimony. I hope this message encourages you today.

 

 

Anchoring Your Hope in Him!

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Last week has been very challenging for me, because my daughter fell sick all of a sudden. She had vomiting and an episode of seizures. She slipped into a critical state so we had to rush her to hospital to sustain her health. It was painful for me to see her frail body hooked to the tubes and wires. The doctors and nurses were trying to figure out what went wrong with her with one blood test after another.

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Hospital stays are always hard but it’s even much harder when you see many people suffering from different ailments. Looking around the Emergency Room, I was feeling much pain seeing the suffering of people and their loved ones. Being inside the home, I always thought I was the only one struggling greatly and I often complained to God to ease my challenges. Hospital visits always give me a glimpse of how trivial my struggles are…

As we were taking my daughter for an E.E.G., we happened to meet a lady and her 10 years old son in an elevator. She looked very weak and fatigued. Her hair had all fallen out due to chemo. I could hardly see any hope in her eyes. I knew she must be fighting for life at this time, struggling to face the reality of her life. She touched Jennie’s face and said she will pray for her. I looked at her and smiled as we got off the elevator. A few seconds of meeting made me look at life from a different perspective.

In this fallen world we will have sickness and pain. We may encounter life’s most challenging and heart-breaking realities. But there is still a hope.  A sure hope of His healing, comfort, strength and peace. This hope is eternal. Even after our earthly being passes away, we will still live for eternity…a glorious life with our King.

In the midst of all our trials, Jesus brings this hope to our heart: all God’s promises are possible through Him.

“For all the promises of God in him are yes, and in him Amen, to the glory of God by us.” 2 Corinthians 1:20

He assures us that our hearts should not be troubled. We are to anchor our hope in Him when we face hardships because He alone can give us strength for our weakness, joy for our sorrows, healing for our sickness, peace for our anxious heart and comfort for our weary souls.

His hope reminds us that we are not alone. His hope leads us to trust in His promises. His hope reminds us of the greater purpose we have in Him to share His promise and assurance with the suffering and broken-hearted.

which hope

When the winds of adversity,
throw you off course . . .
there’s an anchor that holds
no matter its force.

When the seas of calamity,
toss you all about . . .
there’s an anchor that holds
till the danger runs out.

When the storms of life,
catch you off guard . . .
there’s an anchor that holds
to make them less hard.

When the hazards of living,
come straight at you . . .
there’s an anchor that holds
till you pull your way through.

The only anchor that holds,
is strong, sturdy and sure
Jesus is that anchor . . .
keeping you safe and secure!

– Deborah Ann 

 

When Persevering is Hard!

When keeping up is hard

Over the last few days I have been working on a piece of art. I am not a professional artist but I do like to use my hobby to make some art and craft items which give me joy. I had downloaded a painting image of a tree and wanted my painting to look exactly like that one.

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The original image of the painting

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My painting

If you think, I have painted this piece sitting at a peaceful place, a cup of coffee next to me and beautiful music playing around, then I would say I wished it was so. But I had to paint it when my two kids were having a nap and I was at constant peril that either one of them would wake up at any time:). So I had to finish it up as soon as I could. But sometimes, it wasn’t possible to make both of them have a nap at the same time and it was a challenge finishing the piece at one stretch.

Another challenge was my 6 years old. Out of his curiosity he would try touching the paint and mess the painting many times. Every time he messed up the paint, I had to work on it again with patience. After working for quite a few hours on this piece of art, I could finally complete it.

A thought came to my mind; what made me want to complete this piece with much patience?

Because, all the time the original image of the painting was on my mind and I wanted my piece to resemble with it.

No matter how many times it got messed up, how many extra hours I had to spend finishing it or how many times I felt like giving up…all I desired was to see my piece of art look beautiful, complete and striking like the original one. And that was the only thing made me want to complete it.

In the same way, when we have dreams & visions of life imprinted on our hearts and minds, no matter what the challenge is, we will strive hard to make sure we fulfill them. When we know the clear image of our purpose of life, we will focus on it rather than focusing on the obstacles and the hurdles that are coming our way. We will be determined to make our dreams and vision look exactly like the picture we have on our minds and hearts for our lives.

We all have been given a purpose, a dream and a vision from God. Each one of us is born for a purpose. When we discover it, we are thrilled to fulfill it. We begin with much excitement and can’t wait to see it come to pass. But life isn’t always easy going and there will be times when we will doubt our calling, about the surety of our vision and purpose in the midst of all of life’s hurdles. There will be time when all the odds will be against us and we will feel no excitement to go on.

What will keep us going?

It’s the clear image we have of our purpose and vision which will help us to move on, stay encouraged, patient and persevere despite of all the mess that comes  along, all the challenges that try to block our way, all the delays and all the unexpected things and detours we have to take in our life journey.

If you feel like giving up on the dreams which once you cherished and were hopeful for, if you are doubting your life’s purpose, if you are feeling confused, if you have done your best to keep up but you think you have hit rock bottom, I want to encourage you to keep the original image of your purpose on your mind, keep it in focus rather than focusing on the hurdles. It’s the only thing which will keep you moving, encouraged, persevering and excited about the final outcome. 

“Blessed is the man who persevere under trial” James 1:12

When someone believes in you!

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Have you ever experienced a situation in your life, when you have thought you can’t make it but someone was there by your side who believed in you? The difference this person has made in your life by always encouraging you, believing in your ability and nurturing your untapped potentials ultimately helped you reach heights which you never dream you could.

Three years ago, while searching for a suitable school in the city for our son who was very much delayed in his speech, we came across a school which seemed the right choice for him. When we met the Principal and the facilitator of the school, we explained our son’s speech delay and we hesitated to ask if they could give him admission to their school. But they lovingly welcomed him in and assured us that he will improve as he begins his schooling. Their words felt so soothing to our worried minds and we left the school feeling a bit relaxed but at the same time wondering how things would be for him in the school…

He began his schooling facing many obstacles initially as he wasn’t able to keep up with the other kids in learning and doing other activities. He couldn’t talk like other kids did, couldn’t understand what is being taught and couldn’t adjust to the school atmosphere even after 6 months. We were worried about him. Many times, we thought to discontinue his schooling and send him to a special needs school. It was very frustrating time for us as we couldn’t give enough attention to him because of our daughter’s health issues.

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First day of School.

This ugly duckling wasn’t fitting in and this thought always brought tears to my eyes. His limitations were making him act in a bad way – throwing tantrums, pushing other kids and falling on the floor. Most of the time, he wouldn’t even eat his lunch box and stayed hungry during school hours. Sending him to school and bringing him back became very stressful for us. When he would come from school, I would ask his Dad if any teachers had any complaints about him or were they asking us to send him to another school? Tension always hovered over my head.

But things began to change slowly over a period of time. In the later years, we were getting more good reports than bad ones. His school performance was improving. His hidden skills were showing up. He was improving in all the activities and most of all he was becoming very excited about going to school. He could make few friends, He was able to communicate with teachers, was able to follow instructions and was able to participate in sports and dance. Moreover, he felt accepted.

These changes were only possible, because his class teacher believed in him. She didn’t give up even though we felt like giving up our hopes. She made all efforts to help him in all the areas. With her gentle but firm discipline, she encouraged him to read, write, eat and participate in all activities like other kids. She encouraged us to support him. The only words she had for him were: “Asher is a brilliant boy”. Every time, she would be so happy to share about his improvement, his spoken words, his talent and his reading skills. Even though she knew the challenges he had, she was very patient, understanding, supportive and loving. She was a silent corrector and a loud encourager which helped Asher to come out of his shell, to learn, to grow and to be happy being all he is.

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Asher with his Class Teacher Mrs. Seena Sankar ( School Facilitator)

Today is his last day of School. I don’t know if he will have the memories of these three years spent in this school as he grows up or if he will remember his teacher who made a big difference in his life. But one thing I am sure about is the seeds of confidence which his teacher has sown in his life will definitely yield good results. When he goes to the new school, where his favourite teacher will not be seen but I pray and hope “someone” will be there for him who will continue to cultivate those seeds and believe in him.

Isn’t it amazing that God brings people into our lives who believe in us and stand by ourside? They might be our teachers, leaders, family members, friends or colleagues. They help us go forward, overlooking our weaknesses and encouraging our strengths. Their words give us positive energy, a new perspective and a confidence to believe that there is still a hope. They are always trying to bring out the best in us. They are indeed a beautiful reflection of God’s love for us. Let’s be thankful to Him for placing them in our lives.

The Real Me!

sonu blog real me
Recently I was fascinated (hooked on actually) by a photo editor app on my phone. I was only familiar with the brightness and cropping to edit a photo until I came across this app which had many more options beyond what I knew. I was just stunned to see the options – slim face, large eyes, slim nose, many types of makeup tools, hairstyles, eye colours, skin tones, tools etc. Out of curiosity, I tried them to see how my picture would look with all these alterations. Even though this app made me look better and different, I knew that wasn’t the “real me”. It was just a trick of the app which made me feel happy for a moment in what I appeared to be.

In the same way, when I look at my life, I so wish to have it look different. I try to present it as best as I can. I put a smile on my face, hide the tears in my eyes, and try to make my voice as bold and cheerful as possible. I pretend that I am very strong in facing all the challenges of life and I am just happy being all I am. I am no different than my next door neighbour. I also want to appear better emotionally by answering: “Yes! I am doing fine and all is well here”, to the questions of my family & friends. But deep down in my heart I know that isn’t the “real me”. I am just trying to appear different than who I am.

Sometimes we feel so much relief not to show our real self to the world or show a better version of it. Maybe because we think our real self will disqualify us from people’s approval, their acceptance and any significance. Maybe we think that no one will understand our struggles and pain even if we share them. We might even think people will judge us for who we are. We want to be part of the crowd and have a picture-perfect life without any flaws or failures. But in the attempt to appear perfect and flawless often the “real me” gets buried and hidden. We can be at ease in this pretend play but deep down in our hearts we know that isn’t the “real me”.

But the beautiful truth I want to share with you is: God knows this “real me”. He sees your heart, he knows your emotional state, your hurts, your fears, your doubts, even your lack of faith, your not so good thoughts, and your each and every feeling. And He invites you to be the real you in His presence so He can bestow His grace upon you. In those quiet moments with Him, He wants to search your heart and revive your soul letting you remove all the masks and allowing you to be the real you, inviting you to bring your brokenness to Him, shed tears in His presence, lay your hurts, your confusion, fears, and your every feeling at His feet.

Dear Father, I come into your presence setting aside all my pretensions and masks. Please search my heart and fill it with your joy and peace today. Here I stand; broken, worried, confused, angry, hurting, resentful and trying to grasp onto the little faith I have in my heart. And deep down in my heart I know it’s the “real me”. Thank you for embracing me with your outstretched & loving arms. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

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When all you need is endurance..

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Every month I flip the page on our calendar, I stick labels on the dates of important days, I also place my hand on the month and say a prayer for God’s favour for the plans and goals I have made for that particular month for myself and for my family. I ask God’s protection and provision for the month. As, in the beginning of every month I do this, I thank Him for all His grace over me in the previous month.

28309524_1766363293384004_386204527_oOver the last few years, as I have been doing this, there is something I have learned: God’s timetable is totally different from mine. His plans are unlike my plans. Many times, what I have planned or fixed the stickers on the calendar just didn’t turn out the way I desired but that doesn’t mean it never turned out right! It has just taken a bit longer than I expected. It all fell into place in His timing.

The strategies I made for my son to improve his speech and behaviour, for my daughter to get regular physiotherapy and see her develop, to give her the best care possible, for my family to have a schedule & a well-planned life (which is too challenging), for me to be more productive in my God-given skills and my family to be more effectively contributing to the Kingdom haven’t fully been achieved the way I thought.

Sometimes I would find myself struggling, trying to reason everything and getting frustrated by my failed expectations. I would even question God, “Why don’t things ever turn out the way I want?” Why do I face setbacks when all I do is right? Why does life get harder for me with each single day?…and so on…

And it kind of felt unfair many times when I put a lot of my efforts in trying to change my circumstances with all possible ways I could, with all the possible plans I could, and with all my understanding and intuition. But at the end of the day, all I could see was no result, no change, not even a slight glimpse of the possibility of change!

But in the process of setting goals and plans, praying over them and believing for the desired results, I realised that all I need to do is to keep trusting His plans for my life, keep enduring, keep going even if it gets harder, keep depending on Him instead of depending on my understanding and strength, and most of all give it all to Him and rest…being confident that He holds the key to my future.

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I don’t know which circumstances you are battling in. It could be a family issue, a prolonged depression, a struggle in your workplace or with a relationship or you can name it. If you feel you have hit the limit, you have done everything you can do and you can’t see a way out, and all you want is just to quit, let me encourage you to keep enduring, keep giving your best, keep your focus on Jesus and His promises for your life. Don’t withhold your hope, prayers or faith. God has not brought you thus far to leave you in the middle. Remember that every trial you endure has a purpose. Let these truths continually strengthen your heart and encourage your faith to be stronger on your endurance journey.

 

Unseen doesn’t mean unimportant

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Recently, on the “About” page of my blog I received a comment from a reader which made me think deeply about what really is a service to God. The comment kept on crossing my mind and helped me to develop a new outlook about the importance and influence of my day to day life and how it ultimately serves the Lord.

“Elizabeth, I must share with you that because of the fact that God gave you children, He was sending the message to you that your children would be your primary responsibility, but also (please understand this it is so important) in the process of raising your children He would be readying you for further service to Him. In fact, the basic thing is that we are in service to God 24 hours a day 7 days a week, not just in a meeting or a class, it is every day as you do what is primary, you are setting an example not just to your children but to those who witness your accomplishments with your children. When you cook for your family you are doing for God, when you teach your children you are doing it for God. When your husband teaches others he is being obedient to God. Bless you in your work and always remember you are doing what you do for God. It is all God’s work.”

Many times I disregarded the importance of daily tasks! I do like raising kids, cooking for family and other household works…but thinking that these are mundane jobs which aren’t prominent enough to give any value to my life. I didn’t put them into the ‘service to God’ category. But these unseen tasks I do, definitely created a difference in my family’s life. Each time I served food, each time I spent time playing with my son, each time I did some massage and exercise for my daughter, each time I spent talking and listening to my husband I was investing in their lives. I was giving out a part of my life to them. Eventually, I served the Lord by serving my family.

It’s very true that we are in service to God 24 hours and 7 days a week. He wants us to live an intentional life daily. And our influence resides in our day to day life – when we raise our kids, look after our family’s needs, encourage a friend, serve elderly parents, offer hospitality to others, make a phone call to ask about our friends & relatives, offer help to people in need or just say thanks to people who help us.

These tasks might seem unimportant but they do matter and make a great difference in the lives of people God has placed in our lives. Our parenting, relationships, works and all that we do become meaningful and rewarding when we do it unto Him. Even though most of the works are unnoticed and unseen by people they are definitely seen and rewarded by God.

I want to encourage you to continue to be faithful with all the daily jobs God has entrusted you with. Give it all you have knowing that everything you do, you do it unto Him. Don’t despise them because they aren’t glamorous enough to give value to your life or to become your FB/Instagram posts or come under the ‘service to God’ category. You might feel invisible and insignificant while doing them but God is aware of them. This is where He prepares you for the greater responsibilities. Through each work you do, you bring glory and honour to your creator.

Dear Lord, help me become a glass of refreshing water to the thirsty souls you placed in my life. Help me become the person you want me to be. Grant me your guidance and strength to play each role in my life and do all my works faithfully which will bring glory to you! In Jesus’s name, Amen!

 

 

 

The Joyful Wait!

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“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering”.   Hebrews 10:23

There are times in our lives, when we feel like our prayers are just not reaching to God. No matter how hard we pray, how much we pray, how ceaselessly we pray, somewhere we feel we are not able to move that “mountain” from our lives. At the end of the day, it looks like our prayers have just reached the ceiling and returned back to us. Disappointment creeps in as we wait for the answer to our prayers day after day, month after month and year after year.

Have you been there before?

But waiting on God can be joyful too when we have full confidence in His faithfulness, when we choose to trust Him despite our circumstances, when we have complete faith in His promises and when we depend on His strength rather than our own.

I want to share a small incident with you, which has given me an insight into joyful waiting.

My husband was out of station and he promised to my 5 years old son that he would return soon. Every day with each sound of our front gate opening, my son would think his dad was back. He would run to me and say “Papa came”. Each time I would tell him that it’s not his papa but our neighbour who opened the gate. He wouldn’t get disappointed as he knew maybe the next time it will be his papa who will open the gate. And after 5 days of long waiting, finally this morning, it was his papa who opened the gate. His joy had no bounds to see his dad returned as he jumped into his papa’s arms.

How I wish to have such a faith in my Father!  A faith which joyfully waits, which doesn’t get disappointed, which is so confident, which isn’t wavered by the circumstances, which is determined and which finally finds what it seeks.

If you are in a waiting season, I know how hard it is. But I want to encourage you to hold on to the promises, be steadfast in your faith, don’t be moved by the opposite circumstances, but be joyful knowing that He who promised is faithful. Even though all the opened doors will not be for you, one surely will be opened for you. Trust His heart of love. Because those who trust in Him will never be disappointed.

 

 

 

What Christmas means to me!

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Today I am inviting my friend Bincy Cherian to the Blog. She is sharing her insights on Christmas with us. I am sure, her words will bless you as you celebrate the birth of our Saviour.

Welcome Bincy!

The coming of our little baby girl seven years after our marriage brought hope and light, joy and warmth into our family. Cheerful and delightful, she won our hearts.

The birth of a baby boy two thousand years ago in a manger in Bethlehem brought with Him the special message of love, joy and peace from heaven.

CHRISTMAS TO ME MEANS:

1.GOD IS WITH ME: This special baby, Jesus ,brought the message from heaven that “God is with us”. He was called Immanuel, which means” God with us”. For me this means God came down to be with me in all my situations. He came to help me overcome and rise up above those difficult situations. The assurance of His promise “In this world you will have trouble, but I am with you always” keeps me going.

  1. GOD IS AT PEACE WITH ME: This means He is not angry with me. At his birth the angels sang “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men on whom His favour rests.” Jesus came to be my friend and connect me back to Father God although I strayed and went far away from Him .I don’t have to fear that God is angry with me anymore. I can boldly go to Him anytime and anywhere.
  2. GOD’S FAVOR IS THERE FOR ME: As the angel sang, I believe I have the favour of God in my life. Although there are setbacks and failures God has good plans for me and for all who believe in Him—plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us a future and a hope.

4.GOD’S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE IS THERE FOR ME:

I enjoy God’s peace, favour and joy in my life, not because I am good.A wretched sinner I am, I stand today only because of His Unconditional Love .

For the Word of God says, all have sinned and deserve punishment—“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is Eternal Life in Jesus Christ Our Lord “.(Romans 6:23)

Truly Love came down at Christmas. God’s love touched me. He took the punishment I deserve for my sins on the cross and saved me. Jesus is the best gift I have today.

AND HE IS THE BEST GIFT TO THE WORLD

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Bincy Cherian, is a dentist, relocated to Trivandrum recently. She loves people and loves to help people find their purpose in life.