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Posts Tagged ‘Heaven’

The following is the Spanish version of my tract entitled “None of Us are Promised Tomorrow.”  Special thanks to my friend, Priscila Ramirez, for the amazing  job she did in translating it.  May it be a blessing to many!

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¿Que pasaría si murieras hoy repentinamente?  Esto sucede todo el tiempo. Tanto ancianos como jóvenes mueren en accidentes automovilísticos a diario. Ataques cardiacos son la causa de miles de muertes anuales. En estos tiempos que vivimos, después de lo ocurrido en la ciudad de Nueva York el 11 de septiembre del 2001, no sabemos lo que nos pudiera suceder en cualquier momento.

Una de las preguntas que mucha gente se hace es referente a la existencia del cielo y del infierno y a cual de los dos lugares irán al morir.  También hay quienes piensan que no hay una conciencia real sobre la muerte y que simplemente dejarán de existir. ¿Cual es la verdad?  Cada uno de nosotros debe entender esto antes de que nuestro tiempo en esta tierra se termine.

¿QUIENES SOMOS REALMENTE?

En la vida hay mucho más de lo que podemos ver, oír, tocar, oler y probar.  Los seres humanos tenemos un cuerpo físico, sin embargo muchos no se dan cuenta de que también tenemos alma y espíritu. El espíritu conforma quienes somos verdaderamente, el verdadero túLa condición o estado de nuestro espíritu es la que determinará donde pasaremos la eternidad al morir.

Cuando los primeros seres humanos, Adán y Eva, comieron del fruto prohibido pecaron por desobedecer a Dios, ellos murieron espiritualmente.  Esto significa que su espíritu fue separado de Dios, su Creador.  Este estado de su espíritu ha sido heredado a sus hijos de generación en generación. Esto nos incluye a tí y a mí. Cuando nacemos en este mundo, estamos espiritualmente muertos. Es por esta razón que Jesús dijo que debemos nacer de nuevo (nacimiento espiritual) para entrar en el reino de Dios. (“De cierto, de cierto te digo, que el que no naciere de nuevo, no puede ver el reino de Dios.” Juan 3:3).

¿COMO LOGRAMOS ESTO?

Porque Dios es misericordioso, él nos da la manera de reconciliarnos con él y reparar esa condición de muerte espiritual.  Bajo la ley de Dios, cuando se comete un pecado, una muerte tiene que ocurrir. Para poder cumplir con la penalidad de muerte por nuestros pecados (mentir, hablar mal de los demás, tener malos pensamientos, etc.), Dios necesitaba un ser humano SIN pecado para morir de una vez por todas para que nuestros pecados fueran lavados, nuestro espíritu naciera de nuevo y así pasar de la muerte a la vida. En otras palabras, Dios necesitaba el sacrificio humano perfecto para pagar la penalidad de la muerte por nuestros pecados. Como los hijos de Adán y Eva recibieron el pecado de sus padres, Dios tuvo que mandar a su propio Hijo para que llevara a cabo este sacrificio. ¡No había otra manera!     (“Porque tanto amó Dios al mundo, que dio a su Hijo unigénito, para que todo el que cree en él no perezca para siempre, sino que tenga vida eterna.”  Juan 3:16).

¿QUIEN ES EL HIJO DE DIOS?

“En el principio era el Verbo, y el Verbo era con Dios, y el Verbo era Dios.”  (Juan 1:1)   “Y aquel Verbo fue hecho carne, y habitó entre nosotros…”  (Juan 1:14)

¿Quién es el Verbo?  Se refiere a Jesucristo, el Hijo de Dios.  El fue hecho carne hace aproximadamente 2.000  años y habitó entre nosotros como un ser humano perfecto para pagar así por nuestros pecados con su propia muerte en la cruz.  La única manera en la que nuestro espíritu puede ser reconciliado con Dios es mediante nuestra aceptación de que Jesús murió por nuestros pecados. (“Jesús les dijo: Yo soy el camino, y la verdad, y la vida; nadie viene al Padre, sino por mí”  Juan 14:6).

Algunas personas asumen que lo único que necesitan para que Dios les permita entrar al cielo es un buen comportamiento y hacer  mas cosas buenas que malas. Sin embargo, al hacer estas cosas no se corrige la condición de nuestra muerte espiritual. Solamente al creer con fé y aceptar el sacrificio que Jesús hizo en la cruz una persona podrá estar asegura de que ira al cielo y será salva.

¡EN RESUMEN!

¿Cuál es la condición de tu espíritu?  ¿Está el  verdadero tú  realmente vivo porque has aceptado lo que Jesús hizo por ti en la cruz, o estas todavía muerto espiritualmente? Si esto describe tu condición actual, entonces cuando des tu último aliento en esta tierra, permanecerás así por toda la eternidad. No permitas que esto te pase a ti. Acepta la manera que te da Dios para lograr esa reconciliación con él.  Repite la siguiente oración (o una similar), hazlo a conciencia y con todo tu corazón.

Dios Padre, reconozco que soy un   pecador y necesito ser rescatado de la muerte eterna. Yo creo que tú enviaste a tu Hijo Jesucristo a morir por mis pecados. Sé que ninguna cantidad de buenas obras me podrá reconciliar contigo, solamente mi creencia en Jesús y lo que hizo por mí en la cruz podrá salvarme. Te pido que perdones mis pecados, revivas mi espíritu, y me coloques en tu reino celestial. En el nombre de tu Hijo Jesucristo,  Amen.

Si acabas de hacer esta oración, y lo has hecho de corazón, entonces estarás con Dios en el cielo cuando mueras. No tienes que dudarlo más.

¿QUE HAGO AHORA?

Puedes comenzar por leer la Biblia, empieza con el Evangelio de Juan en el Nuevo Testamento, y ora diariamente. Estas dos actividades mantienen abiertas nuestras líneas de comunicación con Dios.  Al leer la Biblia, es Dios hablando con nosotros, y nuestras oraciones son la manera en que nosotros le hablamos a él.  También deberías asistir regularmente a una iglesia de sana doctrina en donde se enseñen la Palabra de Dios, la Biblia.  De ésta manera empezarás en el camino correcto hacia una “vida espiritual”.

¡Que Dios bendiga tu caminar con él!

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Copyright 2009 by Meshawn Senior/Priscila Ramirez (JMS Tracts)

English Version:  None of Us are Promised Tomorrow

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Now I lay me down to sleep.
I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake,
I pray Thee, Lord, my soul to take.

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What happens when we die?  This is a question most people have no doubt pondered at some time in their lives.  It’s only natural for us to wonder about this mysterious event that threatens to overtake us all one of these days.  (Hebrews 9:27 But before tackling this question, let us first define the word “death.”

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines death as “a permanent cessation of all vital functions: the end of life.”  Basically, when the life-sustaining components of any living organism lose their ability to function, this produces cessation of life… or death.  This is the generic, scientific description of this occurrence which happens to every living thing on the planet.  But there is a parallel approach to defining what exactly “death” is.  Let’s see what the Bible has to say about it.

There are many references to death in the Bible and most imply the above dictionary definition.  However, there is another dimension added to this when we look at passages such as James 2:26, which states, the body without the spirit is dead…”  What exactly does this mean?

Humans were created as three-part beings.  We have a body, a soul, and a spirit.  (1 Thessalonians 5:23)  We were also created in the image of God, who also has three parts – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  This is known as triunity or “The Trinity” when referring to God.  Although we have three parts, we are considered one person, just as God is considered one God.  As humans, when one of our three components – the spirit – permanently leaves the body, the body ceases to function and is, therefore, considered dead.  (Ecclesiastes 8:8)

So, what caused death to come into the world?  According to the Bible, after the first humans, Adam and Eve, were created by God, He gave them specific instructions to follow.  One of the things He told them was to not eat the fruit of one particular tree in the Garden of Eden, which they had been placed in.  This tree was called “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”  He said that “in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)

Some reading this may be wondering, “If this is true, why didn’t they die that same day?”  There are at least three possible answers to this question.

  1. It could mean that when Adam and Eve sinned, and the curse of death was pronounced on them, then at that moment, their bodies began to deteriorate and this began the death process.
  2. Some theologians speculate that since a thousand years is as a day to God (2 Peter 3:8), then in that “day” they died.  No man has ever lived over 1,000 years.  Methuselah, the oldest man who ever lived, died at 969 years of age. (Genesis 5:27)  Adam died at 930. (Genesis 5:5)  So, technically speaking (they reason), Adam and Eve did die in that “day” because they didn’t make it to the 1,000 year mark.
  3. Another belief is that their “spirits’ died the day they sinned.  Even though their bodies continued living for hundreds of years, their spirits were dead and needed to be “born again” or renewed.  (John 3:3; Psalm 51:10)  If they had died physically in that state, they would have suffered eternal death.

I believe that the phrase “you shall surely die” in Genesis 2:16-17 means that they died spiritually and that physical death was set in motion, as well.

Now back to the question of what happens when we physically die.  Let’s take a look at a passage of scripture in the Bible that tells the story of two men who died and what each experienced after death:

19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’

27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”  (Luke 16:19-31)

According to this passage, the rich man went to Hades, which is another name for Hell, and Lazarus went to Abraham’s bosom, which is another name for Paradise.  Both of these places were located in Sheol – the abode of the dead.  (See “NOTE” at end of article.)  Notice that the rich man and Lazarus were both cognizant of their surroundings.  The rich man was in torments and Lazarus was finally comforted, which was the total opposite of their states while they were still alive.  Apparently, Lazarus had believed what the prophets said about the long awaited Messiah (Savior) and had repented of his sins while he was still alive.  The rich man did not.

This next example from the Bible is that of a man named Jairus whose 12-year-old daughter was very ill and near death.  He came to Jesus begging Him to please come and heal his daughter.  But he found out moments later that it was too late.  The little girl was already dead.  However, that didn’t phase Jesus.  Here’s what He did:

49 While He was still speaking, someone came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, “Your daughter is dead. Do not trouble the Teacher.”

50 But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.” 51 When He came into the house, He permitted no one to go in except Peter, James, and John, and the father and mother of the girl. 52 Now all wept and mourned for her; but He said, “Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping.” 53 And they ridiculed Him, knowing that she was dead.

54 But He put them all outside, took her by the hand and called, saying, “Little girl, arise.” 55 Then her spirit returned, and she arose immediately. And He commanded that she be given something to eat.  (Luke 8:49-55)

So we see that Jairus’ daughter had died; but at Jesus’ command, her spirit returned and she was no longer dead.  What a wonderful sight that must’ve been for her parents!  How grateful they must’ve been to Jesus!

And speaking of Jesus, His is the greatest example in the Bible of what happens when we die.  He was scourged and crucified, and hung on the cross for several hours until He finally cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)  After He said these words, He took his last breath.  The King James Version of the Bible actually says that He gave up the ghost.”

Most people have heard of what happened three days later when He was resurrected from the grave.  But the Bible also tells us of what transpired between the time of His crucifixion and His resurrection.  Even while He was still alive and hanging on the cross, He gave us a glimpse of what would happen to Him later that day when He finally died.  He told one of the thieves who was hanging on an adjacent cross, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)  What an odd thing to say to someone as they were both in so much pain and dying!  But because that particular man had faith and believed that Jesus was truly the promised Savior of mankind, he was allowed to enter into the “Paradise” section of Sheol at that time.

After Jesus’ death, there are a couple of scripture passages that give us a clue as to what happened during those three days and three nights that His physical body remained dead inside the tomb.

 9 Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?  (Ephesians 4:9)

This tells us that when Jesus died, He descended to the lower parts of the earth.  This is where Sheol is located.

18 Christ himself suffered on account of sins, once for all, the righteous one on behalf of the unrighteous. He did this in order to bring you into the presence of God. Christ was put to death as a human, but made alive by the Spirit. 19 And it was by the Spirit that he went to preach to the spirits in prison. 20 In the past, these spirits were disobedient—when God patiently waited during the time of Noah. Noah built an ark in which a few (that is, eight) lives were rescued through water.  (1 Peter 3:18-20

While in Sheol, He preached or proclaimed His message to all the disobedient spirits of the people who died during the time of Noah’s flood.  These people were still cognizant and aware of their predicament in the prison of Hell after approximately 2,400 years at the time that Jesus died, and I have no doubt that they are still cognizant of their predicament today.  If only they had listened to Noah!

There are other conjectured scenarios that supposedly happened when Jesus died and went to Sheol.  These are drawn up from loosely applied passages of scripture – and sometimes just from men’s imaginations.  Therefore, as a Bible student and writer, I do not feel comfortable espousing them.  We have to be very careful about just believing everything we read or hear – especially when it pertains to biblical matters.  We should always compare it with scripture to make sure that it’s accurate – just as the Bereans did.  (Acts 17:11)

I’m very interested in writing a future article discussing the phenomena of Near Death Experiences (NDE’s).  This is where some people, upon dying, are aware of their spirits leaving their bodies and then having various experiences happen to them ranging from traveling through a dark tunnel towards a bright light – to going to Heaven and seeing lost loved ones – to some actually going to Hell.  But for now, hopefully I’ve proven from the Bible that physical death is not the end of our existence – or at least I’ve sparked an interest in the reader to look more into this fascinating topic.

I’d like to end by appealing to those who are not sure about their eternal state of being after they die to please consider researching Christianity further.  It’s the only belief system that explains how human beings can have the penalty for Adam and Eve’s sin, which was passed down to us throughout successive generations, erased.  It’s the only one that gives us a way to have our relationship restored with God, our Creator.  And it’s the only one that can give us the assurance that when we die, we know that we will truly be in a better place if we have accepted the plan of redemption that God laid out throughout the pages of the Bible – accepting the gift of salvation through the Messiah, Jesus Christ. 

I hope you’ve found this article interesting and helpful.  As always, please feel free to comment.  Be blessed!

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(NOTE:   Before the Messiah paid for our sins with His death on the cross, all people – the righteous and the unrighteous – went to Sheol when they died.  This place was divided into two parts – Hell and Paradise – which could not be crossed over from one to the other because of a great gulf or chasm between the two.  There was no access to Heaven for humans before we had a way to permanently have our sins cleansed and forgiven.  This was done by Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross.  When Jesus was resurrected from the grave, the resurrected bodies of the righteous went around and appeared to many people in Jerusalem.  (Matthew 27:52-53)  One can deduce that these were the people from the Paradise side of Sheol and that this area is now empty.  Now the righteous go straight to Heaven when they die.)

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Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin? 

~ Proverbs 20:9 ~

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And the answer to this question is, of course – no one!  Human beings cannot cleanse and purify their own hearts from sin.  Only God can do this. (Psalm 51:10)

The definition of sin is, “an offense against religious or moral law.”   More specifically, it is a transgression against the law of God.  And the law of God tells us not to hate, lie, steal, lust — the list goes on and on.  So, if we’ve ever done these things, then we have committed sin.  How many of us can honestly say that we’ve never sinned?

“So, what’s the big deal about sin?,” some reading this may be asking.  Well, for one, it separates us from God who resides in a place called Heaven.  And that’s a REALLY big deal if you consider the consequences of not getting things right with Him before we leave this earth.  Need I say more?

But the good news is that God provided a way for us to overcome this dilemma that we find ourselves in.  He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to this earth to pay the penalty of death for our sins.  Only through us accepting what He did on the cross can our hearts be cleansed and we, ourselves, be purified from sin.

Even if you’re having trouble believing this message to be true, why not at least prove to yourself once and for all whether it is or not.  What can it hurt?  A hundred years from now, all who are reading this will know for sure if this is right or wrong.  If it’s wrong, you have nothing to worry about.  But if it’s right… 

Just something to think about…

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Related post:  None of Us are Promised Tomorrow


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Nature is the Art of God

“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” ~ Colossians 1:16

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Sometimes when I’m driving at sunrise or at sunset, I marvel at how beautiful the sky is during these times.  I say to myself, “I’ll bet there’s never been a sunrise or sunset exactly the same.  God’s an awesome artist!”  Of course, that’s an understatement.

When I look at the universe – the sun, moon, stars, and planets; all the beautiful galaxies with their own unique qualities; the colorful nebulae which decorate the vast expanse of space; and even our own planet, Earth, with all its wonder and beauty – I cannot understand how anyone could think that all of this came about by accident!  I mean… how can something possibly come from nothing?  This goes against the laws of science.

Even the most complex of inventions (i.e., cars, computers, even a common wristwatch) could not possibly have just come about by chance.  We all agree that these things had to have had someone design them.  So, why would anyone believe that living organisms – which are exponentially more complex than any of the objects mentioned above – came into existence without a Designer?  Logically and scientifically, this is impossible.

Just something to think about…

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For more information on this topic, I recommend Chuck Missler’s article entitled, “Chance as the Master Architect?”.    Read it online at http://www.khouse.org/articles/2000/256/#resources.

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“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” ..~.I.Thessalonians 4:16-17

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed —in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” ~ I Corinthians 15:51-52

“Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” ~.Luke.21:36

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“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” ~ Isaiah 5:20

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There are certain things that are accepted in today’s society, even though they have been considered “taboo” for thousands of years.  I’m sure we all have certain images that come to mind when reading this statement.  The purpose of this article is not to focus on any one political or moral point, but to provide thought-provoking arguments as to why we should not listen to every voice which purports to tell us what is good or evil.  We should choose carefully the voices we follow, because if we choose the wrong ones, it could cause us grave spiritual consequences.

The following are organizations and people who have great influence over us in our society.  We should not follow them blindly without knowing what’s behind the decisions they make.  Some of their beliefs may be contrary to ours, but more importantly, contrary to those mandated by God in His Word.  This can be very dangerous.

Governments are organizations whose main role is to control and direct the actions and conduct of the people who are under their authority.  However, we must realize that they are made up of human beings who must choose their eternal destinies just as we all must do.  They have their own personal beliefs physically, morally, and spiritually.  In fact, some may not even believe that there’s a God.  So, just because the government says something is right, does not necessarily make it right with God.  This is why we must choose our government officials carefully.  (When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan. ~ Proverbs 29:2)

Celebrities are people who are famous for their acting, singing, or some other ability that gets our attention on a large scale.  Just like government officials, celebrities will answer to God one day about their choices in life – whether they chose to follow Him or to do what they felt was right in their own eyes.  A great majority of celebrities have extremely troubled personal lives.  Many actually seek ongoing professional help to try to get their lives in order.  Even so, it’s amazing to see how many people choose to listen to what these people say instead of what a perfect and Holy God says!  (And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. ~ Romans 12:2)

College professors are responsible for molding and shaping the minds of our newly adult young people.  However, a great majority of them have secular humanistic beliefs.  This means that they don’t necessarily believe in God.  Most secular humanists are either atheists or agnostics who do not believe in any spiritual existence after death.  Consequently, they are not concerned with heaven or hell. They believe that every person is right in their own sight and that there are no moral absolutes.  (The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”  They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good. ~ Psalm 14:1)

These college professors have a great deal of influence over our young people and most take full advantage of this.  Along with the subjects they are supposed to be teaching, they also infuse their own secular humanistic beliefs into their lectures. They are respected by these impressionable young minds because they are seen as wise authority figures.  A great deal of college graduates emerge from college with ideologies similar to their professors – even those that grew up in Christian homes.

So once again, just like the other two societal influences discussed above, these college professors will also have to individually answer to God one day.  How horrible it will be if some of their students end up eternally separated from God as a direct result of the teachings of these spiritually blinded individuals who believed in themselves rather than the God who created them.  (There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death ~ Proverbs 14:12)

We must be careful not to fall for the political correctness that permeates our society today.  If God says that something is not right, then it’s Him we should listen to – not other human beings who make decisions based on each of their personal likes and dislikes.  These people will be judged individually one day – just as we will.  And depending on their spiritual choices, they will end up either in heaven or hell when they die – just as we will.  They are responsible for deciding if they will follow God’s way or this world’s way – just as we are.

So, before we say that something is good when, in fact, God calls it evil, we’d better be absolutely sure that these government officials, these celebrities, these college professors, and any other voices we choose to listen to, are right about the personal beliefs which cause them to go against God, the Creator of the universe – a God whom most don’t even believe in.  If they’re right, then we have nothing to worry about.  But if they’re wrong ….

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1 I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from?

2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip — he who watches over you will not slumber;

4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD watches over you — the LORD is your shade at your right hand;

6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

7 The LORD will keep you from all harm — he will watch over your life;

8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

                                                                                       ~ Psalm 121

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