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Lent | Fasting: Day

Fasting as returning

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Today's Text: Joel 2:12-14

Text: Joel 2:12-14

“O God of Second Chances and new Beginnings, here I am again.”
- Nancy Spiegelberg

Our hearts and minds continually wander from God. That’s the humanity – the depravity of sin – in us all. We are unable to let His grace and mercy rule our lives. We pull away, turn our backs, and seek our own way time and again.

Often, we get so wrapped up in the “giving up” process that we forget what is supposed to take its place during these 40 days. As we discuss on Day 6, observing Lent is not just about abstaining from coffee or sweets, it’s the symbol of turning away from those distractions to focus on our Lord.

We ought take this time to look and see what God has done, to rend our hearts before Him. There are many times God has forsaken the comfort of His children that they might return to Him in repentance and love, like a good parent with a wayward child (Zechariah 1:3).

The Lord longs for our hearts to return to Him, for only in Him does our hope for eternal salvation lie.

“Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.” (Hosea 6:1, NASB)

Sisters, during this Lenten season – as we approach the cross – may our focus be drawing near to Christ. May we do so in a way that halts us in our tracks – a short, yet vivid reminder that we desperately need to return to The Lord. For all of us, in some way, need to return.

“For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me.” (Psalm 51:3, NASB)

Lent is a time when we come back to Christ with repentant hearts. We know we will sin again, but as in any other relationship, time and love are never wasted. These 40 days should be a time that strengthens our love for what Christ has done for us, and increases our desire to know Him in a deeper way (Lamentations 3:40).

Rejoice that our Lord loves us so much that He waits, ever patiently, for us to turn and run back to Him.

I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord;
and they will be My people, and I will be their God,
for they will return to Me with their
whole heart. (Jeremiah 24:7, NASB)

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  • craftingbybethross

    O to grace how great a debtor
    Daily I’m constrained to be!
    Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
    Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
    Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
    Prone to leave the God I love;
    Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
    Seal it for Thy courts above.

    I can't say it any better than that! Thank you for this message today!

  • Through this Lenten season of fasting I have found that I can not wait to get up stairs to my room after dinner and read my Bible and read my devo from SRT. Before, I would go up stairs and turn on the t.v. And then maybe read my bible and go to bed……. The Lord I believe is using this fast from t.v. To help me get closer to Him; "Even now, come back to Me with all your heart. Go without food, and cry and be sad."my food is t.v. and I cry out to The Lord every night to make me bold and courageous through him…….. I run to Him allllllll day -especially at night when I go to bed and read my Bible……..

  • Hello, my name is Cas, Im a new subscriber to She Reads Truth,. I am English and have lived in Australia for 31 years . I met Jesus here in 1986 and then my darling husband in 1990 whom Ive been married to for 23 years. We have 5 grown up children between us including one son is in Heaven. I am happily married but I am not happy with my walk with the Lord, I want to be as much in love with Him as I am with my husband! Jesus should come first! I want the joy of my salvation back and I so wish to fast and pray regularly , to seek the Lord in His word, to meet with Him on a daily basis. I do lack discipline though and when I do actually sit myself down to pray my mind wanders. As a result of this sin I am floundering in my faith and not at all excited about being a Christian. Our children are not walking with the Lord as a result of our past attendance of a controlling, legalistic church. .How dare I expect them to return to Him when I cant even be bothered to stand in the gap for them? I spend most of my time saying sorry to God for not honouring His Sons sacrifice for me and mine and am wondering if Im going to Heaven. My husband recommended I join She Reads Truth (.bless his heart! He did a web search for me! ) as Im too prideful to ask my current church for help.

    • Rhiannon

      Praying for you, Cas!

      The heart of being a Christ follower isn’t that we have it all together, rather it is that we know & fully rely on the One who does!

      Something that might encourage you is to spend time doing an old SRT plan! Maybe the “This Is The Gospel” plan we did earlier this year? And don’t feel pressured to fast from something like food, perhaps adding time in His word might be more encouraging!

      Let me know if there are ways I can pray for you specifically! :)

      • cas

        Thankyou so much Rhiannon for your response and your prayers! I would love to do a plan,! I will look at your suggested one.
        No I dont feel pressured to fast. I actually do fast from food once a week, every week , although it sometimes feels like idle repetiion! Ive allowed myself to get into a rut but determined to get out and back on track!
        Yes I do have specific prayer need…please pray for the salvation/recommitment of my children,(3 daughters and 1 son) their partners…and for my 3 grandchildren (2 girls and a boy) I know God is up to something and I do have a peace that one day they will all return to to the Lord, i just wanna see it yesterday!!
        Thanks Rhiannon, bless you :)

      • cas

        Rhiannon, yes! I started This is The Gospel today and have commented on it, thanks again for suggesting it , bless you c x

    • Amanda Bible Williams

      Hi, Cas. So glad you’re here. May this place be a blessing to you and may you encounter Christ here. xoxo

  • speakyourlifesoullove

    This reminds me that God doesn't want our deeds, our material goods, or accolades – He literally just wants us. He wants to be our heart's song.

    These verses struck me a month ago when I discovered Jimmy Needham's "Rend" . This song has literally become my favorite!

    Sisters – give this a listen
    http://youtu.be/qYuGkesotJY

  • Sindy Millington.

    What a precious word from Hosea ! Thank you .

  • I've just finished a bible study, and a section of it focused on the sifting of Peter. Sometimes, God allows us to go through some very difficult times, not to harm us, but so that through Him, our strength and hope is made clearer. It is often very difficult, as Peter found out after He denied Christ 3 times, but if we open our hearts and become vulnerable to God, He will heal us and restore our walk to a straighter path. Jesus did say that our paths would be difficult here in this world, but He also promised that He would never leave us or forsake us. Clinging to that promise today, and through this season of Lent. 'The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:5

  • Good words. God sometimes leaves us to our own desires which will destroy us if we dont let them go and return to Him. Christ redeemed us from our sins not for us to go back to them. The scripture says as far as the east is from the west, so as the Lord removed our transgressions from us. It should not be in our intentions to sin again and we wont sin if we remain in Gods presence at all times walking in the Spirit that we may not fulfill the lust of the flesh thereof. If we have to sin it means Christ died in vain and my Lord did mit die in vain.

  • abbymcd21

    "Rend your heart and not your garments." Wow. This Scripture just seared right into my soul today. Lord, help me to continually look deep down, into the innermost parts of me that I may try to hide from others, and ask myself what I need to surrender to you. Each and every day. Nothing can be hidden from your sight, God. Even the most pitch black darkness is light to you. Search my heart, and have your way with me. Amen.

  • ofDustandWonder

    Jerimiah 24:7 stands out largely to me here.

    I've been recently reading a lot on Christian singleness in our culture, this verse reminds me so much that God deserves (and expects) my whole heart! I was intentionally single for a 3 year span following a couple damaging relationships, and this last year and a half or so I've been open to dating again. As many of us would, after 4 years of single obedience I somewhat expected my husband to conveniently enter stage right. So far he hasn't, and I've lately become more discouraged. Jeremiah 24:7 is balm to that this morning, especially the fact that God gave us hearts to know Him! How personal that feels, that he would create me to seek after Him! That is the kind of romance I desire, and so often I forget that I already have it through my heavenly Father. I will (again) return to Him with my whole heart.

    • abbymcd21

      It shows how strong you are that you were obedient and stayed single during that time so that you could align your heart to the Lord. God has a plan! You could just be one prayer away from an answer, in His timing. Don't lose heart. Praying for you today!

      • ofDustandWonder

        Thank you for the encouraging words and especially the prayer! I am not strong, but He is strong in me. :)

    • nafisara

      Love that you shared this. I am right there with you. I am struggling with the same thing. I just find that surrendering whole heartedly really just keeps me going. It's pretty amazing. Sometimes I imagine if I had not been in The Lord, I wouldn't be who I am right now. Surely loneliness, depression, frustration, and anxiety would have taken me over. Be strong in The Lord Sister. You are blessed and highly favored. Xoxoxo

      With love,
      Nafisa

      • ofDustandWonder

        Hi Nafisa, such true sentiments! I feel that way as well often (especially looking back), what a wonder His provision and peace is even (if not especially) when we walk through hard circumstances. Thank you for chiming in and relating, I'll be praying for your kindred situation (and a specific godly man when the time is right). :)

  • I continue to be amazed at how succinctly these women can say what I need to hear day after day AND reaffirm my beliefs. Surely the presence of our Lord

  • In the days of Joel, Israel is experiencing a plague and a drought. Locust have come and eaten their crops, drought has left the land parched. Judgement is coming. The Day of the Lord.

    Yet even now, declares the LORD (Covenant God)
    return to me with all your heart.

    It's fair to say that I feel parched. That I need a fresh drink of Living Water. As the Texas lakes dry up for lack of rain, I feel that right along with the land. Hoping for a cloud in the sky, in my heart.

    Yet even now…..
    Even though He sees my condition, my "O Ye" condition, my heart in need of moisture and He sounds the alarm!

    Vs 1) Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain!

    I love Joel…. this story…. it's our story isn't it?
    God is coming for you!! God is coming! He's coming with all His power and might! He's coming with an army! With war horses and warriors they are marching towards you. Yet Even Now…..

    Everyone fast, gather the people. I like how they are to fast in the plague that has left them with no grain, or grapes for wine or olives for oil. Which says to me ever more clearly…. it's a heart issue.

    Pray: Spare your people, Why should they say "where is your God"

    Vs. 18 Then the Lord became jealous for his land and had pity on his people.

    I think of myself and wonder how many times God has to put on a production to get my attention, the alarm is sounding, the army is coming, the plague and drought is upon me! When all He wants to do is Be God. Well, I can't make Him Be God, He Is God. He wants me to love him, return to Him with my heart.

    My pastor often says, If love is knowing others needs and meeting it, then how do you love God? Trust.

    Chapter 2 ends like this:

    Vs 32(a) And is shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

    I think it's time to visit the well, meet Jesus, drink of the Living Water, call on the name of the Lord and be saved! The alarm is sounding! Rend Your Heart!

  • Rachel Nordgren

    I feel broken by the Lord today, sisters. Praying for His gracious mercy and steadfast love to cover me and my broken places.

    • Peggy

      me too, Rachel, prayed for your brokenness (and mine, ours) that indeed our repentance will be met by His tender mercy, His gracious heart, His steadfast love. May you sense Him covering you with arms of love and His amazing grace in those broken places; finding healing and restoration as only He can give, because He knows you so intimately. May He pour into you as you bring your brokenness to Him and He mends your heart, your mind and all that needs the Master's loving touch!

      • Rachel Nordgren

        Thank you, Peggy! I need some amazing grace of Jesus today.

    • tina

      Rachael, the Bible says 'where two or more are in agreement, I will be there, I will hear their cry…praying that the Lord covers you with His steadfast Love and mercy in your broken places….holding you up Rachael, you hold on to Him….. I love you sister….x x

  • wiscogurl

    That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. (Joel 2:12 NLT)

    Time! Don't we all feel like we could use more every day? The reality sisters is we all have the same 24 hours a day. The key for me this season is: how do you plan to use your time, Ashley? Lent is teaching me that with the elimination of major distractions, I'm able to give The Lord the best of me… The beginning of my days. This feels awesome! Thank you for walking with me, sisters!

  • Diana you nicely wove a love story of our messy lives continually being beckoned by the bridegroom to be restored by His gracious loving spirit. I need Him more today then when I first believed, because now I know what is is to be loved so much that He is willing to rebuke me then heal me, until the final healing comes.

  • Thank you for this reminder! It is so, so easy to get caught up in the giving up part of fasting that we forget the reason we are really doing it. We should be fasting to draw nearer to God. To fill those times when we desire the earthly thing(s) we are fasting with Him and with His word. This is exactly where I am at and I so needed this today, to remind me why I’m fasting. So Good!

  • Praise God, that no matter how many times I break His heart, He is always there with open arms to welcome me back and forgive me!!

    Beckey http://www.etsy.com/shop/queenbsbusywork http://reallyreallyrealhousewives.blogspot.com

  • Thank you for this. I pray that I keep my eyes fixed on Him in all that I do today.

  • Return to the Lord wholeheartedly. It requires all of me. Love this reminder.

  • I've noticed that after I did the "This is the Bible" devotional, and after writing my own devotional on Psalm 130 last week, I've gained such a hunger for Scripture! I love that there are so many times in today's reading that roots what is being said in the Word.
    Sometimes as I'm reading through various passages, and frequently in the Old Testament when it's referencing Israel, I tweak it a little to make it resound more with me. I think putting ourselves in the place of Israel is a good reminder that, even though we have the gift of perspective when it comes to seeing the mistakes Israel's made, it's a good reminder that we continue to live as they do. BUT GOD (love it!) always called Israel back to Him, as we've just read He calls us back to Him. So with that, here's Jeremiah 24:7 again –
    I will give [her] a heart to know that I am the Lord, and [she] shell be my [daughter] and I will be [her] God, for [she] shall return to me with [her] whole heart.
    Blessings over your Wednesday sisters!

  • Reading this irked my spirit. Do you ever ask yourself, "Am I submitting all to Him? Am I giving absolutely all away to know Him more fully, closely, deeply?" Lord, I pray you'd show me where I need to repent and turn back to you. Remind me of your sufficient grace, steadfast love, and unfailing mercy; how ONLY YOU can redeem this story, yet again, and make it something I could never make it. Lord, I give it all up to you.
    This passage is lovely. "“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love…" (vs 12-13). I think it's very important to absorb the rend my heart, not my garment part. Rend my heart towards my actions, not just my actions– for doing that only ends up in frustration as my heart wanders back again to the same sin. Rend my heart, Lord, my innermost parts; change who I am, what I do, and how I think, feel, and do things so that it more perfectly aligns with you. Show me the sin in my life; but father, more so, show me the condition of my heart when I commit that sin, and as I repent, heal that up. Make the wrong right. I submit to you, Father.

    This completely reminds me of Next to Me by Civil Twilight, a song I hold dear to who I am in Christ and our relationship. This song is geared more towards a girl from the bands' perspective, but they definitely express a Christian undertone and God's truths, if you listen to there other songs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nJDvsre1rY
    "It's beautiful, the way you love me, the way you take me back. Here [He, God] comes, around the bend, [He's] coming to take me back…"

    • Geri

      Beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

      I do ask myself this all the time, and the answer always seems to be – never enough! I guess we just have to keep trying!

      • AnnaLee

        Yes, Geri! May God show us how to do this more and more through His word.

    • Janee White

      " Rend my heart, Lord, my innermost parts; change who I am, what I do, and how I think, feel, and do things so that it more perfectly aligns with you" – and from yesterdays devotion – "show me that I can live without the things I have brought myself under"

      My sweet friend – your words from yesterday were prayed to God this morning. Your words today, were almost identical to what I wrote in my journal.

      So, for the both of us, I pray here and now, that we seek only in Him, what will satisfy the deepest cravings of our souls. I pray we find in Him, all that we have wandered and sought in the World. I pray we be emptied of all that separates from Him – and filled with desires that align perfectly in His Will.

      Oh my sweet sister – I thank God for you today.

      • AnnaLee

        Amen, Janee. Amen. It's breathtaking, it's awesome, how God has some of His children going through the same things/relative seasons, writing down the same thoughts. So thankful for the friendship, the fellowship, and the feeling of being relatable that God has given us as a community, and us, my dear friend. May He continually bless all of us. I'll continue to pray for you. Love you, sister!

    • abbymcd21

      I am right there with you AnnaLee. I have to continually ask myself if I'm really giving it all to Him, if there is anything I'm holding back. Thanks for sharing your heart today! Praying we both continue to ask the hard questions so that we may grow ever closer to Him, abiding in Him each day.

  • After all he has done for me, why is it so easy to turn away? To go about my day, thinking I'm in control, and forgetting to keep my eyes upon my Lord? Thank you lord for being merciful, forgiving, and waiting for my return to you over and over.

  • I've had a real crisis of faith this Lenten season. Digging deep is unsettling, and is a reminder that no matter what I do, it's not good enough. I can't earn my redemption. Fasting isn't about what I can do; it's about adjusting my focus.

    • wiscogurl

      We've all been there sister. Stay encouraged knowing that God loves you and so do we! My Mom says often, "how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!" Be patient. You'll get there. Just keep praying and seeking His help!

  • As I read scripture today, that commentator mentioned how we are "living sacrifices." Unlike the sacrifices of the old testament that were dead when offered, we are living, and have the ability to get up off of that alter and walk away; as I so often do.
    Especially during these days leading up to Easter, help me God to stay on your alter, and be a pleading SACRIFICE to you. Take my life and let it be always only all for thee.

  • JessicaLoves___

    We are called to return to him without knowing (vs. 14 – who knows …?) what reward may come. The reward of the return may be just that — that we are reconnected with God — which is enough. But so often when we return to God, it's about what's in it for us. My commentary on this passage notes: "Prayer is surrender to his will, not insistence on our own will."
    So, as I turn over those things that keep me from living a completely surrendered life, may my return be about turning away from my own desires and not what good may come from doing that. Lord, help me to surrender those areas I'm holding onto and return with all of my heart. And may my return be totally about you and not how good it could be for me.

  • Christina

    Thank you, for another excellent pointing to Christ! I love this passage in Joel! And verse 14 reminds me that when the Lord relents in His discipline for a time, the blessing He leaves behind is for His glory, not for our enjoyment alone. It is to be humbly accepted, not as deserved for all the pain we've been through, but in order to lift it back to the God who would be just if He destroyed us rather than deal with our sin. Yet instead of immediately condemning us (We condemn ourselves by our unbelief, John 3:18), He deals lovingly with us, saving us, and only invoking temporary pain upon us, no matter how harsh that pain may seem. And that brings me back to Hosea 6:1. He has torn, but He will heal. He has wounded, but He will bandage. Our sin does not throw a wrench into the workings of God or His purposes. He is not taken by surprise when we fall away. Rather, He is all-knowing, and He uses His effective tool of painful discipline to turn us back to Him. That may be what this Lenten season is for some of us. Or, as it is for me, it can be a season to come openly and humbly before Him in a less painful way, seeking intimacy with Him, so that I may not need the painful discipline this one time. It's as if He gives us this opportunity to repent before He inflicts pain. May I act according to what He shows me and not be guilty of deliberate defiance.

    • AnnaLee

      "May I act according to what He shows me and not be guilty of deliberate defiance." That's the cry of my heart too, Christina. In this temporary pain, this trial, God is here. He is faithful and good to forgive us of our sins and to bandage us back up if only we come to Him fully. Lord, take this heart, and "make it new, make it true. Make it like you."

  • Christ only wants my heart, "that is the broken and contrite heart which he will not despise, Ps. 51:17. This study is bringing me back to Christ, and oh how I have missed him.
    Blessings ladies.

  • Sweet Diana, after reading your story, I am so incredibly touched by this post. "There are many times God has forsaken the comfort of His children that they might return to Him in repentance and love, like a good parent with a wayward child (Zechariah 1:3)." How true that our suffering and struggles are to draw us back, to cause us to return (and how often we shirk that nudging, prompting to return).

    Continuing in Hosea 6, verse 3, "So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and he will come to use like the rain, like the spring rain watering earth." (Coincidentally, we are receiving a spring rain as I write…can't help but smile). But I LOVE this imagery…that our comforts are sometimes forsaken in order that we return to the Lord, but even more so that it is CERTAIN the Lord will COME to us to heal us, bandage us, revive us.

    • tina

      Beautifully said Morgan….AMEN.x

    • AnnaLee

      Yes, Morgan. How good he is, and how beautifully he pursues, fights for, saves, and redeems us. Every single time.

  • I am so grateful for this reading. To know that no matter what I can always return to the Father and He is faithful to keep his word and take me as I am. His grace is sufficient for me and no doubt it's sufficient for you too.

    In this lenten season it is so important that we rend our hearts and totally surrender to the Lord.

    Keep your hearts fixed on Christ. Have a blessed day ladies.

  • Joanne Sher

    If only I could NOT need to turn to Him – because I never turned away in the first place. But my humanity makes it not so. So very glad for this reminder. Bring my wandering heart back to Him – every time I turn away.

  • Sarah Keller

    Thank you Diana for the great reminder to STOP, and reflect on what we've gained in our relationship with Christ as a result of what we've given up. I'm going to take the time to think on this and put it in writing…because THIS is what it's all about- not the "thing", but Him and what He's doing! Praise God for using you, Diana, to bless so many of us here :-)

    • AnnaLee

      Amen to that, Sarah :) it's so important, not just to go through a routine, but to understand and sit in the fact that the Lord has led us here and asked these things of us- not as a requirement, but as a gentle Father directing his children- and He's done this for a reason. Whatever we're giving up for lent, God knew what it'd be before hand, and He knows the effect it'll have on our lives. Lord, bless this time. Continue to guide us as we seek and remember you. Don't let me fast from anything for traditions sake, but let me seek and find you more here.

  • refreshedwoman

    Thank you God for Your grace (unmerited favor) towards me!

  • This has taken me back to the day I was left, as a single parent of two…..how I pleaded, how I begged….to no avail,…. he left anyway…..
    My point….. I remember the heartbreak, the hurt, the loss, the confusion about the future……this was my life, and what was going on with me…..how much more God, when I walk away, His beloved, His princess, Gosh, how He must hurt…..I wasn't given a second chance, then,…. But God……..praise God for His steadfast Love, His forgiveness of sins, His kindness, His mercy, His patience in waiting for our return…..
    'I'm coming back to the heart of worship , it's all about you Jesus…..it's all about you Lord God…Thank you Lord, for your love and mercy, New each day…..for each day I sin, and walk away, ….But you God, have a heart for me that nothing can separate, and I am so very thankful….

    Returning to Him who has given all, that I might be His, for always…….shall we walk together sister's…..
    Blessings dear sister's…….x x

    • AnnaLee

      Tina, thank you for being so open. Whenever I get away from the Lord, I feel a tinge of shame, of fear, to come back, to see him… these are lies from the enemy. My Lord always wants me back with open arms, wants me to rend my heart to Him fully.

    • Peggy

      Tina, Thank you for sharing this testimony, though heartbreaking and devastating loss, your heart truly has come back and shows the wounds, healing, scars but also the glory of the second chances with God (not man) yet my heart as well as others will be touched by your honest and open sharing of your pain. Many blessings as we walk together as His … You are His, He loves you tenderly and it really is "all about Him" … hold on to this, to Him, and find strength and true love again,
      Love in Christ, Peggy

    • nafisara

      Yes we shall :)

  • Returning to My Lord, who is gracious and merciful, for I long to give my whole heart, my whole mind, my whole soul … my All as He gave for me … as I listen and sing as my prayer this day "Lead me to the Cross"

    Soaking in the beauty of all this; from God's Word to Diana's to the song that came to my heart as I read and meditated on God, His Word and focusing on Him. I thirst and hunger for more of Him … less of me, so much less of me.

    Blessings to all as we draw close to Him and deepen our repentance in a way that strengthens our relationship with Jesus as Lord and such love …

    In Christ,
    Peggy

    • Peggy

      Since I was the 1st, I tried not to be so long and I was just going to write the words of the Hillsong song sung in my link by
      Francesca Battistelli but as I read through the comments (thus far) and prayed with each of you; I could not help but come back and leave the lyrics:

      "Savior I come
      Quiet my soul remember
      Redemption's hill
      Where Your blood was spilled
      For my ransom
      Everything I once held dear
      I count it all as lost

      Lead me to the cross
      Where Your love poured out
      Bring me to my knees
      Lord I lay me down
      Rid me of myself
      I belong to You
      Lead me, lead me to the cross

      You were as I
      Tempted and trialed
      Human
      The word became flesh
      Bore my sin and death
      Now you're risen

      Everything I once held dear
      I count it all as lost

      Lead me to the Cross …

      To your heart
      To your heart
      Lead me to your heart
      Lead me to your heart"

    • Claire A. Heckathorn

      Peggy, lovely comments. I can't add anything else Claire

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