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Heavenly Father,

What was supposed to be my indoor work day was kicked off by an unexpected trip outside early this morning just in time to be blown away by a glorious sunrise across the entire eastern sky. What a beautiful way to start a day! As I watched the sun rise and transform everything its light touched, I thought of the way Your Son transforms us.

Just moments before I stepped outside my front door this morning, darkness prevailed. Vision was limited due to the lack of light. In fact, there was no color because everywhere I tried to look; there were only shades of darkness. The lack of light makes us feel far less safe because all kinds of things can happen in the dark. I learned at a young age, even before school, from my horticulturist dad that light is needed to make things live, grow, flourish and produce fruit. I suppose I also learned at an early age to be aware that evil lurks in the darkness where things can be hidden and dangerous. That’s what our lives are like without You.

One of the reasons I love sunrises so much is it is a picture of how Jesus is the Light of the world and the light of my soul. Everything changes. What once was dark and scary is now filled with hope and glorious beauty. What once seemed doomed to despair is now radiating with eternal glorious hope. It’s Your glory, Father: the same glory You shared with Jesus Christ, Your son, is also shared with us when we look to You. Jesus, Your Son dawns in our hearts and fills us with His Light. The sun our earth orbits around may rise and bring glory and life to all it touches when it appears in the morning…but when we acknowledge Jesus to be the center  and Lord of our life, and receive Him as our Savior, Your Son rises in us- bringing new life and light. As we grow in Jesus Christ, Your glory grows in us bringing us new sight, new hope, new life with colors unimaginable on our own! Your full glory is too much for us to look at. We cannot fully fathom or contain who You are, but somehow Your Son comes to live in us and radiates stronger and stronger from inside us through Your Holy Spirit. Your glory radiates from inside us to throw light on everything we touch. We know it’s not us. It’s Your glory dawning in us and shining out as the light of the world.

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“When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12

“In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”   John 1:4-5

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2 and Matthew 4:16

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, deliver me from the darkness of….

Let the Light of Your Son Jesus Christ rise in greater glory in me…

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Heavenly Father,

This past weekend, everyone celebrated a major birthday with me; the start of another decade. I kind of wanted it to go by unnoticed. I truly enjoy making others feel special but when the spotlight is on me, I have to push past my own awkwardness to simply enjoy what is being lavished upon me. My husband wanted to make it a memorable weekend so he planned it big! (And You, Lord, planned it even bigger!) If it had just been what my husband did, I would have been more blessed than I could ever imagine…but it seemed like love was lavished on me by almost every person who has ever known me- from my children and family members, Bible study, co-workers, neighbor, to old high school friends who I haven’t seen in ages. At my family birthday party, we played a 20 question game to see how much they knew about me. It caused me to take a look back over my ever-lengthening life and realize how You have lavished love upon me all along!

Lord, I’m always thinking of ways I can tell You or show You how much I love You…but You always out do me!! When I see a sunset, I want my thanks to be straight from my heart for what You share with me…but the glory of that sunset is far more glorious than any painting I could ever make for You! When I worship You with praise songs, I want to sing to You with all my heart…but then I read in the Bible that You sing songs over me! When I try to write of my love for You…every syllable seems so inadequate…and then I read Your word which is alive and speaks to my very soul in ways I can barely describe. You said if we love You, we should feed Your sheep, so I purposely share Your word in a way that will nourish others…but I get fed far more in the process! When I try to share a drink with someone who is thirsty, or clothe someone who needs it like I am doing it for Jesus…You end up blessing me far beyond those tiny actions. When I try to give myself sacrificially to show You my love…I am given newness of life overflowing to the point I can barely stand it!

No matter how much I love You or in what way I try to demonstrate my love for You…You always love me more! Thanks for all the ways You lavish love upon me, Father, through my husband, family, friends, strangers, nature, Your word…and the ultimate crazy lavishness of Jesus’ life laid down for me when I was a sinner. I am so loved, I don’t think I can stand it…and then You love me more! It’s a good thing I don’t have that many decades left. I don’t think I can hold any more love from You than right now! Oh, yeah! But then there’s eternity!!!! Good thing I will have a new body that can hold even more lavish love!

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“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”     1John 3:1

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him” 1 Corinthians 2:9

“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, thank You for Your lavish love! Help me love You by…

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Heavenly Father,

My brother-in-law is in ICU and has received 18 units of blood over the last few days. That blood saved his life. It kept him alive until they could locate and remove the diseased part that was causing him to lose deadly amounts of “that life-saving sap.” We just happened to be having a blood drive at our church Sunday. I’m not certain how many gave at our church, but it took 18 people he has never met donating some of their life to keep life flowing through the body of my brother-in-heart. It was a stark reminder of how critical blood is! My nurse daughter said due to the quantity given, most of the blood in his body had most likely been replaced by other blood. When he realized how many had given to sustain him, he said, “It’s a gift!”

Father, he is so right! You give us life in the first place as we are formed in our mother’s womb. Our physical life is a gift from You. We truly are wonderfully made. That fluid pumps through our bodies bringing life to every single cell and organ. As wonderful as our physical life is, it is diseased by sin…by our self-willed human nature that separates us from You- the very One from whom all life flows. We are critically and terminally ill; slowly losing all life. We will die without a blood transfusion. That’s why You sent Your own Son!

Jesus didn’t come to lie on a table for 30 minutes to squeeze blood into a bag. He came to be born and live as one of us into this sinful world. He came to die on a criminal’s cross although there has never been One more innocent. He came to give His precious holy blood to be transfused into us through the Holy Spirit! One of the nurses explained the danger of getting so much blood from others. More foreign elements are being introduced into the body. That’s because as wonderful as their gift of hemoglobin was, it was not pure. Jesus was the only One whose blood was clean and holy enough to give us eternal life with You. Father, thank You for the holy and powerful blood of Jesus that has been transfused into my life. I can’t fully explain it, but His life flows through me and through all who accept His transfusion. It is too much to comprehend how and why…but Your eternal life flows in and through us by the blood of Jesus Christ!

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“But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”   1John 1:7

“This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:28

“And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, because You were slain, and with Your blood You purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.’” Revelation 5:9

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, what does this precious blood mean to me?

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Heavenly Father,

Two of my grandkids were pretty impressed by the number of people “following me” on a social media. On a whim, I made an account on Instagram, but have never used it. My granddaughter checked my account and said, “How did you do that?! You only have one post. It was up for 2 weeks and you are way ahead of me!” (She hacked my phone and posted the one picture on my account!) What she doesn’t realize is the older I get, the more people I have made contact with in my life. Her social circle at this point is primarily family, school and church friends. Lord, You have put me in contact with an ever- broadening amount of people in my ever-growing longer lifetime. It’s not that I’m famous; it’s simply a reminder of how many people have crossed my path in my lifetime. It is amazing how many chances we get to touch someone else’s life… and they ours- some just for a moment, others for a lifetime.

“Following” someone in todays’ world is as easy as clicking on an icon. Yet we need to be extremely cautious who we follow in real life. Someone may sound good, have great photos and ideas but who are they really? Who are they following? Who am I following? Will my main life purpose be to gather followers, share recipes, crafts and photos? Will my focus in life be to sway others to my way of thinking? If so, what difference will that make in my life or in others’ lives? Who I follow is critical in my life.

Father, I chose a while back to follow Jesus. I continue to choose to follow Him every day. I don’t want anyone to follow me just for the sake of following my thoughts and ideas (or even my life) if it is not going somewhere good. If anyone is following me, I pray it is because they know I am following Jesus…and He leads us to eternal life with You. Let me be purposeful in living my life, for I never know who might be watching and following me even if just for a moment. I pray they only follow me long enough to follow Jesus for themselves!

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“’Come, follow Me,’ Jesus said. ‘And I will make you fishers of men.’” Matthew 4:19

“Then He said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?’” Luke 9:23-25

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, who am I following? Who is following me?

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Heavenly Father,

Walking into my son’s home that is filled with their multitude of “Fur Babies,” I expected a strong smell of animals after being overwhelmed by the pack that met me at the door. Instead, I was greeted by a pleasing aroma of a cranberry spice candle burning. There was something very soothing about that fragrance that made me feel so loved and welcomed. I’ve been in shopping malls where expensive perfumes and fragrances are so strong, it nearly knocks you over. This fragrance was different. Perhaps it was the love in their home- the deep bond between my son and his wife, the love they have for me and my husband, the love we have for them…even the love they have for those cute hairy canines of different shapes and sizes and that wild cat. What a lovely smell love has!

My husband recently read me the account in the Bible where Noah sacrificed animals to You after the great flood. It was a pleasing aroma to You, Lord. How crazy is it that we can soothe You? That we can smell pleasing to You? I’m certain there are times we downright stink! But when we truly love You and others, it is a pleasing aroma to You. Father God, I want to please You and not be offensive to You. My sinful nature reeks! It can be my attitude, my mouth, my thoughts or my actions. Any one of those can cause You to hold Your breath and gag.

Yet when I let Jesus be Lord in me, then I am a fragrant aroma to You. You can smell the love! So can others. I can be a simple little candle that burns with the love and passion of Jesus Christ. No matter how bad the world stinks, I have the ability to add to its stench or fill my little circle of the world with the sweet aroma of Christ.  To those who desire to find You, the beautiful fragrance will draw them to You. To those who are in rebellion against You, the sweet aroma of Jesus Christ smells like death. Father, may the aroma of Jesus in me rise up to please You and spread out to draw others to You.

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“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.”     2 Corinthians 2:14-17

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, let me get rid of my stinky selfish nature and make Jesus Lord of my life so I can be a pleasing aroma by…

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Heavenly Father,

We have a wipe-off board posted on the back of the door at work in the ladies’ restroom that is used for fun communication. Someone starts a sentence. Throughout the day, everyone who visits the bathroom who wants to can add their thought to the ongoing list. Yesterday, on the last day of the year, someone wrote “What is your New Year’s resolution?” One of my co-workers started off the list with “Eat more junk food!” I have a pretty good idea who wrote that! Being a bit more on the serious side most of the time, I wrote “Love more deeply.” Over 35 years ago, I asked You to help me learn to love…and You have taught me more each year. I know it will happen in this new year as well. I want to love You more deeply… and love everyone else more deeply, too.

A Christian radio station has been inviting listeners to go to their website to list their resolutions. The DJ reported that the overwhelming theme is people want to spend more time with You, Lord. Obviously, the best way to share love is to share time and life together. In the last couple of weeks surrounding Christmas, I asked quite a few people, “If you could give anything to Jesus for His birthday, what would you give Him?” The main gifts mentioned were time and attention. Isn’t that what we all want from those we love?

Father, I can resolve to love You more deeply but as hard as I could possibly try, I can’t love without Your help. All love flows from You. You love each of us so much more deeply than we could ever comprehend. We will be discovering the depth of Your love for all eternity. I can spend more time with You and give You more attention: listen to You, follow You, enjoy You, obey You, worship You and willingly submit to You. As I spend more time with You, I will naturally fall more in love with You and will have an ever-growing love for others! So I joyfully resolve to surrender more of my life to You this year and watch expectantly as You help me love more deeply!

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“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us; He sent His One and Only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us…We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And He has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 1 John 4:7-12, 19-21

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me with my new year’s resolution to…

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Heavenly Father,

I’ve survived two major Oklahoma ice storms which sound like war zones when there are trees hanging over your house. As the trees freeze from heavy ice, the cracking of the wood begins. There is nothing you can do but wait for the branches to fall and pray they don’t come through the roof. With the extra weight, they shake the entire house like an earthquake. We thought for sure they were at least 3 foot diameter limbs only to find out later they were closer to 3 inches in diameter. There are very few sunny spots in our front or back yard. Someone let an elm tree grow up right next to our den where we spend the most time. Its trunk takes two grown adults to hug it all the way around. Some of its limbs are as large as most trees. It dropped bombs of limbs and ice on us for almost three days. There were many close calls but no major damage.

City-wide, falling tree limbs hit electrical, cable and phone lines and took out power with huge greenish blue flashes as transformers blew. In an instant, all power is gone. That’s when you begin to realize how much we all take power for granted. There’s no light, no heat, no news or weather, no computer, and no hot water. Food becomes an issue with limited ways to cook. Some stores are without power. Electric lines are on the ground. Traffic lights are out. Tree limbs block the roads. Ice is falling from overhead lines so you take a risk driving or walking around. Whole neighborhoods looked completely black at night. The most common question asked is “Do you have power?” Without thinking, we all still flip the switch every time we walk into a room even though we are fully aware there is no power. We begin to realize how much we take for granted… until it’s not available.

Father, forgive me when I take You and Your power for granted. It is You who makes the sun shine, the air we breathe, the water we need, the shelter we have. We take it all for granted that it will always be there for us. We don’t give it a thought. We don’t stop to praise You for Your unlimited, non-stoppable life-giving power. No storm, no trial, no challenge, no battle can take away Your power. You are faithful and dependable to give us life and all we need. We depend upon You for everything! Lord God, Your power never goes out!

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“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” 2 Peter 1:3-4

“Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” John 1:3-5

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.” Revelation 4:11

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, help me trust Your power and not take these things for granted….

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Heavenly Father,

There are millions of reasons to be thankful…but there is a sly, slithering scheme to steal the joy that is meant to be shared between me and You, Lord. I could be basking in the blessings You continually bathe me in, but the enemy tries to block my awareness of those bountiful blessings by inserting little doubts, fears, and anxieties meant to take my focus off You and all You give me by distracting me with lies and deceptions. He tries to stir up trouble- especially when I am doing something for You. It will not happen without a fight! I will battle against this attack with extra thanksgiving and praise.

Lord God, I am eternally grateful that: You are always with me and will never ever leave me…You are closer to me than anyone else…You live in me through the Holy Spirit… I never have to fight alone…You have complete authority and power over all things…You have great plans for me, those I love and for all those who submit to You…You love me enough to send Jesus to give me eternal life…nothing can ever separate me from You or Your love…the enemy has to cower away at the name of Jesus Christ which I can proclaim loudly and confidently knowing He is mine and I am His!

Thank You for: the breath of life You gave me when You created me and each person I love…the newness of life breathed into me through the Holy Spirit…a husband who loves You and me…children who have grown to be brothers and sisters-in-Christ…grandchildren to love, play and pray with…precious friends and family who share my earthly and eternal life…amazing ways I see You at work every single day…this breathtaking world which is dull in comparison to the home You have waiting for me. Father, I will spend all eternity trying to thank You for everything and there will be no end to the list. The more I thank You, the more we can feast together on the love and joy in the midst of thanksgiving.

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“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.” Psalm 95:1-2

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:4-5

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Prayer Prompt-

Father, let my gratefulness bless You and me both as I list things I am thankful for:

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Heavenly Father,

My sweet 5th grade granddaughter and I have developed a competition. When I drop her off at her house, we both try to be the last one to say “I love you more!” She tries to yell it quickly as she closes the door before I can get another word out. I’m sure we’re not the only ones who try to prove our love this way. I think I came up with a line she can never top… “I loved you first!” I pulled the grandma card. I settled the issue with the fact that I loved her before she was born …while she was still in her momma’s womb…before she knew who I was. BAM! There is no way she can top that! She still tries! And I love that she does.

Lord, I struggle often with how to express my love for You. I want so much to voice the ever-growing love and awe I have for You. No matter what words or actions I can ever come up with, Your love is always more. It always has been, is now, and forever will be. You loved me first. You created me. You breathed life and love into me. You sustain me. You are my life. You loved me way back when You sent Jesus to be born, live, die and be resurrected- so I could live with You forever. Your love is eternal with no beginning or end. There is no way to measure it and certainly no way to out-give it. Yet I never want to quit trying.

My love for You grows every day… because I can experience more of Your love as it expands my heart to make room for more…And the more I share it, my soul holds even more. Someday, my body won’t be able to contain it and I will burst out of this earthly shell to make room for an even greater measure! You loved me first. Yet through all eternity, I will be growing to love You more!

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“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:10-12

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

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Prayer Prompt-

Lord, help me express my love for You by…

 

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Heavenly Father,

My granddaughter is learning to do tricks on a balance beam along with a whole menagerie of spectacular flips and bends. Hours are spent in practice to keep her focus intent so her balance and skill improve. She did not inherit even a tiny bit of her athletic balancing skill from me. I seem to have a knack for tripping very ungracefully. Yet as clumsy as I am, I can testify it also takes practice to train our spiritual eyes on You, Lord. When I fix my heart, mind and soul on You, I can do amazing things far beyond my own capabilities.

There are times I know I am “walking on water” so to so speak (like Peter did when he crawled over the side of the boat and walked out on the lake to Jesus). When I find myself truly focused on You, Lord, I can glide above the most turbulent waves unruffled and do what seems impossible. I know it’s  because I have my eyes glued to You. I’m walking (perhaps even soaring) towards You and nothing can stop me…until I take my eyes off You. It only takes a second to shift my gaze from You to what seems total chaos around me. I suddenly realize there is no possible way for me to be doing what I’m doing. There is danger all around. There are voices of fear and mockery telling me I can’t walk above crashing waves of finances, health, future plans, the world situation, looming disasters…When I look at the circumstances, my mind sees there is nothing to hold me up and I cry out “Help me, Jesus!”

You pick me back up, set me back on my feet, and remind me to keep looking at You. I watch my gymnast granddaughter fall and get back up and keep practicing until she perfects her focus. Father, I may not be able to do gymnastics, but I can tell my spiritual focus is improving. The fears and loud crashing waves of the world don’t disturb or distract me so easily—at least as long as I keep my focus on You. Father, keep training me to look at You all the time.

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During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them , walking on the lake. When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ ‘Lord, if it’s you’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to You on the water.’ ‘Come,’ He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ He said, ‘why did you doubt?’” Matthew 14:25-31

 

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart might be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you; the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparable great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”   Ephesians 1:18-21