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February 17, 2019, 05:23:29 AM

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Our Lord Jesus Christ loves you.
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1  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: February 16, 2019, 08:30:40 AM
The Saints

“Salute every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren which are with me greet you. All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.” (Philippians 4:21-22)

The apostle Paul typically began and ended most of his church epistles with greetings to and from “the saints.” The context in each case shows that this term was applied to all those who were “in Christ Jesus”—that is, all true Christians. The Greek word hagios meant essentially those people or things that are set aside or consecrated to the Lord. It is frequently translated “holy” and can be applied to objects dedicated to the Lord, as in Hebrews 9:24 (“holy places made with hands”).

The term is applied also to Old Testament believers. At the time of Christ’s resurrection, we are told that “many bodies of the saints which slept arose” (Matthew 27:52).

Although “saints” should be altogether godly and righteous as well as set aside to the Lord, that is not necessarily always how they act. Thus, special men have been called by God (i.e., pastors, teachers, etc.) “for the perfecting of the saints” (Ephesians 4:12).

Some of these latter have been given the supposedly exclusive right to be called saints by the Catholic church. Other than “St. Mary” and “St. Peter,” the best known of these may be “St. Patrick,” the so-called “patron saint” of Ireland. Patrick was certainly a very zealous missionary, largely responsible for the conversion of the Irish from paganism back in the early fifth century, and all we know about him would confirm that he was indeed a “saint” in the true biblical sense.

Since the sole biblical criterion to be classed as “His saints” is “them that believe,” that includes us! That being the case, should we not be zealous to see that our lives are such as “becometh saints” (Ephesians 5:3)? HMM
2  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: February 15, 2019, 09:58:20 AM
The Incarnate Wisdom

“The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.” (Proverbs 8:22-23)

The book of Proverbs repeatedly extols the virtues of true wisdom, founded on the fear of the Lord. In the eighth chapter, however, beginning at verse 22, the theme changes, retreating far back in time to creation itself, and even before. The statements in the next ten verses, especially, must be of an actual divine Person. From the New Testament perspective, especially with John 1:1-14 as the definitive exposition, it becomes clear that the divine wisdom of Proverbs 8:22-31 is none other than the incarnate Word of John’s prologue.

The Lord Jesus Christ, indeed, fits perfectly all the statements in this particular section of Proverbs, which then gives marvelous new insight into the events of creation and the divine fellowship in the Godhead before the creation. Note that in these first two verses, the Lord’s “ways” were prior to His “works” and that He “possessed” His Son “from everlasting.” This is the profound doctrine of “eternal generations,” whereby the Son is “brought forth” continually from the Father, forever manifesting Him in His creation.

The New Testament makes it plain that Jesus Christ is, indeed, the incarnate wisdom of God. He is the “Word” by whom all things were made (John 1:1-3). He is “the truth” (John 14:6) and “the light” (John 8:12) by whom alone men can come to God and follow Him. He is called “the power of God, and the wisdom of God” in 1 Corinthians 1:24, and He called Himself “the wisdom of God” in Luke 11:49.

All of the vaunted knowledge of the world’s thinkers and scientists is empty and futile apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, for in Him alone are found “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). HMM
3  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: February 14, 2019, 09:36:24 AM
Sweet Naamah

“Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green.” (Song of Solomon 1:16)

These words begin King Solomon’s tender expressions of love to his beautiful young wife. Solomon wrote a thousand and five songs (1 Kings 4:32), but apparently this was his favorite, for he called it his “song of songs” (Song 1:1), and it clearly centered on his beloved, whom he called “my sister, my spouse” no less than four times (Song 4:9-12; 5:1), thereby intimating both their spiritual and marital relationship.

Rehoboam was Solomon’s only son, as far as recorded, and his mother’s name was Naamah (2 Chronicles 12:13), meaning “pleasant.” Since he was 41 years old when he inherited Solomon’s throne and since Solomon had only reigned 40 years (2 Chronicles 9:30), the marriage of Solomon and Naamah must have been formalized when Solomon was quite young, long before he was married to Pharoah’s daughter or any of his other 700 wives. Naamah was then and always his one real love, in spite of his spiritual defections in old age. His counsel to young men near the end of his life was: “Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days . . . of thy vanity” (Ecclesiastes 9:9).

Note that Solomon called her “fair” and “beloved” in our text, and then “pleasant.” The Hebrew word for “pleasant” is very similar to “Naamah,” as though Solomon were calling her by a shortened form of her name as a term of endearment. The same word is occasionally translated “sweet.” Naamah was surely a sweet, pleasant maiden, but also a capable woman in mind and heart, fit to become a queen.

Solomon’s song for and about her is an inspired ode to true marital love and thus can even be a figurative testimony to the love of Christ, the “greater than Solomon,” for His church. HMM
4  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: February 13, 2019, 09:29:47 AM
The Importance of Reading

“Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.” (1 Timothy 4:13)

In this video age, Christians are in grave danger of forgetting the importance of reading. The word translated “reading” in this verse is the Greek anagnosis, a compound word meaning essentially “renewed knowledge.” A sermon or lecture is knowledge heard; an educational film or video is knowledge seen; but reading is knowledge that can be read, rehearsed, reviewed, and renewed again and again, until fully and securely learned. In fact, it is necessary for students to take notes, even when hearing a sermon or seeing a film, if they expect to retain any knowledge received by such means.

The importance of reading is also pointed out by the verb used in the verse. “Give attendance” means, literally, “continue steadfastly.” It is so translated in Acts 2:42: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine.”

Reading and studying the Scriptures are especially necessary for a fruitful Christian ministry, but even this is not really enough. The Bible also commands us always to be ready to give an “answer” (Greek apologia, a systematic defense) to everyone who asks a “reason” (Greek logos, a logical explanation) for our Christian hope (1 Peter 3:15). To do this requires steadfast continuance in the study, not only of the Bible, but also of other sound literature as well. A truly effective and influential Christian is an informed Christian, armed with facts and sound counsel, prepared and capable both in his own professional field of practice and in his spiritual service as a Christian witness.

It is significant that Paul, just before his martyrdom and while imprisoned in a damp, cold, Roman dungeon, still desired his books to read (2 Timothy 4:13). The conscientious Christian must never cease to study and to grow in grace and knowledge (2 Peter 3:18). HMM
5  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: February 12, 2019, 09:06:11 AM
A Bag with Holes

“Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.” (Haggai 1:6)

This biting description of a frustrating lifestyle, penned by one of the Jewish post-exilic prophets, is both preceded and followed by this appropriate admonition: “Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways” (Haggai 1:5-7). When a professing believer somehow never seems to have enough and his money bag seems filled with holes, it is time for him to consider carefully his ways before the Lord.

After all, our God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and is well able to supply all our needs. In context, Haggai is rebuking the people of Judah for tending to their own welfare and neglecting the work of God. “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled [paneled] houses, and this house [that is, the unfinished temple in Jerusalem] lie waste?” (Haggai 1:4).

Herein is an eternal principle. Jesus said, “Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things [that is, food and drink and clothing]. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:32-33). If these necessities of life are not being provided, we urgently need to consider our ways. Are God’s kingdom and His righteousness really our first concerns?

We often quote the wonderful promise “my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). But we must remember that this promise was given to a group of Christians whose “deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality,” because they “first gave their own selves to the Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:2, 5). HMM
6  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: February 11, 2019, 09:49:53 AM
Song of the Rock

“And David spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul.” (2 Samuel 22:1)

This is the first verse of a remarkable poem inserted here near the end of 2 Samuel. With certain significant exceptions, it is the same as the 18th Psalm. David wrote many wonderful psalms, but this is the only one also found in the historical books and so must have special significance. In view of 2 Samuel 23:1-2 (“these be the last words of David”), it may even be David’s last psalm, as slightly modified by him from Psalm 18, just before his death.

In 2 Samuel 22:2-3, he ascribed nine wonderful names to God: rock, fortress, deliverer, God of my rock, shield, horn of my salvation, high tower, refuge, Savior. In the midst of this unique list of metaphors appears his statement of faith: “In him will I trust.” Although this psalm flows from David’s personal experiences, these words are quoted in Hebrews 2:13 as coming from the lips of Christ in His human incarnation. Thus, the song is actually also a Messianic psalm. Its testimonies go far beyond the experiences of David, reflecting the mighty events of Christ in creation, at the judgment of the great Flood, and His work as our Redeemer. It is significant that the concluding name in David’s list is Savior, which is the Hebrew yasha—essentially the same as “Jesus.”

Two of the names (Hebrew cela and tsur) are translated “rock,” but refer to different kinds of rock. They are the same words used for the rocks from which God provided water for His people in the wilderness (Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:11), except that the order is reversed. One is the great rock of provision, the other the smitten rock of judgment. Our God of creation, Jesus Christ, is our daily sustenance but first must also be our sin-bearing Savior. HMM
7  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: February 10, 2019, 09:29:22 AM
The Mercy of the Lord

“The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.” (Psalm 145:8)

Not one of us deserves God’s mercy, for “we have turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6), and “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). What we deserve is death and eternal separation from the God who made us. Nevertheless, “it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22). “He hath not dealt with us after our sins. . . . For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him” (Psalm 103:10-11).

It is by His mercy, not our merit, that we are saved. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5). “God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” (Ephesians 2:4-5). It is “according to his abundant mercy” that He has “begotten us again unto a lively hope” (1 Peter 1:3).

In fact, one of the very titles of God is “the Father of mercies” (2 Corinthians 1:3). Over and over the psalmist assures us that “his mercy endureth for ever” (26 times in Psalm 136:1-26; also Psalm 106:1; 107:1; 118:1; etc.). His mercy is not only infinite, but eternal.

How can one possibly reject His mercy? “Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering?” (Romans 2:4). Sadly, most do. Instead, the divine challenge is: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2). This is our logical response to God’s great mercy! HMM
8  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: February 09, 2019, 08:39:38 AM
Destroy Them, O God

“Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.” (Psalm 5:10)

No less than 20 of the psalms contain what are known as “imprecations”—that is, prayers to God to judge and destroy the wicked—and this verse is the first of them. As such, it sets the pattern, helping us to understand why the Lord would include such vindictive prayers in His inspired Word. At first, they seem incongruous with a God of love and mercy who has told us to love our enemies, but they help us to understand that God also must judge sin—especially the sin of rebellion. In them, we are taught to see the sin of rebellion in its true light—through the eyes of a loving Creator who has been rejected to the point of no return.

It is one thing to commit an act of wickedness when overcome by temptation; it is quite another thing for men to deliberately rebel against God Himself, seeking by their “counsels” to turn others against Him, and even, if it were possible, to destroy Him and His Word altogether.

This is the age-long sin of Satan, as well as that of the leaders of both ancient paganism and modern evolutionary humanism. Like the psalmist David, we must pray for God to defeat them and their counsels, for otherwise they will continue to lead multitudes of others into their own transgression. There is still room for forgiveness of individual sinners, of course—even among such as these—if they come in true repentance, but most such rebels are already irrevocably hardened against God and His Word. The appropriate prayer in such a case is (as David prayed in another of the imprecatory psalms): “Scatter them by thy power; and bring them down, O Lord our shield. . . . let them even be taken in their pride” (Psalm 59:11-12). HMM
9  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: February 08, 2019, 08:50:31 AM
No King in Israel

“In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6)

Four times in the book of Judges we are told that “there was no king in Israel in those days” (Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25), indicating that the book must have been compiled either by Samuel (the last judge) or someone else of his or a later generation. The first and last of these (which is the final verse in the book) add that “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” With no centralized government, there were only tribal leaders. Occasionally, one of these would acquire followers from other tribes; these were the “judges” whom God raised up to lead the people out of bondage on the occasions of widespread repentance and prayer.

The intervening periods were times of oppression by enemies and moral and spiritual chaos among the people. They did have a King, of course, but they refused Him, as did the men in the parable who “sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). When they finally requested a human king, Samuel rebuked them for saying, “Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the Lord your God was your king” (1 Samuel 12:12).

Lest we be too critical of the ancient Israelites for rejecting God as their king and going each his own way, that is essentially what people are doing today. “There is no fear of God before their eyes,” and they are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (Romans 3:18; 2 Timothy 3:4). When every man believes what is comfortable and does as he pleases, he in effect becomes his own god, and this is nothing but humanism. But just as this ancient humanism was empty and the people soon desired a human king, so modern atheistic humanism will also revert to pantheism, and the world will then yield to a humanistic king to lead them on to a final deadly confrontation with the true King of kings. HMM
10  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: February 07, 2019, 08:51:33 AM
Overcome Them

“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

This is one of the most reassuring promises in the Bible for the believer. Because “we are of God” and because He is in us (as the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 3:16) and is “greater . . . than he that is in the world,” we have already overcome!

I firmly believe that there are no empty promises in the Bible, and I know that this passage is true. But there are times when I do not feel like I am over anything. Just what does this promise promise? And who are “them” that I have to overcome?

To begin with, the Greek word means to conquer, overcome, prevail, or get the victory. It is translated similarly in speaking of the Lord’s ultimate victory as He assumes the throne in heaven to bring about the end of the age (Revelation 5:5). And in the same way, we are to conquer as we “reign in life” (Romans 5:17) because we are “born of God” (1 John 5:4). The Lord Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33), and since we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, we too will get the victory over the world (1 John 5:5; Romans 12:2).

The “them” are those who are driven to embrace ungodly antichrist doctrines (1 Timothy 4:1) and worldly philosophies (James 4:4). They are those who “love the world” (1 John 2:15-17) and seek to spoil (plunder and/or take captive) the people of God (Colossians 2:8). We, on the other hand, are to prevail over evil with good (Romans 12:21) and take them captive with the mighty “weapons of our warfare” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5), which are the Word of God and prayer (Ephesians 6:13-18). HMM III
11  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: February 06, 2019, 08:48:17 AM
Our Adversary, the Devil

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

This grave warning concerning the devil was given not only to young Christians, easily subject to temptations, but also to “the elders which are among you” (v. 1). It often seems, in fact, that Satan’s greatest victories are won when he can cause the fall of a Christian leader, thereby not only destroying that leader’s influence for Christ, but also giving “great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” (2 Samuel 12:14). The devil is a roaring lion, but he doesn’t come as such. If he did, the intended victim would flee.

He is, above all, the one “which deceiveth the whole world” (Revelation 12:9), “transformed into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). As he did with Mother Eve, the “subtle” one will insidiously appeal to our pride, or our aesthetic sense, or our appetite, or our desire for material things.

Peter could speak from bitter experience. Satan had desired to “sift you as wheat,” Jesus had told him, but he foolishly boasted that he would stand true (Luke 22:31-34).

No wonder Peter could warn with such urgency: “Be sober, be vigilant.” Note particularly that, in the context, he is especially warning against greed (1 Peter 5:2) and pride (vv. 5-6). We must not allow Satan to “get an advantage of us,” Paul says, “for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11). Though Satan is deceptive and powerful, we need never fall to his tempting if we simply—along with staying sober and vigilant—“submit [ourselves] therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). HMM
12  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: February 05, 2019, 09:47:44 AM
The Mind of Christ

“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16)

The mind of the natural man is “a reprobate mind” (Romans 1:28), a “carnal mind” (Romans 8:7), and a “defiled” mind (Titus 1:15), characterized by a daily walk “in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:17-18).

When a person is born again through faith in Christ, however, he should be “transformed by the renewing of [his] mind” (Romans 12:2) and should henceforth seek to conform to the mind of Christ in every attitude and every decision.

But what is the mind of Christ? As our text says: “Who hath known the mind of the Lord?” Paul echoed the same question to the Romans: “For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counselor?” (Romans 11:34).

There are many aspects to His infinite mind, of course, but the key is undoubtedly the great attribute of sacrificial love. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who . . . became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-6, 8).

Thus, following His example, we should “in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). We should constantly “consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest [we] be wearied and faint in [our] minds” (Hebrews 12:3). We should receive “the word with all readiness of mind” and serve “the Lord with all humility of mind” (Acts 17:11; 20:19). Herein is the mind of Christ. HMM
13  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: February 04, 2019, 08:54:10 AM
Adding to God's Word

“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:18)

This very sober warning right at the end of the Bible was given by Christ Himself (note verse 20) to indicate that the written Scriptures were now complete, and it would be a serious sin for some pseudo-prophet to come along presenting some alleged new revelation from God. That this warning applies to the entire Bible, not just to the book of Revelation, should be obvious but is made especially clear when it is remembered that Jesus promised His chosen disciples that the Holy Spirit “shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance,” and furthermore, that “he will guide you into all truth: . . . and he will shew you things to come” (John 14:26; 16:13).

This special revelation to the “apostles and prophets” of the New Testament would constitute the “foundation” of the church, and would be complete when the last of these “holy apostles and prophets” were gone. (Study carefully Ephesians 2:19–3:11.) When John completed the Apocalypse, he was very old; all the other apostles and prophets of the New Testament had already died (all by martyrdom), so God’s written Word was now complete. No new revelation would be needed before Christ returns. We shall do well if we just learn what we already have received from His holy apostles and prophets.

Note also the emphasis on “the words,” not just the concepts. God was able to say what He meant, and we are wise if we take His words literally. Jesus warned about “false prophets” who would come after He left (Matthew 24:24), and there have been many of these through the centuries. The Bible as we now have it is sufficient for every need. HMM
14  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: February 03, 2019, 09:13:27 AM
A Certain Young Man

“And they all forsook him, and fled. And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.” (Mark 14:50-52)

This “certain young man” is mentioned only in Mark’s gospel and was almost certainly John Mark himself. A rather obscure character in the New Testament, yet the Lord chose him to write what is probably the earliest of the gospel records of the life of Christ. If so, his account of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ is the first record we have of the most important events in all history.

Mark’s family (Acts 12:12) apparently was prosperous enough to own a home in Jerusalem with a large upper room where the disciples (even 120 of them, Acts 1:14-15) could meet for prayer after the resurrection. This was possibly the same “large upper room furnished and prepared” (Mark 14:15) where the Lord’s last supper took place. Note that Mark’s account says: “And in the evening he cometh [not ‘goeth’] with the twelve” (v. 17). Thus, Mark—probably as a teenager—was very likely an intensely interested observer of all the moving events that took place in the upper room, both before and after the crucifixion and resurrection.

He may well have overheard the conversation with and about Judas, and then watched as the disciples went out to Gethsemane. Perhaps Judas returned with the soldiers, and Mark, already in bed, grabbed a “linen cloth” and rushed out to warn Jesus. The soldiers found Jesus first, however, and Mark had to watch the disciples flee, and then finally had to flee himself.

In any case, this close proximity to these great events made such a profound impression on him that he was later led to write about them, very probably working closely with Peter (1 Peter 5:13), and Mark’s gospel was the result. HMM
15  Theology / Bible Study / Re: A Daily Devotional on: February 02, 2019, 08:41:31 AM
The First Sacrifice

“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21)

This action by the Lord is very significant. God Himself apparently sacrificed some of His animal creation (possibly two innocent and blemish-free sheep) in order to provide clothing for the first man and woman. In the first place, this tells us that clothing is important in God’s plan for human beings; nudity became shameful once sin entered the world.

In the second place, we learn that symbolically speaking, clothing must be provided by God Himself. Man-made “aprons” of fig leaves will not suffice, as they represent human works of righteousness which can never make us presentable to God: “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). However, God has sacrificed His own “Lamb of God” (John 1:29), pure and spotless, yet also willing to die for us. Thereby “he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10), fashioned from the perfect righteousness of the Lamb.

But in order to do this, the innocent blood of the sacrifice must be shed, for “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11). When sin entered the world, there also came “death by sin” (Romans 5:12), and “without shedding of [innocent] blood is no remission [of sin]” (Hebrews 9:22).

How much of this could have been comprehended by Adam and Eve as they watched God slay their animal friends so that they once again could walk with God we do not know, but it changed their lives. Just so, when we really see “the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:19) spilled in sacrifice for our redemption, our lives also are forever changed. He hath covered me with the righteousness of Christ. HMM
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