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« Reply #30 on: January 27, 2006, 11:41:30 AM »

Justified by His Blood

"Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him" (Romans 5:9).

Sinners have no right standing before the law court of God. God, the Judge, has already declared mankind to be guilty, with the sentence being death. "For the wages of sin is death. . . . For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 6:23; 3:23).

Therefore, man has no way to save himself from God's condemnation. "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (5:Cool. The word "commendeth" means, clearly proved. God clearly proved His love by sending His Son to die for us.

"Much more then , being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him" (text). Justification declares those who were once sinners, and hopelessly lost, to be righteous before God, the Judge of all the earth.

This was made possibl e through the blood of Christ. The Lord Jesus became "sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (II Cor-inthians 5:21).

Once we were guilty and sentenced to death; now we are not guilty and saved from the wrath to come. Once we were unrighteous sinners; now we are saved saints. Once we were utterly condemned, now we are not condemned. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). ". . . by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified," but we are justified by the faith of Christ (Galatians 2:16).

The end result of it all is peace. We no longer have to fear God's wrath. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).

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« Reply #31 on: January 27, 2006, 11:42:24 AM »

Never Too Late

"And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:42-43).

One of the two thieves on the cross continued in unbelief right up until the time he died (Luke 23:39), but the second repented and believed unto salvation. The one assures us that no one need despair, since it is always possible to accept Christ at any time before death. The other warns us, on the other hand, that no one should presume. Long-continued rebellion against God is likely to become so fixed in one's character that sincere repentance may become impossible.

The repentant thief, beholding Christ and hearing the first of the seven so-called "words from the cross" (Luke 23:34), came to believe that Jesus truly was Lord and that He could, indeed, grant forgiveness and salvation.

The penitent thief had no opportunity to be baptized, to ch ange his life style, or to do anything whatever except repent, believe on Christ, and confess his faith (Romans 10:9-10). And that was sufficient!

Both thieves would die that day, and the soul of the unrepentant thief would soon descend into Hades, there to await condemnation at the future judgment day. The other, because of his trust in Christ, would go with Him to paradise.

The tragedy is that far too many people, assuring themselves that it is never too late, keep waiting until it becomes forever too late! "Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth" (Proverbs 27:1). The overwhelming majority of people who come to trust in Christ for salvation do so when they are young. Very few come to the Lord when they are old or about to die. "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (II Corinthians 6:2).

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« Reply #32 on: January 28, 2006, 11:23:34 AM »

A Little Flock

"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).

The world tends to measure success by size, and this seems generally true in the Christian world as well. The most "successful" churches are considered to be those with the largest congregations, or the largest budgets, or the greatest number of converts baptized each year, or some other quantitative index. But this is not God's criterion. At the judgment seat of Christ, "the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is" (I Corinthians 3:13). Not how big it is, but of what sort it is! Quality, not quantity, is the criterion.

Christ's encouraging words to the "little flock" were given towards the end of an extended warning against the desire to accumulate wealth. "Take heed, and beware of covetousness," He had said (Luke 12:15), speaking to His small group of followers. He was their Shepherd and wo uld provide the needs of His "little flock."

Christ's warnings against individual covetousness evidently apply also to group covetousness. A church, or any other Christian organization, needs continually to guard against the desire to be impressive in the eyes of the world. The cities of Christendom exhibit many ornate cathedrals and temples that are now mostly empty and spiritually dead.

The Lord Jesus promised an "open door" to the little church at Philadelphia, because it had "little strength" and had "kept word" (Revelation 3:Cool, but threatened to "spue . . . out of mouth" the tepid church at Laodicea, which was boasting that she was "rich, and increased with goods" (Revelation 3:16-17). Not every "little flock" has kept God's Word, nor has every big flock become lukewarm, but Christ's words serve as both warning and encouragement. The greater blessings of the coming kingdom have been p romised to the faithful "little flock."

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« Reply #33 on: January 29, 2006, 12:41:06 PM »

Worship of Idols and Demons

"They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not" (Deuteronomy 32:17).

This terrible indictment was in the farewell song of Moses, written just before the tribes of Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land. Perhaps Moses was thinking mainly of the golden calf fashioned by Aaron who had told the people: "These be thy gods, O Israel" (Exodus 32:4).

Aaron and the people certainly knew that the man-made calf was not "gods," but they knew that there were many invisible spirit beings in the world and that these "devils" (actually fallen angels) could indwell images made by men as objects of worship. These evil spirits do possess certain powers, which can be used to impress their worshippers with the magical insights and abilities of the images.

This was also a problem in the early church. Paul warned his converts at Corinth: &quo t;The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils" (I Corinthians 10:20). John's closing word to his own flock was: "Little children, keep yourselves from idols" (I John 5:21).

And it is a serious problem today--not only in those lands where images and animalistic spirits abound, but even in the "Christian" west, both in the proliferating New Age cults and in those "mainline" churches that have diluted sound Bible teaching with humanism and ritualistic pantheism. And remember, too, that "covetousness" (that is, coveting money, or power, or anything more than the will of God) "is idolatry" (Colossians 3:5). When the prince of these devils himself sought the worship of Jesus, the Lord answered: "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve" (Matthew 4 :10). We need to remember and follow His example.

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« Reply #34 on: January 30, 2006, 10:07:49 AM »

Present with the Lord

"We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord" (II Cor-inthians 5:Cool.

This verse has proved of great comfort to many a sorrowing believer who has just lost a loved one. Especially if they know that the parent or child or friend was also a believer in the saving work and person of Christ, then--although they sorrow--they "sorrow not, even as others which have no hope" (I Thessalonians 4:13).

For that loved one, though no longer in that old body which had perhaps been filled with pain, is now with the Lord. That is, he or she has been given a somewhat indescribable spiritual body in which to function in heaven until the coming resurrection day. Although that may not yet be the wonderful life that awaits them in their glorified, resurrection bodies in the ages to come, they will be "with Christ; which is far better" than this present life (Philippians 1:23).

Th ere are a number of sincere believers who argue that dead Christians will simply "sleep" until He comes again to raise the dead. While a certain case can be developed for this "soul-sleep" concept, it is hard to see how that could be "far better" than this present life. Paul said that he had a "desire to depart, and to be with Christ" and also that "to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:23,21). But what "gain" could there be for him in simply "sleeping" instead of continuing to live in Christ?

The Scriptures do not reveal much about that "intermediate state," as it has been called. But there is that intriguing verse about being "compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses" who perhaps are somehow watching us as we "run with patience the race that is set before us" here on Earth (Hebrews 12:1). That possibility can be a real incentive to do j ust that.

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« Reply #35 on: January 31, 2006, 11:06:26 AM »

No Night There

"And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof" (Revelation 21:23).

This description is of the holy city, which someday will come down from God out of heaven to be established on the new Earth when "the first earth" will have "passed away" (Revelation 21:1). Note also that "there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light" (Revelation 22:5).There will be no need for night there, for no one will ever need to sleep. The residents of the city will have glorified bodies, like that of their Redeemer (see Philippians 3:21).

That all sounds wonderful, but there does seem at first to be a contradiction with certain passages which reveal that God's created heavens will exist forever. "Praise ye Him, sun and moon: . . . for He commanded, and they were cr eated. He hath also established them for ever and ever: . . ." (Psalm 148:3,5-6). ". . . whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever . . . " (Ecclesiastes 3:14). He is the Creator, not the de-Creator. "[David's] seed shall endure for ever, and His throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven" (Psalm 89:36-37).

But the sun and moon, like the earth, have to be purified. Because of sin (angelic as well as human), "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Romans 8:22). God will have to "create" new heavens, including sun and moon, like the new earth, but they will be the originals simply made new again, for they were all "very good" (Genesis 1:31) in the first place. However, although they will then remain forever, those in the holy city will not need them for light, for God, who is Light, will be its l ight, and "there shall be no night there."

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« Reply #36 on: February 01, 2006, 08:13:44 AM »

The Secret Things


"The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deuteronomy 29:29).

This portion of Scripture follows a lengthy re-statement of the Covenant of God with His people, Israel. In this chapter, Moses reminded the people of the works that God had wrought on their behalf in their deliverance from Pharaoh, in His provision for them in the wilderness, and in His protection on the battlefield (vv.2-8).

In this final address, he encouraged them to "Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do" (v.9), and stated the various blessings that would be theirs if they would do so. Lastly, he described, in graphic and burning words, the results of breaking the covenant and incurring the judgment of God (vv.18-27). "And the Lord rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day" (v.28).

In recognition of the limitations of humankind, Moses wrote in our text that there are certain things known only to God, which He has veiled--things which cannot be understood by the human mind--things which He simply chooses to keep to Himself. But he goes on to say that He has revealed certain things to us, and these things we must obey. Consequently, our text consists of a great principle of life: We must do what we know to do. We don't know everything, but we must act responsibly and properly to that which He has told us, leaving the "secret things" and their consequences to God. Elsewhere, He promises that even the secret things will "work together for good to them that love God" (Romans 8:28)--in His sovereign plan. We must obey, doing what we know to do, and leave the results with Him.

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« Reply #37 on: February 02, 2006, 10:04:06 AM »

Stunted Growth in Carnal Christians


"And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able" (I Corinthians 3:1-2).

The apostle Paul here makes a clear distinction between "spiritual" Christians, controlled and led by the Holy Spirit, and "carnal" Christians, still controlled by the desires of the flesh. A carnal Christian is a baby Christian. Baby Christians are a cause of great rejoicing when they are newborn believers, just like baby people. But if they remain babies indefinitely, they become an annoyance to hear and a tragedy to behold.

Each born-again believer needs urgently to "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18). That spiritual growth comes only through study of the Word, accompanied by belief and obedience. First there must be "the sincere [or `logical'] milk of the word" (I Peter 2:2), but that is good only for the first stages of growth. "For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:13-14). Scripture encourages us to grow to maturity and then to continue growing.

Carnal Christians are not necessarily pseudo-Christians, although they should examine themselves to determine whether their profession of faith in Christ is genuine (II Cor-inthians 13:5), but they should not be content to remain spiritual babes. Every Christian should be able to say with the prophet Jeremiah: "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts" (Jeremiah 15:16).

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« Reply #38 on: February 03, 2006, 10:34:56 AM »

The Secret of the Lord

"The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will shew them His covenant" (Psalm 25:14).

This is an amazing promise. The word for "secret" means the "inner counsel," evidently of the tri-une God Himself.

But how can those who fear the Lord really know the secret counsels of the Godhead? The answer can only be by divine revelation to God's prophets. Thus the prophet Amos affirms: "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).

When these ancient promises were given, however, much of God's revelation, though already "settled in heaven" (Psalm 119:89), was still not revealed to men. Then Christ came and promised His disciples, "the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost . . . shall teach you all things" (John 14:26).

"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son" (Hebrews 1:1-2). In addition to the twelve disciples, God then also called the apostle Paul, and through these men, the Son would convey to those who fear Him all the rest of His revelation. "By revelation He made known unto me the mystery; (. . . Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit" (Ephesians 3:3-5).

Finally, "the secret of the Lord" was completed in written form by John, the last of the apostles, with nothing else to be either added or deleted (Revelation 22:18-19), that ". . . the mystery of God should be finished, as He hath declared to His servants the prophets" (Revelation 10:7). All we shall ever need to know of God's eternal counsels is now available to all who desire to know, in the Holy Scriptures.

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« Reply #39 on: February 03, 2006, 12:10:18 PM »

Job and Adam

"If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom" (Job 31:33).

The patriarch Job lived long before Moses and the writing of the Pentateuch, yet he knew about Adam and his fall and likewise about God's curse on the world because of Adam's sin.

Note the following references in the book of Job to death and the curse: "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble" (Job 14:1; compare Genesis 3:16). "All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust" (Job 34:15; note Genesis 3:19).

Evidently Job still had access to the records of primeval history, either by verbal tradition from his ancestors or perhaps through actual written records of the ancient patriarchs handed down from Adam to Moses.

There are also a number of references in Job to man's original creation. After speaking first of the beasts, the fowls of the air, and the fishes of the sea, Job asks: "Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind" (Job 12:9-10). Note also Elihu's testimony: "The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life" (Job 33:4).

The book of Job was almost certainly the first written of all the books of the Bible, and it testifies abundantly that the knowledge of the true God and His creation was still the common heritage of mankind at that time. Job knew the Lord, and never tried to hide anything from Him, as Adam had done. His ancient testimony is still true today. Quoting what must have been an early revelation from God, he wrote: "And unto man He said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding" (Job 28:28).

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« Reply #40 on: February 03, 2006, 12:11:18 PM »

Things Worth Knowing


"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is" (I John 3:2).

Although the book of I John is well known for its use of the word "love," various words, such as "know," "perceive," and "behold," occur almost as often.

Several of these words refer to the work of Christ in salvation. "And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins" (I John 3:5). "We know that we have passed from death unto life" (I John 3:14), and "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us" (I John 3:16). This knowledge brings great comfort and assurance: "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life" (I John 5:13).

This knowledge should bring us into a life of submission and service: "But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him" (I John 2:5). Similarly, "He that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us" (I John 3:24; see also I John 4:13).

This gives us confidence in prayer: "And this is the confidence that we have in Him, . . . if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He hear us, . . . we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him" (I John 5:14-15).

The culmination of a life marked by salvation, assurance, empowering, and victory will be that we will be with Him and be like Him. "Behold [same word as know], what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God" (I John 3:1).

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« Reply #41 on: February 03, 2006, 12:12:33 PM »


The Oracles of God

"Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?" (Romans 3:2-3).

This striking synonym for the Scriptures ("the oracles of God") occurs just three times in the Bible. In our text, Paul is emphasizing the great privilege and responsibility that was committed to the Jews when God gave His "oracles" to them, a word implying "divinely inspired utterances."

Then the author of Hebrews rebuked those Hebrew Christians who had still not learned the very "first principles of the oracles of God," despite having been professing Christians for a long time (Hebrews 5:12). Finally, the apostle Peter urged his readers: "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God" (I Peter 4:11). That is, anyone who presumes to speak for the Lord must "Preach the word" (II Timothy 4:2). It is not our words, but His words that are "quick, and powerful" (Hebrews 4:12). In fact, Stephen called them "the lively [or `living'] oracles" (Acts 7:38).

In all these references, it is clear that these "oracles of God"--that is, the Holy Scriptures--constitute the very utterances of the living God. They were given to and through believing Jews and are preserved for us now in our Bibles. They obviously should be believed, studied, obeyed, and proclaimed by all who consider themselves to be Christians.

The fact that many people reject the Bible, even claiming it is wrong in what it teaches, is irrelevant. Such claims merely display human arrogance. God's Word has been "for ever . . . settled in heaven" and "is true from the beginning" (Psalm 119:89,160). It will endure even after this present world has passed away (Matthew 24:35) and will finally be the criterion by which its detractors will be judged in the last day (Revelation 20:12; 22:18-19).

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« Reply #42 on: February 03, 2006, 12:14:42 PM »


No Fear in the Days of Evil

"Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil, when the iniquity of my heels shall compass me about?" (Psalm 49:5).

This enigmatic question should be a real concern to elderly unbelievers -- or of unbelievers of any age, for that matter. The "days of evil" seem specifically to refer to old age, as in Ecclesiastes 12:1, which exhorted young people to: "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them."

Those who have not "remembered their Creator" while young may one day come to realize that the iniquities which had been accumulating against their record day by day through a long lifetime had actually involved the venom of that old Serpent, which God long ago had warned would bruise the heels of the children of Mother Eve (see Genesis 3:15). Their sins, which will eventually become so numerous as to "compass them about," might even destroy them both now and eternally. After all, the devil will have "the power of death" (Hebrews 2:14) until that day when the true seed of the woman the Lord Jesus Christ (even though His own "heel" has been viciously "bruised" by Satan when the sins of the whole world were placed upon Him) will "crush the head" of that wicked one forever.

But because of Christ's great victory over Satan -- when He both died for our sins and then defeated death by His resurrection, we need no longer fear death, even when the evil days draw nigh.

Though it is far better to accept His gift of salvation from sin and death while we are young, it is never too late, as long as we live. So, "Wherefore should I fear in the days of evil?" "We have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and . . . perfect love casteth out fear" (I John 4:16,18).

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« Reply #43 on: February 03, 2006, 12:17:06 PM »


God's Tear Bottle

"Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?" (Psalm 56:Cool.

This is a remarkable insight into the tender heart of our heavenly Father. He has a tear bottle -- in fact, perhaps a tear bottle for each of His wandering children.

Ancient "tear bottles" (or wineskins) have actually been excavated by archaeologists in Israel. These vessels were used to catch and preserve the owner's tears during times of grief or extreme pressure. This psalm was actually written by David when he was being pursued by Saul on one side and surrounded by Philistines in the city of Goliath on the other. David apparently not only had his own tear bottle, but also believed that God somehow was also storing up David's personal tears in His own heavenly bottle of tears.

There is a touching story in the earthly ministry of Jesus that provides another example: "Behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at His feet behind Him weeping, and began to wash His feet with tears, . . . and anointed them with the ointment" (Luke 7:37-38).

The ointment was obviously not the same as the tears, but followed the washing by tears. Some scholars think these tears came from her bottle, which was emptied on His feet and used to wash them. Others think that those tear bottles that have been found actually contained the collected tears of mourners at a burial site.

In any case, God does know all our wanderings and sorrows and all our tears, and stores them up somewhere. Perhaps it is also a metaphor for His "book of remembrance," which is being "written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name" (Malachi 3:16).

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« Reply #44 on: February 03, 2006, 12:18:06 PM »


What the Creator Requires

"And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul?" (Deuteronomy 10:12).

In the final weeks before his death, Moses gathered the people of Israel together for a final look back at God's miraculous provision for the nation and a restatement of the Law. He repeated the Ten Commandments and reminded them of their supernatural origin (chapter 5). He charged them to remember the Law and to pass it on to their children, for God Himself had entrusted it to them (chapter 6). He insisted that they utterly destroy the enemies of God in the land, for their holy and special status as the people of God would be in jeopardy if they didn't (chapter 7). The longest section of the speech consisted of a command to remember their unique history: how God had supernaturally intervened for them on so many occasions (8:1-10:11).

Finally, Moses brought them to a time of commitment, charging them, in our text, to fear, obey, love, and serve the "Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul." Even the commandments were "for their good" (v.13); they were not merely petty or malicious. In fact, throughout the lengthy lecture, Moses had several times adjured the people to love their Lord with their entire being (see vv. 6:5; 7:9; 10:20; 11:1,13,22).

And why not? "Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord's thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is" (10:14). The God who placed His sovereign mark on Israel (v.15) deserved their total devotion, obedience, and service.

Does not the Creator God, who has done so much more for us than He had done even for Israel, deserve our total devotion, obedience, and service?

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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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