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Soldier4Christ
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« Reply #5715 on: March 08, 2017, 08:53:08 AM »

Sifted

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32)
 
In the evening before His betrayal, capture, torture, and trial, Christ turned to Simon with these final words, encouraging him to remain strong. Of course, Peter boldly proclaimed that he would never deny Christ, but Christ knew better (vv. 33-34).
 
Actually, our text is quite forceful. Christ claimed that Satan has “begged earnestly” (literal translation of “desired”), not just for Peter, but for all the disciples, as seen in the plural pronoun “you,” to “sift you as wheat.” Satan knew (as he still knows) that the fall of Christian leaders causes many others to fall, and if all of the disciples could be made to abandon the faith, the gospel could not be spread.
 
Christ turned specifically to Peter as the generally recognized spokesman for the disciples, and even though He knew Peter would fall, Christ informed him that he had been prayed for, that his “faith fail not.” Indeed, Peter did turn around once he saw the risen Lord and became a leader in the fledgling church in Jerusalem, as well as a missionary. Through the witness of Peter and those he strengthened, the gospel has come to us.
 
Satan’s desire to sift those who would spread the gospel and lead others has not abated. He knows the destruction it causes in the lives of those influenced by the one who falls. The “ripple effect” may last for years, and many weaker brothers and sisters may never recover. But take heart! The One who prayed for Peter “ever liveth to make intercession for [us]” (Hebrews 7:25; see also John 17:6-26). Just as God answered Christ’s intercessory prayer for Peter, so He will answer Christ’s intercessory prayer for us. JDM
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« Reply #5716 on: March 09, 2017, 08:30:08 AM »

Wisdom and Prudence

“At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” (Matthew 11:25)
 
The attributes of wisdom and prudence are prized very highly by the world and its leaders, but worldly wisdom and pragmatic prudence are incapable in themselves of comprehending the spiritual concepts in the plan of God. The Lord Jesus, in fact, considered this very truth a cause for thanksgiving! One does not need either education or wisdom to appropriate the true wisdom of God, for even a young child (in fact, only one who becomes like a child) is able to understand true wisdom. “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
 
The fact that most of the world’s scholars reject the Word of God is not surprising because God promised this would be the case! “It is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent,” for “the world by wisdom knew not God” (1 Corinthians 1:19, 21). Genuine wisdom and prudence are found only through the revealed Word of God. There, however, “he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence” (Ephesians 1:8). God desires that our “faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. . . . But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:5, 7-8). The abounding wisdom and prudence of God are hidden from the wise and prudent of the world, but are life and joy to all who come with the believing trust of little children. HMM
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« Reply #5717 on: March 10, 2017, 08:43:09 AM »

The Way of Cain

“Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.” (Proverbs 25:14)
 
Cain initially was a religious man, evidently proud of his achievements as a “tiller of the ground” that God had “cursed” (Genesis 4:2; 3:17). He assumed that God would be much impressed with the beautiful basket of his “fruit of the ground” that he presented as an “offering unto the LORD.” Cain became bitterly angry when God “had not respect” to Cain and his offering (Genesis 4:3-5).
 
“By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain,” shedding the blood of an innocent lamb in substitution for his own sin and guilt before God, “by which he obtained witness that he was righteous” (Hebrews 11:4). Since “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17), Abel was merely obeying God’s Word, but Cain, proud and self-righteous in attitude, was presuming to offer up his own merits in payment for the privilege of coming to God.
 
This was a “false gift,” however, with no meritorious value at all before God, “like clouds and wind without rain.” The apostle Jude warns against any such presumption, especially now that we can freely come to God through His own perfect “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). “Woe unto them!” says Jude, “for they have gone in the way of Cain . . . clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots” (Jude 1:11-12). This severe indictment was lodged against all who, like Cain, are superficially religious but who, by their self-righteous resentment against God, are “turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4). We must not boast of our gifts to God, but only of His gift to us. HMM
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« Reply #5718 on: March 11, 2017, 07:54:25 AM »

A First-Century Hymn

“It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:11-13)
 
It has been noted that our text for the day is in poetic language and form. It probably consists of an early hymn that Timothy and the other readers of this epistle knew. It consists of a series of “if . . . then” statements, each an important conditional promise, two with negative connotations and two with positive.
 
“If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him.” Elsewhere we read, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Colossians 2:13).
 
“If we suffer [literally, ‘endure’], we shall also reign with him.” “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21).
 
“If we deny him, he also will deny us.” Christ said, “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33).
 
“If we believe not [literally, are unfaithful], yet he abideth faithful.” His promises are sure whether they be warnings of judgment or promises of blessing. God promised Joshua: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage” (Joshua 1:5-6).
 
Our text begins with the statement “It is a faithful saying,” and ends with “he cannot deny himself.” We can be sure that He will live up to His end of the bargain. His very nature demands it. JDM
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« Reply #5719 on: March 12, 2017, 09:38:54 AM »

In the Spirit

“For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” (Ephesians 2:18)
 
We cannot see or hear the Holy Spirit, but He is very real and is, in fact, the very life of each true Christian. It is only through Him that we have access in prayer to the Father, as our text points out. Christ in His resurrection body is seated at the right hand of the Father in the distant heavens, but the Holy Spirit has His temple in our very bodies.
 
He not only hears each spoken prayer, but also each thought of our hearts. From the moment we receive Christ, we live in the Spirit; He is always with us, to guide our steps, to bear witness with our spirits that we belong to God, to illumine our understanding, and, when needed, to convict and chasten when we get out of His will.
 
Therefore, “if we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). When we yield to some worldly temptation, it is because we have ignored this admonition, for the promise is “walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). The very presence of the Holy Spirit assures our eternal salvation, so how can we ignore His holy constraints on our behavior? “Grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). We speak of worshiping God in church, or home, or elsewhere, but if we really worship Him, we must “worship God in the spirit” (Philippians 3:3), for we have access to the Father, and the Son, only in the Spirit.
 
When we pray, we must be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18). “Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. . . . For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:9, 14). HMM
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« Reply #5720 on: March 13, 2017, 09:07:56 AM »

Lean Not

“For, behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water.” (Isaiah 3:1)
 
Isaiah lived and wrote during a time of spiritual poverty in the nations of Judah and Israel, as well as national decline. He foresaw and foretold in graphic detail the coming captivities of both nations, but was particularly concerned with the state and future of his homeland, Judah, and his hometown, Jerusalem.
 
The first several chapters of his book consist of a strong denunciation of the practices of the people of Judah. The nation was literally disintegrating due to rampant sin. In preparation for the coming national and ultimate judgments, Isaiah warned against personal pride and reliance on human resources. “The loftiness of man shall be . . . made low: and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day” (2:17).
 
In our text, the words “stay” and “staff” are the masculine and feminine forms of the same word, both derived from the word meaning “support,” translated “stay of bread.” Thus, Isaiah uses this idiom and the next several verses to teach that God will remove any semblance of support for this sinful people, whether mighty man, soldier, judge, prophet, seer, elder, captain, artist, orator, or mature ruler (3:2-4), for the purpose of humbling them, “the people shall be oppressed, . . . every one by his neighbour” (v. 5), and demonstrating that the Lord, Jehovah Himself, could be their only real stay or staff. “In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious” (4:2).
 
The word “stay” is elsewhere translated “lean,” “rely,” or “rest.” “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). JDM
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« Reply #5721 on: March 14, 2017, 09:28:48 AM »

Stir Up

“Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance.” (2 Peter 1:13)
 
It is apparently rather easy, in this day of football games, rock concerts, and race riots, to get the emotions of a crowd all stirred up. The stirring of emotions can be either good or bad, of course, depending on the cause.
 
In our text, the apostle Peter says we need to be stirred up by our memories—that is, our remembrances of His “great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.” For “he that lacketh these things,” said Peter, “hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” and urgently needs “to have these things always in remembrance” (vv. 4, 9, 15).
 
Something else needs to be stirred up, said Paul to Timothy. “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God” (2 Timothy 1:6). Each believer has received certain gifts from God, but these need to be stirred up and used both boldly and wisely for Christ.
 
Finally, Peter says that the purpose in writing both his epistles was to “stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour” (2 Peter 3:1-2). This was written especially for “the last days” (v. 3), indicating that they should stir up, not their emotions, but their minds! To meet the critical needs of the last days, they should have their minds full of the Scriptures of both Old and New Testaments. These Scriptures should even be memorized, if possible, so they can be called up “by way of remembrance” whenever needed. The Holy Scriptures are simple enough to be received by a child, yet they can stir up our minds with their heights and depths, and will stir our hearts as well. HMM
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« Reply #5722 on: March 15, 2017, 08:22:51 AM »

A Bondslave and a Freeman

“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.” (Romans 1:1)
 
Paul identified himself as a “servant [literally ‘bondslave’] of Jesus Christ” as he began several of his epistles; and it is significant that he began the epistle to the Romans in the same fashion. The parallel phrase “bondslave of the emperor” was commonly used in governmental and commercial circles of the day, and the readers in Rome would fully understand the meaning of the new term.
 
The emperor of Rome not only was to be obeyed as a human slave owner and king, he also was to be worshiped as a god. Paul boldly proclaimed himself to be the bondslave of a different slave owner, the subject of a different King, and the worshiper of a different God.
 
Paul knew and expected to convince his readers that this new doctrine he was preaching would quickly replace the imperialism of Rome, and he fully realized that this challenge would quickly be recognized and fought by Rome. Paul himself, not many years hence, would stand before the emperor Nero, not as an imperial bondslave, but a bondslave of the King of kings.
 
Long before Nero’s executioner freed Paul from the limitations of his physical body, Paul had been made a “freeman of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:22). The common title of the day “freedman of the emperor” designated a bondslave of the emperor who had been elevated by the emperor to a higher position.
 
Paul had been, and all believers have been, ransomed out of the slave market of sin by Christ’s blood and have been set free from the guilt, power, and penalty of that sin. Our willing response should be to permanently place ourselves into enslavement to our Redeemer, making us simultaneously both bondslaves and freedmen of the King. JDM
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« Reply #5723 on: March 16, 2017, 08:40:56 AM »

David's Army

“David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him. And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.” (1 Samuel 22:1-2)
 
As David was fleeing for his life from King Saul, a rather pitiful and unpromising company began following him, and they became the nucleus of what would soon be his army. Others joined them, and David trained them, “for at that time day by day there came to David to help him, until it was a great host, like the host of God” (1 Chronicles 12:22). Soon they were no longer discontented misfits but a remarkable array of “mighty men” (v. 21). One group, for example, was said to be “men of war fit for the battle, . . . whose faces were like the faces of lions, and were as swift as the roes upon the mountains” (1 Chronicles 12:8).
 
In many remarkable ways David was a type of Christ, his life foreshadowing the experiences of the greater “son of David” who would come a thousand years later. In such a parallel, his army is a type of the earthly “host of God,” the great company of those who have chosen to follow Christ, each of whom has been called to “endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).
 
The followers of Christ were once also in distress, for the “base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen” (1 Corinthians 1:28). He is now “the captain of their salvation” (Hebrews 2:10), urging that each one should strive to “please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:4). When He is finally ready to take the Kingdom, these will be with Him in His triumphant return and eternal reign (Revelation 19:14; 22:5). HMM
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« Reply #5724 on: March 17, 2017, 09:36:09 AM »

He Who Made the Stars

“Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name.” (Amos 5:8)
 
This striking exhortation is inserted in the midst of a prophetic rebuke by God of His people Israel. They were rapidly drifting into pagan idolatry, and Amos was trying to call them back.
 
His exhortation, given almost 2,800 years ago, is more needed today than it ever was before. Modern pagan scientists have developed elaborate but absurdly impossible theories about the chance origin of the universe from nothing, and the evolution of stars, planets, and people from primordial hydrogen. But the mighty cosmos and its galaxies of stars—even the very constellations, such as Orion and the Pleiades (the “seven stars”), as well as the solar system—were made. All of these had to be made by an omniscient, omnipotent Creator, who certainly had a glorious purpose for it all.
 
Similarly, the global evidences that waters once covered all the earth’s mountains (i.e., marine fossils and water-laid sediments at their summits) cannot possibly be explained—as evolutionary geologists try to do—by slow processes acting over aeons of time. God, the Creator, had to call massive volumes of water forth from their original reservoirs and pour them out on the earth in His Flood judgment on a rebellious world.
 
All of these witness to the fact of creation and judgment, not to impotent “gods” personifying natural forces. Men urgently need to seek the true God of creation and salvation before judgment falls again, for “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). HMM
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« Reply #5725 on: March 18, 2017, 09:13:25 AM »

The Flesh of a Little Child

“Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” (2 Kings 5:14)
 
The familiar story of Naaman the Syrian was cited by the Lord Jesus as an example of God’s concern for people of all nations: “Many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus [Elisha] the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:27). It is also a striking picture of salvation.
 
Naaman was a great and highly acclaimed general but nevertheless was stricken with an incurable and loathsome disease. Similarly, any natural man, no matter how powerful, is afflicted with the lethal disease of sin. Before this proud official could be cured of his leprosy, he had to humble himself in several ways. First, he had to accept the advice of a slave girl from an enemy nation; then journey to that nation and its prophet, whose God his own nation had repudiated; travel still farther at the word of the prophet (who would not even come out to meet him); and, finally, immerse himself seven times in the despised river Jordan. Though he resented being so humiliated, his condition was hopeless otherwise, so he finally did all these things, and God marvelously healed him!
 
The leprous flesh became as the flesh of a little child again, but first he had to manifest the obedient faith of a little child. The same principle is true for every lost sinner. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10). Jesus said, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4). HMM
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« Reply #5726 on: March 19, 2017, 10:19:46 AM »

The Terror of the Lord

“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.” (2 Corinthians 5:11)
 
The use of the English word “terror” in this verse as a translation of the Greek phobos (from which we get our word “phobia”) indicates that the frequent Old Testament phrase “fear of the LORD” means much more than implied in the modern euphemism “reverential trust.” The only other New Testament use of this phrase is in Acts 9:31: “Then had the churches rest . . . and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.”
 
These two passages seem to be informing us that when a church is “walking in the terror of the Lord,” its members will be seeking every means whereby to “persuade men” to come to Christ, and therefore its numbers will increase.
 
This impassioned persuasion of the lost is motivated by knowledge that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). That is, we know that the Lord Jesus, who died for lost sinners and has commissioned us to tell them of His great salvation, will be highly displeased if we don’t do so, or if our testimony is compromised by our selfish lives. At His judgment seat, “the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. . . . If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:13, 15).
 
The terror of the Lord, when we appear before Him in that day, is not the only motive for witnessing, of course. “The love of Christ constraineth us,” and when our testimony is received (our motives being “manifest unto God” and even to the “consciences” of those to whom we witness), then the glorious result is “a new creature” in Christ! (2 Corinthians 5:14, 17). HMM
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« Reply #5727 on: March 20, 2017, 08:32:47 AM »

Statement of Christ's Purpose

“For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:15)
 
Schools, businesses, and institutions are all well-advised to develop and live by a “statement of purpose” if they are to be successful, evaluating each activity by its effectiveness in fulfilling that purpose.
 
As Christians, we should also have a well-defined purpose. Each individual’s specific purpose will vary somewhat, depending on that person’s giftedness, background, and circumstances; but since Christ is our example, each Christian’s statement of purpose should reflect His priorities and values.
 
In many ways, Mark’s gospel provides the most vivid and explicit insight into the work of Jesus, and in this book we see Jesus often repeating His statement of purpose. “Jesus came . . . preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying . . . repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15). Jesus Christ had come with the specific purpose of saving the lost, and everything He did pointed to that end. “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (2:17).
 
Christ not only preached to sinners, but He trained and sent out His followers to see that His mission was effectively carried out, even after He was gone. “And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth. . . . And they went out, and preached that men should repent” (6:7, 12). Regarding His approaching death, He explained: “The Son of man came . . . to give his life a ransom for many” (10:45). As He left them, He commanded, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (16:15).
 
Our priorities should be the same as His. If everything we do points toward this end, His mission will thereby be accomplished. “Whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (8:35). JD
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« Reply #5728 on: March 21, 2017, 09:49:42 AM »

By Any Means

“And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west.” (Acts 27:12)
 
This seemingly insignificant phrase “by any means” (Greek ei pos) is actually used to express the urgency of attaining some object sought, along with the means for its attainment. It occurs just four times in the New Testament, and it is interesting that these four occurrences seem to follow a significant order.
 
The first of them is in our text above and expresses a search for physical comfort, as the mariners, transporting Paul to Rome, sought by any means to find a convenient place to spend the winter.
 
The second expresses Paul’s search for spiritual ministry. When Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, he told them of his constant prayers: “Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established” (Romans 1:10-11).
 
Thirdly, there was his search for conversion of others. “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them” (Romans 11:13-14).
 
Finally, and most importantly, there was Paul’s (and, Lord willing, may it be ours also!) search for a Christ-centered life. “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11). HMM
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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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« Reply #5729 on: March 22, 2017, 09:29:15 AM »

The Word of the King

“Where the word of a king is, there is power: and who may say unto him, What doest thou?” (Ecclesiastes 8:4)
 
Perhaps the archetype of absolute monarchs was Babylonia’s King Nebuchadnezzar, of whom the prophet Daniel could say, “Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory” (Daniel 2:37). The word of this and every true king was with power, the king being answerable to no man but himself, for his authority came from God. “For there is no power but of God” (Romans 13:1). Many kings have had to learn this truth the hard way, however, for they have found that God could remove them as quickly as He had ordained them when they abused that power.
 
But there is one King who will never fall; one “who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings; . . . to whom be honour and power everlasting” (1 Timothy 6:15-16). The Lord Jesus Christ has asserted, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18), and one day all creatures in heaven and Earth will acknowledge: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things” (Revelation 4:11). In that day all “the kingdoms of this world [shall] become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).
 
This one, who is King of all kings, is also the One who is “called The Word of God” (Revelation 19:13). The word of this King is of such power that He could speak the mighty cosmos into existence. His word could calm a violent storm and call Lazarus back from death.
 
“The word of God is quick, and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12), and “his word was with power” (Luke 4:32). Therefore, “all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20). HMM
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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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