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« Reply #5760 on: April 22, 2017, 07:49:45 AM »

Joy in the Christian Life

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” (John 15:11)
 
The word “fun” is never mentioned in the Bible, and “entertain” is used only in reference to being hospitable. Such activities as “reveling” and “playing” receive nothing except condemnation in the Scriptures (with the exception of little children at play).
 
Yet, there is growing emphasis today in many churches and parachurch organizations on providing “entertainment” and “fun times” for their members—especially for teenagers and young adults. This is the way to reach them and keep them for the Lord, so they say. Perhaps so, but one wonders why neither the Lord nor the apostles nor the prophets ever told us so. Is this a program kept in reserve by the Lord just for the young people of this generation?
 
Actually, Christians can have something far better, more effective, and more lasting than fun and entertainment. In Christ, they can have heavenly joy! “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine,” the Bible says (Proverbs 17:22), where the word for “merry” is more commonly translated as “joyful” or “rejoicing.”
 
While the Bible never mentions “fun,” it has many references to “joy” and “rejoicing.” Here are just a few. “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16). “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). “For the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
 
We must remind ourselves continually that the Lord Jesus daily, through His words, shares His joy with us, “that [our] joy might be full.” HMM
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« Reply #5761 on: April 23, 2017, 08:52:08 AM »

The Godhead

“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9)
 
The term “Godhead” occurs three times in the King James translation. Each time it translates a slightly different Greek noun, all being slight modifications of the Greek word for “God” (theos, from which we derive such English words as “theology”). It essentially means the nature, or “structure,” of God, as He has revealed Himself in His Word.
 
The first occurrence is in Acts 17:29: “We ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” Men have been guilty throughout the ages of trying to “model” the Godhead, but this leads quickly to idolatry, whether that model is a graven image of wood or stone or a philosophical construct of the human mind.
 
What man cannot do, however, God has done, in the very structure of His creation. “The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20). His tri-universe (space, matter, and time, with each component unique in definition and function, yet permeating and comprising the whole) perfectly “models” His triune nature (Father, Son, Holy Spirit—each distinct, yet each the whole).
 
This analogy can be carried much further, for this remarkable triunity pervades all reality. The tri-universe is not God (that would be pantheism), but it does clearly reflect and reveal the triune nature of His Godhead.
 
The last occurrence of the word is in our text. Although we cannot see the Godhead in its fullness, that fullness does dwell eternally in the Lord Jesus Christ. All that God is, is manifest in Him. “And ye are complete in him” (Colossians 2:10). HMM
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« Reply #5762 on: April 24, 2017, 09:38:51 AM »

The Works of the Lord

“Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.” (Psalm 111:1)
 
The first phrase of this majestic psalm of praise, “praise ye the LORD,” translates the compound Hebrew word hallelujah. The psalm in its entirety boasts about the works of the Lord (i.e., Jehovah) in various realms.
 
The psalmist promises to praise the Lord with his entire being, wholeheartedly extolling His works. He will do so in two spheres. First, in “the assembly of the upright,” where “assembly” refers to an intimate circle of friends of like faith. Secondly, in the larger “congregation” called together for that purpose.
 
The next three verses identify some of the praiseworthy acts of God, each verse employing a different word for “works.” The word translated “works” in verse two usually refers to God’s “great” handiwork in creation, well suited for careful study (i.e., “sought out”), bringing “pleasure” to all those who recognize that “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). (Incidentally, this verse two of Psalm 111 is inscribed on the entrance to the famous Cavendish Physics Laboratory in Cambridge.)
 
The word for “work” in verse three implies an ongoing practice and carries the connotation of His providential acts. He reigns in righteousness, honor, and glory over all His creation.
 
Finally, the phrase “wonderful works” (v. 4) usually refers to God’s great redemptive acts on behalf of His people Israel (vv. 5-6, 9), as well as all those who put their trust in Him (see Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, 31, for example). Surely “the LORD is gracious and full of compassion” (v. 4).
 
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: . . . his praise endureth for ever” (v. 10). JDM
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« Reply #5763 on: April 25, 2017, 10:26:32 AM »

The Spirit and the Word

“But 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.” (Romans 8:9)
 
As we see in our text, the Holy Spirit indwells every one who is a true believer, a child of God. Each believer is born again through “the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21), for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
 
But the role of the Spirit of God and the Word of God in our salvation only begins the Christian’s relationship to them, for we are enjoined to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) in the same sense that a drunkard is filled with and controlled by wine, and to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16). These two entities equip us to be effective representatives of Him here on Earth.
 
Note, however, that in both of these passages the immediate results of such controlling input are the same. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms [primarily the Old Testament psalms] and hymns [songs of praise directed to God] and spiritual songs [a generic word for song, but here ‘spiritual’ songs], singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19), and “teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). A Spirit-filled Christian, knowledgeable in the Word, just can’t quit singing!
 
Nor can he stop “giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20; see also Colossians 3:17).
 
May we always manifest the work of the Spirit and the knowledge of the Word by our thankful hearts and the songs on our lips. JDM
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« Reply #5764 on: April 26, 2017, 09:42:22 AM »

Ancient Times

“I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.” (Psalm 77:5)
 
The Bible provides for us a fascinating perspective on the passage of time. Three thousand years ago, the psalmist was reflecting on God’s ways in even earlier times and was seeking to understand God’s ways in his time. Each new generation seems to think that it is the “new wave,” leading the world out of its past darkness into a new age of enlightenment.
 
There is need for scientific research, of course (in fact, this is implied in the “dominion mandate” of Genesis 1:26-28), but we need to keep in mind that true science is really “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” The results of our scientific “discoveries” should always be to glorify the Creator and to draw men closer to Him, not lead them away from Him.
 
The same is true of history. We are merely the children of ancient patriarchs, and our moral natures are the same as theirs, all contaminated by inherent sinfulness and the need for divine salvation. God dealt with them as He does with us, so that every later generation needs to study and learn from the generations of ancient times and from God’s inspired histories of them in the earliest books of the Bible—especially Genesis, as well as Exodus, Job, and other ancient books. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
 
God is the same today as He was in Eden, on Mount Ararat, in Babel, and Canaan, and Sinai, and Calvary. “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalm 90:1-2). HMM
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« Reply #5765 on: April 27, 2017, 08:44:10 AM »

Christ the King

“But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.” (Luke 19:14)
 
In this parable, the nobleman who had gone into a far country to receive his kingdom is a picture of Christ in the interim between His first and second comings. The “citizens” of His Kingdom, however, refuse His Kingship. Nevertheless, He is the King, and when He returns, those “enemies, which would not that I should reign over them” (v. 27) will be slain. How much better to accept Him now!
 
The first title ascribed to Him was “King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). Long before that, however, He was King of creation. “For God is the King of all the earth, . . . a great King above all gods. . . . The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land” (Psalm 47:7; 95:3, 5).
 
He is also King of redemption, providing salvation for the world He created. “For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth” (Psalm 74:12). “[The Father] hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).
 
He is not only King of all the worlds, but also King of all the ages. He is “my King of old” and also “King for ever” (Psalm 10:16). He is “the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God” (1 Timothy 1:17).
 
He is “King of saints” (Revelation 15:3), the “LORD of hosts, my King, and my God” (Psalm 84:3). Indeed, He is “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15). Therefore, let His citizens say: “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Revelation 5:13). HMM
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« Reply #5766 on: April 28, 2017, 09:38:48 AM »

Forty Days

“To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:3)
 
It is interesting how often the Scriptures refer to a 40-day period. There are nine different 40-day periods noted in Scripture (the phrase itself occurs 17 times), and it may be noteworthy that 40 days is 1/9 of the original (and prophetic) lunar/solar year of 360 days (note Genesis 7:11; 8:3-4; Revelation 11:2-3). Thus, the total of the nine 40-day periods equals the ideal year.
 
The periods are as follows: the intense rainfall at the Flood (Genesis 7:12, 17); the first giving of the law (Exodus 24:18; Deuteronomy 9:9, 11); the second giving of the law (Exodus 34:28; Deuteronomy 9:18, 25); the searching of Canaan by the fearful spies (Numbers 13:25; 14:34); the defiance of Israel by Goliath (1 Samuel 17:16); Elijah’s journey to Horeb (1 Kings 19:Cool; Jonah’s reluctant preaching in Nineveh (Jonah 3:4); Christ’s temptation in the wilderness (Matthew 4:2; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:2); Christ’s post-resurrection ministry (Acts 1:3).
 
Each of these periods was a time of intense testing for one or more of God’s people, except the last. The final 40-day period, encompassing Christ’s ministry to His disciples after His resurrection, was a time of triumph and great blessing. He had come victoriously through the most intense time of testing that anyone could ever experience, and now He could show Himself alive eternally to His disciples and promise them the same victory. Forty days of testing, then 40 days of triumph! Even a lifetime of testing is more than balanced by an eternity of blessing. “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). HMM
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« Reply #5767 on: April 29, 2017, 09:16:56 AM »

And Forty Nights

“And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” (Genesis 7:12)
 
There are nine 40-day periods in Scripture, but on only five of these the notation “and forty nights” is added. On the other four occasions (the spies in Canaan, Goliath’s challenges, Jonah in Nineveh, and the post-resurrection ministry of Christ), we can assume that the activity ceased at night. But on these five it continued unabated.
 
The first of these was the great Flood. The most intense rains ever experienced on the earth poured torrentially, night and day. One can visualize the stress-filled nights for Noah’s family, with the cries of the dying outside, and no light of the sun or moon to pierce the outer darkness. But, of course, they were all safe in God’s specially designed Ark.
 
Many years later, Moses twice spent 40 days and 40 nights in the awful presence of God on Mount Sinai, receiving the divinely inscribed tablets, with the Ten Commandments and all the laws of God. The mountain was intermittently quaking and breathing fire and smoke while he was there, and the nights were surely more awesome even than the days, but God was there!
 
Elijah spent 40 days and 40 nights traveling back from Beersheba to Sinai, even though this relatively short journey would not normally require 40 days. Evidently Elijah experienced great hardships and obstacles along the way and many sleepless nights, but God met him again at Sinai, and it was worth it all.
 
Finally, the Lord Jesus (God Himself!) was “led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil . . . forty days and forty nights” (Matthew 4:1-2). In weakened human flesh, without food or rest, this was a greater trial than any of the rest, but He was triumphant, and then the “angels came and ministered unto him” (Matthew 4:11). HMM
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« Reply #5768 on: April 30, 2017, 08:57:26 AM »

Christ the Foundation

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11)
 
The only sure and lasting foundation for either a Christian institution or an individual Christian life is the Lord Jesus Christ. No other foundation will endure in that coming day when “the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (v. 13).
 
It is vital, therefore, to build on the foundation that Christ Himself has laid. This is laid in three courses, each of which is essential for its permanence. First of all, we must acknowledge with the apostle that “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands” (Hebrews 1:10). He is the Creator of all things, and therefore Lord over all.
 
Second, we must acknowledge with Peter that we have been “redeemed . . . with the precious blood of Christ . . . who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:18-20). His foreordained work of redemption thus was foundational even to the foundation of the world!
 
Then there is the Word of God, which is foundational to everything beyond creation and redemption. “Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them. . . . He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock” (Luke 6:47-48).
 
The Lord Jesus Christ is the true foundation, for He has Himself laid every sure foundation. He created all things, His shed blood is the price to redeem all things, and His written Word, by His Holy Spirit, reveals all things needed to build a beautiful, fruitful Christian life or ministry. No other foundation will last, and “if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3). HMM
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« Reply #5769 on: May 01, 2017, 08:02:50 AM »

The Power in Us

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” (Ephesians 3:20)
 
This amazing assurance of God’s unlimited ability to answer our prayers is related to a unique “power [Greek dunamis] that worketh in us.” Paul had used the same word twice before in this same epistle, speaking of “the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe” and “the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power” (Ephesians 1:19; 3:7). “Effectual working” in the original is one word, energeia, from which we get our word “energy.”
 
Such power working in us is actually nothing less than the presence of God Himself. Its very first occurrence is in the model prayer. “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever” (Matthew 6:13). It is this “power of God unto salvation” that is received when we first believe on Christ through the gospel (Romans 1:16). It has been so ever since the fulfillment of Christ’s promise when He told His disciples that “ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:8).
 
This remarkable power of God is thus imparted to us and energized in us by the Holy Spirit. Because of this, we can be filled “with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13). Furthermore, He thereby provides impregnable security for time and eternity, for we “are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5).
 
With such a resource of unlimited spiritual power working in us, God is able indeed to accomplish far more than we can ever imagine, as He works in and through those yielded to His will. HMM
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« Reply #5770 on: May 02, 2017, 08:45:34 AM »

The Trinity in Salvation

“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:14)
 
There are a number of significant references to the work of all three Persons of the Trinity in the great work of salvation. Note the implicit reference to the Trinity in our text: “The blood of Christ . . . through the eternal Spirit offered . . . to God.” There is also a beautiful Trinitarian implication in Ephesians 2:18: “For through [Christ] we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”
 
The promise of Christ to send the Holy Spirit is a high point of the gospel of John. “I will pray the Father,” said the Lord Jesus, “and he shall give you another Comforter” (Greek parakletos, meaning “one called alongside”), “that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16). “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things” (John 14:26). “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me” (John 15:26).
 
It seems very clear from such Scriptures that all three—Father, Son, Holy Spirit—are each distinct persons. Yet that the three together are one God is also clear from the fact that they are identified by name as One. Converts are to be baptized “in the name [note the singular—one name] of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19). Note also the benediction formula. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen” (2 Corinthians 13:14). What we cannot fully understand in our minds of this wonderful triune Godhead, we can understand and believe with our hearts. HMM
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« Reply #5771 on: May 03, 2017, 09:01:51 AM »

Action Verbs

“Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-20)
 
This passage is similar to others (e.g., Deuteronomy 6:6–9) throughout Moses’ writings and concerns the preserving and propagating of the news of God’s miraculous protection of the people of Israel and the marvelous legal code He had revealed to them. We can understand better the care by which this preservation was to take place by noting the action verbs used in this passage.
 
First, the people were to “lay up” or impress the information in their hearts and souls. Every fiber of their being was to be aware of and in submission to the law. This personal commitment was to be aided by physical reminders “bound” on each person’s hands and clothing, in plain sight, so that it could not be ignored or forgotten.
 
Next, the personal saturation was to move from the family leaders into the family, particularly the children. Parents were to “teach” the law, “speaking” of it at every opportunity, whether sitting, walking, lying down, or rising up. In this way, the personal would become corporate.
 
Finally, it was to become public, for each was instructed to “write” portions of the law where all could see and know of the personal commitment within.
 
Before God will give us a public ministry, there must be an inner submission to and love for the things of God. This should be obvious to everyone around us. Then God can use us at home and elsewhere to His glory. JDM
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« Reply #5772 on: May 04, 2017, 09:08:54 AM »

Forsake and Follow

“Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.” (Luke 5:10-11)
 
Perhaps we take too lightly the fact that the disciples “forsook all, and followed him.” This action involved at least two aspects, the leaving of their former life and the realignment of their loyalty.
 
The word “forsook” is used in a variety of extreme situations, including the “putting away” of a spouse (1 Corinthians 7:11-12; also “leave,” v. 13), and even death. “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up [same word] the ghost” (Matthew 27:50). This leaving implies a complete severing of a situation or relationship.
 
Furthermore, they forsook all. For Peter, James, John, and Andrew, this involved leaving a prosperous business; for Matthew, a prestigious position of wealth; i.e., their careers. Certainly each left their livelihood, security, training, possessions, relationships, hopes—everything! “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).
 
Next, the disciples needed to restructure their lives and loyalties to those of Christ. The word “follow” implies a unity of purpose and direction. Jesus told the rich young ruler to give up all vestiges of his materialistic life “and come, take up the cross, and follow me” (Mark 10:21).
 
Christ issues the same call to discipleship to each of us. Peter asked Him the question which we frequently ask. “Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?” (Matthew 19:27). Christ answered, “Every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (v. 29). JDM
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« Reply #5773 on: May 05, 2017, 09:26:16 AM »

Spirit, Soul, Body

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
 
The threefold nature of mankind reflects, to a degree, the triune nature of the Godhead. Just as each member of the triune God is complete and wholly God, yet distinct, so each aspect of mankind is also the whole, yet distinct. The body of man comprises the entire man, yet he also possesses certain soulish emotions, desires, and propensities; and finally, the total man is endowed with a spiritual, eternal nature, somehow reflecting the image of God.
 
These three reflect the three great creative acts of God during creation week, identified by the three usages of the Hebrew word bara, or create. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1); i.e., physical material. Later, certain of this physical material was granted consciousness (1:21), which man shares with animals. On the sixth day, man was created as a spiritual being “in the image of God” (1:27), setting him qualitatively distinct from the animals, though he shares body and consciousness with the animals.
 
As in our text, when the “God of peace” sets about the task of sanctifying representatives of sinful, fallen mankind, restoring such ones to a measure of Christ-likeness, He does so in the order mentioned, beginning with a spiritual awakening. Then, through the transformed spirit, the soul is reached, and finally the body, with its appetites and lusts.
 
The wisdom of man says just the opposite, claiming the inner man can be improved by changing outside influences, a mentality all too often reflected even in evangelistic efforts. God’s way is to start with the inner man—the root of the problem—and then affect the outer man. JDM
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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 #5774 on: May 07, 2017, 09:32:19 AM »

He Counted Me Faithful

“And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” (1 Timothy 1:12)
 
The testimony of a changed life is perhaps the best evidence that God is alive and active today. The fact that at salvation a dead slave to sin is given life and a new nature comprises the only rational explanation for one who lives in victory and power after a lifetime of defeat.
 
Take Paul, for example. Our introduction to him is at the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:58), after which his ardor for the Jewish traditions and hatred of Christianity caused him to wreak “havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison” (Acts 8:3). This was not just casual opposition, for he was “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1). He was a “blasphemer, and a persecutor [not only of Christians, but of Christ Himself—Acts 9:5], and injurious” (1 Timothy 1:13).
 
However, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I [Paul] am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15), he said. Paul “obtained mercy” (v. 13), not receiving the punishment he deserved, through “the grace of our Lord [which] was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (v. 14), even though he was not even seeking God (Acts 9:1-5).
 
To a greater or lesser degree, God has worked that same work of grace in each life that now belongs to Him. Paul called himself the chief of sinners, but each of us has done or has been capable of equally heinous acts. Through His grace, we are not only rescued from addiction to sin, but rehabilitated and empowered and given, as we see in our text, missions to accomplish that are of eternal significance. Let us “thank Christ Jesus our Lord” with Paul. JDM
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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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