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« Reply #5775 on: May 08, 2017, 10:12:34 AM »

Watching for Christ’s Return

“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. . . . Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” (Matthew 24:42, 44)
 
Those who try to predict Christ’s return may become skeptical about biblical prophecy. But this would be a sad mistake. Regardless of just when it will happen, Christ will return, for so He promised, and He cannot either lie or fail. He has repeatedly made it plain that no one can determine the date of His coming. Not even He, while in His human limitations, knew that (Mark 13:32).
 
Again and again He urged us to watch and be ready for His return. He did not tell us to watch for the Antichrist or the revival of Rome’s empire or a great apostasy or a great revival or a world government or anything else—just for Him! Note some of His commands to do this (in addition to the two in our text):
 
“Take ye heed, watch and pray, for ye know not when the time is” (Mark 13:33).
 
“Watch ye therefore: . . . Lest coming suddenly, he find you sleeping” (Mark 13:35-36).
 
“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:13).
 
In addition to such exhortations by the Lord Himself, the apostles also sounded similar warnings:
 
“Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:28).
 
“Abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28).
 
Space limitations preclude listing others, but again in the words of Christ: “And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch” (Mark 13:37). HMM
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« Reply #5776 on: May 09, 2017, 08:44:39 AM »

The Promise of Liberty

“While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” (2 Peter 2:19)
 
This chapter consists of a strong denunciation of false teachers. They are, among other things, sensuous, beguiling, covetous, and accursed (v. 14). They desire personal wealth (vv. 15-16), but their message is empty, and even destructive, and will be judged (v. 17), appealing to the pride and lusts of their hearers (v. 18).
 
In our text we see the false teachers are quick to make promises. Promises are cheap; they cost nothing. Satan first revealed himself to mankind with a promise: “Ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:5), and later attempted to seduce the Son of God with “all the kingdoms of the world” (Matthew 4:8). Empty promises are Satan’s golden hook, and many are the foolish ones who take the bait.
 
In this case, the false teachers promise liberty—liberty to act without the shackles of responsibility and moral law. But they themselves are “servants of corruption,” slaves of a most abhorrent mentality. And who are they to offer liberty? These are indeed “great swelling words of vanity” (2 Peter 2:18), for slaves cannot rightly offer liberty.
 
How is this promise kept? Bondage. Bondage to that which has overcome. The liberty that sin promises is slavery, and the greater the sinner, the greater the bondage to the sin. There is perhaps no more wretched a state than to be in bondage to abject corruption in the name of liberty. It is a bondage of the spirit; a captivity of the soul. Of all states of slavery, it is the most lasting.
 
On the other hand, through grace we can “stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free,” with no need to be “entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). JDM
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« Reply #5777 on: May 10, 2017, 08:15:58 AM »

A Test for False Prophets

“Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.” (Deuteronomy 13:4)
 
Our text for today seems somewhat out of place, for it is tucked into a passage dealing with false prophets: instructing the people of Israel in ways to detect one who would lead them into false worship. The penalty was death, “because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt” (v. 10). The purpose was both purification and example, for “all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you” (v. 11).
 
The chief test of a prophet was not his ability to perform signs and wonders (v. 1). Elsewhere the test of total, lifelong accuracy was applied. “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously. . . . that prophet shall die” (Deuteronomy 18:22, 20). A more immediate test lay in the absolute harmony of the prophet’s message and deeds with the revealed Word of God, and the wholehearted commitment to the Lord Himself. This test takes the form of the holy standard set forth in our text.
 
Note that an inward attitude will be expressed, as given in the six action verbs. If we are to please God, we must “walk after” or “pursue” Him, and “fear” or “reverence” Him in all things. Furthermore, we must “keep” His commandments, striving to “obey” Him on every issue He addresses. He expects such a one to “serve” Him: to do His bidding. Finally, we must “cleave” or “cling” to Him, holding fast to Him in an ever-deepening relationship. To do less is to fail the test used to discern false prophets, incurring at the least His displeasure; at the most His wrath. JDM
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« Reply #5778 on: May 11, 2017, 08:41:08 AM »

Things We Cannot Do Without

“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:20)
 
There are many things in life we can well do without, but there are at least seven things a Christian simply cannot do without. These are:
 
1. The Lord Jesus Christ. Speaking of the heathen nations before Christ, Paul said: “At that time ye were without Christ, . . . having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).
 
2. Christ’s shed blood. “Without shedding of blood is no remission.” “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, . . . But with the precious blood of Christ” (Hebrews 9:22; 1 Peter 1:18-19).
 
3. Christ’s sinlessness. The Lord Jesus “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Therefore, He could die for our sins.
 
4. Faith in Christ. “Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is” (Hebrews 11:6).
 
5. Faith-generated works. True faith in Christ inevitably produces good works. As our text reminds us, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20).
 
6. True holiness. “Follow . . . holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Genuine faith in Christ both receives His imputed holiness and also generates practical holiness in the believer.
 
7. Heavenly chastisement. Unconfessed and unforsaken sin in a Christian’s life must receive chastisement from the Father. “If ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye . . . not sons” (Hebrews 12:8).
 
Without saving faith in the Lord, we have nothing of eternal value, but with Him, we have “all things” (1 Corinthians 3:21). HMM
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« Reply #5779 on: May 12, 2017, 09:18:17 AM »

The Linen Clothes

“Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.” (John 19:40)
 
The Jews of Jesus’ day prepared bodies for burial in a much different fashion than we do today. In our text the word “wound” actually means “to bind, tie, or wind,” and bodies were tightly rolled up in long strips of linen cloth. Parallel passages in Matthew 27:59, Mark 15:46, and Luke 23:53 employ words derived from the Greek hellisso, meaning “to coil,” from which we get our word “helix.”
 
The tightness of the winding can be inferred from the raising of Lazarus from the dead. After Christ had called him back to life, “he that was dead came forth, bound [same word as ‘wound’] hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go” (John 11:44).
 
On resurrection morning, after hearing the news of the missing body of Christ, Peter and John ran to the sepulcher. “Peter . . . went into the sepulcher, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped [same word as ‘wound’] together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple . . . and he saw, and believed” (John 20:6-8).
 
John recognized, as we should, that only a miracle could account for the state of these linen clothes. If thieves had stolen the body, they would either have taken the clothes, or the clothes would have been strewn around, not lying in the same location and shape as they had been when the body was present. Previously, John “knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead” (v. 9), but when he saw the linen clothes, he “believed.”
 
Christ miraculously rose from the dead. John believed; we have his eyewitness testimony. Can we do less? JDM
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« Reply #5780 on: May 13, 2017, 07:45:41 AM »

What Sort of Work

“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” (1 Corinthians 3:13)
 
This key verse of Scripture gives the principle by which God will evaluate our works in that great future day when all believers will be assembled before “the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10). The non-believer will be judged elsewhere, while this will be a judgment of believers only, for when the purifying fire tries our works, “if any man’s work abide . . . he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved” (1 Corinthians 3:14-15).
 
Note carefully the basis for determining rewards or loss of rewards. It is not the amount of work done—not the number of witnessing contacts or souls won to Christ, not the number of students taught in a school or the amount of money given to missions. Neither are rewards based on the type of work done; menial labor is no less eligible for heavenly rewards than is the ministry of the gospel.
 
The criterion of the eternal value of a believer’s work on Earth is what sort it is! That is, what is the motivation of the work, the sincerity, the dedication? The Greek word translated “sort” definitely conveys the meaning of quality rather than quantity of results or type of occupation. No matter the nature of the work, or its size, the question is, what sort is it? Jesus knows that “he that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10), and so He will “give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12).
 
Therefore, “whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24). HMM
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« Reply #5781 on: May 14, 2017, 08:52:56 AM »

The Mother of Us All

“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.” (Genesis 3:20)
 
Sarah, Abraham’s wife, was called the mother of all “the children of promise” (Galatians 4:28), and the wife of Noah was the mother of all post-Flood mankind, but Mother Eve, alone, was “the mother of all living.” “Adam was first formed, then Eve,” Paul said in 1 Timothy 2:13, and so-called “Christian evolutionists” have never yet been able to explain God’s unique formation of Eve’s body in any kind of an evolutionary context.
 
Eve, as our first mother, experienced all the great joys and great sorrows that all later mothers would know. She evidently had many “sons and daughters” (Genesis 5:4) and probably lived to see many generations of grandchildren. With Adam, she had even known paradise, but sin had entered their lives when they rebelled against God’s Word, and God had to say, “In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children” (Genesis 3:16). The greatest sorrow was no doubt when Cain slew Abel, and as with another mother whose Son’s innocent blood was shed many years later, it was like a sword piercing her own soul (Luke 2:35).
 
Nevertheless, as near as we can tell, after her first great sin, Eve trusted God’s Word henceforth and received His forgiveness and salvation. Later, as the mother of Seth, she taught him and her grandson, Enos, about the Lord and all His promises. “Then began men to call upon the name of the LORD” (Genesis 4:26).
 
Most Christian believers are looking forward to seeing their own mothers again someday—restating their love and appreciation for all they did in bearing them, and in caring, teaching, and praying for them. But it will be a wonderful experience to meet our first mother, also, as well as Sarah, Hannah, Mary, and all the other godly mothers of old. HMM
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« Reply #5782 on: May 15, 2017, 09:02:27 AM »

Rejoice

“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)
 
This encouraging command has been used in many generations of Sunday school teachings and sermons to challenge the saints. The apostle Paul uses nearly half of the 74 appearances of the word in the New Testament in his epistles.
 
This simple statement in Philippians 4:4 seems to summarize all of the other passages: “Rejoice [imperative command] in the Lord [the qualifier, or the ‘way’ to rejoice] always [in every circumstance and condition].” Joy is a godly thing.
 
Because of our sinful condition, we cannot easily “rejoice in the Lord.” We can have fleeting moments of happiness and experiences that fill our hearts with delight and pleasure, but true joy—the ability to “rejoice”—only comes “in the Lord.”
 
A quick review from the “Songs” of Israel can help us grasp how the righteous rejoice:

    “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.” (Psalm 32:11)
    “Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.” (Psalm 33:1)
    “Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified.” (Psalm 40:16)
    “My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed.” (Psalm 71:23)
    “Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.” (Psalm 97:12)

Joy and rejoicing from born-again believers produce emotion (gladness, cheering, praise, singing, thanks, etc.), but the object of the emotion is always the source of our joy—the Lord Jesus our Savior, King, and Creator. HMM III
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« Reply #5783 on: May 16, 2017, 07:55:01 AM »

Moderation

“Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” (Philippians 4:5)
 
There are three important aspects to this instruction. First, we are to be “moderate,” the core meaning of which is to be equitable or fair, with further associations of mild and gentle.
 
The Greek word rarely appears in the New Testament. Twice the qualifications of church leaders include this characteristic (1 Timothy 3:3 and Titus 3:2), both times stressing the “gentle” aspect of the term. Once, and importantly, the term is used in a broad sweep of adjectives outlining the “wisdom that is from above” (James 3:17)—all aspects, incidentally, fleshing out the idea of “fair” or “equitable.”
 
Secondly, today’s verse tells us to make our moderation “known unto all men.” That is demanding, since it is more difficult to apply equity to all people rather than just attempt to be fair and gentle in our dealings. Surely the Holy Spirit is insisting that our inner character be “moderate” so that the resulting actions will flow from a person’s character rather than his circumstance. As noted of those of the Corinthian church, they were “manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ” (2 Corinthians 3:3). Everybody “reads” us, and what others decide about us must include the reputation of fair and gentle behavior to all.
 
Finally, the reason that this requirement is so significant is because “the Lord is at hand.” Although a quick application might lead one to think “the Lord is coming back soon,” the time element is not at all implied in the sentence. A better translation may be “the Lord is alongside,” “He is close,” or even “the Lord is with you.” It is easy, sometimes, to forget that God indwells us through the Holy Spirit and that our every action and thought are known by our Creator (Psalm 139:3-4). HMM III
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« Reply #5784 on: May 17, 2017, 08:18:37 AM »

Careful for Nothing

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)
 
Many of us know those types of precious people who seem to thrive on making sure the details are right. They keep us careful, ensure our safety, and strengthen our plans, and yet that same strength can lead to anxiety, troubling our souls and dominating our lives. Our verse today warns us about this facet.
 
Our Lord gently admonished in Luke 10:41: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things.” Martha, Mary, and their brother Lazurus were longtime associates of the Lord Jesus. He had spent many hours in their home and had come to love them as close friends. No doubt Martha had often “given thought” to Christ’s visits and had been “in turmoil” over the details many times. But our gracious Lord saw the circumstances controlling Martha, and He softly insisted that she not lose the thing of greatest value by sacrificing the permanent on the altar of the immediate.
 
And that is the admonition in our text. Nothing should absorb us so much that we attempt to solve things on our own before submitting our requests to our Lord. Jesus made it pretty clear: “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on” (Matthew 6:25). Look around, our Lord insisted. The birds and the flowers can’t be altered by our “thoughts.”
 
After all that Job’s friends did to “encourage” him, our great Creator reminded Job of the many wonders that he could see if he paid attention. Nothing is beyond the care of our Lord. Sometimes, we need reminding, too. HMM III
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« Reply #5785 on: May 18, 2017, 10:47:32 AM »

Peaceful Security

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
 
This precious promise is rooted in the “garrison guard” that God will set around our hearts and minds through His peace. Imagine the war circle of angels “full of horses and chariots of fire round about” that Elisha spoke of (2 Kings 6:17).
 
And it is a war! “But I see another law in my members,” Paul wrote, “warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Romans 7:23). Were it not for the peace that exceeds human comprehension, we would quickly succumb to the fact that “in the world [we] shall have tribulation;” but Jesus also said, “be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
 
The “peace of God” is a supernatural peace, not a false calm of meditative hypnosis or a denial of the turmoil that surrounds the “roaring lion” who seeks to devour (1 Peter 5:8). This peace is from our Lord Jesus and “not as the world giveth” (John 14:27). It comes through the “things I have spoken unto you,” Jesus said, “that in me ye might have peace” (John 16:33).
 
Since, however, this kind of supernaturally guarded and God-given peace comes from and through the message of the Scriptures, this peace must “rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15). There can be no vacillation, no hesitation about the source, the authority, the capability, or the stability of such peace—or the war that rages in the members of our body will dissipate the vision of God’s garrison surrounding our hearts and minds. “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).
 
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:15). HMM III
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« Reply #5786 on: May 19, 2017, 08:42:05 AM »

Right Thinking

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, . . . honest, . . . just, . . . pure, . . . lovely, . . . of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
 
Our lives are surrounded with ungodliness and demands that often bleed away our thoughts until we are worn and weakened. Reflect for a few moments on this inventory of empowering thinking.

    Truth—Literally “that which is not hidden”; Jesus Himself (John 14:6); the Word of God (John 17:17; Psalm 119:11).
    Honesty—Not just accuracy, but “sober” and “venerable”; sometimes “magnificent” or “great”; used of church officers (1 Timothy 2:2; 3:8).
    Justice—Righteous, just, right, suitable; “The mouth of the just bringeth forth wisdom. . . . The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable” (Proverbs 10:31-32).
    Purity—Morally and sexually chaste; closely connected with “holiness”; the emphasis is on physical and mental purity (1 John 3:2).
    Loveliness—Beauty, friendship, delight, and wonder are all suggested by the “good love” of this word (Luke 12:27).
    Good News—This takes discipline, because there is far more bad news than good in this world; we are admonished to take “inventory” (dwell on, recall) the “good reports” (Proverbs 25:25).

These excellent and praiseworthy matters should dominate our thinking in a conscious “inventory” of the attributes on this final list. If we do so, God promises His peace in our lives. HMM III
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« Reply #5787 on: May 20, 2017, 07:46:30 AM »

Pay Attention

“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” (Philippians 4:9)
 
From earliest childhood, we learn by watching the actions and lives of others. First, of course, our parents, then our peers and educators, politicians, business leaders, musicians, celebrities—the list is nearly endless. We learn by what we receive, hear, and see.
 
Jesus said, “They shall be all taught of God” (John 6:45). The foundational learning process that enables the receiving and hearing of further truth must come first from God, through His Word and by the born-again believer. Paul’s young protégé, Timothy, first learned from his mother and grandmother about God, and then under Paul’s tutelage from the Scriptures (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15).
 
But the key to learning is active attention! One must first receive, hear, and see. Paul commended the Thessalonians because they “received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). The Bereans were “more noble” because they “searched the scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11). The wise preacher “gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs” (Ecclesiastes 12:9).
 
Information, however well absorbed, is worthless without applying that which is learned. The philosophers of Athens were scorned because they “spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21).
 
All of us must first be learners. Soon, however, we must work out our “own salvation with fear and trembling,” since God has chosen to work through us (Philippians 2:12-13). HMM III
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« Reply #5788 on: May 21, 2017, 09:13:14 AM »

Be Content

“I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Philippians 4:11)
 
The English word “content” can bring up thoughts of indifference and mild temperament. Modern usage tends to give “content” a negative connotation, as though such an attitude has little ambition or drive.
 
Not so of the Greek term that the Holy Spirit chose for this passage. It is composed of the pronoun for “self” and the noun for “sufficiency.” Both in Scripture and in secular Greek literature, the word demands an ability to conquer whatever circumstances that may oppose one’s purpose or goal and to continue through in spite of difficulties.
 
The context of our text is a prime example. Paul had experienced hunger and satisfaction. He knew what it meant to be obscure and to be a celebrity. There were times when he had more than enough resources to accomplish what he understood God had called him to do, and other times when resources were very scarce. In whatever state he found himself, Paul had learned to be self-sufficient.
 
Our problem is that we often are looking only at the physical and circumstantial issues and have not learned that our Lord Jesus provides grace that “is sufficient for thee: for [His] strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). The resources of the omnipotent Godhead are enough for us to “be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).
 
The self-sufficiency of the twice-born rests on the eternal fact that God “worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). HMM III
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« Reply #5789 on: May 22, 2017, 07:42:06 AM »

Christ's Strength

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)
 
This little verse gets quoted out of context a lot. It is used to justify bizarre plans and dreams, as well as to suggest that every Christian should be rich and healthy all the time. Not only are such applications without any support in Scripture, they are completely out of the context of this passage.
 
In the previous verses, Paul lists a variety of circumstances that he had faced, from poverty to wealth, learning to be “content” in each of these developments. Then he notes that he “can do all things” through the strength that the Lord provides during conflicting circumstances.
 
The “do” of this text is the prevailing of the power of God in which and by which we minister. “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament” (2 Corinthians 3:5-6).
 
The early church experienced a stunning growth in converts as it preached and testified of the resurrected Christ. This result, however, is due to the fact that the Word of God grew “mightily . . . and prevailed” (Acts 19:20).
 
Our fight is not a physical one. We wrestle against the great spiritual powers of wickedness that have their source in the heavenlies. The history of God’s people is replete with the battle that was begun in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve lost because they sought to deal with the issue on their own. We win or prevail only when we arm ourselves with God’s armor and become “strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10). HMM III
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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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