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« Reply #5835 on: July 07, 2017, 08:37:56 AM »

Walk—Don’t Walk

“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” (Ephesians 4:17-19)
 
In verses 1-3, Paul encourages believers to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” This humble, patient, loving, peaceful walk contrasts sharply with the walk described in our text.
 
The walk of those outside Christ is characterized by “the vanity of their mind”—empty, futile thinking. The same word for “vanity” is used elsewhere for those who deny the obvious evidence for creation, who “became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:21-22). They are ignorant and blind, our text says, with darkened understanding and a blind heart. This has led them into a position of alienation from God, dead to any prompting they might receive from within or without. The result of such a mindset is a shameless, reprobate lifestyle, full of lasciviousness, uncleanness, and greediness.
 
Thankfully, we “have not so learned Christ” (Ephesians 4:20). We are to be “renewed in the spirit of [our] mind” (v. 23) and walk aright. “Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us” (5:2). “Walk as children of light” (5:8). “Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise” (5:15), “filled with the Spirit” (5:18). Our Creator promises us an inward “new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (4:24). JDM
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« Reply #5836 on: July 08, 2017, 08:17:25 AM »

Careful Ephesus

“Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write;. . . I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.” (Revelation 2:1-2)
 
This church, founded by the apostle Paul, had grown in its doctrinal precision and careful attention to the words of Scripture. They were intensely focused on purity of leadership and were vigilant against any form of false teaching. Most of us would find that kind of church a refreshing example to follow in these days of indifferent (and often heretical) theology.
 
They hated the “deeds of the Nicolaitanes,” which was a horrible practice that the Lord Himself hated (Revelation 2:6). Peter had warned against this domineering attitude in his first general letter to the churches when he insisted that the elders of the churches should not be “lords over God’s heritage, but [be] ensamples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3).
 
Ephesus was a “good” church, but the risen Lord Jesus had “somewhat against” them. Apparently, amid all of their careful attention to doctrine and to purity of leadership lifestyle, they had “left [their] first love” (Revelation 2:4). They had fallen from the deep bond of love they had demonstrated years earlier when Paul called the elders to Miletus to encourage and exhort them to remain faithful to “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). They were so much in tune with Paul’s heart for the gospel that they “all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him” (Acts 20:37).
 
The drift away from that “first love” was so serious that the Lord warned Ephesus to repent or He would take away their “candlestick” (Revelation 2:5)—their authority to represent Christ as one of His churches. Cold, precise doctrine must never take away our love for people or for the truth. HMM III
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« Reply #5837 on: July 09, 2017, 08:41:59 AM »

Faithful Smyrna

“And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; . . . I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) . . . . Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer . . . be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Revelation 2:8-10)
 
The Lord Jesus recognized this struggling church, which is not mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament, as one of only two churches mentioned in the book of Revelation that did not receive any warning or condemnation.
 
He saw them very differently than our “church growth” movement might today. Many tend to envy the churches with big auditoriums or grand building programs. Most of the world praises those churches that are “emerging” from the restraints of godliness and churches that are “driven” to attract and please the ungodly.
 
Smyrna was poor, troubled by those who hated God’s message, and suffered tribulation for their works. Some were thrown into prison for their willingness to be identified with the truth. Generations have passed since anything like that has happened to churches in the Western world. Those countries that persecute Christians today seem only like scattered incidents that have little bearing on the day-to-day life of “civilized” nations. May God protect us from such attitudes.
 
But the One who walks among the “candlestick” churches of Revelation (His churches) saw Smyrna as rich and worthy of a crown of life. He praised this little church and encouraged them to remain “faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10). When the King gives out His rewards from the great judgment seat, these faithful, poor, persecuted, troubled, and imprisoned souls will enter eternity with great riches and joyful liberty in the “general assembly and church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23). HMM III
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« Reply #5838 on: July 10, 2017, 08:14:07 AM »

Permissive Pergamos

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; . . . I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith . . . . But I have a few things against thee.” (Revelation 2:12-14)
 
Retaining a clear identity as a church of the Lord Jesus in an evil environment is worthy of commendation. And indeed, this body of believers at Pergamos held fast to its Christian name—even in a city that was known (at least by God) as the place where Satan had his “seat.” One of their members, Antipas, was killed for his faith. Yet, the church at Pergamos remained faithful with a spiritual testimony, a small light in a sea of wickedness.
 
But perhaps because of the pressure surrounding them, the Lord warned them that they were allowing two destructive doctrines to flourish among them. The first was compromising with “wages of unrighteousness,” exemplified by Balaam, which had become entrenched among the church (2 Peter 2:15). The second was the “doctrine of the Nicolaitanes,” which their sister church in Ephesus also confronted (Revelation 2:15, 6).
 
Balaam was a well-known prophet who willingly accepted an assignment with an enemy of God’s people so that he could receive a large sum of money (Numbers 22). And, even though God would not permit Israel to be cursed, as the enemy wanted, Balaam continued to promote his “error,” and Israel lapsed into grave sin (Jude 1:11).
 
Not much is written in Scripture about the Nicolaitanes. The word basically means “conquer the people.” This early teaching developed into a strong hierarchy of church polity over the next decades, and by the end of the second century, it was well established in the major cities. Jesus taught against such leadership (Matthew 20:26-27) and clearly said that He hated it (Revelation 2:6). HMM III
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« Reply #5839 on: July 11, 2017, 08:04:22 AM »

Tolerant Thyatira

“And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; . . . I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee.” (Revelation 2:18-20)
 
The Lord Jesus’ letter to the church at Thyatira is the longest among the seven recorded in Revelation. Although they were faithful in their works to the city, had a strong charity among themselves, and were evidently growing in their reputation and perhaps even in number, the Lord Jesus used some very harsh language to rebuke their behavior.
 
Whether or not the woman who held influence in the church was actually named Jezebel, she had entrenched herself as a prophetess. Her namesake in the Old Testament (1 Kings) was the wicked queen and wife of King Ahab of Israel during the days of Elijah. Her evil deeds are recorded throughout seven chapters—more than any other woman in Israel’s history!
 
The Jezebel of Thyatira had been allowed “to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols” (Revelation 2:20). It is not clear if the Lord spoke of physical fornication among the church members, but the practice of sacrificing to idols was a serious rebellion against the second commandment and a clear violation of God’s Word (Exodus 20:4-5).
 
Those who were committing “adultery with her” (Revelation 2:22) had entered into “the depths of Satan” (Revelation 2:24). Whether this behavior was a physical practice or not (as was common among the pagan religions of the day), it is most certainly identified as spiritual adultery when those who name the name of Christ worship other gods (Jeremiah 3:1, 20; Hosea 9:1; etc.). May God protect us from such horrible leadership. HMM III
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« Reply #5840 on: July 12, 2017, 08:09:10 AM »

Dead Sardis

“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” (Revelation 3:1)
 
The church at Sardis received the saddest of the Lord’s seven letters in Revelation. Sardis seemed to want to remain known as a “live” church, but the Lord saw their real testimony and reputation and concluded that they were “dead.” Many such places around the world today are enshrined with stained glass, statuary, crosses, and inscriptions that have the “name” of Christianity emblazoned throughout their property, yet they are dead spiritually. Such churches might be compared to the monuments and gravestones erected in cemeteries to honor the memories of faithful men and women of past generations who were alive for a time with a solid reputation for godliness yet whose families have drifted away from the Lord.
 
Yet, “even in Sardis” there was a small number who had remained faithful in spite of the drift of the church itself, as there are also in families now adrift but with a Christian heritage. The advice to Sardis (and certainly to families as well) is this: “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent” (Revelation 3:3).
 
The Philippian church received the same counsel: “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). The verb is “do.” Heritage is wonderful, but each church—and each of us—will be held accountable for what is actually done. HMM III
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« Reply #5841 on: July 13, 2017, 09:49:35 AM »

Strong Philadelphia

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; . . . I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.” (Revelation 3:7-8)
 
Philadelphia and Smryna are the only churches that did not receive warnings from the Lord in the seven letters recorded in Revelation. Philadelphia had “a little strength” because they had built their church on the two foundations of the Word of God and the name of the Lord Jesus.
 
The foundation of Jesus Christ Himself (1 Corinthians 3:11) and the foundation of the writings of the “apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20) that are inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16) make the church “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Philadelphia had faithfully held these eternal principles and was therefore given an “open door.”
 
The Lord’s introduction to Philadelphia cites the “Key of David,” suggesting a reference to the treasure house of the king (1 Kings 7:51) and to Christ’s authority as the heir to the kingdom (Isaiah 22:22). The treasure of the eternal Kingdom is not physical riches but the gold, silver, and precious stones of God-ordained work for the Kingdom (1 Corinthians 3:12-13).
 
But just as the talents and the pounds granted to the servants in the parables (Matthew 25; Luke 19), the open door is an opportunity to use the resources of the King for His benefit—not a guarantee of success. The Lord grants the resources, but the work and the use of those resources are our responsibility. We will be held accountable.
 
If we use those resources well, even those of the “synagogue of Satan” will “come and worship” (Revelation 3:9) and “every tongue [will] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11). HMM III
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« Reply #5842 on: July 14, 2017, 09:40:48 AM »

Lukewarm Laodicea

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; . . . I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:14-16)
 
The Lord Jesus used intense language to rebuke this church, the last of the seven He had John write to in the book of Revelation. Laodicea was dangerously near the brink of being disavowed by He who is the Head of the church.
 
Such churches believe they “have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17). Worldly wealth, extensive property, and popular recognition blinded these members and their leaders to their true spiritual condition. They failed to understand that, from the Lord’s perspective, they are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
 
The cause of this terrible spiritual destitution is being spiritually tepid. It’s like expecting a glass of cold water or a cup of hot tea but finding everything at room temperature. This church “tasted” just like the world around them. They were neither godly nor in rebellion—just “nice people” who blended in well with the community. Their spiritual reputation did not smell either like life or death (2 Corinthians 2:16).
 
Despite the Lord’s distaste for such a condition, He loved and counseled them to “buy” from Him the gold of the Kingdom’s true wealth, righteous clothing that would cover their shameful exposure of worldly behavior, and to anoint their spiritual eyes so that they could see eternal values rather than temporal things.
 
As the Lord graciously closed His letter, He “stands at the door” of the church, waiting for anyone to open and let Him in (Revelation 3:20). Tepid spirituality keeps the Lord outside. What a shame that such could ever be said about any church. HMM III
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« Reply #5843 on: July 15, 2017, 08:39:48 AM »

Guarding the Word

“Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.” (Psalm 119:2)
 
In the remarkable 119th psalm, there are 176 verses (the longest chapter in the Bible) and 176 references to the written Word of God. Eight different Hebrew words are used for the Scriptures, respectively translated (in the King James Version) “law,” “testimonies,” “precepts,” “statutes,” “commandments,” “judgments,” and two words translated “word” or “words.” Furthermore, this psalm contains 28 admonitions to “keep” the Word, and these are applied to each of the above eight aspects of the Scriptures. The first is in our text, where we are exhorted to keep His testimonies. Note the others also in the following examples.
 
“Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently” (v. 4); “O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!” (v. 5); “Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word” (Hebrew dabar, v. 17).
 
“Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law” (v. 34); “I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments” (v. 60); “I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments” (v. 106); “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word” (Hebrew imrah, v. 67).
 
This means much more than simply obeying His commands, though this is certainly included. Both words translated “keep” or “kept” in the 28 admonitions noted above basically mean “guard” or “preserve,” as in Psalm 41:2, where both words are used: “The LORD will preserve him, and keep him alive.”
 
In these verses and many others throughout the Bible, therefore, we are commanded not merely to obey and proclaim God’s Word, but also to guard, preserve, and defend it against all its many enemies. HMM
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« Reply #5844 on: July 16, 2017, 08:43:29 AM »

Open Doors

“Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.” (Colossians 4:3-4)
 
This was Paul’s prayer request of the Colossian Christians, that God would open the door for His testimony. Paul had written earlier about “when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 2:12). The purpose of an open door is thus to preach the gospel of Christ and to speak the mystery of Christ.
 
Furthermore, these passages indicate that such doors are opened by the Lord, not by human devices. In fact, Christ Himself is “he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth” (Revelation 3:7). Doors of testimony are opened by the Lord in answer to prayer, but He also specifies three criteria for keeping the door opened. “I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name” (Revelation 3:8).
 
These conditions mean, literally, having little strength of one’s own and thus depending only on God, jealously guarding the integrity of God’s Word, and upholding the name of Christ as Creator, Savior, and coming King.
 
Even when the door is kept open by God, there is no assurance of ease in entering it. Paul wrote that “a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:9). This is the reason prayer is needed, relying on God, not man!
 
The Lord is also seeking an open door into churches that think they “have need of nothing. . . . Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him” (Revelation 3:17, 20). HMM
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« Reply #5845 on: July 17, 2017, 08:38:47 AM »

The Lord Our Maker

“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.” (Psalm 95:6)
 
In the first chapter of Genesis we are told that God was to “make man in our image,” and also that He “created man in his own image” (Genesis 1:26-27). Similarly, on the seventh day God “rested from all his work which God created and made” (Genesis 2:3).
 
God is, therefore, both Creator and Maker of all things, including the image of God in man. These two terms are not synonymous, though they sometimes seem to be used interchangeably. “Creation” is calling into existence entities that previously had no existence. No one except God is ever the subject of the verb “create.” The work of making, on the other hand, is that of organizing created entities into complex systems.
 
It is interesting that God is called “Creator” five times in the Bible, whereas He is called “Maker” 16 times. God created His image in men and women, but He also made them in that image. That is, He called into existence the spiritual component of man’s nature, not shared in any degree by the animals. He also organized the basic material elements into complex human bodies, the most highly organized systems in the universe, and these were made in that image that God Himself would one day assume when He became an incarnate human being. In this way, He is both Creator and Maker of His image in each person.
 
That image has been marred because of sin, but through the work of Christ we have been “renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Colossians 3:10), and our bodies will “be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). Created and newly created, made and remade, let us humbly kneel before the Lord, our Maker and Creator. HMM
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« Reply #5846 on: July 18, 2017, 09:14:21 AM »

No Other Name

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
 
There are many famous names in the history of religious thought—names such as Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, Joseph Smith, among a host of others. Each has a multitude of followers who pay homage to his name.
 
But there is only one name that saves eternally, the Lord Jesus Christ. The words of our text were spoken by the apostle Peter. In his epistle, John also stresses this fact: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12). The apostle Paul wrote that all those “that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).
 
This exclusivity necessarily results from the fact that there is only one God and Creator of all men, and that all men have rebelled against Him. God Himself has become Redeemer and Savior, dying for the sin of the world and rising again. There can, therefore, be no other Savior than God Himself.
 
The Lord Jesus repeatedly stressed this truth. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24).
 
It is urgent, therefore, that anyone desiring forgiveness of sin and eternal salvation come to God through Jesus Christ. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life: but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). HMM
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« Reply #5847 on: July 19, 2017, 08:36:11 AM »

The Word Made Flesh

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
 
This is the definitive verse on the divine incarnation, when “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19), and the wealth of truth implied therein is beyond human comprehension. We can never understand how the infinite God could become finite man, but where the intellect fails, faith prevails.
 
It was the Word who “was God” and by whom “all things were made” (John 1:1, 3), yet He made His own human body, in the womb of Mary, and therein “dwelt among us” for 33 years. The Greek word here for “dwelt” is unusual, literally meaning “tabernacled.”
 
How could this be? “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:16). This is, indeed, a great mystery, “but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). God made a body for Adam; surely He could also make a perfect body in which He Himself could “tabernacle.” He was made “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:3) and “was in all points tempted [i.e., tested] like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Since “God cannot be tempted with evil” (James 1:13), and since the Word, who was God, was merely tabernacling in the likeness of sinful flesh, this testing was to demonstrate to man (not to Himself) that He was without sin and therefore able to save sinners. Therefore, John could testify, “We beheld his glory!”
 
Jesus Christ is, indeed, true man—in fact, He is man as God intended man to be. Yet, neither in the womb of Mary, nor on the cross, did He ever cease to be God. HMM
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« Reply #5848 on: July 20, 2017, 09:44:01 AM »

Together in Christ

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20)
 
This is a wonderful promise. Whether believers come together in church or a home Bible study or even just two together (like husband and wife) to fellowship around the name of the Lord Jesus, He is there also!
 
The Scriptures often speak of our togetherness with Him and therefore with one another. When we followed Him in baptism, we were “planted together in the likeness of his death” (Romans 6:5). Similarly, when He rose from the dead, God “hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6). One day, we are told, “if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:17).
 
In our Christian walk right now, we are being “fitly framed together” as a “holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:21-22). We ought, therefore, to be “knit together in love” (Colossians 2:2), “perfectly joined together in the same mind” (1 Corinthians 1:10), and “striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).
 
Then one day, when Christ returns and the dead in Christ are raised, “we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
 
So, when we are together with Him through the indwelling Spirit of Christ, whether in a congregation of thousands or just together with one or two Christian companions, we rejoice in His presence, for He is our mighty Creator, our loving Savior, our caring Comforter, our unerring Guide, and our soon-coming King. 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 #5849 on: July 21, 2017, 08:49:41 AM »

Searching for God

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
 
These are days when few people seem satisfied. Everyone seems to be searching for something—for riches, power, health, adventure, fame, peace, conquests, or escape. Shamefully, even few Christians seem to realize that the permanent fulfillment or redirection of such desires can only be found in the Lord, the One who created them and designed them to operate in a particular, satisfying way.
 
While it is true that in an ultimate sense “there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11) for salvation without the prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Christian (and indeed the entire human race) is enjoined again and again to seek God. Note the following passages of encouragement.
 
“If from thence [i.e., captivity due to disobedience] thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul” (Deuteronomy 4:29). “If thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever” (1 Chronicles 28:9). “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4). “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee” (Psalm 63:1). “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me” (Proverbs 8:17). “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
 
As in our text, our search should be for God and His characteristics. All of man’s desires will either be fulfilled or reoriented as we find Him, and according to the several verses quoted, we will find Him if we truly seek Him. 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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