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Soldier4Christ
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« Reply #5880 on: August 21, 2017, 08:58:41 AM »

The Offended Brother

“It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak.” (Romans 14:21)
 
Here is a sound biblical principle (not the only one, of course) given to Christians to help them evaluate whether or not to engage in certain practices that are neither explicitly endorsed nor prohibited in Scripture. The question is not whether the practice will hurt the strong Christian who engages in it but whether his example might offend, or mislead, or discourage a weaker brother.
 
This matter of giving offense is quite serious in God’s sight. “Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God” (1 Corinthians 10:32).
 
The problem of eating meat purchased from temple markets, after it had been offered in sacrifice to idols, is not an issue for many Christians today, but it was a very real problem to new believers in the first century. The principle given by Paul for deciding that issue is still valid for other issues of today (type of clothing, recreational games, smoking, etc.). As Paul expressed it, “Take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. . . . when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend” (1 Corinthians 8:9, 12-13).
 
On the other side of the coin, the strong Christian should be careful not to take personal offense himself at something done by a fellow believer. “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalm 119:165). The rule for a mature, sincere, concerned Christian is to seek diligently neither to give offense nor take offense on any personal issue, by God’s grace. HMM
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« Reply #5881 on: August 22, 2017, 08:13:46 AM »

Great Swelling Words

“These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” (Jude 1:16)
 
This picturesque phrase, “great swelling words,” is the King James Version translation of huperonkos, which literally means “super-massive,” with the implied noun “words” added because of the context.
 
The word is used only one other time in the New Testament, in the parallel passage in 2 Peter 2:18: “For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.”
 
Both apostles, in context, are warning against false teachers who, after somehow obtaining positions of influence among the spiritually immature believers in the body, would then seek to lead them back into worldly ways of thinking and acting. Peter compares those who heed such words to washed sows going back to wallow in the mire (2 Peter 2:22).
 
Such teachers may appear very intellectual and charismatic, with their “feigned words” (2 Peter 2:3), promises of “liberty” (1 Peter 2:16), and flatteries (see text above), but it is a deadly mistake to follow them. Both Peter and Jude give various ways by which to recognize them. They may actually deny the redemptive work of Christ (2 Peter 2:1) or seek to undermine those whom God has placed in authority (2:10). Perhaps most commonly, they are interested in worldly gain or prestige for themselves (2 Peter 2:14; Jude 1:11). They also may practice and encourage carnal lifestyles (Jude 1:4).
 
Other characteristics of these deceptive teachers are given in these two key chapters and, by all means, young believers need to be alert to this danger, staying close to God’s Word and obedient to His will. HMM
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« Reply #5882 on: August 23, 2017, 08:52:45 AM »

The Whole Counsel of God

“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27)
 
Evangelical churches have preached the gospel message and have given attention to the return of Christ and our hope of heaven. Sometimes, it is good to step back and look at the “big picture”—the foundational perspective upon which the whole of Scripture is based.
 
Four foundational passages in the New Testament provide pillars for the whole counsel of God.
 
John 1:1-14—The Word (our Lord Jesus) was and is God; the Word made everything that was made; the Word was made flesh and dwelt among men.
 
Romans 11:36—All things are of Him, through Him, and to Him.
 
Colossians 1:16-20—By Him all heavenly and earthly powers were made; by Him all things are saved from destruction; by Him all things will be reconciled.
 
2 Peter 3:1-13—He destroyed the first world because of evil; He will destroy this present universe by fire; He will create a new heavens and new earth.
 
We can lose the reality of the forest because we are looking too closely at each tree. Sometimes it is helpful to back away from the technical aspects of theology or denominational policy and review the “whole counsel”—the overall sovereign purpose of our Creator, Lord, and King.
 
“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10). HMM III
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« Reply #5883 on: August 24, 2017, 09:36:47 AM »

Knowledge of Eternal Life
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)
 
It is important that a believer have real assurance of eternal life, and our text indicates that this was John’s very purpose in writing his epistle. It is dangerous, however, to use this verse as a “proof text” apart from the whole context of “these things” that John had written to give such assurance, because the question must be faced as to what constitutes real belief “on the name of the Son of God.” Many professing Christians may well have a superficial assurance of salvation because of a superficial faith.
 
According to the apostle John, genuine belief in the Son of God can be tested by “these things” that he had written. Space here permits listing only a few of them, but all are important. “Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him” (1 John 2:5). “Ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him” (2:29). “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren” (3:14). “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us” (3:24). “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not” (5:18).
 
Such words of assurance do not require that the believer be sinless (note 1 John 1:8-10), for the Greek tenses imply only that he does not sin habitually. Nevertheless, Christians who are comfortable in a nominal profession of faith, with little outward evidence of that faith, would do well to examine their faith in light of John’s “tests of faith,” whereby we may “know that [we] have eternal life.” HMM
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« Reply #5884 on: August 25, 2017, 09:50:16 AM »

So Send I You

“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” (John 20:21)
 
For approximately three years the disciples had followed Jesus in His travels, had listened to His teaching, and participated in His ministry. They had forsaken “all, and followed him” (Luke 5:11). They had seen Him ridiculed, opposed, oppressed, suffer deprivation, and be rejected by the religious leaders of the day, as well as by most of the common folk. They had watched while Judas, a trusted friend, had betrayed Him and then had fled when the Jewish leaders and a Roman guard arrested Him. This beloved leader, for whom they had had such great hopes and in whom they had placed such great trust, had then been scourged, beaten, spit upon, lied about, and nailed to a cruel cross to die in agony and abject loneliness, even abandoned by His loving heavenly Father.
 
A few days later, the disciples had “assembled for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19), for perhaps the Jewish leaders were trying to stamp out all semblance of His following, and they feared for their own lives now that Jesus was dead. But suddenly, Jesus stood in their midst and showed to them His hands and His side as proof of His death. Yet, He was alive. “Then were the disciples glad” (v. 20).
 
We are now prepared to fully appreciate the words of our text. It is as if Jesus said, as my Father has sent me, so I send you, and look what they’ve done to me. But even though suffering and hardship will follow, have no fear. My peace and my Holy Spirit will be with you to assure your ultimate victory (compare verses 21-22).
 
If we would be His disciples, sent out as He was sent out to accomplish His eternal work here on Earth in His physical absence, we must likewise expect persecution, peace, power, and victory. JDM
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« Reply #5885 on: August 26, 2017, 09:55:21 AM »

Justification

“And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.” (Genesis 7:1)
 
This is the first mention of the great doctrine of justification in the Bible—that is, being seen as “righteous” by God. The same Hebrew word is translated “just” in Genesis 6:9: “Noah was a just man.” The reason Noah was seen as righteous and therefore as just, or justified before God, was that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8). This is the first mention of “grace” in the Bible. The first mention of “faith” or “belief” is also associated with justification: “[Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).
 
Thus, in the Old Testament and certainly in the New, justification is by grace through faith. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” and also “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:24; 5:1).
 
Justification—that is, being seen and proclaimed as perfectly righteous, even in spite of past sins—must of course be authorized by God the Creator. “It is God that justifieth” (Romans 8:33). That God can indeed be both “just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:26) is based entirely on the substitutionary death and bodily resurrection of Christ, who conquered death. “Being now justified by his blood,” the Lord Jesus Christ “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 5:9; 4:25).
 
Now, although we are freely justified by grace through faith, such justification inevitably generates good works also, for “by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). HMM
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« Reply #5886 on: August 27, 2017, 08:52:40 AM »

A Colony of Heaven

“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 3:20)
 
The term “conversation” in this verse is from a Greek word (politeuma) used only this once in the New Testament. It is related to the word for “city” (polis) and has to do with the proper behavior of a good citizen. Consequently, some translations render the word as “citizenship,” stressing the fact that our true home is not in any earthly city but in heaven.
 
Since we are now stationed here in a foreign land, as it were, one particularly picturesque rendering calls us “a colony of heaven.” We are pioneering settlers, attempting to establish a beachhead for our homeland in a distant, dangerous country. The Lord Jesus prayed to His Father, “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world” (John 17:18). “Go ye into all the world” was His commission, “and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
 
A similar figure is used in 2 Corinthians 5:20: “We are ambassadors for Christ.” As such, it is vitally important that our “conversation” (i.e., “lifestyle”) be one that honors the heavenly kingdom and our great King.
 
Then, when our colonizing efforts succeed and new citizens are added to the heavenly kingdom, they can testify with us: “[The Father] hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:12-13).
 
As citizens, and colonists, and ambassadors from heaven, we are here only temporarily, of course. Our real home is with our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, and we are looking for Him to establish His eternal kingdom here on Earth as it is in heaven. HMM
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« Reply #5887 on: August 28, 2017, 10:06:09 AM »

Can a Christian Not Sin?

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1)
 
If the question is asked “Does a Christian not sin?” then the answer is no. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. . . . If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8, 10). Even the most godly Christian does sin occasionally—in thought if not in deed, in omission if not in commission. The God-given antidote is 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
 
But there is a danger if we use such verses as an excuse for sinning or for taking sin too lightly. If the question is asked “Can a Christian not sin?” then the answer is yes! God indeed, in Christ, has made every provision necessary for a believer never to commit sin, and we are without any legitimate excuse whenever we do.
 
This must be so for at least two reasons. In the first place, Jesus Christ in His humanity is our example, and He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). He accomplished this, not because of His deity, but solely in His humanity.
 
Secondly, God has commanded us not to sin, and He would never command us to do the impossible. For every temptation, there is a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13), and we have no excuse if we fail to take it. Our only recourse is to repent and confess the sin.
 
Our text commands us to sin not! But then, it also reminds us that Christ is our great advocate before the Father. He is righteous and has already taken our sins away as our propitiatory sacrifice, so “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). HMM
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« Reply #5888 on: August 29, 2017, 09:29:26 AM »

The Fourfold Witness to Christ

“One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.” (Deuteronomy 19:15)
 
In the Mosaic law, at least two reliable witnesses were required to convict a man of a crime. Jesus Christ was charged with blasphemy, claiming to be the unique Son of God. Not only was there the required double witness, but actually a fourfold witness to the “crime.” The witnesses not only agreed that the claim was made but also that the claim was true!
 
The first was John the Baptist, who said, “I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34). To so testify was John’s very reason for being, for he “was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light” (John 1:8-9).
 
There was also a second, more potent witness. “I have greater witness than that of John,” Jesus said, “for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me” (John 5:36). The great teacher Nicodemus had to acknowledge, “No man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (John 3:2).
 
Furthermore, there was the direct testimony of God from heaven. “The Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me” (John 5:37). “There came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (2 Peter 1:17).
 
Most importantly, there is the testimony of the Bible. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).
 
We no longer have such direct testimony, but we will always have the Holy Scriptures, eternally proclaiming the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ. HMM
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« Reply #5889 on: August 30, 2017, 09:52:35 AM »

U.S.E. Your Faith

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)
 
Today’s verse contains a portion of Habakkuk 2:4, emphasizing that those who have been twice-born can live using the same faith that God granted us so that we could believe (Ephesians 2:8). An acronym for USE can help focus our thoughts.
 
U—Use what you have. Moses had only a rod when God called him to deliver the nation of Israel (Exodus 4:2-6). We should use the talent and equipment already in our possession, just like the widow of Zarephath, who gave her meager grain (1 Kings 17:10-16). Daniel used his secular position (Daniel 6:14-23), and Esther used her beauty and bravery (Esther 4:13-17) to accomplish His will.
 
S—Start doing it. Nothing happens unless we become involved. The priests of Israel participated in the miracle at Jordan when they obeyed and stepped in the river (Joshua 3:5-17). The widow did not reap the bounty until she followed Elisha’s instructions and borrowed pots from her neighbors (2 Kings 4:1-7). After the miracle of the oil, she surely wished that she had not limited God’s supply. The man who was born blind had to wash as instructed before he could see (John 9:1-7). And those at Lazarus’ tomb had to open it before they could see him resurrected (John 11:39). God instructs, we obey, and He performs.
 
E—Expect it to happen. The centurion understood our Lord’s authority when he asked Him to heal his servant (Matthew 8:5-13). The Syrophonecian woman insisted on being healed (Matthew 15:21-26), and the nobleman went home confident that his son had been saved (John 4:46-53).
 
Circumstances will vary, but God’s “formula” does not. HMM III
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« Reply #5890 on: August 31, 2017, 09:37:39 AM »

God's Grace

“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
 
Although Christ has set the believer free from legalistic bondage, he is now under a still higher law—the law of Christ. It is also called “the law of the Spirit of life” that has made us “free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).
 
The law of Christ does not consist of many detailed ordinances that we are duty bound to obey. It is a law that we want to obey out of love for Christ. “Therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10). Paul says that “the end of the commandment is charity [that is, Christian love] out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned” (1 Timothy 1:5). James calls it “the royal law,” defining it simply as “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (James 2:8).
 
Instead of a law bringing us into bondage, it is “the perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25), setting us free from slavery to sin. It not only gives us the desire to please the Lord but also the will and the ability to do so.
 
It is not as though we are now without law and thereby free to indulge our carnal appetites. Paul explains his own new nature thus: “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more . . . (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ)” (1 Corinthians 9:19, 21).
 
In Christ, “the righteousness of God without the law is manifested,” and He is “the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Romans 3:21; 10:4). But though we “have been called unto liberty,” Paul commands us to “use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Thus, to believe in Christ is also to obey Him. HMM
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« Reply #5891 on: September 01, 2017, 09:49:33 AM »

Righteous Judgment to Come

“And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.” (Psalm 9:8)
 
Judgment is coming for every person, “as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Many people don’t believe it, and still more don’t seem to care, but judgment is coming! Be certain of this. We must all meet God our Maker someday.
 
Furthermore, “he shall judge the world in righteousness,” for He is “of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity” (Habakkuk 1:13). “He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth” (Psalm 96:13; also note Psalm 96:10; 98:9).
 
All is lost if God judges righteously, however, for “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10), and “cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Galatians 3:10).
 
But “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, . . . hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:19, 21). The Lord Jesus, the Son of God, our Creator/Redeemer, has taken our judgment on Himself, and “there is therefore now no [judgment] to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
 
Consequently, “the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (John 5:22). God can both judge righteously and yet graciously save all who receive Christ by faith: “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). Jesus Christ is not only our Creator and righteous Judge, but also our Redeemer, Mediator, Advocate, and Savior! HMM
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« Reply #5892 on: September 02, 2017, 09:25:40 AM »

Life—Light—Love

“All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:3-5)
 
The apostle John, designated as “the other disciple, whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2), used the concept of agape love more than any other New Testament writer, even teaching that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Likewise, John tells us that “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5), and he uses the concept of light (phos) more than any other writer.
 
In just the same way he uses the primary word for life (zoe) more than any other writer and discusses “that which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life” (1 John 1:1), identifying Christ as life and the Fountain of life.
 
Christ, of course, has existed “from the beginning” and is the Creator of physical life on Earth (Colossians 1:16; Acts 17:28). But in a special way, He is “the life” (John 14:6), and, as we see in our text, “in him was life,” denoting salvation and eternal life based on His own atonement for sin.
 
Concerning light, Christ not only created physical light (Genesis 1:3) and later light sources (Genesis 1:14), but He is light, referring to revelation of the things of God to men, for His “life was the light of men.”
 
But most of all, “God is love.” The first time John mentions agape love, we are told that “God so loved the world” and that His free and undeserved love drove Him to give “his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “Herein is love . . . that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). JDM
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« Reply #5893 on: September 03, 2017, 08:23:58 AM »

The River of God

“Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it.” (Psalm 65:9)
 
The inexhaustible river of God, watering the whole earth, is nothing less than the refreshing rains coming down from the heavens, “visiting” the earth on its amazing journey to the oceans, whence it flows back up to the skies again. This river incorporates all the rivers of Earth, yet it is like no other river, for once it reaches the ocean, it rises into the heavens, there to flow back over the thirsty ground and finally descend once more on its endless journey.
 
What a wonderful provision is this river of God! Without it, all life on Earth would soon die. Far more valuable than gold, it continually “enriches” the earth on its regular visitations “to satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth” (Job 38:27).
 
Thereby does God also prepare corn to feed man and beast. The word “corn” in this and other passages probably refers generically to any of the cereal grains that provide the basic foodstuffs for people and animals all over the world. This is implied in the creation passage itself. “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth. . . . And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat” (Genesis 1:29-30).
 
This is God’s wonderful life-giving river. “He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works. He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth” (Psalm 104:13-14). The Creator is also the Sustainer (Colossians 1:16-17). 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 #5894 on: September 04, 2017, 08:54:22 AM »

Man and His Labor

“Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.” (Psalm 104:23)
 
The 104th Psalm is a beautiful psalm of creation and the Flood, supplemented by God’s providential care of His creatures in the post-Flood world. Our text makes man’s activity seem almost incidental in the grand scope of God’s activities on behalf of His whole creation.
 
Nevertheless, it reminds us of God’s first great commission to mankind concerning that creation. “Have dominion . . . over all the earth . . . to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 1:26; 2:15). This primeval mandate, though still in effect as man’s stewardship responsibility for the earth and its creatures, has been seriously impacted by sin and the curse. “Cursed is the ground for thy sake,” God told Adam; “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” (Genesis 3:17, 19).
 
And so it is that men and women must work, and the work often is laborious, stressful, and unappreciated. Yet, the divine rule is “that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands . . . That ye may walk honestly . . . and that ye may have lack of nothing” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). “For . . . if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
 
Thus, labor is necessary, even for those who don’t know the Lord. But it is far better if we work not just to earn a living but to please the Lord. “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23).
 
Whatever our job is (assuming it is honorable), it can be regarded as serving Christ and helping to fulfill His primeval-dominion commandment, and even as helping to lead others to know Him. Therefore, whether the work is easy or hard, we should be “always abounding in the work of the Lord . . . your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). 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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