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« Reply #6045 on: February 02, 2018, 09:29:01 AM »

Holy Conversation

“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.” (2 Peter 3:11)
 
The picturesque phrase “holy conversation” occurs only twice in the New Testament, both in Peter’s epistles; one in his very first chapter, 1 Peter 1:15, the other in today’s verse. The other is, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.” This distinctive King James rendering does not really mean “clean speech” but assumes the older, more precise meaning of “conversation,” namely “behavior,” especially behavior that involves other people. The Greek word translated “holy” primarily implies “dedicated to God.” Thus, holy conversation simply means living in such a way that our entire manner of life is oriented to honor God and to influence other people to honor Him.
 
These two exhortations of Peter tell us why we should live this way. The first incentive is simply the holiness of God Himself: “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). We have become children of God through faith in Christ, and we should therefore behave “as obedient children, not fashioning [ourselves] according to the former lusts in [our] ignorance” (1 Peter 1:14).
 
The second incentive given just before the words of today’s verse is the ever-imminent return of Christ, following which, eventually, “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat” (2 Peter 3:10). Incentives, both past and future, are thus given for holy living in the present!
 
Eight of the 13 occurrences of “conversation” (Greek anastrophe) are in Peter’s epistles, stressing his vital concern that Christians ought to demonstrate “all holy conversation and godliness” in their lives. HMM
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« Reply #6046 on: February 03, 2018, 09:12:31 AM »

Wrong on Two Counts

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29)
 
When the Sadducees, who were the theological, philosophical, and scientific elite of the day, came to Jesus with a trick question in an attempt to discredit Him, He responded with the stinging rebuke in today’s verse. While His response dealt specifically with the fact of resurrection and the nature of the afterlife, His twofold evaluation of self-reliant scholars still fits today, particularly in regard to evolutionary speculations.
 
By the time Darwin had published his book Origin of Species attributing evolutionary progression to natural selection, he had probably become an atheist and so set about to ascribe creation to natural causes. He attributed to nature abilities that clearly belong to God alone. He knew something of the Scriptures, but his memoirs show that he had little understanding of basic biblical teaching. He felt that if there was a God, He had little power or had not been involved in the affairs of this earth. Most atheistic evolutionists today follow Darwin’s intellectual footsteps.
 
But what of Christian intellectuals, theistic evolutionists, progressive creationists, or advocates of the framework hypothesis, who claim to know God but yet deny His awesome power in creation? They too reject the clear teaching of Scripture regarding creation, relegating God to the mundane task of overseeing the evolutionary process, reducing His power to something man can accomplish. Peter aptly describes this attitude when he calls it willful ignorance (2 Peter 3:5).
 
It has been suggested by some that all human error can be traced to one or both of these categories: not knowing (and/or believing) the Scriptures, and underestimating the power of God. JDM
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« Reply #6047 on: February 04, 2018, 08:54:44 AM »

“Cataclysmed” with Water

“Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” (2 Peter 3:6)
 
In comparing the intensity and global extent of the coming judgment of sinful mankind, “in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (v. 10), to the intensity of the historic judgment of sinful man at the time of the Flood (the denial of which constitutes willful ignorance, v. 5), Peter uses extraordinary language. The word “overflowed” in today’s verse translates the mighty Greek word katakluzo, from which we get our word “cataclysm.”
 
In the Greek New Testament, this word is only used to refer to Noah’s Flood (see Matthew 24:38-39; Luke 17:27; 2 Peter 2:5); other words were used for other, local floods (see Luke 6:48 and Revelation 12:15). Such a distinction is likewise borne out in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word for “flood” used over and over again in Genesis 6–11 is mabul (see also Psalm 29:10) and stands as qualitatively distinct from other lesser floods, both of water and figuratively of invading armies, or the Red Sea crossing.
 
As a matter of fact, God promised that Noah’s Flood would be different from all other water floods (Genesis 9:11) in that it was a display of God’s awful wrath on sinful mankind and the world infected by that sin.
 
And that is the point. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). It always has been, always will be. God is not the sort of God who will allow sin to go unpunished. His holy nature demands the punishment of death for sin.
 
But just as “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8), so do believers of today. The penalty for sin is indeed death, but “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). JDM
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« Reply #6048 on: February 05, 2018, 08:53:37 AM »

From Darkness to Light

“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 1:3-4)
 
The initial aspect of God’s newly created world was one of darkness in the presence of the all-pervading waters. Since “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5), the darkness had to be specially created (Isaiah 45:7) before God could then call for the light to appear in the darkness.
 
This would later serve as a striking picture of the entrance of light into the darkness of a soul born in sin. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). The light enters our soul by His Word. “The entrance of thy words giveth light” (Psalm 119:130).
 
This great theme, contrasting the darkness of the soul without Christ to the glorious light He brings when that soul receives Him by faith, is found often in Scripture. “[Christ] hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). “The darkness is past, and the true light now shineth” (1 John 2:8). Jesus even called Himself that true light that divided the light from the darkness. “I am the light of the world,” He claimed. “He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).
 
And because we have received the true light, we should henceforth live in the light of His truth. “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). “Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:12). God’s light is good. In the Holy City, “there shall be no night there” (Revelation 22:5). HMM
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« Reply #6049 on: February 06, 2018, 08:35:25 AM »

Tithes and Offerings

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10)
 
Today there is much talk of financial security. The biblical formula in today’s verse, given to Israel but applied to all, begins with a scathing indictment. “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings” (v. 8). What a terrible thing, to rob God. The result of their thievery, in God’s eyes: “Ye are cursed with a curse” (v. 9) such that their financial state was much worse than it would have been had they been obedient. This teaching and promise has not been rescinded (Luke 6:38; 1 Corinthians 16:2; etc.).
 
God’s charge to us as given in today’s verse is in three steps. First, we are told to obey; i.e., “bring ye.” This cannot be considered an option. Secondly, God proposes a test. “Prove me,” He says, give and see if He lives up to His promises. Thirdly, trust His promise to meet our needs.
 
Note that His promise is also threefold. It abundantly covers present needs, for He promises to “pour you out a blessing” unmeasurable in quality or quantity. Likewise, it covers the threat of future loss. “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field” (v. 11). Most precious is His promise to reward obedience and trust with a special relationship: “All nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land” (v. 12).
 
Thus, we see that with less than 100 percent of our income at our disposal, we will have greater financial security than if we had kept it all to ourselves, thereby robbing God. JDM
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« Reply #6050 on: February 07, 2018, 06:36:27 AM »

Hating Knowledge

“How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?” (Proverbs 1:22)
 
This ancient question by the wise man Solomon was posed almost 3,000 years ago and is still relevant today. “How long?” he asked. How long will men continue to scoff at true knowledge? “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
 
The answer to your question, Solomon, would have been 3,000 years at least! Peter prophesied “that there shall come in the last days scoffers . . . saying, Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Peter 3:3-4); and Paul said “that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be . . . boasters, proud, blasphemers. . . . Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1-2, 7).
 
Throughout history men have scorned the true knowledge of God and His creation. Peter says they “willingly are ignorant,” and Paul says they are “without excuse” (2 Peter 3:5; Romans 1:20), but they “delight in their scorning” nonetheless.
 
It is remarkable that their hatred of God’s true knowledge is cloaked in a robe of scientism and evolutionary pseudoknowledge that even deceives many professing Christians. “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22), despising the true wisdom and instruction of God’s Word.
 
“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). Those who scorn God’s Word have no light of their own, despite their scientific pretensions. “Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction” (Proverbs 10:14). HMM
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« Reply #6051 on: February 08, 2018, 10:16:57 AM »

The “I Wills” of Christ

“And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.” (Mark 1:41)
 
When the Lord Jesus makes a promise, that promise is sure to be fulfilled. When He made the above promise to the leper, “immediately the leprosy departed from him” (Mark 1:42). The promise may not always be carried out as rapidly as this, but it will come.
 
Look at some of the wonderful “I wills” of Christ. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19) is His promise to all His true disciples (that is, those who follow Him). But first they must come to Him, and to those who come He promises, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37).
 
Another gracious promise to all who come: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He also promises special love to those who obey Him. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, . . . shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).
 
There is a tremendous promise in John 14:13: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” He even emphasized it in the next verse: “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14).
 
He has also promised to come back again, and we can be certain He will do as He said: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3). But probably the greatest of all His promises was given in His intercessory prayer. “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory” (John 17:24). HMM
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« Reply #6052 on: February 09, 2018, 07:49:39 AM »

Greetings from Peter

“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.” (2 Peter 1:1-2)
 
All too often we skip over the introductory verses of greeting in a Bible book, but many times these verses contain rich information. Such is the case in today’s verse.
 
We first notice the strange paradox in Peter’s identification of himself. He is both the authoritative “apostle,” the officially commissioned ambassador of Jesus Christ, as well as His “servant,” or bondslave. Historically, we know that Peter was one of the inner circle of disciples in whom Christ placed great responsibility, but he was also the one who denied Christ at His trial. Christ had bought him with His blood as a slave would be bought, forgiven him much, and had sent him out on a lifelong mission.
 
The letter is written to those “that have obtained like precious faith,” i.e., the same kind of precious faith possessed by the apostles, implying equal standing and privilege before God, obtained through His righteousness.
 
Peter uses two descriptive names for Christ, calling Him both “God and our Savior,” referring to His dual divine/human nature and role. Peter’s prayer for us (possessors of like precious faith) is moving. He desires the sanctifying and sustaining grace of God for us, the peace of God that brings joy even in the face of adversity, and that both would be multiplied. These traits would come “through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus, our Lord” (today’s verse). Much of the rest of the book deals with false teachers and false knowledge, but Peter would have us grow into “full knowledge” (literal translation; see also vv. 3, 8) of God through the walk of grace and peace. JDM
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« Reply #6053 on: February 10, 2018, 08:09:02 AM »

Not Yet

“These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.” (John 8:20)
 
This is the last of seven times in the gospel of John that the phrase “not yet” is used in reference to the forthcoming death of Christ. Although this was the very reason He came into the world, the event itself could not be hurried.
 
When His mother wanted Him to provide wine for the wedding, He said, “Mine hour is not yet come” (John 2:4). When His brothers urged Him to show His mighty works in Jerusalem, His answer was “My time is not yet come” (John 7:6, 8). When His enemies tried to take Him at the feast of tabernacles, “no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come” (John 7:30). Even when He preached His great promise of living water, John noted parenthetically that “the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39).
 
But His hour did come, and they did lay hands on Him and put Him to death. Then He was glorified, and the Holy Spirit was given. And now we await another great time that has not yet come. John speaks of this also: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but . . . we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2).
 
In that great time to come, all things will be made subject to Christ. “But now we see not yet all things put under him” (Hebrews 2:8). These great promises and others associated with them have not yet been accomplished—the world is far from being in subjection to Him, and we are far from being like Him. But the hour will come, just as the first one did, and it will be glorious. For “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). HMM
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« Reply #6054 on: February 11, 2018, 08:48:39 AM »

Fruit-Bearing Christians

“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.” (John 15:2)
 
As Christ emphasized in His parable of the vine and the branches, it is vitally important for a Christian to bear fruit. There are, in fact, many types of spiritual fruit mentioned in Scripture.
 
Perhaps the most important fruit, produced in one’s life by the Holy Spirit, is that of a Christlike character. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22-23). “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth” (Ephesians 5:9).
 
Holiness—the seal of a life dedicated to God—is a particular spiritual fruit. “Being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness” (Romans 6:22) and are “filled with the fruits of righteousness” (Philippians 1:11). This entails also the fruit of good works performed in the name of Christ, “that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work” (Colossians 1:10).
 
The habit of giving thanks and praise rather than complaint and criticism is a valuable Christian fruit. “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15). Generosity is another important fruit. Paul commended the sacrificial giving of the Philippians, “not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account” (Philippians 4:17).
 
Finally, one vital fruit of a Christian witness is fruit borne in other Christians’ lives. Paul’s great desire was “that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles” (Romans 1:13). HMM
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« Reply #6055 on: February 12, 2018, 08:36:51 AM »

The Gospel of Prosperity

“Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.” (Romans 1:10)
 
This mention of the word “prosperous” is the first of the only four occurrences of the Greek word enodoo (meaning literally “good journey” but translated “prosper” or “prosperous”) in the New Testament. Here, it is actually rendered “prosperous journey.”
 
It is obvious that Paul was not praying for his journey to prosper financially, for the next verse indicates his long desire had been to “impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established” (Romans 1:11).
 
However, the word has come to include any kind of prospering, as in 1 Corinthians 16:2, when Paul urged Christians to provide financial help for other Christians in need. “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him,” he said.
 
The term can also refer to physical and spiritual health. Its two other occurrences are in 3 John 1:2: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” Unfortunately, certain teachers of these latter days have taken the biblical teaching of spiritual prosperity to mean financial prosperity, which they teach is the right of every Christian. But this “prosperity gospel” is so clearly unscriptural that it is merely a testimony to the cupidity of the Christians who believe it. “They that [desire to] be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts,” warned Paul (1 Timothy 6:9). And to whatever extent God does prosper us financially, it is strictly for the purpose of helping others, not to indulge ourselves. “Charge them that are rich in this world, that . . . they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute” (1 Timothy 6:17-18). HMM
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« Reply #6056 on: February 13, 2018, 08:48:33 AM »

Seven Days

“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” (John 8:56)
 
Jesus spoke to the Pharisees about “my day”—a day that Abraham had “seen” 2,000 years before. This evidently referred to the time when Christ would be on Earth, which God had enabled Abraham to see in prophecy.
 
But of all the days when He was on the earth, the most glorious was the great day when He rose from the dead. “He hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee” (Acts 13:33).
 
As a result of His death and resurrection, “behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). The day of salvation is any day in this age of grace when a person believes on Christ for salvation. He then receives “the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). This great future day of redemption evidently is the same as “the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6), when He comes again.
 
Following this is the fearful day of the Lord, when Christ will punish and judge and reign. “The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night . . . and they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3). It is also called “the great day of his wrath” (Revelation 6:17).
 
This day of the Lord will culminate at God’s great white throne. This will be “the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5).
 
Finally will come the eternal “day of God” when this present earth will be purified with fire and “we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). That day will never end, “for there shall be no night there” (Revelation 21:25). HMM
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« Reply #6057 on: February 14, 2018, 08:39:13 AM »

Love in the Old Testament

“And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.” (Genesis 29:20)
 
It is well known that “love” in the New Testament almost always means unselfish agape love. The Greek word for sexual love or romantic love, eros, is never used at all in the New Testament. Even marital love is ideally agape love in its main expression, as in Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”
 
In the Old Testament, on the other hand, there are about a dozen different Hebrew words used for “love,” and these often have wide variations in meaning, depending on context, often including romantic love as one of them. For example, Jacob’s willingness to work for Laban seven years in order to obtain Rachel for his wife clearly must have involved a high degree of romantic love on his part. He also loved her sister Leah, after Laban insisted he marry her first, but “he loved also Rachel more than Leah” (Genesis 29:30).
 
Several different “love” words are used in the Song of Solomon, as Solomon and his bride frequently speak of their romantic love for each other. There is no doubt that God approves of such love when it is pure and true and involves self-sacrificing agape love as well. “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4). The word for “whoremonger,” incidentally, is also often translated “fornicator” and can refer to any kind of sexual activity (some may call it “love,” but this is a caricature) outside of monogamous, man-and-woman, lifelong marriage.
 
The greatest love of all, of course, in both Old and New Testaments, is God’s love for the men and women He has created and redeemed. HMM
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« Reply #6058 on: February 15, 2018, 08:30:04 AM »

The Lively Oracles

“This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us.” (Acts 7:38)
 
This pungent expression, “lively oracles,” is the felicitous King James translation of zao logion, “utterances that are vibrantly alive.” In Stephen’s address, he was referring, of course, to the tables of the law, “written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18) and received by Moses on Mount Sinai directly from the Lord.
 
The Greek word logion is derived from logos (“word”) and occurs just four times. In the other three references, it appears in the phrase “oracles of God” (Romans 3:2; Hebrews 5:12; 1 Peter 4:11). These “oracles” are living words precisely because they do come from God. They include not only the Ten Commandments but all the Holy Scriptures.
 
The word “lively” is the Greek zao, occurring over 140 times and translated variously (depending on context) as “alive,” “live,” “living,” “quick,” etc. It is significant that it occurs, first of all, on the lips of Christ Himself when He said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). We are truly alive only through the life-giving words of the living God! “For the word [that is, each individual saying] of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword . . . and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
 
The Bible is not just a book but the Book. Its content is “for ever . . . settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89), “able to make thee wise unto salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15), and is “given by inspiration of God” (“God-breathed”) (2 Timothy 3:16). Its words must guide our very lives! 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 #6059 on: February 16, 2018, 05:54:10 PM »

The Call of the Twelve

“And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.” (Mark 3:14)
 
Early in His public ministry, Jesus gathered around Himself those to whom He would eventually entrust the Christian message. Many others had also been attracted to Him and His works, as indicated in the previous verse: “And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would [emphasis in the Greek is on he; the choice was His alone]: and they came unto him” (v. 13). Of those He invited, He “ordained twelve.”
 
Such a momentous selection could not be taken lightly, and we should not pass over it either. Luke gives us further information: “He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12) before choosing the twelve. As a sidelight, it bears mentioning that if God the Son so relied on the wisdom from God the Father before making an important decision, how can we neglect prayer as we so often do?
 
Four purposes are listed for these appointees, but the last three flow from the first: “That they should be with him.” They would see Him in action, learn truth from Him, assist Him in His work; but most importantly they would see His character and habits, and would never be the same.
 
Part of their training included being sent out to put in practice what they had learned, “that he might send them forth to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils” (Mark 3:14-15). He gave them a message to preach and the ability to authenticate that message.
 
A study of these disciples as revealed in the gospels makes one wonder if Jesus made a proper choice. However, in the book of Acts, once He was gone and the Holy Spirit empowered them, we recognize that their training was complete. We are the result of their effective ministry. 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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