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« Reply #6075 on: March 04, 2018, 09:09:20 AM »

Grace, Mercy, and Peace

“Paul . . . To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (2 Timothy 1:1-2)

Of the 13 letters written by the apostle Paul, only the three to Timothy and Titus use this threefold greeting: “Grace, mercy, and peace.” The other 10 letters use the more common “grace and peace.” Why the distinction? The Holy Spirit is never whimsical or capricious. Perhaps, since these three letters were the only ones addressed to pastors that Paul had trained, there was a more poignant emphasis intended.

Grace (charis) is the foundational core of God’s gift of salvation to those who trust Him (Ephesians 2:8). It is also the essence of the “gifts” that we received from the Holy Spirit to minister to each other (1 Corinthians 15:10). The charis is the basis for charisma that we receive. Those who have been entrusted with leadership responsibilities are reminded that the measure of those gifts is still God’s charis (Romans 12:3, 6).

Mercy is often understood through God’s forgiveness both in justice delayed and sentence nullified through Christ. It is also what the sovereign Godhead responds with when we ask for His help. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Peace is much more than mere lack of anxiety. It is “not as the world giveth” (John 14:27) but rather a supernatural, non-circumstantial contentment that is only given to the Lord’s twice-born. This peace is “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” and is specifically designed to “keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

May this grace, mercy, and peace be a regular portion of your walk in the Kingdom as you serve the Lord Jesus. HMM III
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« Reply #6076 on: March 05, 2018, 09:09:02 AM »

“Very Good”

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31)

On several occasions during the creation week, God had declared aspects of His creation as “good” (vv. 10, 12, 18, 21, 25). But once His crown of creation was in place, the very image of Himself (vv. 26-27), He pronounced it all “very good” and ceased His creative activity (2:1-3).

Just what does it mean to be “very good” in God’s eyes? This term is used elsewhere in the Old Testament by men and regarding men, but here God Himself, the sinless, ever-living One, declares creation to be just what He wanted—able to accomplish and fulfill each of His plans and desires for it. Whatever else may be said about this creation, at the very least it must have been without death, being a phenomenon anathema to Him.

Death is identified as “the last enemy that shall be destroyed” (1 Corinthians 15:26). “Death reigned from Adam to Moses” (Romans 5:14), and “it is appointed unto men once to die” (Hebrews 9:27). Indeed, “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22). The source of this condition is known as the curse pronounced on all of creation due to man’s rebellion against God (Genesis 3) as had been promised (2:17). Even today “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), and since all sin, all must die. Truly, sin has ruined God’s original sinless, deathless, “very good” creation.

But the story does not end there. The very Creator who pronounced the awful curse of death as the penalty for sin has Himself died to pay that penalty and one day will repeal the curse (Revelation 22:3) and abolish death (21:4). The creation will be returned to its original created intent, and all will once again be “very good.” JDM
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« Reply #6077 on: March 06, 2018, 07:38:34 AM »

Living Truths

“He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.” (Mark 12:27)

Sin and death are grim realities in the world, but these are only temporary intruders, as it were. The God of creation is the living God; and “Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16) is our living Savior, alive forevermore. It is appropriate, therefore, that the term “living” is applied over and over again to great truths of the Christian faith.

For example, the Holy Scriptures are called “the lively oracles” (Acts 7:38). “Lively” and “living” represent the same Greek word zao; thus, the Bible is God’s “living word.” Jesus Christ called Himself “the living bread which came down from heaven,” sent down by “the living Father” (John 6:51, 57). He also promised that all who believe on Him would find “living water” flowing through their lives (John 7:38).

He has opened for us through His substitutionary death and justifying resurrection “a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” (Hebrews 10:20). Furthermore, He has thereby “begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

The Lord Jesus is the foundation of the great house of the Lord into which we come through Him. “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-5). In this holy temple, we are therefore urged to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is [our] reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). Our God is, indeed, the God of the living! HMM
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« Reply #6078 on: March 07, 2018, 08:50:14 AM »

Tragic Lot

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” (Psalm 1:1)

One of the most tragic figures in all of Scripture is that of compromising Lot, Abraham’s nephew, who renounced the land of promise for the sinful society of Sodom, ultimately to lose everything of importance.

His slide into apostasy, as traced in Genesis 12–19, seems to parallel the progression described in today’s text of not becoming a godly believer.

Lot is first mentioned as traveling with Abram and Sarai from their homeland to Canaan in obedience to God’s command (Genesis 12:4-5; 13:5). A petty problem arises that surely could have been resolved (13:6-10), but Lot chose (v. 11) to walk in the counsel of the ungodly. “But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly” (v. 13).

Lot soon found a home in the city itself, not content to merely herd his flocks in the fertile valley. By standing in the way of sinners, when Sodom was attacked by enemies he was captured (14:12) and later rescued by Abram (vv. 14-16).

Lot’s identification with wicked Sodom did not end there, as it should have, for when the city’s wickedness was beyond God’s forbearance, Lot was found sitting in the seat of the scornful, a leader of the city, sitting in the gates with the town fathers (19:1). Lot was a “just” [or “righteous”] man, “vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked” (2 Peter 2:7), but his actions (Genesis 19:8) and his lack of spiritual influence even within his own family (vv. 14-16, 31-38) testify to the horror of such a compromising lifestyle.

May God grant us all the persevering faith of Abraham and not the compromising faith of Lot. JDM
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« Reply #6079 on: March 08, 2018, 08:39:06 AM »

The Flame of Gifts

“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.” (2 Timothy 1:6)

The apostle Paul uses more unique words in his writings than any other Bible author. Such is the case with the verb anazopureo, translated as “stir up” in our text for today, which is a compound of three Greek terms.

Ana, a primary preposition and adverb, is most often translated as “again” or “each,” depending on its context. Zoon is a frequently used noun meaning “life” or “living creature.” And pur is a root word meaning “fire” or “fiery.” Since it is only used this one time in the Scriptures, the translation is a bit difficult to coin an adequate English word or phrase for.

“Bring the fire alive (again)” is certainly implied from the syntax. “Make each fire alive” would emphasize the implied multiplicity of gifts. The tense indicates an ongoing process, and the direct object (the gift) seems to emphasize the need for Timothy’s action—since God gave Timothy the special leadership gift(s) when Paul personally ordained Timothy.

Paul’s first letter to Timothy implies that the young disciple had allowed the “fire” to grow weak in his ministry. Difficulty, discouragement, or doubt can attack anyone. Apathy, pessimism, worry, or lack of confidence can spin into lack of support or encouragement from friends or coworkers. Whatever the cause, the results are the same.

We can quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19) so that we no longer sense His leading. We can even grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), bringing conviction to us in an effort to bring repentance and restoration. Such discipline is not pleasant but is necessary (Hebrews 12:11). But if we are to live in active joy while serving the Lord, we must “stir up” the gifts that He has carefully given us. HMM III
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« Reply #6080 on: March 09, 2018, 07:49:51 AM »

False Prophets and True

“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” (Matthew 24:11)

In the apostolic period, two main gifts of the Spirit were those of the apostle and prophet. In fact, the church itself was “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20). One function of these men was to receive and transmit God’s revelation to His people—first verbally, then eventually written in permanent form in the New Testament. “Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ephesians 3:5).

The apostle Paul revealed also that such prophecies would cease once they were no longer needed. “When that which is perfect [or ‘complete’] is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Corinthians 13:9-10). Clearly in the context, this refers to the complete revelation of God. When the last book of the Bible was transmitted to the church by the last living apostle, the Lord warned us neither to “add unto” nor to “take away from the words of the book of this prophecy” (Revelation 22:18-19).

But many false prophets have indeed “gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1), just as Jesus warned, and they have “deceived many.” One of them, a self-asserted seventh-century “prophet” from Arabia, received certain “revelations” from a “god” that were vastly different from those of the God of the Bible, and his followers now number over a billion.

There have been others, before and since, and the Lord Jesus warned us always to “beware of false prophets” (Matthew 7:15). The basic criterion by which to test any alleged prophecy, ancient or modern, is whether or not it fully conforms to the written Word of God, the Bible. “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). HMM
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« Reply #6081 on: March 10, 2018, 07:49:54 AM »

The Sin of Complaining

“And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.” (Psalm 106:15)

Christians who complain about their circumstances would do well to ponder this sobering verse and its background. God had greatly blessed His people, Israel, delivering them supernaturally from slavery in Egypt, protecting them against their enemies—even miraculously supplying daily bread and water for them in the desert.

Still they complained—about their food, about the imaginary luxuries they had left behind in Egypt, and against their leaders. “And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled” (Numbers 11:1). Finally, when they complained about the manna, “the anger of the LORD was kindled greatly.” He sent them quail to eat in such abundance as to last “even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you.” Then, “while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed . . . the LORD smote the people with a very great plague” (Numbers 11:10, 20, 33).

God has blessed every Christian with forgiveness of sin and eternal life. He daily fulfills His promise to supply every need (not every desire, however), and we should live a thankful life in return, regardless of our particular lot in this world. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). “Do all things without murmurings and disputings” (Philippians 2:14). Complaining about what we don’t have may well result in God taking away what we do have—and still worse, sending leanness into our souls. HMM
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« Reply #6082 on: March 11, 2018, 08:01:41 AM »

The Finger of God

“This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.” (John 8:6)

During His earthly ministry, Jesus never wrote a book or any other document, so far as we know, but it is recorded that He wrote with His own finger in the sand and that what He wrote turned away those who had sought to stone a woman caught breaking one of God’s Ten Commandments.

The woman was repentant, however, and Jesus forgave her, evidently indicating this by what He wrote with His finger on the ground. This He could do because He, as God, had written this very commandment Himself with His own finger long before. “And he gave unto Moses . . . two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18). Moses testified: “And the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly” (Deuteronomy 9:10).

There are only two other references to the “finger of God” in the Bible. When the Lord through Moses brought the great plagues upon Egypt, Pharaoh’s magicians were able to imitate Moses’ first few miracles, but soon their deceptive “magic” could no longer compare, and they had to confess, “This is the finger of God” (Exodus 8:19).

There is one final mention of God’s finger in the New Testament. When the Pharisees charged that His power to cast evil spirits out of demon-possessed people had been given to Him by Satan, He affirmed rather, “I with the finger of God cast out devils” (Luke 11:20). Jesus is able both to forgive sins and to defeat Satan because He is the Creator of the universe and all its laws. HMM
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« Reply #6083 on: March 12, 2018, 08:47:15 AM »

Limitations on God's Promises

“Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 31:37)

The people of Israel, in spite of all God had done for them, continually rebelled against Him, even turning to other gods. One might think God would have destroyed them and started again, but He had made a promise first to Abraham, then to Isaac, and then to Jacob, that this nation would be His special people, and He would not break that promise.

In our text God reveals the “conditions” under which He would cast off Israel, but they are such that there is no possibility of their being met.

If heaven above can be measured: Neither Abraham nor Jeremiah could have had any concept of the number of stars or the depth of space. Now, with modern telescopes, we see unthinkable distances and even farther and farther as our technology increases. Estimates of the radius of the universe now stand at around 46 billion light-years, and no end is in sight.

If the foundations of the earth [can be] searched out beneath: Sometimes scientists claim they know more about the sun than they do the earth. But in reality, only one percent of the earth’s radius has been explored. The pressures and temperatures that exist deep inside the earth are unthinkably great, and we don’t even know how matter acts under those conditions. The promise to Israel is secure.

Scripture is likewise full of “exceeding great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4) made to the believer. Our text indicates God’s attitudes toward His promises. We need not worry that He will keep His Word. JDM
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« Reply #6084 on: March 13, 2018, 07:53:04 AM »

The One Real God

“For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.” (Psalm 96:5)

As the apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian Christians, “though there be [many] that are called gods, . . . to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (1 Corinthians 8:5-6).

Every person has his own “god”; even atheists order their lives by some principle of their own choosing that thus becomes in effect their “god”! There are multitudes of others who follow various other gods. For example, the Hindus have almost innumerable gods. Muslims, on the other hand, strongly argue for just one god, whom they call Allah, but it was not Allah who “made the heavens.” The truth revealed in the Bible is that it was God’s “dear Son” by whom “were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth” (Colossians 1:13, 16). Allah denies that he even has a Son, and he calls those who believe otherwise (meaning Christians) infidels. The Koran is alleged to consist of the verbally inspired words of Allah, but it (and therefore Allah) also denies the Trinity, as well as the death and resurrection of Christ, and so also denies that the Son of God provides salvation for all who believe on Him. That is more than enough to prove that Allah is not the God of the Bible.

In our text above, the word “idols” simply means “vanities.” It is all “in vain” to put one’s faith for eternity in a false god. The Lord Jesus alone, having created all things and paid the awful price to redeem all things, can truly provide eternal salvation. “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). He Himself verified that “I am the way, . . . no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). HMM
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« Reply #6085 on: March 14, 2018, 08:09:46 AM »

Made in Christ

“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” (1 Corinthians 1:30)

The Greek word ginomai, translated “is made” in this verse, is most fascinating. It is rendered many different ways—“become,” etc., as well as “be made.” Most often it is simply translated “be.” It basically means “begin to be,” or “be caused to be.” It is even applied to the work of Christ in calling the universe into being. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). “Things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3).

It is frequently used also to denote the marvelous work of Christ in and on the believing Christian. As our text says, He becomes wisdom to us who lack wisdom; He is made our righteousness, although we were sinners; we who are unholy receive our sanctification in Him; and when we were lost, He became our redemption. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become [same word, ginomai] the sons of God” (John 1:12). All that Christ is, we are made through His great sacrifice for us.

Note some of the other things we are made in Christ, by His grace. We are “made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13). We are “made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7). “We are made partakers of Christ” and also “made partakers of the Holy Ghost” (Hebrews 3:14; 6:4).

In fact, when we receive Christ, old things pass away and “all things are become [same word] new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). These wonderful attributes are given to us and appropriated right now by faith and will be accomplished in full perfection when Christ returns and “we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). HMM
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« Reply #6086 on: March 15, 2018, 07:52:53 AM »

Living Waters

“A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.” (Song of Solomon 4:15)

There are eight verses in the Bible with the phrase “living water,” four in the Old Testament, four in the New. All beautifully describe a spiritual truth under the figure of a flowing stream of refreshing water.

The first of these (in our text above) is a portion of the description of the lovely character of a bride as seen by her coming bridegroom, almost certainly symbolic of the Lord and His people. But then, through the prophet, God laments that “my people . . . have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). “They have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters” (Jeremiah 17:13). One day they shall return, however, and Zechariah prophesies that “living waters shall go out from Jerusalem. . . . And the LORD shall be king over all the earth” (Zechariah 14:8-9).

In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus appropriated this metaphor to Himself as He spoke to a woman of Samaria: “If thou knewest the gift of God . . . he would have given thee living water” (John 4:10; see also v. 11). “The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). Later in Jerusalem, He cried out to all, saying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said [referring, no doubt, to the above Old Testament passages], out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). Then, in the last book of the Bible is found a special promise for those who die for the Lord’s sake. “[He] shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17). HMM
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« Reply #6087 on: March 16, 2018, 08:46:32 AM »

The Winds of the World

“The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.” (Ecclesiastes 1:6)

This is one of the Bible’s many scientific insights, written long before such a process was discovered in the modern science of meteorology. The basic circulation of the atmosphere (which generates the winds of the world) is “toward the south” near the ground, which then “turneth about unto the north” aloft. The heated air near the equator expands and rises, then flows north to replace the colder, heavier air which has descended to the ground in the polar regions.

This simple north-south-north cycle is complicated, however, by the earth’s rotation. Further complexities are introduced by the different topographical features of the surface (oceans, mountains, etc.), but the end result is a general circulation of the whole atmosphere, which “whirleth about continually, and . . . returneth again according to his circuits.”

None of this was understood at all until very modern times, but this ancient verse in Ecclesiastes corresponds beautifully to modern science. In fact, it was not even known until recent times that air had weight, but the patriarch Job had noted about 4,000 years ago that “he . . . seeth under the whole heaven; to make the weight for the winds” (Job 28:24-25), and this fact is essential to the atmospheric circulation.

This is only one of many scientific principles implied in the Bible ages before men discovered them in their scientific research. In contrast, there are no demonstrable scientific errors in the Bible. This is not really surprising, for the same God who wrote the Word made the world! In Jesus Christ “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). HMM
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« Reply #6088 on: March 17, 2018, 07:46:06 AM »

The Quick and the Dead

“And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.” (Acts 10:42)

This is the climax of the first Christian sermon to the Gentiles delivered by Peter in the house of the Roman centurion, Cornelius. Peter emphasized the truth that Jesus was not just the promised Messiah of Israel, but that “he is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36), and that it is He alone who will judge the “quick and dead.”

This striking phrase occurs only three times in the Bible, each time denoting that Christ is Judge of all men. Paul wrote to Timothy as follows: “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:1-2). Peter wrote concerning the gross Gentile sins from which his readers had been delivered: “[They] shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5).

The term “quick” is the same as “living.” When Christ returns, “the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16), and then all believers, including those still alive in the flesh at His coming, “must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). This will be the judgment of the “quick.” All the saved are alive in Christ at “the resurrection of life.”

But He must also judge the dead—that is, those who are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1) at “the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29), “For the Father . . . hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (John 5:22). “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God . . . and they were judged every man according to their works. . . . This is the second death” (Revelation 20:12-14). 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 #6089 on: March 18, 2018, 07:59:10 AM »

Behold the Lamb

“And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36)

As he spoke to two of his followers, John the Baptist was, in effect, telling them that they should henceforth leave him to follow Jesus. “And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus” (John 1:37). On the previous day, when John had first seen Jesus coming, he had said, apparently to all his disciples, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

This is the first use of the word “lamb” in the New Testament, and it is significant that it refers here to the Lord Jesus as the one great sacrifice for our sins. He is called “the Lamb” 30 more times in the New Testament, the final time no longer viewing Him on the altar but on His eternal throne (Revelation 22:3). Yet, even on His throne as our King, He is still the Lamb, and we can never forget that He once died for us that we might live with Him.

Long before this, Isaac once asked his father, “Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God will provide himself a lamb” (Genesis 22:7-8). God did just that 2,000 years later, when Christ, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8), “came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Then when God was ready to set His people free in ancient Egypt, He told them to place the shed blood of a spotless lamb on the doorpost of each home and said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13). In fulfillment of all these ancient sacrifices and types, the once-for-all Lamb of God came, and “Christ our passover is sacrificed [even] for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

Now, like John’s disciples, it surely compels us, in the very depths of our souls, to “behold the Lamb of God” and follow Him. 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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