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« Reply #6105 on: April 03, 2018, 08:18:02 AM »

The Mind of Christ

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5)

Although salvation is free, it is not cheap since it required the Creator Himself to become man and submit to an agonizing death on the cross. This was the mind of Christ!

And, by the same token, although our salvation is not conditioned on any meritorious acts of our own, the standard by which we must measure our lives is nothing less than the perfect life of Jesus Christ. In the first place, our words and deeds are to be compared to His: “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). Our standard of holiness is to be His life of holiness. “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [meaning ‘behavior’]” (1 Peter 1:15).

If we truly follow His steps, they may well lead to suffering and persecution, but “he that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (1 John 2:6), and this involves a willingness to be “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20). The Christian life is preeminently to be characterized by unselfish love, but again the standard of that love is nothing less than the love of Christ Himself. “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).

To love as He loved, to walk where He walked, to be holy as He is holy, to follow His example in word and deed requires that we think as He thought, that the very attitude of our soul be like His. In position we do “have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16), but in practice we still come far short. May God help us to cast down “imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God,” and bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). HMM
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« Reply #6106 on: April 04, 2018, 09:23:10 AM »

Life and Immortality

“But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:10)

Most of us have read or heard the passage in 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 that directly challenges death and hell with the fact of the resurrected Christ and the promise of our own resurrection when He returns. There is no “sting” left in death and there is no law that overrides our salvation because our Lord Jesus has gained the victory.

Long ago, the great man Job faced his detractors with the confidence that “in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:26). The prophet Hosea, in the middle of difficult life demands and during a time of awful apostasy, heard the Lord promise those who were faithful, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction” (Hosea 13:14).

The good news of the implementation of God’s eternal plan brought “life and immortality to light.” All during the millennia of the Old Testament, fulfillment of God’s actions were hinted at, through the sacrifices of the altar, and promised oftentimes in the utterances of the prophets. But when the Messiah became incarnate, “we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14).

The apostle John, whose gospel and letters consummate in the great Revelation disclosure, could say, “The life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us” (1 John 1:2). He who is life (John 11:25) promised, “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). HMM III
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« Reply #6107 on: April 05, 2018, 07:37:06 AM »

God's Perfect Way

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.” (2 Samuel 22:31)

This is the 30th verse (out of 50) in David’s great “song of deliverance,” evidently considered by God to be of sufficient importance to have it included twice (2 Samuel 22 and Psalm 18) in His written Word. Its testimony is greatly needed.

One of the most common excuses given by men for rejecting the God of the Bible is their opinion that His ways are unfair. Even Christians are prone to complain at the way God deals with them. But the fact that we may not understand God’s ways hardly gives us the right to pass judgment on them. He often reminds us in His Word that His way is perfect and His Word has been tried and proved, again and again. “For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth” (Psalm 33:4). “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul” (Psalm 19:7).

We need to settle it in our hearts that, whether we understand them or not, God’s ways are always perfect. What He does is right, and whatever He says must be true by definition. His ways are always in the context of eternity, but we leap to judgment in terms of present inconvenience.

His perfect way is seen most fully in Christ, and His truth is heard most clearly in Christ, for “I am the way,” He said, and I am “the truth” (John 14:6). Yet, Christ’s way was through the cross, and His truth was opposed by the father of lies (John 8:44). God’s way for us may also lead us into suffering and great opposition, but His way is always perfect, and His Word is tried and true. If we trust Him through it all, He will be our buckler as He was for David. “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him” (Proverbs 30:5). HMM
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« Reply #6108 on: April 06, 2018, 09:09:50 AM »

Our Refuge

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.” (Psalm 46:1-2)

“The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble” (Psalm 9:9). What a comfort it is, in these days of turmoil and opposition, to know that our Lord is “a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat” (Isaiah 25:4).

Our refuge is strong and secure. The psalmist testifies: “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust” (Psalm 91:2). Then God answers: “Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee” (Psalm 91:9-10 and see also vv. 10-13).

Not only does our refuge provide safety and protection, but no other refuge will do. After identifying our refuge by the words “Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste [or be ‘alarmed’]” (Isaiah 28:16), God warns that those who refuse His true refuge will receive instead His “judgment,” for He “shall sweep away the refuge of lies” (Isaiah 28:17).

The apostle Peter, fresh from his personal encounters with his risen Lord, confronted the Jewish leaders with their serious error of rejection. “This is the stone which was set at nought of you” (Acts 4:11). In his charge, however, he included the precious truth: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (v. 12). Our refuge, our sure foundation, is none other than our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom we have “fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:18). JDM
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« Reply #6109 on: April 07, 2018, 08:32:26 AM »

The Fires of Hell

“And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” (James 3:6)

Since the tongue can be a “world of iniquity” if it is “set on fire of hell,” this implies hell is not merely a “lake of fire” but is essentially a world of iniquity where “he that is unjust” and “he which is filthy” are unjust and filthy still (Revelation 22:11), separated forever “from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:9). This is the destiny of all who “obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 8).

Their resurrected bodies presumably will be quickly consumed by the very real fires of the fiery lake, but their spirits are eternal, created in the image of God, and will continue to exist eternally in a world of iniquity, having spurned Christ’s free gift of righteousness and love. This will not be mere physical suffering but spiritual suffering.

The hell described in Islam’s Koran is quite different. It consists of physical tortures of all kinds, described frequently throughout the book, seemingly with relish by its author as the destiny of all “infidels” (meaning all who refuse to become Muslims and submit to a god called Allah and his prophet Mohammed). On the other hand, a very sensual paradise is repeatedly promised to all faithful male Muslims, with dozens of “dark-eyed” nymphs available to serve them (little is said about rewards for faithful women).

Christians and Muslims have some beliefs in common, of course, but the overriding consideration in comparing them must always be the fact that Christ alone has defeated death and can save all who come to Him in faith, promising eternal life in a real heaven with no more tears and no more pain (Revelation 21:4). HMM
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« Reply #6110 on: April 08, 2018, 09:12:47 AM »

The Christian's Lifestyle: Our Gifts

“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:7)

The grace that is given (Greek charis) is a distribution by the Holy Spirit of gifts (same Greek word) to every believer (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). Seventeen different gifts are listed in three New Testament passages (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-10; Ephesians 4:11), all of them intended by the Holy Spirit to minister to the church and to enhance her unity (Romans 12:3; 1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 4:12).

Three reasons are cited for these gifts (Ephesians 4:12). “The perfecting of the saints” is a process that describes making something useful or suitable that is not yet adequate. James and John “mended” their nets (Matthew 4:21). And Paul prayed that he might supply that which was “lacking” (1 Thessalonians 3:10). So, the gifts of the Holy Spirit mend that which is lacking in the saints. The work of the ministry is a joint effort of service (2 Corinthians 6:1) that recognizes the public visibility of that service (2 Corinthians 4:1-2) and steadfastly displays those gifts so that the “ministry be not blamed” (2 Corinthians 6:3). The edifying of the body of Christ focuses the use of the gifts on the enrichment and betterment of the local assembly of believers (1 Corinthians 14:5, 12, 26).

The goal is to bring all (the saints) to a state of doctrinal unity (the faith) so that our maturity can be compared to the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13), eliminating susceptibility to “every wind of doctrine,” growing up into Him in all things, and building the “body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:14-16). HMM III
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« Reply #6111 on: April 09, 2018, 07:56:16 AM »

The Rivers and the Sea

“All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.” (Ecclesiastes 1:7)

As the ancients observed the mighty Nile and Euphrates and other great rivers flowing into the ocean, they could not help but wonder why the sea level never rose. They knew that many of the waters in the rivers came from rainfall, especially during floods, but they had only quaint notions, at best, as to where the rains originated. Not until the days of modern science did men discover that rainfall actually comes from the oceans via evaporation and atmospheric transportation.

But the Bible writers somehow seemed to know about the true nature of the hydrologic cycle thousands of years in advance of modern science. The rivers come from the same place to which they return—that is, the sea.

But how do the waters of the sea ever rise into the sky? “He maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: Which the clouds do drop and distill upon man abundantly” (Job 36:27-28). Water droplets are made very small by the process of evaporation so they can be carried aloft by the up-rushing air forces over warm waters; later they “distill upon man abundantly.”

There are other references in Scripture to different phases of this great hydrologic cycle, but one of the most significant is Isaiah 55:10-11: “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth. . . . So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please.” The waters return to the skies only after doing their good work on the lands. Just so, the life-giving Word of God returns to Him, not void, but full of the spiritual fruit for which He sent it. HMM
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« Reply #6112 on: April 10, 2018, 08:37:32 AM »

Fear the Right Fear

“Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” (Isaiah 8:12-13)

The people of Judah were terrified by the imminent prospect of invasion by the cruel Assyrian hordes who had been further strengthened by a confederacy with Judah’s own brethren in the 10-tribe kingdom of Israel. It is indeed cause for concern when compromising Christians join ranks with ungodly pagans in opposing those who defend the true Word of God, for such a combination seems almost too strong to resist. A modern example is the current collaboration between the secular evolutionists and those Christian evolutionists and “progressive creationists” who oppose Christians who stand for the literal truth of the biblical record of creation and Earth history.

This is cause only for concern, however, not for fear! Just as in Isaiah’s day, we must fear God—not men. In the coming judgment it will be far easier to explain to God why we had too much faith in His Word than too little!

These verses are referred to by the apostle Peter in a well-known New Testament passage: “Be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:14-15).

Therefore, when unbelievers and compromising believers join forces against those who fully believe the Bible, the proper response is not panic, or submission, or even belligerent opposition, but an implicit confidence in God and His Word, accompanied by a gracious “answer” (literally “apologetic”) in defense of the truth, given in a meek spirit and in fear only of God. HMM
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« Reply #6113 on: April 11, 2018, 08:59:09 AM »

Reject Favoritism

“My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.” (James 2:1)

Evidently the believers in the early church were much like us in that they tended to honor and favor wealthy individuals in their congregations. James commands them to reject such partiality and gives the reasons why.

The first reason is that God’s perspective is just the opposite. He favors the one of low rank. “Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom?” (v. 5).

Next, we see that favoritism never impresses the rich—it always backfires. “Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?” (v. 6). Showing favoritism is not practical.

Then, note that the favored ones are probably least deserving. In fact, often “they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called” (v. 7). In doing so, they dishonor the Lord, in whose name we gather.

Finally, such favoritism is a violation of “the royal law,” that summary statement of God’s plan for our relationships: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (v. 8). If the law is kept, “ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin. . . . For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (vv. 8-10).

Peter had learned this lesson, first in a vision, and then in his miraculous ministry to the Gentiles. “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34).

As our text reveals, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and showing favoritism on any basis (not only riches, but color, education, ethnic, or national background, etc.) are not compatible. JDM
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« Reply #6114 on: April 12, 2018, 07:57:00 AM »

He Is Able

“Nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

The apostle Paul uses a precision of synonyms. We are to “know” the One in whom we have believed and to be “persuaded” that He is able to “keep” us.

The knowledge Paul cited (Greek i’do) emphasizes mental understanding as opposed to experiential knowledge or intuitive perception. I’do coupled with the word for persuasion (Greek peitho) strengthens the assurance Paul is promising. Our confidence is not based on mere emotion but on a clear grasp of God’s secure salvation. Perhaps a quick survey of other passages will encourage your heart as you read this:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).

“Being confident of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

“God . . . hath begotten us again to . . . an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 1:24-25).

What marvelous promises! Our surety is based on who God is rather than on our own individual steadfastness. HMM III
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« Reply #6115 on: April 13, 2018, 08:54:51 AM »

Together with Christ

“Even when we were dead in sins, [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)

In these two marvelous verses the word “together” appears three times, referring in each case to our spiritual union with Jesus Christ. Three different words are used, each being compounded with the Greek sun, meaning “together with.” The first combination means “made alive with”; the second, “resurrected with”; the third, “seated with.”

All of these verbs are given in the past tense, stressing that, as far as God’s own Word is concerned, we have been already seated eternally in the heavens with Christ, having been born again with His own life spiritually and raised from the dead physically. All of these blessings were given to us “even when we were dead in sins,” not because of our good works or by our good intentions, but only “by grace ye are saved.”

The remarkable truth is that this doctrine of our eternal union with Christ, given and maintained only by His grace, does not lead to carelessness or sinfulness as some allege, but to a desire for a holy, God-honoring life. “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? . . . like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:2, 4).

The regenerate nature implanted by the Holy Spirit, a heart of gratitude for Christ’s sacrificial love for us, and the wonderful promises in God’s Word, all combine to transform our lives, making us new creatures in Christ, knowing that henceforth we shall “ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). HMM
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« Reply #6116 on: April 14, 2018, 08:13:47 AM »

Snares

“Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:7)

A snare is a trap normally used to catch an unwary wild animal, but each of the five times the word (Greek pagis) is used in the New Testament, it refers to devices used by the great deceiver, Satan, to trap unwary human beings.

There is, first of all, the snare of worldly involvement. “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:34-35).

There is the snare of rejecting God’s Word, both the written Word and the living Word. When Israel repudiated Christ, God said: “Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them” (Romans 11:9, quoting Psalm 69:22). The desire for riches can be a snare. “They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Timothy 6:9).

Satan has many other “devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11) by which he seeks “an advantage of us.” Not even “bishops” or other full-time Christian ministers are immune, for our text is a warning to prospective bishops against “the snare of the devil.” It is the responsibility of every true “servant of the Lord” to be “gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves . . . that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26). We must both avoid Satan’s snares ourselves and seek to deliver those who have been thus ensnared. HMM
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« Reply #6117 on: April 15, 2018, 07:47:56 AM »

The Christian's Lifestyle: Our Behavior

“This I say . . . that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk.” (Ephesians 4:17)

This succinct command quickly is followed by a sweeping description of the impotent mind of the Gentiles of that day in contrast to the utterly changed condition of the believer (whether Jew or Gentile). The non-Christian Gentiles had a darkened perceptive ability, rendering them alienated because of the ignorance that was in them, and an overall blindness of their heart that was the root cause of their inability to function, even to feel, in the same way as the children of God (Ephesians 4:18-19; compare Romans 1:21-32; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

The saint of God, however, is told to discard the old man and to put on the new man (Ephesians 4:20-24), as though that simple picture of a powerful reality is adequate instruction to fulfill the earlier command. No longer is the child of God to be corrupted by the deceitful lusts of his or her old condition, but having learned Christ and been taught by Him is to be renewed in the spirit of their mind. A transformation is now possible through the new mental (intellectual, spiritual) abilities given to us by Christ (Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 2:16).

The new man, which we are responsible to wear like a body-enveloping cloak, is created for us by the omniscient Creator in righteousness and true holiness. We have been given a specially created new man to wear (externally visible), which will show (exhibit, demonstrate, make clear) the spiritual difference between the Gentiles and the saints of God.

The 17 commands that follow (Ephesians 4:24-5:7) address every aspect of the Christian walk, all relating to a lifestyle of truth, giving specific contrast between the unbelieving Gentile and the saint. HMM III
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« Reply #6118 on: April 16, 2018, 08:32:13 AM »

Things to Keep

“And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Matthew 19:17)

The two main Greek words for “keep” in the New Testament both mean more than just “obey,” though this meaning is certainly included. They also mean “guard” and “preserve.” We are thus told by Christ, in our text above, to guard and obey God’s commandments.

The same urgent command to keep what God has given is applied to many other entities in Scripture. For example, Paul stresses that we are to “keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20). In other words, false science (evolution) and vain babbling (humanistic philosophies) will seek to destroy the tenets of God’s truth, so we must always be diligent to guard and protect these truths.

Each person is also urged to “keep himself unspotted from the world” and to “keep thyself pure” (James 1:27; 1 Timothy 5:22). The forces of darkness make perpetual attacks against the spiritual and moral integrity of the Christian, so we must constantly be alert to protect ourselves against their enticements. Then, we must also endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3) and to “keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 1:21), for the enemy will continually try to sow discord and bitterness among God’s people.

There are many verses that stress the keeping of His commandments (e.g., John 14:15) and the keeping of His words (e.g., 1 John 2:5). Finally, in the very last chapter of the Bible, the Lord sums it all up, as it were, when He promises: “Blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (Revelation 22:7). 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 #6119 on: April 17, 2018, 07:14:23 AM »

Tragic Ignorance

“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:3)

There are several important doctrinal truths about which unbelievers—and sometimes even Christians—seem tragically ignorant, with an ignorance affecting their very lives and destinies. Perhaps the most tragic is that mentioned in our text. Paul was writing specifically of the Jews, but the same ignorance is found in countless others—people who seek to earn salvation by their own religious and moral works rather than through faith in the imputed righteousness of Christ, who died for their sins.

There is also widespread ignorance concerning death and life beyond the grave. “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14). With respect to Christian life and ministry, Paul says: “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant” (1 Corinthians 12:1). Yet, most Christians neglect to develop or use their gifts, mainly because of ignorance concerning their proper function as described in 1 Corinthians 12, 14; Romans 12:3-21; Ephesians 4:7-16, and other key passages.

We urgently also need to be instructed concerning the deceptions of the wicked one: “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11). For all who seek instruction rather than ignorance, let them study God’s Word, for “all scripture . . . is profitable for . . . instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). 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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