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Soldier4Christ
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« Reply #7380 on: September 23, 2021, 09:29:23 AM »

The Meaning of Man

“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Psalm 8:3-4)

This question has been posed as a rhetorical question by many generations of skeptics, especially in our present generation when the tremendous size of the universe is often used to argue that God, if He exists, could not possibly be interested in such a small speck of dust as our own planet.

But essentially the same argument was used against Job by one of his three “miserable comforters” (Job 16:2) over 3,500 years ago. “How then can man be justified with God?...that is a worm? and the son of man, which is a worm?” (Job 25:4, 6).This dismal type of reasoning, however, is utterly fallacious. Significance is not a function of size but of purposeful complexity, and the human brain is surely the most complex physical system in the entire universe, as acknowledged even by such an eminent atheistic scientist as Isaac Asimov. Rather than being insignificant nonentities, men and women have been created in the very image of God and are the objects of His redeeming love.

The most wonderful measure of man’s importance is the fact that God Himself became a man! “Christ Jesus...being in the form of God...took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5-7) to be able to take our death penalty upon Himself. Furthermore, God’s love for man is measured not only by His substitutionary death for our sins but also by His eternal creative purpose for us. He has redeemed us so that “in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). HMM
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« Reply #7381 on: September 24, 2021, 08:52:54 AM »

For Thy Name's Sake

“For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.” (Psalm 31:3)

In this psalm of misery and mercy, we see David’s testimony. “In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness” (Psalm 31:1). His faith was strong, but afflictions and opposition were on all sides. He appeals to God for relief (Psalm 31:2) and is confident of the reply and that that reply will reflect God’s omnipotence and grace. His total trust was in this benevolent God. “Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth” (v. 5), which, of course, was quoted by Christ at the moment of His death on the cross (Luke 23:46).

But note David’s grounds for appeal to God for action: “For thy name’s sake,” as recorded in our text. David’s heartfelt desire here is more than merely relief from his persecution, as desperate as was that need, but for the glory of God and the honor of His name.

God’s name and reputation are at stake when His children are being persecuted. Indeed, the national leaders of Israel had frequently prayed for God to act on the same grounds (for example, see Exodus 32:12). Even in the New Testament we are encouraged to pray in that name: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13).

Even though we are always warranted in using this plea in our praying, we must do so in recognition of and submission to the fact that there are limitations. God will never contradict His nature or His Word, and in His sovereignty He knows better solutions to each problem than we can ask for. His greater plans must always take precedence. But when these prerequisites are recognized and accepted, the prayer in His name and for His glory is the one that prevails. JDM
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« Reply #7382 on: September 25, 2021, 08:32:43 AM »

My Lord and My God

“And Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28)

Thomas has been called “doubting Thomas” because of his initial reluctance to believe in the Lord’s resurrection, but neither the Lord nor the other disciples ever viewed him in such a light. His later ministry, as the first missionary/ martyr to India, speaks clearly of his great faith.

It is only in John’s gospel that we have any specific insight into Thomas’ character. When the other disciples sought to dissuade Jesus from returning to Jerusalem, it was Thomas who urged, “Let us also go, that we may die with him” (John 11:16). Thomas understood the dangers awaiting them but was ready to go wherever Jesus desired him to go. In the upper room when Jesus spoke of going away, Thomas, still willing to go with Him anywhere, was the only one to ask, “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (John 14:5). Then, just a few hours later, the Lord had been crucified, and soon “the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews” (John 20:19) as they hid themselves in the upper room.

But Thomas was not hiding! The Scriptures do not say where he was when Jesus appeared in their midst, but he was not hiding there like the others. He may well have been out working or witnessing, doing whatever he could to follow the Lord, but he (like the others) had failed to understand Jesus’ promise that He would rise again.

When the other disciples reported that they had seen the resurrected Lord, Thomas, realizing the tremendous significance of such a miracle if it were true, insisted he must see the proof firsthand. Then, when he saw the Lord, he showed a higher comprehension of what had taken place than any of the others, as he whispered in awe: “My Lord, and my God!” HMM
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« Reply #7383 on: September 26, 2021, 09:12:40 AM »

The Glory of the Lord

“And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.” (1 Kings 8:10-11)

This remarkable glory cloud filling Solomon’s temple at its dedication had also been present when the tabernacle in the wilderness was dedicated. At that time, Moses recorded how “a cloud covered the tent of the congregation,...and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” Furthermore, this “cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys” (Exodus 40:34-35, 38). There could be no doubt as to His presence.

It is well known that this cloud of divine glory was called the Shekinah. Although this actual word never occurs in the Bible itself, it is closely related to the Hebrew words for “dwell” (shakan) and “tabernacle” (mishkan).

The significant truth here, of course, is not the name but the fact. The glory cloud was removed when Israel became apostate. “And the glory of the LORD went up from the midst of the city” (Ezekiel 11:23).

When God returned to Earth in the person of His Son, “the Word was made flesh, and [tabernacled] among us.” Then, once again, those who had eyes to see “beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father” (John 1:14). By His Spirit, He now even lives in the human bodies of those who receive Him, and “Christ in you” becomes our own “hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Then, as we live in His Word, “we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). HMM
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« Reply #7384 on: September 27, 2021, 09:10:39 AM »

The New Creation

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Galatians 6:15)

In the original Greek text of the New Testament, the word translated “creature” is the same as “creation,” so Paul, in our text, is stressing the vital importance of being a “new creation” in Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is nothing less than the mighty Creator of heaven and Earth (Colossians 1:16), and the very same creative power that called the universe into existence must be exerted on each lost sinner to create in him a new nature, capable of having the eternal fellowship with God for which man and woman were created in the beginning.

This new creation is not only for the purpose of saving their souls, but also for transforming their lives. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Although good works can never bring salvation, salvation must inevitably bring good works, for we are thereby “created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Paul exhorts us to continually “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).

Adam and Eve were originally created “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27), but that image has been grievously damaged by unbelief and overt sin. Although still resident in man—in fact, distinguishing him from the animals—this divine image must be renewed through saving faith in our Creator/Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Scripture reminds all true believers that they “have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Colossians 3:9-10). HMM
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« Reply #7385 on: September 28, 2021, 10:14:30 AM »

The Unintentional Prophet

“And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation.” (John 11:51)

Even after seeing the miracle of Lazarus restored to life, high priest Caiaphas refused to believe Jesus was the Messiah and was more firmly resolved than ever to have Him put to death. He used the excuse that Jesus might cause the Romans to destroy the Jews’ religious system. So he said, “It is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not” (John 11:50).

Like Balaam, forced to prophesy what he did not intend (Numbers 24:10-13), Caiaphas was made to predict the true significance of Christ’s coming death. Instead of His death being “expedient for us”—for Caiaphas and his system—it was indeed “expedient that one man should die for the people” (John 18:14).

This is a remarkable divine irony. Caiaphas, the chief religious representative of God to the people of Israel, should have known the Old Testament prophecies and gladly welcomed Jesus as the promised Messiah. Instead, he organized His trial and condemnation. Yet he was divinely inspired (without knowing or intending it) to point out the real mission of Christ to the Jews and the whole world—that of substitutionary sacrifice for their sins. It is also interesting that in 1992 the bones of this same Caiaphas were discovered in a tomb underneath the modern city.

So far as we know, Caiaphas died still rejecting Christ. Nevertheless, following Christ’s substitutionary death, the evidence for His glorious resurrection (eternal, not temporary like that of Lazarus) became so clear and compelling that “a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). Caiaphas did, indeed, manage to get Jesus crucified, but the result was salvation for multitudes. HMM
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« Reply #7386 on: September 29, 2021, 08:00:00 AM »

Knowing Christ

“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11)

When Paul speaks of knowing the Lord Jesus, he stresses the process involved in reaching the desired level of knowledge. These particular points of awareness (knowing the resurrection power, the fellowship of sufferings, and being conformed to His death) are not mere academic achievements but part of the process of experiencing life and personal study of God’s Word that produces confident knowledge.

John’s letter gives several key signs on how to “know” the Savior, one of which is keeping God’s commandments (1 John 2:3-5). The lifestyle of obedience (process of godliness) provides the experience that produces the knowledge.

Paul’s reference to the power of the resurrection is reflected in the wonderful promise of Ephesians 1:17-21. There, Paul says we can know the “exceeding greatness of his power” that was demonstrated in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus—that very power being beyond anything that can be observed in this or any age to come.

The fellowship that we now share in Christ’s sufferings is merely the process by which we are “being made conformable unto his death” (today’s verse). Paul noted that we were “crucified with Christ” but are still alive since Christ “liveth in [us]” (Galatians 2:20). Our bodies are to be “living [sacrifices]” so that we can prove the “good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God,” having been transformed by our renewed minds (Romans 12:1-2).

These many life processes are what our gracious God has decreed for our ultimate eternal possession—being “conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). HMM III
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« Reply #7387 on: September 30, 2021, 08:40:26 AM »

The Prophet's Chamber

“And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually. Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither.” (2 Kings 4:9-10)

This sparsely furnished little room, built by a kindly woman and her elderly husband, was the prototype of all the so-called “prophet’s chambers” that have been built for traveling teachers and evangelists ever since.

Little did this simple couple anticipate what fruit their kindness would bear one day. “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers,” the Bible says, “for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2). In the first place, to show his appreciation, Elisha prayed that the Lord would give them a son, and God miraculously answered (2 Kings 4:16-17).

Then, tragically, the boy died quite suddenly several years later while Elisha was at Mount Carmel, some 15 miles away. The Shunammite woman laid her son on Elisha’s bed in the prophet’s chamber, then rode hastily to find Elisha and bring him to the boy. The round trip must have taken her two days or more, and the boy’s dead body lay on the prophet’s bed in the little room all that time.

But then Elisha prayed once again, and the most amazing event took place there (2 Kings 4:33-35). For only the second time in history, a dead person was restored to life.

The Shunammite mother and her son are never heard from again. But for 3,000 years the testimony of a little chamber and the love and faith of the godly woman who prepared it as a simple service for her Lord and His prophet, and the godly mother who sacrificially loved her son, has been an inspiration and example to multitudes. HMM
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« Reply #7388 on: October 01, 2021, 09:57:11 AM »

Unshakable Things

“And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.” (Hebrews 12:27)

In this present evil world, there are many pressures that would tend to shake our faith and tempt us to compromise. Paul would exhort persecuted believers “that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled” by such things, but rather to “stand fast” in the truths God has taught them (2 Thessalonians 2:2, 15).

The “hope set before us:...we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast” (Hebrews 6:18-19). The “word” to which our text refers is from Haggai 2:6-7: “For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come,” who will establish “a kingdom which cannot be moved” (Hebrews 12:28).

Note God’s amazing promise: “The heavens shall vanish away like smoke,...but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished” (Isaiah 51:6). Similarly, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). “The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:17).

The earth may crumble, and even our bodies may return to dust, but God’s Word endures, and so do His righteousness and His kingdom and His great salvation! If our hope is in Him and His Word alone, and if we are seeking to do His gracious will, then our faith and our destiny can never be shaken. “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain” (Isaiah 66:22). HMM
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« Reply #7389 on: October 02, 2021, 09:45:02 AM »

In His Steps

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” (Psalm 37:23)

There is nothing more satisfying to a believer than to be living in the will of God for his life. And it is good to know that God actually delights in leading us along that way that He is laying out for us. There are numerous Bible verses to this effect. One of the most familiar is “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:6).

That verse gives us a basic principle for knowing His way. We need to seek His leading in everything! Of course, it may not be an easy path. “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).

Even if the path seems difficult at times, it is a good path because it honors Him. “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3). He is the good Shepherd, and if we lose the way for a time, He can bring us back. As the prophet said: “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).

An important check to be sure we are not drifting far off the path is to be sure we don’t disobey or question His written Word. “Order my steps in thy word,” we should pray each day (Psalm 119:133). Then He promises: “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left” (Isaiah 30:21).

It may not be an audible voice, but we can hear. Jesus promised: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Then we can say, as the ancient servant testified: “I being in the way, the LORD led me” (Genesis 24:27). HMM
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« Reply #7390 on: October 03, 2021, 09:03:09 AM »

Following the Mark

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

Paul called his personal achievements (Philippians 3:4-6) as valuable as dung (v. 8), rejecting his own righteousness (v. 9). Now he is focused on reaching the “high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” He is well aware that he has not already attained God’s ultimate design for him, nor is he perfect in any sense of what he will become, but he intends to follow after and be “apprehended” of the Lord Jesus (Philippians 3:12).

To begin with, Paul knows that he must forget “those things which are behind.” Not only his rather stellar reputation and achievements, but especially the awful conditions of being “without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). Those terrible conditions were done away with when Paul (and those of us who are twice-born) were created after God “in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).

Now, having been apprehended of Christ and forgetting those things that were part of our old lives, we can “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (today’s verse). Like for an athlete, the prize is gained only by those who win, not by those who run “uncertainly” (1 Corinthians 9:24, 26).

Thus, we cannot win if we have “two masters” (Luke 16:13), nor can we please “him who has chosen” us if we entangle ourselves with the affairs of this life (2 Timothy 2:4). May God keep us focused on the prize. HMM III
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« Reply #7391 on: October 04, 2021, 08:31:24 AM »

The Dispensation of Grace

“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward.” (Ephesians 3:2)

So-called “dispensationalism” has had both its advocates and opponents among Bible-believing Christians. The Greek word translated “dispensation” (oikonomia), from which we derive our English word “economy,” actually means an “economy,” or also a “stewardship.”

The number and nature of the various “dispensations” or “economies” through which the Creator has dealt with His human creation during the course of history has been the subject of considerable discussion and variation among commentators. Possible distinct dispensations might include the post-Eden economy instituted after sin and God’s curse came into the world, the post-diluvian economy established by Noah after the Flood, and the economy begun by Abraham when God began to work especially with the nation of Israel. However, none of these are actually called “dispensations” in the Scriptures, so any such listing is bound to be somewhat arbitrary.

There are two dispensations, however, specifically called such in Scripture. One is the “dispensation of the fulness of times,” when God will “gather together in one all things in Christ” (Ephesians 1:10). This will be the eternal economy of the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21-22).

Then there is this present “dispensation of the grace of God.” We, like Paul, have been called as “stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). So, like Paul, each of us could say that “a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me” (1 Corinthians 9:17), and that “I am made a minister [or ‘servant’], according to the dispensation of God which is given to me” (Colossians 1:25). Thus, the dispensation of grace is a real stewardship responsibility committed to each believer. HMM
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« Reply #7392 on: October 05, 2021, 05:08:29 AM »

The Heart of Stone

“Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” (Ephesians 4:18)

The blindness mentioned in our text is the same word used to describe a kind of stone. In verb form, this word indicates a process and means “to make hard or to petrify.” Often the word is translated as “hardness.”

The people of Israel developed a hard heart and mind toward God and the things of God (2 Corinthians 3:13-15), which continually brought grief and anger to the Lord Jesus (Mark 3:5). Even the disciples suffered from this hardness (Mark 6:52; 8:17).

Our text is directed toward New Testament believers who are challenged not to become blinded or petrified as are unbelievers. This petrification in the moral realm can be compared to the loss of sensation in the physical realm—a kind of spiritual paralysis as when sensor and motor nerves no longer respond. “Who being past feeling have given themselves over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Ephesians 4:19).

Petrification of once-living tissue usually takes place over the course of many years, as each organic molecule decays and is removed, with the space it occupied refilled with stony material dissolved in groundwater percolating through the host material. Or it may take place as material is injected into the living tissue, thus stopping all life processes. In just such a way, the hardening of the heart can take place slowly, but finally petrification is complete. Petrification of wood can be stopped by removing it from the decay-and-replacement process, but natural processes cannot return it to its former state. Praise God that we can “put on the new man” (v. 24) with a renewed (new) mind and spirit (v. 23), no longer hardened toward the things of God. JDM
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« Reply #7393 on: October 06, 2021, 07:33:54 AM »

Hastening His Coming

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

These very familiar words of the Lord Jesus are commonly considered as a statement of His Great Commission, commanding us to go “into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Actually, however, it is not given here as a command but rather as a declarative statement— indeed, a prophecy—saying that we shall witness for Him to the very ends of the earth.

Then, His disciples were promised that “this same Jesus” would return (Acts 1:11), with the promise clearly tied to the prophecy. Just a few weeks previously they had asked, “What shall be the sign of thy coming?” (Matthew 24:3). And Jesus had answered, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (v. 14). Mark recorded His answer very simply: “The gospel must first be published among all nations” (Mark 13:10).

Peter says that the Lord may seem to have delayed “the promise of his coming” because He “is longsuffering...not willing that any should perish,” urging us to “account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation” (2 Peter 3:4, 9, 15), suggesting that we should be “looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God” (2 Peter 3:12).

We can hardly draw any other conclusion from such passages than that if we want the Lord to return quickly, we can hasten His coming by fulfilling His command and His prophecy, doing whatever we can to publish His gospel among all nations. His coming has always been imminent because this could well have been done—and can be done—at any time. But it evidently has not been done yet. HMM
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« Reply #7394 on: October 07, 2021, 09:12:58 AM »

Who and What to Esteem

“Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” (Hebrews 11:26)

We hear much today about the importance of self-esteem, with the implication that lack of self-esteem is the cause of many of the personal problems and antisocial activities of so many young people (and others as well) these days.

But this is not the biblical perspective. The problem really is too much self-esteem. The biblical command is that we should “in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). The man Moses was once a prince of Egypt, probably in line to become the pharaoh, but he chose Christ and the people of God instead, “esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt” (today’s text).

Paul the apostle could have become the greatest teacher and leader in the religious/political life of his own Jewish people, but he said: “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:7-8). In these verses, “count” is the same word in the original Greek language as “esteem.”

Similarly, the apostle James assures us that we should “count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations”—that is, trials that test your faith—“knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:2-3).

Therefore, if we would truly conform to the will of God for our lives, we should be esteeming others more than cultivating self-esteem in ourselves, esteem knowing and serving Christ more than all the riches and fame of the world, and esteem it a joyful privilege when we are enabled to grow more like Him through the trials and testings He permits us to share. 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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