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« Reply #7455 on: December 05, 2021, 09:19:16 AM »

The Christian's Position

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” (Ephesians 1:4)

The search for identity and meaning can drive one to great successes or tragic failures. For the Christian, however, the question is answered throughout Ephesians.

We are chosen! We are selected as a favorite out of “many [who] are called” (Matthew 22:14) “out of the world” (John 15:19). What a privilege! We are God’s choice to bear His name, represent His cause, and share His glory throughout eternity.

In fact, we are “predestinated [previous boundaries set]...unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself” (Ephesians 1:5). And “if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17).

Furthermore, we have been “accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). That word, “accepted,” is a specialized form of the word most often translated “grace.” We have been “graced” by almighty God, who has set absolute boundaries around our lives and made us His children. We were purchased “through his blood” (v. 7) “that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar [that is, ‘precious’] people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14).

Moreover, we are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7)! Our sins are “covered” (Psalm 32:1); “cast” behind God’s back (Isaiah 38:17); removed “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12); “remember[ed]...no more” (Jeremiah 31:34); and cleansed “from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Hallelujah! Since we are God’s children, we should have no identity crisis. We are a chosen, predestined, accepted, redeemed, forgiven, and holy people. Finally, we are predestined “to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). HMM III
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« Reply #7456 on: December 06, 2021, 09:25:25 AM »

The Christian's Purpose

“According as he hath chosen us in him...that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” (Ephesians 1:4)

In the grand purpose of our “selection” into God’s family, two key words are used:

“Holy” (Greek hagios) stresses dedication. A holy man or woman is distinctively God’s, set apart for God’s use, separated from the secular, and consecrated to God’s service. All who are “chosen” are chosen to be holy.

The Colossian Christians were told to “mortify” the physical appetites, to “put off” their sinful mental attitudes and habits, and to “put on the new man...as the elect of God, holy and beloved” (Colossians 3:5-12). The focus is character.

“Without blame” refers to our reputations. This character will only be fully realized in heaven (1 Corinthians 1:8), but there is a present responsibility to “present your bodies a living sacrifice...And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:1-2).

The character of holiness will become the cause of a lifestyle of blamelessness. We are to be the “sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).

This holy and blameless condition will result in “the praise of the glory of his grace” (Ephesians 1:6), where God will someday “gather together in one all things in Christ” (v. 10).

What a magnificent thought! The purpose for which we have been chosen, predestined, redeemed, and forgiven is to be holy in character and blameless in reputation, so that when God gathers us all together in Christ, we will be the praise of the glorious grace of God! HMM III
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« Reply #7457 on: December 07, 2021, 09:26:30 AM »

The Christian's Prosperity

“God and Father...who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3)

Given our high position in Christ, it follows that God would provide whatever is necessary to accomplish His purposes in and for us.

The Beatitudes of Matthew 5:3-12 provide a good illustration. Each blessing is designed to meet a need or fulfill a desire of God’s chosen (Ephesians 1:4). The poor, meek, and persecuted are given ownership in the Kingdom. The mournful are given God’s special comfort. Those who hunger for righteousness are filled. The merciful will obtain mercy, the pure in heart will see God, and the peacemakers are identified as God’s children. The longings of our souls and characters are all met by God.

The practical needs of “wisdom and prudence” are met, too (v. 8). Wisdom is knowledge focused toward useful application, and prudence is the ability to develop successful activities based on wisdom. The Word of God is the source of wisdom (Deuteronomy 4:1-6; Proverbs 1:1-6) and is inspired of God to be “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Furthermore, He has “made known unto us the mystery of his will” (Ephesians 1:9). “Kept secret” in the days of the Old Testament prophets (Romans 16:25-26), it is now made clear to us so that we can show “unto the principalities and powers...by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Ephesians 3:10). These spiritual resources are available for every believer “to profit withal” (1 Corinthians 12:7). We must pray that we do not waste these resources like the “wicked and slothful” servant in the parables of the talents and the pounds (Matthew 25:26; Luke 19:22). HMM III
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« Reply #7458 on: December 08, 2021, 08:03:32 AM »

The Christian's Permission

“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6)

The high priest of Israel wore the inscription “holiness to the LORD” to illustrate to all who obeyed God that they were “accepted before the LORD” (Exodus 28:36-38). Joshua, as a type of all believers, was granted “places to walk” in the courts of God (Zechariah 3:7). Christ’s disciples were commanded to “ask” the Father for “whatsoever,” since they were chosen and ordained to “bring forth fruit” (John 15:16). We have permission to “ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7).

But there is more! Not only are we accepted, we are “sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13), an “earnest [down payment, deposit] of our inheritance” (v. 14). We are “stablishe[d]...anointed...sealed” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

We are “confirmed” in everything (1 Corinthians 1:4-8), consecrated and sanctified to serve (Exodus 28:41; 1 John 2:27), and given the “earnest of the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 5:5) to empower our ministry.

The Holy Spirit does His work through a threefold ministry in our lives. He will work on Christ’s behalf, through our witness, to bring conviction to those not yet in Christ (John 16:7-11). He will also minister to us as the teacher of our spirits to guide us into all truth (John 16:13; 14:17, 26; 15:26).

Furthermore, the wisdom, prudence, and knowledge of God are revealed to us through His work in us (1 Corinthians 2:9-10). All that is necessary for our “effectual working” (Ephesians 3:7) is “graced” to us so that we can “work out [our] salvation” (Philippians 2:12). We are “complete in him” (Colossians 2:10). HMM III
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« Reply #7459 on: December 09, 2021, 09:20:25 AM »

The Christian's Possibilities

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ...May give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened.” (Ephesians 1:17-18)

The “spirit of wisdom” is applied to a wide variety of circumstances. It certainly includes leadership (Deuteronomy 34:9).

But wisdom is also identified with the ability to make beautiful clothing (Exodus 28:3) and to engineer and invent complex equipment (31:2-6). Daniel was said to have “an excellent spirit, and knowledge, and understanding, interpreting of dreams, and showing of hard sentences, and dissolving of doubts” (Daniel 5:12). We are even promised that our “adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist” (Luke 21:15).

A “spirit of revelation” is also made available to us. This revelation (literally “to take off the cover”) is not new doctrine or truth. Revelation is implemented by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10), having the source of His revelatory work from Jesus Christ on behalf of Christ (John 16:13-15).

The Greek language of the phrase “the eyes of [our] understanding being enlightened” (Ephesians 1:18) could be translated “the vision of your deep thought will be made to shine,” or paraphrased in a more colloquial expression, “the light comes on!”

There are three specific enlightenments cited here: The hope of our calling (see Romans 15:13-14), the riches of the glory of our inheritance (11:33-36), and the exceeding greatness of His power exercised on our behalf (Ephesians 3:20; 6:10).

Each of these three are specifically designed by God to undergird our faith and embolden our confidence, even though we are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13). HMM III
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« Reply #7460 on: December 10, 2021, 09:23:31 AM »

The Christian's Power
“And...the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe.” (Ephesians 1:19)

The power of the triune Creator, as displayed in the resurrection of Christ, is directed toward us! We can be certain that we will never fully comprehend that, but the Scriptures provide several clear statements that will help us get some usable grasp on this resource.

    We receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on us (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit indwells every believer (John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 6:19) and is therefore readily accessible to all believers (Ephesians 3:20).
    We use the power of God every time we preach the gospel (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18), whether to one person or to thousands.
    We learn of the power of God through “great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:3-4). Indeed, those promises involve “all things that pertain to life and godliness.”
    We see the results of the power of God in our lives when our characters reflect “all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Colossians 1:11).

The Lord desires “that [we] might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:19) and “strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (v. 16). The purpose of this empowering is to be “rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith” (Colossians 2:7), “able to comprehend...the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge” (Ephesians 3:18-19).

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (vv. 20-21). HMM III
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« Reply #7461 on: December 11, 2021, 06:03:30 AM »

The Christian's Parentage

“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1)

There are three descriptions of what we were prior to God’s work in us, as described in the second chapter of Ephesians and as listed below. We were “dead in trespasses [activities] and sins [character, attitude, condition].” The result was that we were unable to understand or seek God on our own (Romans 3:10-11). Nor are we able to know the “things of God” by our own intellectual prowess (1 Corinthians 2:14). “We walked according to the course of this world” (Ephesians 2:2) in “bondage” to the world (Galatians 4:3) and with the eyes of our minds “blinded” by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:4). We are “by nature the children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). Both our natural desires (5:5-6) and our willful unbelief (John 3:36) have placed us under the ever-increasing wrathful judgment of God (Romans 2:5-9).

The transformation performed by God on us can only be “his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:10). It involves God’s rich “mercy” and “great love” (v. 4) to make us alive when we were dead (see John 5:21-24; Romans 6:4-6, 9-11).

That power “raises” us and “seats” us with God positionally in the heavens (Ephesians 2:6). That grace is effected through faith, and even “that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (vv. 8-9).

Whatever all of these promises may ultimately involve, they assure us of permanent status as the chosen, holy ones of God (Romans 8:29-39), “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 III
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« Reply #7462 on: December 12, 2021, 08:34:45 AM »

The Christian's Partnership

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19)

Prior to salvation, we are called “aliens...and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” But now we are part of the “new man” and the grand partnership that has been made possible between Jew and Gentile, Old and New Covenant saints, and the operative impact and purpose of the “household of God” (v. 12-13, 15, 19).

We are “made nigh” and made “one.” The enemy has been abolished, with the “middle wall of partition” that was between us broken down (vv. 13-15), making us “one body” with common “access by one Spirit unto the Father” (vv. 16-18).

Therefore, we are “fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God...built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets”; “fitly framed,” growing unto a “holy temple...for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (vv. 19-22). Now displayed in a fellowship of past and present, bond and free, male and female—all new “partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (3:1-6; Galatians 3:22-29).

And God has “created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (vv. 9-11).

God has designed His salvation for us in such a way that we cannot fail to achieve His plans for us! We should humbly thank Him for what He has accomplished in us through Christ Jesus. HMM III
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« Reply #7463 on: December 13, 2021, 09:13:42 AM »

The Name of David

“Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.” (2 Samuel 23:1-2)

The name of David is uniquely important in Scripture. Except for the name of Jesus Christ Himself (of whom David is a remarkable type), no other name (not even Abraham or Moses or Paul) occurs nearly so often in the Bible. In the New Testament—again, other than Jesus Christ—David’s name is both the first mentioned (Matthew 1:1) and the last mentioned (Revelation 22:16).

As the “sweet psalmist of Israel,” David was largely responsible for this longest book in the Bible. As we see in our text, his claim to divine inspiration in the writing of his psalms is perhaps the most meaningful and clear-cut statement on this subject by any of the biblical authors. It was both “God’s Spirit” and “me” who spoke, giving “his word” through “my tongue,” said David in his last words shortly before he died.

David was not a perfect man. We remember his grievous sin, not only against Uriah the Hittite, but even more against the Lord (2 Samuel 12:9-14), thus giving “great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme.”

He had to suffer greatly because of this, but his repentance was genuine, and he was graciously restored by God to fellowship and service. The Lord’s own testimony concerning him was this: “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will” (Acts 13:22).

It is little wonder that so many loving parents over the many centuries—both Jews and Gentiles—have named their own sons David, for the very name means “beloved.” HMM
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« Reply #7464 on: December 14, 2021, 09:55:19 AM »

Let Him Hear

“He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 11:15)

The Lord Jesus Christ must have considered this exhortation to be of great importance, for it appears eight times in the four gospels and seven times in Revelation, all as spoken by Christ Himself—as well as one more time apparently uttered by John (Revelation 13:9). It is urgent, therefore, that people not just “hear” God’s Word with their ears (“in one ear and out the other,” as the saying goes), but really hear it, with understanding minds and believing hearts and obedient lives.

It is most important, first of all, for unsaved men and women to respond to the gospel message in this way. Jesus said: “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). Hearing this message with believing minds and hearts means all the difference between heaven and hell.

But that’s just the beginning. Jesus also said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (10:27-28). He not only promised us everlasting life when we first heard His voice, but also assures us that this life is truly everlasting and can never be taken away from us, as we continue to hear His voice in His Word.

Not only everlasting life, but resurrection life! “The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth.” “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout,...and the dead in Christ shall rise...:and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (5:28-29; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). He that hath ears, let him hear! HMM
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« Reply #7465 on: December 15, 2021, 08:45:59 AM »

Crying for Help and Clinging to Yahweh

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2)

Life is hard! “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). No one is immune from the toilsome stuff of life. Relationships sour, medical solutions stalemate, finances fracture, and loved ones pass away—and this unrelenting list continues to pile sky high.

How often do we find ourselves crying for help with all our options depleted? To whom do we cry, and who will listen? There are at least 184 mentions of the word “help” in Scripture, where we find many of God’s chosen facing devastating events. In turmoil, our knee-jerk reaction is to cling to the fleeting stuff of this world, but shouldn’t we cling instead to Yahweh, the Creator God and Maker of heaven and earth?

Intensely crying out to Yahweh for help (Hebrew sa-aq) is modeled in Psalm 107 in four cliffhanger vignettes, illustrating both the unbeliever’s dire need for salvation and the believer’s need to daily embrace Yahweh. Disoriented travelers cry to Yahweh, who guides them to an inhabited city (v. 7). Prisoners rotting away in confinement wail to Yahweh and are freed (v. 14). The morally foolish, plagued with life-threatening  diseases, weep before the Lord, and He graciously heals them (v. 20). Sailors who are suddenly caught in a storm plead with Yahweh, and He stills the waves and leads them to a safe harbor (v. 30).

Where do you place your reliance? Do you have a dependent relationship with this temporal creation, or do you cling to our Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer, and Savior—the Lord Jesus Christ? CM
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« Reply #7466 on: December 16, 2021, 09:33:04 AM »

Paul and Titus

“To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.” (Titus 1:4)

On the surface, this verse might be considered insignificant and could easily be missed, for it is part of a lengthy greeting to Titus by Paul at the beginning of this very practical book. However, many nuggets are contained therein, and it is well worth our study.

Titus was one of Paul’s most trusted companions. He was a faithful worker who had accompanied Paul on a number of his journeys. Late in Paul’s life, after years of discipleship, Paul asked Titus to carry on the work he had started in Crete, an island well known for its deplorable moral state. Paul may have been instrumental in Titus’ initial conversion, for he calls him “mine own son,” literally “my true child,” a very endearing term. The bond of “common faith” gave them a mutual goal, and, of course, it is the same faith that we share today.

Paul greets Titus with “grace, mercy, and peace.” Grace is a manifestation of God’s love toward undeserving rebels, resulting in forgiveness and blessing. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). Mercy is the attitude of God toward those who are in distress. “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 comes as a result of the restoration of harmony between God and the forgiven one. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

This threefold blessing comes from both “God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.” What a comfort to recognize both Father and Son as involved in the bestowment of all aspects of our salvation. JDM
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« Reply #7467 on: December 17, 2021, 08:54:17 AM »

Running Yahweh's Marathon

“O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.” (Psalm 71:17-18)

What are your life goals? Maybe working hard so you can retire with ease? Maybe saving those precious pennies for that special once-in-a-lifetime getaway? Maybe all your energies are focused on your family, preparing them for a smooth future.

While these goals may be good, the psalmist reminds us that our primary focus must be on our Lord, showing His “strength unto this generation” (v. 18), which for today’s believers is the command to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 10:14).

But life’s struggles and temptations are ever present, sometimes hindering us from fulfilling God’s command. What should be the correct motivation for followers of Yahweh? Believers should display a consistent and steadfast loving devotion to Yahweh—everything else in life is secondary. “In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust” (Psalm 71:1).

In the Hebrew language, the personal pronoun is used as the subject of the verb for extra emphasis. We also see this same construction in verse 14: “I will hope continually.” So, as the psalmist reviews his life from his youth onward (v. 5) and now as an aging man, he earnestly prays for Yahweh to continue to be his strength and deliverance. Why? So he can declare Yahweh’s power to his present generation.

Whether you are young or old, are you sowing the seeds of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, declaring His goodness and steadfast love in your spheres of influence to this very needy and corrupt generation? CM
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« Reply #7468 on: December 18, 2021, 06:37:49 AM »

The Beginning of Wisdom

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.” (Psalm 111:10)

This age has rightly been called the “age of information.” With multitudes of books and periodicals in every field of study and practice, with billions of dollars devoted to all kinds of research, and now even the “information superhighway” of the internet. It seems everyone and every organization is posting information of some sort on its own website and email. The world is almost drowning in information.

“But where shall wisdom be found and where is the place of understanding?” (Job 28:12). Job’s urgent question can never be answered online, but only in an ancient book. “Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28).

This spiritual truism is found often in that book. King Solomon, to whom God had granted special wisdom (1 Kings 3:11-12), penned divinely inspired words when he wrote: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,” and then “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10).

If anything is missing in our information age, it is surely the fear of God, at least among most people—even most religious people. But, as our text says: “A good understanding have all they that do his commandments.”

From our New Testament perspective, we now know that “in [Christ] are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment” (1 John 3:23). Herein is true knowledge and understanding and wisdom. HMM
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« Reply #7469 on: December 19, 2021, 04:30:15 AM »

Faith, Self Defined

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off and were persuaded of them, and embraced them.” (Hebrews 11:13)

Some have struggled with the word “faith,” desiring a succinct definition of it, but nowhere in Scripture does a working definition of faith appear. In places, however, the Bible gives a rather indirect definition of faith. Keeping in mind that the words “belief” and “faith” are translations of the same Greek word, let us look at several such texts.

Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, said of Mary, “And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45).

Paul knew that God intended for him to be brought before Caesar and encouraged his shipmates as they were about to be shipwrecked with the words: “Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me” (Acts 27:25).

Speaking of Abraham’s faith that God would give him a son, Paul says that “he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform” (Romans 4:20-21).

Of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, it is said, “Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised” (Hebrews 11:11).

These verses and the verse in our text give us a working definition of faith. It is, therefore, a firm belief, a conviction, a judgment that God is both capable and faithful to perform what He has promised and that there will be such a performance. This kind of faith brings the future into present reality. 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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