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« Reply #75 on: February 18, 2006, 03:16:47 PM »

The Judging Spirit of God


"And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years" (Genesis 6:3).

This is a difficult verse, but it is bound to be significant, for it contains the first reference in the Bible to God's judgment. The word for "strive" is almost always elsewhere rendered "judge," or "judgment." It is used in Deuteronomy 32:36 ("the Lord shall judge His people"). Thus our text seems to be telling us that, before the Flood, the Holy Spirit was directly dealing with people in judgment because of their increasing involvement with sin and rebellion against the Lord. God, through the Holy Spirit, was working earnestly in the antediluvians to enable them, before His written Word was available, to discern right and wrong, but their insistent rebellion would soon lead to such depravity that God would leave them altogether, and send the destroying, cleansing Flood.

In this more enlightened age, with the complete Bible available and the saving work of God's Son now well known, the Holy Spirit has a new judging ministry: "When He is come," Jesus said, "He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged" (John 16:8-11).

This time man has been given not 120 years, but almost 2000 years to respond to the convicting judgments of the Holy Spirit, yet "evil men and seducers . . . wax worse and worse" (II Timothy 3:13). Thus judgment is imminent once again, and to those who have "done despite unto the Spirit of grace" (Hebrews 10:29), the next time will not be merely a cleansing flood. "For our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29).

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« Reply #76 on: February 19, 2006, 11:23:57 AM »

The Sleight of Men


"That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive" (Ephesians 4:14).

There are many winds of doctrine blowing in the religious atmosphere today, and most of these are ill winds, indeed. The number of strange philosophies and occult movements seems almost endless, not only in this country but perhaps even more in others. Sad to say, new Christians seem particularly vulnerable: These involve more than just differences of interpretation as between Baptists and Methodists or even as between Catholics and Protestants.

The word "sleight" is from the Greek kubeia, from which we derive the English word, "cube," and actually refers to cubical dice or other devices for gambling. It is used only once in the New Testament, warning against taking spiritual chances on novel philosophies and practices. These originate with men who are deceivers, having been deceived themselves by Satan or his demonic agents. The phrase "cunning craftiness" is one word in the Greek, a word also translated "subtilty" in II Corinthians 11:3, referring to how the devil "beguiled Eve through his subtilty."

Young Christians especially are exhorted therefore to "grow up into in all things" (Ephesians 4:15). Likewise the closing words in the writings of the apostle Peter were to "beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:17-18).

And that's the key, when evaluating some new notion. "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).


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« Reply #77 on: February 20, 2006, 10:43:43 AM »

Commander to the People


"Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people" (Isaiah 55:4).

The text above refers in particular to David and especially to that greater Son of David who would eventually become the eternal heir of "the throne of His father David" (Luke 1:32). Jesus Christ is indeed "the faithful and true witness" (Revelation 3:14), the leader who will care for even the least of His followers, and the great Commander of the whole wide world, the one who "commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey Him" (Luke 8:25).

Now while our text refers directly to David and ultimately to the Lord Jesus, the words themselves could also well be applied to each of the great men who have been chosen by God to be the leader and commander of our great nation, as well as its most effective witness from his "bully pulpit" to other nations. We must remember, even though our various presidents have been elected democratically to serve in that office by the people of the nation, that nevertheless, "the powers that be are ordained of God" (Romans 13:1), and they are therefore "God's ministers" (Romans 13:6).

Some may seem unfit for such a role, but we must reckon with the truth that "the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will" (Daniel 4:17).

God can judge and deal with all such leaders in His own time and way. As citizens and subjects, it is our responsibility to "Fear God" and "Honor the king" (I Peter 2:17), or whatever title our leader may have. Whether or not we voted for the president, therefore, we must honor him, pray for him, and follow his leading, except only when God's commands negate his. Then we must obey God (Acts 5:29), and accept the consequence.

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« Reply #78 on: February 21, 2006, 05:54:32 PM »

My Father


"If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also. . . . he that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:7,9).

The human aspect of the Father/Son relationship was not one of initial generation; that is, a created being, but did involve subordination. Christ willingly placed Himself in a subordinate position to the Father. As a son is to be completely obedient to his earthly father, even so, the Lord Jesus "humbled Himself, and became obedient" (Philippians 2:8 ) to His heavenly Father while on Earth. As an earthly son shares the same nature, essence and substance as his father, in another sense he is lesser because he is under his father's authority and control. Father and son are equal in nature, but the son is secondary in position.

This is exactly what happened when Christ came in the flesh. He, being fully God, "I and my Father are one" (John 10:30), became fully man, obediently placing Himself under His Father's control. Thus He could say, "my Father is greater than I" (14:28). Greater for those three and a half years in position but not in essence.

Christ's secondary position is clearly seen in the following statements. "I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. . . . I do always those things that please Him" (8:28-29). "I can of mine own self do nothing" (5:30). "The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do" (5:19). "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. . . . I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father" (10:17-18).

Believers should rejoice that Christ was willing to humble Himself and become obedient unto death for us.


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« Reply #79 on: February 22, 2006, 11:42:01 AM »

Immediate Results


"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Romans 8:22).

Sometimes we don't get to see the results of our work or choices soon enough to suit us. But on one occasion, a man's choice and resulting action were given immediate attention, and the effects of that attention even now rule the universe.

"And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat" (Genesis 3:6).

The result of Adam's deliberate sin--"Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression" (I Timothy 2:14)--was immediate and total punishment upon Adam and Eve, and through them, on all humanity (Genesis 3:14-19). "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12). "For the creature [or `creation'] was made subject to vanity [that is, `futility'], not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope" (8:20).

This "bondage of corruption" (v.21) placed upon the entire creation, now known to science as the Second Law of Thermodynamics, is known to all of us as the basic tendency of life. Everything is in the process of death and decay. This law will one day be removed; but until then, we, like the groaning, travailing creation of our text, "groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (v.23).

Although we recognize now that "the wages of sin is death," we can be very thankful that the story doesn't end there, for "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).


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« Reply #80 on: February 23, 2006, 10:51:57 AM »

Not Many Wise Men


"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called" (I Corinthians 1:26).

For the most part, the rich and famous of this world, the wise and powerful, have always looked down on the followers of Christ and the Scriptures. This seems increasingly true today, and many believers have been led to compromise as a result. Rather than being discouraged by the intellectual snobbery of educated and powerful unbelievers, however, we should rejoice in this further proof of the prophetic inspiration of the Holy Scriptures.

This passage is, in fact, a remarkably fulfilled prophecy, true for almost 2000 years. Christians have founded great universities to train people in God's truth, only to see them taken over, one after another, by the ungodly leaders of this present world. Missionaries have carried the gospel to heathen lands, only to be superseded by wealth-seeking materialists who exploit and subvert their converts.

Paul did not say "Not any," of course, but "Not many." God always has raised up a few brilliant or powerful men (such as Paul himself) who have devoted their abilities and influence to the Lord and His Word, but these have always been the exception. There have been a few godly kings and generals, a few Christ-honoring artists and musicians of great talent, but they are far outnumbered by the others.

But we must remember that God said long ago that that was the way it would be. "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in His presence" (I Corinthians 1:27-29).

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« Reply #81 on: February 24, 2006, 08:18:00 AM »

Prayer of the Whole Heart


"Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:12-13).

There are many promises and instances of answered prayer in the Bible. Unfortunately, many of us really don't seem to believe them, and therefore don't experience the answers to our prayers. Halfhearted praying may sometimes secure partial answers, but God exhorts us to pray wholeheartedly. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16).

The principle is timeless and is stressed often in the Word. "Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not" (Jeremiah 33:3). God's resources are unlimited, but our motives must be pure, and our prayers must be from the heart. "Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering" (James 1:6). "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts" (James 4:3).

In addition to right motives and genuine faith, there must be deep sincerity as we pray from the heart. "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint" said Jesus (Luke 18:1), who Himself found it necessary to pray long and earnestly. "Rising up a great while before day, He . . . departed into a solitary place, and there prayed" (Mark 1:35).

The early church followed His teaching and example, and saw His blessing. "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication" (Acts 1:14). "And they continued stedfastly . . . in prayers" (Acts 2:42). "We will give ourselves continually to prayer" (Acts 6:4). Consequently, "the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly" (Acts 6:7). God is honored when we search for Him and pray to Him with all our hearts.

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« Reply #82 on: February 25, 2006, 12:19:08 PM »

In the Midst


"And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you" (John 20:26).

Jesus, in His earthly life, was often "in the midst" of things. At the age of twelve He was found in the Temple, "sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions" (Luke 2:46). Then, early in His adult ministry, His hometown enemies at Nazareth attempted to kill Him, "But He passing through the midst of them went His way" (Luke 4:30). Later, in Jerusalem, a group of Pharisees sought to stone Him, but He simply went "through the midst of them, and so passed by" (John 8:59).

Finally, however, they were able to put Him to death, and as a bitter testimony of their hatred, they had Him crucified with two common criminals, "on either side one, and Jesus in the midst" (John 19:18). Three days later, the tomb was emptied, and He would never again be in the midst of enemies. Instead, He met His disciples in the upper room.

There, "when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you" (John 20:19). Eight days later, with Thomas present, Jesus once again appeared in their midst and greeted them with reassuring words of peace.

Though now in heaven, His presence still speaks peace to us through His Holy Spirit, for He promised: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20). Even in the ages to come, He will be in our midst, for John says, describing that scene: "In the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain," and then all creation will sing "unto the Lamb for ever and ever" (Revelation 5:6,13).

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« Reply #83 on: February 26, 2006, 12:04:45 PM »

The Meek of the Earth


"Seek ye the Lord all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger" (Zephaniah 2:3).

This phrase, "the meek of the earth," occurs three times in the Bible (see also Psalm 76:9, which promises their salvation; and Isaiah 11:4, which assures them justice). Our text promises deliverance from God's wrath.

"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5), said Jesus, referring to the promise of Psalm 37:11: "But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace."

There are many other similar promises: "The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way" (Psalm 25:9). "He will beautify the meek with salvation" (Psalm 149:4), so we need to put on "the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price" (I Peter 3:4).

That meekness is not weakness is made clear from the first use of the word in the Bible. "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth" (Numbers 12:3). Moses was strong and courageous, but also deeply humble and self-sacrificing; a man of prayer and trust in the Word of God, willing to defend it at all costs. The Lord Jesus defined meekness in terms of His own human character: "Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29).

A meek spirit enables a Christian to maintain composure in the face of opposition, to accept adversity without complaint; promotion without arrogance; demotion without resentment. It produces a peace which no trouble can disturb and which no prosperity can puff up. Therefore, as our text commands: "Seek meekness!"

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« Reply #84 on: February 27, 2006, 09:47:39 AM »

Always


". . . and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matthew 28:20).

A favorite old song of many senior citizens (of this writer, at least) is the sentimental "I'll be loving you--always" ballad written long ago by Irving Berlin. The sincerity of some who sing it may be questioned, but the many "always" promises of the Bible really mean it. Consider a few of these precious promises, for example.

The apostle Paul urges believers to be "always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (I Corinthians 15:58). And to the same Corinthian church he later wrote: "Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ" (II Corinthians 2:14).

Then there is that other tremendous promise in the same epistle: "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (II Corinthians 9:Cool.

The greatest such promise is that in our text, when the Lord Jesus Christ Himself promised that "I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20).

These are also a number of very important exhortations in the Scriptures involving an "always" type of commitment. For example Jesus said: ". . . that men ought always to pray, and not to faint" (Luke 18:1). That is, never give up praying just because the answer seems a long time coming. Furthermore, Paul says that we should be "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20).

Then, we are to "Rejoice in the Lord alway" (Philippians 4:4). Finally, there is the command to "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you . . ." (I Peter 3:15).

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« Reply #85 on: February 28, 2006, 11:33:22 AM »

Abiding Words


"If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7).

In order for the words of the Lord really to abide in us, it seems clear that we should commit as many of them to memory--not only in our minds, but in our hearts--as we possibly can. "Thy word have I hid in mine heart," the psalmist said, "that I might not sin against thee" (Psalm 119:11).

There are many promises of blessing to those who have God's Word in their hearts. "For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips" (Proverbs 22:18). "My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; . . . Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God" (Proverbs 2:1,5).

Both the apostle Paul and the apostle Peter have noted the importance of Scripture memorization. Paul says: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Colossians 3:16).

Peter's exhortation is as follows: "This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets [i.e., the Old Testament Scriptures], and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior [i.e., the New Testament Scriptures]" (II Peter 3:1-2). The words "be mindful" mean essentially "recall to mind."

Since the Scriptures cannot be recalled to mind unless they've first been installed in the mind, and since they cannot abide in our hearts unless we first hide them in our hearts, it is surely pleasing and honoring to God that we learn "by heart" as much of His Word as we can.

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« Reply #86 on: March 01, 2006, 02:58:28 PM »

The Reverend God


"He sent redemption unto His people: He hath commanded His covenant for ever: holy and reverend is His name" (Psalm 111:9).

It is most interesting that the adjective "reverend" is used only this once in the entire King James Bible. And there it applies to God, not to any man!

However, the Hebrew word so translated in this verse (yr) occurs therein frequently, usually being translated (some 30 times) as "terrible." The first time it is applied to God was by Moses. "Thou shalt not be affrighted at them: for the Lord thy God is among you, a mighty God and terrible" (Deuteronomy 7:21). Note also Moses' testimony in Deuteronomy 10:17 "For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward."

For those who would deny or oppose Him, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31). But God is also uniquely a God of love. He is a merciful and forgiving God; He is "the God of all grace" (I Peter 5:10) and of many other wonderful attributes.

"He looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth" (God is thus omnipresent). "He fashioneth their hearts alike" (He is omnipotent). "He considereth all their works" (He is omniscient) (Psalm 33:14-15).

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." If a person truly believes the first verse of the Bible, he should be able to believe all other verses in the Bible, no matter what men or devils can say to the contrary. Our God, who has also become our Redeemer and Saviour, is "eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God" (I Timothy 1:17).

He is indeed a God of many attributes, and we shall consider some of these in a number of our devotional Bible studies this spring.

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« Reply #87 on: March 02, 2006, 10:01:25 AM »

The Meek of the Earth


"Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger" (Zephaniah 2:3).

This phrase, "the meek of the earth," occurs three times in the Bible (see also Psalm 76:9, which promises their salvation; and Isaiah 11:4, which assures them justice). Our text promises deliverance from God's wrath.

"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5), said Jesus, referring to the promise of Psalm 37:11: "But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace."

There are many other similar promises: "The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way" (Psalm 25:9). "He will beautify the meek with salvation" (Psalm 149:4), so we need to put on "the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price" (I Peter 3:4).

That meekness is not weakness is made clear from the first use of the Word in the Bible. "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth" (Numbers 12:3). Moses was strong and courageous, but also deeply humble and self-sacrificing; a man of prayer and trust in the Word of God, willing to defend it at all costs. The Lord Jesus defined meekness in terms of His own human character: "Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart" (Matthew 11:29).

A meek spirit enables a Christian to maintain composure in the face of opposition, to accept adversity without complaint; promotion without arrogance; demotion without resentment. It produces a peace which no trouble can disturb and which no prosperity can puff up. Therefore, as our text commands: "Seek meekness!"

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« Reply #88 on: March 03, 2006, 10:13:36 AM »

Early Risers


"And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed" (Mark 1:35).

One of the best ways to meet the Lord is to rise up early in the morning, before activities of the day can interfere. This apparently was the practice of Jesus Himself.

There are also many other occurrences in the Bible: "Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord" (Genesis 19:27). In order to set up an altar, "Jacob rose up early in the morning" (Genesis 28:18). When Moses gave the people the laws of God, he "wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill" (Exodus 24:4). Later, when he was to receive the commandments a second time, "Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto Mount Sinai" (Exodus 34:4). "Joshua rose early in the morning" to lead Israel over the Jordan, and then to capture Jericho; and to take Ai, "Joshua rose up early in the morning" (Joshua 3:1; 6:12; 8:10).

During the time of the Judges, Gideon "rose up early on the morrow" to prove God's will through putting out the fleece (Judges 6:38). Hannah and Elkanah, in praying for the son who would later become Samuel, "rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the Lord" (I Samuel 1:19).

No doubt there are justifiable exceptions, but late sleeping is in general not a good thing. "How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?
. . . He that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame" (Proverbs 6:9; 10:5). It is good to seek the Lord early each day. "I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me" (Proverbs 8:17). "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up" (Psalm 5:3).


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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 #89 on: March 04, 2006, 10:43:20 AM »

The Girdle of Truth


"Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand" (Ephesians 6:13).

There are many military metaphors in Scripture, but none more famous than this passage on the "armor of God." We are commanded to "put on the whole armor" so we can "stand" (be firm, well established) against "the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11). Each piece is crucial. "Truth" is first on the list (v.14).

This "girdle" (lower body armor) was designed to protect from wounds which, though not fatal, would cause extreme pain and incapacity. Truth is our protection against Satan's lie. "He is a liar" and does not live "in the truth, because there is no truth in him" (John 8:44). Satan's strength is in this untruth which he uses to "deceiveth the whole world" (Revelation 12:9). In fact, we are warned by Paul that the devil is able to disguise himself and "his ministers" as "ministers of righteousness" (II Corinthians 11:15). We can be spoiled by philosophy and other false teachings (Colossians 2:Cool. We can be beguiled by good-sounding words (Colossians 2:4). We can be tossed to and fro by crafty and deceptive men (Ephesians 4:14). We can even depart from the faith after listening to "seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (I Timothy 4:1).

Our defense against each of these potential disasters is truth. Truth is the essence of the strength of Jesus who claimed to be Truth personified (John 14:6) as He fulfilled His mission as spokesman for the Father (John 12:46-50). That "truth" is now verified by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13-15) and by the Word of God (John 17:17). We are to be doers of the Word (James 1:22), being willing to walk in the truth (III John 3), and to let our deeds be made manifest by doing truth (John 3:21).

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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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