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« Reply #7755 on: September 27, 2022, 08:03:09 AM »

Door of the Sheep

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.” (John 10:7)

Jesus was not just making another notable “I am” statement in this verse but also putting forth a sober warning. This warning is related to the statement likening His followers to sheep, a common theme for God’s people in the Old Testament as well. Sheep are directionless, weak, prone to wandering, timid, stubborn, easily frightened, and utterly defenseless against predators. Without a shepherd, they are in deep trouble.

Jesus goes on to say, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9). The sheepfold is the pen in which the sheep are kept at night, and the shepherd controls the door. On a daily basis, the shepherd leads the sheep to feed. “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters” (Psalm 23:2).

This discourse of Jesus is made even stronger by pointing out the nature of our adversary, a thief who seeks to enter the sheepfold to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). Christ also pointed out the influence of bad shepherds (hirelings), who “seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep” (v. 12).

But thankfully for us, Jesus is “the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (v. 11). “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice” (v. 4). Let us put aside the distractions and deceptions of this world and follow Jesus to green pastures. JPT
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« Reply #7756 on: September 28, 2022, 08:27:02 AM »

The Good Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)

This verse contains the fourth “I am” statement of Jesus in John’s gospel. It’s given in the same discourse in which He previously indicated He is also the door of the sheepfold. The two ideas are connected because Middle Eastern shepherds would often sleep at the entrance of the sheepfold and literally become the door by which predators were barred and the sheep were led in and out.

But Christ is adding yet another dimension, and He elaborates with the clause “the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” And we know this to be so because through Him “we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14).

When Jesus is referring to His sheep, He’s not just talking about His initial mission wherein He was “sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). In fact, He clarifies who His sheep will eventually be in John 10:16: “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”

Praise God that Christ’s mission went global, as prophesied by Isaiah: “I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). And Paul proclaimed, “Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:11-13). JPT
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« Reply #7757 on: September 29, 2022, 09:33:44 AM »

The Resurrection and the Life

“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25)

The backdrop to this fifth “I am” declaration of Jesus in John’s gospel is the death of Lazarus four days before Christ‘s arrival with His disciples in Bethany. Martha, Lazarus’ sister, met Jesus and said, “If thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (John 11:21). Jesus then gave her the powerful declaration in today’s text, followed by “and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die” (v. 26).

Jesus’ declaration of being “the resurrection, and the life” went well beyond what He was going to do in raising Lazarus from the dead. He was proclaiming His divinity and power to raise any man from the dead and impart resurrection life. In John 5:21, we read, “For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.”

While our mortal life ebbs away, the life Jesus gives to those who put their faith in Him never ends. John 5:24 says, “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.”

The resurrection life of Jesus is not just for the afterlife but also provides hope and strength in the midst of a sin-cursed world. Paul declared that God “hath quickened us together with Christ…and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5-6), and “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 6:4). JPT
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« Reply #7758 on: September 30, 2022, 08:14:54 AM »

The Way, the Truth, and the Life

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

The context of Jesus’ sixth “I am” statement in John’s gospel is the discourse in which Jesus had just told His disciples that He would soon be leaving them. The concern among the disciples was obviously building, especially after Jesus said, “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know” (John 14:4), to which Thomas replied, “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (v. 5). Then Jesus proclaimed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (v. 6).

This profound declaration of His identity addressed the anxiety in the disciples’ minds, countering their confusion and uncertainty. Of course, this proclamation also has comfort for us as Christ’s followers in the midst of a turbulent and unpredictable world.

But Jesus was offering more than assurance and consolation. He was also making a profound statement of exclusivity, emphasized in the final clause “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” This statement stands in direct opposition to the popular opinion of a fallen and rebellious world that wants to proclaim there are many paths to God. Indeed, we are admonished in Scripture that there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5), and “there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

While there are many paths leading to deception and destruction, Christ is the only way to truth and life. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus said, “For wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction…narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life.” JPT
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« Reply #7759 on: October 01, 2022, 08:14:35 AM »

The True Vine

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.” (John 15:1)

This seventh and last “I am” statement of Jesus in John’s gospel was made immediately prior to His earthly departure. Although He was physically leaving, Christ admonished His followers to continue abiding in Him as the true source of life. This foundational faith-based paradigm is affirmed in 1 Peter 1:8-9: “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”

But this whole concept of abiding in Christ for life and sustenance is contrary to the world’s wisdom, which pushes the meme of self-actualization whereby the individual is the ultimate determining factor in all success. While hard work and diligence are important in life, if you are not connected to the true vine, Jesus Christ, it’s all for nothing. Christ elaborated, “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me” (John 15:4). Needless to say, the stark analogy is that a branch severed from the main supporting vine withers and dies.

But Jesus expands on the analogy of the Father God being the husbandman, saying, “And every branch [in me] that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (v. 2). The purging, or pruning, process involves the removal of unproductive plant growth that would otherwise divert resources from the plant’s goal of bearing fruit. In this regard, Hebrews 12:11 says, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” JPT
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« Reply #7760 on: October 02, 2022, 08:08:00 AM »

Stand Fast

“By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth....For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.” (Psalm 33:6, 9)

Many is the modern-day evangelical who has attempted to harmonize the plain sense of the Scriptures with Big Bang cosmogony, concepts of stellar evolution, and a uniformitarian framework for Earth history. This exercise seldom results in a tempering of secular thought but rather results in a compromising reinterpretation of Scripture, making it say something it clearly does not say.

The Bible says that “the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3), that all things that now exist were simply called into existence at God’s spoken command.

Creation was a true miracle. It was not (as some insist) merely a godly oversight of cosmic processes acting on eternal matter, nor was it the gradual appearance and disappearance of matter in a steady-state transformation. Only a poor regard for Scripture, coupled with an overly high regard for current astronomical theory, could interpret Hebrews 11:3 as the explosion of a tiny, super-dense “cosmic egg” (that did not “appear,” i.e., too small to see), itself the result of a “quantum fluctuation in a vacuum” in a Big Bang that produced the entire universe.

Rather, as implied in the formula “Let there be...and there was” repeated many times in Genesis 1, and as described in our text and elsewhere, all things derive simply from His spoken word. Our response should not be to disbelieve and twist but to believe and praise. “Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him” (Psalm 33:8). JDM
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« Reply #7761 on: October 03, 2022, 08:23:59 AM »

Sin Not

“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” (Ephesians 4:26)

There are many occasions when a Christian may be rightly angered by some ugly word or incident and thus be strongly tempted to respond in kind. Our text, however, reminds us that such a reaction for a Christian is sin, and it urges us to get control of our anger before sundown. We are not to let our anger fester until it breaks out in action.

A very similar command was given long ago to Old Testament believers also. “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah” (Psalm 4:4). When angry, it is far better to wait and communicate with God about it in bed than to bring recriminations in the street (or, perhaps, in the home) against the ones who have angered us.

The Lord Jesus Himself is always our example, “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:23).

Anger is often one of the most difficult areas to overcome in the Christian life. As James says, “The tongue can no man tame...Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God....My brethren, these things ought not so to be” (James 3:8-10). Nevertheless, what man cannot tame, God can!

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). “Avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19). Anger may come, but to act in anger is sin. HMM
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« Reply #7762 on: October 04, 2022, 08:29:13 AM »

Angels Round About

“The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” (Psalm 34:7)

Since God’s angels are normally unseen, we have little appreciation of how intimately they are involved in our lives. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14). As in our text, there may well be a protecting angel embracing and delivering us in times of danger. “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11-12).

Angels are sometimes called on to rout the enemies of God and His people. “Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul...and let the angel of the LORD chase them. Let their way be dark and slippery: and let the angel of the LORD persecute them” (Psalm 35:4-6).

Angels are intensely interested in the salvation and spiritual growth of believers, “which things the angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:12). “For we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men” (1 Corinthians 4:9). There are even occasions when “some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2).

There is “an innumerable company of angels” (Hebrews 12:22), beings of great power and wisdom (2 Kings 19:35; 2 Samuel 14:20). They are not omnipotent, omnipresent, or omniscient, of course, since they—like us—were created by God simply to obey God. “Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word” (Psalm 103:20).

Finally, we shall be “carried by the angels” (Luke 16:22) into God’s presence. Then we can better understand and thank them for all the many services rendered to us here on Earth. HMM
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« Reply #7763 on: October 05, 2022, 04:24:14 AM »

Christ the Creationist

“For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.” (Mark 13:19)

In predicting a future judgment on the unbelieving world, the Lord Jesus referred to “the beginning of the creation which God created,” thus affirming the biblical doctrine of supernatural, sudden creation. In the pagan world of His day, evolutionism was dominant almost everywhere. The Epicureans, for example, were atheistic evolutionists. The Stoics, Gnostics, Platonists, and others were pantheistic evolutionists. None of the extra-biblical philosophers of His day believed in a God who had created all things, including even the universe itself.

But Christ was a creationist, and the much-maligned “scientific creationists” of today are following His example and teaching. He even believed in recent creation, for He said (speaking of Adam and Eve) that “from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6). The pagans all believed in an eternal cosmos, but Jesus said it had a beginning and that man and woman were a part of that beginning creation, following which “the sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27).

He also believed that the “two accounts” of creation (Genesis 1 and 2) were complementary, not contradictory, for He quoted from both in the same context. “Have ye not read,” He said, “that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female [Genesis 1], And said For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh [Genesis 2]?” (Matthew 19:4-6).

There may be some Christians who are evolutionists, but there is no such thing as “Christian evolution,” for Christ was a creationist! HMM
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« Reply #7764 on: October 06, 2022, 08:32:20 AM »

Walk as He Walked

“He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” (1 John 2:6)

The idea of walking as Christ walked can be intimidating to a Christian. After all, the sinless Son of God, Himself fully God, who gave up everything to serve and save rebellious mankind, set an exceedingly high standard. Nothing short of perfection and total sacrifice will do. Nevertheless, while we recognize that we will never fully achieve Christlikeness on this side of glory, we have “received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him” (Colossians 2:6). Let us note several specific commands in the New Testament that describe such a walk.

First and foremost, we are to “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16, 25; Romans 8:1-4). The empowering of the Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to “walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:12; Ephesians 4:1). Furthermore, our walk is a walk of faith: “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

We must “walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us” (Ephesians 5:2), and since “now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (v. 8; see also 1 John 1:7). We will make good use of our opportunities as we “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16; Colossians 4:5).

We must “walk in truth” (3 John 1:4) and in honesty (1 Thessalonians 4:12; Romans 13:13). This walk will be evident to all by our “good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Such a victorious walk might be its own reward; but there is more. Our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, has said of those who overcome that “they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy” (Revelation 3:4). JDM
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« Reply #7765 on: October 07, 2022, 07:50:34 AM »

A Credible Lifestyle

“And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey.” (Mark 1:6)

At times we tend to think of John the Baptist as a wild man, one who would have been either an offense or a laughingstock to those he was trying to reach, but in reality quite the opposite was true. He was greatly respected and believed; some even wondered if he should have been worshiped as “that prophet” (i.e., the Messiah) or revered as Elijah (John 1:21). His “preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Luke 3:3) was so effective that not only the common people (v. 10) but also the publicans (v. 12), soldiers (v. 14), priests, and Levites (John 1:19), as well as the Pharisees and the Sadducees (Matthew 3:7), came to hear his teaching. Many repented and were baptized.

Far from lacking credibility, John’s style was what was expected of a prophet. Indeed, his ministry and message were in fulfillment of those of Elijah (Malachi 4:5), who himself “was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins” (2 Kings 1:8). Even false prophets mimicked this style to gain credibility (Zechariah 13:4).

The point is, we should strive to package our timeless message of the gospel of Christ in such a way as to gain the greatest hearing and the most true converts. This is not to say that we should dress as John or Elijah did, for that would be bizarre in today’s world. Nor should we flaunt riches, for both styles detract from the message and induce ridicule and blasphemy.

Perhaps the principle is to dress and act as the hearers would expect a credible, sober conveyer of truth to behave. Let us be careful to “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things” (Titus 2:10). JDM
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« Reply #7766 on: October 08, 2022, 08:13:24 AM »

Tragic Ignorance

“And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.” (Luke 19:41-42)

The Lord had finally acknowledged to the Jewish leaders that He was their promised Messiah, riding into the city on a donkey’s colt in fulfillment of prophecy (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1-7), but they refused to accept and prepared to crucify Him. Therefore, Jesus wept over the city, for He knew it would soon be destroyed “because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation” (Luke 19:44).

There are many other cases of such tragic ignorance in the Bible. For example, “Samson...wist not that the LORD was departed from him” (Judges 16:20), and it cost him his great strength and finally his life.

The ungodly sinners in the days of Noah “knew not until the flood came, and took them all away” (Matthew 24:39). Of the northern kingdom of Israel, it was said: “Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not” (Hosea 7:9). These “strangers” were the pagan Canaanites who had turned the people away from the true God.

This is a real danger facing many church and parachurch organizations of the end times, typified by the church at Laodicea. The Lord says to such churches, “I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:16-17).

May God deliver each of us from tragic ignorance of our need before Him. We should pray with the psalmist, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24). HMM
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« Reply #7767 on: October 09, 2022, 08:05:21 AM »

Why Give Thanks to Yahweh

“Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” (Psalm 103:1-2)

As one popular Christian song proclaims, those who are “in Christ” have 10,000 reasons to be thankful! In the first two verses of Psalm 103, David calls himself to personal praise, reminding himself that he is to praise Yahweh always. The pronouns are singular, underscoring his personal role in praise and thanksgiving as he reminds himself of all his inherited spiritual blessings. “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy [spiritual] diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (vv. 3-5). Wow! Forgiveness, redemption, and satisfaction—all such undeserved blessings for David and all true believers who trust solely in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Turning from a personal thrust, David then focuses on all true believers in verses 6 to 18 as the pronouns change to “we,” “us,” and “our,” giving priceless reasons for praise. One of the capstone verses in this treasure chest of blessings is verse 8: “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” The word gracious, coupled with the word compassion, occurs 11 times in the Old Testament. Why? Because grace is the foundation on which God bestows His endless compassion.

So, why praise and give thanks to Yahweh? Because His goodness is displayed to all when we deserve nothing but eternal damnation. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved)” (Ephesians 2:4-5). CM
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« Reply #7768 on: October 10, 2022, 08:35:45 AM »

The True Gospel

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel.” (Galatians 1:6)

There is only one true gospel (meaning “good news”) in Christianity, but there are many false gospels. Various cults have proposed such concepts as the social gospel, the prosperity gospel, the full gospel, and others, but it is dangerous to attach adjectives or other modifiers to the gospel unless these are specifically attached to it in the Scriptures. There are enough of these, however, to emphasize that the true gospel does have many facets. God’s “good news” is always about Christ—His person and work—but His work is from eternity to eternity, and He is both the mighty God and perfect man. Therefore, with Paul we can say, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16).

The gospel is the “everlasting gospel,” focusing on Him as the one “that made heaven, and earth” (Revelation 14:6-7). It is also the “gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23), focusing on Him as the coming “King of kings” (Revelation 17:14).

It is the wonderful “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) and “the gospel of your salvation” (Ephesians 1:13). Thus, it also is the true “gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15), reconciling man to God.

Because Christ is God, this “gospel of Jesus Christ” (Mark 1:1) is surely the one true “gospel of God” (Romans 1:1). This is the gospel that we have been commissioned by Christ to preach “to every creature” (Mark 16:15), so we need no other. And since it is, indeed, “the glorious gospel of the blessed God” (1 Timothy 1:11), we should never desire another. It meets every spiritual need for time and eternity. HMM
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« Reply #7769 on: October 11, 2022, 07:55:51 AM »

Right Now!

“Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Peter 2:10)

There are many wonderful things awaiting us in heaven if we have trusted Christ for our salvation. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

But there are also many wonderful gifts and privileges we have right now. In the first place, we already have eternal salvation. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). That means also that we are free from any condemnation at the judgment. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

We have already been justified—that is, declared righteous with the righteousness of Christ Himself. “Being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:9). “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested...Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:21-22). As our text says: we right “now have obtained mercy” and right now are “the people of God” (1 Peter 2:10).

The apostle John confirms this glorious truth in a beautiful passage. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2).

Finally, we have the wonderful assurance that our Lord Jesus right now is praying for us. For Christ is entered into heaven itself, “now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24), and there He “ever liveth to make intercession” (Hebrews 7:25) for all those who have placed their faith in Him as their Savior and Lord. 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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