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« Reply #7785 on: October 27, 2022, 07:12:06 AM »

The Absence of Sin

“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2 Peter 3:13)

For thousands of years the followers of God have battled against “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world” (Ephesians 6:12) led by Lucifer, that old serpent, the arch rebel and self-appointed accuser of the saints of God. Although assured of the ultimate victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, Christians have often suffered cruelly at the hands of Lucifer and his followers.

As Christians, the aching longing in our hearts for peace is really none other than the Holy Spirit Himself grieving at sin, and our own new, holy nature “groaning” to be free in its expression of the divine nature. It is the nature of the child of God to “hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). It is the normal thing for one “raised” up and already seated “in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6) to long for the shackles of the “body of this death” (Romans 7:24) to be loosened. Under ordinary circumstances, our spiritual being—“the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24)—knows that we are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13). Such knowledge openly declares that we “desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (v. 16).

If we have lost sight of the place that Jesus has gone to prepare for us, we become both forlorn and despoiled. But if we treasure the great truth that we will spend eternity with our Lord in His “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness,” we are comforted and encouraged, recognizing that both sin and all its effects will be absent. HMM III
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« Reply #7786 on: October 28, 2022, 08:00:59 AM »

Eternal Responsibilities

“And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him.” (Revelation 22:3)

Frequently, Christians and non-Christians alike have a misconception about the nature of the coming life in heaven. We will not merely “go to heaven” and sit around in some semblance of holy laziness; we will be given jobs to do! Just what those jobs may be, or what they may require, is not specifically revealed to us, but it is abundantly clear that the kind of job, or the degree of responsibility, will be a privilege based on what we do here on Earth now.

In the parable of the pounds (Luke 19:11-27), the Lord Jesus illustrates judgment based on productivity. The same amount of money was given to each of the servants, and only one general instruction was issued: “Occupy till I come” (v. 13). The reward that each servant received was in direct proportion to how much profit he had earned on the nobleman’s money.

In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the nobleman gave differing amounts to each of his servants, “to every man according to his several ability” (v. 15). The reward was based on efficient use of abilities, not on amount of profit produced.

Both of these parables have a common thread: The rewards (analogous to our rewards when the Lord returns), whether based on their productivity or their effectiveness, were rewards of responsibility. To those servants who had proven themselves capable of leadership, the Lord delegated “authority over cities” and rulership “over many things,” assuring us that there will be some sort of social order in the age to come. Likewise we, in our present service for the Lord, are now given the opportunity to earn both God’s commendation and His future greater stewardship. HMM III
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« Reply #7787 on: October 29, 2022, 07:59:52 AM »

Fallow Ground

“For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.” (Jeremiah 4:3)

Fallow ground is ground that has been plowed and readied for sowing but then is withheld and allowed to lie useless and unproductive. God, through His prophet, had to rebuke His people not only because they had left their prepared ground unused but because they were actually sowing their seed on thorn-choked ground. That is, they were turning to idols and forsaking God.

The word “fallow” occurs one other time in the Bible and to the same effect: “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12). It is poor stewardship and a bad testimony, at best, for the people of God to ignore His righteousness and fail to cultivate His grace in their lives, choosing instead the philosophies and pleasures of the ungodly world around them.

Now, if the ancient Israelites had much unfruitful fallow ground in their lives, many modern Christians are still more blameworthy, for we have far greater opportunities and privileges than the people of ancient Israel.

Most of all, we have the complete Word of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit, yet our lives are even more cluttered with the thorny ground of worldliness and paganism than theirs. We urgently need to break up our fallow ground, to sow righteousness and reap mercy.

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:7-8). HMM
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« Reply #7788 on: October 30, 2022, 08:36:44 AM »

An Acceptable Sacrifice

“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5)

Our text instructs us that we, as a corporate church and as individuals, are designed for the purpose of offering up acceptable sacrifices to God. These are not animal sacrifices as before but “spiritual” sacrifices made “acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” What kinds of spiritual sacrifices are acceptable?

Prayer. An amazing scene is recorded for us in heaven, for an angel is seen at the altar offering up to God incense mingled with “the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 8:4, see also 5:8). Our prayers are precious to Him.

Giving. The use of our financial resources for the furtherance of His Kingdom becomes “an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18).

Praise. In some way not fully comprehended by us, we can “offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15).

Good work and sharing. “But to do good and to communicate [share] forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:16). Remember, we are saved entirely by God’s grace but also created specifically unto good works (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Ourselves. We have a distinct privilege in that we may “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is [our] reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

God is a magnificent God! He can be trusted with our prayers, our resources, our praise, our works, and our lives. His perfect sacrifice has made it possible for our sacrifices to be meaningful. JDM
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« Reply #7789 on: October 31, 2022, 09:11:17 AM »

Our Living Lord

“Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.” (John 14:19)

We who believe on Christ have the promise of everlasting life because He lives, and we see Him by faith. Christ Himself is “our life” (Colossians 3:4), in fact.

He is the very sustainer of our life. He is both the “living water” (John 4:10) that is “springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14) and “the living bread which came down from heaven,” such wonderful bread “that a man may eat thereof, and not die” (John 6:50-51).

Not only does Christ give us His living bread and living water, but also He provides Himself as the living way to God. “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” (Hebrews 10:19-20).

He is also the solid foundation on which we build our lives, and that very foundation is vibrant with life. “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:4-5). Our spiritual lives are built on a living stone, nourished on living bread and living water while entering by a living way into the presence of the living God!

He “hath begotten us again unto a lively hope [same as ‘living hope’] by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4). “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). All this is ours through our loving, living Lord! HMM
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« Reply #7790 on: November 01, 2022, 07:53:00 AM »

Praising Yahweh at All Times

“And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison….At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God.” (Acts 16:23, 25)

In this world, we live every day with trouble (Job 5:7). How should believers in Christ cope with this reality?

In Paul’s missionary travels recorded in Acts 16, God directed Silas and him to Philippi, where they found themselves beaten, tortured, and left for dead in a dungeon. Yet, they reacted to this trouble by singing praises to God! What enabled them to respond this way? The answer—they filtered their dire situation through two awesome realities found in Psalm 100: “Know ye that the LORD he is God” (v. 3) and “the LORD is good” (v. 5).

The full verse of Psalm 100:3 reads, “Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Paul lived life knowing that Yahweh was the potter and he was the clay, just an earthen vessel employed in the Lord’s service (2 Corinthians 4:7). Although Paul faced countless trials, he didn’t “fear” evil, for the Shepherd’s “rod and staff” comforted him (Psalm 23:4). Our Shepherd, like Paul’s, is a loving and caring Shepherd (Psalm 78:13).

Not only did Paul know that Yahweh is God, he also knew that “the LORD is good” (Psalm 100:5). God’s steadfast love motivates all He does. Both truths are preceded with the following injunctions to praise God: “Make a joyful noise” (v. 1), “serve the LORD with gladness” (v. 2), “come before his presence with singing” (v. 2), “enter into his gates with thanksgiving” (v. 4), and “be thankful unto him” (v. 4).

Like with Paul and Silas in prison, praise and thanksgiving should characterize all believers who truly know that Yahweh is God and Yahweh is good. CM
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« Reply #7791 on: November 02, 2022, 05:51:55 AM »

Born of God

“If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.” (1 John 2:29)

This is the first of seven occurrences of the phrase “born of God,” or “born of him,” in the little epistle of 1 John. If anyone wishes to know how to recognize one who has truly been “born again,” these seven descriptors are available for that purpose.

The first such test, in our text, is that such a person is one “that doeth righteousness.” The second and third are found in 1 John 3:9: “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” That is, he will not practice sin because God’s own nature has been implanted in him.

Another evidence is genuine love. “Love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (1 John 4:7). Still another is genuine faith in Christ, which in turn produces genuine love. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him” (1 John 5:1).

Those who are truly born again will not be permanently defeated by the world. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5).

Finally, “we know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not” (1 John 5:18).

The term “born again” is being used very loosely these days, and we need to realize that true regeneration is a permanent, life-transforming miracle accomplished by God Himself in a believer’s life. HMM
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« Reply #7792 on: November 03, 2022, 07:20:11 AM »

Think on These Things

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

It’s nearly impossible these days to turn on the TV, go shopping, go out to eat, read a newspaper, go online, etc., without our minds being cluttered and our thinking infiltrated by all sorts of improper thoughts. In our text, Paul gives us guidelines for our thinking. Let’s investigate them.

True—or genuine, honest, and sincere. We should concentrate on honesty in all our dealings, for “God is true” (John 3:33), and Christ said, “My record is true” (John 8:14).

Honest—or better, honorable toward all. Strive to “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (1 Timothy 2:2).

Just—or equitable. “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal” (Colossians 4:1).

Pure—without spot or stain. “Neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22).

Lovely—literally “toward love,” i.e., those things that demonstrate love or a response of love. This word only appears here in the New Testament.

Of good report—that which elicits praise.

Virtue—a standard of righteousness. He “hath called us to glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3).

Praise—our speech should be to “the praise of them that do well” (1 Peter 2:14).

Surely our lifestyle and thought patterns need adjusting as noted above, particularly when the verb tense in the command “think on these things” implies a lifelong habit—a continuous way of doing things. JDM
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« Reply #7793 on: November 04, 2022, 07:45:08 AM »

Root of Bitterness

“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” (Hebrews 12:15)

Bitterness and a bitter spirit should never characterize a person who has experienced the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ. No matter how seriously one may have been wronged, if he has known God’s forgiving grace for his own wrongdoings, he should manifest that same grace in his life toward others, even though they do not merit it (for neither did he merit God’s forgiving grace himself).

Bitterness is a characteristic of the ungodly “whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness” (Romans 3:14). A Christian must never try to rationalize it as “righteous indignation” or to think that certain injustices give him the “right” to be bitter and resentful. “If ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3:14-15). Rooted bitterness will soon “spring up,” not only robbing the bitter believer of joy and true fruitfulness, but bearing bitter fruit whereby many others will “be defiled.”

The antidote, of course, is never to “fail of the grace of God.” That is, we need to be “looking diligently,” moment by moment, at the wonderful grace of God by which we were saved through faith and in which we continue to live each day.

Therefore, “let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). Otherwise, we not only hurt both ourselves and others, but we also grieve “the holy Spirit of God” (v. 30). HMM
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« Reply #7794 on: November 05, 2022, 09:49:28 AM »

Ask What Ye Will

“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)

The precious promise in this verse has been an inspiration to the faithful down through the centuries. It becomes even more amazing when attention is paid to the original Greek language in which it was written.

Abiding implies a close personal fellowship with someone; in this case, the personal, loving Lord Jesus: “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love” (v. 9). Such an abiding on our part will be evidenced by obedience, love for Him and for the brethren, and joy (vv. 10-14). Our minds and hearts will be in total harmony with His, guided by such a walk and His words.

“Ye shall ask” does not carry the proper force in English. This is a command in the imperative mode in Greek—a challenge, if you will. He challenges us to “ask what ye will” (literally “whatever ye desire”) and see Him faithful. Desire speaks of something different from need; indeed, it speaks of an “inclination.” He is not afraid we will ask for selfish inclinations, for if we “abide” in Him, our desires are His desires, and we will naturally ask for those things that glorify Him. “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (v. 8).

Notice the word “done,” which in Greek stems from the word meaning “to come into existence.” God will answer our unselfish prayers, even if He has to transcend natural law or even create something to do so. He even challenges us to “ask” without hesitation, as implied by the Greek construction.

If we meet the condition of “abiding” in Him, as a branch “abides” in the vine (vv. 1-5), He will place in us the desire to bring forth much fruit (v. 5) to His glory and to our everlasting delight. JDM
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« Reply #7795 on: November 06, 2022, 07:17:51 AM »

Christ Our Leader

“For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” (Hebrews 2:10)

The Lord never asks us to go anywhere that He has not gone before. He is the captain (literally, the “leader”) of our salvation, and we only need follow our divine leader. The same word is used in Hebrews 12:2, where we are exhorted to be “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince [same word] and a Saviour” (Acts 5:31).

The same wonderful truth appears under various figures. He is our Shepherd, for instance, and He says, “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” (John 10:27-28). He also illumines our path. “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). He guides us along the way by His indwelling Holy Spirit. “When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth....and he will show you things to come” (John 16:13).

With such a dauntless leader, a perfect example, a loving Shepherd, a clear light, and an infallible guide, we are (or should be) happy to follow Him, even if the way sometimes seems steep and hard.

He is the goal and prize at the end of the journey. For Him, Paul said, “I have suffered the loss of all things...that I may win Christ...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 3:8, 13-14). HMM
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« Reply #7796 on: November 07, 2022, 07:46:27 AM »

Where to Bestow Our Wealth

“And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits?” (Luke 12:16-17)

God called this rich man “thou fool” (Luke 12:20) because, rich as he was in his own eyes, he was “not rich toward God” (v. 21). Instead of choosing to bestow his goods on others in need or on any kind of ministry for God, he decided to build more barns, and “there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods” (v. 18). The barns did not need them, however, and neither did the rich fool, for he died the very night on which he made this selfish decision.

The intensity of his self-centered nature is pointed up by the fact that he used personal pronouns (I, my) no less than 11 times in three verses (vv. 17-19). Furthermore, no counselor advised him on this course of action. He just “thought within himself” (v. 17) to keep it all for his own comfort and pleasure.

Jesus told this parable not just to rebuke selfish rich people, however, but to warn all of us against the wicked sin of covetousness “which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). “Beware of covetousness,” He said in introducing the parable, “for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).

Complaining American Christians (and almost all American Christians are wealthy compared to multitudes in many other nations) need to hear the ancient word of the psalmist still relevant today: “Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased; For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him....Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish” (Psalm 49:16-17, 20). HMM
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« Reply #7797 on: November 08, 2022, 07:54:18 AM »

For Us

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

“Christian” liberals for many generations have scoffed at the biblical doctrine that the death of Christ could serve as a substitutionary sacrifice for the sin of the whole world. Like all other religions, their form of religion assumes that each person is responsible for his own salvation, which must somehow be earned by his own good deeds and religious observances. Some have a very rigid code of ethics, some talk of mental attitudes that ascend to higher planes through meditation, some emphasize only love, others simply feel that the good must somehow outweigh the bad. All rely on human abilities to gain salvation.

Nevertheless, the Bible clearly teaches that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) and, as our text emphasizes, “Christ died for us.” This pungent phrase, “for us,” appears repeatedly in the New Testament. Listen to this refrain:

“[God] spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all” (Romans 8:32). “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). “Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2). “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity” (Titus 2:14). “Christ also suffered for us” (1 Peter 2:21).
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« Reply #7798 on: November 09, 2022, 07:31:42 AM »

Never Forsaken

“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

The promise that God will never leave or forsake His people occurs often in Scripture. It was given here through Moses to the children of Israel as they were preparing to enter the land promised long ago to Abraham. Two verses later, it was then repeated personally for Joshua, who was to be their leader in the coming battles.

Essentially the same promise had been made to Jacob as he began to assume his God-ordained role. “Behold, I am with thee,” God had said, “For I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of” (Genesis 28:15). It was again repeated directly to Joshua by God. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (Joshua 1:5).

David passed on the same promise to Solomon as he became responsible for the kingdom and for building the great temple. “[God] will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD” (1 Chronicles 28:20). “I the God of Israel will not forsake them” (Isaiah 41:17) was the Lord’s promise still later to the faithful Israelites.

And we can rejoice today in this same wonderful promise. “He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5-6). This remarkable verse has five negatives in the Greek, so that it could even be rendered literally as something like: “I will never, never leave thee, and never, never, never forsake thee.” Surely this is one of the greatest of God’s “exceeding great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4). HMM
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« Reply #7799 on: November 10, 2022, 07:58:10 AM »

Created to Rule the Day

“And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.” (Genesis 1:16)

It seems that throughout history, mankind has ignored or distorted the purpose for which God created the sun. Many cultures have even worshiped the sun, teaching that the sun was the source of all being, even human life. Temples were built in its honor, human sacrifices were made to appease it, whole civilizations were dedicated to its worship.

The nation Israel, which had lived among sun-worshiping Egyptians for centuries, was warned not to “lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and...[see] the sun, and...be driven to worship” (Deuteronomy 4:19) under penalty of death, “for the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:24).

One of mankind’s primary purposes is to worship God, but the sun was created by God for man’s benefit. He is a God of grace and desires to “freely give us all things” (Romans 8:32).

The purpose of the sun is no mystery. Its Creator says that along with the moon and stars it is “to divide the day from the night...and...be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years...to give light upon the earth” (Genesis 1:14-15).

There will come a time, however, when the sun will no longer be needed by God’s people, for in our eternal home “there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light” (Revelation 22:5). “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (Revelation 21:23). Best of all, we shall be with Him. 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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