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« Reply #7980 on: May 10, 2023, 07:04:39 AM »

The Father's Love for the Son

“And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)

In this remarkable verse, God the Father, speaking from heaven itself, introduces His beloved Son to the world. This is the first New Testament reference to “love,” just as the Father’s love for the Son was the first love that ever existed. As Christ prayed in the upper room, “For thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).

There are many other references to the Father’s love for the Son, including two to the voice at His baptism (Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22) and two more in the upper room prayer (John 17:23, 26). One great reason for that love is the following: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life” (John 10:17).

The extent of the Father’s love for His blessed Son was all-encompassing. “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand” (John 3:35). Furthermore, “the Father loveth the Son, and showeth Him all things that Himself doeth” (John 5:20).

God also spoke of His “beloved Son” on the Mount of Transfiguration, as cited four times (Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35; 2 Peter 1:17). Thus, there are seven references in the New Testament to the Father’s heavenly testimony to His beloved Son. Similarly, there are seven passages where the Son Himself testifies of that Fatherly love. In addition to the six cited above, Christ said, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9).

Seven testimonies from the Father and seven from the Son! Surely the Father loved the Son with a perfect love. And yet—“Herein is love...that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Such love for unworthy sinners merits nothing less than total thanksgiving from us. HMM
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« Reply #7981 on: May 11, 2023, 07:06:37 AM »

God of All Graces

“Now the God of peace be with you all.” (Romans 15:33)

Our God of all the world has been known by many names in Scripture (Elohim, Jehovah, Adonai, etc.), but He is also identified, especially in the New Testament, as the God of many virtues and graces.

Our text calls Him, for example, the “God of peace.” The same appellation is given Him in Romans 16:20, Hebrews 13:20-21, and Philippians 4:9: “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly”; “now the God of peace...make you perfect in every good work to do his will”; “the God of peace shall be with you.”

He is even called the very God of peace who will “sanctify you wholly” in 1 Thessalonians 5:23. He is “the God of hope” in the beautiful invocation of Romans 15:13. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.”

To the sorrowing, He is “the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). And, of course, He is the “God of love,” as Paul reminded the Corinthians in closing his last letter to them. “Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11).

The apostle Peter wound up his first epistle by reminding his own readers that their God was “the God of all grace.” “The God of all grace,...make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” (1 Peter 5:10).

In summary, our gracious God is the God of peace, the God of hope, the God of all comfort, the God of love, and the God of all grace. He is also “the Father of mercies” and “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17; 15:26). And the Lord Jesus Christ, His Son, is of God, “made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). HMM
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« Reply #7982 on: May 12, 2023, 07:38:31 AM »

Faithful Men

“And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2)

Although this verse has been claimed by many as a model for their ministry, the Bible warns, “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6).

Faithful men must be alert and aware of God’s master plan (Matthew 28:19-20), understand the reason for God’s “longsuffering” (2 Peter 3:8-10), and expect and work toward Christ’s return (Matthew 24:42-26).

Such men must be industrious and committed, conscious of the ultimate spiritual evaluation (Matthew 25:14-23), and concerned with even the “least” of the biblical instructions (Matthew 5:19). They must also be faithful stewards (managers) of the mysteries of God (1 Corinthians 4:2) and of the manifold grace (gifts) that the Holy Spirit distributed among His churches (1 Peter 4:10).

Those who desire leadership among the churches must also be exemplary family men. “One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” (1 Timothy 3:4-5). Moses is renowned in this way (Hebrews 3:5), as is Abraham (Genesis 18:19).

Finally, faithful men must be able to teach others. Such capability is an obvious requirement of those who would take leadership roles in the churches (Titus 1:7-9), but the gift of teaching is noted among all of the biblical listings, implying that the need for such “faithful men” is widespread. However, the capacity to teach others, while a wonderful ability, must be exercised with gravity and carefulness (James 3:1). HMM III
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« Reply #7983 on: May 13, 2023, 07:39:15 AM »

Take Heed

“And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you.” (Mark 13:5)

In the account of Christ’s great prophetic discourse on the Mount of Olives, as recorded in Mark 13, the Lord Jesus warns us no less than four times to “take heed!” This fourfold admonition (Mark 13:5, 9, 23, 33) must be important and demands our attention!

First of all, our text warns us not to be deceived by human claims of spiritual authority and prophetic insights, for there would come many deceptive teachers claiming to be the returning Christ. When Christ does return, all His saints will know beyond question, for they shall all “meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

His second warning tells us to be prepared for persecutions (Mark 13:9), for “in the world ye shall have tribulation,” and “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (John 16:33; 2 Timothy 3:12).

His third admonition warns of false Christs and false prophets who will even “shew signs and wonders” (Mark 13:22-23). Many will be deceived unless they remember that neither prophecies nor exorcisms nor other wonderful works suffice for acceptance by Christ if those who perform them are “work[ers of] iniquity” (Matthew 7:22-23).

The fourth “take heed” is a sober warning against trying to predict the time of His return. “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is” (Mark 13:33). Such a warning is pointless if certain prophesied events must take place first, for then there would be no need to watch for Him. In the same discourse, as reported by Luke, Jesus gave a final such warning, speaking of this very danger. “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with...cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares” (Luke 21:34). HMM
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« Reply #7984 on: May 14, 2023, 07:28:25 AM »

The Elect Lady

“The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth.” (2 John 1:1)

The Greek word for “lady” (kuria) is used only two times in the Bible, and both of these occurrences are here in the one-chapter epistle of 2 John. It is also fascinating to note that kuria is the feminine form of kurios, which is the Greek word for “Lord.”

Evidently this “elect lady” was a special woman, very highly esteemed by the apostle John as a capable and conscientious mother to her children.

It is uncertain, however, whether this distinguished lady was a literal mother in the church with literal children or possibly a metaphor for the church itself, with the “children” its individual members. Good reasons can be given for both interpretations, and it may even be that John wrote his letter with this dual meaning in mind under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

In either case, it is significant that this mother is called “lady” instead of the much more frequently used “woman” (Greek gune), or even “mother” (Greek meter). The Greek kuria was evidently used to stress deep respect and honor to such a mother in the church. She clearly was training her children in “the truth,” much as Timothy’s mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois, had brought him up to have “unfeigned faith” in “the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15).

In addition to faith in God’s truth, of course, there should be genuine love. The second use of kuria is in verse 5: “And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another” (2 John 1:5). HMM
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« Reply #7985 on: May 15, 2023, 08:10:22 AM »

Astonishing Doctrine

“And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine.” (Matthew 7:28)

This is the first mention of “doctrine” (Greek didache) in the New Testament, and as such it is significant that it refers to the doctrines taught by Christ in the so-called Sermon on the Mount. It is also significant that there are four other verses telling us that His hearers were “astonished at his doctrine” (Matthew 22:33; Mark 1:22; 11:18; Luke 4:32) in addition to the statement in Acts 13:12 that a certain new convert had been “astonished at the doctrine of the Lord” when he heard Paul preach.

The astonishing aspect of the doctrine of Christ is indicated by Mark. “They were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22). No wonder He could speak with authority! “My doctrine is not mine,” He said, “but his that sent me” (John 7:16). Paul could also teach this astonishing doctrine because he was careful to teach only the Word of God. And so can we if we likewise believe and teach only in the context of the inerrant, doctrinal authority of God’s Word.

It has become fashionable today, even in many evangelical churches, to avoid “indoctrination” in favor of “discussion” and “personal Christianity.” This is a great mistake and largely accounts for the increasing secularization of our society and the weak testimony of the Christian church. In the Bible, teaching and doctrine are the same, so that true teaching is indoctrination, and teaching “all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20) is an integral part of Christ’s great commission. It is imperative that we, like Paul, teach “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), for “whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God” (2 John 1:9). HMM
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« Reply #7986 on: May 16, 2023, 07:59:12 AM »

They Have Their Reward

“Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.” (Matthew 6:2)

Evidently in our Lord’s day there were individuals who, when they went to the synagogue to give of their money, did so with great show, even having a trumpeter go before them to announce their actions. They also prayed openly “standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men” (v. 5). Jesus called them hypocrites.

The Greek word for hypocrite was used primarily for a stage actor—one who acted as if he were another person, perhaps using a large mask to hide his true identity. In this case, the hypocrite played the part of a generous person or a pious person who, out of a heart of concern for the poor or out of genuine love for God, would give or pray abundantly. But under the “mask” was only a desire to have others recognize and glorify him. Perhaps they received the applause of the onlookers, to which Jesus remarked, “They have their reward” (v. 5), even as the hypocrites in the synagogues and in the streets receive theirs.

The word “have,” an ordinary word, is here modified by a prefix that changes its meaning to “have in full” and was commonly used on business receipts to mean “paid in full.” No payment or service was expected to follow the close of the transaction.

How sad it is when we do “Christian” work today for the praises of men and not the glory of God. Whatever comes of our work will be here; there will be no more reward to follow. Rather, let us give, or pray, or work in secret, as it were, “and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly” (v. 4). JDM
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« Reply #7987 on: May 17, 2023, 07:41:00 AM »

Good Soldiers
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:3-4)

From a Kingdom perspective, a good soldier has several responsibilities. Initially, we can expect challenges, wherein we might “suffer trouble as an evil doer” (2 Timothy 2:9), endure afflictions (2 Timothy 4:5), or even be afflicted (James 5:13).

Ultimately, a soldier has one purpose, “that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” Put another way, “do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). Soldiers are called out of the normal life of a nation and dedicated to executing the will of the king.

Thus, from a spiritual perspective, “know ye not that friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). The source of that friendship is a focus on walking by the flesh, which has no good thing in it and cannot please God (Romans 8:8).

We are to “war a good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18) and to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12) because “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Fighting God’s battles with God’s armor ensures the ultimate victory promised by our King, Creator, and “captain of the host of the LORD” (Joshua 5:14). “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it” (Isaiah 25:8). HMM III
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« Reply #7988 on: May 18, 2023, 07:35:45 AM »

When We Abide in Christ

“Abide in me, and I in you. 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)

The Lord Jesus has told us to be careful always to “abide” in Him. The Greek word means “remain,” “endure,” “continue,” or “dwell.” He is to be our motivation, our standard, our home, our everything. When we do abide thus in Him, the Scriptures indicate that it will make a great difference in our lives right now, as well as in the life to come.

For example, “he that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (1 John 2:6). Furthermore, “whosoever abideth in him sinneth not” (1 John 3:6). Love for our Christian brethren will be evident, for “he that loveth his brother abideth in the light” (1 John 2:10). We will obey His Word, for “he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth [same word] in him, and he in him” (1 John 3:24).

In Christ’s discourse on the vine and the branches (John 15:1-16) are several wonderful promises to the Christian. “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit” (v. 5). “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (v. 7). “These things have I spoken unto you that my joy might remain [same word] in you, and that your joy might be full” (v. 11). “I have chosen you...that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (v. 16).

If we dwell in Christ, we actually are abiding in the Father and the Spirit also. Jesus said that “the Spirit of truth...dwelleth with you,” and “[my Father and I] will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:17, 23).

Therefore, let us “abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28). HMM
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« Reply #7989 on: May 19, 2023, 07:27:42 AM »

Judging Error

“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Romans 16:17-18)

In order to mark and avoid those professing Christian teachers and leaders who are promoting doctrinal heresy (thus causing divisions among Christian believers), it is obvious that we must exercise sound biblical discernment and judgment. This judgment must be based on “the doctrine which ye have learned” from God’s Word. “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).

Such decisions are not to be based on supposed scholarship, tolerance, or eloquence, for such teachers “by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” Instead, we must know and apply God’s Word, the Holy Scriptures. We must be like the Bereans, who, when they heard new teachings, “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).

It is sadly true today that many who call themselves Christians have compromised with the pseudo-scientific worldview of evolutionary humanism that controls all secular schools and colleges, hoping thereby to avoid the “offence of the cross” (Galatians 5:11) and to remain on good terms with “the princes of this world” and “the wisdom of this world” (1 Corinthians 2:6).

They do this for their own personal gain or prestige, however, not serving Christ “but their own belly” (Romans 16:18). Those who are simple Bible-believing Christians are, therefore, not to be deceived by their “good words” but to “mark” and avoid them. HMM
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« Reply #7990 on: May 20, 2023, 07:52:11 AM »

Wise Men Lessons

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem.” (Matthew 2:1)

We don’t know who these wise men were who came to worship Christ except that they saw “his star in the east” (Matthew 2:2). Some have speculated that they may have been Chaldeans who had some Scripture knowledge from Israel’s Babylonian captivity. Nevertheless, we can learn a few things from this verse.

First, it’s not always those who come from a religious background who give Christ great honor. Like the angelic notice to the shepherds at Christ’s birth, these men were from outside Israel. They were not of the scribes or Pharisees but came from a far country. Many of the strongest Christians are redeemed from the most unlikely and utterly lost backgrounds; “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20).

Second, the incredible journey these men undertook points to their determination and diligence. They had no access to modern high-speed transportation but took upon themselves a long, slow, costly, dangerous journey to get to Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

And finally, these men provide a striking example of faith. They believed in a Christ whom they had never seen, and when they arrived, they worshiped a King who was still a child and had not yet performed a single miracle to convince them or given a single teaching to persuade them. Nevertheless, they “fell down, and worshiped him” (Matthew 2:11).

The apostle Peter, who actually witnessed Christ’s miracles and teachings, exhorts us to a similar faith. “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” (1 Peter 1:8). JPT
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« Reply #7991 on: May 21, 2023, 07:48:24 AM »

God's Sovereignty

“And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?” (Exodus 4:11)

This divine rebuke to Moses was occasioned when Moses complained of his inability to speak eloquently for God before Pharaoh. It is also a rebuke to each of us who would dare question God’s wisdom in making us as we are—even with all our innate defects and handicaps. With our very limited knowledge of God’s purposes and our very short-range view of eternal priorities, we are ill-equipped to prejudge His ways with us.

To those who questioned why a man should be born blind, for example, Jesus answered: “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him” (John 9:3). As another example, when certain believers complained about the lethal illness of a loved one, Jesus replied: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (John 11:4).

The steadfastness of Stephen’s faith as he was stoned to death led to Paul’s conversion, though at the time it must have seemed difficult for his Christian brethren to understand and accept. In another context, but stating a principle highly relevant to such questions, Jesus reminds us, “What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter” (John 13:7). God is not capricious, but He is sovereign. Whatever He does is right, by definition, and whatever He allows is for a holy purpose. “Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:20).

It should be enough for now to know that He knows, and that when suffering comes for His sake, it is “for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). HMM
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« Reply #7992 on: May 22, 2023, 08:10:14 AM »

The Opened Heavens

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.” (Revelation 19:11)

This is the final climactic reference in the Bible to God’s opened heavens. Sometimes, as in this verse, heaven is opened in judgment; sometimes in blessing. Sometimes it is the atmospheric heaven that is open; sometimes the heaven of heavens where stands the throne of God.

The first such mention refers to the world-destroying Flood of Noah’s day when “the windows of heaven were opened” (Genesis 7:11). The second mention, however, speaks of blessing. God had “opened the doors of heaven, And had rained down manna upon them to eat” (Psalm 78:23-24). The windows of heaven rained down the waters of death, while the doors of heaven rained down the bread of life! Ezekiel also saw the heavens opened in judgment (Ezekiel 1:1), but God told Malachi, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse...and prove me now...if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).

At the baptism of Jesus, the heavens were opened and men heard the great testimony of the Father concerning His beloved Son (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:21). Jesus promised Nathanael, “Hereafter ye shall see heaven open” (John 1:51), and Stephen and Peter actually saw the heavens open (Acts 7:56; 10:11).

Finally, the apostle John reported that “a door was opened in heaven” (Revelation 4:1), and he saw the Lord on His throne—12 specific references (four in the Old Testament, eight in the New) to the opened heavens. HMM
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« Reply #7993 on: May 23, 2023, 08:13:30 AM »

The Gospel of Peace

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7)

Surprisingly, there are more verses containing the word “peace” in the Old Testament book of Isaiah (King James Version) than in any other book of the Bible. The central occurrence (15 before, 15 after) is in our text, speaking of those whose feet travel with the beautiful gospel (that is, “good tidings,” mentioned twice in this verse) of peace. The one proclaiming this gospel is said to be publishing salvation, announcing the imminent reign of God the Savior over all the earth.

The first mention of “peace” in Isaiah speaks of the coming King and His reign, and so does the final occurrence. First, “the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called...The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Then, in Isaiah’s last chapter we read, “For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will extend peace to [Zion] like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream” (Isaiah 66:12).

This wonderful gospel of peace is specifically mentioned just twice in the New Testament. The first is a direct quotation from our text. “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15).

The second is in connection with the Christian’s spiritual armor. The “beautiful feet” that are to carry the good tidings are, most appropriately, to be “shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). It is our high privilege to be among those whose feet travel upon the mountains, and across the plains, and over the seas with the beautiful gospel of peace and salvation. 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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« Reply #7994 on: May 24, 2023, 07:55:54 AM »

Memory and the Holy Spirit

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)

John wrote his detailed discourses of Jesus (almost half of the verses in John’s gospel consist of His words) approximately 50 years after Christ spoke them, yet John was able to report them verbatim because of the supernatural memory of them brought back by the Holy Spirit. The same must have been true for the other biblical writers as they recalled words and events of years before.

In a real, though different, sense, the Holy Spirit also can “bring to our remembrance” the words of Scriptures just when they are especially needed in witnessing or for personal guidance or some other need. This will only be operational, of course, if they have first been stored in our memory, either by direct memorization or by such frequent reading and studying of the Bible as to make it a part of our subconscious memory.

Recall how the unlearned fisherman Peter was able to quote long passages of Scripture when he needed them (see, for example, Acts 2:16-21, 25-28, 34-35). He had apparently spent much time in studying and even memorizing key portions of the Old Testament. Jesus, of course, frequently quoted Scripture in His conversations, and Paul quoted Scripture abundantly in his epistles. Should we not do the same?

Scripture memorization has been a great blessing to many Christians over the years but seems to have become almost a lost art in this day and age. Nevertheless, Christ has promised answered prayer “if ye abide in me, and my words abide in you” (John 15:7). So, as Paul urged, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16). 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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