Who Is Waiting for You?

You will never get away from all who are hungry for the Word you can share.

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Mark 6:32-33 – And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.  And the people saw them departing, and many knew him, and ran afoot thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him.

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The situation in which Jesus found Himself happened more than once in His ministry.  He and His disciples were tired, having ministered to people for days.  Many of the people had likely been with Jesus for days, away from home, and perhaps even without food.  They were so hungry for the Word and to see the power of God manifest through the ministry of Jesus.  Because of the endless ministry, there were times Jesus needed to take His disciples aside for a time of rest.  In our Text for Today, we see just such a time.

But the people to whom they had been ministering, those who were hungry for the Word and power of God had a different mindset about it.  Those who knew Him had ideas where He might be going, and the word soon spread to small towns, cities, and villages all around.  I don’t know exactly how their system of communications worked then, but it did.  By the time Jesus and His disciples arrived at their destination to rest, many of the people had gotten there before Him, and when He was discovered where He was resting, they came to Him again.  They were so hungry for the Word of God and to see the power of God manifest through the ministry of Jesus. 

We may not see the same precise scenario today, but the reality of people being hungry for the Word of God and to see the power of God manifest is still very present.  Our systems of communications are much more modern, so if you walk in the power of God, there is no way to get away from it.  No matter where you are, or where you go, or where you seek rest, you will always encounter people seeking the Word of God and desiring to see the power of God made manifest.  The Scriptures tell us that Father has ordained good works that we should walk in them.  They are waiting on you, some of them just ahead as you continue on your path in life.  As you allow yourself to be led by the Lord, you’ll find more and more of them revealed to you.  They’re out there, just waiting on you, just like the people who arrived where Jesus was going and waited on Him.  Many of those “good works” are the lives of people that you will be instrumental in changing.  Don’t try to escape them; just engage them, and trust the Lord as you do.

Manna for Today – Mark 6:30-44; Matthew 11:28; Mark 16:15-20; Matthew 7:24-27; Ephesians 2:10

The Twist of Wickedness

The enemy will find a lie to distort the plainest truth.

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Matthew 12:22-24 – Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.  And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?  But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

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I’m sure you seen whicker furniture.  The term “whicker” comes from the word “wicca,” which means “twisted.”  It also means a kind of witchcraft.  If the devil is good at anything, it is at taking an obvious demonstration of truth and twisting it in a manner to deceive, steal, kill, and destroy.  That is precisely what he did in our Text for Today.  A man possessed by a demon, living a life of blindness and not able to speak, was delivered by the Lord, and healed of the physical infirmities caused by that demon.  What had happened was obvious.  Jesus performed a great work that clearly demonstrated the love, kindness, goodness, and power of God.

But notice what happened.  Look closely at our Text for Today; “But when the Pharisees ‘heard’ it…”  They were not there to see it; they had only heard of it.  And when what they heard made someone else look great in the eyes of the people, they spoke against it, accusing Jesus of casting out devils by “Beelzebub the prince of devils.”  Of course, they would likely have done precisely what they did even if they had seen it.  But we need to understand that it is not what actually happens, but what liars and misguided people, especially leaders, say that perverts the truth, creating terrible problems for everyone, especially those who need the most help.

We have Pharisees of a sort all about us in our world today.  And, yes, they’re in the church, too.  Regardless of what happens, whether it be good or evil, they will say things that are untrue, things they did not witness, to cause problems for those with whom they do not agree.  It is for this very reason that leaders, particularly Christian leaders, but strive with all their hearts to act right, do right, speak right, and live right.  While that will not stop liars from lying, or trouble makers from making trouble, or backbiters from gossiping, or evil doers from doing evil, it does create an atmosphere in which you can breathe, and a platform upon which you can stand in full reliance upon the great God Jehovah Who is your Justifier.  Always remember, allow the Lord to order your steps, keep your heart and mouth filled with His Word, and walk in obedience to His Commands, fulfilling the love command and honoring Father in faith.  He will justify you by your words of faith and truth.  What Satan attempts to stop with his wicked twisting, the straight edged (double edged) sword of God’s Word will cut asunder, and His shield of faith will quench EVERY fiery dart of Satan.

Manna for Today – Matthew 12:22-32; Romans 3:4; Isaiah 55:11; Hebrews 6:18; Ephesians 6:10-18

Overcoming Circumstances

It pays to know the circumstances in which you work.

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Matthew 12:22-23 – Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.  And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?

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Often, we face situations in life that are not what they appear to be.  Our Text for Today is a prime example of that in the life of Jesus.  To the casual observer, or even a truly interested party, had they been present when this man was brought to Jesus, the fact that he was blind and dumb (unable to speak), may have cause some to think he needed miracle, or that all he needed was healing.  Others may have considered the possibility that a demon was involved in some way.  But seeing this scene unfold without having the narrative of Matthew, it is likely that the primary thinking about the man would have all be conjecture.

Jesus, however, did not operate by conjecture.  He always operated in truth, and to do that, one needs to know the facts that exist within a situation.  In the scene set forth in our Text for Today, there are several layers of facts that need to be clearly known to allow one to operate accurately in bringing a miracle, a healing, a deliverance, or some combination of these things to bear in order to achieve the desired end.  We must remember that what we read in the Scriptures is the whole story being told AFTER the fact.  But where the characters in the story are concerned, they had to live and operate before the fact, or at best, with the fact, and that could leave question.  For that reason, Jesus did nothing except what He saw Father do, or that which Father commanded, or to which Holy Spirit led Him.  Because He lived that way at all times, always being led by Holy Spirit and only doing those things that pleased Father, His outcome was always successful, pleasing Father, and accurate in function.  While many would perhaps want to debate what I say here, the truth is that you and I can live the same way, achieve the same results with the same success, and in fact, do even greater than that which Jesus did.

In this case, the man needed healing, and that is what Jesus provided for him.  But the man was also possessed by a demon.  We must realize that some sickness or disease is not natural, but is caused by the presence of a demon spirit.  Smith Wigglesworth faced such an ordeal when he was gravely ill with what was likely a ruptured appendix.  He received his healing, but only after a demon was cast out of his flesh that was causing the problem.  Child of God, there are times that we need to know where we stand, what we face, and the circumstances that exist before we can minister in a truly effective manner.

Manna for Today – Matthew 12:22-32; Isaiah 53:4-5; Psalm 107:20; 1 Peter 2:24; Mark 16:15-20;      John 14:12-14

Not Always What You Expect

People don’t always appreciate the right thing.  There may be a price to pay.

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Mark 5:17 – And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts.

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Imagine living in a society where poverty generally ruled.  When business was good, you were still confronted by powerful forces that fought against you.  That was the situation for the people of Gadara.  Think with me for a moment.  They lived on the east side of the Sea of Galilee.  Across from them were the Jews, and for the sake of our discussion, we must remember that the Jews had no use for pork.  To them, it was unclean.  Yet, for the people of Gadara, it was obviously an open market for them.  In the place where Jesus delivered the demoniac of Gadara was a herd of swine more than 2,000 strong.  For that many swine to be in one herd, they had to be under someone’s control, and that meant someone was intending to make money from them.  But remember, the Jews had nothing to do with swine, so that meant the people of Gadara were likely operating in a difficult market situation.   But in the midst of all this, there was the ever-present terror of the demoniac of Gadara.  No one could pass that way without encountering him at some level.  Chains and fetters could not hold him, and he was, at the least, a major nuisance to passers-by.  With all that controversy in their country, you would think the people of Gadara would have been pleased for the man to be delivered, and at the least, thankful to the Lord for doing such  a marvelous work.  But that was not the case.

Jesus had upset their status quo, and they did not like that.  Because of that, they urged Him to depart from their region.  The delivered man wanted to go with Jesus, but He told him to stay and minister to his friends.  Imagine being told to minister the love of God in a region that had just rejected God.  But that should not be unknown to us today.  Jesus still heals and delivers.  People are still being set free.  But when that happens, it often upsets the status quo of the region.  What happens when a prostitute, junkie, or drunkard are saved?  The pimps, drug dealers, and purveyors of alcohol see their business diminish.  The don’t want Jesus in their business.  I have personally had guns, knives, and other weapons used to threaten me for that very reason.  Well, they may not want Jesus in their community, but that is precisely where you and I have been sent.  You and I can be a friend to sinners just as Jesus was.  But be assured, my friend, the response of people around you may not be what you expected.  The Lord may use you for a great healing, deliverance, or miracle, but the salvation of one person may be viewed by an unbeliever as an attack on his business, economy, or livelihood.  Still we remain as a witness to the love, mercy, grace, and goodness of God.

Manna for Today – Mark 5:1-20; Mark 6:5

Wisdom Asks

It’s really simple.  If you don’t know the answer to something, asking is one of the key ways to learn it.

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Wisdom Asks

Mark 5:9 – And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.

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There are many things we don’t know.  If you don’t know how to get to where you want to go, ask.  It’s far better than being lost.  If you don’t know how to assemble the gas grill you’ve ordered, ask.  It’s far better than blowing yourself up.  If you don’t know how to file your taxes properly, ask.  It’s far better than going to jail and paying the fines and penalties. 

There were times when Jesus entered into a situation about which He did not have all the answers.  He did not know the fig tree had no figs until He approached it.  He had to discover the facts.  On several occasions He asked people what they wanted Him to do for them.  Whether He knew already or not, we know not, but He wanted to hear it from their own lips.  In the case of our Text for Today, He knew He was dealing with an unclean spirit, but He did not know the demon’s name.  So, He asked.  And His response to the situation was impacted by the answer He received.

Once again, note that Jesus knew what kind of demon possesses the man of Gadara.  It was an unclean spirit.  But Jesus went further in His ministry.  He asked for the demon’s name.  Notice closely that Jesus spoke to the demon while the man was still “afar off.”  He said, “Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.”   And when the man fell at Jesus’ feet, and the demons worshipped Him, Jesus asked what his name was.  Jesus did not want to move into the situation He was facing without being fully armed with accurate knowledge.  When He asked, the demon responded.  Note closely the response.  He said, “My name is Legion; for we are many.”  While the name “Legion” leaves room for discussion, I believe it to be a number of troops in the Roman army of about 5,000 soldiers, including calvary.  The demoniac of Gadara around 5,000 demons in him, but only one was in charge.  He name was Legion.  When Jesus had all the information He needed, He cast out the possession demon, along with all those that were under his command in the man.  Too often in the church, people move into situations where demonic forces are at work without understanding what is happening and now to apply their authority.  When they do, failure is the usual result.  Sometimes we need to ask questions, to be properly informed before we act.  Unless the Lord has shown you clearly what to do, be sure you do all you can to be properly informed so you can operate in faith and not presumption.

Manna for Today – Mark 5:1-20; James 1:2-9; Mark 10:36; Mark 10:51

For He Said – Part Two

The power of words spoken in faith cannot be overly emphasized.

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Mark 5:7-8 – And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.  For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.

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Today we look once again at the reason the demons in the man of Gadara recognized the Lord Jesus from “afar off.”  We have already learned why the man of Gadara bowed before Jesus, and why the demons worshipped Him.  Clearly, it was because Jesus spoke words of faith that identified His connection to the Father.  But how was it they recognized more than a connection, and knew His Name, and knew He was the “Son of the most high God”?  And the answer is the same as the answer to yester-day’s question.  JESUS SPOKE A FAITH COMMAND TO THE DEMON!  He said to the demon that possessed the man, while he was yet “afar off,” “come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.”  When Jesus spoke, there were TWO distinct points of identification made, both of which are vital for the believer to understand today.

First, when Jesus spoke His faith command, the authority He carried with Father was clearly revealed.  The demons in the man realized they could not overcome such authority, and the only real option they had was to worship the one who possessed that authority.  But there was another point of identification that is just as important.  Jesus’s authority carried legal power.  But the second point of identification was not about authority, but about relationship.  And it was this point that revealed relationship.  It was in the recognition of relationship that they not only knew WHAT He commanded, but WHO He was.  He was Jesus, the Son of the living God.

Now consider the following.  As a child of God, you are an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ.  When you speak words of faith in the Name of Jesus, you speak with the same authority as Jesus Himself.  The works Jesus did, you can do, also, and greater works than that.  The armor that you wear is the armor of God; there is nothing natural about it.  When you have put on the whole armor of God and stand as you are commanded, and then open your mouth as the ambassador of the Lord, speaking His Word in faith, as far as Satan and his minions are concerned, they are dealing with the Son of God.  No, you are NOT the “first begotten of God,” but you ARE begotten of God, heir of God, joint heir with Christ, and His fully authorized ambassador.  Once again, don’t wait until the enemy is in your face and try to show him your business card.  Speak to him “afar off,” and force him to recognize you as the chosen vessel of God you are.

Manna for Today – Mark 5:1-20; Mark 11:22-24; Matthew 12:34-37; Joshua 1:6-9; Isaiah 55:11;        Mark 16:15-20; John 14:12-14; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Romans 8:17; Ephesians 6:10-18

For He Said – Part One

Never discount the power of the spoken word.

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Mark 5:6 & 8 – But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him . . . For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.

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At this writing, I am 71-years old.  I grew up in a Christian home, have always attended church, and cannot tell you how often I have heard the story of the demoniac of Gadara used for a text for a sermon.  Something about all those hearings saddens me.  In all those years, in all those sermons, I have only heard two ministers make the point set forth in the first five words of Mark 5:8.  It is in our Text for Today.  Take a close look at it and put it into perspective, and place it in its proper position in the story.  Those first five words are, “For He (Jesus) said unto him (the demon spirit possessing the man)….”  Please note that the parenthetical insertions are mine, simply for clear identification. 

When you have the opportunity, ask different people who know this story, including ministers, “Why did the demoniac of Gadara run to Jesus and worship Him?”  I believe you will be surprised at the answers.  I also believe the answer you will hear most frequently is that it was because Jesus was the Son of God.  While that is certainly true, that is not the central truth of this encounter.  Jesus was still the Son of God in the Garden of Gethsemane, while being tortured by the Roman soldiers, and while being crucified.  None of them rushed to worship Him.  So, what was the difference?  The answer is simple.  At Gadara, Jesus spoke His authority, but in the scenes of His passion, He opened not His mouth to exhibit His authority.

Now look very closely at our Text for Today once again.  Note closely the order of events in Mark 5:1-20.  Jesus and His disciples had arrived in Gadara.  The demoniac headed in their direction while they were yet “afar off.”  But before he fell at Jesus’s feet and worshipped Jesus, while he was still “afar off,” Jesus said to the demon in the man, “Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.”  There it is!  Do you see it?  What caused this demon possessed man to fall at the feet of Jesus and worship Him was that JESUS SPOKE A FAITH COMMAND TO THE DEMON!  While the man was still “afar off,” before he had ever gotten close enough to do or say anything to Jesus, Jesus spoke.  And when the Word of God goes forth, it will not return void.  Nothing has changed in that regard.  The Word is still the same today.  When YOU speak the Word of God in faith, it is clearly heard throughout the realm of the spirit.  Men may not hear, but heaven does, and so does hell and its minions.  Don’t wait until the enemy in in your face.  Deal with him ”afar off.”

Manna for Today – Mark 5:1-20; Mark 11:22-24; Matthew 12:34-37; Joshua 1:6-9; Isaiah 55:11;        Mark 16:15-20

Location, Location, Location

Sometimes it is a matter of real estate.

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Location, Location, Location

Mark 5:3 – Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:

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Where do you live?  I’m really not referring to your geographic location.  Rather, I am talking about your spiritual location.  But using natural pictures will help us have deeper understanding.  Having traveled in many places of our world, I have seen the slums of some major cities in several nations.  Having been there and seen that, I think it reasonable to believe that if the people who live there could move to a better location, they would.  I know that there are people in other nations who would like to come and live in America.  Many of them do not have an accurate understanding of all that goes into such a decision, thinking all they need to do is get to America and things will be alright.  My friend, there are many people who live in America who can give personal testimony that such thinking is erroneous.

Take a moment to re-examine my opening query.  Where do you live (spiritually)?  Are there things in your spiritual neighborhood that make living there undesirable?  Would you like to be in a better spiritual community?  Please don’t take me wrong in my approach.  Regardless of the natural condition of your physical world, your spiritual community is different.  Your spiritual community is not based on the square footage of your house, the average annual income of your neighbors, or the size of the land plots on which you live.  It is based on the life that is present around you, the ready availability of prayer, the depth and accuracy of the Word of God that is planted and at work in your life, the community of praise and worship in which you live that dramatically impacts your spiritual attitude in all things, and the ongoing and developing community of fellowship that permeates your spiritual atmosphere.

All those things help determine your impact and effectiveness as a witness for your faith, the degree of the victory in which you walk, and the honor your life brings to the Lord and His kingdom.  In the case of our Text for Today, Jesus had come to Gadara, and the man who came down to meet Him did not come to worship Him, but to attack Him.  Keep in mind that while Jesus was physically in Gadara, He did not reside in Gadara.  Regardless of the geography, Jesus, in His earthly ministry, kept Himself full of and flowing with the Word of God, and regardless of where He was, having His disciples with Him helped Him preserve the security of the atmosphere that surrounded Him.  Though in Gadara, confronted by a demoniac, and literally a foreigner in the Gadarene economy, Jesus brought with Him the atmosphere of heaven.  That should be our constant aim.  We may find ourselves in a strange, or even horribly negative geographical location, but let us always be surrounded the atmosphere of heaven, full of faith, full of the Word, walking in love, pleasing Father, and ready for action, enveloped by divine location.

Manna for Today – Mark 5:1-20; Romans 13:12; Ephesians 5:11

Misery of the Untamed

Where discipline does not exist, the results will ultimately be misery, especially for the untamed.

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Misery of the Untamed

Mark 5:4-5 – Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.  And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.

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I enjoy nature.  I enjoy the wildness of nature.  Some would call it untamed.  But in nature, both plants and animals simply conform to that which is natural.  Each animal, each plant, both flora and fauna, have a nature specific to themselves.  And while that may seem to be so good, take a moment to really consider what it would be like to be an animal in the wild.  If you give truly reasonable thought to it, you will realize that a world, or a society, that is tamed, has laws, and has rules, is far more to be desired that one without laws and rules.  In such a world, fear dominates, and uncertainty is a way of life.

Such was the world of the demoniac of Gadara.  Nothing could hold him.  Chains were “plucked asunder,” fetter were “broken in pieces,” and the possibility of being tamed (civilized) was out of the question.  Imagine a life where rest was non-existent; a world in which you were constantly in a state of emotional torment, and always cutting yourself as you went from day to day in a suicidal existence.  We are talking about an existence of fear, torment, pain, suffering, and complete misery with every breath one takes.  That was the life of the demoniac of Gadara. 

As horrible as that picture was for the demoniac of Gadara, it is just as horrible for anyone who is lost and without Christ.  The life of a person without Christ may be well-disguised in today’s world of comforts, ease, and technology.  But stop and think for a moment.  With every human being, the outward man is perishing day by day.  With the believer, however, the inner man, the spirit-man, is being refreshed daily and has received eternal life with the promise of a glorified body.  But what of the person without Christ.  Once again, the outward man is perishing daily, getting older, wearing out.  But the real tragedy is the hidden man of the heart.  Think of existing with a mind without peace, uncertainty of tomorrow with a promise of torment for eternity.  Such a human spirit is crying out, night and day, for deliverance.  They are living in the land of the dead, and will use anything and everything they can find to either bring some quiet to their mind.  Drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex; they may all feel good and may momentarily take one’s mind off the darkness, but the end is still the same.  And the answer for that person is the same as it was for the demoniac of Gadara.  As a songwriter penned, “Only Jesus can satisfy your soul.”

Manna for Today – Mark 5:1-20; 1 John 4:18; Hosea 4:6; Proverbs 29:18; Psalm 119:165; Isaiah 26:3

Location, Location, Location

Sometimes it is a matter of real estate.

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Location, Location, Location

Mark 5:3 – Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:

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Where do you live?  I’m really not referring to your geographic location.  Rather, I am talking about your spiritual location.  But using natural pictures will help us have deeper understanding.  Having traveled in many places of our world, I have seen the slums of some major cities in several nations.  Having been there and seen that, I think it reasonable to believe that if the people who live there could move to a better location, they would.  I know that there are people in other nations who would like to come and live in America.  Many of them do not have an accurate understanding of all that goes into such a decision, thinking all they need to do is get to America and things will be alright.  My friend, there are many people who live in America who can give personal testimony that such thinking is erroneous.

Take a moment to re-examine my opening query.  Where do you live (spiritually)?  Are there things in your spiritual neighborhood that make living there undesirable?  Would you like to be in a better spiritual community?  Please don’t take me wrong in my approach.  Regardless of the natural condition of your physical world, your spiritual community is different.  Your spiritual community is not based on the square footage of your house, the average annual income of your neighbors, or the size of the land plots on which you live.  It is based on the life that is present around you, the ready availability of prayer, the depth and accuracy of the Word of God that is planted and at work in your life, the community of praise and worship in which you live that dramatically impacts your spiritual attitude in all things, and the ongoing and developing community of fellowship that permeates your spiritual atmosphere.

All those things help determine your impact and effectiveness as a witness for your faith, the degree of the victory in which you walk, and the honor your life brings to the Lord and His kingdom.  In the case of our Text for Today, Jesus had come to Gadara, and the man who came down to meet Him did not come to worship Him, but to attack Him.  Keep in mind that while Jesus was physically in Gadara, He did not reside in Gadara.  Regardless of the geography, Jesus, in His earthly ministry, kept Himself full of and flowing with the Word of God, and regardless of where He was, having His disciples with Him helped Him preserve the security of the atmosphere that surrounded Him.  Though in Gadara, confronted by a demoniac, and literally a foreigner in the Gadarene economy, Jesus brought with Him the atmosphere of heaven.  That should be our constant aim.  We may find ourselves in a strange, or even horribly negative geographical location, but let us always be surrounded the atmosphere of heaven, full of faith, full of the Word, walking in love, pleasing Father, and ready for action, enveloped by divine location.

Manna for Today – Mark 5:1-20; Romans 13:12; Ephesians 5:11