How Much Consideration?

If we truly considered what we say BEFORE we say it, I’m sure many problems could be avoided.

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Acts 15:6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

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The concept arises from the deepest wisdom.  There are many adages the point to it, such as “two heads are better than one.”  That is not a statement concerning “heads” being leaders, but being intelligent minds that have thought through a process.  While everyone in leadership, at times, may think themselves to be on shaky ground, in most cases, when there is a multitude of counsellors, issues of safety in decision can be greatly, of not totally, removed.  It’s about wisdom and true knowledge.  We may have heard all the facts, but how many of those facts can and do change from moment to moment?  On the other hand, real truth does not change with every “wind of doctrine.”

Where would the church of the Lord Jesus be today if at every point where a new denomination arose, or people found themselves in the midst of a church split, the matter had been placed before the apostles and elders of the church for examination and consideration?  Is it possible there might be fewer denominations and greater unity in the body of Christ?  Is it possible that the great numbers of churches we seem to see on every corner would exist because of church growth, and not church splits?  I ask you to consider these questions seriously.

In the present hour of church history, there have never been more baited causes for strife and division in the church. The term, “baited causes,” refers to points of contention that are LIKE the “tares” of which Jesus spoke.  The “tare” has a biological term “lolium timulentum.”  While growing and maturing, they look just like the wheat.  But when fully matured, are empty shells.  That is the basis for most church problems; empty shells with a fancy name.  One of the greatest tools God has given His church for discovering those empty shells and preventing their success in the church.  It is found in our Text for Today.  We need the consideration of “apostles and elders;” the truly mature leaders in the body of Christ.

Guard yourself.  If ideas, plans, and schemes are presented to you, or complaints or grievances are given voice, determine if they have been presented to the truly mature leaders of the church.  If they have not, avoid them until they are.  Take heed what and how you hear.  Keep your shield of faith strong; the fiery darts never cease.  Sometimes they come as an open attack on you, but sometimes they come disguised as a matter that needs your personal attention.  When they come like that, go to counsel, and in that multitude, be safe.

Manna for Today – Acts 15:1-21; Proverbs 15:22; Proverbs 24:26; Mark 4:24; Luke 8:10

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Doors and Gates

Points of entry into your life are important.  Guard them well.

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Acts 15:4-5 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.  But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

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A great man of God and Christian author, Leonard Ravenhill said, “When God opens heaven’s windows to bless you, Satan opens hell’s gates to blast you.”  I believe he was really onto something there.  But don’t make the mistake I’ve heard spoken by so many believers, even ministers.  I often hear someone say something like, “I must be doing something right because the devil has really been attacking me.”  There is grave danger in that kind of assumption.  We must never use an action of the devil as a gauge to measure how well we are serving the Lord.  There is absolutely NO faith in such thinking, or in the action that would follow that thinking; only fear and conjecture.  And dear one, that is NOT of God.

The child of God must understand that Satan is an outlaw.   He does not require God’s permission to attack the child of God.  Once again, he is an outlaw.  He will attack any Christian who is diligently serving the Lord and His kingdom.  And he will likewise attack Christians who are not serving the Lord and His kingdom in an attempt to create deception and subterfuge, making a disobedient, or lukewarm Christian believe they are really doing the ill of God.  This trick has worked for decades against the church wherever Satan can find Christians who don’t know how to truly live by faith.

Allow me to offer you some food for thought.  When God wants to pour out blessings, He uses WINDOWS.  Keep in mind that Jesus is the DOOR to the sheep.  You and I, believers, are the WINDOWS through which the world is to see Jesus, and through which He pours blessing into the earth.  Jesus said “the gates of hell” shall not prevail against His church.  A house does not have gates; it has doors.  Gates allow entry to the property, but to get into the house, one must come through the doors or windows.  Keep in mind that windows, doors, and gates generally offer two-way traffic.  You can go out through them, or you can let something in by them.  Jesus is the DOOR.  That is the only way to legitimately come into the sheepfold.  You are a window.  Stay clean and clear so deception cannot sneak near to climb through them, and so you can keep an eye on the gates.  The Lord’s command to “watch and pray” is not a frivolous one.  Just a thought.

Manna for Today – Acts 15:1-21; John 10:10; Romans 8:14

Cause It!

Do you need to be strengthened?  Do you desire to strengthen others?

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Acts 15:3 – And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.

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When you leave a place, what marks do you leave on the people there?  There are four basic kinds of marks. (1) Wrinkles – all you did was make and impression.  (2) Wounds – you hurt or injured someone, leaving them with open wounds.  (3) Scars (Stitch Scars) – while you may have caused some discomfort, you succeeded in closing some wounds and at least starting a healing process.  (4) Stretch Marks – you truly have helped people grow, to stretch themselves to go beyond where they were.

One of the greatest ways to leave stretch marks is to cause, provoke, deposit, grow, and/or produce JOY in the lives of those you encounter.  We know JOY to be a fruit of the spirit.  We know JOY to be a drawing agent or tool from the well of salvation.  We know JOY is measurable; that it can be “counted.”  We know that JOY is a powerful spiritual force; it can handle the pressures of life.  Take another look at our Text for Today.  This verse gives clear indication that JOY can also be “CAUSED.”

That brings us to this question.  How does one  “cause great joy unto all the brethren?”  Look more closely at our Text for Today.  We read that Paul and Barnabas passed through the region “declaring the conversion of the Gentiles.”  Do you see that?  They were testifying to the salvation of lost souls.  The Scriptures tell us that there is great rejoicing in heaven over the salvation of a single soul.  So, can you imagine the rejoicing over many souls?  Now add to that one additional thought.  When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, one of the points of prayer He emphasized was, “Thy will be done in heaven as it is in earth.”  Dear reader, we need to realize and be continually cognizant of the truth that heaven and earth are connected; that to some degree, there is a shared atmosphere.  That atmosphere is shared because the Word works in both arenas, God’s interest in man serves in both arenas, and there is a joint rulership in both arenas.  The Head of the body rules from the right hand of Majesty, and the body rules under the Lordship of the head in the earth.  The point is simple.  We are heirs of God, joint heirs with Christ, and ambassadors of God in this earth.  Live up to your identity.  Be who the Lord has made you to be, rule with the authority He gave you, and live in the bounty that is yours through Christ.

Manna for Today – Acts 15:1-21; Galatians 5:22-23; Nehemiah 8:10; James 1:2-

Unite Over Division

Division is NOT the end.  It is the place to come together.

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Acts 15:2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

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DIVISION; a mathematical function by which a number is broken into smaller component parts.  In “simple division,” one number is divided into another number to determine how many times it can be found in that second number, and determine if anything is left over (a remainder).  For example, if you divide 53 by three, your answer is “17 with a remainder of two.”  You have 17 equal component parts with two parts remaining.  But if “three” is required for appropriate function, the there remains “two” that cannot function appropriately, and in many cases, may simply be left behind or tossed aside.  Sadly, that kind of math has occurred far to often in the church.  In fact, once was too much, but it has happened again and again in the history of the church.

In the church, dear reader, such things should not happen.  But how can it be avoided?  People will be people, and there will always be different opinions.  Yes, that is correct.  I remember being in a Biblical discussion once on the topic of Christians not always acting the right way.  After some thought, my response was this; “You can always count on ‘children of God’ acting like children.  Unfortunately, you cannot always count of ‘children of God’ behaving in a godly manner.”  That remark has stayed with me over the years, and the recurrence I have seen of that truth is about as consistent as the recurrence of sunrise every 24 hours.

Can division be avoided?  Yes!  How?  Do the Word!  Here are some thoughts on that.

  • Commit to allowing the Word of God to be the first statement and final word in ALL matters.
  • Select elders and leaders prayerfully, not just based on aptitude.  Attitude counts, too.
  • Pray – FOR, WITH, & OVER elders and leaders.  They’re still human.
  • ALWAYS adjudicate EVERY topic in light of the Word of God.
  • Wait, I say, wait upon the Lord.  In so many situations, the best speeds of decision are “slow and slower.”
  • Take time for SOAKING.  After a matter is set forth, allow the Word to saturate your being.  When you’re dehydrated, just jumping in the river is not enough.
  • Everything that EMERGES is not an EMERGENCY.  Thoughts are to be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.  You don’t immediately destroy them because you don’t understand them.  That which is “captured” can be studied to be properly discerned.
  • Make sure God is in the discussion.  ONLY when He is in the discussion can Biblical reasoning occur.

Be blessed, stay strong, and make every day a great one!

Manna for Today – Acts 15:1-21; Matthew 18:19-20; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Amos 3:3; 2 Corinthians 10:3-6

No Exceptions

When someone speaks the final word of authority, there are no exceptions.

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Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.

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Being born again is not some exception to the rule, something extra in the process, or an option on the road to attainment.  That is THE RULE.  Jesus said, “You MUST BE born again.”  If God said it, that settles it!  In Spanish that is, Si Dios lo ha dicho, esta establicido!  In Swahili we would say, Kama Mungu alisema ataidhibitisha!  I don’t know how to say it in any other languages.  It may sound differently in different languages.  Still, what it says it what it means, and what it means is clearly stated.  IF GOD SAID IT, THAT SETTLES IT! 

Now to the focus of today.  Jesus said, “You must be born again.”  There you have it.  Jesus, the Word made flesh, the first begotten Son of God has spoken.  “You must be born again.”  He did NOT say, you “MUST BE” anything else.  Now don’t misunderstand what I say here.  In no way am I discounting anything that is ours through our covenant with Jehovah.  Water baptism, being filled with Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues as Holy Ghost gives utterance, going into all the world to preach the Gospel to every creature, laying hands on the sick, tithing and giving, praying without ceasing, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit ….. I could go on and on.  All these things CERTAINLY SHOULD BE DONE BY THE BELIEVER, but none of them will get you into the kingdom of God; none of them will make you a Christian.  For that to happen, “You must be born again.”

Romans 10:9-10 sets the foundational parameter for that work.  Read it.  Don’t add to it or take away from it.  Just read it and take it for what it says.  Don’t try to complicate it, or make it difficult to understand.  Just read it and take if for what it says.  Don’t take it to the seminary and adorn it in black robes, collars, or shawls.  Just read it and take it for what it says.  Don’t write more volumes about it in an attempt to make it so deep only theologians who read Greek and Hebrew can understand it.  Just read it and take it for what it says.  It’s that simple.  There are no exceptions.  It’s not about circumcision, theological studies, seminary development, doctoral theses, interpretational differentiations, nationality, denomination, or lack thereof.  If God said it, that settles it.  Let’s Keep It Simple, Saint!  YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN.  Post it on a billboard.  “You MUST BE born again.” – Jesus

Manna for Today – Acts 15:1-21; John 3:1-16; Romans 10:9-10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

No Exceptions

When someone speaks the final word of authority, there are no exceptions.

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Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.

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Being born again is not some exception to the rule, something extra in the process, or an option on the road to attainment.  That is THE RULE.  Jesus said, “You MUST BE born again.”  If God said it, that settles it!  In Spanish that is, Si Dios lo ha dicho, esta establicido!  In Swahili we would say, Kama Mungu alisema ataidhibitisha!  I don’t know how to say it in any other languages.  It may sound differently in different languages.  Still, what it says it what it means, and what it means is clearly stated.  IF GOD SAID IT, THAT SETTLES IT! 

Now to the focus of today.  Jesus said, “You must be born again.”  There you have it.  Jesus, the Word made flesh, the first begotten Son of God has spoken.  “You must be born again.”  He did NOT say, you “MUST BE” anything else.  Now don’t misunderstand what I say here.  In no way am I discounting anything that is ours through our covenant with Jehovah.  Water baptism, being filled with Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues as Holy Ghost gives utterance, going into all the world to preach the Gospel to every creature, laying hands on the sick, tithing and giving, praying without ceasing, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit ….. I could go on and on.  All these things CERTAINLY SHOULD BE DONE BY THE BELIEVER, but none of them will get you into the kingdom of God; none of them will make you a Christian.  For that to happen, “You must be born again.”

Romans 10:9-10 sets the foundational parameter for that work.  Read it.  Don’t add to it or take away from it.  Just read it and take it for what it says.  Don’t try to complicate it, or make it difficult to understand.  Just read it and take if for what it says.  Don’t take it to the seminary and adorn it in black robes, collars, or shawls.  Just read it and take it for what it says.  Don’t write more volumes about it in an attempt to make it so deep only theologians who read Greek and Hebrew can understand it.  Just read it and take it for what it says.  It’s that simple.  There are no exceptions.  It’s not about circumcision, theological studies, seminary development, doctoral theses, interpretational differentiations, nationality, denomination, or lack thereof.  If God said it, that settles it.  Let’s Keep It Simple, Saint!  YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN.  Post it on a billboard.  “You MUST BE born again.” – Jesus

Manna for Today – Acts 15:1-21; John 3:1-16; Romans 10:9-10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Death? Not Yet

Living vision is greater than death

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Acts 14:19-20 And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.  Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe.

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Paul and Barnabas had come to Lystra, and as it seems was a custom, a group of Jews were stirred up against Paul.  On this occasion, they persuaded the people to stone Paul.  So, they stoned him to death, drug him out of the city, and basically discarded his dead, broken, bloody body as little more than trash.  If there had been any life in him, I am sure the disciples would have attempted some type of ministry to him, but all they did was stand around.  Paul was dead.  But as the disciples stood about, Paul got up.  Something had happened here that we need to understand.

So how did this happen.  It was all about faith and vision.  Let’s look more closely.  When Paul (Saul) was converted, Ananias had come to lay hands on him to receive his vision, receive Holy Ghost, and one more thing.  It was the vision God gave him, showing him all the things he would suffer and what God intended him to do.  When the event above took place, Paul had not fulfilled the vision God gave him; a vision Paul had completely taken to heart and which he wholly intended to fulfill.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul speaks of going to the third heaven, of seeing unmentionable things.  It was from the meeting that Paul returned after this stoning in Lystra, this stoning in which he had actually died, retrieved a completely healed body, and went on to fulfill his vision.  Here, dear reader, is commitment about which few people know anything at all.  After being stoned to death in Lystra, and standing in the presence of the Lord, Paul made a decision.  The “satisfied long life” of Psalm 91 had not been fulfilled,  Paul still had vision to carry out, to fulfill.  So, he chose to claim the promise and fulfill the vision the Lord had given him.  That is when he “rose up, and came into the city.”

What is your vision?  Do you plan to fulfill it?  If God had given it to you, you don’t have to let go of it; you need to carry it out to completion.  It’s waiting on you to be fulfilled.  Death can’t stop you.  Lock your faith onto the work before you, relinquish the care of it into the hands of the Lord, and go about the work at hand.  Whatever you need to fulfill that vision, life, healing, deliverance, miracles; Father will provide through faith for the vision, the vision He has given you.  That vision is precious, the work is needful, the  victory is assured.

Manna for Today – Acts 14:19-23; 2 Corinthians 12; Acts 9:1-19

Stand Upright On Your Feet

If you will leap for joy, you must first stand.

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Acts 14:10 – . . . Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.

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In the scenario unfolded in our Text for Today, we see a lame man healed.  We see similar scenarios as Peter and John go up to the temple for the hour of prayer and passed by a lame man at the gate Beautiful; the palsied man carried by four and let down through the roof before Jesus; blind Bartimaeus; the man with the withered hand; the man at the pool of Bethesda; and others.  In each instance, the person in need was required, at some point in their healing or deliverance, to stand.  There is a great deal for us to learn from each of these scenarios.  Go back again to our Text for Today in your Bible and read the story.  Paul perceived that the man who would ultimately be healed had faith to receive it.  Jesus saw faith in the men who tore the roof away and in Bartimaeus to whom Jesus said, “According to your faith be it unto you.”  The man with the withered hand had to be obedient to the Lord’s command to “stand forth” and “stretch forth your hand,” and act in faith.

My friend, do you believe God and His Word?  Are you willing to instantly obey whatsoever He says to you?  If you do believe God, and if you are willing to instantly obey His bidding, then whatsoever you need is waiting for you to “stand upright on your feet” and walk in it.  Think about what I am writing.  To walk on the water, Peter had to stand upright on his feet.   To follow Jesus, His disciples had to stand up-right on their feet.  To seat and feed the multitudes, the disciples had to stand upright on their feet.  When Jesus sent His disciples out two by two, they had to stand upright on their feet.  To see the salvation of the Lord, Moses had to stand upright (and still) on his feet.  And Paul writes to us, declaring, “having done all, to stand.”

So, think for a moment; what do you need, or what is it you are called to fulfill?  If you are prevented in some way by circumstances of any kind from fulfilling your life in Christ, stand upright on your feet.  If you have been sent by the Lord, stand upright on your feet.  If the waves are high, stand upright on your feet.  If your ankles need strengthening, stand upright on your feet.  If you’re in the fire, stand upright on your feet.  If there is a world to be reached, stand upright on your feet.  And in all your standing, be prepared to leap for joy.

Manna for Today – Acts 14:8-18; Acts 3:1-8; Psalm 37:23; Psalm 119:105; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8; Ephesians 6:10-18

How Important, Hearing!

Thank God for our senses, but oh the power of hearing!

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Acts 14:9-10 The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.

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If you’re driving in heavy traffic, and emergency vehicles are winding their way through that traffic, and that with great urgency, how important is it that you hear the sirens?  If you’re a golfer, how important is it that you hear the shout, “Fore,” while you’re standing unprotected on the green with a golf ball flying at your head?  You’re about to open a gate and walk into someone’s yard, and just inside the gate, unseen, behind a shrub, is a massive Doberman.  How important is it that you hear the deep throated growl just before you push the gate open?  Oh my, hearing is so important in each of those instances.

You’re on your way through life, aware that things happen, but basically unaware of how to deal with most of them, especially those things that are formed and launched from the realm of the spirit.  How important is hearing to you in that situation?  No, not hearing the attacker approaching, the cracking of the earth beneath your feet, or the sizzle of a fuse quickly reaching its point of detonation.  Rather, the hearing of the Word of God, for it is the hearing of the Word of God that brings faith to the heart of man.  And the faith that comes by hearing the Word of God is the faith that moves God.  It is the same faith that created the world and all that is in it.  It is the same faith that parted the Red Sea and the Jordan River, opened blind eyes, unstopped deaf ears, caused the lame to walk, the mute to speak, and cleansed the leper.  It is the same faith that one receives when one is born again; that measure of faith the Father used when He raised Jesus from the dead.  This is what happens when one chooses to hear what God is saying.

And when one goes beyond hearing to obeying, then the blessings flow.  Obedience to the Word of God is called walking in love, and it is love by which faith works.  Faith and Love – an unbeatable combination – pleasing Father and never failing.  What a way to live!  And the starting point is HEARINGHEARING the WORD of GOD.  If you don’t hear it, you will have not have the God-kind of faith, and if you don’t hear it, you will know nothing of the love of God.  Hear, my friend, hear the Word of God and allow it to light and shape your world.  How important, HEARING!

Manna for Today – Acts 14:8-18; Romans 10:6-17; Hebrews 11:1-6; Galatians 5:6; 1 John 5:3;         John 14:15-17

Remember This Pattern

Sometimes we miss the subtleties that raise up contentions.  Be alert, be wise, be ready.

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Acts 14:2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.

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Today I especially urge you to read our Manna for Today.  The volume is small, but the take-away in wisdom is enormous, and that is especially true in the 2 Timothy passage.  The opening words there give us a grave warning about something we are to “avoid.”  To be avoided are “foolish and unlearned questions.”  And the reason for such avoidance is a grave danger to anyone who takes this passage lightly; it is the matter of “strife.”

The fact that there are individuals and groups of people in the earth who seem to take great pride in causing strife and division is well-known.  But it is often the case that we become so focused on the strife that has risen, that we miss the causal elements of that strife.  However, if we would be more keenly aware of the causal elements, we may be able to keep strife at bay from us, or certainly be able to avoid falling prey to strife when it first begins to arise.  Today I speak to one of the most distinct causal elements of strife we encounter.  Look at our Text for Today and answer two questions.  First, who was it that was stirred by having their minds turned against Paul and Barnabas?  And the answer is, “the Gentiles.”  The second question becomes even more telling.  Who stirred up the Gentiles?  And the answer is, “unbelieving Jews.”

That may not seem very strange to you at first, but look more closely.  When Paul, and even Peter ministered to the Gentiles, what was the response of those holding to their Judaism?  They were against it, completely.  At one point, even Peter pulled back from the Gentiles with certain Jewish influence came into the vicinity.  The enemy stirred strife then by attacking the ministers.  But in the case of our “Text for Today,” the enemy stirred strife by lying to and deceiving those who were receiving the ministry.  I find it keenly interesting the Gentile hating Jews fought to have nothing to do with the Gentiles until it was to their advantage to use the Gentiles to attack the Christian faith.

My friend, it’s still happening today.  There are elements in our world that hate and despise one another, but will join together, deceiving one another, in order to gain an advantage over Christians, attacking them and working to destroy their influence.  Do not be deceived by a carnal attitude that says, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  Dear one, any enemy of the cross is your enemy.  Don’t hate them; love them; pray for them.  But NEVER believe they are your friend.  Enemies of the Lord will use others to attack the kingdom.  Be aware.  Be sharp.  Keep on the whole armor of God.

Manna for Today – Acts 14:1-7; 2 Timothy 2:23-26