Follow Right Order

Deserved honor brings positional recognition.

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John 8:54 – Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:

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As someone who lives to train and influence leaders in sound Biblical standards for leaders, to encourage Christian leaders in all arenas of life, that spectrum running from church through para-church to secular, one of the things I often see is a leadership chain based on position rather than basing position of leadership qualities, performance, production, people development, and character.  This is most often seen in young leaders and leaders with newly granted position and/or power.  We call that POSITION leadership.  A person is a leader because they have a title.  He/she is new to the position, and it is likely that those they lead know little if anything about the new leader.  In our Text for Today Jesus addresses this very issue – the issue of honor and the manner in which it is recognized through proper order of application.

Look closely at these words of Jesus, and seek to apply them to yourself.  First, Jesus said, “If I honour myself, my honour is nothing.”  If anyone had a right to honor himself, it should have been Jesus, Who, at the time of His statement WAS, INDEED, THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD.   But Jesus knew that self-pro-claimed honor had been around for a long time, and its end was usually bad, especially for the one living to bestow honor upon him/herself.  I find it highly noteworthy that the ONLY person Who ever lived who could have legitimately honored Himself stepped back from that opportunity, allowing His Father the privilege and responsibility to honor Him.  Should the man/woman of God not operate with the same understanding today?  Let us use every tool at our disposal to spread the Gospel, but let us also accurately distinguish between the work of spreading the Gospel and advancing our own reputation.  Preach the Gospel, my friend; be true to the Word of God, be led by the Spirit, walk in love, live by faith.  If promotion for such does not come from God, perhaps we should check up on what we’re doing.  Expand, grow, and build your ministry as the Lord promotes you.  Let your honor shine as it flows forth from the throne of God by His hand as He wills.  I can assure you that if you do, the best is yet to come. 

Manna for Today – John 8:48-59 John 15:16; Ephesians 2:10; John 14:12-14

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There Is a Reason I Hear

If you hear the voice of the Lord speaking to you through His Word, there is a reason.

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John 8:47 – He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

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I don’t live a life filled with regrets.  Have I lived perfectly?  No.  Have I experienced failures in my life?  Yes.  But I still CHOOSE to live my life in a daily state of awareness of the victory I have in Jesus.  As the songwriter said, “I heard an old, old story, how the Savior came from Glory.”  You know the song.  It is “Victory in Jesus.”  Therefore, I do not REASON with regrets, I RECKON with them.  And in almost 60-years of learning to RECKON with regrets, the greatest regrets with which I reckon are those of failing to invest more time in the Word of God than I did.  So often in searching for a particular detail about a topic of study, I overlooked elements that could have been key to later successes in my life in which I found myself struggling instead of enjoying victory sooner.  That is much like our Text for Today.  Here is a powerful statement from our Lord, but how often have I read THROUGH this passage and failed to take some DWELLING TIME to allow this verse to speak clearly, plainly, and vigorously to my spirit?

Take a moment to look deeply into these words of our Lord.  “He that is of God heareth God’s words.”  Oh we can go to a church service and hear the words a minister speaks, but that does not mean we are hearing from the Lord.  All that means is that we have heard what a minister has said.  Take a moment are read Romans 10:17 from the Amplified Bible, Classic Edition.  “So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself).”  When one is “of God,” that meaning having been born of the Spirit into newness of life in Christ Jesus, his/her spirit is alive unto God, and has an inborn capacity to hear the words spoken as if they came from the “lips of Christ the Messiah Himself.”  Those words are no longer just the words of men, but words recognized as coming for the purpose of building faith that pleases God, the faith that calls things that be not as though they are, the true substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.

From passages like our Text for Today burns an eternal flame in my heart that craves the Word of God, words that build true faith into my spirit man, words that make it possible to do the works of Jesus and greater works, works that He has ordained for me from before the foundation of this present world, works that honor and glorify my heavenly Father.   I long to know the Word in such a manner that when I hear a message preached, I can know I am hearing what would come from the lips of my Messiah, words that build mountain moving faith into my daily, regret-free living.  There is a reason I hear. 

Manna for Today – John 8:39-47; Romans 4:13-25; Hebrews 11:1; Ephesians 2:10; John 14:12-14

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Understanding Comes by Hearing

We know that faith comes by hearing the Word of God, but more than faith comes by hearing.

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John 8:43 – Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.

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I find our Text for Today fascinating.  Look at it closely once again.  Jesus asked a question – “Why do you not understand My speech?”  He then answered the question – “…because you cannot hear My Word.”  But in our Text for Today I find yet another question just below the surface – Why could they not “hear” His Word.”  I believe the answer is as simple as the answer to Jesus’ question – because they did not DESIRE to hear.

With what will soon become a half century of pulpit ministry, I cannot recall how many times, probably most of the times I have presented the Word of God to a congregation or audience, that some of the people present went away with their faith encouraged and strengthened, while yet others left without having had their faith impacted one iota.  That latter group did not understand my speech because they could not hear my words because they did not desire to hear.  We all live, to a greater or lesser degree, with the same predisposition to what we hear.  For instance, profanity, vulgarity, doubt, unbelief, gossip, and the like, are all repulsive to me.  I don’t desire to hear that kind of speech.  For that reason, many such speakers would say that I don’t understand what they are saying.  Most comedians today, many television talk-show hosts, and in fact, much of our American culture (and I believe international as well) us vulgarity as an attractant to the audiences they target.  Christianity and Christian culture are belittled, mocked, derided, and castigated as ridiculous.  The implication is strongly made that Christians and our belief systems should be made targets of humiliation.

You see, two people can hear the same Gospel message, and one has faith increased while the other gains nothing from it.  It is because one of them mixed what was heard with faith while the other did not.  And the reason for that is truly simple…no complex issues here.  Each hearer made a choice…made a decision.  One CHOSE to mix it with faith, heard, understood, and walked away edified, while the other CHOSE to NOT mix it with faith, heard words but did not understand, and walked away UN-edified.  What I am saying is that people will generally “turn off” their “hearing” when someone speaks in a manner they find offensive or defiling, and includes when truth is spoken that reveals one’s true heart and convictions.  Jesus wrote on the ground when a woman taken in adultery was brought to Him, and as He did, the accusers walked away one by one, not wanted to be recognized in the light of truth.  When His words convicted whose of His Own hometown, they were angered and would have killed Him.  When truth brings true conviction, you will always see such response by some people.  Sadly, the rejection of the truth of God’s Word will ALWAYS lead to the rejection of faith in God.  Yes, faith comes by hearing, and so does understanding.  If you will understand, you must hear.  That is a kingdom truth. 

Manna for Today – John 8:39-47; Romans 10:6-17; Hebrews 4:1-13

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If…..

It is amazing how much two little letters of the alphabet can speak.

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John 8:42 – Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

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Such a small word, “If.”  Only two letters, but it speaks of the volumes of written and spoken words that follow.  And when our heavenly Father, or our Lord Jesus, or Holy Spirit uses this innocuous littler term, it would pay us great dividends if we would listen, give heed, and pay the highest degree of attention possible.  And that is especially true of the words of our Lord Jesus in our Text for Today.  Look at it once again, especially the first two phrases: “If God were your Father, ye would love me.

When you are studying the Word of God, one of the greatest lessons you can learn for that study is to allow the Word of God to define the terms in question.  In today’s Second Miler, let us define the word “LOVE” from a Biblical perspective.  It is from the Greek word “agape,” or “agapao.”  And while that is the Greek terminology, how would we define “LOVE” from a Biblical perspective?  Consider this.  The definition for the word “agape,” from a Biblical definition is found in 1 John 5:3 where we read the profound statement, “This is the love of God, that we keep His Commandments.”  In reality, it could be no simpler.  The “LOVE” of God is “to keep His Commandments.”  This certainly bears out to be the truth when we examine the Words of Jesus in John 14:15 where Jesus says, “If you love Me, keep My Commandments.”  Allow me to urge you to NOT try to complicate the matter.  The “LOVE” of God is NOT based on emotion, or on fondness built on benefits received, not is it a love that grows.  The “AGAPE LOVE” of God is based solely on ONE thing – the character of God, and He is LOVE.    While the English use of the word love is froth with feelings, emotions, and the thought of benefits, both given and derived, AGAPE is NOT.  God loved you when you were lost in your sins and had NO relationship with Him at all.  He loved you before the cross, and since He NEVER changes, that means the love He has for you as His child is precisely the same love He had for you before you became His child.  The difference is simple.  When you became His child, you were recreated spiritually with the capacity to love Him back as He loves you.  His love was shed abroad in your heart by Holy Spirit.  And when you love Him, and therefore keep His Commandments, you grow in a relationship with Him that allows His love to be manifest and more fully known to you day by day, IF YOU, AS HIS CHILD, LOVE HIM.  Bid word, “IF.” 

Manna for Today – John 8:39-47; 2 Chronicles 7:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; John 14:15-17;     Matthew 18:19-20; 1 John 5:3; Romans 5:1-5

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People See – People Do

Much, if not most of what we learn in life comes through the process of repetitive imitation.

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John 8:38 – I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.

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How did you learn to walk, to talk, to eat with table utensils, to write, to spell, to cipher?  Yes, your brain is a marvelous component of all you’ve learned, but most of it flows through some type or repetitive imitation.  Even without realizing what we do, we learn be imitating that which we see, and repeating that process again and again until we master it to some degree.  I remember from my childhood a phrase often spoken when such repetitive imitation was witnessed.  People would often say, “Monkey see, monkey do.”  To some degree it has been absolutely proven.  Some of the higher apes have actually learned to communicate with humans in sign language.  We use repetition to train horses and dogs.  It is commonly known.  And yet, we as human beings don’t seem to grasp the importance of, not just the repetition that develops memory patterns, but of modeling that which should be imitated.  It is human failure to fully grasp the work of modeling that sadly impacts so many human beings.

Parents model before their children, famous athletes before those who follow their achievements, trainers at all performance levels are modeling before someone that which will be imitated.  And it’s not just the performance of parenting, athletic, or some other DESIRABLE skill, it is the performance of every act, and that includes the undesirable, unacceptable behaviors that are disdained, despised, and despicable.  In fact, life in general is an imitated act by some observer of what has impacted them through their observations, both good and bad, both right and wrong.

Can we learn from Jesus?  He only did what He saw His Father do.  He only spoke that which He had seen with His Father.  In short, He imitated His model – the Father.  Who is your model?  Is it Jesus?  Or is it someone like the Apostle Paul who said to “follow (imitate) me as I follow (imitate) Christ.”  And for whom are you modeling?  Is it your child, your employee, your fellow employees, your congregation, you students, your disciples?   You can be assured that you are modeling for someone.  Make sure that what you model is worthy of modeling.  What you model for others is what you will see in those who are influenced by you.  “Like priest, like people.”  It is a spiritual truth.  Follow it.  Model Christ.  It’s a matter of life and death. 

Manna for Today – John 8:31-38; Hosea 4:9

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Thankful for the Honor

Whose works are we doing?

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John 8:39 – They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.

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Before launching out too quickly into water, perhaps unmapped, consider this.  These words of Jesus, while spoken in absolute integrity to those of His day in the earth, need to be viewed in a different light than was present at the moment of their speaking.  The time of their speaking was BEFORE the New Covenant was in place.  Jesus ministered as a prophet under the Law, not under the New Covenant.  That could not happen until He had been crucified and raised from the day, having provided justification for those who would confess Him and believe on Him.  When Jesus spoke that day, He was speaking to the seed of Abraham through natural blood.  Today, you and I are the seed of Abraham through the redemptive work of Jesus.

Therefore we must look more deeply into the revelation of His Word, realizing that the works you and I should be doing are even greater than the works Jesus Himself did before His resurrection.  It was Jesus Himself Who said that we of the New Covenant should not only do the works He did, which were greater than the works of Abraham, but that we should be doing works GREATER than what He did in His earthly ministry.  It is to that end I say to you today, “Give thanks, and do so with a truly grateful heart.”

How honored we should be to be called sons of God!  How honored we should be . . .

  • to be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ
  • to be sent forth with full power of attorney to use the Name of Jesus to do the works He did and greater
  • to be given power (dunamis) over all the power (exousia) of the devil
  • to be assigned to live in this present hour so close to the coming of the Lord for His Church
  • to live free in Jesus, a freedom higher than any earthly government could even dream to offer
  • to live safe in our Psalm 91 Lord
  • to live healed by His stripes
  • to live provisioned by His poverty
  • to live holy by His wounds & bruises
  • to be fully alive in Him 

GIVE THANKS WITH A GRATEFUL HEART TO THE HOLY ONE! 

Manna for Today – John 8:39-47; Romans 10:6-17; Galatians 3:13-29; John 14:12-14

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Free Indeed

The word “INDEED” offers such a wonderful emphasis!

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John 8:36 – If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

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In what is presently more than 68 years of living, I have learned to make my speech as clear and simple as possible.  There is a tendency, not only in America, but in every country where I have traveled, for people to use unnecessary adjectives and adverbs in an attempt to make there communication come across with greater emphasis.  The truth is this; if you’re communicating truth, communicate the truth.  Truth generally needs no adverbs or adjectives to make it better than what it is.  TRUTH IS TRUTH 

So when we find the Lord seeing it necessary to use a modifying word, and adverb or adjective, to put forth a powerful truth, we should take notice.  And in our Text for Today, that is precisely what our Lord has done.  Look at it again. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”  The word “indeed” is precisely such a usage.   In this case, it is an adverb.  According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, it means “really: – certainly, clean, indeed, of a truth, verily.”  On occasion, we read that Jesus would say, “Verily, verily, I say unto you….”  That is like giving an oath in a court of law in which the witness says they will “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”  Simply saying they would tell the truth SHOULD be sufficient, but the importance of what one does when testifying in a court of law can, and does, impact many lives, often holding life and death in the balance.  On such occasions, telling the truth is “INDEED” critical.

Now consider the emphasis Jesus placed on His statement in our Text for Today.  Jesus wants His followers to know that the ONLY REAL TRUE FREEDOM IN THIS WORLD COMES WHEN HE HAS MADE ONE FREE.  All other types or arenas of freedom are only shadows or illusions of what He offers.  Being born in America to parents who were American citizens means I was born free.  But as free as I was through that birth, it does not rule over sickness, disease, poverty, lack, depression, and the like.  There is ONLY ONE freedom that rules life in those arenas, and that is the freedom IHAVE BEEN MADE TO KNOW through believing in Jesus, continuing in His Word, disciplining myself to His Word, and knowing the truth.  That freedom comes, not because I have been SET free, but because Jesus has MADE me free, and that is FREE INDEED. 

Manna for Today – John 8:31-38

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A Big Difference

There is a vast difference between being SET free and being MADE free.

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John 8:31-32 – Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

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In some nations of the world, elephants are still used by people for work in areas where mechanical equipment simply cannot operate.  In those countries, the training of an elephant, usually of the Indian species, begins right after birth.  In the early days of its life, when it is safe for the mother elephant to be separated from her baby, the baby elephant will have a loose-fitting collar placed around one of its hind legs, and with a chain, attached to an immovable object, such as a relatively large tree.  Yet, when that elephant has undergone training and has reached the maturity level at which it can do work, the metal collar is replaced, often by a soft rope collar, and is now fastened to nothing more than a stake of wood driven into the ground.  While in the metal collar and anchored to a tree, the elephant learns that it cannot move freely where it desires.  Later, when it is fully trained, it does not realize that the simple rope and wooden stake cannot keep it from breaking free.  The elephant has been MADE to believe it is bound, while in reality, it could go free.

Now apply a similar thinking process to the Christian.  When one realizes he/she needs Jesus, they realize they are bound.  They have lived that way.  At the new birth, they are set free from the sin and life-limits that had them bound.  But being set free, they have yet to learn that they have been made free.  As long as one deals with an unrenewed mind, he/she may feel they are still held back to some degree, not truly grasping the freedom that belongs to him/her.  But when one has BELIEVEDCONTINUES in the mind-renewing Word of God, DISCIPLINES themselves to obey (do) what the Word of God says, and comes to KNOW the Word they have received is truth, that person shall be MADE free.  When the prison doors are opened and the pardon is in hand, one has been SET free.  But when one has learned to live in victory outside the prison bars that once kept them bound, knowing and enjoying his/her freedoms and accepting his/her responsibilities, one is now MADE free.  If Jesus is your Savior, you have been SET free.  If you live, fully acknowledging Him as Lord, enjoying and honoring your covenant live, you have been MADE free.  It’s time to make the knowledge that you’ve been SET free into the more powerful knowledge that you have been MADE free.  Enjoy your freedom! 

Manna for Today – John 8:31-38; Isaiah 55:11; Joshua 1:6-9; Proverbs 4:20-23; Psalm 119:89

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Freedom in Five Steps

There is more to living free than know freedom exists.

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John 8:31-32 – Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

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Don’t take the title of today’s Second Miler lightly.  If we are to know the freedom of which our Lord spoke in this verse, we must recognize that there are indeed five steps to achieve this wonderful place of joy and freedom in the Lord.  To determine what those five steps are, we must consider precisely what our Text for Today says.  Let’s consider them closely.

  1. Jesus was speaking to “those Jews which believed on Him.”  The short of this step is that we MUST BELIEVE ON HIM.  It’s just that simple.  One who does not believe will never know this freedom.
  2. If ye continue in My Word – Note the word “If.”  Here is an absolutely necessary condition any believer must meet if he/she is to move forward in the process of being made free.  It signifies something indefinite.  IF you do, you reap the benefits indicated.  IF you don’t, your do not reap the benefits indicated.  To “continue in” is to endure, persist, and take up residence in the Word.  The Word becomes your dwelling place in which you rest, where you reside, and from which you generally take nourishment.
  3. Then are ye My disciples indeed – The word “disciple” means a disciplined one.  Please note that in truth, you cannot discipline anyone but yourself.  One may correct a child, even punish a child.  But discipline is ALWAYS something that is self-imposed on a person through determined will.  One MUST have the will to be a disciple.
  4. And ye shall know the truth – It is only by disciplining one’s self to “continue in” the Word of God that one comes to know the truth.  To “know” the Word of God means to be resolved, to be sure of, to know, and understand.  It is a deep word of extreme value.  In this case, it means that one cannot know that to which one has disciplined one’s self.
  5. And the truth shall make you free – While this is a simple statement to make, it may not be so simple to attain to it.  One must never think that the truth shall make you free.  Such thinking is erroneous and much too broad in its reach.  The truth that will make one free is the truth of God’s Word, and even then it is limited to the truth you know.  If you don’t know it, it will NOT make you free.

Take a moment and re-read our Text for Today with these five insights.  To know the truth of God’s Word is a wondrous thing fill with benefits far more numerous and weighted with glory than the natural mind can conceive.  This freedom is truly full of joy unspeakable and glory. 

Manna for Today – John 8:31-38; Joshua 1:6-9; Proverbs 4:20-23; Luke 1:37; Psalm 103:1-

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Some Things Go Unchanged

In nature, there is no true security or stability.  Such can only be found in He that is unchanging.

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John 8:29 – And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.

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These words of our Lord in our Text or Today are some of the most comforting words of Scripture, especially when examined in the light of the references shared in our Manna for Today.  And if ever there was a time when such words needed to ring in the ears of Christians everywhere, especially leaders, it is today.  Never before has the church been faced with such distractions, disturbances, destructions, and disarray.  As many and varied as may be the advances of men, such as in the arenas of science, technology, and communication, never has there been such a broad array of devices that CAN serve us for good been used by Satan and his minions for distractions, disturbances, destruction, and disarray in the church.  I am not espousing that we throw out the tools at our disposal, but that we learn to use them in ways that are truly beneficial to the work of the kingdom of God.

Take a moment to examine our Text for Today once again.  As joint-heirs with Jesus, these words should bring overwhelming comfort, encouragement, and impetus for the child of God to move forward in the things to which the Lord has called them and into the places Holy Spirit leads them.  Note the three elements Jesus referenced.  I believe them to be absolutely necessary if we are to work the works of Jesus, and the greater works of which He spoke.  Jesus said . . .

  • “And He that sent Me is with Me.” – we not only have the same promise from Jesus, that He will never leave nor forsake us, but will be with us until the end of the age, but Jesus clearly told us that He had sent us in the same manner Father sent Him.  That clearly means that wherever we are sent or placed by the Lord, He will be there with us – we are NEVER alone.
  • “the Father hath not left Me alone.” – just as Father, Who never changes, would never leave Jesus (Who is the same yesterday, today, and forever) alone, because we are His joint-heirs, we can count on that same promise being fully effectual in our day-to-day living.
  • “for I do always those things that please Him.” – neither God, nor Jesus, will EVER leave or forsake us.  He is with us, even in our failures.  But if we will know is age-abiding manifest presence, we, like Jesus, must be able to declare that we “always do those things that please Him (Father).

These things are in the never-changing character of our Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  They belong to us as His heirs, and as joint-heirs of Jesus.  Jesus is the Head of the body, and we are the body.  That which flows down from the head belongs to us in the body, and our Text for Today belongs to us.  Believe it, receive it, take hold of it, act on it, and rejoice in it to the glory of God. 

Manna for Today – John 8:12-30; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8; John 20:21; Romans 8:17; Matthew 28:20; John 14:12-14

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