FOLLOW THE REAL LEADER

When you were a child, did you ever play “follow the leader?”  It can be GREAT in real life!

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John 10:4 – And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

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There is a very powerful and special revelation set forth in our Text for Today.  Keep in mind that we are reading the words of Jesus.  He said that when the Shepherd of the sheep put the sheep forth, He goes before them.  What a wonderful promise of commitment to the life, blessing, success, and well-being of those who belong to Jesus.  Let’s look at that promise more closely.

And when he putteth forth his own sheep” – this speaks to a relationship between the Shepherd and His sheep.  The Christian belongs to the Master Shepherd.  We are the sheep of His pasture.  But note that the passage says “. . . when he putteth forth . . .”  This is clearly a relationship in which the believer is going forth at the bidding, or in the will, of the Master Shepherd.  This is not speaking to times that every Christian has surely had, when they take things into their own hands, do things their way when they choose.  Yes, the Lord has promised to be with us always, but when we do things our way in our time and in the place of our choosing, it is not the Lord Who leads us at that time.  His leadership is clear in our lives only when we go at His bidding and in His way.  In short, if the Lord has not put you forth into an action or place, you are going in your own power, and that is sorely lacking.  Keep in mind, the Scriptures declare that it is “’nor by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit’, saith the Lord.”

And let look one step further.  “. . . He goeth before them . . .” – now this, my friend, is one of the most comforting promises I have found in Scripture.  As long as I am walking in obedience to the will and purpose of the Lord for my life, I can be assured that my Lord, my Healer, my Deliverer, my Provider, is going before me.  When I am obedient to Him, not only can I partake of the fat of the land, but I can KNOW I am living in a perfect state of protection; a Psalm 91 life.  And I can tell you there is no better place to live in this earth.  What a marvelous covenant promise from our Lord.  When He sends us forth, He goes before us!  Isn’t that absolutely wonderful?  He says to us, “GO,” and we FOLLOW Him.  That, dear one, is real leadership. 

Manna for Today – John 10:1-21; Deuteronomy 28:1-14; Ephesians 2:10; Joshua 1:6-9; Jeremiah 1:12; Isaiah 55:11; Psalm 100:3; Zechariah 4:6

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Named

One of the sweetest sounds on earth is to hear someone who loves you call your name.

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John 10:3 – To Him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear His voice: and He calleth His Own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

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You possess something no one else on earth possesses.  It is YOUR NAME.  Your name may be one that is widely used, such as John.  In Spanish it would be Juan, and in French, it is Jean.  It is a widely used in English, but regardless of how many males in English speaking countries are named John, every one of them knows their name when someone they know who loves them calls their name.  They don’t need to hear the last name.  All they need to hear us “John.”  On the other hand, you may have a name rarely found in any English-speaking nation, a name such as mine – Beechard.  I believe I’m one of six in the United States (more than 320 million people).  Yet when I hear my name called by someone who knows me and loves me, I respond like a “John” would to his name.

Look at our Text for Today.  It declares plainly that the Lord’s sheep hear His voice, and that He calls His Own sheep by name.  My friend, your Lord knows your name, calls you by name, and does so in a manner like no one else.  When He calls, you know that He loves you, and you know that He knows you.  Oh, but there is much more.  He not only knows you by name and loves you, but He leads you, too.  We can go to His Word and find leadership for daily living that is set forth for us all.  But there are things into which the Lord wants to lead you, things He has designed solely for you, good works that He has before ordained that you should walk in them.  When you come to the place where you should walk in one of those ordained works, the question arises, do we know His voice?  He certainly knows our name, and He calls us by our name.  But no matter who is calling your name in the world of concentrated confusion, if their voice is unknown, or unfamiliar to you, its sound is so easily lost in the ever-rising drone of the world’s turmoil.  In such an atmosphere, it is of keen importance that one knows the voice of the one calling his/her name.  For it is only when you are sure of the voice of the one calling your name that you can rest in faith that He will lead you.  And when the one calling your name is Jesus, HE WILL LEAD YOU, for He knows you by name. 

Manna for Today – John 10:1-21; Ephesians 2:10; Romans 8:14

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Becoming Blind to See

 

I never cease to be amazed at how deeply pride has been entrenched in the mind of men.

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John 9:41 – Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

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There is an adage I often use. It states, “One who will not be taught is not fit to teach.”  I stand by that adage.  You see, one who is unteachable already thinks/believes he/she knows it all, and there is nothing more for him/her to learn.  Such an attitude wreaks of arrogance and an unsavory pride.  That same attitude exists in people, sinner and saint alike, who would have you believe they are perfect on their own, that their faults or flaws, either don’t exist at all, or are not significant enough to count.  One thing I see in common with both kinds of people.  They are constantly comparing themselves with others they see as being worse than themselves.  Unbelievers compare themselves to carnal Christians who live, act, and take on the appearance of the world so much that it is very difficult to identify them in any way as believers.  And carnal Christians take an attitude of discounting the commands of Scripture to be holy, often saying that no one can live up to the standards set forth in the Word, or that God understands and won’t hold their acts, words, attitudes, and lifestyle against them.  Both believer and unbeliever as I have described them are wrong, and that is dangerous for them.

My purpose in writing today is not to judge, but to offer, as lovingly as I can, wise counsel we all should follow.  First, we all need to remain teachable, regardless of how much we know or our age or our title and position.  When we become unteachable, we enter an arena where deception can rule our lives.  Secondly, it would serve us all well to have strong relationships with strong believers who, while not perfect, remain teachable, and will always endeavor to speak the truth to us in love.  They can be the greatest friends you ever have.  Third, we need to be able to speak lovingly and calmly with those who would bring Biblical correction into our lives.  While there are other points, I will settle for these three today.

I am so deeply grateful to the Lord and to my real friends who choose to speak to truth to me, regardless of the discussion we are having.  I am not referring to debating about matters of Biblical interpretation, but having an openness to those who have demonstrated a strong walk with the Lord and shown to us the genuine love of God in their compassion towards us.  Such people are among those who pray for me, who intercede in the Spirit according to the will of Father.  I know their praying would always precede their approach to me to offer counsel or correction, and that is why I am open to hear them.  I don’t know all things; I have not divine wisdom in all matters; I need the multitude of counsel for safety.  While I am not blind, I do yield myself to strong, insightful, loving believers who may see things I do not see, for what I do not see, I am blind to comprehend it without fresh light.  Acknowledging that puts me in the same position as a blind man needing the help of a sighted friend – I become blind that I might see. 

Manna for Today – John 9

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Finder

When others cast you out, be at peace.  Jesus WILL find you.

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John 9:35-38 – Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?  He answered and said, Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him?  And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that talketh with thee.  And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped Him.

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Let me begin today with a simple question.  Are you the object of God’s love?  Allow me to continue by answering that question.  WITHOUT A DOUBT, YOU ARE, UNEQUIVOCABLY, THE OBJECT OF GOD’S LOVE!  Throughout the Scriptures, you will find this truth borne out again and again.  John 3:16 alone should settle that thought in your heart and mind, but still there are many more passages that confirm it.

We find it in the Scriptures, and there are myriad testimonies of our God showing Himself mighty in our behalf as our FINDER.  We sing it in the hymns of the church, one of the most notable in the words, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound; that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind, but now I see.”  While the writer of that song lived many centuries after the incident revealed in our Text for Today, the subject of that hymn is clearly built on that incident.

I, too, was once lost, but now I’m found.  And if Jesus is your Lord, that is your theme song as well.  But His divine work in finding us is not just the work of the new birth.  What of a sheep that strays from the fold.  Does our Master not go forth, leaving the 99, to seek the ONE that is lost?  Once again, every person who has been a Christian for any length of time could speak to this issue, for we have all strayed at some point, to some degree, for some length of time.  And yet in our straying, the FINDER sought for us to bring us fully into the fold again.

I don’t know where you are today, but be assured of this.  The FINDER is seeking for you.  Whether you are lost, fully back-slidden, or at the beginning of your straying, the FINDER is seeking for you.  And while that is certainly good news, I have even more good news for you.  All you have to do is let your voice be heard.  You see, the Scriptures declare that “whosoever shall call on the Name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Be you sinner or strayed saint, “whosoever shall call on the Name of the Lord shall be saved.”  And even more good news in that arena.  You don’t have to be a sinner or strayed saint to apply this great truth.  It works for the believer who is diligently seeking to follow the Lord but finds him/herself in distress.  Whether you are a sinner, strayed saint, or strained saint, call on the Name of the Lord our FINDER.  He seeks to save. 

Manna for Today – John 9; John 3:16; 3 John 2; 1 John 4:9; Romans 10:6-17; Psalm 91

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You Don’t Fit in the World

Once you bow your knee to Jesus, this world just doesn’t fit who you are.

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John 9:34 – They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

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I am what is generally considered a big man…six feet, one inch tall, 260 pounds.  Try as I might, I will never be able to fit in a size 42 man’s suit.  It’s simply not going to happen.  Once again, I DON’T FIT.  I wear a size 12 or 13 shoe.  Try as I might, my foot will never slip into a stylish size 9 or 10.  Once again, I DON’T FIT.  I have been born again by the Spirit of the Lord, washed in the blood of Jesus, a new creature in Christ Jesus, and now Spirit-filled.  Try as I might (which I have absolutely NO intention of doing, I will never find a place for myself in the world system.  Once again, and for this I am eternally grateful, I DON’T FIT!

But if I go to a men’s clothing store and buy a 52-long suit, an 18 ½  shirt, and a pair of 12 or 13 dress shoes, I can go out looking quite fashionable, because I fit in them all quite well.  By the same token, if I seek the face of the Lord for His guidance, obey the leadership of Holy Spirit, and the voice of the anointing I have received from the Lord, I can step into that place in the body of Christ for which the Lord has created me, function in the manner He intends, and at least in His eyes, show myself to be well-fashioned in His likeness.  And the reason for all that is, I FIT!

Do you fit where you are today?  Are you living your life and serving in the place the Lord has established for you?  Are you walking in the good works He has “before ordained” for you that you should walk in them?  Are you fulfilling the life and ministry for which you are divinely designed?  Are you abiding in the calling to which you are called?  Are you allowing the Lord to work in you in such a manner that He can put you in “a cleft of the rock” so you can fill your rightful place in His kingdom?

I urge you with all my heart.  Obey the Lord and allow Him to place you where He wants you to serve.  It holds the best possible outcome for you.  You are in no way prepared to fit in someone else’s role.  Be the best you you can be.  Honor, blessing, life, and a legacy honoring to God and you awaits your obedient walk, positioning, and performance.  Holy Spirit is ready to lead and help you, Jesus is ready to be honored through you, and Father is ready to exalt you in due season. 

Manna for Today – John 9; 1 John 2:20-27; Ephesians 2:10; Exodus 33:22

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I Only Know What I Know

What I know, I know.  What I THINK I know I may not know.  Just a thought.

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John 9:25 – He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.

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I believe the title of today’s Second Miler could be taken as a true statement describing every human life.  There is, however, a problem within our society today when so many people attempt to put forth an image of knowing more than they know.  And it seems to cross every boundary with our society.  When Hollywood elite become expert testimony in congressional hearings on agriculture, when media becomes the final voice in establishing guilt or innocence in legal matters, both criminal and civil, when athletes of greater or lesser notoriety become national icons about matters in which their ignorance is notable, and when sociology and psychology becomes the voice of authority from the pulpit, then it is no longer “what we truly know” that is taken into account when we speak, but our position, title, or apparent prestige with some elite class that establishes our “so called” credentials for the sharing of information.

I so enjoy the reading, study, and meditation upon this ninth chapter of John for that very reason.  No matter how the question was asked, no matter the motive of those asking the questions, no matter the various responses given by the various players in this scenario from their various positions, when the man in question, the blind man who was healed, was asked about what occurred, he ultimately had only one answer to give.  “Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.”  Despite the accusations made against Jesus, accusing Him of being a sinner, a false prophet, a deceiver, or whatever they said, all this man really knew was that he had been blind, a verifiable truth among his community and all who knew him, and that now, after Jesus had put the spittle-made mud in his eyes and he had washed as Jesus had instructed, he could see.

My friend, I can share a vast number of testimonies others have made of what Jesus has done in lives, but I know that only because if their report, verbal or written.  I can share a vast number of testimonies about what I have witnessed in the lives of people who have called on the Name of Jesus, but I know only what they have told me.  But I can share for as long as I live all the things the Lord has done in my life, and the things He has allowed me to do and His work through me.  And I can share these things, not because I heard someone else tell about them, or because I have read what has been written about them, but because I KNOW THEM.  And because I KNOW THEM, I find it easy and totally sensible to believe the reports of others.  Still, what I KNOWI KNOW.  And I KNOW THAT JESUS IS LORD! 

Manna for Today – John 9; Romans 10:9-10; Joshua 1:6-9; Proverbs 4:20-23; Matthew 7:16;      Matthew 12:37

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Blessing in One Verse

Receiving from the Lord is not complicated, but it does require something on your part.

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John 9:7 – And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

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Take a moment and read our Text for Today two or three more times, read it slowly, read it aloud, hear what it says, see what it says, and determine to put into practice what it says.  There is a blessing waiting on your response.  No, I’m not talking about washing your natural face in any natural body of water, but we’ll come to that momentarily.  In this single verse of Scripture, 26 words in the King James Translation, we see the secret, if indeed it is a secret, of receiving promised blessing from the Lord.  There are three points; (1) the Word is spoken, (2) the Word is heard, & (3) the Word is obeyed.  It is that simple, and God’s Word is at the center of all three points.  NOTE . . . 

(1)   That which is necessary to be heard from God’s Word is spoken.  In this case, the blind man was told what to do and where.  It may be, and in fact is likely, that what you need to do is already set forth in God’s Word, and you can likely do something about it from where you are at this very moment in time.  In our Text for Today, the Word impacted the blind man (Jesus, the Word made flesh, rubbed mud in his eyes), told him WHAT to do (wash), and told him WHERE to wash (the pool of Siloam).  What is God’s Word saying to you today?

(2)   The blind man heard the Word.  Are you listening for the voice of God in your spiritual ears to come to you as either a rhema or logos Word?  They both work, but you must hear them accurately in order to obey accurately.  Even though he was blind, I can only imagine the kind of irritation to sightless eyes when Jesus rubbed gritty mud on those eyes.  Yet with all that potential distraction, he chose to listen intently to Jesus’ command.  Once again, are you listening?

(3)   Having heard, the blind man carried out precisely what Jesus commanded.  Are you ready to obey Him, immediately, precisely, and fully, regardless of any and all potential distractions and interruptions?  If you are, a blessing is waiting for you.  In our Text for Today, that blessing was complete restoration of sight.  I don’t know what you personally need, but the Lord does, and He is no respecter of persons.  What He has done for one, He will do for you, IF YOU are willing and obedient.

But here in our Text for Today is the Lord’s blueprint for provision in your life.  Don’t discount it as being too simple.  God does not complicate matters.  Romans 10:9-10 lays the foundation for the most complex issue known to man – being born again.  Complications arise through unwillingness and disobedience.  Again I say to you, if you are willing and obedient . . . 

Manna for Today – John 9; Matthew 7:24-27; Joshua 1:6-9; Proverbs 4:20-23; Psalm 103:1-5;   1 John 5:3; Isaiah 1:19

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The Right Blend

God has chosen to invest Himself into humanity, and through that to bring about the supernatural.

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John 9:6 – When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay,

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The imagery we see in our Text for Today is truly amazing.  To that end, I offer you three observations to bring us to a conclusion.  (1) Jesus spat . . .  Since Jesus was, at that moment, the only begotten Son of God, what came from Him would be considered of heavenly origin, or divine.  (2) Jesus spat on the ground . . . Man was made from the dust of the earth, therefore we see that which was heavenly and divine entering into that which was earthly and temporal.  We saw the same blend when Father God breathed into man the breath of life.  There was heavenly breath poured into an earthen body.  (3) When heavenly and natural are combined rightly according to the will of the Lord, that which comes about is supernatural, a divine blend of “super” with “natural,” and that supernatural result will honor the Lord and His Kingdom.

Considering the three observations above, what should we expect in the church today when that which is divine flows from the mouth of our Creator, and is invested into the lives of that which is earthly, that being the members of the body of Christ?  Since our Father and His Son never changes, should we not expect the same quality and nature of results that we see arising from our Text for Today?  With the world about us perishing in the darkness of spiritual blindness, is it not time that we make ourselves avail-able to the will and purpose of the Lord in greater measure than we have ever experienced?  Consider the impact of a Spirit-filled son of God completely yielded to the Word of God and leadership of Holy Spirit.  I am convinced that the church of Jesus Christ and this world has yet to see the impact of just such a person.  In the passage around our Text for Today, divine infusion from the mouth of the Lord into earthly substance yielded to His hand produced the supernatural result of blind eyes being opened.  Will a divine infusion of God’s Word into the heart and mind of a man/woman of God yielded to His hand produce the supernatural opening of eyes that have only been darkened by a life without Christ?  Are these considerations worthy of the investment of our time, talent, and treasure?  I sincerely think, “YES!” 

Manna for Today – John 9; Acts 1:8; Mark 11:22-24; John 14:12-14

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Really?

There are times when one wonders about the ignorance of some questions.

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John 9:2 – And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

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Today we look at a mind that has been thoroughly corrupted by religious and carnal thinking.  As we do, we need to understand that though we see this example displayed so openly in the words of Jesus’ disciples, they had not been with Him so long as to have their thinking greatly impacted, and because Jesus had not yet been crucified and raised from the dead, they could not be born again.  But even the mind of a born again person can fall prey to the kind of ridiculous thinking we see demonstrated by Jesus’ disciples in our Text for Today.  Look at it closely.  Consider their question; “Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

I understand that the religious mind might suggest that this man was born blind because his parents had sinned, therefore unleashing the curse on the child.  While I understand such thinking, I do not believe that God would have a hand in any such outcome of birth.  But for a moment, focus on the other possi-bility set forth in their question.  Look at the phrase, “this man.”  I have offered this challenge to many people, and no one has ever been able to answer it, for there is no answer.  How is it possible that this man could be BORN BLIND because of some sin he HAD COMMITTED?  Such a thing would be total injustice, and our God is not, never has been, nor will He ever be unjust.  If you take a moment to consider the question asked of Jesus by His disciples, I believe you may come to the same conclusion to which I have come.  This question is completely ridiculous.

But in all this, let us examine the response and demeanor of Jesus.  Though the question was ridiculous, Jesus still answered it with a spirit of compassion and a bent toward bringing understanding to the subject.  While we have not the space present to delve into His answer, let us consider the manner in which Jesus responded.  There are times that people ask ridiculous questions with no intent of causing controversy or confusion.  Jesus recognized this and answered their question accordingly.  As we view the world around us, we often see the completely ridiculous life-styles that plague human lives today.  There may be a part of us that would take such to task and completely condemn such ignorance, for that is, indeed, what it is.  People are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.  But it is precisely the fact that we HAVE knowledge that should provoke us to follow the example of Jesus, answer with compassion, work to overcome the ignorance, and ultimately save the lives of those around us without knowledge.  After all, that is the reason Jesus came, and for that reason, you and I have been sent into the world. 

Manna for Today – John 9:1-41; Matthew 12:35-37; Galatians 3:13-29; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21;   John 10:10; Hosea 4:6

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He’s Already Been There

 

We face NOTHING Jesus does not have the experience to handle with ease.

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John 8:58 – Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

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I love these words of my Lord – “Before Abraham was, I am.”  He was there with Father and Holy Ghost in the planning session for all of creation and the plan for redemption before the foundation of the world.  He was there with Father and Holy Ghost at the creation, and again at the renovation as recorded in Genesis.  He was there with Father and Holy Ghost walking with Noah through the process of ark building and covenant establishment.  He was present with Abraham, Isaac, and Father God on Moriah as Abraham demonstrated his full willingness to be in full covenant partnership with the Masterplan of redemption.  Let’s examine that for a moment.

Father God approached Abraham with a covenant agreement that would require Abraham to sacrifice his only son on an altar on Moriah (Calvary).  Abraham accepted the full responsibility of that offer, and took Isaac to Moriah for the sacrifice.  Abraham’s action was required to validate, not only his personal will to obey God, but through that to make it legally possible for our heavenly Father to sacrifice His Only Begotten Son for our redemption.  Ah, but there’s more.  It wasn’t just Father and Abraham on Moriah that day.  Isaac was there, too, demonstrating the will of an only begotten son to carry out the will of his father, and willingly become the sacrifice.  And all this because Abraham had received in a figure, Isaac being raised from the dead after that sacrifice.  It was Isaac’s willingness that made it possible for Jesus to willingly come forth as the ultimate sacrifice, giving Himself, not because it was comfortable, but because it was the will of His Father, knowing that He would be raised up in three days victorious over death, hell, sin, grave, and the curse of the law, bringing redemption to “whosoever will.”  That is our Jesus.

He was there with Father and Holy Ghost when Elijah prayed fire down on Carmel, when David slew Goliath, when Daniel was cast to the lions, and when the Hebrew children went into the fire.  He was there when every Word of the Old Testament was penned, and every action recorded therein took place.  Our Jesus was there.  Yes, He Who was there before Abraham was there for you and me, and He is there NOW for you at every beat of our heart, ever living to make intercession for us according to the will of Father.  JESUS IS THEREPRESENT IN USFOR US, and WITH US that we might be able to live in the joys of covenant redemption.  And because He knows the end from the beginning, wherever you may find yourself in all your tomorrows, He has already been there, having ordained good works that we should walk in the them.  Enjoy your walk in the Lord. 

Manna for Today – John 8:48-59; Genesis 1: John 1:1; Galatians 3:13-29; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8; Ephesians 2:10

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