It’s Up to You

 There comes a time when you must fly the plane.

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John 13:3 – Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;

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There are two terms that we in America have used and misused to the point of making them synonymous in our general thinking.  This SHOULD NOT be the case.  The words are “in control” and “in charge.”  We have particularly misused them in our Christian faith, and for that reason, there are many things said from pulpits that are completely erroneous.  This is so common that it has become cliché that is spoken without any real thought.

When I hear someone make a blanket-statement that “God is in control,” I almost cringe.  That is NOT true as a general statement.  YES, God is in control of certain things, but NOT ALL things at ALL TIMES.  When God placed man in the garden of Eden, He gave Adam control over all His handiworks.  YES, God was still God, and as such, was in charge of Adam, but it was Adam who was in control of what happened in the garden.  If God were in control, do you think for a fleeting moment that He would have released Satan to deceive the woman?  When I read 1 Corinthians 10:13, I cannot believe God would do such a thing as openly releasing Satan to deceive her.  Furthermore, it is not God’s will that any should perish, yet multitudes die and go to hell.  If God were in control as it relates to His will, no one would go to hell, but rather all would be saved.  Again, I reiterate, God is in charge in that arena, but not in control.

I know that many won’t agree with what I write here, but it is still truth.  In our Text for Today, Jesus was still operating as a prophet under the Old Covenant.  He was not operating here as God, but as man.  Yet we read that “Father had given all things into his hands.”  Keep in mind that Jesus is rapidly approaching the time of His passion.  Decisions that are made now will be His.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.  Nevertheless, not My will but thine be done.”  Prior to that prayer He said to the people, “No man takes my life; I lay it down and I will take it up again.”  And on still another occasion, in His John 17 High Priestly prayer, Jesus said that He sent us as the Father had sent Him.  There were places and times where Father was indeed in control.  There were other times when Father relinquished control to the Son, but the Son recognized Father as still being in charge.  Therefore, He obeyed the Father, while He (Jesus) was in control of what He did.  One question; When you went to church Sunday, was God in control, or was He in charge?  Did you go because it was the right thing to do, and you chose to obey that, or did you go because Father pulled you from your bed, dressed you, put you in your vehicle, and forced you to go to church?  One is being in charge; the other is being in control.

Manna for Today – John 13:1-20; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Peter 3:9; Matthew 26:39; John 10:17-18

 

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Something New

When one thing ends, something else begins.

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John 13:2a – And supper being ended . . . . .

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Jesus knew He was quickly coming to the completion of redemption.  He knew what He would face.   He knew who would betray Him.  He knew those who would fail Him at critical moments.  He knew all that was before Him in the hours to come.  But He knew far more.  He knew He would live again as glorified and risen Lord, seated on the right hand of Father, ever living to make intercession for the saints.  But many of the things He knew and understood were not known and understood by His disciples.  He wanted to show them something new.  He did it at the end of supper.

He removed His Own outer garments (He emptied Himself of all divine privilege, making Himself of no reputation).  He wrapped Himself in a towel (He clothed Himself in humanity).  He poured water in a basin (the Word became flesh).  He washed His disciples’ feet (His life, blood, and Word can make the vilest sinner clean).  He wiped their feet on the towel (He became sin for us so we could be made the righteous-ness of God in Him).  He laid aside the towel and put back on His Own garments (He put off mortality and rose up in immortality, having overcome death).  He sat down again (having ascended, He sat on the right hand of majesty on high).

Then He gave His disciples another command; one that will produce happiness in the believer.  He told them that if He washed their feet, they should wash one another’s feet.  And He told them they would be happy if they did it.  Now it falls on us.  When is the last time you involved yourself in the act of washing one or more of His disciples’ feet?  I know many Christians who never have.  I believe it falls into the category of a church sacrament, such as Communion, and Water Baptism.  All three have strong Old Testament basis through type and shadow.  All three were recognized by Jesus Who also commanded that those who follow Him should do the same.  And all three have clear New Testament precedent.  As I understand what we call a sacrament, that qualifies foot washing as one.  It is an awesome act of obedience, opening the door for powerful moving by Holy Spirit, and offering any believer a truly humbling experience to serve those to whom he/she ministers.  And what a picture of redemption it paints.  Engage, my friend, and be happy. 

Manna for Today – John 13:1-20; Galatians 3:13-29; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Philippians 2:1-11

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Unto the End

The love of God to and for you NEVER ends.

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John 13:1 – Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

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When He was with Father in the beginning, He loved them, for the plan for redemption via His crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection was already settled and their names were already written in heaven.  Throughout the Old Covenant until His birth, He loved them.  When He entered into His earthly ministry, before He ever called them, He loved them.  When He called them, He loved them.  When they walked with Him, He loved them.  When Peter denied Him and they all forsook Him, He loved them.  On the cross, He loved them.  In the throes of agony in the depths of His passion, He loved them.  He loved them to the end, to the close of the Old Covenant.  That is the statement we view in our Text for Today.

But He did not stop at that ending.  Now He is risen, He is the Lord Christ, He is on the right hand of Father exalted.  He loved them from His resurrection to His ascension.  He loved them from His ascension to His enthroning on the right hand of Father.  He loved them from His enthroning until now, and will NEVER cease to love them.  Oh, and dare I forget to say, He loves you and me with that same undying love.  He “so loved and dearly prized the world that He even gave up His unique, only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in, trusts in, clings to, and relies on Him shall never perish, come to destruction, or be lost, but shall have eternal everlasting life” (John 3:16 – Amplified Bible).

And my dear friend, He will continue to love you and me until the end of our life, the end of this age, the end of the millennium, and the end of this present world.  And then He will love us forever, age without end, for that is Who He is.  He is Love, the Word made flesh, personified in humanity, and now eternal, everlasting Lord.  He loves us.  When you’ve come to the end of your ability, He loves you.  When you have reached the end of all your sources of help, He loves you.  When you have come to the end of your knowledge, and all that which is possessed by all those you know, He loves you.  He loves you to whatever END it is to which you come, and then beyond.  He is Love, and Love NEVER fails. 

Manna for Today – John 13:1-20; 1 Corinthians 13; 1 John 5:3; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8; John 3:16

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Authoritative Prescription

I encourage you to expose yourself to a daily examination by the Word of God.

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John 12:50 – And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.

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What’s ailing you?  That’s a question I heard often in my life, particularly from old timers, when it looked like I was having a problem or dealing with some issue.  It could have been physical with symptoms of illness or some injury in my body.  It could have been emotional; anger, sadness, aggravation, etc.  It could have been spiritual; something seeming wrong in my spiritual life.  But the question really didn’t change.  What’s ailing you?  What’s wrong?  What’s bothering you?  What’s the problem?

Often, when such a question would be asked, and especially if I attempted to tell them what was wrong, someone would offer me a solution to my problem.  That was their prescription for my problem.  That was what I should say, do, or some answer to relieve my situation.  In truth, rarely was their prescription the right one.  Sadly in day-to-day life, many people try those prescriptions when they’re offered, or they devise their own.  And numerous are their solutions.  Exercise, drugs, alcohol, wrong companionship, bad choices in associates, work, play, and worst of all, suicide.  So many would-be solutions; so many broken endings.

But there is a solution.  In the broadest sense, it is the panacea for which mankind has searched through the millennia.  It is the Word of God.  In our Text for Today, Jesus said that His Father’s “commandment is life everlasting.”  The word “commandment” is a Greek word that means “authoritative prescription.”  When one visits his/her physician because of the symptoms he/she is suffering, they are looking for a solution to what ails them.  In the natural world, that solution often comes in the form of a medical prescription.  With the prescription will come directions for the way it should be administered, and if they directions are followed, the result should be relief from what ails them.

So, what’s ailing you today?  Whatever it is, I have the authoritative prescription you need to overcome what ails you.  It is the Word of God.  Spiritual life and deliverance from spiritual darkness?  Romans 10:9-10 and 2 Corinthians 5:17-21.  Sickness or disease or injury?  Proverbs 4:20-22 and 1 Peter 2:24.  Deliverance from some bondage?  Psalm 107:20 and Luke 4:18-19.  Provision of some need?  Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:33, and the Laws of Reciprocity.  Bitterness or injury by someone hurting you?  Mark 11:25-26 and Ephesians 4:31-32.  I have by no means offered you an exhaustive answer to all the things that could ail you.  But I have pointed you in the direction you need to go to find, receive, and apply Father’s “authoritative prescription.”  The entrance of God’s Word brings light, and where light is, what ails you is exposed.  When it is exposed, you can deal with it with the divinely sharpened precision focused sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.  You’ve received the “authoritative prescription.”  Use it daily, as often as you can, and be ready to be released from what ails you. 

Manna for Today – John 12:44-50; Psalm 119:130; Hebrews 4:12-13

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Source of Judgment

We should recognize the source of the real judgment that comes into our lives.

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John 12:47-48 – And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.  He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

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Let’s begin with a question.  What is, and what will be, the source of judgment in your life?  Before jumping to the answer of that question, let us consider the basis upon which judgment rests.  Judgment, in particular righteous judgment, is based upon evidence.  So in the case of the evidence that will be presented in your life case that will determine the judgment you face, what will that evidence be?  At this point, the truthful response to the evidence issue will, in reality, hold forth the answer to the question of the source of judgment in one’s life.

Let’s examine the evidence issue first.  We know that God knows the thoughts and intents of the human heart.  He knows the hidden secrets of our innermost man.  NOTHING is kept secret from our Lord.  Knowing that, and knowing that our God cannot lie, the believer should therefore take the Words that come forth from the mouth of God just as they are; unchangeable, unalterable, and immutable.  Whenever a person chooses to not receive and believe the words that come from God, he/she places him/herself in the position of being judged by that which is changeless, and from the highest authority.  And that unchangeable, unalterable, immutable judge of the highest authority is the Word of God.  Consider the words of the psalmist in Psalm 138:2.  As highly as God is exalted, as highly as the Lord Jesus is exalted on His right hand, and as highly as Holy Spirit is exalted as the revealer and teacher of all truth, there remains a manifestation of the God-head that is higher yet.  God has “magnified His Word above all His Name.”  And that, my dear friend, is the judge before whom all must stand.

And when we stand before that judge, one of two outcomes await: justification or condemnation.  If we hear the Word of God, believe it, and do it, we will be found wise in the eyes of the Lord, and thereby justified in our sayings.  If we do not receive the Word of God, do not believe it, and choose to NOT do it, we will be found foolish in the eyes of the Lord, and thereby condemned in our sayings.  It truly is that simple.  Jesus said, and that settles it.  “By your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.” 

Manna for Today – John 12:44-50; Matthew 12:35-37; Romans 3:4; Psalm 119:89; Joshua 1:6-9;      Isaiah 55:8-13; Hebrews 4:12; Psalm 138:2; Matthew 7:24-27

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One and the Same

You can’t have one without the other.

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John 12:44-45 – Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.  And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.

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Jesus said, “If you’ve seen the Father, you’ve seen me.”  Jesus said, “I and the Father are One.”  And then of course, we have our Text for Today.  We also have many other passages of Scripture that declare, or clearly indicate what our Text for Today states.  And of course, we can draw a similar conclusion that because Father, Son (the Word made flesh), and Holy Ghost are One, then it would be completely legitimate to include Holy Ghost in each of the preceding statements.  Scriptures clearly declare and give full indication that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are One.

For those in the mix of theological debate, these statements we have shared are true and irrevocable.   It is the Word of God, and it is settled forever in heaven.  We serve a triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  If you have seen one, you’ve seen them all.  If you believe in one, you believe in them all.  If you follow one, you follow then all.  If you’ve hear one, you hear them all.  If you honor one, you honor them all.  If one of them calls you, all of them have called you.  If one of them has equipped you, all of them have equipped you.  If one of them sends you, all of them have sent you.  If one of them loves you, all of them love you.  If one of them blesses you, all of them bless you.

So, let’s cut to the chase.  Do you believe in Jesus?  I mean REALLY believe.  If you do, then according to the Word of God you must also embrace believing in Father God, and in Holy Ghost.  And if you believe in Jesus, you must, of necessity, believe in the Word of God, for Jesus was the Word made flesh.  And if you believe the Word of God, my next question may be a little stout for some.  Are you DOING the Word of God?  Are you WALKING IN OBEDIENCE to the Word of God?  Are you APPLYING the Word of God to your life?   I don’t know of ANYONE who is perfect at being a doer of the Word, but I do know Godly men and women who are diligently working every day of their life to be DOERS of the Word, to WALK IN OBEDIENCE to the Word, to APPLY the Word in their life.  Such people are those who believe on Jesus, and understand that by believing on Jesus, they also believe on Him Who sent Jesus, that is our Heavenly Father, and are yielded to Holy Spirit.  If you are one of them, I rejoice with you today.  I not, I pray for you today.  There is blessing beyond imagination in believing obedience. 

Manna for Today – John 12:44-50; John 1:1; 1 John 5:7; John 14:9; John 10:30

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Two MUST Prayers

 Wouldn’t it be great to know where we really need to focus our prayers?

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John 12:40 – He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.

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Let me preface my remarks here by saying that I am in NO WAY saying there are only two prayers to pray.  What I AM SAYING is that with all the various kinds of prayer we can and should be offering to the Lord, there are two distinct prayers we must pray if we will recognize to the fullest possible extent the power of God manifest in the saving and healing of those who are lost.

In our Text for Today we see that the eyes of men have been blinded and their hearts hardened to prevent them from seeing and understanding the will of God to save and heal them.  In this verse, one of the most critical elements leading to salvation is  clearly revealed.  First, allow me to remind you of Jesus’ command to pray for the lost in a particular manner.  He did NOT say to pray for the lost to be saved.  What He DID say was that we should pray that the Lord of the harvest send forth laborers into the harvest.  You see, we are all called to be witnesses, and we have all been given the assignment to equip ourselves as able ministers of the New Covenant.

But you can be as able as you like, and you can be obedient to the Lord to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”  But still one thing is lacking, and we find that clearly revealed in Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1.  This is not a prayer prayed for the lost to be saved, but for the church to have its eyes opened to see and clearly understand what the hope of our calling is.  For until that happens, our witness to the world will always be insufficient.  A truly sufficient witness can only come forth through us when the eyes of our understanding are enlightened to see what is the hope of our calling, and to recognize our full authority in Christ for the work to which we have been called.  When they Church comes to that place, we will see the most effective witness for Christ the world today has ever seen.

Let us strive to reach that place, and to reach it, we must pray the two prayers we examine today.  Pray for the eyes of the church to be opened as Ephesians describes, and pray for the Lord of the harvest to send forth those laborers who have been so enlightened into the harvest.  I pray for you to have joyful and fruitful praying, and that your eyes be so enlightened that the Lord of the harvest set you forth as a great leader in His work. 

Manna for Today – John 12:36-43; Matthew 9:37-38; Luke 10:2; Ephesians 1:15-23

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Whose Praise?

The issue here is PRAISE; FOR whom, TO whom, BY whom, FROM whom.

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John 12:43 – For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

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Mention the word “praise” in almost any church setting, or to almost any Christian, the first thing that comes to mind, if not the only thing, is praise BY or FROM man FOR or TO God.  But praise can flow from many sources to many destinations.  In this writing we consider TWO sources and ONE destination.

First we consider the destination for this writing.  It is man.  Be completely honest here.  What human being does NOT enjoy, or at least appreciate praise at some level.  As children, nothing will ever replace the praise that can be given a child by a parent.  Children if all ages thrive on it.  It is a joy from which no child, regardless of age, should ever be deprived.  Young adults thrive on it.  It can often be a powerful catalyst and compass in helping them choose direction in life.  Older adults need it, for it prevents a growing sense of uselessness as one’s skills and knowledge of the past may not be so evidently necessary later in life.  At this writing, my mother is two months away from her 96th birthday.  She still drives her car, lives alone, does her own shopping, and about anything else she desires.  But she really enjoys being praised, especially when it’s about her ambulatory ability.  And all this praise I’m speaking about comes from people.

But sadly for so many believers, they do not know that our God, our heavenly Father, is the greatest source of praise for His children that exists.  People can often praise with a motive to gain advantage over you.  But when praise comes from Father, there is never an ulterior motive.  His praise for His children is pure, undefiled, and always truthful.  And there is no higher praise for any human being.  Always remember that in pleasing Father, one element is never out of play – FAITH.  Without faith you cannot please God.  Faith comes by hearing, and faith works by love.  When Father praises His children, it is because faith has been at effectually and accurately at work.

Now for the question of the day.  Whose praise do you prefer?  Man’s?  Or God’s?  Don’t answer that question with, “I don’t really want any praise.”  That simply cannot be true.  God made you to receive praise.  He made you in His image with an internal desire to love and to please those you love.  That is a part of the nature of God.  It is His good pleasure to give His children the kingdom.  His highest desire and greatest pleasure comes in your prosperity and health, and the ability to prosper and be in health is from soul prosperity arising from walking in the truth.  You’re going to receive praise from someone.  Live so that it comes from the right source. 

Manna for Today – John 12:36-43; 1 Corinthians 4:6; Philippians 1:3-11; Hebrews 11:6; Romans 10:17; 3 John 2-4

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Lest. . .

Even people who aren’t afraid of the dark prefer the light for important work.

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John 12:35 – Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.

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Have you ever met someone who was afraid of the dark?  I have, and they are very uncomfortable where there’s no light.  I’ve also worked with people who dealt with high explosives, and I can tell from experience, when you work with high explosives, you don’t want to be working in the dark.  You want all the light you can get.  With that in mind, read our Text for Today once again.  Jesus, the light of the world, is talking about one of the most explosive arenas in which one can work …. the kingdom of God.  It is power filled and carries the authority and ability to work the most powerful works a person can imagine.

In our Text for Today is one of the most powerful warnings anyone can find in the Scriptures, and the power of that warning can be seen, not only in the context of the entire verse, but in one word.  That word is the MIDDLE word of Jesus’ saying in this verse.  In the King James Version of this verse, Jesus speaks 31 words.  The 16th word, “lest,” is the word to which I refer.   Let me make it as simple as possible.  Jesus is saying that we should walk in, work in, live in the light to prevent us from coming to a time of walking, working, and living in darkness.  Stated from another viewpoint, He is saying that if we DO NOT walk in, work in, and live in the light while we have it, that WE WILL COMEto a place where we will walk in darkness.  Then He further explains that when one walks in darkness, he/she doesn’t know where he/she is going.  And that, my friend, is a terrible place to be in this world.  Oh how it saddens the heart to realize that most human beings in our planet today are walking in darkness, and many of them are Christians.  Too numerous to count are the people who have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, but are not walking in the light of His Word.  They call Him Lord, but do not walk in obedience to His Word.  They are in darkness.  It should be obvious to us that the lost are in darkness, but what is so staggering is that many who should be leading those in darkness to the light are themselves walking in the darkness.

Pray, my friend, pray, that the eyes of the understanding of believers who are walking in darkness would be enlightened that they might see their own way out, and in so doing, illuminate the paths of those who are not only IN the darkness, but the darkness is IN them.  And pray that the Lord of the harvest would send forth laborers into His harvest.  The fields are waiting. 

Manna for Today – John 12:27-35; John 15:7; Mark 11:22-24; Isaiah 55:11

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A Momentary Stop

I may not always be present in my home, but I still live there.

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John 12:34 – The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?

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Being absent from your home doesn’t mean you’ve moved away.  Even if you’ve gone on a long journey for a protracted period of time, being absent doesn’t mean you’ve moved away.  When a soldier is required by his country to go to war, that doesn’t mean he has left his family and moved away.  With these thoughts in mind, give some consideration to our Text for Today.  When Jesus spoke of being “lifted up,” He was speaking of His crucifixion.  And it is evident from our that those who heard Him speak understood what He was saying.  What they did NOT understand was how Jesus would deal with death.

In the thinking of natural man, when one dies, one has moved on to a different place; they are not coming back.  For them, death was not part of a journey, but a final destination.  So when Jesus spoke of being “lifted up,” their thoughts could take them no further than the death He was to die.  Because their eyes had not been enlightened to see the redemption that was before them, they saw His death as the end of Him, and the grave as His final home.  But Jesus knew differently.  He knew full well that death for Himself was only a point of transition; a point at which all the tables would be turned; a point at which death must give way to life, sickness to health, poverty to plenty, darkness to light, fear to faith.  That point in time at which Jesus, Who had died and been buried, Who had entered hell on our behalf, and Who had defeated Satan and his hordes, was made alive again and rose from His grave, became the turning point of all history.  At that moment, covenant with God changed.  No longer would sin be covered by the blood of a lamb.  Now sin would be washed away and forgotten by the blood of THE LAMB.  No longer would man have to come to an earthly priest for a ritual that would only last until the following year.  Now when a man came to Jesus, THE High Priest, he would come once for cleansing, and receive eternal life.  And more than that, when he came to THE High Priest, he would himself be made a king and priest unto the Lord, having become a joint-heir with Him through the new birth.  Where the people saw an end, Jesus saw a beginning.  That beginning belongs to whosoever will call on the Name of the Lord.  Have you called on Him?  If not, call today.  Your new beginning awaits your call. 

Manna for Today – John 12:27-35; John 3:16-17; Romans 10:6-17; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

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