What Did They Believe

Why do you believe what you believe?  There are, of necessity, reasons to consider.

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John 19:23 – Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments…..

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The general mindset of people really hasn’t changed over the centuries, and even the millennia.  Our possessions and life’s amenities may make it seem so, but in truth, general attitudes are still much the same.  When we truly think about the scenes of the crucifixion of Jesus, one must ask, “Why did the soldiers who crucified Jesus want His clothes?”  Think about that.  His clothes were surely blood-stained, and likely after the treatment He had endured, having His clothes stripped from Him, put back on Him, and stripped again, tattered, and certainly filthy with the mixture of blood, sweat, and dirt where He had fallen, and through which He had surely been drug.  Can you imagine the stench of the filth that surrounded Him in these tormenting hours?  I realize such thinking is not the usual trend when considering the crucifixion, but still the question remains.  What was the belief of the soldiers who crucified Jesus that provoked them to such actions?

In today’s world, such actions are still common, though the scene may be different.  How may baseball caps, or basketball or football jerseys of famous players are stored in private collections?  What price would they demand in a public auction?  Think of it – a sweaty, dirty, possibly stained article of clothing worn by someone who was a “superstar” athlete.  It is amazing what people will do when they are impressed.  And think of this, the costliest of such garments are NOT the ones a player wore when he was already famous, but the ones preserved from before great fame was achieved.  Don’t misunderstand me; Jesus was certainly known among those who crucified Him, but not by the whole world.  For such articles to be preserved, SOMEONE believed they would one day be much more famous, and that something they word would be of great value.

Could that be the reason the soldiers divided Jesus’ clothes as they did?  I can’t say that for sure, but I have considered the question deeply.  And one more thought here.  When a Roman centurion, who had no doubt viewed the entire crucifixion, upon witnessing Jesus’ death, said, “Truly this man was the Son of God,” how impactful was that day?  And when others came to break His legs, but found Him already dead, a roman soldier said, “Certainly this was a righteous man.”  Think on that, and allow me to ask the question once more.  What did those Roman soldiers believe?  Surely there was something that happened on Golgotha that day that was so powerful, so breath-taking, so staggering, that even foul-mouthed, crude-minded, and even more cruelly acting Roman soldiers would divide such blood-stained garments with all their ground-in filth of the last hours of Jesus’ life before the crucifixion.  Just a thought. 

Manna for Today – John 19:16-27; Mark 15:39; Luke 23:47

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Whosoever – Part Two

It makes no difference WHO you are when you add the SOEVER.

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John 19:20 – This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.

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Consider the inscription that Pilate had placed above Jesus’ head at His crucifixion.  It was written in the three dominant languages of the region around Jerusalem; Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.  Hebrew represents the spiritual; the language of the religious in the area.  Greek represents the intellectual elite; the language of the philosophers and thinkers of the day.  Latin represents the physical man of the time; the language of the political and military power of Rome, seeking to possess and control power; it spoke to the flesh.

Consider this, and begin to recognize the great prophetic insights, though Pilate had no idea what he had truly posted.  In the Old Testament, man was spiritual dead, and upon his physical death could not go to heaven, but was, if in covenant with Jehovah, taken to Abraham’s bosom, or Upper Sheol which was, in fact, a holding place where they awaited their redemption.

Ah, but at the Cross, changes began to take shape.  After Jesus’ Own resurrection, all the Old Testament saints in Upper Sheol were raised up, and wen Jesus ascended into heaven, they went with Him.  Galatians 3 offers even greater clarity here.  Through Jesus, those who believed on Him no longer went to a holding place, there awaiting redemption, but at the point of the New Birth, they receive their redemption from the curse of the law THEN.  They are born again (made to be new creatures and fully spiritually alive), they are saved (can now renew their minds and live here in the earth with the mind of Christ), and walk in health, free from the curse of sickness.  As believers, WE ARE REDEEMED from the curse of the law, spirit, soul, and body, Jesus having become the curse for us on the Cross through all His sufferings.

God is love.  He loved us before we loved Him.  Jesus died for us while we were yet dead in trespasses and sin as far as eternity was concerned.  Long before you and I were considered in this life, He considered us as so loved that He planned for our redemption.  He wrote our names in the Book of Life before the foundation of the world when He, in His full person, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost conceived the plan of redemption.  He knowing the end from the beginning set a path before us that if we would follow it, we could live and reign with Him throughout eternity.  And that plan is established for WHOSOEVERWILL. 

Manna for Today – John 19:16-27; John 3:16; Romans 10:13; Matthew 5:16; Galatians 3:13-29;  1 John 5:4

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Whosoever – Part One

WHOSOEVER or WHATSOEVER – you fit one of those terms.  Why not enjoy the best of it?

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John 19:20 – This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.

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The inscription, or title, that Pilate caused to be put over Jesus’ head on the cross is truly an all-encom-passing statement of prophetic nature.  The statement, found in John 19:19 said, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”  It as not intended to be prophetic in nature, but was formed in such a way as to mock both Jesus and the Jews.  A more literal rendering would be, “Jesus, King of the Jews, This.”  To Pilate and the Romans, the Jews were little more than slaves and Jesus was even despised by them.  To Pilate, the entire scenario was nothing more than a great bother.

But our Text for Today is what reveals to us the potency of Pilate’s inscription.  He had it written in the three most influential languages of that region and time.  (1) Hebrew – language of the spiritual culture; (2) Greek – language of the intellectual culture; (3) Latin – language of the political/military power culture.  In essence, , it was written to the entire world (whosoever), and to the whole man (spirit, soul, and body).

Let’s look at the world perspective.  The inscription was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.  Until the Cross, God had dealt with the Jews (Hebrews).  But the Cross opened a way for the Word of God to be brought to all mankind, regardless of ethnicity or culture, religious, intellectual, or politico/military.  Regardless of the walk of one’s life, regardless of interests, regardless of background, regardless of culture, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of any other differentiation, including gender, the work that flowed from the Cross opened the door to “WHOSOEVER.”  As Jesus said, as Paul wrote, WHOSOEVER will, let him/her come.  No one (that’s WHOSOEVER) that comes to Jesus will He in any way cast out.  And if the word WHOSOEVER doesn’t settle matter for you, then turn to John’s writing in which he said “Whatsoever is born of God….”  So even if one does not consider him/herself a WHOSOEVER, they at least qualify as a WHATSOEVER.  Either way, Jesus paid the full price for our complete redemption.

Any way you look at it, my friend, you’re a WHOSOEVER or a WHATSOEVER, and the price has been paid for you to live, love, learn, and leave a legacy of a Christian walk in this world.  Believe, accept it, embrace it, live it, learn it, learn from it, and let your light so shine that men will see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.   

Manna for Today – John 19:16-27; John 3:16; Romans 10:13; 1 John 5:4; Matthew 5:16

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It Is Written

Concerning your need, find where “It is written,” and you can rest your faith on it.

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John 19:19 – And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.

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Here is a term more believers should take to heart and make themselves intimately familiar with it.  The term, or phrase is, “It is written.”  When he was asked by the Jews to change what he had written above Jesus’ head on the cross, Pilate responded, “What I have. written I have written.”  In the bygone eras of time in our world, whenever a king would speak while holding court, or issuing orders, his statement would often be followed by the phrase, “So mot it be.”  The word “mot” is the French word for “word.”  In other words, whatever words have come from the mouth of the king, that fixes it, that settles it, that is law.  In essence, that is what Pilate was saying.  My words establish it.  “What I have written, I have written.”

Note the time immediately following Jesus 40 days of fasting when Satan came to tempt Him.  Jesus was the Word made flesh, at that time, the only begotten Son of God.  Yet He did not rely on His own prowes or verbiage to stand against the wiles of Satan.  Instead, each time Satan tempted Him, Jesus prefaced or couched what He said with the phrase, “It is written.”  My friend, if Jesus understood the need to use such a phrase, how do we think we can stand against the wiles of the enemy in our own thinking.  On the contrary, as heirs of God and joint-heirs of Christ, we have been given the mind of Christ, and commanded to allow that mind to dwell in us.  We are told how to think; that is, the guiding structure in which all our thinking should be contained.  Are you allowing the mind of Christ to dwell in you with all wisdom?

And when we examine Paul’s letter to the Romans, we find the phrase “it is written” recurring so many times.  Even after overcoming Satan in His post-fasting temptations, Jesus asked on at least one occasion, “Is it not written in your book of the law….?”  It is evident that Jesus and the apostles of the New Testament all relied on the absolute integrity, power, and authority of the written Word of God.  Why then should any believer today think that he/she should function any differently?  Regardless of what you face, the battle in which you are engaged, the attack of the enemy against you, the need that arises in your life, or the petition you may bring to the Father, it should always be addressed in the authority of the Name of Jesus, and your final authority will always be upheld through the Truth of God’s Word as “It is written.”  You can stake your life on it.  If it is written in the Word of God, God WILL back it up with His full power and ability.  Rest on that, my friend. 

Manna for Today – John 19:16-27; Matthew 4:1-11; Romans 3, 4, 9, 11, 12, 15; Romans 10:34

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Three Crosses – Part Three

There were three crosses, but the one in the middle holds destiny for all.

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John 19:17-18 – And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:  Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.

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Three crosses; on the right and left, criminals; malefactors; men who knew themselves worthy of punishment; one seeking reprieve through arrogance; another seeking mercy through humility.  But the cross in the middle holds a man who did no wrong, who violated no crime, who perfectly kept the law of the Old Covenant, He Who was the seed of Abraham, and therefore appointed to be heir of that covenant; a covenant established BEFORE the law, a covenant of cutting until blood had flowed, a covenant of circumcision.  And for a moment, think on that last statement: “a covenant (of circumcision) established BEFORE the law.”

For Abraham and his seed, which is Christ, circumcision signified entry into a covenant that one was to live out by faith.  The covenant that followed, the covenant of the Law of Moses, circumcision was but one of the more than 600 laws a man was to keep in order to live in all the benefits of that covenant.  Both covenants had circumcision as a part, but for one it was the entry, and for the other in was only one of many elements to keep it current.

With that in mind, think where you and I stand today because of the work of the man on the middle cross.  Through His work, His sacrifice, His offering, His love, and His blood, you and I are not a part of a covenant of which circumcision is but a part, but through which the circumcision of our heart is the point of entry.  When you were born again, you were circumcised in the heart, making you a full recipient of covenant and the seed of Abraham.  For the day you made Jesus, the man on the middle cross, your Lord and Savior, you became the possession of the King of kings and Lord of lords, and as such you became a full partaker of the Abrahamic covenant and “the seed of Abraham,” for “if you be (belong to) Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”  From the outer crosses, men who were worthy of death sought reprieve, while the man on the middle cross sought for their redemption.  And on those outer crosses, you and I could have been hanging, but we were not.  For Jesus, on the middle cross, hung there in our stead, receiving full judgment for the sins of the world, bearing the sickness and disease of all, carrying the chastisement of the peace of all.  Now all any man/woman must do is receive Him as Savior and Lord, be born again, and become full recipients of all He purchased from His position on the third (middle) cross. 

Manna for Today – John 19:16-27; Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27-28; Luke 23:32-43; John 1:1-14; Galatians 3:13

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Three Crosses – Part Two

One curtain was torn; one Savior died; three crosses were used.

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John 19:17-18 – And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:  Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.

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When Jesus was crucified, there were two other men crucified with Him.  They were called “malefactors,” a word that means “doers of wrong, law breakers, doers of evil, that which is malicious or malevolent.”  On one side was a man who was totally selfish, self-centered, seeking to justify himself, always looking for a way out paid for by someone else.  On the other side was a man, who like the first, was a criminal of some sort.  But his heart was one that sought mercy.  Both wanted to live.  Both wanted to be delivered.  One sought for his own privilege and self-centered reasons, the other sought for mercy.  There is a difference.  A person who is truly seeking for mercy acknowledges his/her personal responsibility for their predicament, the wrong he/she did, and the justice he/she should receive.  And in that acknowledgement, he/she simply asks for mercy; they do not demand anything.  That was the heart and attitude of the second offender crucified with Christ.

From Luke 23 we can see his attitude that signifies a cry for mercy.  When the other malefactor had tried to press Jesus into delivering him, look at the words of the one we consider today.  “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”  Here is true mercy.  Learn to recognize this is your daily life.  it is important to you.

The Scriptures declare that God’s mercy endures forever.  But in that, know that God sees the heart and cannot be deceived by man.  While on the cross, Jesus hung there between two criminals, ready to extend mercy to both, but only one received it, for only one cried out for it from a heart truly seeking mercy.  In this scenario, learn of the heart of God.  While He truly desires that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance, thereby receiving that which mercy has purchased, He does indeed recognize the true call for mercy and that which sounds like a call for mercy, but is in reality, a call for the kind of deliverance that releases one back into that which brought judgment.  It is the picture of “the dog returning to his own vomit.”  Jesus clearly recognized the difference, and He responded in kind.  Learn from the Master, and be led by His Spirit. 

Manna for Today – John 19:16-27; Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27-28; Luke 23:32-43; John 1:1-14

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Three Crosses – Part One

One curtain was torn; one Savior died; three crosses were used.

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John 19:17-18 – And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:  Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.

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When Jesus was crucified, He was not crucified alone.  The Scriptures tell us that two others, malefactors, were crucified with Him, and this act fulfilled the prophecy that He was numbered with the transgressors.  Today I write about one of those crosses.  I don’t know if it was the cross to the right or the left of Jesus.  I can’t find that distinction in the Scriptures.  But we DO know Jesus was crucified with two other men on that fateful day.

What do we know about that cross and the man on it?  The one we examine today, like the other with him, was called a malefactor.  That words, malefactor, has nothing to do with gender, but with his connection to committing evil acts – he was a doer of bad, or “mal” things.  What he did, we do not know, but we DO know he was a sinner.  While I am personally aware of people coming to what they knew would be the end of their life, and on what might say was their death bed they truly made a “last-minute” repentance, and accepted Jesus as their Lord, I am also aware that a greater number of people who come to that place do in their final moments what they have trained and prepared themselves to do repeatedly over the years.  They reject their final opportunity to be saved.  And that is precisely what happened to the man on the cross we look at today.

From the account in the four Gospels, we know this man knew about Jesus.  He had heard about who Jesus was.  He had heard of the signs, wonders, miracles, and healings He had performed.   Yet when confronted with an opportunity to receive divine mercy, he opted for an attempt of self-justification calling on Jesus to save him and his companion while saving Himself.  His life was all about him and no one else.  His life was all about now and his failures of the past, and considered NOTHING of eternity and what someone else could do for him.  In his self-absorption, he failed to see the truth, accept the truth, and believe the truth.  Remember, the Scriptures declare that Jesus had the power to give life to anyone who believed on Him.  This man did not have to work for it, pay a price for it, or find some other way to attain to it.  All he had to do was believe.  But he had refused to believe for so long, and so frequently with every decision in life he made, that he had trained himself to NOT believe.  You face the same choice.  Believing is a choice.  Make the right choice today and every day and believe.  There is divine power for everyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God to become a son of God.  Believe, my friend, believe. 

Manna for Today – John 19:16-27; Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27-28; Luke 23:32-43; John 1:1-14

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No King But….

Those who would have NO king have, in fact, become king.  Beware the sword of Damocles.

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John 19:15 – But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.

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On the brow of every human being there sits a crown of responsibility for the decisions and choices they make in this life.  Each one of us will give an account to the Lord for everything we do, even to the point of accounting for every idle word we speak.  Only the blood of Jesus has the capacity to wash away any sin for which we would otherwise stand accountable before God.  Thank God for the blood of Jesus!

Still, each of us wears a crown of ultimate accountability for the place in which we stand, the role we play, the actions we take, the decisions we make, the words we say.  ONLY Jesus has the capacity to stand before our Holy God as the spotless Lamb of God, the Redeemer of all who call on His Name, Healer, Deliverer, King of kings, and Lord of lords.  ONLY Jesus!

A key problem arises for any person who will declare any other as king other than Jesus.  No one else throughout the history of mankind, or encompassing the future of mankind, can even begin to approach the qualifications necessary for such a person, other than Jesus.  Jesus alone is the “first begotten from the dead.  He alone died for the redemption of man.  No other deity named by man bears, or claims to bear, the scars for the failure of humanity that belong to humanity, except Jesus.  No other person COULD even begin to carry the sin, sickness, poverty, captivity, and torment of humanity; only Jesus.  And as one songwriter wrote it, “Only Jesus can satisfy your soul.”

But when the crowd that called for the crucifixion of Jesus said, “We have no king but Caesar,” they were laying all that weight of responsibility upon the shoulders of Caesar.  And because their thinking, action, and choice was so flawed, all that weight of responsibility ultimately fell back upon themselves, for in their declaration that Caesar was their king, they were declaring that they knew more than God, that they were wiser than God, and that, in fact, they were greater than God.  How foolish can one be?

My dear fellow believer, it is time for the church to boldly declare to the world about it in this critical hour of time, “We have no king but Jesus!”  He IS our King.  He IS King of kings and Lord of Lords.  He IS our Redeemer, Savior, Healer, Deliverer, Keeper, and Provider.  ONLY JESUS!  To God be the glory! 

Manna for Today – John 19:1-15; Exodus 20:3; Matthew 12:35-37

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Sounds Familiar

A student of history will find that regarding human nature, “change” is basically an unknown.

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John 19:15 – But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.

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Before Christ was born, Rome, as an empire and a nation was in trouble.  Through his politico-military tactics, Julius Caesar established himself as the dictator over Rome.  Upon his death, his nephew Octavius, came to power and was recognized as Augustus, Emperor of Rome.  Many people looked upon Julius Caesar as a god of sorts, and after his death, the same people viewed Augustus Caesar as the son of god, of sorts.

By the time of Jesus’ birth, the emperor of Rome was Tiberius Caesar.  Knowing this brief element of history makes the statement of the people regarding their cry to crucify Jesus much more interesting.  Notice their final statement in our Text for Today.  They cried, “We have no king but Caesar.”  Jesus had come declaring that He was the Son of God, not self-made as many of them declared, but having been declared so by numerous other witnesses, including the voice of God Himself at the water baptism of Jesus by John Baptist near Jordan.  There Father Himself declared, “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.”

I write these words today for the believer to be encouraged in this present age.  Like never before in my lifetime, those who will boldly declare themselves to be Christian, who hold fast to the truth of God’s Word, who hold true to Godly living according to the Word of God, and who refuse to compromise the integrity of their faith to calm or satisfy the world, and potentially even worse, the religious-minded elements of modern Christianity, are being persecuted, mocked, scorned, and even physically and emotionally attacked.  At times there is almost a mob-mentality that rises against anyone who dares to speak forth Biblical standards of living for mankind today.

My friend, should you choose to live holy, act Godly, speak Biblical Truth, and hold fast to your faith in Jesus Christ, expect persecution.  But know this; that with such persecution comes a manifest presence of blessing into and upon your life, for as Jesus said, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”  So, what happened to Jesus is still happening to sons and daughters of God today.  Don’t think it strange, but instead, REJOICECHILD OF GODREJOICE! 

Manna for Today – John 19:1-15; Matthew 5:10-12

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Power Must Be Given

I have heard it said that someone has “seized” power.  Is that truly possible?

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John 19:11 – Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.

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In the garden of Eden, before the fall, who held the power?  Adam.  How did he get that power?  God gave it to him.  Did Satan “take” it from Adam, or did Adam (male and female) “give” it to the enemy?  He gave it.  When Abraham accepted God’s covenant, did he TAKE the power of the covenant, or did he RECEIVE the power of the covenant?  He RECEIVED it.  When Joshua was empowered to lead Israel into the promised land, did he TAKE the power or RECEIVE the power?  He RECEIVED it.  When Elisha got the “double portion” of Elijah’s spirit, did he TAKE it, or did he RECEIVE it?  While he did pick it up, he RECEIVED it.  And let us consider the ultimate example by hearing the words of Jesus Who said, “All power is given to Me in heaven and in earth.”  Once again, not the term, “given.”  Yes, Jesus defeated Satan on his own turf in the regions of the damned.  And while we consider the winner of spiritual combat as “having taken” the power, it was, in reality, relinquished by the enemy at his defeat.

Another element in this vein for you to consider is found in the words of Jesus before His arrest and crucifixion.  He said, “No man takes my life from Me; I lay it down, and I shall take it up again.”  Did you see that?  He said “I lay My life down; no man takes it from Me.”  What an awesome statement of absolute truth from the lips of Messiah Himself.  My friend, you have been given power; power to become a son of God; power to cast our devils; power to lay hands on the sick for their recovery; power to do the works that Jesus did, and greater works.  And how much power is this?  It is the “all power . . . in heaven and in earth.”  As an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ, the exousia (power) authority that God gave to Jesus at the birth of the church is the same exousia (power) authority He gave you when you were born again, and the dunamis (power) ability that belonged to Jesus is the same dunamis (power) ability that belongs to you as a recipient of the infilling of Holy Ghost.  And dearly beloved, in EVERY instance, it was GIVEN.  Once again, that power, in both cases, exousia (authority) and dunamis (ability) has been given to you for a purpose, and the purpose is to use it as you walk in your anointing.  So, go use it.

 Manna for Today – John 19:1-15; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; John 1:12; John 14:12-14

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