Follow the Example

EVERYTHING Jesus said or did serves as a pattern we should follow to victory.

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Matthew 13:1 – The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.

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In Matthew 12, Jesus had been on the inside of a building teaching the Word to the people present.  While there, Mary and His brothers came to see Him, and asked that He come outside to talk with them.  But since at an earlier meeting, they, along with a multitude of others had gone away from Him, He demonstrated a whole new perspective on “family.”  He had said that His family (mother and siblings) were those who heard His Word and did His sayings (will.) 

With that in mind, consider our Text for Today.  Allow me to quote it again here; “The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.”  What a picture Jesus is giving us.  His statement regarding the comprisal of His family stepped beyond the bounds of what was typically understood.  It stepped beyond natural blood lines, and in fact, stepped beyond ethnic blood lines in giving us an indicator that His family would be considered those who did His will.  Oh what a joy when one considers that people beyond the Jewish blood line could do His will.  Even here, before the cross, we see the door being opened to “whosoever will.”

But then look at Jesus’ actions.  That day, the day He spoke of a broadening horizon for family lines, Jesus “went out of the house, and sat by the sea side.”  My friend, I tell you He was demonstrating to us His will, His plan, His work of the kingdom.  Do you see it?  Are you one who has made Jesus Lord in your life?  Are you one who chooses to do His will, to keep His Word?  If you are, you are His family, and as a member of His family, it is time we followed through on His example. 

We should NEVER cease to function as the church of the Lord Jesus; NEVER cease the assembling of ourselves together; NEVER cease fellowship with, ministry to, and teaching of one another as member of His family who are in the house.  At the same time, we MUST engage as never before in getting OUTSIDE the house and SITTING BY THE SEA SIDE.  When Jesus sat by the sea side, He was sitting by the Sea of Galilee.  But in this passage, the “sea” is not specifically named.  That gives us clear indication that sitting “by the sea side” speaks to us of going into the world; of sitting by those who live in darkness, who need Jesus, who need to be saved, who need to be born again.  While we surely have work IN the house, we also have much work “out of the house.”  Let’s get busy.

Manna for Today – Matthew 12 & 13; Mark 4

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It’s About Family

Family can be a matter of choice as much as it is a matter of blood.

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Matthew 12:50 – For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

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I have read the text around today’s Second Miler many times, and it always fascinates me.  Consider the picture before us.  Jesus was teaching the people, and had addressed a number of issues.  It is obvious He was inside a building doing the teaching.  At the point of our Text for Today, His mother and brothers, that is His bio-genetic family, stood outside, desiring to speak to Him.  It was at that point that Jesus spoke the words of our Text for Today.  You see, it was not many days prior to this event that many people had walked away from Jesus when He had spoken of eating His flesh and drinking His blood.  Of those who walked away from were also His mother and brethren.  And yet, here they stood, a few days later, wishing to speak to Him personally.  In their mind, being “family” carried certain privilege.  And they were right.  Being family DOES carry certain privilege.

But it was at that moment that Jesus chose to redefine “family” as it related to something greater than personal matters; this referenced “kingdom matters.”  And in His statements that addressed His family’s desire to speak with Him, Jesus redefined family.  Look closely at the words of our Text for Today.  “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”  Oh, what a powerful statement of welcome to “whosoever will”!  But here, too, is a place in which much clarification must be laid as foundational. 

There is something that is mandatory to become a Christian; a child of Jehovah God.  You MUST BE BORN AGAIN!  That, my friend, is not the end of the story; it is the beginning of the story.  You MUST BE BORN AGAIN!  ONLY by that action can one come to a place where he/she can do the will of the Father.  The Scriptures declare that all which is not of faith is sin, and that without faith, one cannot please Father.  And faith in God is exclusive to the child of God.  Establish that reality in your heart NOW.  To be a member of God’s family, you MUST BE BORN AGAIN! 

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Replacement

Deliverance alone is insufficient for the victory that can belong to the delivered.

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Matthew 12:43-45 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.  Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.  Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

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The context of our Text for Today is very specific.  Some have thought it was about the New Birth, but it is not.  These verses are well constructed and clearly defined.  Jesus is talking about the work of deliverance.  Not everyone who is born again has a demon that needs to be cast out of them.  Further- more, when one is born again, their house may have been “swept, and garnished,” but it is certainly not “empty.”  But when one has a demon spirit living in them, either as a possessor or as an oppressor, the simple removal of the demon spirit is no indicator at all that the person has been born again, spiritually transformed, and has Jesus now living in them.  That work is separate from deliverance, being activated by the confession of Jesus as Lord, believing God has raised Him from the dead. 

 

As we approach the coming of the Lord for His Church, that which has been shall be again.  The early and latter rains will be poured out together, and the glory of the Lord shall be manifest in the earth in greater measure than it ever has been until now.  That will be seen, in part, by the work of believers as they stand up in the power and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ to “cast out devils,” regardless of the devil’s depth of hold.  But when the believer casts out a devil; any time a devil is dislodged from what he would like to call his dwelling or abode, that place MUST NOT be left empty.  That is the great warning of our Text for Today.  After a demon spirit is gone from a place, or a person, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finding none.  Afterward, he will seek to return to what he called his own territory, for demons are very territorial (remember the story of the demoniac of Gadara in which the demons were cast into the swine).  And IF he can return, especially into a man, the latter end of that that man will be much worse than his beginning.  So be aware, dear saint.  If you cast the devil out of a man/woman, make sure you are in the position to lead them to salvation in Christ.  What an injustice it would be to cast out a demon, only to leave that person empty and subject to that demon and seven more worse than himself coming back to decimate their life even more. Think about it. 

Manna for Today Matthew 12-13; Romans 10:6-17; Mark 16:15-20

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And Greater Works?

I can only imagine . . .

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John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

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Our Text for Today is the last verse of the Gospel According to John.  It is the last verse of what we know as the Four Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  And I find it utterly fascinating and awe inspiring every time I read or think of it.  I once taught on the works of Jesus in His earthly ministry.  I did it as a pastor for Wednesday night Bible studies.  It took a full year, and I can assure you, I came nowhere near close to covering it adequately.  Every work Jesus did, every word Jesus spoke, and every action Jesus took carried with it great depth of meaning for those to whom He was ministering, and especially so to us today who are the body of Christ in the earth in the last days. 

And when you add to that weight of excellence the words of John in this verse, His life and ministry, a ministry that only lasted about three years, become enormously staggering in its content and volume of goodness, righteousness, faith, and love.  I believe you would surely agree with me that all the works that Jesus did were not recorded in the Scriptures.  How often did Jesus feed thousands, heal multitudes, and deliver perhaps as many?  And on each one of those occasions, each healing, each deliverance, each feeding, each work of provision carried its own story.  Yet in the Gospels, we read of so few in comparison to the measureless volume He actually performed.  Again, John’s words ring so strongly in my spirit….”And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.” 

My greatest joy of today’s writing is this.  As the concluding devotional of now, more than two years of writing, on the Gospel of John, I would urge you to look to the coming year, not as a concluding page about the life and ministry of Jesus, but as the introduction to what He has yet to do.  Jesus said that if we believed on Him, that we would not only do the works that He did, but greater works.  My friend, we are closer to the coming of Jesus than ever.  He WILL come for His church.  I am convinced it WILL be soon.  Today I challenge you to take up His mantle, as the body of Christ, to enter into the work to which He has called you, and to carry that mantle until He comes or you leave this earth.  May the earth be flooded with the glory of the Lord that flows from our obedience in carrying out that which He has assigned us to do. 

Manna for Today John 21:20-25; John 14:12-14; John 15:7; John 16:23; Matthew 18:19-20

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About Splinters and Logs

There is more to the story of splinters and logs than meets the eye.

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John 21:21-22 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?  Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

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Think for a moment about Jesus’ teaching concerning judging self before judging others; it’s the mote/log (splinter/log) issue.  I remember a line from a song from the 1960’s by a famous entertainer.  The line said, “Clean up your own back yard; you tend to your business, I’ll tend to mine.”  Are we our brother’s keeper?  Indeed, we are, but we must tend to our own business first.  What business does one have giving advice or criticism to another on a topic about which one knows little or nothing? 

In our Text for Today, Jesus had spoken to Peter about his demise.  But just like so many of us, we seem to be more interested in the outcome of others than of ourselves.  Peter saw John following Jesus and him, and asked about John’s demise.  That’s when Jesus made the comment in our Text for Today.  In a kind way, Jesus was saying to Peter, “What happens to John relating to this topic is none of your business.  John is NOT your servant, but Mine.”  Many people don’t like to think Jesus could be so blunt, but Jesus spoke truth in love, regardless of who the hearer was.   

But that is the way it is with far too many believers.  When someone speaks to us about our own life, responsibilities, and choices, especially if we don’t like their observations, we attempt to divert the attention from self and on to someone else.  That is precisely what Peter did.  He had just been the focal point of three strong corrections from the Lord, and he did not particularly care for what Jesus had indicated would be his final outcome in the earth.  So, he attempted to divert the attention from himself to John.   

My friend, too many believers still do the same thing today.  When we find ourselves under the lens and light of correction, we like to divert the attention to someone else.  Regardless of what someone else has done, whether it is a minor thing, or something far worse than we have done, diversion to them always makes it easier for us.  I have learned in life that being in a sinking boat is much easier if others are in the boat with us.  But in life, my friend, YOU are in YOUR boat, and I am in MY boat.  I can’t bail water for you, and you can’t bail water for me.  We must realize that if we are to be in the same boat, each one of us must focus on our task, our assignment, our position of service, and do our job.  If each of us would do what we should, life and ministry would be so much more dynamic, successful, and joyful. 

Manna for Today John 21:20-25; Matthew 7:3-5; Luke 6:41-42

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Follow

SECOND MILER with text 2017There is much more to “following” the Lord than simply walking along behind Him.

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John 21:19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

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I remember many years past that I was driving to a location to which I had never been.  This was long before smart phones, but I had the directions written down.  I don’t know if I had written them incorrectly, or if they were given incorrectly, but I could not find that place.  I was lost.  I stopped at a convenience store to ask directions, and the clerk had no idea.  There was a customer checking out, and he heard my query.  He said, “I know where you want to go, and I am going by there when I leave here.  Just follow me and I’ll take you there.”  That was simply enough.  I followed him, and he took me directly to where I wanted to go.  In my “following,” all I had to do was keep him in sight.  That is following in its simplest form.   

But in our Text for Today, we see another kind of “following.”  In this case, Jesus was literally saying, “Accompany Me.”  I have followed people in the simplest form, but I have also followed people through accompanying them.  In the “accompanying” form, I was not only with the person in question, but I observed them; how and what he did, how and what he said, where and to whom him spoke.  Jesus’ call to Peter to “follow” Him was not about merely tagging along, but about being with him.  When you “accompany” someone, you are with them at the very scene of life at the moment of its happening.  That is what Jesus calls us to do. 

But there is more.  We are also commanded in the Scriptures to “follow God as dear children.”  Here is a different word from what we have seen.  This word “follow” means to “imitate.”  In the simplest form of “follow,” on merely comes along behind another.  In the “accompany” context, one is WITH the leader in a moment-by-moment basis, observing, learning, and being privy to all the leader does.  But in the “imitation” arena of following, one moves into the arena of action.  One is not merely following along behind.  And as grand as it may be to “accompany” a great leader, “imitation” goes far beyond that.  In the “imitation” arena, one is called upon to speak, act, perform, live, and exemplify what he/she witnesses in the leader.   

Herein is a divine progression.  One begins by following Jesus for a simple form of direction for arrival.  Then one moves into “accompanying” Jesus to observe and learn what He is doing, Who He truly is, and to learn His will.  Finally, one moves to “imitating” Him in life, speech, action, work, and attitude.  At this level, one is living the life of an ambassador for Christ.  I urge you today, follow hard after Jesus in all things. 

Manna for Today John 21:15-19; Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17; Ephesians 5:1

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Differences

All “love” is not the same, despite the use of the same word, “love.”

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John 21:17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

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While in our present world of “super-sensitized” speech, that is speech that has been created to keep from hurting anyone’s feelings, the word “love” can generally be categorized into four terms: AGAPE, PHILEO, STORGE, and EROS.  There are major differences in their definitions. 

First, we look at EROS.  Simply stated, it refers to nothing more than physical intimacy, a phrase many people use as it regards the physical act of sex. They call it “making love.”  In reality, EROS alone is nothing more than a physical exchange. 

STORGE finds itself wrapped in emotions, even quite shallow ones, and relates to one’s sense of well-being or emotional fulfillment.  It is a love based on the pleasure derived from the object of one’s love.  For example, one loves a puppy until it relieves itself on the carpet.  One loves chocolate chip ice cream until they see that ten extra pounds on the scales.  One loves the flattering person until that flatterer becomes negative.  Clearly, STORGE is a shallow love, but the hurt it can bring may settle deeply into one’s emotions bringing long-term hurt. 

PHILEO is love of a truly high level.  It is the love that is seen as growing and developing between spouses over years of marriage, between siblings (hence the phrase “brotherly love”), between parents and children, and between friends who have developed a strong relationship over time.  It is truly powerful, and in our Text for Today, it is the word used by both Jesus and Peter in reference to Peter’s love for Jesus.  Because of the close relationship that likely exists in people expressing PHILEO, it is often confused with the God kind of love, but it is different.  Once again, PHILEO is based on a relationship, especially as it grows stronger over time.   

AGAPE, however, is above them all.  This is the God-love that Father had for the world as stated in John 3:16; He “so loved the world that He gave….”  This is the love God shed abroad in the heart of every believer when he/she is born again.  This is the love by which faith works.  This is the love that is defined as “keeping His commandments.”  It’s not about feelings or emotion.  This love is totally about the character of God, and HE IS LOVE!  And that should be our goal in life; to love one another as He loved us; to love one another because that is who we are; one with God; one with Jesus; love in the flesh; love that is the character of God Himself. 

Manna for Today John 21:15-19; John 14:15-17; 1 John 5:3; John 3:16; Galatians 5:6

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Three Times

This time it will pay you to look deeper than the surface.  Gold awaits you.

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John 21:15-17 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? . . . . .  He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? . . . . .  He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?  . . . . .

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I have always found this passage of Scripture intriguing.  After His 40-day fast, Jesus was tempted in three ways by Satan, overcoming in each case with “It is written…..”  Peter had denied Jesus three times in the early morning hours before His crucifixion.  And in our Text for Today, in what is almost a rapid-fire sequence, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love Me?”  But in these three questions, Jesus demonstrates His love to a failed disciple, just as He does to you and me throughout our lives.  But you must look deeper than the surface to see this awesome demonstration. 

In the first two asking of the question, “Do you love Me?”, Jesus used the word AGAPE as the verb for love.  In the final, or third question, He used the word PHILEO.  Both words are translated as “love” in English, but they have different meanings.  AGAPE is the God-kind of love, and it is a love based purely on the character of the lover.  And since God is the originator of AGAPE, this love is based purely on the character of God Almighty.  It has NOTHING to do with feelings, with the value or worth of the object or person being loved, or with the development of relationship over time.  It is based purely on the character of the lover; it is God.  It is what it is, fixed, eternal, and unchanging.  It is the love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts, and is most easily expressed through simple obedience to the commandments of the Lord. 

PHILEO is a human love based on relationship.  It is the human love of spouses to one another (having nothing to do with physical intimacy), of parents to children, of children to parents, of siblings to one another, of true friends who have developed a relationship.  It is a high-quality love, and grows stronger over time as a relationship builds.  For instance, I love my wife more now than when we married; I love my sons more now than when they were born; I have friends whom I love more now than after our friendships were first established.  PHILEO is a strong love, a binding love, a keeping love, and a worthy love, but it does change. 

Interestingly, in answer to all three questions, Peter answered with the word PHILEO.  It seems he did not have a grasp of the meaning or significance of AGAPE at that moment.  But look at the great AGAPE of Jesus.  When Peter could not seem to answer in the AGAPE language, Jesus came down to Peter’s level and used the PHILEO language.  He does the same for us, and He is still waiting for us to grow up into AGAPE. 

Manna for Today John 21:15-19; John 14:15-17; 1 John 5:3

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Three Times

This time it will pay you to look deeper than the surface.  Gold awaits you.

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John 21:15-17 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? . . . . .  He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? . . . . .  He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?  . . . . .

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I have always found this passage of Scripture intriguing.  After His 40-day fast, Jesus was tempted in three ways by Satan, overcoming in each case with “It is written…..”  Peter had denied Jesus three times in the early morning hours before His crucifixion.  And in our Text for Today, in what is almost a rapid-fire sequence, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love Me?”  But in these three questions, Jesus demonstrates His love to a failed disciple, just as He does to you and me throughout our lives.  But you must look deeper than the surface to see this awesome demonstration. 

In the first two asking of the question, “Do you love Me?”, Jesus used the word AGAPE as the verb for love.  In the final, or third question, He used the word PHILEO.  Both words are translated as “love” in English, but they have different meanings.  AGAPE is the God-kind of love, and it is a love based purely on the character of the lover.  And since God is the originator of AGAPE, this love is based purely on the character of God Almighty.  It has NOTHING to do with feelings, with the value or worth of the object or person being loved, or with the development of relationship over time.  It is based purely on the character of the lover; it is God.  It is what it is, fixed, eternal, and unchanging.  It is the love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts, and is most easily expressed through simple obedience to the commandments of the Lord. 

PHILEO is a human love based on relationship.  It is the human love of spouses to one another (having nothing to do with physical intimacy), of parents to children, of children to parents, of siblings to one another, of true friends who have developed a relationship.  It is a high-quality love, and grows stronger over time as a relationship builds.  For instance, I love my wife more now than when we married; I love my sons more now than when they were born; I have friends whom I love more now than after our friendships were first established.  PHILEO is a strong love, a binding love, a keeping love, and a worthy love, but it does change. 

Interestingly, in answer to all three questions, Peter answered with the word PHILEO.  It seems he did not have a grasp of the meaning or significance of AGAPE at that moment.  But look at the great AGAPE of Jesus.  When Peter could not seem to answer in the AGAPE language, Jesus came down to Peter’s level and used the PHILEO language.  He does the same for us, and He is still waiting for us to grow up into AGAPE. 

Manna for Today John 21:15-19; John 14:15-17; 1 John 5:3

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Love HIM More

Have you ever told someone you love them, and heard them respond, “Love you more?”

John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

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I pastored the same church for 28-years, to the date; July 6, 1986 until July 6, 2014.  I love the Lord, I still love the people, and I loved the work of the ministry.  I was honored beyond words that the Lord would entrust that congregation of His sheep into my hands for teaching, training, shepherding, equipping, modeling, loving, and leading.  And furthermore, despite the inevitable trails that came, I loved the experience.   Over that 28-year period, after most services, I stood at the door to shake the hands of the congregation, to chat if they desired, to give them a hug, and tell them I loved them.  On occasions too numerous to count, when I would say to someone, “I love you,” certain people would respond, “Love you more.”  I never spoke against that, or rebuked that, or even showed any attitude towards that statement, but I could not help but wonder, why is there an apparent competition?  I believe they meant their statement to communicate a great depth of love and affection toward me, but still, why the competition.  It seemed then, as now, that so many people are in a competition for the favor and affection of others.  But my friend, in the Love of God, there is no competition.   The AGAPE love of God is at the top of the heap.  There is none better; it is the highest and the best.  And if you love someone with the Love of the Lord, in AGAPE love of God, there isn’t any more.  When you love someone with the Love of the Lord, with AGAPE love, you love them in and through the keeping and obedience of the Word of God toward them.  The greatest definition for “the Love of God,” for AGAPE, is in the Scriptures in 1 John 5:3 – “… this is the Love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not grievous.”  It can be no clearer than that.   

In our Text for Today, Jesus was not asking Peter if he loved Him more than the other disciples loved Him.  Rather, He was asking Peter if he loved Jesus more than he loved the other disciples.  That was the real question of the day, and it is still the question for today.  Do you love Jesus more than you love any other person in the world?  Of course, THINGS should not even have a place in this conversation.  No THING should be loved more than a person, and no person should be loved more than Jesus Christ.  If we love Him, we will keep His commandments.  Only by loving Him supremely can we live in a place of truly loving others as we should.  Love HIM more! 

Manna for Today John 21:15-19; John 14:15-17; 1 John 5:

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