Silence

There are times when silence is really welcome.

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Acts 4:14 And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

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I love this passage of Scripture.  I appreciate the irony of what happened to bring this about.  Think back for a moment.  The kingdom of darkness had finally succeeded, or so they thought, in crucifying the Lord of glory.  But they did not know the aftermath.  The world has arrested, abused, beaten, and crucified their only hope.  Though He was now raised from the dead, the infant church found itself under an abusive scrutiny that frightened many.  Yet at the hour of prayer, about 3 PM daily, Peter and John went up to the temple to pray.  It was there they encountered and healed the lame man, and the uproar of his praise and the reaction of the people drew such public attention that Peter and John are now faced with threats.  Their boldness, being duly noted by the priests and Sadducees, only aggravated them.  I am sure they had plenty that they wanted to say and do to Peter and John.  But they faced a problem.  They were brought to speechlessness by one thing.  The spectacle of the lame man who had been healed stood before them, right there in their midst, and for that physical, very visible, evidentiary reason, the priests and Sadducees “could say nothing against it.”

At that point, I find myself rejoicing in the power and majesty of our Lord.  I also often find myself chuckling a bit on the inside because of what had to be the look of utter frustration on the faces of the priests and Sadducees.  Imagine for a moment.  For centuries, the priests, Pharisees, and Sadducees had all fancied themselves as the spiritual and even social elites among the Jews.  After all, these were the apparent guardians of all the Jews had left before Jesus came – their faith; their belief system.  They were the guardians, the safe-keepers who had now become, in their own eyes, a master class of the Jews.  But suddenly they found themselves being only men of frustrated words, while men of a flourishing faith spoke healing, brought a message of reconciliation, and stood their ground in great boldness of the faith.  The empty words of the priests and Sadducees were nothing against the evidence laden public that stood all about Peter and John.

While I am sure there was great rejoicing among the people, there had to also be a marvelous sense of irony that the once powerful holders of tradition were standing stripped naked of that power because something new had come.  Salvation from the Lord had come, and was now being preached, demonstrated, and modeled among the people by an ever-growing congregation of Christians – little Christs; little anointed ones.  And it was recognized that they held the true power.  And that recognition silenced the enemy.  It’s time we produced silencing evidence to the world through a praising, super-natural church.

Manna for Today – Acts 4:1-22; Psalm 64

Time with Jesus

It all boils down to this.

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Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

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An idiom I’ve heard all my life is, “It all boils down to this.”  What that means is that when the heat is applied, and all but the most important is removed, what remains is that thing upon which we need to focus.  Take a moment and read our Text for Today again.  What were the first things the priests and Sadducees noted about Peter and John?  First, the priests and Sadducees noted the “boldness of Peter and John.”  Secondly, they noticed that by their social and religious standards, Peter and John were “unlearned and ignorant.”  It should also be understood that while they may not have actually witnessed the healing of the lame man, there were surely witnesses of the aftermath as Peter and John spoke to the people and addressed their questions and curiosity.  And they most surely saw the turning of so many people to belief in Jesus.

When all these things were witnessed, our Text for Today says “they marveled.”  However, then we read that something else happened.  And in all their observations, reasonings, and perhaps even some questioning of their own, “they took knowledge of them (Peter and John).”  So, in all this observing, reasoning, and questioning, to what conclusion did the (the priests and Sadducees) come?  They came to understand that they (Peter and John) “had been with Jesus.”  What I offer you today is this simple obser-vation.  While other factors certainly had some impact on how the disciples were perceived, the main, or primary element that caused the disciples to appear as they did, that brought about their recognition is this, they had taken TIME WITH JESUS!

Think for a moment of the admonitions Jesus so often voiced to His disciples.  He told them to “follow” Him and He would make them fishers of men.  How often did He call upon His disciples to “come away” with Him?  He told them to “take up their cross and follow” Him.  After spending hours with Him as He taught the people, how often did Jesus then take them aside to speak with them privately and personally?  In the end of His earthly ministry, He had poured so much of Himself into them that He could trust them with the leadership burden of the infant church.  In short, to be able to say what they said in the manner in which they said it, and to do what they did in the manner in which they did it, it as obvious that they had taken TIME WITH JESUS.

How about you, dear one?  Are you truly spending time with Jesus?  How much time?  What kind of time?  Make time for Him, as much time as you can, and make sure it is quality, devoted time.  May the words you say and the things you do cause people to note that you “have been with Jesus.”

Manna for Today – Acts 4:1-22

 

No Other Name

Many great names have and will exist, but there is NO OTHER NAME by which men may be saved.

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Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

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Plato, Socrates, Aristotle – great names in philosophy.  Alexander, Napoleon, Kublai Khan – great names as military conquerors.  Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt – great names in U.S. Presidential history.  Ruth, Jordan, Brady – great names in American sports.  Pasteur, Salk, Jarvik – great names in medical history.  Bach, Beethoven, Brahms – great names in musical composition.  And there are myriad of additional names in these arenas and many more.  But as great as any of these or any other famous name might be, none of them save, heal, deliver, and provision.

I often challenge people (in a kind and loving way) who are talking about all the great names of which they are aware, their sports, music, or Hollywood heroes.  I challenge them by saying, “How many of those folks you have named have ever been by your bedside during illness, rested an arm on your shoulder at the passing of a loved one, placed finance in your hand when you were in a difficult situation, or wrote a letter of recommendation for you to a potential employer?  I already know the answer to that question when I ask it.  I ask it anyway in order to gently but boldly push open a doorway to thought – real thought.

On the other hand of this discussion, not only do the Scriptures declare that there is no other name above the Name of Jesus, not only are we told to believe that whatever we ask Father in Jesus’ Name, He will give it to us, but I can personally attest to the power and working of the Name of Jesus.  Through both the authority and ability (exousia and dunamis) of the Name of Jesus, I can testify to what I have witnessed that is fully verifiable.  I have witnessed cripples rise and walk; polio victims through their crutches away and walk away whole; people come into a service with cancerous growths on their body, and leave the service with NO growths and their skin perfect to the eye and touch; blind eyes opened in both young and old; deaf ears unstopped in children and adults; demons cast out and a person delivered to a normal life from one of torment; and on no less than three occasions, I have witnessed the dead being raised.  These things did not happen in the name of denomination, organization, or any person OTHER THAN the Name of Jesus – the ONLY name given whereby men may be saved.  Thank God for the Name of Jesus.

Manna for Today – Acts 4:1-22; Mark 16:15-20; John 14:12-14; John 16:23; Philippians 2:1-11

 

 

 

Proclaim the Name

I hear so many good things being spoken, but in whose name are they speaking?

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Acts 4:9-10 – If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

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The world in which we live today is wicked beyond belief.  And along with that wickedness, we see more and more restrictions being applied to those who would speak the truth of God’s Word.  Schools (at every level of education), businesses, work places, and even social gatherings put restrictions on the Christian’s use of the Name of Jesus.  I find that so interesting.  Many of those who impose the restrictions about which I speak still want the blessings of the Lord Whose Name they shun and restrict.

Sadly, even in churches this same battle is being fought at some level.  In Spirit-filled, Pentecostal churches, leaders restrict the moving and manifestation of Holy Spirit in their services, often for fear they might offend some new comer.  God help us.  The sadness of this is beyond description.  Jesus had some strong things to say about such behavior coming from His followers.  He said if we were ashamed of Him and His Word before our generation, He would be ashamed of us.  It cannot be made any clearer.

So, what are we to do?  The world shuns the Name of Jesus, and even forbids use of that Name in their arenas of authority.  Many Christian leaders, and especially those who go about training people in leader-ship share and utilize Christian principles while noticeably avoiding any strong connection to the Name of Jesus.  I am convinced that such actions serve, either blatantly, or over a cunningly long time, to dilute the message of Jesus or hide His influence altogether.  Such should not be the case.  So, once again I ask, “What are we to do?”

I believe the answer is simple.  We must renew our commitment to the Lord, His Word, and His Name.  We must return to the boldness and power of Pentecost, not merely have the term “Pentecost” as decoration to our church signs, bulletins, or personal business cards.  Who are you, child of God?  Who saved you?  Who healed you?  Who blessed and provisioned you?  Who delivered you?  His Name is Jesus, and our responsibility is to boldly proclaim that great truth, and to hold forth in strong faith that mighty Name that is above every name – the Name of Jesus.

Manna for Today – Acts 4:1-22; Mark 16:15-20; John 14:12-14; John 16:23; Philippians 2:1-11;        Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26

Hate Speech Attack 101

Today, preaching the Gospel of Christ is often called hate speech.  It’s nothing new.

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Acts 4:1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,

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As of the date of this writing, that being February of 2019, a minister speaking on the streets of London, England was arrested for preaching the Gospel of Jesus.  It seems that someone sympathetic to the Islamic cause complained that the Christian minister was spewing hate speech.  In reality, He was simply preaching the Gospel of redemption as established by the work of Jesus at Calvary and His resurrection.

Now flash back to first century Jerusalem at the time of Passover.  The son of a priest was preaching that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  He spoke of one soon to come, and enjoyed the honor of baptizing the same.  And shortly after that baptism, he was arrested and beheaded.  Then we come to the man who was baptized, a simple carpenter, the son of a virgin, preaching that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and doing so peacefully while working signs and wonders, healing and delivering multitudes, is arrested, beaten beyond recognition, crucified, killed, and buried.

Even before that attempts were made to silence men of God whose message and work was the of the kingdom; Daniel, the Hebrew children, and others.  And of the first disciples of Jesus, all but one, to my knowledge, died a martyr’s death for the message they proclaimed.  My point is simple.  The work and message of the kingdom of God has always had its detractors, enemies, and agents of destruction.  What we see today is no new thing.  While we should be rising up in faith, interceding, and proclaiming the kingdom of God more powerfully than ever, we should not, by any means, be surprised at what is happening today.  Jesus warned us that we would be hated of all nations for His Names’ sake.  Well, dear friend, that time is here, and God has seen fit to have you living on the earth in that time because He has a work for you to do.  I believe we are the generation that shall see the end of this age.  In God’s divine pattern, He has always saved the best until last.  If we are the final generation of kingdom workers in the earth before the end of this age, our work is great, our anointing is great, and our God is greater than all.

Preach the Word; be instant in season out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine; preach the Gospel to every creature; make disciples; do the work of an ambassador, for you are one.  Let the world call it what they will, and in this day, they will likely call it “hate speech.”  You know better.  Speak the truth in love, turning the world on its ear with “love speech” at the graduate level.

Manna for Today – Acts 4:1-22; Matthew 24-25

 

 

 

I Beg You; HEAR!

 

It is by the mercies of God that any true ministry of the Lord functions.

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I Beg You; HEAR! Acts 3:23 – And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

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If you see a friend running head-long towards a high cliff with a sheer drop of more than a thousand feet, and he/she seems to have no awareness of the impending doom, would you take whatever steps you could to stop them?  Would you grab them, or shout at them?  If necessary, and if you had time, would you beg them to stop?  I believe you would. 

Not EVERYONE who reads this is my friend, but EVERYONE IS loved by the Lord and John 3:16 applies to EVERYONE.  And because we are commanded to “preach the Gospel to EVERY creature,” I beg you today – HEAR!  To an unbeliever, and even to a backslidden believer, the words of our Text for Today should be sobering; possibly even frightening.  However, let us look closely at these words to see precisely what they are saying. 

These words are critical regarding eternity for the unbeliever.  Hell is real.  The lake of fire into which death, hell, and all that are in them shall be cast is real.  Eternity is real.  And there can be no doubt that such judgment upon the unbeliever places someone in the category of being “destroyed from among the people.”  To that end, I BEG any lost person who reads this to repent and turn to Jesus, make Him Lord in your life, and serve Him with all your heart.  Again, I BEG YOU, HEAR

Now allow me to speak to the Christian who, for whatever reason he/she may offer, has chosen to walk away from the Word of God, to live contrary to the Word of God.  I BEG you to read our Text for Today again.  This is the Word of God, and we know that all Scripture is inspired by Holy Ghost, and is profitable to the believer.  Our Text for Today declares that “every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.”  The word “every” means “every.”  For a sinner, that cutting off means hell.  But what of a Christian.  The Christian will not go to hell, but can be, now in this life, “destroyed from among the people.”  What we need to realize is that this destruction does not come from God.  As a Christian, one is a declared enemy of Satan, and his work is to “steal, to kill, and to destroy.”  When a believer is walking in covenant, he/she walks in an arena where the Word works for them as they live by faith.  But since faith works by love, and the love of God is keeping God’s commandments, one who has deliberately pulled back from the Word and walks in willful disobedience CANNOT expect the Word to work for them.  They make themselves open victims of Satan, and he WILL cut them off from blessing, including life.  So, to the believer I say, “I BEG YOU, HEAR!”

Manna for Today – Acts 3:11-26; John 3:16-17; Romans 12:1-3; Matthew 8:34; 2 Timothy 3:16; Revelation 22:17; John 10:10; Galatians 5:6; 1 John 5:3

Restitution

God’s Word is pure.  What He says He will do, He WILL do!

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Acts 3:20-21a – And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:  Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things . . .

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Look closely at our Text for Today.  There are those who call me naïve for saying this, but I will still boldly proclaim, “I believe the Bible.”  If God said it, that settles it.  I have a Bible, and I read it.  I have a good education and I use it.  I have a clear mind and I think with it.  I have faith in God, so I accept what He says.  It’s that simple.  In our Text for Today, I want to focus on two things.  (1) Jesus is coming, and (2)restitution [reconstitution] of all things” is coming. 

Jesus IS coming!  That is a guarantee from Father.  Jesus said He would return, angels have declared it, Holy Spirit inspired its writing, and I am waiting.  I am not waiting in vain, nor am I waiting while sitting on my back-side twiddling my thumbs.  I am busy in the work of the kingdom fulfilling the ministry to which I am called.  I trust you are fulfilling your ministry, too.  Jesus IS coming, for Father shall send Him to collect His bride at the moment Father chooses.  It’s that simple, and it IS a fact.  Jesus IS coming!

And more than that, before He comes, there WILL BE the “restitution (reconstitution) of all things.”    For something to be reconstituted means it shall be put back in its original form. I am sure all kinds of debates or arguments can be made over the phrase, “restitution of all things.”  Still, that is the phrase.  I suppose the question to ask is, “What was lost?”  While I will not offer an exhaustive list, I will offer an abbreviated list; life, health, complete abundance, relationship and fellowship with Jehovah God, and peace.  I believe that listing is sufficient to begin to realize our great loss at Adam’s fall.  And while Jesus has provided for the restoration of all that through His redemptive work, we have yet to see that restoration realized in the church.  BUT, my friend, it will be realized.  Jesus is coming for a glorious church; not a half-alive one, not  a sick, recovering one, not a borrowing, owing one, not one with relationship but broken fellowship, and not one in turmoil.  None of that exists in a “glorious church.”   All these things have been restored to the church as far as availability.  However, all these glorious things have NOT been “reconstituted” in the church.   BUT, they shall be.  I’ll declare it once again in this writing; THEY SHALL BE

These are promises of God’s Word.  They SHALL come to pass.  It IS settled forever in heaven.  All that was lost in man’s fall SHALL BE RECONSTITUTED in and to the church before Father sends Jesus for His church.

Manna for Today – Acts 3:11-26; Ephesians 4:11-16; Ephesians 5:27

Two Different Things

We are to “rightly divide” the Word of God.  That takes clear thinking and revelation knowledge.

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Acts 3:19 – Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out . . .

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One of the things I see so often in our churches is something that both saddens and aggravates me.  I am saddened by the lack of clear understanding and right dividing of the Word of God, and I am aggravated at the lack of attention that is given to that by men and women of God who share the responsibility of teaching the Word of God.  I believe it may be both false security and laziness at the forefront; false security that is so easy to have in blindly believing what our predecessors and denominations have told us; laziness in our own lack of compunction to “study to show ourselves approved unto God, workmen that need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”

Two words that fall prey to that laziness and false security are found in our Text for Today.  They are “repent” and “converted.”  Look at them today with fresh eyes; open your heart and your mind.  First, let’s look at the word “repent.”  It is the Greek word metanoeo, and it means “to think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider (morally to feel compunction).”  Contrary to traditional thinking, the word “repent” is not a word associated with spiritual action, but IS a word of soulish action.  In its simplest form, it means “to rethink, or to think in a different manner.”  Perhaps in its strictest sense, it means to make a 180 degree turn from previous thought.  True repentance is not simply saying, “I’m sorry,” it is demonstrating through action that which has been stated through words.  In fact, words may not be needed at all, for as it has been said, “actions speak louder than words.”

And then there is the word “converted.”  While “repentance” is a term related directly to the soul, “conversion” is s term related to the whole being, spirit, soul, and body.  It means “to revert (literally, figuratively or morally): – come (go) again, convert, (re-) turn (about, again).”  While “repentance” speaks to a state of mind, “conversion” speaks directly to outward action.  Surely, they are connected, for a true change of mind, or “repentance” will lead to a change in outward action, or “conversion” that demonstrates the “repentance.”  The point is simple.  These are two properly defined and different terms, yet they point directly to one another.  True “repentance” will be seen in true “conversion,” and true “conversion” is a clear indicator of true “repentance.  May the Lord help us to clearly demonstrate both in our living.

Manna for Today – Acts 3:11-26; 2 Timothy 2:15

Therefore…..

Words are important, and being important, deserve our investigative efforts.

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Acts 3:19 – Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out . . .

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“Repent,” “be converted,” “ye must be born again,” “except you repent, you shall all likewise perish,” and many other like statements are found in the Scriptures.  In Christendom, it should be clearly understood and dynamically stated that “you must be born again.”  That is one of the major elements that comprise the message of Christ to the world today, for we know that unless you are born again, you shall not be a partaker of the kingdom of God. 

I remember a statement made in my presence by a man of God, now more than four decades past.  He said, “When you see the word ‘therefore,’ find out what it’s there for.”  I have never forgotten that admoni-tion, and it has served me well so often in my studies.  Let’s look at it today in our Text for Today.

Peter preached to the people who had witnessed the healing of the lame man, that they should “repent” and “be converted” so their “sins may be blotted out.”  But in his admonition we find the word “therefore.”  So, let us discover what it was “there for.”  Look at the verses previous to our Text for Today in Acts 3.  Peter recognized those to who he spoke as those who had arrested, beaten, scourged, tortured, crucified, and openly shamed Jesus the Christ.  He did not say they were the ones who personally arrested Jesus, or did any of the unspeakable things to Him that were done.  Yet he said to them that they had done it.  Peter was making clear indication that any person who was not born again was personally guilty of and responsible for all that had happened to Jesus.  The reason for their culpability in this matter was not their action, but their birth.  They were of their father Adam who had committed high treason against God and forfeited all God had given him.  They were living now under the cause of the law as children of the devil, cast out from covenant.  Before the resurrection of Jesus, many of them lived under the Old Covenant being recognized as the seed of Abraham by that Covenant.  But after the passion of our Lord and His resurrection, things had changed.  Jesus was not risen Lord, King of kings, and Lord of lords.  Now the earth was the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and all that dwell therein belonged once again to Him.  And all those born from the blood-line of the original human transgressor, Adam, were responsible for all that turned out against the Lord.  But still He offered them redemption and freedom from sin.  Because they were born under the curse, Jesus provided them a “therefore.”  He has provided one for every human being in the world, including you.  Are you now His?  If so, rejoice.  If not, “therefore….”

Manna for Today – Acts 3:11-26; John 3:16-17; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Romans 10:6-17

The Name of Jesus – Part Four

Sing with me, “Jesus is the sweetest Name I know, and He’s just the same as His lovely Name.”

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Acts 3:16 – And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

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The Scriptures declare that if all the works Jesus did were recorded in books, the world could not hold them.  I don’t know how many works He has done, but one thing I do know is this.  If I ask anything of the Father in His Name, He will do it.  Oh, what an awesome Name, the Name of Jesus.

In 1 Peter He is the Bishop of our soul, and in 2 Peter He is the light that shines in a dark place, the day star rising in your heart.  In 1 John He is our Advocate, in 2 John He is all truth, and in 3 John He is the highest dream and Father’s desire for your life. In Jude, He is the Lord coming with ten thousand of His saints.  And in Revelation He is the root out of Jesse, the Lion of Judah, the bright and morning star, the fairest of ten thousand to my soul, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, the King of kings and the Lord of Lords.  And that, dear reader, is merely a sample of who Jesus is.

On a very personal basis to those of whom we’ve read, He is Abel’s sacrifice, Noah’s rainbow, Abraham’s ram, Isaac’s wells, Jacob’s scepter, Moses’ rod, Joshua’s sun and moon standing still, Samson’s jawbone, Elijah’s mantle, Elisha’s staff, Samuel’s horn of oil, David’s sling and stone, Daniel’s visions, Amos’ burden, Malachi’s sun of righteousness, Peter’s shadow, Stephen’s signs and wonders, Paul’s aprons and handkerchiefs, John’s pearly white city, the widow’s husband, the lily to those in the valley, the rose of Sharon to the downcast, honey in the rock to the weary, the brightness of God’s glory, the express image of the Father, the King of glory, the Rock in a weary land, the comforting rod and staff, the shoulders that bear His government, the Jesus of Nazareth, the first born Son of the living God, and my Savior, my King, my Redeemer, my Healer, my Provider, my Deliverer, my Elder Brother, and my soon coming King.

Because of my love for Him, I will bow my knee to none other but Him.  Because of my faith in Him He will keep me from the floods, from the fire, from the storms, from the lions, from any and all weapons formed against me, from every snare, and from every device of the evil one.  That is my Lord and Savior, and His Name is Jesus Christ.  Oh, how sweet that Name.  Oh, how sweet is just the mention of that Name – JESUS!

Manna for Today – Acts 3:11-26; John 14:12-14; John 16:23