Storms – Part Two

To navigate in any storm, you need to know the source of the storm.  That will determine your actions.

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Mark 4:37 – And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.

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Yesterday I began to share with you concerning the four different kinds of storms we can face in life.  It is keenly important for us to know the source of the storms we encounter so we can operate accurately and productively in those storms.  Today I want to address the first kind of storm we see in the Scriptures.  It was the storm that caused the flood of Noah.  This is the kind of storm into which the Lord sends you.  Please understand that I am not just talking about the kind of storm we see in nature, but about any and all the storms of life (battles of every kind).  Think for a moment about the storm that brought about the flood of Noah.

Before this storm came, the Lord had well-informed Noah of what was coming, what he needed to do to prepare for the storm, and what his role of ministry would be prior to the coming of the storm.  There are other examples of this.  When a storm of this kind is on the horizon, seen or unseen, before you, the Lord will always see to it that you have the capacity to be fully prepared for its coming.  Noah was fully prepared.  Likewise, David was prepared, though he did not know the storm (battle) he would face with Goliath was even coming.  David writes that the Lord had taught his hands to war.  David spoke of facing the bear and the lion, and likened Goliath to one of them. 

If the Lord warns you of an impending storm, He does so to give you the opportunity to be fully prepared to engage that storm victoriously, and come out of it blessed.  Even the issue of what the world faces as the Corona virus which has presented itself to most people as a “shelter-in-place” storm should not have taken the church by surprise.  A wonderful man of God, David Wilkerson, prophesied in 1986 of a plague coming that would slam New York in a horrible way.  Did the church pay attention to that prophecy?  We must remember that warnings from God don’t always come just before something happens.  God’s warning for preparation to Noah came 120-years before the storm started. 

If we are caught unprepared in a storm about which the Lord has warned us, and into which we must step, we must accept the personal responsibility for what we must face.  The Lord will forgive our being ill-prepared, and He will even help us when we repent and turn to Him in the storm.  But would things not have been much better if we had our ark built and supplied?  Don’t cast aside the Lord’s warnings.  Remain faithful, for He is faithful.

Manna for Today – Mark 4:35-41; Romans 8:1-17; 2 Timothy 2:15; Genesis 6, 7, & 8

Storms – Part One

Storms will come.  Expect them, but be led by Holy Spirit.

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Mark 4:37 – And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.

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I’m sure you’ve heard someone say, “I must be doing something right.  The devil is really giving me a hard time.”  It may not have been those precise words, but the message is clear.  My friend, that is a truly dangerous statement.  Think on this.  Since when should the believer ever use anything set forth by the enemy of your soul as a means of judging anything having to do with God?  If you believe that an attack from the enemy can be some sort of yardstick indicating that you are doing the right thing, you make yourself an easy target for Satan.  All he has to do is wait until you’re doing something that you think is the will of God, but isn’t, and attack you.  Using the kind of thinking I am referencing here would lead you to think you must be doing the right thing because times have become difficult.  If that is the case, you have been deceived.  My friend, don’t fall prey to this kind of thinking. 

The point is simple.  We are to be led by Holy Spirit, NOT by circumstances.  Gideon used a fleece, but that was in the Old Testament when even God’s people were spiritually dead.  They needed a sign.  But the Christian should not be seeking a sign.  We should be studying the Scriptures.  We have the complete Bible.  We are to study to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman that need not be ashamed; rightly dividing the Word of Truth.  As Dr. Kenneth Hagin used to say, “If you set about to led by using a fleece, you’ll get fleeced.”  When one does that, he opens his spirit man to great potential deception that utterly crowds the natural world around us.

Over the next few days, let’s look more deeply into this issue of storms.  Some come from God; some don’t.  Some are sent to help; others are sent to destroy.  Believers need to know the difference.  And once again, the New Testament believer should never be led by any storm.  We MUST be directed by Holy Spirit, walking in obedience to the Word of God.  To that end, let’s take a look at four different kinds of storms the believer may face.  They are; (1) the storm into which the Lord sends you; (2) the storm the Lord sends to arrest you; (3) the storm that comes upon you to steal, kill, and destroy; and (4) the storm nature releases in its groaning.  We need to recognize the difference, for there are different skills and actions required for each one, and taking the wrong action in the wrong storm CAN be dangerous.

Manna for Today – Mark 4:35-41; Romans 8:1-17; 2 Timothy 2:15

Jesus Trusted His Own

You can hear a story told many ways, but when you read it at the source, it can come alive.

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Mark 4:36 – And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.

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We often hear sermons from a particular passage, sermons we may have heard many times.  Though likely delivered with good intentions, too often they are mere a repetition of things they have heard someone else say that evoked some response that are repeated to get a similar response.  I have heard that happen from this passage.  But today, let’s see what the Bible says.  What we see in our Text for Today is a powerful issue of trust.  Jesus trusted those He called to be around Him.  Look closely.

Who sent the multitude away?  It wasn’t Jesus.  “They [the disciples] sent away the multitude.”  Jesus’ disciples were not simply a bunch of followers.  Each day they spent with Jesus they became a better trained team of leaders.  They knew what needed to be done when Jesus had finished His teaching.  He had ministered to the crowd all day.  There can be no doubt He was tired, and if we look closely at what the next statement says, His physical weariness (NOT spiritual) was extreme.  Look at the next sentence.

“…they took Him even as He was in the ship.”  Do you see it?  Who “took Him even as He was in the ship?”  Once again, it was His disciples to “took Him even as He was in the ship.”  If these words mean anything, they paint a picture of Jesus, having finished His ministry for the day, had gone into one of the ships, and simply laid down to rest, and apparently had fallen asleep.  So when “they had sent away the multitude,” they “took Him even as He was in the ship.”

In both instances, His disciples were so trusted by Him that when He had finished His part of the ministry that day, He was at such peach in that trust, that He simply laid down and went to sleep.  From that imagery, I have three questions for you.  First, when you have finished your work for each day, can you simply lay down and go to sleep with a trust in Holy Spirit so great that you have perfect peace?  If we love His Word, should we not have perfect peace?  And secondly, can He trust you so much that He can release whatever work of the kingdom needs to be done into your hands?  No, He won’t be sleeping, but the question remains, “Can He trust you?”  And third, can we trust one another?  The speed with which the work of the kingdom is done in power is based on trust at these three levels.  Selah!

Manna for Today – Mark 4:35-41; Joshua 1:6-9; Isaiah 55:8-13; Matthew 24:35; Hebrews 1:3

Time to Pass Over

One of the most important elements of life is timing, not for God, but for man.  He is timeless, man is not.

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Mark 4:35 – And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.

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I hear so much about God’s timing.  I don’t believe there is such a thing.  I realize there are durations of time that exist in our world as we move from point to point in life, but that is not a matter of timing, but a matter of time use.  An example of that would be the children of Israel and their quest to enter into the promised land.  Their journey from Egypt to the promised land could have ended in a matter of few weeks, but instead it took 40-years.  None of that delay was a matter of God’s timing, but of how the children of Israel used their time.  If, instead of making a golden calf, they had sharpened their swords and spears and practiced blowing upon their shofars, and if, instead of grumbling about a stroll through the desert they had rejoiced over the report of Joshua and Caleb, they would have possessed the promised land in a matter of weeks instead of having to wait for an entire generation of doubters to die, using up 40-years of time.  You see, it wasn’t a matter of God’s timing, but of how they used their own time.

In our Text for Today, we read that it was evening time, and Jesus had just spent an entire day using His time excellently, preparing the people by speaking the Word to them.  He had taught them the foundational principle of how the kingdom of God works – the seed principle.  He was, no doubt, tired from a full day of ministry; He had finished His work for the day.  He had a team in place; they were His disciples.  At least four of them were professional fishermen who knew the Sea of Galilee well.  Being finished with His work there, it was time to move.  It was time to go to the other side, so He gave the order.

His words to His disciples at this point become key to their ability to succeed in what He said.  Remember, He had just spent an entire day teaching them how the kingdom of God operates – the seed principle.  They were as prepared for the move as He could make them.  Now consider His command to them.  He did not say, “We need to move on.”  He did not say, “I need to get to the other side.”  He said, “Let us pass over unto the other side.”  It was time for all of them to “pass over unto the other side.”  Ordained “good works” were waiting on them.  It wasn’t a matter of God’s timing, but of them using their time well so they could fulfill all the Lord had set before them.  Is it time for you to “pass over unto the other side?”

Manna for Today – Mark 4:35-41; John 9:4; Ecclesiastes 3:1-8; Ephesians 2:10

Action Follows Word

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are One; God of Integrity.

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Luke 7:13-15 – And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.  And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.  And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.

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From the outset, we must accept that Father, Son (Jesus), and Holy Ghost are One.  That is integrity of the highest order.  The word integrity comes from the root word integer.  An integer is a whole number; there are no fractions or divisions in it.  When the three members of the God-head, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost exist as One, always in perfect agreement in all things, They demonstrate Integrity of the highest order.  Of course, that is what God demands of Himself; perfection.  Perfection in love, faith, thought, word, and action. 

Now consider the truth that we are commanded to be imitators of God, as dear children.  Since God is a God of Integrity, we should likewise be people of integrity.  My friend, if the church, if believers will not live up to that standard, then it’s time for the church, including individual believers, to have what we call a “come-to-Jesus meeting.”  That is a face-to-face, person accountability meeting with God that truly carries consequences.  I am not talking about a public repentance meeting where words are spoken, but the intent of the heart us concealed.  I refer to a repentance that carries every necessary corresponding action.

If God says it, that settles it.  The same should be true for every believer.  Every believer should be a Psalm 15:4 person; one who swears to his own hurt and refuses to change.  Such a person does what he says he will.  If corresponding actions do not follow the words you speak, perhaps it is time to be quiet until that standard can be reached.  Whatever God says, God sustains to completion.  Whatever Jesus said, because He only spoke to please His Father, God sustained to completion.  It is written of Samuel that God did not allow any of his words to fall to the ground.  Can that be said of us?  Of you and me?  Now?  Are we not ambassadors of Christ?  Are we not heirs of God?  Are we not joint-heirs with Christ?  If these things are true, and the Scriptures declare they are, then should it not be our responsibility that the words of our mouth are words that please Father, that are worthy of His sustaining?  We must know the truth, believe the truth, and speak the truth in all things at all times.  Either that, or speak not at all.

Manna for Today – Luke 7:11-17; Mark 11:22-24; Romans 4:17; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Isaiah 55:8-13; Joshua 1:6-9; Hebrews 4:16; Galatians 5:6; Ephesians 4:29; 1 John 5:7; Ephesians 5:1; Psalm 15:4

Word Precedes Action

If we desire Jesus’ results, we should follow Jesus’ patterns of ministry.

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Luke 7:13-15 – And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.  And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.  And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.

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Yesterday we examined our Text for Today in the light that Jesus, the Word made flesh, had compassion (held God) on the situation facing the widow of Nain.  Today let’s look more deeply at how that works, and how Jesus operated in the realm of faith.  Oh, and when we’ve recognized it, let’s choose to operate the same way.  We see it unfolded twice in our Text for Today.  Look closely at our text.

Jesus had compassion on the woman, “and said unto her, Weep not.”  Jesus brought love on the scene.  Since faith works by love, that indicates Jesus planned to release His faith, and that is precisely what He did.  But how did He release His faith?  He spoke faith words out of His mouth.  These were words that edified and ministered grace.  The woman was weeping.  In this case she was being ruled by emotions.  Weeping releases emotions.  Jesus had compassion on her to move her into faith and out of emotions.  Then Jesus touched the bier, the carrier on which the dead son was laid.  And it was then that we see words preceding action again.  Jesus said, “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.”  And what happened.  The young man who was dead was dead no longer…he sat up and started talking.  Jesus then delivered him to his mother.

There.  Do you see the pattern?  When the Word shows up, God shows up.  He was already there, but the Word spoken releases our Father to go into manifestation mode.  Jesus told us about this pattern in Mark 11:22-24.  Father demonstrated this pattern In Genesis 1 through His renovation of the earth and the making of man.  And this pattern is demonstrated again and again throughout the Scriptures in faith move after faith move.  When the love of God is given voice by speaking the Word of God, we see Father, Son, and Holy Ghost operating in power as it was in Genesis 1, and in every case of the super-natural work of God in the Scriptures after that. 

Do you desire to see the Lord move in and through your life?  Give attention the Word of God, keep it in your heart, make sure the words of your mouth agree with it, and release your faith in the spirit of the love of God.  God hasn’t changed.  Jesus doesn’t change.  Holy Ghost is waiting to see the Word work in and through your life just as it did in the earthly ministry of Jesus.  It’s up to you.

Manna for Today – Luke 7:11-17; Mark 11:22-24; Romans 4:17; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Isaiah 55:8-13; Joshua 1:6-9; Hebrews 4:16; Galatians 5:6; Ephesians 4:29

A Clearer Picture of Compassion

Compassion is action, not a feeling, though the results of it may cause emotional demonstration. 

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Luke 7:13-15 – And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.  And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.  And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.

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So many people equate love (the love of God) with feelings (emotions).  This should not be the case.  God’s love is manifest toward man in three forms.  Mercy is the love of God shown towards all mankind at all times, enduring forever.  This is not emotional, but arises from the very identity of God (agape), and is not directly connected to relationship, or even grace.  While grace, the highest manifestation of God’s love, must be found through faith at the throne of God, mercy is given without question.  Compassion, the manifestation of the love of God seen in our Text for Today, is a deliberation demonstration of the Word of God upon a human need.  In the four Gospels, we see the compassion of God used in two verbal framings.  In our Text for Today, we read that Jesus “had compassion” on someone.  The other verbal framing is found in the words that Jesus “moved with compassion.”  Both phrasings are important, and need to be closely examined for clear Biblical understanding of what they mean.  Let’s take a moment and break it down.

JESUS HAD COMPASSION….  “Jesus” is the Word made flesh.  The word “had” speaks to something being deliberately held on someone.  It creates the image of Jesus holding compassion on someone like a cold compress would be held on someone suffering from heat exhaustion.  The word “compassion” speaks to one of the manifestations of the love of God, and since God is love, we can legitimately insert “God” into the position of compassion.  In other words, we would read, “The Word held God” … on them.  More clearly stated, when one speaks the Word of God into the situation in someone’s life, holding fast to the profession of their faith, the confession of their faith is holding God on that situation.  Change is coming.

The other phrasing says JESUS MOVED WITH COMPASSION ….  Once again, let’s define our terms as in the paragraph above.  “Jesus” is the Word made flesh.  “Compassion” a manifestation of the love of God, is God.  But here we use the word “moved,” which simply means it went into operation; it did something.  Key to this phrasing is the preposition “with.”  We often hear people say Jesus was moved “by” compassion.  This is not true.  The Word (Jesus) goes into operation (moves) WITH (in full unity and cooperation) God (compassion).  What we see in our Text for Today is the living Word holding God on this situation.  Something good had to happen.  It always does when God’s Word is held immovably in faith on any situation.

Manna for Today – Luke 7:11-17; Mark 11:22-24; Romans 4:17; 1 Corinthians 1:10; Isaiah 55:8-13; Joshua 1:6-9; Hebrews 4:16

Much People

. . . Crowds and congregations may look alike, but what they accomplish will likely not.

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Luke 7:12 – Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.

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In Luke 7:11, we see that along with Jesus were “many of His disciples” and “much people.”  Then, in the next verse, our Text for Today, we see that the woman we call the widow of Nain had accompanying her “much people of the city.”  It seems that throughout the earthly ministry of Jesus, He was either leading “much people,” ministering to “much people,” or about to encounter “much people.”  Yet there were so often times when He was either praying alone, or accompanied by a few people, most likely His disciples.  But regardless of where He was to be found, He was always ready to minister to whomever He encountered, and that meant He was ever ready to minister to “much people.”  It made no difference to Him whether that ministry was one-on-one, or one-on-thousands.  What mattered to Jesus was that He fulfilled His anointing to which He referred at that beginning of His ministry in Luke 4.

One of the main elements of our Christian thinking comes from the knowledge that Jesus never changes.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Knowing that, we should clearly understand what His overwhelming desire for the work of His church should be.  As the Father sent Him, so did He send us.  He has sent us into “all the world, to “every creature.”  He has sent us to carry on which his ministry as members of His body.  Whether we encounter people one-on-one, or one-on-tens of thousands, our assignment is not less than His.  Men of God (and women, too) have carried forth that assignment.  Whether it was a man not-so-well-known in his day, a Sunday school teacher named Edward Kimball, who led D.L. Moody to Christ, or one recently graduated to heaven in the person of Reinhard Bonnke who is known to have preached before millions that have received Jesus, their work and the outcome of their actions has brought untold millions to Christ. 

I have had the privilege to meet a number of famous, well-known, important people in my life, and was honored to have had that privilege.  Many of them have had some level of influence in my life that has served to have me serving the body of Christ as I presently do.  The ministry in which the Lord has placed me is serving more people in my 70’s than I ever reached between my 30th and 65th birthday years combined.  But that being said, I can declare that the greatest influencers in my life have generally been strong Christians, largely unknown, sometimes of little to no formal education, but who lived to bless, encourage, and inspire others.  And in the conclusion of each life, “much people” stand because of them.

Manna for Today – Luke 7:11-17; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; John 14:12-14; Luke 4:16-30;  John 17:18; John 20:21; Hebrews 13:8

Daily

What do you do daily?  Think about that.  Daily?

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Luke 7:11 – And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people.

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Through diligent study, there is much we might know about the life of Jesus before He stepped into His earthly ministry, but still, we would not know the things He did daily.  But after His baptism at Jordan, I am sure that there was something drawing on Him daily, as I am likewise sure He drew on and from Father daily.  While they are certainly not all recorded in the Scriptures, what has been recorded clearly indicates that even when He withdrew from the crowds, there were the daily pressures on those He came to reach that pulled on Him, spirit, soul, and body, every day He lived.

In our Text for Today, we see Jesus about to have an encounter with the widow of Nain, and we are told this was “the day after.”  The “day after” what?  It was the previous day that Jesus had encountered the Roman centurion about whose faith He had marveled.  This is what brings me to the focus of today’s Second Miler.  Jesus was in Capernaum when He healed the centurion’s servant.  That same day, He healed Peter’s mother-in-law, and it was on the Sabbath.  When the sun had gone down, and the Sabbath had ended, multitudes came to Jesus at Peter’s house, and He healed them.  It seemed that every way He turned, there was ministry to perform.  Some of it came to Him in the form of a request.  At other times, He saw a need and simply responded with compassion, not being asked to do anything.  That is what happened as He entered into Nain as a funeral procession passed. 

Today, as it was in His earthly ministry, people constantly needed Him at some level.  And when He was needed, He never failed in His calling, always leaning on His anointing.  Paul spoke of the same kinds of care, current pressures, daily pressures, that came on him regarding the churches.  But thanks be to God, we are not left to face such pressures that are still present every day of our lives.  We need not run from it.  We are commanded to cast the cares of these things on the Lord, for He cares for us.  Please note, while God DOES love us, this passage is not referring to love, but to handling the cares, worries, anxieties, and pressures of daily living.  When we read that the Lord “cares for us,” it means precisely what it says.  He is handling the “cares” of this life; all of them, if we will cast them on Him.  Just as Jesus leaned always on the anointings placed in His life by the Father, we can do the same.  And when we do, we need not faint, but can stand strong in our kingdom work . . . daily.

Manna for Today – Luke 7:11-17; Psalm 68:19; Isaiah 58:2; Matthew 6:11; 2 Corinthians 11:28;              1 Peter 5:1-11; Galatians 6:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:13

Defined by Jesus

Jesus never sinned; never made a wrong decision; never spoke a wrong word.  He defined the greatest.

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Matthew 8:10 – When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

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Let’s clear the table and start with a clean slate today.  A statement I make often sets the stage.  If God said it, that settles it.  And if Jesus said it, God said it, for Jesus always did those things that pleased Father.  When the centurion came to Jesus, Jesus listened to him.  And when the centurion had spoken, explaining his position on faith, Jesus’ response was marked in definitive terms.  He marveled and said, “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”  Jesus never exaggerated.  Jesus never lied.  What He said was absolute truth.  So, when He said that this was the highest level of faith He had found, perhaps it is worthy of our own examination.  Keep in mind, the centurion was dealing with two issues you and I don’t face.  When he came to Jesus, there were no Christians.  The church did not exist.  Secondly, he was a Roman, not a Jew, and therefore had no covenant on which to stand.

Now think of those two issues, and consider the following.  When Jehovah came to Abram, the same to facts were true.  There were no Christians.  The church did not exist.  Secondly, Abram was from Ur of the Chaldees, and Israel did not exist at that time.  In fact, the Law of Moses did not exist at that point.  Therefore, there was no such thing as a Jew, or the Abrahamic covenant.  In both cases, then, the same truth was applicable.  So, God, Who is no respecter of persons, and Who never changes, responded to both men in the same manner.  Romans tells us that Abram believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.  In the same way, the centurion believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 

In Abraham’s case, he became the father of our faith and the father of many nations.  In the centurion’s case, his faith caused Jesus to marvel, and subsequently Jesus acted on what he said and healed his servant.  In this, I am in no way nullifying the New Covenant.  But the incident set forth in our Text for Today occurred under the Old Covenant, not the New.  We have a much better covenant.  If God did what He did for Abraham’s faith, and Jesus did what He did for the centurion’s faith, just imagine what He will do for your faith; your faith that has been authored and finished by the Lord Jesus Himself.  I don’t know what you face today, but He does.  Go ahead, tell Him that your faith is anchored to whatever He says; His Word.  He’s waiting to hear from you.

Manna for Today – Matthew 8:5-13; Hebrews 11:1-6; Romans 10:6-17; Romans 4:13-22;            Hebrews 11:40; Hebrews 12:2