What a Reception!

Can you imagine the reception for Jesus when He led the captives into heaven?

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Acts 1:11 – Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

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Take a moment to re-read our Text for Today.  There are certain key phrases with which I want to deal today.  The phrases are “this same Jesus,” and “come again in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven.”  There is also a phrase I wish to address along with these from Acts 1:9: ”a cloud received Him.”  And one more phrase from John 14:3 where Jesus said that He would “receive you unto Myself.”

this same Jesus” – there is no other.  There is ONLY ONE LORD, ONE KING of KINGS, ONE REDEEMER.  And that ONE is JESUS!  He is our Savior, Lord, Healer, Provider, Deliverer, and Eldest Brother.  He is the Head of the Body of Christ, the Church.

come again in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven” – How did He ascend up?  He was taken up by the Spirit of God in His glorified body to assume His new position of ministry on the right hand of Father as the Head of the Church, as King of kings and Lord of lords.  And there He will remain until His enemies are become His footstool.

a cloud received Him” – and what was that cloud?  A natural cloud we see in the skies above us is an inanimate object, and being inanimate, can receive nothing.  A true recipient must be a living being.  So, what was the living being that received our ascending Lord?  On the date of His ascension, it was the vast number of Old Testament saints who had been kept captive in Abraham’s bosom until their redeemer came to take “captivity captive.”  These were the Old Testament saints who had been seen alive in Jerusalem AFTER Jesus’ resurrection during the days before His ascension.  That was “the cloud” that received Jesus out of the sight of those who looked on from the Mount of Olives.

receive you unto Myself” – there will be a change.  When Jesus returns for His Church, it won’t be for us (as a cloud of witnesses) to receive Him, but He will be receiving us.  And in that receiving, we then being in our glorified bodies, joining the dead in Christ who have risen first, we will be received by Him.  He will receive us unto Himself, that where He is, there we may be, also, and we shall be received as a part of that great cloud of glorified saints joining our Lord in heaven for the marriage supper of the Lamb.  And what a reception!

Manna for Today – Acts 1:1-11; John 14:3

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What a Departure!

When an American President departs his office, it is quite a spectacle.  You should have seen Jesus!

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Acts 1:9 – And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

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When an American President departs from his Whitehouse office for the last time, it is considered a highly news-worthy event.  All kinds of media are present for his final flight aboard Marine 1 to Airforce 1 to go to his new home.  It makes international news.  But on the day Jesus departed His earthly ministry to go to His seating on the right hand of Father, the viewers were really small in number, though He DID lead an enormous congregation with Him to His throne.  Still, though there were few to attend His leaving celebration, His departure set the stage for a coming administration such as has NEVER been viewed by a presidential change.  In fact, most people do not even remember the departure of the latest American President from his office.  Consider what I write here.

The departure of Jesus for His throne some 40 days after His crucifixion was like no other departure of a leader in history.  Following His resurrection, He had shown Himself alive and well to at least 500 eye-witnesses.  He had appeared in locked rooms, opened eyes to revelation knowledge as had never before happened, and performed miracles of supply in a second draught of fish from the sea of Galilee.  He had eaten with His disciples, been handled by them, and in the moments before His departure, given them final instructions of what to do before they entered the ministry He had established for them.  He told them to tarry in Jerusalem until they would be endued with the power of Holy Spirit. 

At that point, He entered no plane or earthly means of transportation, but was “taken up” by the power of God to the right hand of His Father.  And in that being “taken up,” a “cloud received Him out of their sight.”  My friend, a cloud as we see in the sky is an inanimate thing without life; it can receive NOTHING.  For a cloud to “receive” something, it had to be a living cloud, and a living cloud it was.  It was that “cloud of witnesses” that was comprised of the Old Testament saints He had liberated from Abraham’s bosom after His own resurrection.  They were there, just above Him, awaiting His ascension to lead them to heaven.  And lead them, He did. 

And as He told them to tarry, 120 of them did indeed tarry.  They waited to become the beginning of the church; and what a Beginning!  They waited for and received the promise of the Father; what a Promise!  They waited for the beginning of the mystery of Christ; and what a Mystery!  They waited for the power of the Spirit; and what a Power!  They had seen His departure; and what a Departure!

Manna for Today – Acts 1:1-11; Hebrews 12:1-3

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What A Power!

There is “power;” and then there is “Power;” but ultimately “POWER!”

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Acts 1:8 – But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

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I have the “power” (ability & authority), what the Greek calls “dunamis” or “exousia” to arise and walk across the room.  We might consider that “power” as being its lowest recognized level.  That is a humanly innate power.   I likewise have the “power” (ability & authority – “dunamis” or “exousia”) to determine who is allowed to come onto my property and operate there freely, without any cumbrance.   We could consider that “power” to be recognized at a higher level of operation.  That is a legal, or societally recognized ability and authority.   But there is a greater power that is recognized in both forms; ability and authority, that that power comes from above, from a heavenly, divine source.  That power comes from God.  Look at our Text for Today.  This is the power referenced there.  It is “dunamis,” or ability that flows from God, and it is absolutely divine. 

And WHAT A POWER IT IS!  When it was voiced by our Lord, it was voiced as a promise.  On the day of Pentecost, it became the possession of the church, already given, already a divine part of our inheritance as sons of God.  All we need to do is ask to receive it.  This power is absolutely divine, but the power referenced in our Text for Today is the second element of that power.  It is the DUNAMIS, or ABILITY of God.  When you received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, becoming a CHILD of God, you received the EXOUSIA, or AUTHORITY of God to become a SON of God.  There IS a difference.  You become a CHILD of God, receiving the EXOUSIA (AUTHORITY) by grace through faith.  It has nothing to do with anything you do.  But to receive the DUNAMIS, you MUST exercise your faith in what God has said.  The ONLY person who can receive this DUNAMIS of Holy Spirit is one who knows Jehovah God as their heavenly Father.  That is settled in the Word.

But what of that DUNAMIS, the POWER?  Just what is it that makes this DUNAMIS the ultimate power in a believer?  Once again, go to our Text for Today.  When one is filled with Holy Ghost, one receives this DUNAMIS.  Along with the physical evidence of speaking in tongues as Holy Spirit gives utterance is the broader reaching evidence that one becomes a “witness unto Jesus” wherever they are.  That word, “witness,” is from the Greek word for “martyr,” and it means one who gives proving evidence; one whose life record speaks of the supernatural power of God by the working of Holy Spirit in them.  That is the POWER God has for His children.  Imagine demonstrating the almighty power of God as a living witness wherever you go.  What a power!

Manna for Today – Acts 1:1-11; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

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What A Mystery!

There is at least one thing that even Jesus does not know.

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Acts 1:7 – And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

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The sayings of Jesus are far deeper, richer, and more powerful than any man has yet to discover.  So often we think that the things Jesus said were words that came only from Him, and because we make no connection with the culture the law of God had established in Israel, we miss much great significance.  One arena relates to marriage; the culture of taking a bride, just as the church is the bride of Christ.

Jesus didn’t just say, “I go now to prepare a place for you, and if I go, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, you may be also.”  That same statement is what any young Jewish man would say to a young woman who had just accepted his proposal for engagement.  When Jesus said to Father, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me, but not My will, but Thine be done,” He was addressing the proposal cup Satan had set before Him.  In the Jewish community, the young woman, when presented with the proposal cup, made the choice on her own.  But in Jesus’ case, He yielded His choice to Father.  But Satan was so arrogant he didn’t realize that Jesus was not drinking of that cup of His own free will.  These are but two of the examples of Father demonstrating His will to us about that which is to come.

But in our Text for Today, we see something totally different.  Here Jesus said there was something concerning the church that He was keeping from the church.  Since we have the “mind of Christ,” and since whatever the Father had revealed to Jesus, He makes known to His church, if Jesus had this knowledge, He would reveal it to us.  But of the time of the coming of Jesus for His church, ONLY Father knows.  We can know the season, but of the day and hour, no one but Father knows.  The shadow of this was seen in the engagement process for marriage in the Jewish community.  If the young woman accepted the proposal, the young man would say, “I go now to prepare a place for you, and if I go, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, you may be also.”  Then upon informing his father, he would begin the process of building his wedding chamber.  Should his friends see and inquire of the date of the upcoming marriage, his response to them would be, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.”  You see, the Lord wants us to know that this special time is coming when He will come for His church, and that until then, He is preparing a place for us, that where He is, we may be also.  Praise the Lord!

Manna for Today – Acts 1:1-11; Philippians 2:1-11; Romans 12:2

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What A Promise!

A promise is an oath of something yet to come, but when it has come, promise becomes possession.

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Acts 1:4 – And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.

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I believe I need to reinforce the opening statement in today’s Second Miler.  A promise is an oath of something yet to come, but when it has come, promise becomes possession.  The Scriptures are replete with promises of the Father to His people.  Many, if not most of the promises made to the people of God by our Lord have already been given.  For instance, “all spiritual blessings.”  Consider Ephesians 1:3 that states, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”  Read it closely.  God “hath blessed” (past-perfect tense; it’s already done) “us” (you and me) “with all spiritual blessings.” (“all,” NOT “some”).  You see, God promised it to us through the Abrahamic covenant, but when Jesus was raised from the dead and the New Covenant was instituted, the PROMISE was fulfilled and became our POSSESSION.  Now that, my friend, it truly “good news.”

Now consider that in the light of our Text for Today.  When these words were uttered by our Lord, it was before His ascension to the Father, and therefore prior to the sending forth of Holy Spirit into the earth on the day of Pentecost.  When Jesus uttered these words, He was indeed making a promise….stating an oath of something yet to come.  But since the making of that oath, after His resurrection, and to be specific, ON the day of Pentecost, the promise was kept, the oath fulfilled, and the promise became a possession.  NOT a possession of all men, but of the Church, and in regards to individuals in particular, individuals from the first Apostles such as Peter, James, and John to individuals of the present, meaning you and me, the Promise became a Possession available to any believer who will ask. 

Luke 11:13 clearly reveals to us that anyone who has the relationship with Jehovah God as His child can ask for and receive the infilling of Holy Ghost.  It clearly states that the Heavenly Father will give Holy Ghost to any of His children that ask Him.  It can be no clearer.  Once again, this statement by our Lord was BEFORE His resurrection.  It was a promise.  To the unbeliever, it is still a promise, but to the believer, it is a possession that needs to be possessed.  If you have been Spirit-filled, rejoice.  If you are a child of God, but have not received that mighty infilling, ask now.  The promise has been given; the possession is yours.

Manna for Today – Acts 1:1-11; Luke 11:13; Isaiah 45:11; Isaiah 55:8-13; Joshua 1:6-9

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What A Beginning!

With a beginning like Jesus had, can you imagine the finish and the journey to it?

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What a Beginning!

Acts 1:1 – The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach…

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The “former treatise” to which the writer refers is the Gospel According to Luke.  The book of Acts was written by the physician, Luke.  He was not of the twelve apostles, but he did have the distinct honor of writing two of the most prolific books of what we call the New Testament. 

Now look further in our Text for Today.  The book of Acts was written to “Theophilus.”  The name “Theophilus” arises from two Greek words we would recognize as “theos” and “philus,” meaning “lover of God,” or more literally, “God-lover.”  Based on that insight, the books of Luke and Acts should be quickly embraced by anyone who identifies him/herself as a Christian, as a believer, as a “lover of God.”

And finally, for this first insight into the book of Acts, consider the subject of Luke’s writing.  He was writing about “all that Jesus began both to do and to teach.”  What a remarkable statement!  He is clearly saying to us that his first writing, the book of Luke, was about what Jesus “BEGAN” to do and to teach.  My dear reader, friend, if that was the topic of the book of Luke, obviously from Luke’s perspective, then the other Gospels did the same thing from the perspectives of Matthew, Mark, and John.   When you consider all Jesus did, the signs, wonders, healings, and miracles, and understand that this was just the beginning, how great must what is yet to be done be?   If all that Jesus taught us of the Word of God, the Gospel of Christ was just the beginning, how great must be all that remains to be taught, more clearly defined, better understood, and of eternal importance.  I fully understand that one is not to add to or take away from the Word of God.  The penalties for that are clearly stated.  But  I am saying that the depth of revelation and the effectiveness of that revelation will reach higher, farther, and wider than that which has been done in previous times and ages.  Surely, the best is yet to come, and there could be not better time to set your faith for “the best” than today.  The book of Acts is the leading demonstration of the works of Holy Spirit in the Church.  God NEVER decreases.  Of the increase of His kingdom there shall be no end.  What the Church will do in the last days will be the conclusion of the teaching and works of Jesus for this age, and it will be greatly increased from its beginning.  And as a believer, you have a role in this work.  Get busy!  Start today! 

Manna for Today – Acts 1:1-11; 1 John 5:3; John 14:15-17

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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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