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Simeon’s Prophecy of Messiah

In the video below, actor Doug Whitley portrays Simeon the prophet, who approached Mary and Joseph when Jesus was presented to the Lord for consecration in the Jerusalem temple. Here is Simeon’s prophecy recorded in Luke 2:22-35:

22When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), 24and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”c

25Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.27Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” 33The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

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Portrayals of Biblical and historic figures by Doug Whitley. Doug travels the world in this full-time ministry. For bookings please contact him at: http: www.preachersofthepast.com

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Why did John the Baptist baptize with water?

In today’s Bible study, I want to teach on the true significance of water baptism in light of Hebraic thought and history, as well as the practice of the early Christian Church.

The Ministry of John the Baptizer

John was called “John the Baptist” – not because he was a member of the Baptist church, nor was he ordained in the Baptist denomination (thank God Christianity wasn’t divided into  denominations in those days), but because he practiced water baptism as an outward demonstration of a person’s repentance from sin and committing their lives to God.

John the Baptizer preaches by the River Jordan

John was a direct male descendant of Aaron, brother of Moses. He was a Kohen (or Cohen) the distinct priestly line of Kohenim that were only permitted to minister in the Old Testament Temple. Although John was raised in traditional Judaism and his father Zachariah (also a Kohan) served as a priest in the Jerusalem temple, John chose not to follow his priestly heritage. It was God’s will that John not be contaminated by the corrupt religious system of his day. He was a Nazarite from birth and was filled with the Holy Spirit while still in the womb (Luke 1:15). Instead, he obeyed God’s call to be a prophet to the nation of Israel (The prophet Jeremiah was also a Kohenim and expected to serve as a priest after his father, but later became a prophet in obedience to God’s calling). But, John was not just a prophet; he was distinguished with the great honor of being the forerunner of Jesus Christ the Messiah.

John’s greatness cannot be denied. Every one of the four Gospels begins their account of the ministry of our Lord by recording some of John’s words of introduction. Jesus Himself spoke very highly of John in this manner:

“I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is”  – Matthew 11:11.

Water Baptism in the Early Church

The early church was first comprised of all Jewish believers in Jesus (Yeshua in Aramaic-Hebrew). The first apostles and their growing number of disciples were but one of many Jewish sects at that time (such as the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, etc.) In fact, the first disciples of Jesus did not call themselves “Christians” (only years later was this term coined), but simply followers of “The Way” – a shortened version of “the true way” or “the right way” in comparison to traditional Judaism and other religions. These early believers in Jesus continued to worship in the Jerusalem temple and observe the laws of Judaism.

However, these early followers of The Way differed greatly from other Jewish sects in that they believed that Jesus is the Messiah, that He had died for the remission of our sins (as the Holy Lamb of God), and that His resurrection from the dead ushered in a new age of God’s kingdom rule in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Everywhere, they preached in Jesus’ name and water baptized all new converts into The Way. They grew into a community of believers in Jerusalem devoted to practicing Jesus’ teachings, prayer and fellowship.

Water baptism (by full immersion in living water) was not a new concept to Jews. It was actually a common practice in those times. All pious Jews frequently immersed themselves in ritual pools known as “Mikveh’s”* to spiritually purify themselves. So the idea of water purification was not foreign to most Jews when John the Baptist came on the scene. They understood his message of repentance from sin and the corresponding outward act of purification by washing and immersion in a pool of water or river.

The Forerunner of Messiah.

Jesus is baptized by John to fulfill all righteousness.

John the Baptizer began his prophetic ministry around A.D. 28. His body was lean and hardened by years of solitary desert life. His hair and beard was long and unkempt, and he dressed in a single garment made of rough camel’s hair bound by a leather belt. He traveled the land preaching a passionate message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Many responded to John’s call for repentance and spiritual renewal. They would immediately wade out with John into the Jordan River, and he would baptize them as an outward demonstration of death to the old life of sin and resurrection to a new life of righteousness in Christ. Unlike the frequent Jewish Mikveh washings, John’s baptism was a one-time event for a renewed people of God.

John was God’s true prophet who led the way for the beginning of the Christian Church. Although he admitted that he was not the Messiah, the prophet Isaiah had long ago declared him to be the forerunner of Jesus the Messiah: “[John was] the one crying in the wilderness, making straight the way of the Lord, make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3)

John the Baptizer’s prophetic message struck conviction of sin and fear of God’s judgment among his hearers, so much so that even the religious Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by him. On one occasion he thundered at these religious leaders, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come! Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’…” John dispelled their false sense of security: neither their birthright as Jews nor their religious heritage nor their important leadership positions, would save them from God’s wrath to come if they did not open their hearts in true repentance; they were just as spiritually condemned as non-Jews.

Jesus the Messiah was greater than John.

John himself admitted he was not the Messiah, but a humble messenger of God. When questioned about whether he was Elijah, or “The Prophet” (spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:18-19), he told them “I am not.” “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he [Jesus the Messiah] is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:16).

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He came to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. One day while John was preaching, he saw a figure approaching him and immediately stopped and cried aloud, “This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is mightier that I, for he was before me” (John 1:15) When Jesus asked John to baptize Him, he was astonished and said, “I need to be baptized by You!” But Jesus insisted, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:13-14).

So John obeyed Jesus and baptized Him (even though Jesus should be the one baptizing John). As soon as Jesus emerged from the water, everyone saw the heavens open up and the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus “like a dove” (not an actual dove, but the Spirit’s gentle presence), and a voice came from heaven, saying, “You are my beloved Son; with You I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16).

The Christian Rite of Baptism

Water baptism by full immersion is the correct method.

John the Baptizer pioneered the rite of water baptism practiced in most Christian churches today. Although certain churches practice a “sprinkling” type of baptism, the correct way has always been by full immersion. The proper manner of baptism as performed by John, the twelve apostles, and the early Christians is the complete dunking method. The penitent sinner should acknowledge his repentance from sin and accept Jesus as his Savior while another believer or minister of God stands beside him or her, and extend God’s forgiveness and acceptance into the Christian family. According to Jesus’ command, the words should be spoken over the new convert, “I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for the remission of your sins” (Matthew 28:18-19)

When I was a baby I was baptized by a Roman Catholic priest with the sprinkling of water on my forehead. But after I left the Roman Catholic Church and became a Born-Again Christian, I was baptized again. This second time it was by full immersion in a pool of water – just as Jesus and His disciples did.

If you have accepted Jesus the Messiah as your Savior and Lord and have never been water baptized (by full immersion), it’s time that you did so. You can be water baptized in a church baptismal, a swimming pool, a river, or even a spa – as long as you do it prayerfully with a repented heart towards God. Make sure you are able to go completely under the water; that’s how true believers have done it from the very beginning of the Christian church.

If water baptism was important to Jesus, it should be important to us. Don’t keep putting it off. I know God will bless you in a special way for honoring His Word.

–         Luis Josephus

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* The Jewish rite of water purifification in a Mikvah (pool) was known as Tevilah. Tevilah was by full body immersion with “living” water from a Spring. The Mikvah had the proportions 3 cubits long & 1 cubits deep and 1 cubit wide. This was done for purifications before certain events such as spiritual cleansing, coming into the presence of God, marriage, and also after certain events such as childbirth and disease. Tevilah was also one of three requirements for conversion of the Gentiles to Judaism. The washing of hands & feet commonly practiced was a miniature Tevilah.

FOR FURTHER STUDY:
“Do I need to be baptized to be saved?”


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Did Jesus Use Hyperbole?

Questions & Answers

Questions & Answers

QUESTION:

I was disturbed when I read Matthew 18:9, “And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.” I don’t believe Jesus was teaching us that we need to literally pluck our eye out, was He? I assume it had to do with sin in our lives and doing whatever it takes to get rid of it. Am I right about this?


ANSWER:
Yes of course you’re right. We need to realize that Jesus used hyperbole in many of His teachings and these images were not to be taken literally. A hyperbole is a figure of speech that uses an exaggerated or extravagant statement to create a strong emotional response. Some familiar examples of hyperbolic statements would include:

“He’s got tons of money.”

“He is older than the hills.”

“I’m so hungry I can eat a horse.”

“His brain is the size of a pea.”

“My feet are killing me.”

In regards to Jesus’ statement regarding “plucking out your eye” (Matthew 18:9), we know the Lord did not intend this to be taken literally. The Bible condemns self-mutilation or inflicting woundHyperboles on your body, which is the temple of God. The Roman Catholic Church, for instance, has encouraged the practice of self-flagellation (imitating the sufferings of Jesus) for centuries on their “Good Friday” holiday. They believe that scourging their backs with whips or placing a crown of thorns on their heads until their blood runs down is pleasing to God, when in fact He disapproves of it completely.

Other examples of the use of hyperbole by Jesus in His teachings are found elsewhere in the gospels. One involves His statement:

“But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ (You vain fellow) is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” – Matthew 5:22

Although we should most certainly avoid cursing other people or calling them harmful names when we are angry at them, I don’t believe that God would send you to hell for calling someone a “fool.” Neither is the sin of visually or intensely lusting after a woman (or man) the same as actually committing the physical act of adultery with her.

Jesus used exaggerated or extravagant statements (hyperbole) to emphasize the point He was trying to drive home in His teachings. They are not intended to be taken literally, in most cases, but analyzed in view of the essence of the message.

– Luis Josephus

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comment_smCOMMENT FROM DONNA:

“Another great explanation of God’s Word. As I understand it, the word “fool” as used in the Bible would be best defined as someone who refuses to do as instructed. For instance, the five foolish virgins were foolish because they did not listen when they were told to bring extra oil. (Matthew 25:1-13). By using this definition of “fool”, (someone would have to be foolish not to listen to God’s wisdom), we can better understand what the Bible means when someone is called a fool. When we call someone a fool, it is equal to condemning that person, saying that we believe that person is condemned as a fool for not listening to God’s instructions.”

comment_smCOMMENT FROM BROTHER LUIS: “Amen Donna. A fool is indeed a fool for not listening to God’s instructions. God has given us His Word to provide wisdom and protect us from making mistakes. If we don’t take His fatherly advice, how foolish is that?”



FOR FURTHER STUDY:

The Use of Extreme Language By Jesus
http://www.voiceofjesus.org/extremelanguage.html


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Ruth’s Vision of Jesus

Ruth Gottlieb

Ruth Gottlieb

Ruth Gottlieb is a Holocaust survivor who lost her parents in the Nazi Death Camps. In 1945, the Nazis evacuated Auschwitz and Ruth and 7,000 others were left behind. The Soviet army liberated them from the camp and Ruth eventually migrated to Israel. Her complete story was told to Jews For Jesus Ministry at: http://www.jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/v20-n04/auschwitz-mengele-and-the-god-who-was-with-me

Although she was raised in the Jewish religion, she relates how one day she received Jesus as her Savior, Lord and Messiah:

Jesus walks on water“In the 1980’s at one point I lived in a hotel in Tiberius, Israel.  I could see the Sea of Galilee from my room. One day, I had a vision in which I saw Yeshua (Jesus) walking on the lake. It wasn’t a dream; I just saw him! So I told my daughter and I got more and more interested in Jesus and read many books about him.

When we moved back to France, we were still seeking and reading. Then one day, I was walking on the beach in Nice, and I met a Christian woman named Rosemund. We spoke about Jesus for quite a while. When we began to read the Bible together, it suddenly became very clear to me that Jesus was our Jewish Messiah. I talked with my daughter, and over time she too came to believe in him.

Jesus was Jewish. He taught from the Hebrew Scriptures. In his day the New Testament didn’t exist. He died for our sins voluntarily – no one murdered him, neither Romans nor Jews. Some people claim the New Testament is anti-Semitic. What an idea! It’s not in the least bit anti-Semitic. All you have to do is to read it and you will find a book that is thoroughly Jewish.

I’ve always wondered why God took me out of the concentration camp and restored my health. There are millions that died. I was not saved thanks to my own wisdom. I recognize that God saved me, but why me?. I don’t know the answer.

Since I have come to know Yeshua, I have a whole different way of thinking. I don’t need to go to be entertained or a lot of material things to be happy. I am just more content. Most of all, I have peace in my heart knowing that my sins are forgiven and that one day I will be with my Messiah in heaven.”

Regardless of your culture or religious background, believe that there is one true God, and Jesus Christ (Messiah) His only begotten Son. He died on the cross to redeem all men from their sins. He rose from the dead after three days and three nights and now sits in heaven at the right hand of God the Father interceding for His people, and awaiting the day of His return to the earth. Won’t you receive Him today as your Savior, Messiah and Lord of your life?

Pray this prayer and mean it with all your heart:

Dear heavenly Father, I thank you that You sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for my sins. I repent of my sinful life; please forgive me. I invite Jesus to be my Savior and Lord of my life today. Help me to be the man (or woman) of God You want me to be. Amen.

If you just prayed this prayer, you have now been forgiven of all your sins. Start attending a Bible-believing church regularly where you can continue to grow in your Christian faith. If you need a Bible or other Christian literature, write us and we’ll send it to you absolutely free.

– Luis Josephus

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SCRIPTURE READING:

Matthew 14:22-33

Jesus Walks on the Water

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

jesus_walks_on_water 2


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Faith That Pleases God

faith that pleases GodIf we truly love God with all our hearts, minds and souls, as Jesus commanded us, we will endeavor to please our heavenly Father in every area of our lives – how we speak, how we live our lives, and how we treat others.

However, the greatest way, I believe, we can please God is to acknowledge Him in our hearts and enjoy intimate communion with Him. Wherever we go and whatever we do, we should acknowledge Him in all our ways. The writer of Hebrews tells us:

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must [first of all] believe that He exists, and that He will [always] reward those who earnestly seek Him.” – Hebrews 11:6

Before we came to saving faith in Jesus Christ, we wandered this earth in uncertainty, restlessness, and sinful choices. We had no lasting peace or joy in our lives, because we didn’t really know the true source of all peace and joy. We were alienated from God, and thereby the most miserable people. Then, one day, we heard the gospel of Jesus Christ for the first time. Our hearts opened up to the good news that God loves us, has a perfect plan for us, and wishes for us to turn our lives back to Him. He would forgive us of our rebellious ways and accept us back into His family – if we would acknowledge our transgressions. Like the story of the Prodigal Son, our heavenly Father would throw a big celebration in heaven on our behalf, in order to rejoice in our return. And He did.

Afterwards, we began living a new life of faith, our sins were washed away. We had peace with God for the first time in our lives. All our doubts and insecurities were dispelled. We now earnestly seek God everyday and trust in His promises through faith. We no longer feel condemned, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live according to the leading of God’s Spirit.

Isn’t wonderful to be saved today? Let us praise and thank our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who made it all possible. Let us continue to walk in the kind of faith that produces a changed life, a hope for eternity with God, and manifests the kind of love in our hearts that will please God and help draw others to Christ.

– Luis Josephus

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www.LuisJosephus.com
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Scripture References:

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…” – Romans 5”1

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7

“For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:26

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” – Romans 8:1


 


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Rebuke a Wise Man

A Wise Man_jpg

“Do not correct a fool or he will hate you; correct a wise man and he will appreciate you.” – Proverbs 9:8

Do you love God? I’m sure you do.

Do you love your church pastor?
Ah, maybe you have to think about that question some more. You see, too many Christians do not fully recognize that their local church pastor  or elder is God’s representative and spiritual authority over your life. They have been given the responsibility to look after you…to teach you and disciple you and protect you from straying away from God’s flock or making mistakes that will hurt your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Your local church pastor is your overseer (1 Peter 5:12). His is the ruling shepherd in the church and is accountable to God for you under the “Chief Shepherd” Jesus Christ. Their job is to feed you the Word of God, guide you in your spiritual walk, and guard over your souls.

Loving Reproof

It is also a pastor’s job to correct you when you’re doing something wrong. Some believers don’t like this part of a pastor’s function, but it is a biblical fact. Reproof and rebuke is often necessary for all of us. When your pastor reproves you, don’t get angry at him or falsely accuse him of being unloving. If he cares enough to correct you, he is demonstrating the same love that God has for you:

“For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son [or daughter] He receives.” – Hebrews 12:6

The Greek word used here for “chastening” is paideia. It not only carries the nuances of “discipline,” “rebuke,” and “correction,” but also the positive connotation of “training” and “guiding instruction” by a loving parent to bring their son or daughter to mature adulthood.

When a pastor chastens us for something that needs to be corrected in our lives, we should do the right and wise thing and accept his correction with humility. We should recognize that He loves us and desires to see us achieve our fullest potential in Christ.

“Reprove not a fool, lest he hate you.” The fool, on the other hand, does not respond well to reproof or discipline. He faints when being rebuked and becomes angry and resentful towards his pastor or God. The fool is destined to never learn from his mistakes or reach any spiritual maturity. Some are so prideful they will actually leave the church when reproved and fall away from God.

”… rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.”

The wise Christian doesn’t get their feelings hurt when reproved by their pastor because he regards the Lord’s discipline as evidence of his pastor’s love and concern. He sees God’s grace and commitment to us as our Father in his actions.

” Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are trained by it.” – Hebrews 12:11

When we receive correction from those in church authority – such as a pastor or elder, instead of getting mad, let us remember the admonition of Jesus who declared that whom He loves, He rebukes. Instead of sulking in self-pity, let us repent quickly and learn to love reproof.

” As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.“ – Revelation 3:19

– Luis Josephus

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Except You Abide in the Vine

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can you, except you abide in Me.” – John 15:4

In the parable (allegory) of the vine tree, Jesus compares Himself to the “True Vine” because when we come to salvation, we are spiritually born again and given a special position as a branch on the Tree of life, which is Jesus the Messiah. He alone is the only Savior that can give us eternal life; all others are false prophets and false religions.

God the Father, on the other hand, is the “husbandman” (the farmer) that cultivates us as branches on the vine and tends to our care. He waters us every day, prunes our twigs, trims our leaves, and makes sure we are receiving the right amount of sunshine and nutrients from the ground.

But Jesus reminds us that unless we continue to abide in Him, we cannot bear good fruit or flourish as one of His branches, since a branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless we abide in the source of nourishment – the tree.

To abide comes from the original Greek word, menō, which means: to remain, continue, abide or live in. If the branch is broken, snapped or disconnected in any way from the vine or tree, the life-giving support cannot continue to flow. Without the tree’s nourishment, the branch will eventually wither and die. Likewise, the life of Christ can only continue to flow in us as long as we abide in Him by:

  • Studying the Word of God daily, keeping it continually in our hearts and minds, and letting it guide our lives.
  • Maintaining the habit of prayer and communion with the Holy Spirit in order to draw new and fresh strength from Him.
  • Obeying God’s commandments and endeavoring to live pleasing to Him.
  • Attending church regularly and loving the fellowship of the brethren.
  • Witnessing for Jesus everywhere we go and helping to bring lost souls to salvation.

We will continue to abide in Christ if we follow the above guidelines. As we do, we will also continue to bear the kind of good fruit He desires from us as His disciples and remain eternally secure in our salvation.

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he that abideth in Me, and I in him,” Jesus said, “the same brings forth much fruit [not some fruit, but much fruit]. For with Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

– Luis Josephus

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Comment from Donna: “This morning I was thinking about being grafted into the vine and what it means. I was thinking of the fact that the power that flows from the vine to us is LOVE. It is his love that gives us life. That is what the two great commandments were all about: LOVE. It’s not about what we do, per say, it is about how we LOVE God first and then others. All the instructions that you gave for abiding in the vine can be summed up in: LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS. May the Lord truly bless you for your service to Christ!”

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Free Booklet, “Grace For Today.”

Grace For TodayOrder your free devotional booklet “Grace For Today” by Pastor Luis Yosefus which contains many more inspirational messages written to encourage your life and enhance your understanding of God’s Word. Simply email us your postal address and we will mail it to you free of charge at no obligation.