LET’S TALK ABOUT THE ATONEMENT…

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I feel compelled to challenge you at the outset and hopefully not lose readers in the process.  I am concerned that the Christian Church of today does not believe in the “Full Atonement” of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Let me venture further out on that limb and suggest that it appears some do not truly believe in the Atonement.  Hopefully, I am wrong but it appears certain that there are those who hold a concept in their minds but do not embrace that truth or reality in their hearts.

Some years ago, the Holy Spirit began challenging me regarding my ‘Mindset’ and began to nudge me toward embracing things I had not yet seen or experienced in God.  That has been a richly rewarding and a terrifying and difficult journey at the same time.  One of the problems when we answer the call of God to move beyond our comfort zone and venture into the unknown we are introduced to trouble like we have never encountered.  I know personally, that the costs are seldom fully appreciated at the time we embark on the journey.  We are exposed to the wrath of hell and religiousness in a most disturbing way.  Although there is ‘nothing new under the sun’ there are things ‘new’ to us.  When we venture out into those uncharted waters (uncharted in our experience) we realize a new dependence on God.

We are living in ‘Troubled Times’ and in the midst of ‘Times of Trouble,’ God has promised to bring about Full Restoration to the Church.  It is exciting, will be difficult, but incredibly rewarding if we persist and pursue Him and His purposes.  I hope you will be stirred to venture a little deeper into the things of God and move outside your spiritual comfort zone.

Acts 3:19-21 – “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21 whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.”  NASU

             If we take the Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God (I do) and resist the temptation to make scriptures mean what we want them to mean, we will find some challenging passages in the Bible.  This is one of those for it says that our Lord Jesus would be ‘held in heaven’ or “whom heaven must receive UNTIL…”  Until What?  The Restoration of All Things which God spoke by the mouth of His prophets from ancient time.  Let me ask a probing question, “Is there anything that the Church had but is not experiencing or practicing today?”  I believe that the fulfillment of this passage of scripture and to facilitate the return of Jesus is why we have the ministries of Ephesians 4 listed and detailed.  God wants us ‘equipped’ for service and ministry so that we can walk in His Restoration and reap His Harvest of these last days.  There are wonderful things coming to the church and difficult times as well.  We will have times and rejoicing and weeping but God is building His Church and will keep His word fully.  I contend that the issue is not “IF” God will bring about Restoration but “WHAT” our position and participation will be.  Will we embrace what He is doing or will we resist and label it heresy, apostasy, or something else and fail to ‘discern our times’ and miss the visitation of God?  I pray not!

Hoping to quell your concern about whether I’m drifting into a heretical place, let me say that RESTORATION is a “time of change.”  It is a resurgence, in my mind, of the gifts and power of God.  It is a return to the church local and universal being run by the Holy Spirit not boards, committees, or denominational headquarters.  It is a return to God being the Lord of the Church in reality and truth.  The Holy Spirit is preparing His Body for the “New Wine” and in the process, will destroy the “Old Wineskins”.  Much of the church today is experiencing the Isaiah 61 ministry or effect.  God is shaking that which can be shaken and is pruning the trees so that which is rigid, inflexible, and dry is pliable, flexible, moldable, and filled with the Oil of the Spirit of God.  We are seeing and will see a resurgence of the Anointing of God which breaks all yokes and the Harvest is going to be reaped in these last days. We are God’s instruments to effect change in our world and help bring about the reality of the Prayer of Matthew 6 which we call the Lord’s Prayer.

I use a takeoff on the catch phrase of the NFL’s Monday Night Football, “Are you ready for some Restoration?”  Are you ready for the shaking that is coming and the outpouring of God’s Spirit on mankind and the resulting harvest of souls?  God is about to do a work in our day that even if someone told many, they would not believe, but soon they will see.

I want to discuss this a bit further so I pause for now and say, “May the Lord bless you and keep you, make His face to shine upon you, be gracious unto you, and give you peace!”  Until next time blessings abundantly!

WHO TOUCHED ME???

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Mark 5:30 – “Immediately Jesus, perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My garments?”  NASU

 

I love the songs, “He Touched Me” and “Touching Jesus.”  My title question might cause one to assume that I was talking about the Lord touching us but the person of my question is Jesus.  Our Lord and His disciples had crossed over the sea to the country of the Gerasenes and the encounter with the demoniac resulted in those people asking Jesus to leave.  He and his disciples crossed back over to their starting point and he found a very large crowd awaiting Him.  The crowd and needs were so numerous he stayed by the seashore ministering.  One of the synagogue officials Jairus came requesting healing for his daughter and many others were trying to get to Jesus to receive their healing, their miracle.  The throng of people was so overpowering that he could hardly move without being bumped, touched, or grabbed.

In that situation, the woman who had had a hemorrhage for 12 years and endured terrible treatment by physicians.  She was broke and still afflicted with her malady.  She heard about Jesus and decided in her heart, “If I can just touch His garment I will get well.”  That was her faith and focal point.  TOUCHING JESUS!  She believed that if she could simply, “Touch His Garment” the healing virtue of God would flow out from him to her and she would be cured.  She pressed through the crowd and achieved her goal, touching his garment.  IMMEDIATELY, the Bible tells us, the flow of her blood ceased and she was fully cured.  IMMEDIATELY, Jesus stopped and stunned His disciples asking, “WHO TOUCHED ME?”  Remember the condition and situation.  The throng of people was overpowering and Jesus was being touched repeatedly as he moved through the crowd and yet He asked, “WHO TOUCHED ME?”

The response of the disciples was one of incredulousness and they said, “You see the crowd pressing in on You, and You say, ‘Who touched My garments?”  In East Texas, it would have been, “Are you kidding me?  Look at this mob, EVERYBODY IS TOUCHING YOU!”  But, Jesus KNEW that something had happened and this was different from all the other touches uncoupled from faith.  This was a FAITH TOUCH that resulted in virtue or power leaving His body, power that He could feel.  He looked at the woman and she confessed what and why she had done what she did.  Jesus’ response was, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your affliction.”  WHO TOUCHED ME was the question of Jesus but it was not a question of simply being physically bumped or touched.  This was a question of WHO exercised faith and drew out from Him the Divine Power to heal.  This is the TOUCHING JESUS that we need to do for ourselves and others.

I remember years ago, as I served as lead pastor in a church in East Texas, I was called to the home of a retired minister and his wife.  She had been ill and wanted me to come, anoint her with oil, and pray the prayer of faith as directed by James.  When I began to pray, I said, “Lord, touch my sister.”  She immediately interrupted me and said, “Preacher, don’t pray for a little touch, I want Healing!”  She wanted me to do more than offer words, she wanted me to do what the woman with the hemorrhage did, TOUCH JESUS in a way that was coupled with faith and would result in total healing.  She wanted results, not just prayer.

I have said before, “Too often we expect to be prayed for but we do not expect to be healed.”  We expect to go through the motions and do the prescribed religious things in prayer for healing but we do not expect the TOUCH OF THE MASTER’S HAND effecting a full recovery.  That is not universally true for all believers or even all believers all the time, but it more prevalent than we acknowledge.  Jesus said we are to “Ask, Seek, and Knock.”  We are instructed to be determined and to become as the ‘hart panting for the water brooks’ in our pursuit of God.  NOTHING LESS THAN HIS TOUCH should be satisfactory.  When we TOUCH, HIM He will TOUCH US.

God, bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Jesus!

ANOINTED TO DO…

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Exodus 31:1-7 – “Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 3 “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze, 5 and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship. 6 “And behold, I Myself have appointed with him Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and in the hearts of all who are skillful I have put skill, that they may make all that I have commanded you:” NASU

 

The Anointing is not just for preaching it is for everything.  In 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 we read, “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, 22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.”  Remember John’s words in 1 John 2:20, “But you have an anointing from the Holy One…”  Each of us has a gift, calling, talent or gifts callings and talents that God has GIVEN or ANOINTED us with.  That was the case in Exodus where God said, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship…”  I would remind everyone, of the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:7, “…What do you have that you did not receive?”

If we were working in a team and one of us had the anointing for organization, it would be incredibly beneficial to defer to that person and allow his/her gift and anointing to flow.  If a person with another gift attempted to take care of the organizational issues it would like result in chaos but at worst, it would simply not be the best.  I have observed pastors who found it impossible to release various gifts to function for they felt it was their job to take the lead in everything.  If your gift, talent, ability, and/or anointing is in an area that I know I am weak I will gladly defer to you and follow your lead. When we reach the point that my gift, talent, skill, ability, or anointing is required I will step forward and ask you to move from the point and allow that gift to flow.  We are The Body of Christ and a human or spiritual body is made up of differing parts.  If the hand tried to do the job of the heart, we would die.  If the ears tried to do the job of the lungs we would suffocate.  If the feet tried to assume the role of the eyes we would stumble around having the ability to move around but without vision.  If the eyes see, the ears hear, the lungs breathe, and the heart pumps blood while the brain coordinates all the parts we will function in a much better fashion.  Each part is needed and each part has a specific anointing. 

Some have an anointing for service and should serve.  Some have an anointing for decoration and should decorate.  If it is culinary then find the kitchen.  If business and creating wealth, then turn your attention to it.  If it is preaching, then preach anywhere and everywhere.  What are you good at?  What tugs at your heart?  What has God uniquely gifted you to do?  Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your all.  Rejoice in His gift and call and know that no matter what your gift is, that gift is valuable to the Body of Christ and the Kingdom of God.  Just don’t be like a person said once, “My gift is irritating people.”  I’m not sure that is an anointing from God but if we are pursuing His purposes we will irritate some but it is never with malice.

God, bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!

QUESTION OF DOUBT or QUESTION OF FAITH?

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Matthew 8:1-4 – “When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. 2 And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” 3 Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus said to him, ” See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”  NASU

 

This is most interesting and is in the same category as the question Jesus asked the man at the Pool of Bethesda, “Do you want to get well?”  In a way, it reminds me of the question Moses asked Pharaoh about the frogs, “When shall I remove them?”  The man at the pool began to explain why he had not gotten his healing rather than answer the question and Pharaoh delayed until the next day to get relief.  Here the leper, who I am certain was hopeful but uncertain said to Jesus, “Lord, if you are willing…”  It was a statement of question and in my mind, the issue was whether this was wrapped in doubt or faith.  It appears to be laced with the human idea of deserving?

The leper who was an outcast, speaks to our Lord with both confidence and question. He is confident that God Can.  Multitudes in the Body of Christ are in the same boat.  They believe God can but they are uncertain if He will or if He still performs miracles today.  I cannot imagine teaching a Gospel that relegates the Miracles of Jesus to a bygone era and limits God in what He can, will, and wants to do.  If I relegate the Miracles of Jesus to a bygone era it lessens my responsibility to believe and receive.  I would then not feel the pressure to exercise faith for someone else as they faced a dire need, such as a miracle of healing.  This leper’s statement revealed his uncertainty as to the willingness of Jesus to do anything for him.  It could have been due to the way the Jews viewed leprosy.  They considered it a sign of God’s displeasure and this man, a leper, would have felt condemned and outside the scope of God’s willingness.  It could be because he did not feel he was worthy of Jesus doing this for.

The response of Jesus is encouraging and the matter of fact way that Jesus responded indicated it disappointed him that there would even be the question of willingness.  At the same time, our Lord gladly used this as a ‘teaching moment’ for the Pharisees and all who observed.  The Pharisees were appalled that anyone would touch a leper for that was taboo but Jesus demonstrated His power of disease once again, and ‘touched him’ bringing healing to the leper.  Jesus followed the Law in His instructions to the Leper for only the priest could pronounce someone clean.  Jesus knew that once this man went to the priest and the pronouncement of cleanness was given, the testimony of the leper would be spread like wildfire.

The caution or concern that I have for us today is that we sometimes tag all our prayers with “If it be your will” when the Word of God has declared His willingness to do many, if not most, of those things we are asking.  I love the clarity of John in 1 John 5:14-15, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, HE HEARS US.  And if we KNOW that He hears us in whatever we ask, we KNOW that we have the request which we have asked from Him.”  [Emphasis mine].  Do you grasp that truth?  If we ASK according to His will, He HEARS us and if He HEARS us He GRANTS the petition.  The key is determining the will and then ask.  If the Word declares it is His will then we can come boldly before the throne and ask what we will.  If we are unclear then our prayer should be to determine what the will is and then offer the petition with complete confidence that we asked according to His will and He guaranteed, He would Hear us and Grant our petition. That is incredible and wonderful.

God, bless you richly as you embark on today’s leg of your life’s journey!

 

THE TEST OF OBEDIENCE…

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Exodus 16:13-21 – “So it came about at evening that the quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. 15 When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, ” What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, ” It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat. 16 “This is what the LORD has commanded, ‘Gather of it every man as much as he should eat; you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent.'” 17 The sons of Israel did so, and some gathered much and some little. 18 When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack; every man gathered as much as he should eat. 19 Moses said to them, ” Let no man leave any of it until morning.” 20 But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them. 21 They gathered it morning by morning, every man as much as he should eat; but when the sun grew hot, it would melt.”  NASU

 

It is amazing to me that the children of Israel, having been eyewitnesses to the Miracle Working Power of God in their deliverance, would quickly revert to their confidence in the flesh.  That is not unique to them, it is a condition that has been a problem for mankind since the Garden of Eden.  Paul even addressed the Galatians and questioned how soon they had turned back from that which they had received to trusting the flesh.  Mankind has a propensity to trust what we can see rather than trusting the unseen even though it is God’s Promise.  It is almost, “What have you done for me lately?” 

Here, Israel complained about having food and God provided for them supernaturally.  In the manna, God not only provided food but also created a situation that would Test the Obedience of the people.  This food was unique in that if someone gathered much there was no excess and if they gathered little there was no lack.  The directive was that NOTHING was to be left until the morning or the next day.  Simply, you could not horde up a supply for future days.  I see several reasons for that.  The fact that it could not be carried over until the next day was to ensure their continued dependence on God and His supply.  Another is that it required their explicit obedience.  It required them to get out early, before the heat of the day and gather that which they needed for that day.  It required DEPENDENCE, OBEDIENCE, and DILIGENCE.

God is our true source.  That does not mean that we do not walk out what we are praying for and depending on God for.  We depend on Him for the anointing to carry out the objective.  We are dependent on God for His supply of our need.  God is the source, but if we sit idle in slothfulness and laziness He will not provide.  We reap WHAT we sow, we do not reap blessing if we DO NOT SOW.  Dependence is a necessary ingredient in our pursuit of His purposes and promises.

We must also be OBEDIENT for without obedience we find ourselves in rebellion and that moves us outside the protective hand of God.  Obedience is better than sacrifice.  obedience opens the door for God’s incredible blessings.  Obedience leads us in the paths of righteousness.  Disobedience separates us from God and blocks His flow of supply and anointing and robs from the Body of Christ and the Kingdom of God.  We must also be DILIGENT and actively pursue the Purposes of God in Dependence and Obedience.  It is as we pass the test of Obedience we move from Glory to Glory and Victory to Victory.

God, bless you richly as you enjoy this wonderful day in Jesus!

AARON – What A Crock, You Sound Like a Politician…

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Exodus 32:19-24 – “It came about, as soon as Moses came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing; and Moses’ anger burned, and he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain. 20 He took the calf which they had made and burned it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it over the surface of the water and made the sons of Israel drink it. 21 Then Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you, that you have brought such great sin upon them?” 22 Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord burn; you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil. 23 “For they said to me, ‘Make a god for us who will go before us; for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 24 “I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.’ So, they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”  NASU

 

Picture the situation, Moses was on the Mount receiving detailed instructions from God in a Face to Face meeting, and he took a little longer in God’s Presence than Aaron and the people are comfortable with.  They decided that Moses might be dead and they quickly reverted to the ways many had followed in Egypt, ‘like a dog returning to its vomit and a pig to wallowing in the mire.’  They wanted a security blanket of some kind and Aaron instructed them to bring their golden earrings, etc. and he purposed to make an image for them to worship.  They had seen the miracle-working power of God.  Aaron has been the spokesman before Pharaoh for Moses and HE KNEW BETTER but the flesh took over.  Aaron’s justification and excuse are quite a Crock!  He partially admitted his guilt in his excuse but then he began to spin the spin.  He explained the nervousness of the people and the concern for Moses’ delay. He then said, “I said to them, ‘whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.’  So, they gave it to me, and I threw it in the fire, and out came this calf.”  Yeah, Aaron, and I have some Ocean Front Property in East Texas I’ll sell cheap too.

Some of the excuses we make to each other and to God as to why we fail to OBEY would be laughable if there were not so tragic.  In this case, it cost the lives of about 3,000 men.  Sin is never without a price tag.  Sin never harms just the one committing the sin.  We are not islands and what we do in life impacts others as well as ourselves.  I’ve people tell me, “Well, I’m not hurting anyone to justify their actions.”  YES, YOU ARE!  There are eyes watching you and what you do and say impacts them either positively or negatively.  The old saying, I have used for years applies, “You are the only Bible some people will ever read, therefore, what is the gospel according to you?”  We are epistles, known and read among, men Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:2.

Moses was receiving the very tablets that contained the command to HAVE NO OTHER GODS but Aaron led the people in creating a false god or an idol.  They were no different than those of Paul’s day or ours.  Remember the indictment of Paul to the Galatians that they had begun in the spirit and had quickly become seduced into departing from that to trusting the flesh again?  It is by WALKING IN THE SPIRIT that we keep the flesh under control and are able to resist the temptations it brings.  It is by MAINTAINING OUR FOCUS on God that we are able to live as overcomers.  We MUST keep our eyes on Him shunning the very appearance of evil.  We keep Him and His Promises in the forefront of our minds.  We are transformed by the renewing of our minds and we bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.  We cannot walk this walk if we allow the flesh and its fears to rule over us.

Aaron participated in the delusion and then attempted to mitigate his involvement with his STORY.  I’m sure he was singing, “That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.”  But, Moses nor God was buying what he was selling.

NEVER justify sin but REPENT of it quickly and determinedly.  God’s Grace is greater than all our sin and His Mercy is from everlasting to everlasting but His wrath will wax hot if we attempt to deceive Him or ourselves.   God, bless you richly as you enjoy this day in Jesus!

TESTING WITH PROMISE…

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Exodus 15:25-26 – “There He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them. 26 And He said, ” If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the LORD, am your healer.”  NASU

 

Israel had experienced the Supernatural Deliverance from Egyptian Bondage and had repeatedly seen the hand of God move mightily on their behalf, yet, they were often not content and complained.  How like many today?  God, throughout the Bible, offers conditional promises to His people.  He places something before them that is incredible and wonderful and then says, “IF”.  It is not an “IF” as in maybe but an “IF” as in a guarantee.  The Promise is as solid and sure as God Himself.  Israel had come upon water that was not potable for the waters of Marah were bitter.  The water was undrinkable and they complained, for without potable water they would die of thirst in the wilderness. Their concern was legitimate, their propensity to complain, murmur, and grumble was not.  God showed Moses a tree and he threw the tree into the water and the waters became sweet or drinkable.  That is a marvelous miracle but God was not satisfied with simply being their convenience store and provider, He wanted something from the nation that would bring forth the SEED of Salvation.

In the statute and regulation that God gave Moses we read, “IF you give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I WILL put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the LORD, am your healer.”  The Promise is majestic and nothing short of Awesome!  However, getting to the Promise required navigating some territory that they were not accustomed and had not demonstrated the willingness or ability to do.  This was God’s way of allowing them to SEE THEIR FLAWS and RECOGNIZE their need of Him in all things and at all times.

Consider the requirements for receiving this Promise.

  • Give Ernest Heed to God.

That is far more than mental assent or simple declaration, “We believe.”  It means to carefully examine and follow explicitly listen to WHAT God is saying WHEN He is saying it and being OBEDIENT.  It is not hearing only but it is hearing.

  • Do What Is Right in His Sight.

This is important for it not doing what we think doctrinally right or what is right in our own eyes but GOD’s.  It is earnestly listening to His Word and Will and then DOING it.  It is walking out what they heard in Obedience. 

  • Give Ear to His Commandments.

It is difficult to imagine anyone being obedient in ignorance.  How can I do what is right in God’s sight if I do not know what God is saying or desiring?  They were required to KNOW the commandments, hearing them in detail and understanding their literal meaning and grasping their spiritual impact.  We need to know not only God’s acts but His ways.

  • Keep ALL His Statutes.

He did not say keep SOME of my statutes but ALL my statutes.  That is impossible without the help of the Spirit of God and the direct involvement of God in our lives.  God was giving them a lesson that would conclude in TOTAL DEPENDENCE if they were earnest and serious in their pursuit of Him.

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THE PROMISE was – “I WILL put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the LORD, am your healer.”  THAT IS AMAZING!   Imagine living in a world that is filled with disease, death, and destruction and have God’s Promise that you will be exempt from it.  This would be an excellent time to read Psalm 91 and meditate on it.  This would be an excellent time to read Psalm 103:1-5.  This would be an excellent time to remember the words of Peter in 1 Peter 2 as He remembered Isaiah 53 telling them that JESUS was their healer.  However, this promise suggests they would not need a HEALER because He was giving them HEALTH.

There is a Place of Promise in God where we can stand on the proclamation that according to Hebrews, we have a BETTER COVENANT established on BETTER PROMISES than that of the Old Covenant, and promises like the one of this text are incredible.  We should set our hearts to becoming nestled in the center of God’s will and obedient to His every word.

            God, bless you richly as you enjoy this day in Him!