The Mysterious Almond Tree

“Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying ‘Jeremiah, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘I see a rod of an almond tree'” (Jeremiah 1:11).

There are many symbols used in the Scriptures, earthly elements to provide revelation and insight into spiritual things. Oil, wine, bread, gold, silver, are all used in a fashion to give us a picture of things unseen. It is not often one hears of the Almond Tree in this way; but the mysterious Almond Tree has many secrets to reveal.

“Then said the Lord unto me, ‘You have well seen; for I will hasten My Word to perform it'” (Jeremiah 1:12).

Almond Tree (Heb): Shaqed from Shaqad: The Almond Tree being in full bloom; Shaqad: To be alert, sleepless; to be on the lookout; to be awake

In this prophetic exchange the Lord is advising the Prophet that what Jeremiah saw was a symbol of the actions that were about to be taken by the Almighty. The Lord, Who “neither slumbers nor sleeps” (cf. Psalms 121:4) was going to be awake, alert and ready to hasten, or be early on His watch to accomplish His purpose in Israel. It is of note that the Almond Tree is called “the waking tree”, or “waking fruit” with its early blossoms in the Spring. It is a kind of first fruit of the Season.

The Almond Flower was incorporated into the Candlestick in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle of Moses. The ever awake, ever alert, sleepless watcher, was built into the construction of the ever burning, light bearing Candlestick. There were “three bowls made like to almonds with a knop and a flower in one branch and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower; so in the six branches that come out of the Candlestick. And in the Candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers” (Exodus 25:33-34). The symbolism is hard to miss with the inspiration of the Spirit dictating to Moses the pattern shown Him on the Mount.

What is this speaking to us for our day, for our time? We, the Church, the Candlestick of the Lord (cf. Revelation 1:20), the Light of the World, must not only shine the Light of Christ, but be ever alert, ever awake to the needs of the world, and be ever ready to hasten to move in the Spirit to fulfill the purpose of God. The events of the world today are happening in rapid succession, and we must be on rapid response with answers for the suffering and the dying souls of mankind.

Aaron’s Rod That Budded: “And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the Tabernacle of Witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the House of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds” (Numbers 17:8). What a miraculous sign it was to the people to confirm the Priesthood of Aaron against those who rose up to challenge the authority God had placed among the People to govern and lead them as the People of God. The Rod, the symbol of authority, was transformed from a dead stick, to a life-giving, fruitful instrument in the hand of the Anointed Priest.

The Lord is speaking to us today that He will hasten to fulfill His word as it flows from His confirmed authority, the Ekklesia, the Church of the Firstborn, to produce life out of death from His Life-Giving Spirit that abides in His Body; that we will go forth in the authority of His Word to bear much fruit, even in dry places, and to carry the Gospel to the ends of the world, even to the end of the age.

The Mysterious Almond Tree is here and by the Spirit of God has been woven into the fabric of the Gospel. Let it speak to us to hasten to be fruitful, ever awake, ever alert and ever ready to shine with the Light and Life of Jesus.

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Dedicated to the One I Love

“Absalom had set up a monument and dedicated it to himself in the Kings’s Valley. . .” (II Samuel 18:18).

Dedicated: (Heb. Qadash): To pronounce clean, consecrated, appointed and kept hallowed

That which we love becomes self-evident by our dedication of time, talent and treasure. Absalom loved himself and dedicated his time, talent and treasure to his ambitious goal of becoming King. He usurped his father David’s throne, took his concubines and palace possessions; but in the end died an ignoble death when his hair got caught in the branches of the trees of the forest of Ephraim (cf. II Samuel 18:9,14).

Another son of David, Soloman, also dedicated his time, talent and treasure to building the Temple of the Lord, in fulfillment of his father’s heart of love for God to make a resting place for the Holy Presence of the Lord in Jerusalem (I Kings 7:51; 8:63). “When Soloman finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the Splendor of the Lord filled the Temple. The priests were unable to enter because the Lord’s splendor filled the Temple” (II Chronicles 7:1-2).

What is in your heart to love and dedicate your time, talent and treasure? What attracts your heart to give such devotion? What animates your spirit to pursue such ambitious dreams? Is it to make for yourself a name, to bring you fame, to be raised to a position of power, or to have abundance of wealth? Is your dedication of this earth? For self? For your glory? Or is your heart dedicated to the One you love, to lay down your life as a sacrifice and offering for the glory of God?

There was in the days of Artaxerxes, King of Persia, a Priestly Scribe named Ezra. Ezra was dedicated to the study of the Law of the Lord, to observe it and to teach its Statutes and Judgments in Israel (cf. Ezra 7:10). The King honored his dedication and sent him to Jerusalem to administer the Law in the Temple of God. Dedicated to study; dedicated to live out what he learned; and dedicated to teach the living Word of the Lord. Ezra was truly dedicated to the One he loved.

Today we study the Scriptures because they were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and are useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who is dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work (cf. II Timothy 3:16-17). Dedication to God has its benefits and the greatest of these is Love. Now, you can dedicate your life to Him.

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The Way Forward is Through

” Go through, go through the gates; prepare the way of the people, cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people” (Isaiah 62:10).

In this journey of life there are many obstacles, challenges, roadblocks that would stymie us and cause us to quit, return to the past, detour from our pathway; but the Lord is saying in this hour and season, “the way forward is through”.

The Children of Israel passed through the Red Sea and through the Jordan River (cf. Numbers 33:8; Joshua 3:16; 4:23; Psalms 78:13) on their way from Egypt and on their way into the Promised Land. This word, “the way forward is through” is not a philosophy for successful living; rather, it is a word of the Lord. Philosophy will not overcome impossible obstacles; but the divine interventions of the Lord will, as we walk by faith in obedience to His commands, even as Moses and Joshua did in their time.

We are being called upon to live through these days, and not try to find some escape. We have to go through the “gates of hell” (cf. Matthew 16:18) and by the promise of God they will not prevail against us. We have to go through many trials and tribulations (cf. Acts 14:22) to make our way into the Kingdom of God.

Jesus went through Samaria (cf. John 4:4) to save the people of Sychar after He spoke to the woman at the well. Jesus went through Jerusalem to the crucifixion before He entered His Glory in the resurrection. Paul went through Rome in his mission to evangelize the world.

What is God taking you through? Be encouraged, it is the Lord Himself who is taking you to your destiny. Did He not say, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee” (Isaiah 43:2)? Go through, go through the gates, enter into the Kingdom and come out on the other side.

These are as the days of Noah who went through the Flood in the ark prepared beforehand. In like manner there is a place prepared of God in the Spirit in which we can abide and go through these days with enduring confidence in Christ, our Lord (cf. 1 Peter 3:20-21).

Indeed, the way forward is through. Let these words sink deep into your spirit and go forth in triumph in the mighty name of Jesus.

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Poured Out Wine

“But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice together with all of you” (Philippians 2:17).

Being a Pharisee, the Apostle was very much aware of the figure of speech he employed in his Epistle to Phillipi. Paul was fully versed in the Old Covenant Levitical system of sacrifices and offerings of bulls, rams, lambs, goats, offerings of grain, salt, oils and drink offerings of wine. His metaphor is not lost and is poignant in that the shedding of his own blood was imminent. His writing was prophetic of his own demise stating further, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand” (II Timothy 4:6).

In our casual lifestyles and leisure, we are in danger of losing what was given to us by the grace of God, a Gospel to preach, a Gospel to live out, a Gospel that in the bare essence speaks to sacrifice and service in the Lord, who is the supreme sacrifice and who’s own blood like wine was poured out on the Cross.

There is a sweetness and tenderness to this offering up of our lives as a drink offering “on the sacrifice and service of your faith”. Are we missing this message in our listening and reading of the Word? Has prosperity and blessing overtaken the more fundamental living out of the Life of Christ? Are we in danger of becoming as the Pharisees who “tithed mint, and anise and cumin, but have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith” (cf. Matthew 23:23). Indeed, there are many things we as believers should do, but we must not leave the more weightier matters undone.

The Prophet Joel spoke of these things in his day when he cried out, “Wail, you who minister at the altar. Come spend the night in sackcloth, you servants of my God, because no one brings grain offerings or drink offerings to the temple of your God anymore. Announce a holy fast; proclaim a sacred assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the temple of the Lord your God and cry out to the Lord. How awful that day will be! For the Day of the Lord is near; it will come as destruction from the Divine Destroyer. Our food has been cut off right before our eyes! There is no longer any joy or gladness in the Temple of our God. The grains of seed have shriveled beneath their shovels. Storehouses have been decimated, and granaries have been torn down, because the grain has dried up. Listen to the cattle groan! The herds of livestock wander around in confusion because they have no pasture. Even the flocks of sheep are suffering. To you, O Lord, I call out for help” (Joel 1:13-19).

The days ahead are going to be full of trouble for many. What has God called you to do? The fields of souls are white to harvest, while the natural fields will suffer crop shortages and drought. Will you be as Paul, a servant to Christ? or be as Paul further wrote to Timothy in the same Epistle, “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed to Thessalonica” (II Timothy 4:10a).

In these coming days our faith will be sorely tested as to what nature we have, the Divine Nature of Christ, or the old nature of self-seeking and self-preservation. These are the days for all of us to come together as the saints of God to offer up to the Lord a poured-out drink offering of our own blood, sweat and tears in sacrifice, service and worship to the Lamb.

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Holy Ground

“The Lord said, ‘Draw not near, put off your shoes from off your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground'” (Exodus 3:5).

“The Captain of the Lord’s Host said to Joshua, ‘Loose your shoe from off your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy'” (Joshua 5:15).

Holy: (Heb. Qodesh): A sacred place or thing, sanctity, consecrated, dedicated, hallowed, clean

Contemplate that mysterious phrase, “the place on which you stand”. It begs the question, ‘Where am I standing?’ Have I encountered the holy? Am I anywhere near the holy? Hopefully, the answer to that question is yes. If it is yes, what is my response?

In your encounters with the holy what do you feel? Comfortable, want to stay there, don’t want to move, just abide? Fear, want to run away and hide, shame? Our reaction to the Presence of the holy tells the story of our relationship with God. Is the holy strange, foreign, unusual; or is it wonderful, glorious, reviving, strengthening, empowering?

For Moses and Joshua, the Presence of the Holy was the encounter that changed everything. For Moses it was the call to deliver the Children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt; for Joshua, it was the command to go forth in the battle at Jericho and achieve victory when the walls came tumbling down.

Ground: (Heb. Adamah, from Adam): Soil, earth, land (Adam: To show blood, be flush, or rosy in the face, red, ruddy)

The Lord has given us a holy place in which to dwell, to abide; it is the holy ground of our mortal body. For those who are in Christ we now have a mortal body that has been consecrated, dedicated, hallowed, made clean and sanctified by the Presence of the Holy, the very Spirit of Christ who dwells in us. This “earthen vessel” (cf. II Corinthians 4:7), this Adam, that shows blood in the face, shines with the glory of God as the very Temple of the Holy Spirit.

Too many of us despise our bodies, instead of seeing our bodies for what they were intended to be: “instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:13); “vessels of honor” (II Timothy 2:20); Temples of the Holy Spirit” (I Corinthians 3:16). Holy Ground, indeed.

What then are we to do while in these mortal bodies, these earthen vessels, these vessels of clay? Keep your feet clean, keep your walk before the Holiness of God free from things that defile, that sully and make dirty. Jesus said to the Apostle Peter, “He that is washed needs not, except to wash his feet; but he is clean every whit, and you are clean. . .” (John 13:10). Yes, the ground is holy, the vessel is clean, and has become an instrument of righteousness; indeed, the vessel of honor is ready for the Master’s use. That is how it should be with those who are called to be saints (cf. Romans 1:7; I Corinthians 1:2). Those who are the sanctified in Christ Jesus.

The Apostle wrote concerning these things to the Church at Rome: “I beseech you, therefore, Brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). We have been given a standing in Christ. It is a standing by grace through faith into the very Presence of the Holy where we are accepted in the Beloved.

With this understanding, perhaps we will find new meaning to the old song:

Holy Ground

We are standing on holy ground, and I know there are angels all around. Let us praise Jesus now. We are standing in His Presence on holy ground.

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Guard Your Heart

“Guard your heart with all diligence; for out from it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

Guard: (Heb. Natsar): Protect, maintain, keep, preserve, watch, observe

Issues: (Heb. Towtsa’ah): Goings forth, outgoings, boundaries

To get to the heart of the matter, our hearts are the pivotal points in our actions, discourses, courses or paths we take; decisions we make, and commitments we keep. Therefore, guarding our hearts could not be of any more importance in maintaining our equilibrium in the outgoings, or outflow of life.

How is it with your heart, the seat of your affections, affinities, desires, and intentions? Is your heart steadfast, firm, rooted and grounded in the Word of God and in the Holy Spirit? To stay in that holy place in the Lord requires constant vigilance, and protections from the onslaughts of life and wiles of the devil.

The heart needs constant maintenance to protect it from the wear and tear of daily living. The heart needs refreshing, restoration, renewal and revival. The constant bombardment of events and activities surrounding us can break our hearts, grieve us, crush us and stop us from advancing in our journey in our life in the Spirit. The heart needs protection and a guard to preserve and keep it in the times of trouble.

The heart needs daily cleansing and washing in the Water of the Word. The Psalmist cried: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalms 51:10). Cleansing and renewal come by daily attentiveness to the will of the Lord and taking heed to His Word (cf. Psalms 119:9). The Lord is a Sword and Shield to the saints in our distress (cf. Deuteronomy 33:29). It is only by putting our complete trust in Him that our hearts are protected and kept in safety.

Issues: The goings forth, the outgoings from our hearts will tell the world the condition of the heart. Jesus said, “A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil; for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). The “abundance of the heart” the “good treasure” or “evil treasure” is brought forth through the mouth by speaking words of love, joy, comfort, peace, or words of hate, abuse, fear and torment. Oh, how we need to guard our hearts, lest we cause offense, strife and confusion and every evil thing.

Diligently seek the Lord. Fervently pray at all times. Be vigilant, watchful, awake and discerning. Live out of your spirit and listen intently to the voice of the Lord. Be on guard for evildoers, and walk circumspectly for the days are evil (cf. Ephesians 5;15).

Yes, we have come to the heart of the matter, and the heart of the matter is we have to be on our guard. We have to set a watchman over our hearts to preserve, protect and defend it all the days of our sojourn in the land of the living that the Lord our God has given to us to enjoy in our life-long service to Him.

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Annual Missions Appeal

Thank you to everyone whose prayers and donations to AntiochCMI has made it possible for us to provide continuous support for Missions in Ireland, Mexico, and Ethiopia, which have been our primary ministries focus.

With an ever-growing vision to expand to other areas this year’s Missions Appeal is your opportunity to share from your heart your willingness to give to these worthy Ministries. Please click on the Donations tab and visit the homepages of our current Missions Support Organizations:

Fire Ministries International – Ireland Mission

NANA Ministry – Mexico Mission

Greenstone Ministry – Ethiopia Mission

You can give directly to these organizations through their websites, or through AntiochCMI at our Donations page.

Have questions? Just click on our Contact Us tab and we will respond to your inquiries.

Giving can be through Paypal (see Donations tab), or through Cash App at $JamesMcCardell (linked to AntiochCMI bank account). One Hundred Percent (100%) of your giving will go directly to our support charities. Just note which charity you prefer, or to Where Needed and we will direct your gift to where the needs arise.

In these trying times the needs are great and your gift, large or small, will help some child, or minister in one of our support countries be blessed.

Thank you so much for your prayers and your donations as the Lord directs your heart in this 2022 Annual Missions Appeal.

From our hearts to yours,

James McCardell, Founder and President

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Antioch Christian Ministries, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit Arizona Corporation. Your donations are tax deductible for Federal and State Income Tax filings. EIN #: 86-0731261. Contact: Phone: 1-623-934-3086 or Email: Antiochcmi@Outlook.com.

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Paradise

“Today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).

Paradise (Gr. Paradeisos, from Pardec): A park, orchard, garden, a place of future bliss

Paradise is a very real place though not of this earthly realm. It is a heavenly realm in the Spirit. It is a place of which words cannot convey. It is a place of glorious splendor and beauty. The Apostle Paul was taken there as he describes in his second Epistle to the Corinthians:

“I knew a man in Christ over fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I cannot tell, or whether out of the body I cannot tell, God knows). Such a one was caught up to the third heaven. He was caught up into Paradise and heard unspeakable words which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (II Corinthians 12:2,4).

These two witnesses to Paradise, Jesus and the Apostle Paul, give us strong evidence of the reality of this garden park, this orchard, this place of bliss, happiness and extreme joy.

Jesus told us He is going to prepare a place for us in His Father’s House and within that glorious Estate is the Paradise of God (cf. John 14:3).

The Apostle John in his visions in Revelation says in the Letter to Ephesus: “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches. To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the Tree of Life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7).

The Paradise of God. There is something glorious upon which to contemplate regarding this Paradise of God. Heavenly splendor, brilliance of Light, the River and Tree of Life, ineffable glorious beauty; indeed, too marvelous of which to speak. It is enough to know of its glorious Eternal Reality and that it awaits those that overcome.

“Awake, O North wind, and come thou South, blow upon My Garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let My Beloved come into His Garden, and eat His pleasant fruits” (Song of Songs 4:16).

Do you sense the fragrance of Paradise? Does the zephyr of the Holy Spirit draw you to that place of tranquility, peace, joy, ecstasy and delight? You do not have to be a mystic to enjoy this rapturous estate. The Psalmist said, “You will show me the path of Life; in Thy Presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures forevermore” (Psalms 16:11).

The Apostle said he was “caught up into Paradise”. The Prophet Elijah experienced this catching away when “it came to pass, as they (Elijah and Elisha) went on and talked; then, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (II Kings 2:11). Oh, the glory of the great catching away we will all share upon the return of our Lord in that glorious day when He declares again, “This day you shall be with Me in Paradise”.

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The Bond of Perfection

“Above all put on love which is the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:14).

In all of life there is always, when enumerating anything, the highest and best, the “above all” which is the perfect. In the Apostle’s discourse in his Epistle, he enumerates virtues that we esteem highly among our higher values: mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness (cf. Colossians 3:12-13); but “above all” there is “love” the “bond of perfection”.

Bond: (Gr. Sundesmos, from sun, desmon): a band, ligament, shackle, joint tie, uniting principle, control

Perfection: (Gr. Teleiotes, from Teleios): of full age, the state of completeness

We know God is good, merciful, kind, patient, and forgives us when we fail; but above all God is Love. The Apostle John knew well of this Love calling himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved (cf. John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20). Then in John’s First Epistle he spoke frequently of the God of Love and the bond of perfection that comes from Him (I John 3:17; 4:7-12, 16, 20-21).

Bonding with God in love comes from being birthed into Him by the Spirit. This bonding is perfect and brings us into holiness, truth, and into God’s love. The Holy God is in the bonds of love with His Son, the bond of perfection; and we, the communion of saints in Christ, are held together in unity and in the “bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3) in the Son of God’s love, the Beloved.

The Apostle Paul described Christ as the Head of His Body, “from Whom all the Body by joints and bands (sundesmos) having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increases with the increase of God”. The bond of perfection in the love of God is nourishment to the spirit and is the unifying joint tie, the ligament that keeps us bound together in one Body in Him.

It is the desire of God, the Father, that we grow into the maturity and fulness of the stature of Christ, unto the perfect (teleios) man, into a state of completion. We must cease being children carried away with every wind of doctrine by those who seek to deceive (cf. Ephesians 4:14). This will be accomplished as we above all put on love, the controlling power of perfection for those of full age and maturity in the Lord.

The Greatest of These: We all know the power of faith, the joyful expectation of hope and the virtue of love. Yes, indeed, as the Apostle so well described in the Love Chapter of I Corinthians 13: “And now abides faith, hope and love, these three, but the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13). Love, the above all, the highest, the best, the bond of perfection.

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It’s The Anointing

“The Lord spoke to Moses and said. . .prepare the sacred Anointing Oil. . .Anoint with it the Tent of the Presence and the Ark of the Testimony, the Table. . .the Lampstand. . .the Altar of Incense, the Altar of Burnt Offering. . .You shall consecrate them, and they shall be Most Holy” (Exodus 30:1a,25-29a) NEB

There are in the interplay between God and Man, between the heavenly and the earthly, between the invisible and the visible, symbols, types and shadows to provide a visible and tangible expression of the holiness of the Divine. Anointing oil is one such symbol of the sacred Presence.

Prophets, Priests and Kings were consecrated to the Lord through the pouring over them of the precious Anointing Oil which though physical in nature was the manifest expression of the reality of the Spirit of God (cf. Exodus 29:7; 40:9; Leviticus 8:12).

The Anointing Oil is poured out for consecration for service to God, physical healing for the body, and an outward sign of Holiness to the Lord.

Anointed: (Heb. Mashiyach, from Mashach): To be anointed with oil, consecrated, Messiah

The Anointed One, the Messiah: The Anointed One, was the One of whom the Prophets spoke (cf. Daniel 9:25-26; Psalm 2:2; I Samuel 2:35). This is the One Who bears upon Himself the witness and expression of the Holy. Thus Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled the words of Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because He has Anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn” (Isaiah 61:1-2; Luke 4:18-19).

Anointing: (Gr. Chrisma, from Chrio): To make contact through smearing or rubbing with oil, to consecrate to an office, an unction or special endowment, The Holy Spirit

“But the Anointing which you have received of Him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you, but as the same Anointing teaches you all things, and is the Truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in Him” (I John 2:27).

This is the blessedness of being in Christ, in the Anointed One, and the blessedness of having the Anointed One abiding in us (cf. John 15:4). It’s the Anointing working in us, teaching us all things, revealing the Truth, guiding, instructing, correcting, encouraging us to continue in the Light and Life of the Word. It’s by the Anointing you have been consecrated in the Anointed One, our Prophet, Priest and King, so that even now as you abide in Him, you are Most Holy unto the Lord.

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