Kwcht! Kwcht!

Short Shorts
~~ by tkbrown

Hurry! This offer expires 20 December 2001!

“Whoooaaaahhhhh! I can’t get there fast enough! I can’t run that fast!”

Chug-chug! Chug-chug! Kwcht! Kwcht! Kwcht!

RRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

“It was screamin’ in the night! I saw it! I heard it! buuuuttttt, I couldn’t catch it!”

“I saw it go past! It flipped my head around–it was going sooooo fasssstt! I can’t run fast enough to catch it! I just know I can’t!”

“OOOoooOOoooooohhhhhh! NNNnnnnoooooo!” echoes off the opposite canyon wall.

“Whoooaaaahhhhh! I can’t get there fast enough! I can’t run that fast!”

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Photo above: by Andrea Ferrario on Unsplash.com.

John Begins His Ministry

old antique bible as an open book with sunlight bursting from the pages

Scripture is from the Holy Bible — New King James Version (NKJV)

Notes on Scripture (below) by tkbrown

Luke 1:76-80

76 — “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,”

77 — “To give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins,”

78 — “Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;”

79 — “To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

80 — “So, the child grew and became strong in spirit and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.”

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Isaiah 40:3-5

3 — “The voice of one crying in the wilderness; prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

4 — “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth.”

5 — “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

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John prepares the way for Jesus

Matthew 3:1-12

1 — “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,”

2 — “and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!'”

3 — “For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.'”

4 — “Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.”

5 — “Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him”

6 — “and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.”

7 — “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?'”

8 — “‘Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,'”

9 — “‘and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.'”

10 — “‘and even now the ax is laid in the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

11 — “‘I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who 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 fire.'”

12 — “‘His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.'”

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Luke 3:1-20

1 — “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene,”

2 — “while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.”

3 — “And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins,”

4 — “as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness; prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.'”

5 — “‘Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways smooth;‘”

6 — “‘And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.‘”

7 — “Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized of him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?'”

8 — “‘Therefore, bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father, for I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.'”

9 — “‘And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree which does not bear fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.'”

10 — “So, the people asked him, saying, ‘What shall we do then?'”

11 — “He answered and said to them, ‘He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.'”

12 — “Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, ‘Teacher, what shall we do?'”

13 — “And he said to them, ‘Collect no more than what is appointed for you'”

14 — “Likewise the soldiers asked him saying, ‘And what shall we do?’ So, he said to them, ‘Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.'”

15 — “Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not,”

16 — “John answered, saying to all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water, but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose, He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.'”

17 — “‘ His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.'”

18 — “And with many other exhortations he preached to the people.”

19 — “But Herod the tetrarch being rebuked by him concerning Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done,”

20 — “also added this, above all, that he shut John up in prison.”

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John 1:15-28

15 — “John bore witness of Him and cried out saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'”

16 — “‘and of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.'”

17 — “‘For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.'”

18 — “‘No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father. He has declared Him.'”

19 — “Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?'”

20 — “He confessed, ‘I am not the Christ.'”

21 — “And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No.'”

22 — “Then they said to him, ‘Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?'”

23 — “He said: ‘I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.'”

24 — “Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees.”

25 — “And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?'”

26 — “John answered them, saying, ‘I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know.'”

27 — “‘It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.'”

28 — “These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan where John was baptizing.”

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Mark 1:1-8

1 — “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.”

2 — “As it is written in the Prophets: ‘Behold, I send My messenger before your face, who will prepare Your way before You.‘”

3 — “‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.'”

4 — “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”

5 — “Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.”

6 — “Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.”

7 — “And he preached, saying, ‘There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose.'”

8 — “‘I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.'”

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Notes on Scripture: by tkbrown

Above, in Luke Chapter 1:76-80, we see the instructions John received regarding his purpose in life. In accordance with Isaiah’s prophecy, he ‘grew and became strong in spirit and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel,’ at which time he did prepare the way of the Lord. He cleared the path for Jesus Christ. In this lesson, we see that he showed Israel his was a baptism ‘unto repentance,’ but Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit to actually do the cleansing of their sins and to grant salvation to each who believes He is the Son of God and abides by the commands He has given.

John grew from childhood in the deserts and came from the wilderness to Judea and the Jordanian region to reveal the imminent presentation of God’s Son. He was clothed with camel hair cinched at the waist with a belt, and his diet consisted of locusts and wild honey. His was truly a voice out of the wilderness, and he laid the way straight for the Lord. He taught that his baptism would never carry them to heaven. For that, they would require the baptism of Christ. During Christ’s ministry, we will see how we obtain that baptism. John’s message was: the One to come after him was preferred before him because He was before him.

We are shown that the Sadducees and Pharisees came to John and tried to ‘trip him up’ with questions. When they did this, John called them ‘A brood of Vipers’ and rebuked them–telling them they should bear fruit worthy of repentance if they were to receive the salvation of Jesus Christ. When they asked him to explain who he was, John told them–clearly–he was not Christ, he was not Elijah, and he was not the prophet. “So, who are you?” they asked. He responded, “‘I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness; make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.'” This explained to the priests and the Levites that the Christ had not yet been revealed, and John did not come to offer salvation, but to ‘prepare the way for the Lord.’

In the next lesson, we see that John introduced Jesus to Israel when He came to be baptized by John. We will also view Christ’s genealogy from Adam to Joseph and Mary and try to understand why that lineage is important to Christians. Then, we will see that–prior to the beginning of His ministry, Jesus went into the wilderness where he fasted and prayed for forty days. During this time, he was tempted of Satan in order that He could understand the temptations we as humans experience. This was one of the primary reasons for God sending His Son to earth–that He might understand the struggles of man in abiding by God’s law. This would aid Christ in His service as mediator between man and God. When man goes to God to ask forgiveness, Jesus understands the struggles that person has faced because He was human at one time. Thus, He is able to make intercession with God on our behalf.

As mentioned earlier, Christ offers salvation to all who believe He is the Son of God and abide in his teachings. With ‘winnowing fan’ in hand, Christ will ‘thoroughly clean the threshing floor,’ gather his wheat into the barn, and burn the chaff with ‘unquenchable fire.’

John taught them things they must change about their behavior if they were to attain the salvation offered by Christ Jesus. Repentance requires a change in behavior. John instructed them to share what they had. If one had two tunics and knew someone in need of one, they were to give to the one in need. The same with food. If one had more food than he or she would need, they should give part to someone who did not have enough. The tax collectors (who were known for taxing more than the amount assessed and thereby becoming wealthy off their own dishonesty) were to tax no more than that which was owed. The soldiers were told they must intimidate no one, and they were not to falsely accuse anyone. These are all lessons we can apply in our own lives today–especially now, with COVID-19 rampant about the world. In His ministry, Christ taught how we must live if we want Him to give us an eternal home in heaven.

Come back, join us in learning the ‘Christian way of living.’

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Week One -- Scripture: Zacharias to have Son . . . 
Week Two -- Scripture: Jesus' Birth Foretold . . . 
Week Three -- Scripture: Zacharias' son, John, is born . . .
Week Four -- Scripture: Jesus is Born . . .
Week Five -- Scripture: And Jesus Grew . . . 
Week Six -- Scripture: John Begins His Ministry . . .

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Calendar Quindecims May

by tkbrown

Commonly, ye old merry month of May
presents flowers from April's cool showers,
abundant sunshine in place of drab gray
skies brings us early harvests from forests,
vegetable gardens, berry patches
and herb gardens' aromatic promise
of summer. Bringing the dinner tables
to life with vivid visual vibrance
of color and ambience--much the same
as do our thoughts and memories of yore
tickle taste buds with mouth-watering fame
of delectable favorites and more.
All of these treasures in much more subtle
fashion as COVID-19 doth frazzle
nerves, events beyond our home-fire easel.

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Photo by: Akemy Mory on Unsplash.com

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And Jesus Grew . . .

old antique bible as an open book with sunlight bursting from the pages

Scripture is from the Holy Bible — New King James Version (NKJV)

Notes on Scripture (below) by tkbrown
Matthew 2:1-23

1 — “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem.”

2 — “saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.'”

3 — “When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.”

4 — “And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.”

5 — “So they said to him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet.'”

6 — “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.'”

7 — “Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared.”

8 — “And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, ‘Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.'”

9 — “When they heard the king, they departed, and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was.”

10 — “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.”

11 — “And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

12 — “Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.”

13 — “Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream saying, ‘Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word, for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.'”

14 — “When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt,”

15 — “and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, ‘Out of Egypt I called My Son.'”

16 — “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry, and he went forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.”

17 — “Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,”

18 — “‘A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.'”

19 — “Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,”

20 — “saying, ‘Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.'”

21 — “Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.”

22 — “But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee.”

23 — “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene.'”

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Luke 1:30

80 — “So the child grew and became strong in spirit and was in the deserts ’til the day of his manifestation to Israel.”

Luke 2:40-52

40 — “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.”

41 — “His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.”

42 — “And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.”

43 — “When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it,”

44 — “but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acuaintances.”

45 — “So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him.”

46 — “Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.”

47 — “And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.”

48 — “So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, ‘Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.'”

49 — “And He said to them, ‘Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?'”

50 — “But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.”

51 — “Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart.”

52 — “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

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Notes on Scripture: by tkbrown

So, Jesus grew in wisdom, stature and favor with both God and men. As we can see, things began to happen rather quickly in Baby Jesus’ life, but some happened not as quickly as most have touted. For example, most believe the wise men from Parthia visited twelve days after His birth (which is celebrated as Epiphany on January 6). At this time, the Parthian Maji are believed to have paid their respects via gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. According to Joseph Holleman (2019), ‘The journey from Parthia, in Babylon, to Jerusalem is approximately 500 miles. By caravan, with no major detours or disruption, this trek would have probably taken 50 to 60 days. Maybe less.” Thus, the earliest the wise men could have visited Jesus was mid-February, by modern-day calendar.

As we see in Luke 2:22, after the days of Mary’s purification according to the law of Moses, they took Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. Now, according to the Law of Moses as seen in Leviticus 2:1-4 (below), Mary and Joseph would not have left Bethlehem for Jerusalem for a minimum of forty-one days after Jesus’ birth. This says the Wise Men — or the Three Kings — could not have seen Jesus until after Mary’s purification.

When King Herod of Judea heard about the Parthian Maji who were searching for the one who had been born to rule over Judea, he requested an audience with them at his palace in Jerusalem. There, he told them he, too, wanted to worship the Young King, and he asked them to inform him of the Young King’s location. The Maji agreed to grant King Herod’s request. When they had left the palace, an angel of the Lord came to them in a dream and informed them of King Herod’s plot to kill the Young King. Thus, when they left Bethlehem, a different route was taken back to Parthia.

The angel of the Lord then appeared to Joseph in a dream, informed him of King Herod’s plan to kill Baby Jesus, and instructed him to take Mary and the Babe to Egypt where they would be safe. Joseph obeyed the angel. He arose and, in the night, took Mary and Baby Jesus away to Egypt.

When King Herod realized the Maji had evaded him, he decreed that all male children two and under in and around Bethlehem be killed. His stipulation of the age, ‘two and under’ indicates that Baby Jesus was more than a few days old. Herod had questioned the Maji extensively about their revelation of “the newborn king.” So, this indicates that the Child was probably between one and two years of age.

After King Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared again to Joseph in a dream and informed him it was now safe to return to Israel. When they arrived in Israel, Joseph learned Herod’s son was now ruler. This made Joseph fear for Jesus’ life. The angel appeared to him again in a dream to tell him to go to Nazareth in Galilee; thus “fulfilling the prophecy that Jesus would be called a Nazarene.”

Furthermore, if we look again at Leviticus 2:6-8 (below), we see that when Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem to present Baby Jesus to the Lord in the tabernacle, to atone for Mary’s impurity they were to present a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a young turtledove as a sin offering. If they could not afford the lamb, the Law of Moses allowed for them to present two young pigeons or two young turtledoves–one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering. The fact that Mary and Joseph met the latter requirement indicates they were quite poor. If the Maji had already been to pay homage to Baby Jesus, they would not have been poor. The gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh would have rendered them able to present a lamb and a bird instead of two birds.

Joseph Holleman elaborated a bit on the probable date of Christ’s birth. (Holleman is CEO of Magister Technologies Inc., and Author of “The Prosperity Clock” book series.) In all likelihood, December 25 was not the date of Christ’s birth. Since we do not know, with certainty, the actual date of His birth. this date has been set aside to remember the glorious event. Below, I have included some of Holleman’s elaboration on the subject.

The goal of the Maji was to pay homage to the infant Jesus just after the time of an extremely rare astronomical configuration, which only they were aware of, that reached its peak on March 2 of 5 B.C. right around the time that Jesus was likely born. This was also likely around the time that they began their journey,” (Holleman, 2019).

The Parthian Maji likely arrived at the place where Joseph, Mary and the infant Jesus were staying around the time of the Summer Solstice, June 21, when the Sun or the ‘Star’ was directly overhead. Jesus was likely born in late February or early March of 5 B.C.; so, he would have been around 3 or 4 months old when they arrived,” (Holleman, 2019).

Each year, Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When Jesus was twelve, they had made a day’s journey back toward home before they realized that the Young Boy was not with them. They had thought He was with a relative or friend who might have had a boy near His age. Upon realization that He was missing, they went back to Jerusalem looking for Him. Three days later they found Him in the temple both asking questions of and giving answers to the teachers who were astonished at His knowledge and understanding. When Mary reproached Jesus regarding the anxiety she and Joseph had suffered, Jesus responded, “Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business” (Luke 2:49, NKJV). They did not understand that He meant He must be about God the Father’s business, but Mary held all these things close to her heart–we are told.

Jesus grew in wisdom, stature, and favor with both God and men. Thus, He must have been a very obedient teen who listened to His elders when they spoke.

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Leviticus 2:1-8

1 — “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,”

2 — “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days, as in the days of her customary impurity she shall be unclean.'”

3 — “‘And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.'”

4 — “‘She shall then continue in the blood of her purification during thirty-three days. She shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary until the days of her purification are fulfilled.'”

5 — “‘But, if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her customary impurity, and shall continue in the blood of her purification sixty-six days.'”

6 — “‘When the days of her purification are fulfilled, whether for a son or a daughter, she shall bring to the priest a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting.'”

7 — “‘Then he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her. And she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who has borne a male or a female.'”

8 — “‘And if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she may bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons–one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering. So, the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.'”

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Next week, we will look at John’s ministry as trailblazer for Jesus and His ministry.

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Sources:

Abbott, Shari. (5 January 2020). “Did the Wise Men Arrive 12 Days After Jesus Birth? Or Was it Much Later?” Reasons for Hope–Jesus. (4 April 2020). https://reasonsforhopejesus.com/did-the-wise-men-arrive-12-days-after-jesus-birth-or-much-later/.

Holleman, Joseph. (7 August 2019). “How long did it take the 3 wise men to find Jesus?” Quora. http://www.quora.com. (12 April 2020). https://www.quora.com/How-long-did-it-take-the-3-wise-men-to-find-Jesus.

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Week One -- Scripture: Zacharias to have Son . . . 
Week Two -- Scripture: Jesus' Birth Foretold . . . 
Week Three -- Scripture: Zacharias' son, John, is born . . .
Week Four -- Scripture: Jesus is Born . . .
Week Five -- Scripture: And Jesus Grew . . . 

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Devotional: Social Distancing

Matthew 18:20 (NKJV)

“‘For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.'”

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Notes on Scripture: by tkbrown

These are trying times for people of the faith as well as for those not of the faith. People who are accustomed to attending worship services on Sundays are longing for those days to return. Those who violate the guidelines of no more than 10 in a gathering are frequently penalized by law enforcement. How do we balance our obligation to attend church services?

I encourage you to remember the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 18:20 (above). Here, Jesus knew there would be trying times when large gatherings could not meet. In fact, the disciples went through some of those times. Christians were despised by many during the first century AD. They usually met–either in the catacombs beneath the city, or they would meet house to house. This allowed them to meet in smaller groups–making them less conspicuous. The Emperor Nero was among the Roman rulers who persecuted the Christians. The apostle Peter died during Nero’s heinous rule.

So, take heart during these troubled times, and meet in small groups. Worship house to house like they did after Christ’s death. Just be very careful to ensure that social distancing is practiced. Even with these precautions, you still may contaminate others. If you are an asymptomatic carrier, you may not even know you are infecting others. If you are comfortable with the online, media worship, this is the safest procedure. If not, then please practice social distancing, and meet in small groups. This can be done under the direction of church leadership. I have seen it done. It can work.

I pray that Christians everywhere abide by the restrictions COVID-19 is placing upon us. I ask that God allow us to meet in small groups practicing social distancing in order not to infect others. I pray that God give us strength to learn the lessons intended by these troubling times and make us stronger Christians in better servitude to each other as we serve Him after these times are over. May God Bless and Keep all who practice the faith in Christ Jesus according to Christ’s teachings. I ask all in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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Image above: by Hannah Busing on Unsplash.com

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Jesus is Born

old antique bible as an open book with sunlight bursting from the pages
Scripture is from the Holy Bible–New King James Version (NKJV)
Notes on Scripture (below) by tkbrown

Matthew 1:21-25

21 — “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

22 — “So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet saying:”

23 — “‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.'”

24 — “Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,”

25 — “and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.”

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Luke 2:1-40

1 — “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.”

2 — “This census first toop place while Quirinius was governing Syria.”

3 — “So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.”

4 — “Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,”

5 — “to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.”

6 — “So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.”

7 — “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

8 — “Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.”

9 — :And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.”

10 — “Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.'”

11 — “‘For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.'”

12 — “‘And this will be a sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger,'”

13 — “‘and suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying;'”

14 — “‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!'”

15 — “So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven that the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.'”

16 — “And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the Babe lying in a manger.”

17 — “Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.”

18 — “And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.”

19 — “But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

20 — “Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.”

21 — “And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.”

22 — “Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.”

23 — “(as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’),”

24 — “and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, ‘A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.'”

25 — “And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, awaiting for the Consolation of Israel and the Holy Spirit was upon Him.”

26 — “And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”

27 — “So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law,”

28 — “he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:”

29 — “‘Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word;'”

30 — “‘for my eyes have seen Your salvation'”

31 — “‘which you have prepared before the face of all peoples.'”

32 — “‘a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.'”

33 — “And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him.”

34 — “Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, ‘Behold this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against'”

35 — “‘(yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.'”

36 — “Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity,”

37 — “and t his woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.”

38 — “And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”

39 — “So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.”

40 — “And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him.”

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Notes on Scripture: by tkbrown

As we see in Luke 2:22, after the days of Mary’s purification according to the law of Moses, they took Jesus to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord. Now, according to the Law of Moses as seen in Leviticus 2:1-4 (below), Mary and Joseph would not have left Bethlehem for Jerusalem for a minimum of forty-one days after Jesus’ birth. This says the Wise Men — or the Three Kings — could not have seen Jesus until after Mary’s purification. Therefore, the Epiphany (January 6) is not possible. Joseph and Mary were a devout Jewish couple, and they would have followed Jewish Law guidelines for her purification to the nth degree.

Leviticus 2:1-8

1 — “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,”

2 — “‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying: If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of her customary impurity she shall be unclean.'”

3 — “‘And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.'”

4 — “‘She shall then continue in the blood of her purification thirty-three days. She shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary until the days of her purification are fulfilled.'”

5 — “‘But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her customary impurity, and she shall continue in the blood of her purification sixty-six days.'”

6 — “‘When the days of her purification are fulfilled, whether for a son or a daughter, she shall bring to the priest a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting.'”

7 — “‘Then he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her. And she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who has borne a male or a female.'”

8 — “‘And if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she may bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons–one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering. So, the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.'”

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Next week, we will look at Jesus’ life from His birth to adulthood.

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Source:

Abbot, Shari. (5 January 2020). “Did the Wise Men Arrive 12 Days After Jesus’ Birth? Or Was it Much Later?” Reasons for Hope — Jesus. (4 April 2020). https://reasonsforhopejesus.com/did-the-wise-men-arrive-12-days-after-jesus-birth-or-much-later/.

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Week One -- Scripture: Zacharias to have Son . . . 
Week Two -- Scripture: Jesus' Birth Foretold . . . 
Week Three -- Scripture: Zacharias' son, John, is born . . . 
Week Four -- Jesus is Born . . .