Charity

~~ a devotional

by tkbrown

I Corinthians 13:13: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

The word “charity,” in the New King James Version (NKJV), is translated “love.” Thus, in this passage written by Paul to the Corinthians, the two words might be used interchangeably. Apparently, there were many issues concerning the Christians at Corinth. In chapter 13, Paul addresses the need for love to abound. He notes a number of achievements to be worked toward as Christians in Christ’s church; then he cautions that without “charity” or “love” none of these is worth anything in Christ’s church. Though one may attain a high level of honor, without love, that person is nothing in God’s eyes.

How often do we, today, teach the importance of “charity” or “love?” Love, or charity, should be a frequent topic of our Bible lessons. It takes extensive study on the topic to exhibit the love Christ had, and has, for His church.

Love is one character trait deserving of frequent address. Too often we “go through the motions” but they mean nothing to us. Verse 2 says:

And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing”–I Corinthians 13:2–NKJV.

Though it is possible to have faith enough to accomplish any feat—with God’s help–if I have not ”charity” or “love,” faith profits me nothing.

Faith, hope, and love are the three most essential characteristics of a Christian. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17–NKJV). “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1—NKJV) Faith is instilled by hearing, reading, and learning the word of God. It is important to follow hearing with study in order to learn the true meaning of the scripture presented. Paul told Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15–KJV). When we hear the Word, that hearing must be followed by our own private study to ensure we understand what is being said, when it was said, to whom, and about what. Thus, we learn the true meaning of the scripture uttered in our hearing.

The more we study God’s Word, the more it impresses upon us the need for love in our own character. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:43-47

43 — “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy,”

44 – “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you;”

45 – “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

46 – “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same?”

47 – “And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?”

 The more we try to emulate Christ, the more love we will extend love to others. It is a tall order to “love our enemies and do good to them.” This tells us, if we have not love we are not emulating Christ—we are but pretenders. This pretense means nothing to God and will not ensure entry into heaven. We must grow as Christians if we are to hold the love for others that Jesus requires.

A new Christian has learned to love him-/herself enough to want to spend eternity with God and Christ. A mature Christian has grown in the emulation of Christ so that love is evident. Christ laid down His life to save us. How many of us would do the same?

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Photo Above: by reenablack @pixabay.com.

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Sources:

Eds. biblegateway.com. (2021). Holy Bible – New King James Version (NKJV). 1975 by Thomas Nelson Publishers. www.biblegateway.com. (26 January 2021). www.biblegateway.com.

Eds. Biblegateway.com (2021). Holy Bible – King James Version (KJV). 1987 by Thomas Nelson Publishers. www.biblegateway.com. (26 January 2021). www.biblegateway.com.

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Living in Today

a devotional

~~ by tkbrown ~~

Scripture Source: Holy Bible — New King James Version (NKJV)

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Matthew 6:34 — “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Holy Bible — New King James Version (NKJV)

So often we hear someone refer to tomorrow and what it may bring, or another may rue something that happened a year ago. Do we not realize that when we are worried and fretting about what has already passed or what will happen in the future, we are forgetting–even neglecting–what is happening right now?

For those familiar with the 12-Step Program, the phrase, “One Day at a Time,” is heard often. It is a reminder to quit worrying about what is over and cannot be changed or what has not even arrived yet. It is a reminder to focus on “today” and the events occurring “right now.”

Some, who prefer a more crass reference to the thought might say:

“If ye have one foot in yesterday and ye other in tomorrow, ye are a-peeing all over today.”

Michael J Fox

When you think about it–crass or not–there is much truth in this saying. We simply cannot address, enjoy the events of, or resolve the problems of today, if we are rolling around on the ground wailing about yesterday or tomorrow. “. . . Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present,” Alice Morse Earle.

“The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”

Alice Morse Earle — as per Travis Dultz (below).

So, in this light, I would like to bring our attention to the woes presented in the media today. Each–and every–day, the media complains about what one politician or the other has been doing or saying. If not about what has been done or said, then about what will be done or said. We cannot do anything about the many speculations and even falsehoods found in modern media, but we can change our response to it. While it may be important to be aware of what is being touted as real in the media, it is also important to realize most of it has either already happened or is yet to occur–if it does present itself. So, worrying and fretting about what the media says does no one any good.

  • It can raise your blood pressure. — Not good for you!
  • It can cause a heart attack or stroke. — Not good for you!
  • It can drive you to drinking or doing drugs, if you are so prone. — Not good for you!
  • It can make you depressed. — Not good for you!
  • It can lead you into actions you might never consider if you had not read it or heard it on the news.

So, why does the media have such power over our lives in this day? Perhaps because we have lost the ability to focus on those thoughts, events and concerns of “this day.” When we lose this perspective, today becomes “lost” in the quagmire. Are you guilty of this?

If so, I challenge you to “grab hold” of your focus and shift it back to its intended position. Practice focusing on what is happening right now. Give “it–right now” your undivided attention! You cannot change what happened yesterday, and you cannot do anything about what may or may not happen tomorrow. So, focus on what you can do something about–whatever is happening “right now.” Only when you regain control over your focus can you do anything about the concerns that are most important–the people, places, and things in your life right now.

Yes, sometimes it is important to remember the positive events of the past to help us through the trials and tribulations of the present, but we must limit our past focus to those memories we can utilize to improve the present.

Regarding what the media is saying in reference to this or that politician, I would refer you to the thirteenth chapter of Romans (NKJV), verses one through seven:

Romans 13:1-7
  • 1 — “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.”
  • 2 — “Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.”
  • 3 — “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.”
  • 4 — “For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.”
  • 5 — “Therefore, you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.”
  • 6 — “For because of this, you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.”
  • 7 — “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”

As we, here in America–and in other parts of the world–adapt to new leadership styles in new governing authorities over the next months, many are predicting failure and trepidation. Others are touting the reduction of governmental authority and power. Which will it be? Only time can tell the true tale of what lies ahead. One thing is certain, living in a mode of fear and dread will only exacerbate the situation and make it worse. Therefore, I would caution against deciding now what next month, or next year, will hold. In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Sometimes we make the events of our lives worse than they would normally be by worrying and creating a “Self-fulfilling Prophecy.” Sometimes we actually create the very problem we worry might occur.

“In 1948, Robert K Merton coined the term, “self-fulfilling prophecy” to describe a false definition of the situation evoking a behavior which makes the originally false conception come true. . . . “

Derek Schaedig.

It will help us to remember, God says He put the current leaders into power, and we are to be subject to them. We are not to denigrate and denounce the powers that be. We are not to oppose the powers that be. That does not say we cannot work for change, but if we do, we must do it in a respectful manner toward the present powers that be–because those powers are ordained of God.

Hopefully, the thoughts presented in today’s devotional will help with some problem you are facing today. If it does, please let me know that in the comments section below. Just a general summary statement is good–do not feel you are being asked to give personal details. This might make you uncomfortable, and I would never intentionally do that. If you like what has been presented here, click the “Like” button and share it forward. Thank You Much!

I pray that we might always be reminded to keep life as simple as possible by focusing on the “right here, right now” instead of allowing the past or the future to complicate things. May we always look to God, His Son, and His Word for guidance in coping with concerns of this day! Blessings!

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Sources:

Dultz. Travis. (27 August 2015). “Who said ‘Yesterday is history tomorrow is a mystery today is a gift?'” Yesterday Tomorrow Today Phrase Origin. yesterdaytomorrowtodaypresent.blogspot.com. (15 November 2020). http://yesterdaytomorrowtodaypresent.blogspot.com/2015/08/yesterday-tomorrow-and-today-phrase.html.

Schaedig, Derek. (24 August 2020). “Self-Fulfilling Prophecy and The Pygmalion Effect. Simply Psychology. simplypsychology.org. (15 November 2020). https://www.simplypsychology.org/self-fulfilling-prophecy.html#:~text=A%20self%2Dfulfilling%20prophecy%20is,ways%20which%20confirm%20the%20expectations.

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Photo Above: from Public Domain Images @ pixabay.com.

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My Morning Do . . . “Blessings”

~~ by tkbrown

20 September 2020 — This morning, I decided to do a search for scriptures related to blessings we are to give others. This is the flip side of receiving blessings from God through Jesus Christ. The scriptures abound regarding blessings from God–a topic of which I needed no convincing. God Blesses me daily in some way–at least once a day! I am ever thankful to Him for that! The convincing I needed was regarding my certainty I had seen scriptures depicting ‘our blessings granted to other people.’

Thus, my reasoning for searching out scriptures related to blessings from us to others is based on the topic of us receiving Blessings from God. When Jesus came to earth, through His life, He left an example of how we are to live. Since He regularly proffered blessings upon others, it seemed to me we must proffer blessings upon others. After all, to be a “Christian” means to be “like Christ,” “Christ like,” etc. Christ was always in prayer to God, thus I try to “pray without ceasing” as the apostle Paul taught us. So, I began my search . . . .

I found three New Testament scriptures related to us offering blessings to others. What intrigues me, is: We are to bless “those who curse us, those who render us evil, and those who revile us.” This is so very intriguing to me. I would have thought we should bless those needing encouragement. Then, when I thought on it, these would be precisely the ones needing encouragement in order to learn to live like Christ lived. This says, I am to bless those who practice witchcraft. I am to bless those who practice all manner of evil–which is Satanic, and I am to bless those who revile me. In other words, whatever the form of persecution directed toward me, I am to deflect it with a blessing in return. This would say, too, when someone does or does not agree with me, I should bless them. So, I believe my tendency to end my comments and responses with “Blessings!” is not a put-down or telling you I am being persecuted. I believe it is to be received in the Spirit intended–which is: “I care about you and any sufferings you may be going through, thus, I am blessing you in hopes of minimizing any suffering you may be receiving. When I do this, God Blesses me! Amazing! Simply Amazing!

Thank You, Jesus, for such a simple message in a world of such complexity!

Below, I leave you with the three New Testament Passages I found related to us giving blessings to others. If you know of any I missed, please comment and let me know their location. Also, please comment below and let me know what you thing of “Blessings” extended as a Sign-off Salutation.

Blessings to all!

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Romans 12:14 — “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”

Luke 6:27, 28

  • 27 — “But I say to you who hear, ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,'”
  • 28 — “‘bless those who curse you and pray for those who spitefully use you.'”

1 Peter 3:8, 9

  • 8 — “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous,”
  • 9 — “not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”

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Photo Above: by sachbearbeitung at pixabay.com.

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My Morning Do . . . “Patriotism”

~~ by tkbrown

11 September 2020 — On 11 September 2001, 19 years ago today the attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City ripped into the hearts of most Americans. For most of the next decade, Americans locked arms in an almost seamless patriotic revival. Our country had been attacked on American mainland soil, and the shock rebounded in a patriotic wave strong enough to buoy the Spirit of America. Patriotism became “the wind beneath the wings” that kept America strong.

Today, something has changed in America–and I think not in a good way. The accusations of racism in part have been true, but not to the extent the protests and riots have portended. There is a difference in “protests” and “riots”. Rioting has no place in America. It destroys everyone’s peace. The movement has seemingly embraced racism by black people in America toward the white population. One wrong does not justify a second wrong. Rioting, looting, vandalism, arson, and graffiti have marred what were once beautiful residential and business settings throughout America–with virtually no opposition.

I realize unnecessary pain has spurred much of this movement, but I challenge America to listen to the message of God’s word. In Romans 12:21, the apostle Paul said, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Yes, lives have been lost unnecessarily, but millions of dollars in damages to Americans who had no part of those instances does not bring those lives back. Nothing will bring them back. The anger toward those who took those lives is understood,. This heartless assault on America by fellow Americans is not understood. It is ripping America apart, pitting one against another–and it must stop. We must once again pull together and make America strong as it once was. We must return to the patriotic unity we embraced 19 years ago today and talk bout our differences over a table while sharing coffee. Destroying America will not solve anyone’s problems–and I fear it is making racism return, not rendering it harmless.

I ask all who are reading this to begin daily prayers for this unrest to end, for patriotism and unity to return in a country founded upon love of God’s righteousness. “United we stand. Divided we fall!” — Aesop.

One evil does not justify two. The sins of one does not scripturally justify reciprocal sin. As I close, I would like to leave a few scriptures for your reflection:

Romans 3:23 — “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Isaiah 5:20 — “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; . . . “

Romans 12:19 — “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

Deuteronomy 32:32 — “Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; their foot shall slip in due time, for the day of their calamity is at hand and the things to come hasten upon them.”

Seeking vengeance with your own hand never resolves any problem, it only leaves a gaping would where a scratch once stood.

Have a blessed day!

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Photo Above: by motivationforgood @pixabay.com.

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Jesus is Tempted by Satan

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

Notes on Scripture (below) by tkbrown

Matthew 4:1-11

1 — “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”

2 — “And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.”

3 — “Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.'”

4 — “But He answered and said, ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'”

5 — “Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple.”

6 — “and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you.’ and ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'”

7 — “Jesus said to him, ‘It is written again, You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'”

8 — “Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.”

9 — “And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.'”

10 — “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only you shall serve.'”

11 — “Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.”

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Prophecy

v4 — Deuteronomy 8:3 — “So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.”

v6 — Psalm 91:11, 12

11 — “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”

12 — “In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”

v7 — Deuteronomy 6:16 — “You shall not tempt the Lord your God as you tempted Him in Massah.”

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Related New Testament Scriptures

v11 — James 4:7 — “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

v11 — Hebrews 1:14 — “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who will inherit salvation?”

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Mark 1:11-13

11 — “Then a voice came from heaven, ‘You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'”

12 — “Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.”

13 — “And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with wild beasts, and the angels ministered to Him.”

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Related New Testament Scriptures

v11 — Matthew 3:17 — “And suddenly a voice came from heaven saying, ‘This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'”

v11 — Matthew 12:17, 18

17 — “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying;”

18 — “‘Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to the Gentiles.'”

v12 — Matthew 4:1-11 (See above.)

v12 — Matthew 4:10, 11 (See above.)

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Luke 4:1-14

1 — “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.”

2 — “being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days, He ate nothing, and afterword, when they had ended, He was hungry.”

3 — “And the devil said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.'”

4 — “But Jesus answered him saying, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.'”

5 — “Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment in time.”

6 — “And the devil said to Him, ‘All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.'”

7 — “‘Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.'”

8 — “And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'”

9 — “Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here.'”

10 — “‘For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you.'”

11 — “‘and, ‘in their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'”

12 — “And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'”

13 — “Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.”

14 — “Then Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and news of Him went out through all the surrounding region.”

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Prophecy

v4 — Deuteronomy 8:3 — “So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.”

v8 — Deuteronomy 6:13 — “You shall fear the Lord your God and serve Him and shall take oaths in His name.”

Deuteronomy 10:20 — “You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name.”

v9 — Matthew 4:5-7 (See above.)

v10 — Psalm 91:11 — “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.”

v11 — Psalm 91:12 — “In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.”

v12 — Deuteronomy 6:16 — “You shall not tempt the Lord your God as you tempted Him in Massah.”

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Related New Testament Scriptures

v1 — Matthew 4:1-11 (See above.)

v13 — Hebrews 4:15 — “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

v14 — John 4:43 — “Now after the two days He departed from there and went to Galilee.”

v14 — Acts 10:37 — “. . . that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached.”

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Notes on Scripture: by tkbrown

Here, I have presented the Scriptures which portray Jesus’ forty days and forty nights of fasting and prayer in the wilderness when Satan tempted Him. These Scriptures are found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. While there may be slight differences in the wording of each account of the event, these are no more than would be found if three witnesses in a court of law presented accounts of a specific incident. This is important in the fact that all three testimonials also coordinate with Old Testament prophecy related to these Scriptures and with related Scriptures in the New Testament. Thus, we have ‘rightly divided the Word of Truth’ with regard to this event in Jesus’ life.

Forty days and forty nights is a long time to be without food, but this was done to show that Jesus’ Spirit form and the angels ministering to Jesus was sufficient to satisfy His human needs. This is another example of how God takes care of those who do His will. Jesus was tempted of Satan so we can know He understands the temptations we endure at Satan’s hand.

As our High Priest, Jesus’ understanding of our weaknesses regarding temptation is important. Had He never come to Earth in human form, He could never have truly understood our weakness or the desire to give in when Satan tempts us. God realized this was a faltering point in His righteous understanding of these weaknesses in man. Thus, Jesus understanding of the tendency to give in to temptations gives Him the ability to ‘argue our case’ with God and mediate with Him on our behalf. Hebrews 4:15 tells us this was God’s plan. We can look at the Scripture presented in Romans 3:21-26 to see how this all fits together.

Romans 3:21-26

21 — “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets,”

22 — “even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;”

23 — “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

24 — “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”

25 — “whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed,”

26 — “to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

This well-known passage from Romans chapter 3 ties in to Satan’s temptation of Jesus and of man in his struggles to overcome temptation. God’s righteousness puts Him in a position of not fully understanding these trials. Through the centuries, the Jewish Law as given to Moses on Mount Sinai allowed Jesus’ forbearance and atonement (propitiation) of their sins to go back and cover all those sins that God had passed over before Christ was born. Now, God is shown to “be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).

Jesus is now ready to begin His ministry on Earth. In our next lesson, we will see Jesus begin to select His disciples as he begins to preach and to teach the multitudes. Join us as we look closely at each account of this process as presented in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

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Lesson One -- Scripture: Zacharias to Have Son . . . 
Lesson Two -- Scripture: Jesus' Birth Foretold . . . 
Lesson Three -- Scripture: Zacharias' Son, John, is Born . . . 
Lesson Four -- Scripture: Jesus is Born . . . 
Lesson Five -- Scripture: And Jesus Grew . . .
Lesson Six -- Scripture: John Begins His Ministry . . . 
Lesson Seven -- Scripture: Jesus is Introduced to the World . . . 
Lesson Eight -- Scripture: Jesus' Ancestral Lineage
Lesson Nine -- Scripture: Jesus is Tempted By Satan

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Photo above by: kieutruongphoto @pixabay.com.

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