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Matthew’s Interesting Genealogy Of Jesus

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
(Matthew 1:2-16 ESV)

Today we read the genealogy of Jesus as recorded by Matthew. The Greek word for “genealogy” here is γένεσις (pronounced: ghen’-es-is) which means “origin”.

This genealogy is very interesting for a few reasons. First, all the people in this list are real. They are human. Hence, Jesus was human. He has His origins in humanity. Interestingly, in a couple of days we’ll read that Jesus has a second γένεσις (origin) that is not human but is divine. Jesus was both man and God.

Notice also that Jesus’ ancestors are all sinners. David, while being a good king, was a seducer, an adulterer, and a murder. Solomon had a sex addiction. Rehoboam was a tyrant. There’s not one person in this list whose hands are clean. Jesus descended from sinners, just like all of us.

Surprisingly Matthew’s genealogy also includes four women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba (not named, but referred to as the wife of Uriah). It would have been very unusual for a Jewish genealogy to include women. Even more unusual is the fact that three of these women – Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth – were Gentiles. Matthew seems to be telling us that no one is outside of God’s plan. Although women and Gentiles were looked down upon in this culture, God did not look down upon them. He used them to bring Jesus into the world.

It’s well known that Luke also gives a genealogy of Jesus in his gospel [Luke 3:23-38]. Luke and Matthew both trace Jesus’ ancestry back to David but through two different sons, Solomon and Nathan respectively. Many skeptics will claim that the differences in these two genealogies is a contradiction in the Bible and, therefore, the Bible must be dismissed. But a careful study shows this is not true.

Matthew’s goal was to demonstrate Jesus’ legal lineage. This lineage came through Joseph. Matthew carefully tells us that each man in this genealogy is the “father” of the next, until he gets to Joseph. Rather than call Joseph Jesus’ father, Matthew refers to Joseph as the husband of Mary. Joseph was not Jesus’ biological father, as we will learn tomorrow. Instead he was Jesus’ adoptive father. Adopted children back then, just like today, had the same legal rights and privileges as natural-born children. The fact that Jesus was ‘adopted’ by Joseph gives Him (Jesus) the legal right to be called the son of David.

On the other hand, Luke’s goal was to demonstrate Jesus’ blood lineage which did not come through Joseph but through Mary who was Jesus’ biological mother. Two parents, two genealogies. Nothing in these two differing accounts suggests an inexplicable discrepancy.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.



Jesus Fulfills God’s Promises To Abraham & David

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
(Matthew 1:1 ESV)

The opening of any literary work establishes the foundation on which the rest of the text will be based. Matthew’s intention, as we learned in the introduction to this study, was to demonstrate that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah of the Old Testament. That Messiah had to be of a certain lineage – from King David – as foretold by the prophets. Therefore, Matthew begins his gospel with the genealogy of Jesus Christ.

Many people today are very interested in tracing their own genealogy. Such history often reveals interesting information that can shed light on present realities. It can also be used to prove a person’s right to a legal claim, such as an inheritance. Similarly, dog and horse breeders require proof of an animal’s pedigree (i.e. genealogy) so they can be sure that the animal is pure for breeding purposes.

Genealogies were likewise important to the Jewish people. Israel’s king had to be a Jew, and not a foreigner [Deuteronomy 17:15]. He also had to be a descendant of David [2 Samuel 7:14]. When the exiles returned from Babylon only those who were proven to be of Jewish descent could be priests [Ezra 2:62]. Genealogy was a very important issue for the Jewish people as evidenced by the fact that these genealogical records were preserved even during the lengthy exile.

Matthew understood this, being a Jew himself. So he knows that if he is going to prove that Jesus is who He claimed to be then he (Matthew) is going to need to show that Jesus meets the necessary criteria. Matthew does so by tracing Jesus’ ancestors all the way back to Abraham, the patriarch of the Jewish people.

Jesus was the son of both David and Abraham. It was with these two men that God made two very important promises (i.e. covenants). God promised that He would bless all the nations of the world through Abraham [Genesis 12:1-3]. This is known as the Abrahamic covenant. Centuries later God promised to send a savior to the Jewish people (and the world) who would be a descendant of David [2 Samuel 7:10-16]. This is known as the Davidic covenant.

In the next several verses Matthew will provide the proof for today’s verse, which is a summary statement of Jesus’ pedigree. As we will see, this proof will demonstrate that Jesus is a verifiable descendant of David and Abraham and therefore has a legal claim to be the fulfillment of the promises made by God to these two men.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.


Introduction To The Gospel Of Matthew

Introduction To The Gospel Of Matthew

Today we begin a new study in the Gospel of Matthew.

This account of Jesus’ life was written by one of His twelve direct disciples. Also known as Levi, Matthew was a tax collector in Israel [Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:14-17; Luke 5:27-32] which was a province of the Roman Empire at the time.

Tax collectors (also known as “publicans”) were hated because they were locals (Jews) who worked for the Roman government which was occupying Israel. As such they were seen as traitors. When they collected their taxes for Rome they would turn over the required amount of money but were allowed to keep anything above this amount that they could collect. This would be their income and was often obtained through nefarious means. For this reason tax collectors were often very wealthy and very much hated [Luke 19:1-10].

Because tax collectors were in partnership with the Romans, who were despised by the Jews for being Gentiles and also for their harsh treatment, tax collectors were considered the worst kind of sinners. Throughout the gospels tax collectors are often mentioned in the phrase “sinners and tax collectors” indicating that the Jews considered tax collectors to be a special kind of sinner that was worse than the others [Matthew 9:11; Mark 2:15; Luke 15:1 et. al].

By calling Matthew to be one of His disciples Jesus was clearly telling everyone back then (and today) that there is no sin that can keep us from Him. Jesus came to save all people and can turn around the life of anyone who simply agrees to follow Him.

It is believed that Matthew wrote his gospel in the late 50s or early 60s which would have been about 25 to 30 years after Jesus ascended into heaven. This is important because many eyewitnesses to the events would have still been alive to corroborate Matthew’s account. Of course this does not mean that Matthew was working entirely from memory. Tax collectors were required to be literate and as such Matthew could certainly have recorded his first-hand observations with Jesus in real time only to publish them later.

Matthew’s gospel tells the story of Jesus’ life with emphasis on His fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. In fact, Matthew quotes from just about every Old Testament book. For this reason it is assumed that Matthew’s intended audience were Jews, as Gentiles would not be familiar with the Old Testament writings. His goal was to prove that Jesus was the Messiah that Israel had been waiting for for so long.

The Gospel of Matthew is the most frequently quoted gospel found in other ancient writings from the first and second centuries. There is a lot of great information in this book that is applicable to all people today, not just Jews. Matthew’s gospel is an eye-opener. By revealing the Old Testament prophecies that refer to the Messiah God promised to send and proving that Jesus fulfilled those prophecies and is, hence, that Messiah, Matthew gives extraordinary credibility to the Bible’s claims to be divinely inspired. After all, who else could have known that all these things would come true hundreds of years later but God?

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.


Peace And Love Are The Appropriate Response To God’s Grace

Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.
(Ephesians 6:23-24 ESV)

We conclude our study of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians today by studying the blessing he leaves his readers with.

Paul desires that we experience peace and love. But notice that peace and love come from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other source of peace available to the human race. There is no other source of love.

The world has been attempting to create world peace since the Tower of Babel. We came up with the idea of the United Nations but that has not worked. We thought the Internet would bring people together but studies show that technology only deepens existing divisions. Nothing we have tried has brought the peace we desire. And nothing we try will.

The latest idea is to remove all references to Jesus from society in an effort to eliminate differing opinions. This will fail as well because Jesus is the only source of peace available to the human race. Jesus offers us peace through Him [John 14:27; Ephesians 2:14, Colossians 3:15]. If we reject Him we will not have peace. Its that simple.

Likewise, the human race cannot truly love unless that love originates in faith in Christ. What the world calls love is really lust – it seeks to satisfy self. But true love is selfless. It seeks the good of others at the expense of self. This is not how humans instinctively live. But it is exactly how God and Jesus demonstrate love [John 3:16; Romans 5:8 et. al]. Apart from God no human being an exhibit true love.

Paul also offers grace. The definition of grace is “unmerited favor”. God treats His children in a positive way even though we don’t deserve it. This is the great news of the Bible. Despite our bad behavior, God expressed His love for us by offering us peace with Him through Jesus Christ [Romans 5:1].

The purpose of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians was to identify the wonderful things God has done for His children (chapters 1-3) and to express how we should live in response to those truths (chapters 4-6). This last verse sums up what our lives should look like.

Those of us who are God’s children should walk through life with peace and love towards each other and towards those who don’t know Christ. That peace and love should be in response to the grace that God has poured out upon us and the faith that we have in Jesus.

Such a life is worthy of all that God has done for us [Ephesians 4:1].

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.


The Kind Of People God Is Looking For

So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord will tell you everything. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage your hearts.
(Ephesians 6:21-22 ESV)

As we approach the end of the study of the book of Ephesians we read Paul’s closing remarks. Its easy to gloss over the final comments in Paul’s letters but that would be a mistake. All Scripture is useful [2 Timothy 3:16] and today’s verses are no exception. They tell us something very important. They tell us the kind of people God is calling his children to be.

As there was no email or postal service back then, Paul had to send his letters with a messenger who could be trusted to carry it 1,477 miles (2,377 km) from Rome to Ephesus.

In today’s passage we read that this letter was carried by a man named Tychicus, a man Paul refers to as beloved. Tychicus was well-liked by others, ostensibly because he cared about other people and was able to encourage [their] hearts.

Paul also called Tychicus faithful. The Greek word is πιστοσ (pronounced: pis-tos’ ) which means “one who can be relied upon especially when it comes to business transactions”. Tychicus had proven himself responsible and Paul apparently trusted him highly as he used him numerous times to carry out important tasks besides this one [Acts 20:4, Colossians 4:7, 2 Timothy 4:12, Titus 3:12].

God isn’t looking for people who are wealthy. Or good-looking. Or athletic. He is looking for people like Tychicus who are loving and faithful. Tychicus was not a superstar. He was a man who served God by serving others even when it cost him something.

The round-trip journey from Rome to Ephesus would not only have been dangerous, but it would have been long and would have kept Tychicus away from his family for a long time. Tychicus was a man who was willing to take a risk and be inconvenienced when it came to serving God.

Once a person becomes a member of God’s family through faith in Jesus Christ [John 1:12, 3:3], that person is no longer to live for self. We are to serve God by living for others as Jesus Himself did. If we do, then at the end of our life we will hear God say “Well done good and faithful servant” [Matthew 25:14-23].

Notice God doesn’t say “Well done successful servant”. It doesn’t matter if we don’t live up to our own expectations. Many Christians think they don’t have the talent to serve God. They are right. None of us do. God uses imperfect people. He therefore does not require perfection.

But He does ask us to be faithful and to stick with Him even when we are inconvenienced or when things get risky.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.


Pray For Your Pastor To Be Fearless

Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
(Ephesians 6:19-20 ESV)

Paul had just written that each believer should be in constant communication with God as part of their on-going spiritual warfare with Satan. As he begins to wrap up this letter, he asks his readers to pray also for him.

Paul was in prison at this time facing possible execution. Yet he does not ask his readers to pray for his release. Instead, he prays that he be given words whenever he speaks so that he will be fearless when it comes to telling others about the gospel of Jesus. Despite his precarious position, Paul was more concerned with others’ salvation than he was with his own life.

This is interesting because it was his role as ambassador of the gospel that had gotten him arrested years before. There were many in Jerusalem who did not appreciate Paul’s conversion from a Jew who hated and persecuted members of The Way (as Christianity was called in its early years) to one who embraced and taught The Way [Acts 21:27-36].

There were also many in Ephesus who opposed Paul because his message of monotheism hurt their business of selling trinkets of the many Greek gods [Acts 19:23-34].

Of course even today there are many who vehemently oppose the good news of the availability of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. The gay community, for example, wants complete recognition of their lifestyle including the right to marry. But God’s truth opposes that. So they do what they can to eliminate this message including suing pastors who don’t agree with them.

But it isn’t just pastors who should be proclaiming the gospel. Anyone who is a child of God should fearlessly declare the gospel with our words and lifestyle. But make no mistake… anyone who does so will be opposed. Sometimes peacefully. Sometimes not so peacefully. Sometimes a heavy price will be paid. But remember, it is not other human beings who are our enemy. Those who oppose us are unwitting pawns of Satan [Ephesians 6:12].

We learned yesterday that every child of God who has been born-again through faith in Christ needs to pray in order to stand firm against these schemes. Those who are in full-time ministry, like our pastors, are even more likely to be attacked by Satan since they are responsible for the spiritual formation of so many people. If Satan can get one of them off-course he can affect not just that pastors’ life but the life of numerous others.

Therefore all Christians should pray for pastors, fellow believers, and themselves to be fearless and uncompromising when it comes to gospel as it is the gospel of Jesus Christ – and only the gospel of Jesus Christ – that has the power to give eternal life [John 3:16, 14:6; Romans 1:16].

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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God Provides Battlefield Instructions Through Prayer

praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
(Ephesians 6:18 ESV)

Over the past few days we’ve studied the spiritual armor of God that He instructs each of His children to wear in our never-ending battle against Satan. We are told to stand firm when Satan attacks us [Ephesians 6:11, 14]. As we saw, every piece of armor is defensive in nature with the exception of Scripture which is our only offensive weapon.

However, there is still more we can do. We can be, and should be, praying. The word praying is a participle referring back to the verb “stand” in verse 14. Praying is part of the strategy of standing against Satan.

Too often we neglect prayer in the midst of spiritual warfare because we think we can handle some situation on our own. But that is never the case. Satan is much too powerful and smart for us. When we are confident in ourselves we are right where he wants us. Confidence in our own abilities is just another one of Satan’s lies.

At the outbreak of World War II Winston Churchill warned Britain “overconfidence… is the worst of wartime crimes.” One may be wearing the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the helmet of salvation and think they have all they need. But that isn’t true. We are to be confident, but not in ourselves. Prayer, if done properly, decreases our self-confidence and increases our reliance on God.

Just like a soldier wouldn’t go off into battle without getting a plan from his superior, neither should God’s children enter into spiritual warfare against Satan without being in communication with God at all times. We need to be constantly listening to God for His instructions. This is what it means to pray in the Spirit. We need to let God, through His Holy Spirit, guide us through the minefields Satan has laid before us.

Notice that, just like a soldier, we need to keep alert with all perseverance. Staying alert requires energy and commitment. Its easy to let our guard down because we are tired or think things are going well in our life. But that is exactly when the enemy will pounce.

For this reason it is important to know what our vulnerabilities are. Perhaps we are tempted to view pornography when we’re home alone. Or we are tempted to respond in-kind to a mean-spirited co-worker. We need to recognize these situations and use our spiritual armor and prayer to stand against them.

Finally, we must remember that we are not in this fight alone. Every one of God’s children (saints) are in His army too. We are all fighting our own individual battles against Satan. Everyone else may look like they have their life together, but they don’t. Therefore, not only should we be praying for ourselves but we should be making supplication for our fellow believers so that they, too, can stand against Satan’s artillery.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.


The Bible Is Satan’s Kryptonite

and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
(Ephesians 6:17 ESV)

Today we read about the final piece of armor Christians need in their never-ending battle against Satan: the sword. The sword is the only offensive item mentioned in this passage. Not surprisingly, the sword represents the word of God – the Bible.

Like the helmet we are to take the sword. It was God who gave us the Bible. It is our responsibility to take it – to accept it and make it a part of our lives. Any soldier who went into battle without an offensive weapon might last a while, but would eventually be killed. Likewise, those who refuse to make the Bible a part of their lives are ultimately headed for a spiritual death – separation from God for all eternity. We call that ‘hell’.

Notice that the sword is of the Spirit. Here is more evidence of the Trinity. This one verse tells us that the word is of God and of the Spirit. We know from other passages, such as John 1, that Jesus is the Word. If A=X and B=X and C=X then A=B=C. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit are all one and the same.

When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness He continually quoted Scripture in response to Satan’s lies. When we go on the offensive by using God’s word he will go away [Matthew 4:1-11]. God’s word can’t be defeated.

The problem is Satan knows the Bible much better than we do. And he knows that he knows it better than we do. His main tactic is to twist the truth ever so slightly so that we don’t realize he is lying. This is exactly what he did to Adam and Eve and is the same thing he does today [Genesis 3:1-5]. He still uses this tactic because it is so successful.

This is why we need to be in God’s word every single day. We need to memorize it and meditate on it [Joshua 1:8]. We need to stop spending too much time at work or watching television and spend more time in Scripture. Many Christians are more adept at quoting Seinfeld than they are at quoting the Bible. They know more about the Kardashians than they do about God’s truth. Such people are extremely susceptible to Satan without even realizing it.

Scripture is our only offensive weapon for living a life that doesn’t give in to sin. It weakens Satan to the point where he is ineffective. The Bible is Satan’s kryptonite. It drains Satan of his strength while giving power to people.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.


Knowing We Are Saved Protects Us From Discouragement

and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
(Ephesians 6:17 ESV)

We are currently reading through a passage describing the various pieces of spiritual armor that a child of God must wear in order to stand against the schemes of Satan. So far we’ve read about the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and the shield of faith. Today we read about the helmet of salvation.

The context of this verse is spiritual warfare against the lies and temptations of Satan. Helmets protect one’s head and, spiritually speaking, we “wear” our salvation to protect our minds from the doubt and discouragement that accompany Satan’s trickery.

Notice that we are told to take the helmet. The Greek word translated “take” is δεχηομαι (pronounced: dekh’-om-ahee). This word means “to receive something that is given”. This word is very appropriate as salvation is a gift from God that He offers to us [Ephesians 2:8-9]. We cannot conjure up salvation or obtain it apart from God. He gives it to us. We decide to take it.

Obviously it would be foolish for a soldier to go into battle without his helmet. Likewise, it is foolish for anyone to face Satan without salvation. Such a person is a sitting duck for his schemes.

Anyone who has admitted their sinfulness and has accepted Jesus’ death as necessary and complete for the forgiveness of those sins is part of God’s eternal family [John 1:12-13]. Such a person is a permanent, eternal citizen of heaven [Ephesians 2:1-7, Philippians 3:20].

We need to keep this in mind when we are attacked by Satan, especially when we fall for one of his lies. Its easy to get down when we sin. But we must remember we are protected by our salvation. While we are not free from the presence of sin on this earth – that won’t happen until heaven – we are right now free from the penalty of sin.

Satan is not only trying to get us to sin. That is just step one. Sin damages relationships. This is Satan’s goal – to damage our relationships with each other and, more importantly, with God. This is what happened when Adam and Eve fell for his lie in the Garden of Eden. The perfect relationship humanity had with God was broken [Genesis 3:1-13]. It remains broken to this day.

But God offers reconciliation through Jesus, a plan He put into effect immediately after that first sin [Genesis 3:15]. Those of us who have accepted God’s offer need never be discouraged because we are saved from the penalty of our sins which is eternal separation from God (we call that ‘hell’).

All the sins of a child of God have been forgiven – past, present, and future. God does not count them against us because they have been paid for by Jesus [Psalm 103:12, Micah 7:19 et. al]. Satan will try to convince us to do something we shouldn’t do. We may err and do it. But no sin we will ever commit will separate us from God. That reality will keep us from getting discouraged.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.


Faith Is The Best Way To Intercept Satan’s Lies

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
(Ephesians 6:16 ESV)

Satan is the evil one. He is constantly trying to trip us up with bad theology, discouragement, envy, greed, lust, pride, and anything else he throws at us. There is never a moment (in all circumstances) when anyone, including God’s children (to whom this letter is written), are safe from Satan’s ammunition.

Those who go through life on their own without God have no defense against Satan’s tactics. As we learned yesterday, the world is a mess precisely because it unknowingly falls for Satan’s lies. They think their thoughts and decisions make sense. But these only lead to problems. Even so-called “solutions” to our problems only create more problems. Without God there is no hope of making the world a better place.

But those who are God’s children [John 1:12-13] have a defense. We can take up the shield of faith with which we can extinguish the flaming darts of Satan. Back in Roman times, archers in battle would set their arrows on fire and launch them at the enemy. The shield of a Roman soldier was long – almost body length. It could be used to intercept these arrows. Faith works the same way.

When we have faith in God we can intercept the lies of Satan before they take up residence in our minds and subsequently determine our actions. We do this by comparing the incoming thoughts with what we know to be true. When the thoughts disagree with truth we can extinguish them [2 Corinthians 12:5].

Truth comes from God’s word [Romans 10:17]. We can’t leave our Bibles on a shelf and expect to be able to stand our ground. This is a major flaw of world leaders. They do not respect the Bible. They ignore it. They scoff at it. Hence Satan has his way with them. He deceives them into thinking lies are truth and truth is lies. They think they are living in freedom but they are actually Satan’s puppets.

Faith is simply trusting what God says is true even when we don’t feel Him in our lives or understand how He will deliver us from whatever we are going through [2 Corinthians 5:7]. The Psalms offer some of the best examples of faith. Often the author of a psalm was in grave danger. He didn’t know how God would rescue him. It seemed like he was just moments away from being destroyed by his enemies. Yet he maintains faith in God [Psalm 27, 109 et. al].

Without such faith it is impossible to stand firm before Satan. Satan is much too strong and wiley for us. We need to protect ourselves. Faith, like a shield, is our first line of defense.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.


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