John the Baptist Prepares the Way
3:1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”1 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare2 the way of the Lord;
make his paths straight.’”
4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 “I baptize you with water for 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 fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
The Baptism of Jesus
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,3 and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,4 with whom I am well pleased.”
Or the kingdom of heaven has come near
Or crying: Prepare in the wilderness
Some manuscripts omit to him
Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved
The Visit of the Wise Men
2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men1 from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose2 and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:
6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” 9 After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.
The Flight to Egypt
13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Herod Kills the Children
16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:
18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”
The Return to Nazareth
19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.
2 Corinthians 10-14 (3.18.23)
Grab your Bible, and let’s go deeper into 2 Corinthians 13.
As I studied and read this week, I was especially moved and challenged by Paul’s final greeting at the end of his second letter to the church in Corinthians:
2 Corinthians 13:11-14 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
The living God elected in His grace to save His people into something very special—into a family! This is a family unlike any other family. In our unity as the family of God, He has given us a very special relationship with one another that He wants us to value dearly, to protect, to invest in, and to cultivate!
There are two dozen instructions in the New Testament that we are to “love one another.” These are in addition to exhortations to encourage one another, be patient with one another, honor one another, pray for one another, admonish one another, forgive one another, confess to one another, and more.
Today, I want to focus on the most encompassing one another: Love one another! Let’s look at a few passages that teach us about this:
Romans 12:9-10 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Here Paul says, “Let love be genuine …”
You can also translate this from the Greek to say, “Let love be without hypocrisy”!
Hypocrisy = pretending to be a certain way that is not true to who you are at the core of your being.
Genuine love doesn’t try to say or be something it’s not. It is authentic. It is genuine. It is honest. It says, “Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.” In other words, it is not loving to not abhor what is evil.
It is not LOVE to watch someone you love struggling and then, out of fear, stay distant and say nothing. The danger in this is, you think he or she will figure it out.
You think, “I don’t want to cause conflict,” or you are motivated by a self-love, because you want them to love you, so you don’t upset the apple cart, even if it’s about to run them over. NO, we are to LOVE THEM—even when it is HARD! Even when it costs us everything.
This means we are not going to be distant and hypocritical, but we are going to act in genuine love. We will sit down with those in our family that are openly practicing sin and say, “I love you, and I am concerned because what I see you pursuing here, I don’t see in God’s word.”
Realize, none of us are immune from this. Eventually, we all need to be confronted. This is life in the body of Christ. This is LOVE at work in our family.
Look at the next verse:
Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
This is not love one another just with deeds. It is saying have feelings for each other. The idea is that our heart would leap a little when we are around each other. Because we are family!
But the word for “love” or “be devoted” refers to a special kind of love. It’s used only here in the whole New Testament. But it is not a rare word outside the New Testament. It refers to “tender affection, particularly family affection.” So, the verse is calling for Christians to have “tender affection toward each other in family love.”
This is a command for how we are to relate to each other in the body of Christ; we are to feel an affection—a tender affection– for each other.
In Philippians 1:8, Paul says to the church, “For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.”
The word for “affection” is “intestines” or “inner organs.” The idea is, “I long for you and love you, not just with an act of will power, but with deep and tender affections. I miss you. I am homesick for you. I feel for you.”
Another point of emphasis in this passage that Paul gives us is something we are told to do five times in the New Testament; Christians are to “Greet one another with a [holy] kiss of love.”
It says this in our text today:
2 Corinthians 13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss
This raises the question whether our cultural norm of a handshake carries what Christ means for us to feel for each other.
What’s culturally not normal is for two grown adults to kiss. I love seeing a dad kiss his grown son.
Let me ask you this: In the professional world, do you hug another grown man when you greet? NO. Do you kiss your doctor on the cheek when you go in for your check up? NO. But do you hug and kiss your family? YES!
God is saying that in this family, His family, we should share a deep love and God-honoring affection for each other. But we hug and kiss because we are a blood-bought family of brothers. We do it because we truly love each other and because it is a sign that we are family. It should be a beacon of the love of God moving through us to those we are called to fight with and fight for.
The point Paul is making at his close of Corinthians is a huge one. He is highlighting that it is the will of God for His children not just to do good things for each other and not just to pray for each other or speak decently of each other (those are crucial and demand the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish), but God’s will is far more. We are to:
“Love each other with brotherly affection.”
“Open your hearts wide to each other.”
“Feel for each other a kind of tender affection and longing that would naturally be expressed in a holy kiss of love.”
Now, some of you are saying, “What if I don’t feel this tender affection?”
Suppose you hear the command of Jesus this morning: “Love the brothers and sisters in the body of Christ with tender affection. Open your heart wide to them. Feel a longing for them and joy in them.” And suppose you can think of several people that you do not feel that way about. They have gossiped about you or snubbed you or let you down. You have beef with them that has not yet been worked out. And you say, “I hear you Lord. And I submit to the rightness of your command, but I do not feel this kind of affection for him/her. My battle is just trying not to hate, or my battle is I have never had a family who loved each other this way—this deep! We hardly even said I love you. But I yield to You, Lord. You have a right to call me to this. I embrace the goodness and the authority of Your call. I want to obey, but I don’t know how to practice this.”
If this is you, please know that God can and will give you what you need to overcome this—to forgive and risk and fight for deep and true love for each other. If this is you, I give you these practical steps to help you grow in this area:
1. Pray for the Spirit’s power
First, pray earnestly that God, the Holy Spirit, would move in power on your heart and work the miracle that neither you nor I can work on our own. We are talking about supernatural living here. Pray that God would change your heart toward His other children—that He would create new affections in you for one another.
2. Focus on the heavenly identity of your sibling
Second, keep your eyes focused on the heavenly identity, not the earthly frustration. We tend to focus almost exclusively on the ways we have been hurt or disappointed. That will defeat us every time.
Pastor John Piper says this well:
“There is a greater reality to think about and focus on, but you must make an effort. Focus on the reality of God’s Fatherhood. When you think about a Christian that is hard to feel affection for, say, ‘God is her Father. God is his Father.’ When you see her, think, ‘God is her Father.’ Then say, ‘And God is my Father. We have the same Father. Jesus is her Savior and my Savior. The same blood, bought her as bought me. The same Holy Spirit indwells her as indwells me. The same love flows from God toward her that flows toward me. She is my sister. He is my brother. We will live forever in the same family. We will live forever together in joy and ecstasy in the presence of our Father on the new earth.”
3. Remember Christian love is a growing thing
Third, keep in mind that Christian love is not an all-or-nothing thing, but a growing thing. In 2 Thessalonians 1:3, Paul commends the Christians like this: “Your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater.”
Love is a growing thing. So, you may have some of it and be a real Christian and not have enough of it. You may feel some affection toward a fellow believer but also wrestle with other negative emotions. That does not mean you are not a Christian. It means you are at war with the flesh and trying to be led by the Spirit. Keep on, weary soldier, and know that God will refine you as you press into Him.
Paul prays this very way in I Thessalonians 3:12: “…and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you.”
Beloved, the evidence of our redemption, of our transformation in Christ, is our LOVE. The love of God will be at work in and through His people.
4. Finally, know that genuine love for one another comes from God
1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
But let me ask you today: Do you really fight for love? Do you really long to live every moment in love? Or is, “I love you,” just something you’re good at saying?
See, our love has to not just said, it has to be felt. It has to not just be a good idea or lofty ideal. LOVE has to be real and present—an unavoidable force.
If our club is going to do anything for God’s fame and eternal glory, we must be about love! It simply is not an option.
Listen to 1 Corinthians 13:1-7: “If I speak in the tonguesof men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
Then he goes on to define true love:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Now, the honest truth is the description of love that I just read—a true, selfless love—is impossible for you and I to live out without God. Why, you might ask?
John says why:
1 John 4:7 … for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
Skip to 8b: “… God is love!”
What we need to understand more than anything is GOD is LOVE!
These verses do not state that God “was love” or God “will be love,” but “God is [present tense of Greek word eimi, =I am] love.” Love is not just from God; this is too narrow. If you just read verse 1 John 4:7c and don’t get to 8b, you miss the fuller truth that GOD IS LOVE.
Love is not just an action of GOD; love is God’s nature. One may know something about human affection or love, but apart from the grace of God, no one can know anything about TRUE love.
Real love—divine love—is like God, who is holy, just, and perfect. If you want true LOVE in your life, you need a living relationship with God. If we truly know God, we will love as He does. It says here, to know God is to know Love!
1 John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.”
The authentic, other-centered love of God will consistently find its way out of us and onto those God puts in life, if we are first and foremost centered in Christ.
We only have the ability to love selflessly because Jesus first selflessly loved us! We only have the desire to love one another sacrificially because of God’s grace-filled desire to sacrifice His only Son for us!
“Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:11-14).
By His grace and for His glory
Joshua “Shepherd” Kirstine
Soldiers For Jesus MC
The Genealogy of Jesus Christ
1:1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,1 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king.
And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph,2 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos,3 and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,4 and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.
The Birth of Jesus Christ
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ5 took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed6 to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
Greek Aram; also verse 4
Asaph is probably an alternate spelling of Asa; some manuscripts Asa; also verse 8
Amos is probably an alternate spelling of Amon; some manuscripts Amon; twice in this verse
Greek Salathiel; twice in this verse
Some manuscripts of the Christ
That is, legally pledged to be married
2 Corinthians 13
13:1 This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 2 I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them—3 since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. 4 For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.
5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 6 I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. 7 But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. 8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for. 10 For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.
11 Finally, brothers,1 rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another,2 agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you.
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.