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Born Again

Born Again

In the third chapter of the book of John we see a Pharisee by the name of Nicodemus coming to Jesus by night seeking answers as to who He was. Nicodemus recognized Jesus was from God but wanted to know more. Jesus then startled Nicodemus with a statement he had difficulty understanding. Jesus said in John 3:3 to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus not understanding Jesus statement asked in the next verse, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus then answered in verses five and six, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

At first Jesus said unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Then Jesus said, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. I believe Jesus was basically making the same statement, but rewording it a little for Nicodemus to better understand.

If we are alive today we were delivered from the water from the flesh as flesh. In other words we were conceived and formed into flesh in our mother’s womb and thus we were born. If we are born again we have been born of the Spirit of God. If we are not born of the Spirit of God we cannot see nor enter the kingdom of God.

The question that is now before us is, “How do we become born again?” The simple answer is, we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior by believing in who He is and the works He has done on the cross to purchase redemption. By grace we are saved by faith and not by works. (Ephesians 2:9-10).

Paul said in Romans 5:20, “The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” In other words, regardless of how much sin we have had in our lives, God has more grace. Therefore, all our sins, regardless of how much, will be washed away if we place our faith in Jesus.

Paul then asks in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” Since God has more grace than we have sin should we just keep on sinning so God’s grace can increase? If we ever see yelling in writing we see it in Romans 6:2 when Paul said, “May it never be!” He then goes on to explain through the remainder of this chapter that those who are in Christ are dead to sin. They have died and have been buried with Christ.

For one to be born again he must first die; not physically but spiritually. One must die to his flesh, his hopes, his dreams, his goals, his ways, his ideas, his thoughts, and basically everything that has made him, him. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Jesus said that the requirement of following Him was denying yourself and taking up your cross. Remember that the cross is an instrument of death.

Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Paul’s hopes, dreams, goals, ways, ideas, thoughts, and everything that made Paul, Paul was no longer about him, for he denied himself, it was about Jesus. He was born again. He died to Paul and came alive to Jesus. How did he do this? He explained how in the second part of Galatians 2:20 where he wrote, “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

Far too many people have a fire insurance type of faith. They don’t want to go to hell but they don’t want to live for Jesus either. They are unwilling to turn from their sinful, fleshly, self-centered, and self-serving ways to truly live for Jesus. Remember, Jesus said, unless you are born again you cannot see, nor enter, the kingdom of Heaven.

To be born again we must die to the flesh and come alive to Jesus. Paul saw the love that Jesus had for him and the actions of the cross that demonstrated His love. With this in mind Paul said in Colossians 3:8, “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.” Paul realized that he, Paul, was not worthy to live for, but Christ was more than worthy.

Have you been born again? Jesus died for you to give you life. He gave up all so you could have all; all that matters anyway. Have you died to you and come alive to Jesus, or do you simply have a fire insurance policy? Romans 8:12-13 says, “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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A New Nature

A New Nature

As clearly as the bible teaches that the unregenerate person has a nature of wrath and is led by, lied to, and blinded by Satan, the bible teaches that once one repents and receives Christ he is a new creature in Christ; he has died to the old nature and come alive to Christ and is given a new nature. II Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

Once the sinner has repented and given his life over to Christ he is transformed from a nature of wrath to a nature of God. His nature is transformed because his position has been changed from being a man of the world to a man of God. Formerly, according to Ephesians 2:2, he walked, “according to the course of this world.” But now that his position has been changed, he is seated with Jesus in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 2:6).

Due to his change of position a transformation has taken place in his spirit where he has received the Spirit of God and his spirit has been lifted up into heaven residing with Christ. For this reason he is in Christ and Christ is in him. I John 4:13 says, “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” Since his position has changed he is never alone. The Holy Spirit is now at work in his life teaching him, leading him, and transforming him from glory to glory.

Ephesians 2:2 also tells us that he formerly walked in accordance to the, “prince of the power of the air.” Now he is in the hands of God as “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” He is no longer being influenced by Satan. He is now being led by God. Just as his position has changed, his allegiance has changed. Jesus is now his Lord. His allegiance is now to walk in the good works of God for the glory of God.  (Ephesians 2:10).

Just as he once was by nature a child of wrath, he is now a child of God. Since his nature has changed he is no longer a sinner. Romans 6:6-7 says,  knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” This does not at all mean that the Christian cannot sin. As we see clearly in Romans 7 there is a constant battle between the flesh and the Spirit. What this means is that he is now freed from the hold and bondage sin had on his life. Sin no longer has power over him. God has power over him. He is now free. Therefore, he is to consider himself dead to sin and alive to Christ. (Romans 6:11).

Since he no longer has a nature of sin he has been declared as righteous. II Corinthians 5:21 says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” This righteousness is not of his own accord but from his new position, his new allegiance, and his new nature that comes through his faith connection with Christ. Jesus made this possible on the cross through the shedding of His blood. He allows God to apply this righteousness to his life by his faith in Christ.

A child with a nature of wrath will live in that nature of wrath living in the lusts of his flesh and mind, therefore, living in sin. His nature has changed. Therefore, for him to live in sin is unnatural. The one who is a child of wrath will walk in accordance to the prince of the power of the air. His allegiance has changed. He now walks in accordance to God as Lord of his life. Anything else would be unnatural. His focus is no longer on the course of this world, for, he is now setting his mind on the things above. For him to be concerned with the affairs of the world would be unnatural.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2017 in Bible Study, Devotional, Uncategorized

 

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We Know That we Have Passed Out of Death Into Life

“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death.” I John 3:14 NASB

As we have already seen love is one of the “by this we know” evidences of genuine salvation. Love is not the means of passing out of life into death but an evidence of going from life to death. The one who does not love abides in death. We clearly see in our world today those who claim to act on behalf of God but act out of hate rather than love. Their domain is death, which is seen clearly in their lack of love and heart of hate. The one who is truly living for God has passed out of death into life and as a result has love.

The bible speaks of three types of death, spiritual death, physical death, and the second death which is eternal death. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:1, “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,” and again in Colossians 2:13, “you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh.” Paul wasn’t talking to people who were physically dead, they were spiritually dead.

Sin separates us from God. God’s heart is to have a relationship with us. However, sin prevents us from having a relationship with Him. Separation from God is spiritual death. For this reason Jesus died for us so our sins can be forgiven and we would no longer be spiritual dead but alive in Christ and through Christ. Romans 6:23 not only tells us that the wages of sin is death but also says that the free gift of God is eternal life. Accepting the sacrificial atonement of Christ cleanses us from our sins and reconciles us into a right relationship with God.

The bible is clear-all have sinned. Isaiah 53:6, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way;” Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God;” I John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us;” I John 1:10, If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him (God) a liar and His word is not in us.”

Since all have sinned, all stand in need of salvation through the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross. Apart from salvation they abide in death. Because of the sacrifice Jesus paid the bible says in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” As we see clearly that all have sinned we see just as clearly that the offer of salvation is for all. Romans 10:13 says, “For “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”

The sacrifice Jesus paid through the shedding of His blood made it possible for Christ to be our atoning sacrifice. Hebrews 9:22 says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no redemption of sins.” I peter 3:18 says, “Christ also died for sins once for all,” and Romans 6:10 says, “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all.” The moment we confess our sins and by faith accept Jesus work on the cross God saves us. As a sign and seal of our salvation God gives to us His Holy Spirit. Jesus said in John 6:63 “the Spirit gives life.” When we are forgiven of our sin through the sacrifice of Christ we stand in right relationship with God. He then gives us His Spirit which gives us life. We then “have passed out of death into life.”

Romans 8:9-11 says of those who have passed out of death into life, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” The assurance of scripture to those who are truly saved is that they have, past tense, and at the moment of salvation, passed out of death into life.

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Posted by on February 13, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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The Assuring Promises to the One Who Knows

I John is all about assurance. We have looked at seven statements from John that assures the believer of what true Christianity looks like. In each of these statements John said, “by this we know.” By this we know that we truly walk in the light if the by this we know statements are evident in our lives. They are assuring evidences that we are in Christ and He is in us. Again, these are not the means to salvation, but the evidence of salvation.

As John’s heart was to assure the believer of their salvation that they may know they have eternal life, he was also assuring them of the promises and gifts we have as Children of God who walk in the light; those who know. All seven “by this we know” statements were to assure the hearer of their salvation. Seven other times in I John he simply declared “we know.” Each “we know” statement was to assure the hearer, who knows he has eternal life, of the rewards and promises we have because of our faith in Christ who is the atoning sacrifice of our sin and our advocate before the Father. Some of these promises are immediately received at the moment of salvation while others will be received in the future.

These seven assuring gifts and promises to the believer are:

  • We know we will be like Christ. I John 3:2
  • We know that we have passed out of death into life. I John 3:14
  • We know we are of the truth. I John 3:19-21
  • We know God hears us and will answer us. I John 5:14-15
  • We know we have overcome sin. I John 5:18
  • We know that we are of God. I John 5:19
  • We know that we have eternal life. I John 5:20

We now will change our focus from looking at the assurance of salvation to looking at the assuring promises of those who know they have salvation. If you know that you truly are a Christian these promises are for you.

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Posted by on February 11, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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The True Christian Walks in the Spirit

The True Christian Walks in the Spirit

“By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.” I John 4:13 NASB

In this, “by this we know, statement John is teaching, if we are in Christ His Spirit is in us. In John 14:16 Jesus began teaching His disciples about the Holy Spirit. He said in John 14:16-17, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” Jesus closed this verse with a very interesting statement. He said that the Spirit abides with you now but one day will be in you. Prior to Pentecost they disciples, as well as the folks in the Old Testament, knew the Holy Spirit. However, Jesus said a day is coming when the Holy Spirit will be in you.

When Jesus began to conclude His teachings on the Holy Spirit He said in John 16:7, “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” Jesus was saying, if I do not ascend, the Holy Spirit would not descend. After Jesus death, burial, and resurrection He spent forty days with His disciples opening their eyes to the scriptures. When the time came for Him to ascend to be with the Father He took them up onto the Mt. of Olives and instructed them what they should do now. It is recorded in all four of the gospels and the beginning of the books of Acts that Jesus instructed His disciples to go into all of the world and proclaim the gospel to all creation. However, Jesus knew that although they had spent three years with Him in ministry, and another forty days having their eyes opened to the scripture they were still incapable of fulfilling this task. They needed the Holy Spirit to empower them. Head knowledge of the things of God are useless on their own. We need the Holy Spirit to empower us to enact this knowledge and live it out. For this reason, Jesus instructed His disciples to go back into Jerusalem and wait for the promise of the Father, the power from on high, which is the Holy Spirit. (Luke 24:49).

The disciples obediently went back to Jerusalem waiting and praying for ten days for the promise of the Father. Then in a miraculous display of power and glory, the Holy Spirit fell and rested upon each one on the day of Pentecost. Now that the Holy Spirit had come they were able to put the teachings of Jesus into action. Prior to the Holy Spirit’s coming they were incapable.

Today, when one receives salvation by placing their faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ they immediately receive His Spirit. Romans 8:9 says, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” In other words, if you have the Son you have the Spirit and the Spirit has given you life. If you do not have the Son, you do not have the Spirit and therefore you do not have life. The very first act of the Spirit in a believer is to give them life-eternal life.

The Holy Spirit has many functions. He testifies of Jesus, He convicts, He teaches, He leads, He comforts, He empowers, He equips, and He gives gifts to the believer to enhance the work of the kingdom. According to I Corinthians chapter two the Holy Spirit searches even the deep things of God and reveals those truths to those who are in Christ. Even the things that the, “eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” (I Corinthians 2:9).

Those who do not truly abide in Christ do not have the Holy Spirit. Since they do not have the Holy Spirit they do not have life and are incapable of truly living for Jesus. They can try to live for Him but will utterly fail for they do not have the power. Not only will they be incapable of living for Jesus the things of God as a whole will not make any sense to them. II Corinthians 2:14, says of the one who is unsaved and therefore void of the Holy Spirit, “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” Only those who are truly saved can understand, and therefore apply the truths of God to their lives through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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The True Christian Discerns Truth and Error

The True Christian Discerns Truth and Error

“We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” I John 4:6 NASB

            John started the fourth chapter of I John with a warning. He said in I John 4:1, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” How are we to test the spirits? John stated “We are from God; he who knows God listens to us.” As established earlier, John was an apostle who taught with authority. We see in Acts 2:42 that the New Testament church among other things was devoted to the apostles teaching. What did they teach? Jesus spent forty days after His resurrection opening their eyes to the Scriptures. The Scriptures He opened their eyes to was the Old Testament, thus the taught the Old Testament. We also know that one of qualifications for a book to be included into the New Test was that it had to be written by an apostle or someone directly associated with an apostle. When John stated, “We are from God,” I believe he was talking about all of the apostles. I also firmly believe the teachings of the apostles that the New Testament church was devoted to was the whole of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments.

Here John warned of the false prophets who have gone out into the world. We test those who claim that they are of God with the authority of God’s word. If they fail to line up with God’s word they are false prophets. Let’s be clear though. We can have doctrinal differences with other Christians who are truly Christians. We simply disagree on certain subjects. One can believe in a pre-tribulation rapture while the other believes in a mid or post-tribulation rapture and another doesn’t believe there will even. I am a very solid pre-tribulationist. I personally believe that the pre-tribulation rapture is abundantly clear in scripture. Does this mean that I should view anyone who believes otherwise as a false prophet? Of course not. Christians can and will disagree on a variety of issues. However, a false prophet is one who denies the fundamentals of the faith such as the person and the work of Christ, along with the means and method of salvation. John said in I John 4:2-3, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.”

In Revelation Jesus told John to write to the seven churches in Asia. The first of those churches was the church of Ephesus. (Revelation 2:1-7).  Jesus praised this church for putting to the test those who called themselves apostles and were not. By proving that they were not apostles and indeed false prophets they protected the integrity and true teaching of the church. We also find Paul in II Timothy 6:20 instructing Timothy to “guard what has been entrusted to you.”  What was Timothy entrusted to? What did he need to guard? The church. Timothy was the pastor of the church of Ephesus. Guarding and protecting the church from false teachers was planted in Ephesus DNA from its very beginning. For this reason, Jesus praised the church.

The Bible warns that in the last days false prophets will be in abundance. II Timothy 4:3 warns, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires.” I have no doubt that we are now living in that day.

While the world is easily led astray Jesus assured us that His sheep know His voice. (John 10:4). John has declared that the evidence of the one who know God is that he listens to them, thus listens to the true teachings of the Word of God. The one who doesn’t know God may hear the Word of God and know the Word of God but refuse to listen to the Word of God. For this reason he has not discerned what is good and evil. He thinks he knows best and is therefore in rebellion against God. But the one who knows God will test the spirits through the power of the Holy Spirit, of which we will discuss latter, and the truth of the Word of God. Since he listens to God, he will obey God accepting His truth and rejecting evil.

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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The True Christian Keeps God’s Word

“But whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him.” I John 2:5 NASB

The second by this we know statement from John is about keeping God’s word. John states here that “Whoever keeps God’s word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected.” When we keep God’s word it is a sign that the love of God has been perfected in us. It is not God’s love that has been perfected, it is ours. John stated in I John 4:8 that “God is love,” therefore, His love is perfect. Man’s love, however, is in great need of being perfected.

Prior to entering into fellowship with God through the atoning sacrifice of Christ we were enemy’s of God. Our choice of the world and sin above God proved that we had no love towards God. Jesus said in John 3:19, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.” The proof of who you love is who you choose to walk with. Jesus also said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” He didn’t say “If you keep My commandments you will prove your love for me.” Rather, He said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” If we love Jesus, we will obey Him, if we don’t love Jesus we will care less about His commandments and will not obey Him.

Be reminded that John said in the first chapter that “God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all.” ( I John 1:5). He continued to explain that if we say we are walking in the light yet we are walking in the darkness we are liars. In other words, if we are walking in sin we are not walking with God. I John 2:2 says, “The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” Then he explained in I John 1:7 that if we are walking in the Light, as God is in the Light, we have fellowship with Him. Oil and water doesn’t mix; nor does God and sin.

The key word in I John 1 is walk. Walking portrays the pattern and consistency of one’s life. If the walk is consistently in darkness it is not in the light. If the walk is consistently in the Light, his fellowship is with God. Paul said in I Corinthians 6:9-10, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” The drunkard is not one who has been drunk a time or two in his life, rather, drunkenness is the defining factor of his life; he is a drunkard. The people Paul lists are people whose lives are identified by sin. They walk in darkness therefore they are a drunkard. Paul said they would not inherit the kingdom of God therefore, they clearly are not saved. They are unsaved by their own choice. Their choice was that they loved darkness rather than light. They have chosen the lusts of their own flesh over the love and grace of God.

However, for those who realize the error of their way and repent of their sin God offers forgiveness. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” After Paul declared, the unrighteous would not inherit the kingdom of God in I Corinthians 6:9-10, he said in the next verse, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” These chose God over sin. They loved God more than sin. Therefore, they repented of their sin and trusted in Jesus.

God loves us perfectly. For this reason He sent His Son to become an atoning sacrifice for our sin. When we come to the point where we realize our sin is at odds with God and choose God over sin we ask Him by faith to forgive us of our sin knowing that by the authority of His Word and the power of the blood of Jesus He can and will. God then gives us His Holy Spirit that writes His Word on our heart to perfect our love for Him.

Keeping His word, living in obedience, and walking in the Light is not the means to salvation, it is the proof of salvation. It is the evidence that God is at work in our lives perfecting us in Him and for Him. When we turn to Jesus and trust in Him by faith, we are saying to Him that we love Him more than self and sin and are willing to surrender ourselves unto Him. When we take this step of faith, we give God permission to work His perfection into our lives. Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” If God is not at work in you, you will have no will to work for His good pleasure.” In fact, working or living for His pleasure would be utter foolishness to you. However, if we love God enough to keep His word, “by this we know that we are in Him” for, His work of perfect love has been enacted.

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Posted by on February 3, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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