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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Complaining and Disputing

            ~~ a devotional

by tkbrown

Philippians 2:14-16

  • 14 – “Do all things without complaining and disputing,”
  • 15 – “that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,”
  • 16 – “holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.”

As Christians, our attitude toward daily life sets us apart from the world and from those who follow Satan. In Philippians Chapter 2, Paul tells us to “Do all things without complaining and disputing . . . .” An attitude of complaint works against our becoming emulators of Christ.

To be a Christian means to be “emulators of Christ.” In I Corinthians 11:1 (NKJV), Paul said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” Was Christ ever complaining about His mission as God’s Son here on earth. No, even in the throes of death, He merely asked God “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46 (NKJV) says, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘E’li, E’li, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ and the King James Version says ‘My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ But He never complained.

When He prayed on the mount during the night preceding his arrest, Jesus asked for “His cup” to pass from Him adding, “but thy will, not mine be done.” Matthew 26:39 gives an account of this: “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’” With Christ as our Mediator with God, we are not expected to accept everything without questioning ‘why’, but we are asked to do even that without complaint or dispute. If we manage our attitude, we will be shown the ‘why’ of those things expected of us. However, even if we are not shown the ‘why’, we are still asked to do without complaint or dispute.

How many times do we catch ourselves complaining about our ‘due’ in life? Even complaining in thought can be destructive to a “Christ attitude.” It is imperative that we review our thoughts in a prayerful attitude, as Christ did daily, to prevent the attitude of those thoughts from spilling into our actual interactions with others. To attempt living our daily interactions without guidance from God and Christ is to make our souls vulnerable to Satan and his wiles.

“Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17 – KJV), Paul tells us. Jesus obviously prayed without ceasing. In studying His life, we often see Him retreating from the world to pray – often praying all night and into the next morning. In our studying of His life, we have already seen this to be true: “So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.” (Luke 5:16 NKJV). If even He did so, why should we not do the same? To pray without ceasing does not necessarily mean on bended knee all of the time. If I am to emulate the life of Christ, all that I do must be done with a prayerful attitude. If I am engaging in some activity that challenges my ability to emulate Christ in His life here on earth, I should be uttering prayers for guidance “under my breath” the whole time. Thus, even in times of trial, we are open to God’s guidance. If we ever believe we have arrived at a place where we can achieve this without a prayerful attitude, we have just given our souls over to Satan who deceives us into believing we can do it on our own.

The events of this world today are presenting trying times, and many of us may soon be faced with choices as to whom we follow in life. Are we ready for such challenges? Can we do it alone? Indeed not! We can only meet these challenges with a prayerful attitude.

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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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Strength and Refuge

~~ by tkbrown
I cannot imagine what it must be like
to be in his position, having lost so much . . . 

How does one rebuild after such devastation?
. . . after seeing so much suffering and misery?
. . . after opening eyes to the cruelest of cruel
and the most surreal of the most beautiful?

The pain in his facial expression, his eyes,
brings tears to mine that won't blink back.
So much planning! Will it be enough
to bring life to a town so marred by death?
Can any amount of planning or effort
to jumpstart life -- after so much death --
ever diminish or take away the pain?

The stress of shouldering so much responsibility
must overwhelm even the strongest of men at times.
One must respect, if not admire, the tenacity
of those in public office, muddling through the mire
that life has suddenly wrought -- with no warning --
no time to prepare for the insurmountable struggles
faced by all during these uncharted times.

These are the times when I look to the scriptures
for guidance and for resolution within myself.
Many specific passages come to the front of my mind,
but for this day, one can take comfort in the message
meted out in the thirteenth chapter of Romans (NKJV).
To those in positions of power during this time
of foreboding, each is to be subject and to give honor.
He or she has been burdened with the greatest load
any leader has ever known. Even war does not
wreak the havoc, pain and loss of incurable illness.
In the end, each of us, whether stricken or not,
whether impoverished or not, must answer
for deeds directed toward those in power --
for each is appointed that power by the Lord God.
Let me never forget, if characteristics needed
to address the burdens of the time were mine,
I would be there; but, I do not have what it takes
to meet today's challenges head-on --
most of us do not . . ..
Thus, I must respect those whom God deems
able to fill whatever needs arise on this day,
and on every day throughout this time of trial.
May God Bless and Keep Each of Them,
and May He Be Their Strength and Refuge!

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Source Referenced: The Holy Bible (NKJV) — the New King James Version

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Photo by: Steve Halama on Unsplash.com

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Stay Home, Obey the Mandates

~~ a Devotional ~~

 ~~ by tkbrown

There is something about ‘having to stay inside’ that gives us the ‘itch’ to go outside. We are creatures of habit! We are bored staying inside. We feel like we are being punished, but in reality, we are not being punished. We are being protected, but only if we adhere to the stringent lifestyle that must be our abode for a time.

You ask, “How long a time?” “Isn’t a week or two enough?” Probably not. As President Trump has said, it may be months before ‘this lifestyle’ ends. We must protect ourselves, or others will never be able to assist in our protection. We must stay inside unless we absolutely have to get out.

We all have certain, necessary things for which we must leave the home — but, really, those are few. Plan your meals for the week ahead, then have one person get the supplies needed for those meals. Have fun preparing food at home instead of eating out or buying take-home.

If you must go to the doctor, do not drag others along with you. Go, get it over with, and go home. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, please go be tested — do not delay in this. If you infect others, and one of those ‘others’ dies, what will that mean to you?

If you must leave your home to pay a bill, go — pay the bill — then go back home. Do not drive around to see how many people are not staying home.

We must be pro-active in this situation. The people who have pulled together to help us through this are large in number. Be thankful for what they are doing! Listen to what they are saying They have been tasked with a monumental responsibility.

Before COVID-19 erupted, tests to confirm it in a person were non-existent. Those have been created since the virus began. This takes time.  Sometimes, it takes months to create an accurate test. Those tests are now available to those cases doctors deem to exhibit symptoms of COVID-19.

The vaccine to immunize against a new virus cannot be developed until it erupts. Those usually take twelve to eighteen months. They are already being tested, but it will still be several months before they become available to the general public. It must be stringently tested to ensure it does not add to the new cases.

Do what those tasked with protecting you tell us to do! Keep track of the speed of spread with this contagion. and it will help you to see how much danger you are in if you leave your home.

Yesterday, the United States had 1,000 cases of COVID-19. Today, it is 6,000 cases. That means it has multiplied five-fold since yesterday. Think of that! FIVE TIMES MORE than yesterday. How can you protect yourself with people not even knowing (or caring, in some instances) they have been exposed? How can the officials protect you, if you do not keep up with what they are saying? This is really serious!

My mother was born in 1918 — when the Spanish Flue pandemic killed so many people. She was too young to remember the quarantines put into place by governing officials, but her parents and other relatives remembered. She did remember what they said, and she relayed that to us.

Many are going to die, but that number can be greatly reduced by doing what the authorities say. Don’t hold animosity toward them. They have your best interests at heart.

No, I am not panicked. I just know that I must do my part too. I must stay inside — away from other people — unless I absolutely have to go take care of business.

Matthew 22:17-22 (NKJV) relates a situation when the Pharisees tried to trip Jesus up regarding the law and what must be obeyed.

  • 17 — “Tell us, therefore, what do you think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”
  • 18 — “But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, ‘Why do you test me, you hypocrites?'”
  • 19 — “‘Show Me the tax money.’ So, they brought Him a denarius.”
  • 20 — “And He said to them, ‘Whose image and inscription is this?'”
  • 21 — “They said to Him, ‘Caesar’s’ And He said to them, ‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.'”
  • 22 — “When they had heard these words, they marveled and left Him and went their way.”

Romans 13:1 and 2 addresses the importance of submitting to the directives of those in positions of power in your country.

  • 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 judgement on themselves.”

So, do your part by doing what our Governing Officials have said we must do. Stay home unless you absolutely must go and do something of importance.

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When Devout Women Pray

~~ a Devotional ~~

~~ by tkbrown
Source: Holy Bible — New King James Version (NKJV)

Lydia Becomes a Christian

Acts 16:11-15

  • 11 — “Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samo-thrace, and the next day came to Neapolis,”
  • 12 — “and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days.”
  • 13 — “And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.”
  • 14 — “Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.”
  • 15 — “And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So she persuaded us.”

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Lydia was a businesswoman who met with a group of women to make prayer on the Sabbath day by the riverside in Philippi of Macedonia. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira.

Paul and his party, who had just recently arrived in Philippi, joined the women. There, Paul met Lydia. “And the Lord opened her [Lydia’s] heart to heed the things spoken by Paul,” (Acts 16:14 NKJV). Thus, God had seen Lydia’s heart and had deemed her prayers worthy of being heard. He answered her prayers by sending Paul to speak with her.

Lydia and her household saw the truth in Paul’s teachings and were baptized into Christ’s church. Afterward, she begged of Paul and his team that they stay in her house if they judged her heart to be faithful to God. Paul said she persuaded them.

What this says is, even before she became a Christian, Lydia’s prayers were fervent enough to be heard by God and Jesus Christ. Her prayers were recognized as those of a woman who was truly searching for the truth, and He answered her prayers.

Typically, When the prayers uttered before becoming a Christian are referenced as being ‘heard’, it is those of Cornelius that are mentioned and studied.

Perhaps, as encouragement to devout women of faith, we should make an effort to show the same virtue and righteous recognition are given to Lydia’s prayers. Thus, when a woman of ‘faith’ prays, God hears and answers.

Lydia continued to support efforts to grow the church in Philippi.

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Photo Above: by reenablack @ pixabay.com.

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Thanksgiving

~~ a Devotional ~~

~~ by tkbrown

Note: If we believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, if we believe that He was sent to this earth to die for the sins of all mankind, if we believe He rose again three days after His death, and if we believe He ascended to heaven to be with God, His Father, once again, then we must believe He will come again to receive us unto himself, when it is time!

— Philippians 4:4 — “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say rejoice!”

Philippians 4:5 — “Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.”

Note: I am amazed at all God has provided for me and mine. He has left no need lacking. With a prayerful heart, I give Thanks this day for His abounding provisions. He makes His love for me known by providing all for which I have need!. I am, daily, amazed at the unlimited bounds of His love.

Philippians 4:6 — “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God,”

Philippians 4:7 — “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

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~~ Please join with me in an ongoing Prayer of Thanks. ~~

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