Blessed are the peacemakers . . .

~~ a devotional

by tkbrown

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”

Matthew 5:9 — “Holy Bible: King James Version” (KJV)

I grew up going to Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and Worship Services from the age of two. So, by the time I was a Freshman in High School (1st year), I was well versed in the Bible. After my fourteenth birthday, I was asked to teach the Sunday night Bible Class for children. There were five ranging in age from five to twelve.

At one point in Physical Science class during my Freshman year, we were studying the Big Bang Theory versus Creationism. I was the only person in the room who supported Creationism. The teacher and all other students in the room supported the Big Bang Theory. Subsequently, I was the recipient of jeers and ridicule from all others in the room–including the teacher. After that–through my High School years–I did not like science and took no more science classes throughout. I never complained to anyone about the incident. In fact, I was in undergraduate studies seventeen years later (1985) when I first mentioned it to anyone. However, I launched extensive Bible Study–personal and group–because I wanted to be able to respond intelligently to questions about the topic.

When my youngest child was a toddler, one Wednesday night in Bible Class we were discussing scientific evidence against Creationism and how to discuss it with others. I asked the preacher (who was teaching the class) how to explain–when engaged in house-to-house Bible Study with someone–the earth’s age when the Bible indicates an age of 6,000 to 7,000 years, and science has unearthed dinosaur and other fossils which are said to be millions of years old. I was convinced by his answer.

He responded, “There is nothing in the Bible that says there were not other worlds before this Earth was created.” He was right! No where does the Bible even hint there were no worlds before this one. Genesis 1:2 says, “And the earth was without form, and void; . . . ” (Eds. Bible Gateway, 1993). This indicates elements existed from which God “formed” the earth. Who can say those elements did not include dinosaur fossils from the remnants of previous worlds?

As I went through Undergraduate and Graduate classes in college, I never had that dilemma again. During undergraduate Physical Science classes, I talked with the instructor after class one night about what had happened in High School. She said, “I will never do that to you or any other student. That teacher was wrong for allowing the other students to ridicule you, and he was wrong for joining them. There was no excuse for his behavior.” Immediately, I knew this instructor knew what she was made of and what other instructors should be made of. After that, I was never afraid to engage as an equal, and the ridicule never again occurred. I grew to really enjoy my science classes because they presented ideas that stimulated my desire to study both sides–Creationism and Scientific Theory.

I do believe there were other worlds that existed before this one. Science is now proving this to be possible by the evidence being amassed to support past life on other planets. Now, as the asteroid flew past our planet in 2018 (Earl, 2018; George, 2018), a meteorite from another asteroid recently fell to a driveway in England (Lewis, 2021), and just last week, one flew past Vermont so closely it “shook and rattled buildings” (Eds. Associated Press, 2021; Eds. CBS Boston, 2021: Hall, 2021), divergent scientific theories attempt to explain the cosmic events. One theory regarding the 2018 meteorite noted the similarities between it and comets sailing through outer space. It was quite long and would have done much damage if it had hit the earth. It probably would have severed a part of the earth which would then have joined it traipsing around through space. Was it perhaps a fossilized portion of another word?

Through the years, I never created a scene about any incident related to the topic of Biblical Creationism Theory versus Scientific Theory of Earth’s beginnings. I peacefully said what needed to be said and exited the topic. I was never one who enjoyed heated disagreements. I have always preferred to calmly discuss concerns to resolve any disagreement. I have continually prayed about this and other related and similar concerns. I have noted much by way of scientific research supporting rather than disproving Biblical Creationism. I have seen the truth of 2 Peter 3:16 which says, “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of things in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction,” (Eds. King James Bible Online, 2007). As much as I wish it were otherwise, I can do or say nothing to change the beliefs of those so hardened against the scriptures. I must accept it and move on. I will say, though, my extensive studies on the topics have only served to strengthen my beliefs in God, Christ, and the Creation.

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Sources:

Earl, Jennifer. (16 April 2018). Asteroid the size of a football field makes ‘surprise’ flyby close to Earth. “Fox News.” foxnews.com. (21 March 2021). Asteroid the size of a football field makes ‘surprise’ flyby close to Earth | Fox News.

Eds. Associated Press, Wire Service Content. (8 March 2021). Meteor Spotted Over Northern New England and Canada. “U.S. News.” The Associated Press: apnews.com. (21 March 2021). Meteor spotted over northern New England and Canada (apnews.com).

Eds. Bible Gateway. (1993) Genesis 1 “Holy Bible:” King James Version (KJV). biblegateway.com. (21 March 2021). Genesis 1 KJV – In the beginning God created the heaven – Bible Gateway.

Eds. CBS Boston. (9 March 2021). Meteor Over Northern Vermont Seen By People Around New England. “CBS Boston.” Microsoft News: msn.com. (21 March 2021). Meteor Over Northern Vermont Seen By People Around New England – CBS Boston (cbslocal.com).

Eds. King James Bible Online. (November 2007). 2 Peter 3:16. “[Holy Bible] King James Bible Online.” kingjamesbibleonline.org. (21 March 2021). 2 PETER 3:16 KJV “As also in all [his] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be…” (kingjamesbibleonline.org).

George, Steve, CNN. (6 November 2018). Cigar-Shaped Interstellar Object May Have Been Alien Probe, Harvard Paper Claims. “WBZ 04.” CBS Boston: boston.cbslocal.com. (21 March 2021). Cigar-Shaped Oumuamua May Have Been Alien Probe, Harvard Paper Claims – CBS Boston (cbslocal.com).

Hall, Louise. (9 March 2021). Meteor tears across Vermont sky: ‘Extremely bright and absolutely spectacular.’ “Independent.” Microsoft News: msn.com. (21 March 2021). Meteor tears across Vermont sky: ‘Extremely bright and absolutely spectacular’ (msn.com).

Lewis, Sophie. (9 March 2021). Extremely rare meteorite found in wake of spectacular U.K. fireball may contain the “building blocks of life.” “CBS News.” cbsnews.com. (21 March 2021). Extremely rare meteorite found in wake of spectacular U.K. fireball may contain the “building blocks of life” – CBS News.

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Photo Above: by Daniel_Mingook_Kim@Unsplash.com.

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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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My Morning Do . . . Milk of the Word

~~ by tkbrown

1 Corinthians 3:1, 2 (NKJV)

  • 1 — “And I , brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal , as to babes in Christ.”
  • 2 — “I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;”

23 September 2020 — While working on posts for the “Greek Words for ‘love’ in the New Testament” series, I have thought much on my Biblical studies through the years. During my younger years, I studied mostly by verse and by topic. When I needed spiritual strengthening, I would search out scriptures on a particular topic and study it. The scripture was indeed food for my soul.

I grew up in a rural area, so our church family was small. When I was fourteen, I began teaching the Sunday night Children’s Class. There were five children in the class, ages five to twelve. We could not afford the purchase cost of lesson materials, so I started with the four Gospels, and we would take a few verses each week. I would write out the lesson sheets for each child.

The lessons consisted of scripture, copied word for word, with blanks to be filled in. During class, we would read the lesson scripture and fill in the blanks. The youngest could not write, but his siblings helped him fill in the blanks on his sheets. I knew from when I was younger, he could remember what we talked about, especially with two siblings who probably talked with mom and dad about what had been studied. During the two years I taught the class, we digested many morsels as they began being introduced to solid spiritual food.

As I have pondered the purpose for my reminiscing, I realized, the study of Greek words for “love” began in my teen years. The minister taught the teen / adult class. We did much the same as I did with the children, except we did not have fill-in-the-blank sheets. We studied directly from the scripture–a few verses a night. It was during my teen years, in these classes where I learned to study more in depth. The minister spoke of the Greek words for “love” occasionally during these classes, as he did for other words when he thought we could benefit from the learning.

I awoke this morning with understanding of why I had been pondering my younger days. I was being shown, during my teen years, how to study as a mature Christian. In order to do this, we begin as babes in Christ needing the “sincere milk of the word,” referenced by Peter in 1 Peter 2:2:

  • “as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” (King James Version — KJV).
  • “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” (New King James Version — NKJV).

The King James Version (KJV) of the New Testament uses the wording, “sincere milk . . .,” whereas, the New King James Version (NKJV) has changed “sincere” to “pure.” Personally, I prefer the “sincere milk . . .” for this thought process. Just as I fed my babies “milk” in their early days in order to aid their healthy growth — especially bone and teeth growth needing much calcium, we as new Christians need the “milk” of the scriptures to form a firm foundation for our Spiritual growth. As we grow, we are introduced to the more mature instruction so we can develop strength in other areas as we also continue consuming the “milk” to aid continued strengthening of the foundation.

As I pondered this, I realized my attention was being brought to the “solid food” aspect of scriptural study. When I prepare an especially savory meal for physical nutrition, I savor every morsel. This savoring is part of the spiritual growth process too. It is necessary, at times, to take a scripture word by word to learn the true meaning behind the original Greek text in the New Testament. It is necessary to chew it slowly, try to discern which spices were added during preparation. What were the other solid foods added to the dish? Our spiritual study must be taken just as slowly at times.

I said all of the above to say this: The series on Greek words used for “love” in the New Testament is a word by word type of study. We are taking each word as a single morsel of solid food and savoring each flavor (meaning) in order to absorb the most nutrition (understanding) from the food. By learning the various words used in the original Greek text, we are sorting through the flavors of Greek nutrition in order to truly understand what the English version says when it only uses one word, “love,” in its translation.

It was necessary for me to step back and explain this before progressing any further with the Greek words for “love” study in order for you, the readers, to understand the importance of knowing the original Greek term. Just as a chef must know exactly which flavors are needed to achieve a certain flavor, it is necessary for us to know what words added to the flavor of the original text. This is what is meant by the apostle Paul’s reference to “solid food” in 1 Corinthians.

I hope this little aside helps you to understand the “why” behind the “what” of what we are doing with this study. This is my prayer! Blessings to all!