Saturday, April 12, 2014

A 52 Word Journey for Bible Study in 2014: Words 13 and 14: Joy and Gluttony


In January, I began a series of blog posts summarizing what I'm calling my 52 word journey of Bible study. I'm taking one word from Scripture a week and studying it as part of my personal Bible study. As a means of helping to organize my jumbled notes (and often equally jumbled mind!), I'm sharing my journey of study on my blog. Over the last two weeks, I've studied the words joy and gluttony. I should note that when I made my list of 52 words at the beginning of the year, I formulated the list as words came to me, so there is no rhyme or reason to the order. Hence, I'm covering joy and gluttony in the same post, though perhaps a challenge at times for us as fallen, but forgiven, humans is that we find joy in gluttony.

 Joy
The word joy, or some form of the word, appears in the Bible over 200 times. In the NIV, 25 different Hebrew words and 10 different Greek words are translated "joy". The definitions of many of these words centered around the concepts of exultation and gladness--stronger words than simply the emotion of happiness. During my study, there were two key things that jumped out to me: 1) the verbs associated with joy in the Old Testament 2) the adjectives associated with joy in the New Testament. As someone who isn't as demonstratively joyful as she could be, these challenged me.

In the Old Testament, the verbs associated with joy were quite demonstrative. Here are just a handful of examples:
  • shouted for joy (Ezra 3:12)
  • sing for joy (1 Chronicles 16:33)
  • ate/drank with great joy (1 Chronicles 29:22)
  • celebrated with joy (Ezra 6:16)
  • led with joy (Psalm 45:15)
  • filled with joy (Psalm 126:3)
While the Old Testament focused how joy might be manifested in our lives by our actions, the New Testament provides us with an understanding of the extent of joy we should seek in our lives. Multiple times the apostle John discusses the idea of complete of full measure of joy. In John 16:24, he quotes Jesus saying that asking anything in His name will lead to "your joy being complete". In John 17: 13, Jesus prays that the disciples might have a "full measure of joy". In 1 John 1:4, John writes the letter to make the joy of those who received the letter complete, and in 2 John 1:12, he says that he want to visit the recipients of the letter to make his joy complete. Paul similarly notes how specific people (Timothy-2 Timothy 1:4) or churches (the Macedonian church-2 Corinthians 8:2) can make people overflow or be filled with joy. It is a great and challenging lesson to learn that joy is not only an action or response to God, it's a relational term with our family in Christ. Those relationships can help us be joyful.

Gluttony
To my surprise, in the NIV, the word "glutton", "gluttons", or "gluttony" only appears 7 times. Perhaps, this stems in part to the fact that I wrongly thought that gluttony (seen as one of the seven deadly sins in some circles) was one the things listed by Solomon in Proverbs 6 as detestable to God. Gluttony is not listed in the Proverbs 6 passage, though later in the book (Proverbs 23:2) Solomon uses some hyperbole to make a point about gluttony saying, " put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony". This is similar to Jesus' message in the sermon on the mount when he talks about cutting off your hand or gouging out your eye if it causes you to sin (in context, commit adultery). Both of these strong statements point to the seriousness of  removing temptations that pull us away from God, whether its sexual sin or finding too much pleasure in physical food. The pleasures of this earth must be seen in an eternal context. They are temporary enjoyments that cannot give us meaningful fulfillment of complete joy.

  Previous posts:

 Introduction to the 52 Word Journey

 Words 1 and 2: Confidence and Peace

 Words 3 and 4: Perseverance and Works

Words 5 and 6: Humility and Compassion

Words 7 and 8: Kindness and Faithfulness

Words 9 and 10: Goodness and Pride

Words 11 and 12: Self-Control and Self-Discipline

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A 52 Word Journey for Bible Study in 2014:Words 11 and 12: Self-Control and Self-Discipline


In January, I began a series of blog posts summarizing what I'm calling my 52 word journey of Bible study. I'm taking one word from Scripture a week and studying it as part of my personal Bible study. As a means of helping to organize my jumbled notes (and often equally jumbled mind!), I'm sharing my journey of study on my blog. Over the last two weeks, I've studied the words self-control and self-discipline.

Self-control

The words "self-control" or "self-controlled" are only mentioned 13 times in the Bible and only twice in the Old Testament--both in the book of Proverbs.Examining the original Hebrew Solomon used gave me a better understanding of what self-control really is. Proverbs 16:32 reads, "Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city."The Hebrew, mashal ruwach is translated as self-control in English. A literal translation of those Hebrew words in the second part of Proverbs 16:32 would read "he who reigns over his spirit than one who takes the city". I often understood "self-control" as having control over my actions, but it's really more internal than that. To be sure, having the self-control not to eat a second piece of chocolate cake or not to yell at someone who cut you off in traffic, is  indeed exercising self-control of one's actions. To have true reign over your spirit, however, means that you are able to squash the desire for a second piece of cake or that you are able to control your emotions in such a way that you do not have an emotional reaction to the driver who cut you off that might lead to the desire to yell at him or her. Exercising self-control is nipping our sinful desires in the bud.

In the New Testament, 5 of the 11 mentions of self-control/self-controlled are found in the book of Titus, and 4 of these come in the context of Paul's teaching to Titus to ensure that the church was of sound doctrine. In Titus 2, Paul encourages Titus to teach various groups within the church to be self-controlled, and in verse 11-12, Paul notes that the grace of God teaches us "to live self-controlled". The Greek word translated self-controlled--sōphronōs-- more literally means "of sound mind".

 It is a God of grace that teaches us to be of a mind and a spirit of self-control. It's not a God of overberance and spiritual micromanagement. Self-control is also a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:23). To be self-controlled is not to be a robotic, self-killjoy, it is to reign over your own spirit as fruit of the Holy Spirit because you have allowed God's grace to teach you.

Self-discipline

I was somewhat surprised to find that a form of the word "self-discipline" is only found in the Bible once, in 2 Timothy 1:7 where Paul notes that God gave us a Spirit of self-discipline. The root of the Greek word translated as self-discipline is the same as the one I noted above that is translated to self-controlled. Because there was only one use of  "self-discipline" in the Bible, I decided to expand my study this past week and also study the concept of discipline as it is portrayed in Scripture.

In the Old Testament especially, there is a clear message about our receptivity to discipline in our lives. In Proverbs, Solomon notes that a bad attitude toward discipline can lead to death (5:23), poverty and shame (13:18), and to despising self (15:32). On the other hand, several verses note that being receptive to discipline can lead to blessing:

  • Psalm 94:12-"Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord, the man you teach from your law"
  • Job 5:17-"Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty"
  • Proverbs 10:17-"He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray".
  • Proverbs 12:1-"Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid". 
  • Proverbs 19:20-"Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise".
Discipline is often cast in a negative light, but really it is helpful (albeit often painful) to enable us to become better people and followers of God.

In Hebrews 12, the author discuss God's discipline and how it comes because of the relationship that we have with Him--as His children. Just as earthly parents discipline their children because they love them and want them to grow and mature, so God disciplines us so that we grow and mature spiritually. This is what separates discipline from punishment. Discipline is rehabilitative; punishment is punitive.

Previous posts:

 Introduction to the 52 Word Journey

 Words 1 and 2: Confidence and Peace

 Words 3 and 4: Perseverance and Works

Words 5 and 6: Humility and Compassion

Words 7 and 8: Kindness and Faithfulness

Words 9 and 10: Goodness and Pride

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A 52 Word Journey for Bible Study in 2014:Words 9 and 10: Goodness and Pride



In January, I began a series of blog posts summarizing what I'm calling my 52 word journey of Bible study. I'm taking one word from Scripture a week and studying it as part of my personal Bible study. As a means of helping to organize my jumbled notes (and often equally jumbled mind!), I'm sharing my journey of study on my blog. Over the last two weeks, I've studied the words goodness and pride.

 Goodness

 One of the reasons I wanted to study the word "goodness" in the Bible was because I struggle to clearly distinguish between the ideas of goodness, kindness, and righteousness. If someone is good, how is that different from that person being kind or righteous? To be sure, if someone portrays any one of those attribute in their lives, they are likely going to display the others. They aren't exclusive of each other, but how are they different? My study showed me that goodness is truly an attribute of God, but that we have the opportunity to reflect that in our lives because of His Spirit. I've read the story of Moses and his encounter with God in Exodus 33 many times, but discovered something I hadn't realized before in verses 17-23 (emphasis mine):
17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” 18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” 19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” 21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
Notice that in verses 18 and 19, Moses asks for God to show His glory, and God responds by indicating that His goodness will pass in front of Moses. In verse 22, God says that He will allow His glory to pass by.   Interestingly, the Hebrew words Moses uses in the book of Exodus for "goodness" and "glory" are different words. This may all seem like abstract semantics, but in my quest to discover what goodness is, this helps to make it distinct from kindness. It makes it a truly godly attribute--as if God's goodness and glory are one in the same.

David notes God's goodness throughout the Psalms as well, as does Solomon in his dedication of the temple (2 Chronicles 6:41). "Goodness" is in the NIV Old Testament only 12 times, and of those, 8 are from either David or Solomon.

In the New Testament, interestingly, like I discussed in my last post regarding the word "kindness", the word "goodness" does not appear in the Gospels either. However, it is mentioned other times in the New Testament, including twice being mentioned by Paul--in Ephesians 5 and Galatians 5--as a fruit of either light or the Spirit. It is something that God produces through us in our lives.

Pride/Proud

About a year ago, I read John Piper's book What Jesus Demands from the World which discusses 50+ things that Jesus "demanded" in the Gospels. One of the sections in that book--on pride and humility-- continues to challenge me. It made me realize that I struggle with a certain type of pride--unapplauded pride. As Piper writes in his book (a PDF version is found on his website here):
 Boasting is the response of pride to success. Self-pity is the response of pride to suffering. Boasting says, “I deserve admiration because I have achieved so much.” Self-pity says, “I deserve admiration because I have sacrificed so much.” Boasting is the voice of pride in the heart of the strong. Self-pity is the voice of pride in the heart of the weak. Boasting sounds self-sufficient. Self-pity sounds self-sacrificing. The reason self-pity does not look like pride is that it appears to be needy. But the need arises from a wounded ego, and the desire is not really for others to see them as helpless but as heroes. The need that self-pity feels does not come from a sense of unworthiness but from a sense of unrecognized worthiness. It is the response of unapplauded pride. 
I'll consider my spiritual toes stepped on with Piper's words. I do not want to, however, put Piper's words over God-breathed Scripture. Scripture has a lot to say on the topic of pride, too.The Old Testament writers identified that pride leads to bad things including downfall (2 Chronicles 26:16), disgrace (Psalm 11:22), destruction (Proverbs 16:18), and forgetting God (Deuteronomy 8:14). It almost sounds like a list of side effects for a drug, and perhaps, in some sense, it is. We often self-medicate with pride.

There is another (and very different) context in which the word "pride" is used--in the phrase "take pride". People often say they are proud of their children or proud of a family member's or friend's success. We even may have a sense of pride in something we have achieved personally. This is different than a sinful pride. In Scripture, the phrase "take pride" is used in 6 verses. As an example, Galatians 6:4 discusses how we should test our own actions so that we can "take pride" in ourselves without comparing ourselves to others. We are to "take pride" in ourselves, but only as part of a honest introspection. The Greek translated to the phrase "take pride" is kauchēma, which means to glory in or boast.  This is not the kind of  pride that Piper discusses in which we're seeking recognition from others for either our accomplishments or sacrifices. In this context, we can quietly glory in our spiritual growth. This provides a clear contrast from a pride that seeks a response from others.

  Previous posts:

 Introduction to the 52 Word Journey

 Words 1 and 2: Confidence and Peace

 Words 3 and 4: Perseverance and Works

Words 5 and 6: Humility and Compassion

Words 7 and 8: Kindness and Faithfulness

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A 52 Word Journey for Bible Study in 2014:Words 7 and 8: Kindness and Faithfulness


In January, I began a series of blog posts summarizing what I'm calling my 52 word journey of Bible study. I'm taking one word from Scripture a week and studying it as part of my personal Bible study. As a means of helping to organize my jumbled notes (and often equally jumbled mind!), I'm sharing my journey of study on my blog. Over the last two weeks, I've studied the words kindness and faithfulness.

Kindness

The word "kindness" is used dozens of times throughout the the Bible. In my study,  I found that there are three general contexts in which the word is used--God's kindness, others' kindness, and God's call to us to be kind. Many of the "big names" in the Old Testament expressed thankfulness for the kindness of God or others or they prayed for kindness to be shown to them:
  • Genesis 24- Abraham's servant prayed for God's kindness in finding a wife for Isaac, and God was kind in providing that this servant 
  • Genesis 32- Jacob prayed for God's kindness in re-uniting with his brother Esau
  • Genesis 39- Joseph was shown God's kindness
  • Joshua 2- Rahab, a prostitute, is noted for showing kindness to the Israelite spies
  • Ruth-Naomi and Boaz recognized both Ruth's and God's kindness
In the New Testament, I found it somewhat surprising is that the word "kindness" is not found in the Gospels, and that includes searching through three versions--the NIV, KJV, and ESV. The reason for this may be that the Greek word that is often translated "kindness" is "philadelphia" --brotherly love or kindness. In some instances, perhaps those who translated the Bible into English may have chosen to translate philadelphia into "love". This, however, does not mean that Jesus did not call people to be kind or that God's kindness is not recognized. In Paul's writings he frequently notes the kindness of God and our need to clothe ourselves with kindness (Galatians 5:22) or to produce the Spirit's fruit of kindness (Colossians 3:4).

The most challenging message of Paul in regards to God's kindness, at least to my heart, is that found in Romans 2 when Paul challenges those in the Roman church regarding their judgment of others for doing the same things that they themselves do. Paul writes in verses 3 and 4, "So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things , do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? "Contempt for God's kindness--that is a very strong phrase, but Paul notes that is what we do when we aren't introspective of our own hearts in relation to our judgment of the hearts of others.

Faithfulness/Faithful

The use of  "faithfulness/faithful" in Scripture center around either on God's faithfulness or His call for us to be faithful. In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word "aman" which means believe, assurance, or faithful is often translated as faithful. In the New Testament, the Greek word "pistos" which means faithful or believe is often translated "faithful". If one is faithful, it means you can believe what they say they are going to do--it's spiritual integrity.

Throughout the Old Testament, the writers note God's faithfulness in the context of His other, numerous virtues. In Deuteronomy 7:9, Moses writes how God is faithful in keeping His covenant of love. In the Psalms, David notes how God's works are faithful (Psalm 114:7 and Psalm 146:6). In Jeremiah 3:12, Jeremiah praises God's faithfulness in spite of Israel's lack of faithfulness. In Lamentations 3:22, Jeremiah again writes of the greatness of God's faithfulness--as faithful as the morning--and that His compassion never fail.

I found a common phrase in the book of Psalm--"faithful servants". David writes frequently of God's promises to His faithful servants. In Psalm 85:8, God promises peace to His faithful servants. In Psalm 148:14, His "faithful servants" are praised and deemed people close to God's heart. In Psalm 4:3, David writes that "faithful servants" are set apart for God. Faithfulness to God is important, but our understanding of our relation to God is equally important. We need to see ourselves as His servants.

There are also many times in the New Testament where the word "faithful" or "faithfulness" is used, but I'm only going to discuss one. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul writes, " No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted , He will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it". It seems that this verse often gets interpreted in the context of trials, not temptations. People often say in reference to this verse that God won't give you more than you can handle. While I understand this verse to express God's faithfulness to us in giving us what we need,  it is about God's faithfulness to us when we face temptation, not trials. To be sure, we may face certain temptations when we face trials, but this verse is talking specifically about the temptation to sin, not facing trials. Perhaps, this is merely a semantic discussion, but I think it is important to see God's faithfulness in our spiritual battles with sin, not solely in our earthly (and spiritual) battles with trials. He is going to be faithful to us. In that vein, I feel the need to share this song, one of my favorites in my high school days:

 

  Previous posts:

 Introduction to the 52 Word Journey

Words 1 and 2: Confidence and Peace

 Words 3 and 4: Perseverance and Works

 Words 5 and 6: Humility and Compassion

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Prescience of Palin on President Obama's "Flexible" Leadership

As Russia invaded Ukraine, Governor Palin posted the following on her Facebook page. That's right; Prescient Palin strikes again!

During the 2008 election, Governor Palin was mocked for postulating that Russia may invade Ukraine if then Senator Obama was elected. As Tony Lee at Breitbart noted, during the 2008 election, some in the media called Palin's scenario "far-fetched". In reality, Governor Palin has proven prescient, almost clairvoyant, on many occasions from death panels to the Arab Spring to rare earth metals to quantitative easing to common core.  Just to name a few.

 There is  a sense of vindication when a woman so mocked by the media and the establishment's of both parties is proven right time and time again.  There is also a sense of a frustration and sadness that such a great nation lacks the leadership it needs. A Russia bold enough to invade Ukraine can only do so because of a vacuum of leadership in America. President Reagan famously won the Cold War with the USSR without firing a single shot because of his principled and strong leadership, not  "flexible" leadership that declares "happy hour" when the world is in chaos.

 Crossposted here, here, and here.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A 52 Word Journey for Bible Study in 2014:Words 5 and 6: Humility and Compassion


In January, I began a series of blog posts summarizing what I'm calling my 52 word journey of Bible study. I'm taking one word from Scripture a week and studying it as part of my personal Bible study. As a means of helping to organize my jumbled notes (and often equally jumbled mind!), I'm sharing my journey of study on my blog. Over the last two weeks, I've studied the words humility and compassion.

Humility (or Humble/Humbly)

Humility, in my humble opinion (pun intended), is an often misunderstood concept. Too often humility is perceived to be an attitude of self-debasement. The Scriptures seem to indicate, however, that humility really is recognizing our need for powerful, benevolent God and acting in such a way that we put others before ourselves. C.S. Lewis, I think, summarized it well when he said, "humility is not thinking less of yourself'; it is think of yourself less".

In the Old Testament, it is amazing to me how the Psalmists and Solomon in the book of Proverbs indicate what God does for those who humbly recognize who they are in comparison to God:
  • Psalm 18:27-"You [God] save the humble"
  • Psalm 25:9-"He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way"
  • Psalm 147:6- "The Lord sustains the humble"
  • Psalm 149:4-"He crowns the humble with salvation"
  • Proverbs 3:34-"He mocks the proud mockers but gives grace to the humble"
  • Proverbs 11:2- "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom"
Although I did not share the complete verses in each of the above, most of them describe the contrast between pride and humility, which is important. God spiritually provides for those who yield to Him.

In the New Testament, the use of the words humility or humble is often a translation of the Greek word tapeinophrosynē or some variant of that word which provides a better picture of the concept of humility than simply the word humility. In Strong's Concordance,  this Greek word is defined as a "deep sense of one's [moral] littleness". If we are able to understand this and make this our attitude, it will influence how we  treat others.

While many of the verses in the Old Testament about humility note what God does for the humble, many of the verse in the New Testament about humility note how we live out humility in our own lives. In two verses, Colossians 3:12 and 1 Peter 5:5,  Paul and Peter both note how we are to clothe ourselves with humility--making that attitude part of our identity in Christ. The most challenging verse on humility to me, though, comes from Philippians 2, when Paul gives the ultimate example of humility-- Christ lowering himself to live life as a man and die on the cross for our sins. Christ has no littleness; He is the Son of God. He was willing, though, to take on that "littleness" because of His love for us. What a challenge to us to take on our own littleness and live humbly.

Compassion

One of the most striking things about the word compassion in Scripture is that during the time in history when Scripture was written, people thought that such attitude/emotion-fueled action emanated from one's bowels or womb. One words in Hebrew translated to compassion in the Old Testament is "racham", meaning "womb" or "compassion", and one of the words in Greek is "splagchnizomai" meaning "to be moved as to one's bowels, hence to be moved with compassion, have compassion (for the bowels were thought to be the seat of love and pity)". Perhaps this sounds a bit gross and ignorant in light of today's understanding of biology and emotion, but at the same time, it is indicative of how deep our compassion should be.

In Psalm 103, David  beautifully describes God's compassion for us throughout the Psalm. In verse 4, David not only notes how God saves us from the pit, He crowns us with compassion. He not only saves us from destruction, he treats us as royalty.  In verse 8, David ties God's compassion to His grace, love, and patience. In verse 13, David writes of God's compassion for us in the context of a father's compassion.

In the book of Matthew, he notes multiple times that Jesus "had compassion" on the crowds and the sick. Compassion was not just an emotion. Jesus lived it. When He had compassion on the crowds who came to hear Him speak He fed them (Matthew 14:13-21). When He had compassion on the sick; He healed them (Matthew 20:29-34). This is the same kind of compassion we are to clothe ourselves (Colossians 3:12) with and live out in our lives (Ephesians 4:32).

Previous posts:

 Introduction to the 52 Word Journey

 Words 1 and 2: Confidence and Peace

Words 3 and 4: Perseverance and Works

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A 52 Word Journey for Bible Study in 2014: Words 3 and 4: Perseverance and Works



In January, I began a series of blog posts summarizing what I'm calling my 52 word journey of Bible study. I'm taking one word from Scripture a week and studying it as part of my personal Bible study. As a means of helping to organize my jumbled notes (and often equally jumbled mind!), I'm sharing my journey of study on my blog. Over the last two weeks, I've studied the words perseverance and works.

Perseverance

Interestingly, at least in the NIV, the word perseverance or any derivative of the word is only found in the New Testament. However, one of the most striking uses refers back to the Old Testament heroes who themselves persevered with faith. The designations of chapters and verses in the Bible were not found in the original text of Scripture, so there were not distinctions between Hebrews 11 and Hebrews 12. Hebrews 11 is often noted to be the "Hall of Faith" where the writer of Hebrews highlights the faithfulness of many--from Abel to the prophets. The first verse of Hebrews 12 then reads:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
That great cloud of witness are the men and women of faith referenced in the previous chapter. They are cheering us on in this race that we are to run with perseverance. I've read this verse dozens and dozens of time throughout my life. I even wrote it on the back of my hand the first time I ran a half marathon for motivation. However, something hit me differently this time. Previously I had read the verse that we must persevere through the entanglements of life and our sin, but the verse reads that we must get rid of those entanglements first, then we can persevere. We can do this because of the examples of those great clouds of witnesses referenced in Hebrews 11--witnesses that include a prostitute like Rahab and a doubter like Gideon--men and women who were themselves imperfect yet showed faith.

The study of perseverance also showed me that Paul, Peter, and James all characterized perseverance as a part of a process of maturing in our faith...and often occurs alongside trials and sufferings. Look at these three verses written by these men of faith. It is a process:
Paul in Romans 5:3-4: 
"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;perseverance, character; and character, hope." 
James in James 1:3-4: 
"because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
Peter in 2 Peter 1:5-7: 
"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.
Works

In my study I focused on works primarily as a noun, rather than a verb. The idea of doing "works" or deeds has been the subject of much debate--even church splits-- throughout Christian history. We all seem to fall somewhere along the spectrum of thinking we can work our way to grace to thinking that we don't necessarily need to exhibit our faith demonstrably because of God's grace.

"Works" translated from the original Hebrew or Greek in the Bible is often translated from two separate concepts of works. One of these concepts of works is in the sense of extraordinary works, miracles, or wonders. This is "pala" in Hebrews or "dynamis" in Greek. David often used the word "pala" in the Psalms to describe the works of God, including in Psalm 139:14 when he notes that we are "fearfully and wonderfully made". Similarly, the word "dynamis" is often used in the Gospels to detail Jesus' miracles, but the later books also use that Greek word to describe the way that God's power works in our lives through His Holy Spirit.

The other concept of "works" is in our occupation, work, or business. In Hebrew this is the word "melakah" and in Greek it is "ergon". When Moses wrote about God's creation of the world, he used the word "melakah".  When the Scripture mentions the Israelites building the tabernacle or temple, that is the word that is used. In the New Testament, "ergon" is used extensively, often translated as either "works" or "deeds". When Paul talks about being saved by grace through faith not by works, especially in the book of Romans, "ergon" is the word he uses. We cannot work to receive His grace; He gives it freely. What, then, are we to do? What about those works that "God prepared in advance for us to do", as Paul writes about in Ephesians 2?

Think about a role in your life that you may be passionate about--be it within your family or your career even-- a role as a wife, husband, mom, dad, aunt, teacher, health care researcher, or whatever it may be. A mom does not love her children--change their diapers, feed them, clothe them, etc-- to earn the "title" of mom. She is a mom, so she does those things for her children because she loves them.  A teacher who is passionate about her job doesn't spend extra time preparing lesson or tutoring students so that she earns the title of teacher, but because she is a teacher, she does those things. Why is it different for our faith? We do those "good deeds" not to earn the title of "Christian". Instead, because our "spiritual occupation", for lack of a better phrase, is that of Christian, we strive to do good things. Good deeds are the product of a Christian life, not the payment to earn the right to be called a Christian.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. I pray that I am truly Spirit-focused in this endeavor and that anything I write as a result of this study is in line with the truth of God's Word.

Previous posts:

Introduction to the 52 Word Journey

Words 1 and 2: Confidence and Peace