Journey Through Scripture

 

But you must continue with the things you have learned and found convincing. You know who taught you. Since childhood you have known the holy scriptures that help you to be wise in a way that leads to salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus. Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character, so that the person who belongs to God can be equipped to do everything that is good. (2 Timothy 3:14-17, Common English Bible)

In 2018 here at Pastor’s Ponderings we are going to Journey Through the Bible. We will use the “Old and New Testaments” reading plan from Christianity.com Each day will feature a reading from the Old Testament and a reading from the New Testament.

I have long believed reading the Bible accomplishes little without amplifying the lessons from Scripture too. What does the Scripture say and what does it mean? To that end, a part of this series I will write my blog each day on a portion of the Scripture for that particular day. I would encourage you to keep a journal for your own thoughts about the Scriptures for that particular day. Ideally, we might also want to include a part of the entry for the day about how we could apply that Scripture to our lives.

Below are the daily readings for January.

January 1 – Genesis 1-3, Matthew 1

Jan 2 – Gen 4-6, Matt 2

Jan 3 – Gen 7-9, Matt 3

Jan 4 – Gen 10-12, Matt 4

Jan 5 – Gen 13-15, Matt 5:1-26

Jan 6 – Gen 16-17, Matt 5:27-48

Jan 7 – Gen 18-19, Matt 6:1-18

Jan 8 – Gen 20-22, Matt 6:19-34

Jan 9 – Gen 23-24, Matt 7

Jan 10 – Gen 25-26, Matt 8:1-17

Jan 11 – Gen 27-28, Matt 8:18-34

Jan 12 – Gen 29-30, Matt 9:1-17

Jan 13 – Gen 31-32, Matt 9:18-38

Jan 14 – Gen 33-35, Matt 10:1-20

Jan 15 – Gen 36-38, Matt 10:21-42

Jan 16 – Gen 39-40, Matt 11

Jan 17 – Gen 41-42, Matt 12:1-23

Jan 18 – Gen 43-45, Matt 12:24-50

Jan 19 – Gen 46-48, Matt 13:1-30

Jan 20 – Gen 49-50, Matt 13:31-31-38

Jan 21 – Exodus 1-3, Matt 14:1-21

Jan 22 – Exod 4-6, Matt 14:22-36

Jan 23 – Exod 7-8, Matt 15:1-20

Jan 24 – Exod 9-11, Matt 15:21-39

Jan 25 – Exod 12-13, Matt 16

Jan 26 – Exod 14-15, Matt 17

Jan 27 – Exod 16-18, Matt 18:1-20

Jan 28 – Exod 19-20, Matt 18:21-35

Jan 29 – Exod 21-22, Matt 19

Jan 30 – Exod 23-24, Matt 20:1-1-16

Jan 31 – Exod 25-26, Matt 20:17-17-34

I look forward to this journey through the Bible with you.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

The Chrismons… The Butterfly

50 This is what I’m saying, brothers and sisters: Flesh and blood can’t inherit God’s kingdom. Something that rots can’t inherit something that doesn’t decay. 51 Listen, I’m telling you a secret: All of us won’t die, but we will all be changed— 52 in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the final trumpet. The trumpet will blast, and the dead will be raised with bodies that won’t decay, and we will be changed. 53 It’s necessary for this rotting body to be clothed with what can’t decay, and for the body that is dying to be clothed in what can’t die. 54 And when the rotting body has been clothed in what can’t decay, and the dying body has been clothed in what can’t die, then this statement in scripture will happen:

Death has been swallowed up by a victory.
55         Where is your victory, Death?
        Where is your sting, Death?

(56 Death’s sting is sin, and the power of sin is the Law.) 57 Thanks be to God, who gives us this victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! 58 As a result of all this, my loved brothers and sisters, you must stand firm, unshakable, excelling in the work of the Lord as always, because you know that your labor isn’t going to be for nothing in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:50-58, Common English Bible).

Throughout the history of the Christian faith, The butterfly has been a symbol of life after death and the resurrection. The remarkable transformation that takes place during the metamorphosis from caterpillar to butterfly beautifully illustrates the promise found in I Corinthians 15:52: “The trumpet will blast, and the dead will be raised with bodies that won’t decay, and we will be changed.

The caterpillar seems to die wrapped in its cocoon. Then the world seems to change when the caterpillar re-emerges, is resurrected, and it is changed! The caterpillar now has wings and as it becomes a beautiful butterfly.

Like the caterpillar to the butterfly, Jesus died. He went into the cocoon of the tomb and re-emerged, he rose. In this metamorphosis, the world was saved. The butterfly is a fitting symbol of the resurrection, of life after death.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With joy and thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

The Chrismons… PAX

23 Jesus answered, “Whoever loves me will keep my word. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.24 Whoever doesn’t love me doesn’t keep my words. The word that you hear isn’t mine. It is the word of the Father who sent me.

25 “I have spoken these things to you while I am with you. 26 The Companion,[b] the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I told you.

27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid. 28 You have heard me tell you, ‘I’m going away and returning to you.’ If you loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than me. 29 I have told you before it happens so that when it happens you will believe. 30 I won’t say much more to you because this world’s ruler is coming. He has nothing on me. 31 Rather, he comes so that the world will know that I love the Father and do just as the Father has commanded me. Get up. We’re leaving this place (John 14:23-31, Common English Bible).

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid.” At least one of the things we all seek is peace. We might call it peace of mind or peace at heart. It can be elusive to find and even harder to keep. The words from John 14:27 were Jesus reminding the Disciples of their real source of peace.

“PAX” is the Latin word for peace. As such it symbolizes God’s promise to those who choose to follow Jesus. When the angel announced our Jesus’ birth, the heavenly host shouted: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)

This promise had actually been foretold centuries earlier when Isaiah wrote: “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given … and he will be called … Prince of Peace.”

For the believer, peace is not something for which we search. Peace is already ours.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Source: Christian Symbols Unlimited

The Chrismons… IHS

 

The Chrismon IHS is a Christogram, a monogram or combination of letters that makes an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ. The IHS is traditionally used as a religious symbol or Chrismon in the Christian Church.

Contrary to the belief, the meaning of IHS is not, In His Service, though the message contained in that idea is actually a good thought. We should be in Jesus’ service.

In actuality, IHS comes from the Greek. It is an abbreviation of the name IHΣΟΥΣ which is the Greek spelling of Jesus.

The Eastern Orthodox Church arranges the letters or letters similar, into a cross. The letters used are the first letters of Christ or Jesus Christ in the Greek language.

In the West, the “IHS” Christogram appeared first on coins during the time of Justinian II. This took place during the 7th and 8th centuries A.D. The monogram appeared using both “IHS” and “IHC.”

Within the Roman Catholic faith, Jesuits adopted IHS as its emblem during the 1600s.

 

As with Chrismons, we have already seen, IHS also is attached to legend surrounding the Roman Emperor Constantine. It is said that before the battle against Maxentius in 312 A.D. Constantine had a vision of the “IHS” inscription on a cross.

Some commentators believe the abbreviation “IHS” actually came from Egyptian mythology. Present knowledge, however, is unable to confirm this understanding.

This Chrismon, as with the Chi Rho, points us toward the one for whom we journey to Bethlehem each Advent. IHS points us to Jesus.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Source: Wikipedia

 

The Chrismons… The Advent Wreath

11 A shoot will grow up from the stump of Jesse; a branch will sprout from his roots.
The Lord’s spirit will rest upon him, a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of planning and strength, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.
He will delight in fearing the LordHe won’t judge by appearances, nor decide by hearsay.
He will judge the needy with righteousness, and decide with equity for those who suffer in the land. He will strike the violent with the rod of his mouth; by the breath of his lips he will kill the wicked.
Righteousness will be the belt around his hips, and faithfulness the belt around his waist.
The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat;
    the calf and the young lion will feed together, and a little child will lead them.
The cow and the bear will graze. Their young will lie down together, and a lion will eat straw like an ox.
A nursing child will play over the snake’s hole; toddlers will reach right over the serpent’s den.
They won’t harm or destroy anywhere on my holy mountain. The earth will surely be filled with the knowledge of the Lord,  just as the water covers the sea.

10 On that day, the root of Jesse will stand as a signal to the peoples. The nations will seek him out, and his dwelling will be glorious (Isaiah 11:1-10, Common English Bible).

While not a Chrismon per se, the Advent wreath or sometimes known as the Advent Crown is a Christian tradition that marking and symbolizing the four weeks leading up to Christmas. The wreath is usually a ring of evergreen laying flat. The ring symbolizes God’s infinite love. The evergreen represents the hope of eternal life.

There are usually four candles around the outside of the ring or wreath. These mark each week of the season of Advent. One candle is lit each Sunday leading up to Christmas. Three candles are traditionally purple and one is pink. On the first and second weeks of Advent marks the lighting of a purple candle. The third Sunday is the pink candle and a purple candle is used again on fourth Sunday. In more recent times blue candles are used in place of purple candles. It has become common for all candles to be purple or blue. It is also possible, but far less common for the candles to be gold or even red.

Various meanings are given to the four candles. The most common and most traditional are hope, peace, joy, and love.

A white candle usually occupies the center of the wreath. It is lit during Christmas Eve or Christmas Day services. It is the Christ candle.

Candles, once lit, remain lit during worship through Epiphany Day, January 6th.

The concept of the Advent wreath began in the 16th century among German Lutherans. It took about another 300 years for the current Advent wreath to take the shape it has today. During medieval times, Advent was a period of fasting. The pink candle, the candle of joy or happiness was lit on the third Sunday. It represented a break in the fast and was a time of celebration.

Advent is an important time of preparation. The Advent Wreath not only marks the time of Sundays of Advent, it adds beauty and additional meaning to the season.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

The Chrismons… The Jerusalem Cross

The Jerusalem Cross or Five Fold Cross dates back the eleventh century A.D. It has an association with the Kingdom of Jerusalem that dates back the middle of the thirteenth century. As can be seen above left, the variant of the traditional Roman Cross has the center cross with four smaller crosses, one in each quadrant.

The Jerusalem Cross holds a great deal of symbolism. The actual meaning of the symbolism is open to debate. Some believe the crosses symbolize Christ and the four evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Others say it is Christ and the four corners of the globe. Still, others claim its meaning as the five wounds of Christ.

In the late medieval period and the failure of the Crusades, The Jerusalem Cross, also known as the Crusader’s Cross, was used by various Crusader states. It flew on flags and was part of many coats of arms. Peter the Great flew a flag with the cross during his campaign at the White Sea in 1693.

In the 20th century, the Jerusalem Cross became the symbol of world evangelization in the Protestant branches of the Christian Church. Variants of the cross were used in both World War I and World War II.

When the Republic of Georgia unveiled its flag in 2004. The flag consists of a red cross on a white background.

To this day the Jerusalem Cross remains an important icon of the Christian faith. It is used in the arts, in churches as an icon, jewelry, flags and more.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Source: Wikipedia

 

The Chrismons… The Chi Rho

13 Now when Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Human One is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

15 He said, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?”

16 Simon Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

17 Then Jesus replied, “Happy are you, Simon son of Jonah, because no human has shown this to you. Rather my Father who is in heaven has shown you. 18  I tell you that you are Peter. And I’ll build my church on this rock. The gates of the underworld won’t be able to stand against it.19  I’ll give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Anything you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. Anything you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered the disciples not to tell anybody that he was the Christ (Matthew 16:13-20, Common English Bible).

As we continue our look at Chrismons, today we look at the Chi Rho. The Chi Rho is a Christogram, a monogram or combination of letters that makes an abbreviation for the name of Jesus Christ. The Chi Rho is traditionally used as a religious symbol or Chrismon in the Christian Church.

Though it has been used as a monogram for Christ since the period of Constantine’s reign over the Roman Empire in the early 300s A.D., the Chi Rho is even older than that. In pre-Christian times the Chi Rho was used to mark the margins of important texts. It was also used on coins as early as 246 B.C. It may have been used in the era before Christ as an abbreviation of the Greek word Chrestos meaning, good or useful.

The Cho Rho is one of the earliest forms of a Christogram. It is made by superimposing the first two letters of the Greek word Christos. It is made by placing the verticle axis of the rho where it will intersect the center of the chi. It looks like the letter P with the letter X in the lower portion of the P.

According to the early Christian historian, Eusebius during the reign of Roman emperor Constantine had a vision while praying. Eusebius wrote: [W]hile he was thus praying … a most marvelous sign appeared to him from heaven … when the day was already beginning to decline, he saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, CONQUER BY THIS. At this sight he himself was struck with amazement, and his whole army also, which followed him on this expedition, and witnessed the miracle.

It is interesting that the vision was not private. It was witnessed by all of Constantine’s army. Later that same night, Jesus appeared to Constantine and instructed him to recreate the sign (chi rho) he had seen in the sky. Constantine quickly sought to follow the instruction. Eusebius wrote: A long spear, overlaid with gold, formed the figure of the cross by means of a transverse bar laid over it. On the top of the whole was fixed a wreath of gold and precious stones; and within this, the symbol of the Saviour’s name, two letters indicating the name of Christ by means of its initial characters, the letter P being intersected by X in its centre: and these letters the emperor was in the habit of wearing on his helmet at a later period … The emperor constantly made use of this sign of salvation as a safeguard against every adverse and hostile power, and commanded that others similar to it should be carried at the head of all his armies.

Historians debate the authenticity of the story but regardless, use of the Chi Rho spread throughout the Empire, often used in Christian art. Even today, the Chi Rho is a symbol used by the Christian Church throughout the whole year.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Source: aleteia.org

The Chrismons… The Anchor

18 So these are two things that don’t change, because it’s impossible for God to lie. He did this so that we, who have taken refuge in him, can be encouraged to grasp the hope that is lying in front of us.19 This hope, which is a safe and secure anchor for our whole being, enters the sanctuary behind the curtain. 20 That’s where Jesus went in advance and entered for us, since he became a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:19, Common English Bible).

The anchor has been a symbol of the Christian faith for just about as long as the existence of the faith. To sum up its meaning in a single word, “hope.”

The anchor was a key Christian symbol during the early church period during the period when the Roman Empire persecuted Christians. For the early church, the common symbol was not the cross but the anchor.

It was a common practice for early Christians to hide in the catacombs. Worship often took place there. If I am a Christian in the early church period, hiding and worshipping in the catacombs the anchor served to remind me that my hope is anchored in Jesus. Christians needed these reminders many times but none more notable than during the reign of Emperor Nero. In his time Christians were thrown to the lions, burned at the stake, beheaded, crucified, set on fire and otherwise tortured. The anchor served to encourage early Christians that Jesus was (and for us is) their anchor. The symbol encouraged the faithful to remain anchored to the faith and hope of Jesus Christ.

It is said that the use of the anchor came into being during the rule of Emperor Trajan during the first century A.D. The fourth pope, St. Clement to the Crimea. Once there Clement converted the people of his new home. Trajan was livid. He ordered that Clement be tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea. As the story goes, the sea receded three miles to reveal the burial place of Clement. There Clement was buried by angels in a marble mausoleum. This legend, like many legends, is rooted far more in story than in fact. However, what is clear from it is the death of Clement hand a major impact on the faith and life of the early church.

Surprisingly, considering its believed power, the anchor faded from and had all but disappeared by the beginning of the fourth century. When Constantine became emperor and Christianity became the “official” religion of the empire, the cross replaced the anchor in common use.

In the early 1600s, the anchor re-emerged as a symbol for the Church. It remained in use, particularly as an engraved symbol for tombs. By the 1800s the symbol again all but disappeared.

Though not as common today, the anchor can once again be found in Christian use. The silversmith James Avery has used the symbol in his popular “Faith, Hope and Love” ring. Each word in the ring has an accompanying symbol. Faith has a cross, love has a heart and hope is the anchor.

As a former sea-going man, I am attracted to the anchor. When I see this symbol on the Chrismon tree, it reminds me that my hope (as well as my faith) is anchored in Jesus Christ my Lord.

Have a Great day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Source: ChristianityToday.com

 

The Chrismons – The Triquetra

In the beginning was the Word
    and the Word was with God
    and the Word was God.
The Word was with God in the beginning.
Everything came into being through the Word,
    and without the Word
    nothing came into being.
What came into being
    through the Word was life,
    and the life was the light for all people.
The light shines in the darkness,
    and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.

A man named John was sent from God. He came as a witness to testify concerning the light, so that through him everyone would believe in the light. He himself wasn’t the light, but his mission was to testify concerning the light.

The true light that shines on all people
    was coming into the world.
10 The light was in the world,
    and the world came into being through the light,
        but the world didn’t recognize the light.
11 The light came to his own people,
    and his own people didn’t welcome him.
12 But those who did welcome him,
        those who believed in his name,
    he authorized to become God’s children,
13         born not from blood
        nor from human desire or passion,
        but born from God.
14 The Word became flesh
    and made his home among us.
We have seen his glory,
    glory like that of a father’s only son,
        full of grace and truth.

15 John testified about him, crying out, “This is the one of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is greater than me because he existed before me.’”

16 From his fullness we have all received grace upon grace;
17     as the Law was given through Moses,
    so grace and truth came into being through Jesus Christ.
18 No one has ever seen God.
    God the only Son,
        who is at the Father’s side,
        has made God known (John 1:1-18, Common English Bible).

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 I will ask the Father, and he will send another Companion, who will be with you forever. 17 This Companion is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world can’t receive because it neither sees him nor recognizes him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be with you (John 14:15-17).

For centuries, theologians have tried to understand and explain the concept of the Trinity. The simplest approach is “One God, three persons,” “Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In the Scriptures above we find allusions to the idea.

More often than not, the three persons of the Trinity are considered equal because they are all one. It has been said that the Trinity is like water. If the water becomes cold, it becomes ice. In it’s liquid form it is water and when heated it takes on a gaseous form we call steam. Three different representations of one common element, H2O.

Representation of the Trinity is far easier to do in symbols than it is to try to explain the concept. The triquetra, the Chrismon above, is one way the Trinity is visualized.

The triquetra or “Trinity knot” refers to several different three-cornered shapes. In particular the symbol  points to leaf-like shapes that inter-lock together.

The triquetra originally meant any triangle and referred to various three cornered shapes. It was an important religious symbol used by ancient Pagan Celtics.

The symbol has long been used in the Christian church as a symbol for the “Trinity,” Father, Son and Holy Spirit. From it’s earlier history the symbol waned in its used until the Celtic revival of the 19th century.

In modern thought the triquetra brings to mind the shamrock or three-leaf clover of St. Patrick though a direct tie is lacking.

It is easy to find the triquetra in use sculpture, jewelry, stained glass as well as books. Many New King James Bibles have the triquetra imprinted on the title page.

The triquetra, the Trinity knot, is a symbol we commonly find on Chrismon trees this time of year. This Chrismon points us to remembering the Trinity.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

 

 

The Chrismons… The Alpha and Omega

Look, he is coming with the clouds! Every eye will see him, including those who pierced him, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of him. This is so. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the one who is and was and is coming, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:7-8, Common English Bible).

Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look! I’m making all things new.” He also said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “All is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will freely give water from the life-giving spring. Those who emerge victorious will inherit these things. I will be their God, and they will be my sons and daughters (Revelation 21:5-7, Common English Bible).

12 “Look! I’m coming soon. My reward is with me, to repay all people as their actions deserve. 13 I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. 14 Favored are those who wash their robes so that they may have the right of access to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates (Revelation 22:12-14, Common English Bible).

One of the things I love about the Advent/Christmas season is the chrismons on the tree in the church building. I really like the white and gold that colors these symbols of the faith. I also treasure their meaning.

Over the years I have been in the United Methodist Church, I have learned the meaning behind many of the symbols that become chrismons. I thought that during December (I will have a few days this month I will take off due to hand surgery) I would share with you a little of what I have learned.

I thought that for our first chrismon we would begin with the one where Jesus says he is the beginning (and the end). The Alpha and Omega is a symbol Jesus himself claimed. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and Omega is the last. It would be similar to saying “I am the A to Z…”

For many theologians to say “I am the Alpha and Omega,” as Jesus does three times in Revelation above, it means, Jesus always was, always has been and always will be a part of God’s creation.

While I think that is true, I think that idea doesn’t go far enough. I think it means  Jesus always was has, always been and always will be a part of everything. The idea of the beginning and the end to me means Jesus, who is both omnipotent and omnipresent, is always with us, always involved and always touches our lives in everything we do. Even when we sin, Jesus is still there with prevenient grace, working to lead us back to the place we need to be on our faith walk.

From the beginning of our lives to the end of our lives and then beyond, Jesus is always there. And with that, we are blessed, always.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.