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2008 Issue 5-6

The Bible makes clear that each congregation has the authority from God to elect its own officers, rather than having officers imposed on it by church or state. But who in the congregation has the duty to vote for church officers? Is it the privilege of every baptized member of the church? Of every communing member, but not of non-communing members? Of adult members but not children? Of both? Of men and women? Does the Bible have any direction to give us on this issue?

Before we see what the Bible leads us to believe on this subject, we must keep in mind that the subject of "voting rights" is emotionally charged. "Women suffrage" is even more highly charged emotionally. Regardless of what the Bible may say, people become excited when they feel any encroachments on, injuries to or denials of their perceived "human and civil rights." And, in this age of egalitarianism, those feelings are all the more intense when people feel that they are viewed as inferior to other human beings. Therefore, when we ask the Bible to direct us as to what we are to believe and practice regarding the identity of those who are to vote in congregations for their church officers, we must earnestly pray that God's Spirit would enlighten our hearts and minds, govern our emotions, and help us to think clearly, as in all matters of faith and practice our desire must be to bring our every thought into captivity to Christ.

Kindnesses cascade through my mind like a mountain stream. I remember my sweet, first-grade teacher giving me a hug for reading a story well. Mrs. Cornelius, my old and stooped fifth grade teacher, stood up to me, kept me in from recess, and told me in her raspy voice that if I would not talk so much, I might learn more. There was an old blind woman in a nursing home we occasionally visited, Mrs. Daniels, who always welcomed us into her room with a smile, a song, and a story. I can hear the ball swoosh through the net on the basketball court my father built for me one summer. My high school Bible teacher often met me for breakfast before school and used the time to encourage me to rise above mediocrity and live for Jesus Christ. For many years, the mailman would stop his vehicle and talk with me about life. When I graduated from high school, my pastor gave me a life-altering book with an inspiring inscription.

At the beginning of Jesus' ministry, Matthew records the proclamation of Jesus in one of His most well known and probably most misunderstood sermons. This sermon does not present a set of lofty unachievable principles for living, rather, they are proclamations of a King to His subjects that can and will be reproduced by His assistance.

It is possible that the Gospel of Matthew was written soon after Jesus' ascension. He wrote it to his Jewish brethren to convince them that Jesus was the promised King and Messiah and also to point out that He was the one who would heal and restore the kingdom of God. This was the "good news" according to Matthew which what he announced to his fellow countrymen. Throughout this gospel, Matthew records 5 stimulating discourses on the kingdom of heaven. These heavenly discourses vary in length (but not in emphasis) - each one makes a special point on the nature and essence of the heavenly kingdom. Even the discourses that barely makc a chapter are worthy of our meditation and theological consideration. These discourses are rich in content and truth and will help every generation understand better the kingdom of heaven established by God on earth through His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

It is impossible to do justice to this beatitude or any beatitude in one hour. In attempting to do so I'm reminded of the story of the man who was sentenced to 99 years in prison. He was 76 years old at the time. He said to the judge, "But your Honor, I will never be able to do it all." "Never mind," the judge said, "just do as much as you can." So, I am going to do as much as I can!

First, Peacemakers are Blessed - "Blessed" are the peacemakers. Second, The Peacemakers Blessing - "They shall be called Sons of God." Third, Peacemakers are a Blessing; they "make-peace." They proclaim the gospel of peace, Romans 10:15, "And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!'" (Isa. 52:7). Ephesians 6:15, "having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;"

Why are those genealogies of Gen. 5 and 11 in the Bible? So many strange names and so many numbers of years mean that few practical-minded Americans will have the interest or the patience to wade through them. But we know that "all scripture is God-breathed and profitable..." so what is the purpose of these genealogies?

Students have been known to complain about the study of history, saying it is only a bunch of names, dates, and places. But wait, the Bible is largely history, so it should not surprise us to finds names, dates and places specified in the record. God has revealed His Word to us in real time and space history. God dealt with real people with specific names, who lived an exact number of years.