God’s Face in Hiding

seek and find

A guest post by Jerry L. Snow

You hide your face and we are troubled…” (Psalm 104:29).

The writer of Psalms often gets our attention by the figures of speech he employs. In Psalm 104:29 he wrote our verse above.

Consider the sun is always there, but it is not always visible. For years the presence of God was manifest to the children of Israel by a pillar of fire or a cloud. Now they complain His face is hidden.

Here we observe, God does not withdraw His presence as an evidence of His divine sovereignty.

Jeremiah wrote, “He does not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men” (Lamentations 3:33).

Isaiah wrote, “Behold the lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, neither His ear heavy that it cannot heart; but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1).

If the consolations of the lord seem “small” to us as Eliphaz suggested to Job (15:11), it very well may be because He is trying to prevent some sin, correct some error, or remind us of some duty we have neglected.

We would do well to remember these words:

The dearest idols I have known,

What e’re that idol be,

Help me to tear it from thy throne,

And worship only Thee

So shall my walk be close with God,

Calm and serene my frame,

So purer light shall mark the road,

That leads me to the Lamb.

universal love

Universal Love of God

A guest post by Nic Bryson

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

universal loveI’ve wondered how the world can be so prejudiced. We as humans look on the outside but God looks on the inside.

We look at the color of a person’s skin, their disabilities, or the way they are dressed. At the same time God is looking at the person that is on the inside and how caring and compassionate they are.

I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:16). In this scripture, again, God is saying that no one is less equal or inferior but that we are all the same.

Another good reference is, “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him” (Romans 10:12). Here again He is saying that He cares not about race.

Back in the Bible times there was prejudice also, it’s not just a recent thing in the past few centuries. The Jews and the Gentiles are just one example of it.

The Jews were the “superior” race (because they were God’s chosen people), and the Gentiles were “inferior.” Although when Christ came and preached the word to everyone, like these scriptures say, He did not look on the outside of the people He was preaching to, but on the person.

We think that no one is prejudice anymore, but just the other night my family and I sat down to watch a video that my father brought home.

It was about two men, who worked together side by side everyday, who were taken by a news crew from 20/20 to test the different responses of people depending on the color of skin.

They took them to the same places and each of them did the same things as the other. Yet, they still received different responses, all of them favoring the man whose skin was lighter.

In the same way, it happens everyday around us  and we say that people are not like that anymore, but they are. I just hope that one day we will be able to say it does not happen and that statement be completely true.

finish line

Fighting the Good Fight

A guest post by Randy Teller

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (II Timothy 4:7-8).

finish line

Living the Christian life is the best fight we will be in.

Paul uses metaphors throughout his letters to Timothy, talking about athletes, training, winning, and awards. I’m sure this was a common subject in New Testament times because of Olympic games, just as it is common today.

Our life is a battle against sin and Satan. Everyday we must arm ourselves with the tools of battle (Ephesians 6:13-18). Just as an athlete must train regularly to compete for their gold medal, we, too, must train regularly to compete for our gold medal, Heaven.

As it is with all types of training, you must constantly push yourself to do better than the day before. When we become complacent with our spiritual lives we are no longer growing closer to God.

Do you pray?

Can you pray a little more?

Do you give?

Can you give a little more?

Do you serve others?

Can you serve a little more?

Physical training is important for physical well being and spiritual training is important for spiritual well being (I Timothy 4:8).

As we train and develop our bodies for this contest, it is also normal to train longer and harder than the actual race or contest. A wrestling match is only 6 minutes long. A wrestler will train for hours every day to prepare for those few minutes.

He does it for one reason: to go the distance.

It does no good to be ahead, only to stop short of the finish line. There is little respect for the athlete who is ahead the entire race only to quit just before the end of the race.

We are in that type of event. It is of no value to lead a spiritual life only to fall away just before reaching the finish line…Heaven.

The Christian’s race is different because it doesn’t matter when you start; just make sure you finish the race. There are many runners in a long distance race and while winning it is a special privilege, finishing the race is the mark of true character (Philippians 3:13-14).

Yes, physical and spiritual training are both vitally important. However, as with all contests, there are rules and regulations that must be followed. This ensures that all contestants will be judged fairly.

Personally, I cannot tell the difference between a double toe loop and a double axel. To the judge it is as obvious as night and day.

As Christians, we, too, have a judge, but we have two advantages.

First, our judge is honest and righteous at all times.

Second, if we don’t get it right the first time, we can ask for and receive a second chance; God does give us rules to live by each day (II Timothy 2:5).

The apostle Paul was a spiritual champion. It is not to say he had a perfect, easy life (II Corinthians 11:23-27). He did, however, have a most precious goal in sight: the crown of righteousness, the gift of eternal life in Heaven.

In his last days he was at peace because of three things: he had fought the fight, finished the race, and had kept the faith.

May God bless you with the desire and ability to say the same.

Me? A Wrestler?

A guest post by Vicki and Bill Tyner

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

The idea of such combat is objectionable to most of us, but wait a minute. What does the Scripture say? Read the above Scripture again. There is bound to be a lesson in there for us.

First, the danger against which a Christian wrestles is not of “this world.” The Christian knows that this world “lies in wickedness” (I John 5:18). Such information should arm us against its encroachments on our lives in Christ.

Yet our conflict arises from forces in league with the world. It may be even within ourselves or our closest associates and like the demons of Gadara, they are many.

Then we must remember they are “mighty.” A little casual Bible reading will illustrate how they have brought down the mighty, strong men have been overthrown. Adam and Eve in the absence of other evil forces were overthrown.

Our enemy is invisible. If he was flesh and blood we could escape him, but like pestilence he is the unseen enemy whose strength comes from his craftiness, pictured in the Bible as the “wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11), or the “beguiling” of the serpent.

We are warned of Satan’s “devices” for as the Bible says, he was a murderer from the beginning.

Like Pharaoh pursuing the children of Israel, he will follow us and that is why we need the protection afforded by the armor of God, in Paul’s further illustration in Ephesians 6. The figures of speech may seem a little confusing, but the message is clear:

We are to be wrestlers!

The Gift of God

A guest post by Ronald F. Pounders

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, so you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

“Love is a beautiful thing.”

“Love is a physical attraction.”

“Love is never having to say you’re sorry.”

“Love is something you show to people you like.”

The Bible agrees that love is a beautiful thing but says it is much more than just a feeling.

Love is a verb—it actively participates. Go to the Bible and seek all passages which refer to God’s love. They all have one thing in common—”God loved, so He gave” or “God so loved, so He did.”

This gives us a clue as to the meaning of love—it’s foremost characteristic is an active quality which evidences itself in giving to others, in pouring out its feelings in deeds of kindness.

Love is a way of living life to the fullest. Psychologists tell us that man has two basic needs: to love and to be loved.

God is love. Love is the very essence of His being.

Jesus is God’s love personified. Because He loves us, a relationship with Him is possible.

God loves us for ourselves. God loves unconditionally. God loves unselfishly. God loves us while we are still His enemy.

True love is reciprocal—the more you give, the more you get. Love in this way is difficult, however God rewards those who take up the challenge. He forgives our sins. He drives out our fears. He gives us greater strength to love.

We may be unable to meet everyone’s needs for love. We can meet the needs of a few and meet some of the needs of others:

“I am only one, but I am one.

I can’t do everything, but I can do something.

What I can do, I ought to do.

By the will of God — I will love

and lighten someone’s load.”

 

Spiritual Fraud

A guest post written by Judy Tedder

The elder, to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth … I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father. And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. This is love, that we walk according to His commandments, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (II John 1:4-11).

These verses made me more aware than ever [of] our responsibility to read and study the Bible daily so that we will know what the scriptures say on all issues. We can then talk intelligently and not mislead anyone.

Many people think that just as long as you go to any church, then you will be saved. According to these verses, if anyone comes to you and does not bring the teachings of Christ, it says, “…he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.”

When we do not take a stand, regarding major issues, such as sexual immorality, including the life style of the homosexual, unscriptural divorce, baptism by sprinkling instead of immersion for the remission of sins, communion weekly, instead of at our convenience and many other issues, then we do not care enough about people’s souls to make sure they are saved.

We are making light of Christ’s teachings.

He did not say it would be easy. I have been in church all my life, but I did not read my Bible as often as I should have until the past year, when I started trying to read it daily.

I find His word exciting and so practical. I have found that if you pray for opportunities to share your faith, they will come. I have read a scripture one day and the next day that particular subject comes up.

It makes you feel good to be able to answer questions with scriptures on the spur of the moment. You can learn something new every time you re-read the Bible. The only book we need is the Bible.

 

Overcoming Depression

Depression tear

Guest Post by David Johnson

“Overcoming despair, depression and discouragement God’s way” (Job 1-3).

1. Even the strongest believers can be discouraged and depressed.

Depression and despair are tools Satan uses most often. If he can create in us any of these symptoms, then we begin to lose our faith, and “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23).

In II Corinthians 1:8-11, we find that even Paul experienced depression. However, he recognized where his help came from.

2. We may be going through many levels of depression simultaneously!

a. Intellectually (Job 3)

b. Emotionally

c. Spiritually

3. Discouragement can cause us to lose perspective

a. We often forget who God really is. What we may consider as tough, difficult, challenging, and impossible, for God it is nothing.

b. Remember, the power of His Word holds the whole world, and we even sing, “He Has the Whole World in His Hands.”

4. Do not keep your deep pain to yourself. Share it with someone else.

5. Remember that God has a purpose for our suffering (I Peter 1:3-9).

In conclusion: take the proper steps to avoid depression:

a. Memorize and meditate on the Scriptures. Also, remember songs of faith when tried or tempted to sin, such as, “Yield Not to Temptation.”

b. Listen to Christian music.

c. Stay in Christian fellowship.

d. Find someone else to encourage.

e. Find a prayer partner.

f. Remember that God is sovereign.

g. Maintain physical exercise.