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.

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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.

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.”

 

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.

Does It Pay to Pray?

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Guest Post by Morgan Bryson

I prayed for a child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him” (I Samuel 1:27).

Have you ever prayed and prayed for something or someone and you feel like God hasn’t answered your prayer? I think everyone has been in that situation.

God answers prayer, but not always in the way you might expect.

It is hard for me to sit down and discipline myself to spend a few minutes with God, but when I do I feel like I have accomplished something.

In our Wednesday night Bible class we are studying prayer and how to pray with scripture. I have learned a lot and I am enjoying it very well. God doesn’t care how we pray or where we do it, but He wants us to pray to Him as often as we can.

The Bible says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you” (John 15:7). This tells me that if I only have the faith in God and in what I am asking, God will give it to me.

God wants to hear from us; nothing is too big or small for Him to deal with in our lives.

The verse above from I Samuel was a prayer of Hannah. It was very important to her to have a child. God answered her prayer! Her prayer “paid” off!

What is important to you? Have you prayed about it today? Do you trust God that He will answer your prayer?

One of my favorite songs of our youth group goes, “Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understandings. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”

When I trust God I will pray to Him. I need His answers and guidance. For me, it pays to pray.

Exactly How Was Jesus Divine?

Exactly How Was Jesus Divine?

Lots of individuals are accepting that Jesus was God’s son but less clear on his divinity. Actually, the two phrases do not teach different things. Even while Jesus is called the “son of God” it does not mean He is not divine. So, how was Jesus divine? Let’s look at two solutions to what some think is a big problem.

First, there are many passages that clearly state that Jesus was divine (i.e. God in the flesh). “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Verse fourteen portrays who “the Word” was when it says, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The Word was Jesus Christ and John 1:1-4 obviously shows that “the Word” was “God.”

Second, Paul in the Philippian letter reconfirmed this truth. He wrote, by the power of the Holy Spirit, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5-7). Christ existed in the form of God before He decided to lay that off and come to earth. He did not take the mindset that being divine was something that He was to grasp and continue to hold onto.

Again, Paul stated very clearly that while Christ was on earth He was divine. “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). The Greek word for “Deity” means “the state of being God” (Bauer 452). It was not that He had some features or characteristics of God. No, He was the very essence of God. We can have characteristics, but we simply cannot have the essence of God.

The uncertainty comes when we think about the phrase “son of” in human terms. In human relationships “son of” means one who is younger than the one who is the father. But, the phrase “son of” carries with it one “who has the nature of.” To illustrate, Barnabas was called “Son of Encouragement.” This doesn’t mean that his father was “encouragement.” But rather, Barnabas had the nature of being an encourager. So it is with Jesus Christ. How was Jesus divine? When He is spoken of as the “son of God” it just conveys that He had the nature of God —the essence of God (Colossians 2:9).

(Bauer, Walter. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd Edition. Ed. Fredrick Danker, W. Arndt, and F. Gingrich. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2000. Print.)

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This article was written by Wayne Burger. Wayne is a local preacher in Conifer, Colorado and an instructor at the Bear Valley Bible Institute with over 30 years of preaching experience. Wayne holds a B.A. in Bible from Abilene Christian University and a M.B.S. from the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. Wayne’s methods have published four books, and he is a regular writer for the Rocky Mountain Christian Newspaper. If you’d like to learn more about how to be saved and other similar Bible topics, please check out www.alivewithchrist.com.

How to Determine Truth

1 Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us,

2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,

3 it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus;

4 so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

(Luke 1:1-4)

Simple Switch: Examine carefully what has been written to know the exact truth.

(Have you ever asked yourself, “how can I get saved?” If not, I highly recommend that you look at this).