Author Archives for Guest Blogger

Paul’s Greeting to the Philippians

August 3, 2017 8:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

“Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 1:1-6 Verse-by-Verse Insights 1:1 – 2 Opening Greeting. As in most ancient letters, the authors and recipients are both mentioned at the beginning. 1:1 Paul and Timothy. Paul often co-authored letters with Timothy. The son of a Jewish mother and Greek father (Acts 16:1), Timothy was from Lystra, and after Paul visited there on his second missionary journey, he took Timothy along as a co-worker (Philippians 2:19 – 24). God’s holy people. As people who belong to God and are incorporated into his service, they are set apart from the world for him. The Old Testament uses the phrase “holy people” of Israel (e.g., Exodus 22:31), so... View Article


His Great Love Toward Us

August 2, 2017 8:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

“Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the Lord.” —Psalm 117 This psalm captures the essence of praise in miniature — it is the shortest psalm in the Psalter and the shortest chapter in the Bible. The psalm opens with a call for the nations to praise the Lord (verse 1) and then gives the reason for praise: the Lord’s great love and eternal faithfulness toward his people (verse 2). 117:1 The Lord is more than a parochial or tribal deity; he is Lord of all the earth (114:3 – 8; 115:15 – 16). Consequently, all nations must praise him. Psalms pictures a great contest between the rebellious nations and their Creator (see 2:1 – 6). The nations submit to their Creator by praising him (see 2:10 – 12; 108:3). The New Testament attests that the nations have submitted to God because they praise the Son (see 2:10 – 12). Paul quotes this verse in Romans 15:11to show that the salvation of the nations (Gentiles) has always been God’s plan. Thus, they should be welcomed into the worshiping family of God. 117:2 Love. The Lord’s faithful covenant love. In Psalm 6:4,... View Article


Love & Grace

August 1, 2017 8:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” –2 Corinthians 13:14 NIV The God of biblical revelation is no impersonal absolute. The living God is the God of love and grace. But what do such terms mean? It is in Scripture that big terms such as “love” and “grace” are embodied in stories as well as in direct affirmations. In particular, it is Jesus Christ and his story that provides the lens through which to view what the big biblical ideas are about. What does divine love look like? Love is manifested in action, as the story of Jesus exemplifies. Jesus embodies the divine love in his coming and his cross. As John 3:16 famously affirms, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” Paul elaborates, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). John adds to this testimony: “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9). As in... View Article


4 Scriptural Types of Worship

July 31, 2017 7:00 am Published by 3 Comments

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” –Psalm 95:6 NIV Worship is a dominant theme from Genesis to Revelation because the God who created all things and redeemed us in Christ is worthy to receive all honor, praise, service, and respect (e.g., Gen 12:7-8; 14:19-20; Exod 15:1-18, 21; Rev 4:11; 5:9-10, 12). Four groups of words throughout the Bible convey aspects of what we commonly call “worship.” New Testament writers use these and related terms in a transformed way to show how Jesus has fulfilled for us the pattern of worship given to Israel. 1) Worship as Homage or Grateful Submission to God: The most common word for “worship” literally means “bend over” or “bow down.” It describes a gesture of respect or submission to human beings, to God, or to idols (Gen 18:2, Exod 18:7, 20:4-6). Combined with other gesture-words this term came to be used for the attitude of homage that the gesture represented. Also, people sometimes expressed homage to God with prayer or praise (Gen 24:26-27, 52; Exod 34:8-9) and sometimes with silent acceptance or submission (Exod 4:31; Judg 7:15). The book of Psalms contains many different expressions of worship, including lament, repentance, prayers for vindication, songs of thanksgiving, and praise. “Bending... View Article


Run with Passion and Perspective

July 28, 2017 10:00 am Published by 12 Comments

“Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” 
— Hebrews 12:1–3 Hebrews 12 develops the theme of endurance. The first three verses teach us that the key to persistence is passion. All the men and women of faith in Hebrews 11 “made it” because they felt passionate about their cause. The writer compares our lives to a race and tries to convince us that we must run with endurance if we plan to finish well. The text also suggests that if the key to persistence is passion, then the key to passion is purpose. We must run with purpose, not aimlessly. And the key to purpose? Perspective. The writer of Hebrews admonishes us to consider three things that will... View Article


Insight on Ecclesiastes:
When Life Seems Meaningless

July 21, 2017 7:00 am Published by 33 Comments

Sometimes, life seems meaningless. And sometimes, God seems distant. If you’re feeling this way, you aren’t alone! The author of Ecclesiastes struggled with the same issue, but he continued to call God good and just all the same.“The book of Ecclesiastes, or Kohelet as it’s called in Hebrew, is not meant to comfort the reader. The author was frustrated by the contradictions, tensions and incomprehensibility of life. He asked again and again if life is meaningless.The book’s portrait of God is unlike that found in the rest of the Hebrew Bible. Nowhere does the author address God as YHWH, the more personal and intimate name for God in Hebrew and the sacred name not to be misused in the Ten Commandments. YHWH walked closely with Adam and Eve in the garden and spoke to Moses from within the burning bush.The author instead opted for addressing God as Elohim, actually a title and a more generic and less personal Hebrew name for God. The opening lines of Genesis begin with the actions of Elohim bringing forth the heavens and the earth. Kohelet prefers this choice of addressing God, Elohim, a slightly more distant or transcendent God. “God is in heaven and... View Article


Generation of Hope

July 20, 2017 10:00 am Published by 12 Comments

This blog is written by guest author Casey Fleet. He is a youth pastor at Higher Ground Church in North Carolina and is passionate about teenagers knowing Christ. For the past six years I have engaged myself in ministry deeper than I could have ever imagined. I was ordained two years ago, and have served in many different capacities already. I am so thankful to have a loving wife and two beautiful young girls who support me. I am currently serving as a youth and a children’s pastor at my church. Working in ministry has been phenomenal for my life, changing me in many ways. Not only that, but I’ve also been able to see God touch the lives of many children and teenagers. My desire, passion, and hope for this next generation is that they will be blessed and prosperous. I titled this blog post “Generation of Hope” because I truly want people to know that there is hope for this next generation of kids. So often we hear negative comments about the youth: “There’s no hope for them!” We even hear these comments in our churches, and it cuts me deeply. In retaliation, I hear some respond by asking,... View Article


14 Facts about Biblical Life

July 7, 2017 10:00 am Published by 14 Comments

When you understand ancient biblical life and the culture in which Scripture was written you can more easily see how it applied to life then and how it applies to life today. Ancient Health Practices: 1. Although there was no theory of communicable diseases, the isolation of the leper looks very much like quarantine (Lev. 13:45). The modern disease called leprosy is a particular infection called Hansen’s disease. Its symptoms are different from the leprosy mentioned in the Bible. 2. Balm is a kind of resin taken from trees by cutting the bark. It was used as a perfume and was considered effective as a medicine (Jer. 51:8). Although Gilead is mentioned together with balm (Jer. 8:22; 46:11), the substance was not produced in Gilead. It may have been transported through Gilead or sold there. Ancient pharmaceuticals consisted mainly of plant products recommended by tradition. Ancient Food Practices: 3. The salt used in ancient times was not refined, and there was always some proportion of chemicals present in addition to sodium chloride. If the fraction useful for flavoring food was leached away by dampness, what remained was without value. It was sometimes strewn on paths like gravel, since it was “then... View Article


The Stress of Vacation

June 26, 2017 1:00 am Published by 1 Comment

As I write, it is 4 a.m. I’m not used to 4 a.m. It’s dark, my house is cold, and I don’t have the drive to turn my coffee pot on. You read that right . . . I am writing without coffee. An important question you’re hopefully asking yourself is, ‘“Why? What would cause this man to be awake so early, and trying to function without coffee?’”The answer is pretty simple . . . vacation. My family and I are leaving for vacation today, and I don’t know about you, but the nights before I leave for vacation are historically bad nights of sleep for me. Excitement paired with the fear of forgetting . . . well, everything, is overwhelming. As I pull together the final things I need to pack, I am thankful for the little things. I’m thankful that over the past year I have accumulated four new chargers for my iPhone and iPad, so I don’t have to disconnect the ones that are basically built into my bed frame. I am thankful for my noise cancelling headphones. I am thankful for my backpack and all its different compartments so that I can easily separate my Macbook... View Article


Yielding to God’s Purposes

June 23, 2017 10:00 am Published by 28 Comments

“But the wisdom that is from above is the first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. –James 3:17 NKJV Consider this: God is perfect. Eternal. Almighty. He knows everything about everyone (Ps. 139:1-4). On the other hand, we are imperfect. Sinful. Our lives are but a vapor (James 4:14). The more we learn, the more we realize we don’t know. So why in the world wouldn’t we align our plans with God’s purpose? We tend to think we know enough to make our own way in life. But because God actually cares, get over that tendency. He is God. You are His. He provides the resources you need to accomplish His purpose. Isaiah 41:10 records God’s assurance to His people: “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” God’s purpose for you is not mysterious – see Micah 6:6-8. This is the foundation of God’s will: to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him. All of the specific decisions... View Article