Friday, September 30, 2011

Brotherly Love

   Hebrews 13:1 says, "Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters." Three important things are revealed to the reader through this scripture. First, the practice of brotherly love had been happening before and was ongoing. Second, we see the desire of the author that brotherly love should continue. Third, this verse can show us how important brotherly love is to the Christian life! If we want to follow God's command shown in this verse, we must know what brotherly love is and what it looks like (basically examples).
   What is brotherly love? It is most simply put, love for others. It is made found with kind affection, honor, deference, and preferring one another. Romans 12:10 says, "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." In Romans 13:8-10, it says, "Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." We should lay down our lives for our brethren and provide to one in need. 1 John 3:11-18 says, "For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
   What does brotherly love look like? Jonathan and David showed brotherly love in 1 Samuel 20:4 which says, "Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you.” Throughout the bible many great examples of brotherly love are seen but perhaps the greatest example was that of Jesus Christ. John 15:13 says, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." Jesus lay down his life for you and me! Who can ever show greater love than that of Jesus Christ throughout the New Testament?
   In close, 1 Peter 1:22 says, "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart." Are you showing brotherly love to others in your life?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Why makes YOU special?

   Criticism takes its toll on people today. As a middle school senior, I know that teenagers worry about how they look and words can hurt you more than anything else, even if they are not true! Reality is that most people have a very poor image of themselves and do not have a lot of self confidence. They wonder what use they are in the world. "How could God love me?" they may ask. We have all been there. You may be asking why or how but you are special no matter what! 
   First, you were made in the image of God himself! Genesis 1:26-27 says, "Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." 1 Corinthians 11:7 also says, "...since he is the image and glory of God..." You have the stamp of God's image on you! 
   Second, He died for you! 1 Peter 3:18 states, "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit." Jesus Christ did not lose his life. He gave his life! John 15:13 says, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." Romans 5:6-8 also says, "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Jesus paid a BIG price for us by giving his life! You are that special!
   So, what can we conclude here? You are special! You were made in the image of God, and he died for you! No matter what this world may tell you, never forget these things that God has said and promised. You are special!