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A Liberal Church

In his second letter, Paul reminded the members in Corinth to support their pastor. Farmers care for their working animals, so why shouldn?t a church care for its pastor? God asks Christians to bring their tithe to the church to support those in ministry. In addition, we should give offerings to spread the gospel, help take care of the church expenses, and relieve the suffering of the poor.

People usually don?t think twice about spending money on themselves and their own homes. Yet they fear that paying tithe or offerings would leave them too little to live well. However, those who have Christ in their hearts think about God first and always consider what they can do to help others. The spirit of giving is the spirit of heaven because God loved the world so much that He gave His Son to die for us. The spirit of selfishness is the spirit of Satan. He is the one who thought first about himself and caused all the original trouble in heaven.

Every act of self-sacrifice makes us more like Jesus. First, though, we need to give our hearts to Him because no amount of self-sacrifice can buy an unbeliever?s way into heaven.


?An important lesson for every minister of Christ to learn is that of adapting his labors to the condition of those whom he seeks to benefit. Tenderness, patience, decision, and firmness are alike needful; but these are to be exercised with proper discrimination. To deal wisely with different classes of minds, under varied circumstances and conditions, is a work requiring wisdom and judgment enlightened and sanctified by the Spirit of God.? ?The Acts of the Apostles, 385, 386


Buy A Brief History of God's Love ($19.99), an easy-reading condensed summary of Ellen G. White's Conflict of the Ages series.

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To My Father, and Your Father

His work completed, it was finally time for Jesus to go back to heaven. He decided to do so from the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem. The disciples followed Him, and they talked again about the lessons they had learned and the task that lay ahead. When they reached the top, He stopped. The disciples gathered around Him, and He stretched out His hands as if He was ready to bless them again. He promised that He would always be with them, and slowly, He began to rise up toward heaven as if unseen hands were lifting Him. The amazed disciples watched as Jesus ascended higher and higher and finally disappeared in the clouds. They could hear the angels singing, welcoming their Master home.

As Jesus led the heavenly procession toward the city of God, accompanied by those who had been restored to life at His resurrection, the angels who were with Him called out, ?Open the gates, and let the King of Glory come in!? The angels at the gates called back with knowing joy, ?Who is this King of glory?? To which came the reply, ?The Lord, mighty and strong, He is the King of glory!? Again the angels at the gates called out, ?Who did you say we should open the gates for?? The response: ?The Lord, the King of Glory!?

The gates opened, and the angels and representatives from other worlds and every heavenly creature were there, ready to welcome Jesus with great celebration. But first, He must see the Father and be welcomed by Him. Jesus said, ?Father, I have done Your will, and now I?m home!?

The Father?s arms embraced the Son and declared that Love won the ultimate war. Then all heaven burst into joyful praise and worship for the triumph and return of the Prince of Life, the beloved Lamb of God.


Buy A Brief History of God's Love ($19.99), an easy-reading condensed summary of Ellen G. White's Conflict of the Ages series.

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Barriers Broken Down

After talking to the scribes and Pharisees in the temple courtyard, Jesus decided to leave and go into the hill country near Phoenicia. Looking west, He could see the cities of Tyre and Sidon with their rich palaces and heathen temples and, beyond that, the blue Mediterranean with its many seaports. Just then, a woman who had heard that Jesus and His disciples were nearby came across the border looking for Jesus. When she saw Him she cried out, ?Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon possessed!? This woman had heard what Jesus could do and was determined to ask Him to heal her daughter. Jesus already knew about her daughter?s problem; that?s why He had come to the area in the first place.

Jesus did not immediately respond to the woman. She was a Canaanite and a heathen. To test her faith and to teach the disciples a lesson, Jesus ignored her the way the Jews would a foreigner. The woman did not give up. As Jesus turned away, she followed Him. The disciples asked Jesus to send her away, so He said to them, ?I have not come to save the Jews only. I will save anyone who believes in Me.?

Even after the disciples had treated her like a bothersome dog, the woman said that even dogs are fed by their masters. In Jesus? mind she was as much a child of God as the disciples were. So He turned to her and said, ?You have great faith. Your wish is granted. Your daughter is healed.? Never again was her daughter troubled by a demon.

God hates it when we think we?re better than other people. In His sight all people are equally valuable. We all have the same blood no matter where we live or whether we?re rich or poor. We were all created by God and belong to Him.


Buy A Brief History of God's Love ($19.99), an easy-reading condensed summary of Ellen G. White's Conflict of the Ages series.

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God With Us

Jesus has always been one with the Father. Through Creation, Christ carried out the Father?s will and revealed God?s glory. Jesus was the reflection of the Father?s glory. He came to this earth as one of us to show how much the Father loves us. It is the glory of God to love and to give. This is the law of heaven and earth. Force of any kind is contrary to God?s government.

Conversely, sin exalts self and misrepresents God. It began in heaven when Lucifer said, ?I will be like God and place my throne above the stars of God.? Some of the angels admired Lucifer and decided to join him. Their rebellion had to be stopped, so they were expelled from heaven.

Lucifer decided to tempt Adam and Eve to sin, and he succeeded. To save humankind, Jesus chose to give His kingly scepter to the Father, get off His throne, come to earth in a human body, and give His life for us. This plan wasn?t crafted after Adam and Eve sinned; it had been ?kept in silence through times eternal? (Romans 16:25, ASV). Forevermore, Christ will be the Son of God in a human body like one of us. He is forever our Brother.

While on earth, Jesus gave us an example of obedience. Satan believed that God?s law was unreasonable and impossible to keep, but Jesus kept the law of God without using any power that is not also offered to us. He gives us the power to obey if we ask Him, and through Christ we become more united to the Father.

By dying willingly on the cross, Christ proved Satan wrong and showed heavenly and earthly creation that God and His government are fair and based on love. One day Satan will be destroyed completely and sin will never again enter the universe. Our union with God will never again be broken.


?In the light from Calvary it will be seen that the law of self- renouncing love is the law of life for earth and heaven; that the love which ?seeketh not her own? has its source in the heart of God; and that in the meek and lowly One is manifested the character of Him who dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto.? ?The Desire of Ages, 20


Buy A Brief History of God's Love ($19.99), an easy-reading condensed summary of Ellen G. White's Conflict of the Ages series.

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Living Justice

That Christians are not raising louder voices against the tide of prejudice and racism in our societies also demonstrates our theological blind spots. If we actually believe in Creation, God making human beings in His image, and Incarnation, God identifying as one of the poor, the refugees, the oppressed, the murdered and making a way of salvation for all people, we must listen, learn, and speak or risk losing our faith.

Writing in the context of racial prejudice, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel argued that prejudice is a kind of atheism, "a treacherous denial of the existence of God." In other words, prejudice negates any pretense of trying to believe in a God who claims to have made all people in His image.
Heschel continues, "Any god who is mine but not yours, any god concerned with me but not with you, is an idol. Faith in God is not simply an after-life insurance policy. Racial or religious bigotry must be recognized for what it is, satanism, and blasphemy.

...Prayer and prejudice cannot dwell in the same heart. Worship without compassion is worse than self-deception; it is an abomination".

 

 

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Living The Advent Hope

We are to be vigilant, watching for the coming of the Son of man; and we must also be diligent; working as well as waiting is required; there must be a union of the two. This will balance the Christian character, making it well developed, symmetrical. We should not feel that we are to neglect everything else, and give ourselves up to meditation, study, or prayer; neither are we to be full of bustle and hurry and work, to the neglect of personal piety. Waiting and watching and working are to be blended. "Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord."   -The Adventist Home, p. 23.

How many will mourn for lost opportunities when it is eternally too late! Today we have talent and opportunity, but we know not how long these may be ours. Then let us work while it is day; for the night cometh, in which no man can work. "Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when He cometh shall find so doing."  -Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 167.

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The King-Solomon

Before King David passed away, he anointed his son Solomon as king of Israel. As a youthful ruler, Solomon needed not only to be able to lead an army, but also be a political leader and a good man, loving and serving God. He kept the law of God, because he knew that in order to carry his heavy responsibilities he must have strength beyond his own.

One day when he was praying, Solomon said to God, "I feel like a little child. How am I going to govern a whole country? Please give me understanding and wisdom." The Lord answered and said, "I have heard your prayer, and because you did not ask for riches, honor, a long life, nor for the death of your enemies but for wisdom and knowledge to govern My people, I will give you what you asked for." He stood before God as a learner.

Solomon was a witness to the countries around him about the kind of God he served. As the years went by, his knowledge of God and His love for Him increased. All the nations nearby began to admire the kind of God that Solomon served.


"Those who today occupy positions of trust should seek to learn the lesson taught by Solomon's prayer. The higher the position a man occupies, the greater the responsibility that he has to bear, the wider will be the influence that he exerts and the greater his need of dependence on God." -Prophets and Kings, 30


Buy A Brief History of God's Love ($19.99), an easy-reading condensed summary of Ellen G. White's Conflict of the Ages series.

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Jesus' Secrets of Lasting Peace: Part 3 of 3

We find Jesus' principles of lasting peace in John 14. Before leaving His disciples, Jesus gave them three life-changing assurances.

Secret 3: Jesus will never leave us alone. We are not orphans without a Father. He promises that His personal presence through the ministry of the Holy Spirit will be with us always.

Jesus is coming again. The promise of His return is certain, but between now and the time of His return He sends us the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead, as His personal representative.

He is a Friend who will never leave or forsake us. The Holy Spirit is our:

  1. Encourager: He lifts our spirits when we are down.
  2. Strengthener: He strengthens us when we are weak.
  3. Teacher: He guides us when we are perplexed and do not know the way.
  4. Defender: He defends us when we are wrongly accused and others misunderstand us.
  5. Comforter: He applies the healing balm to our soul when we are hurting and sorrowful.
  6. Convicter: He convicts us when we go astray. He reveals the things of God and accomplishes in us a change of heart.
  7. Supporter: He holds us up when we are about to fall.

Jesus is ever-present with us through the gift of the Holy Spirit. He is our friend, our helper, our trusted companion who walks alongside of us to give us lasting peace.

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Jesus' Secrets of Lasting Peace: Part 2 of 3

We find Jesus' principles of lasting peace in John 14. Before leaving His disciples, Jesus gave them three life-changing assurances.

Secret 2: Jesus is available every moment of the day to give us guidance and direction through prayer. He promises to hear our prayers, listen to our petitions, and grant our requests for the glory of His name.

He gives us the unwavering promise that "whatever we ask in His name for the glory of the Father" He will do. We can come confidently and ask. When we are troubled, we can ask for peace; when we are anxious, we can ask for His calm; when we are worried, we can ask for His soothing presence.

When we enter the presence of Christ, we enter into the arena of peace. When we enter the presence of Christ, our hearts are at rest. When we enter the presence of Christ, the Holy Spirit calms our spirits, quiets our thoughts, and soothes our minds.

The closer we draw to Christ, the more His coming becomes a reality in our lives. When you love someone-really love them-you long to be with them. When we enter the presence of Christ, our love for Him grows. We cannot wait to see Him coming in the clouds.

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Jesus' Secrets of Lasting Peace: Part 1 of 3

We find Jesus' principles of lasting peace in John 14. Before leaving His disciples, Jesus gave them three life-changing assurances.

Secret 1: Jesus will return. His promise is sure. Jesus' words [in John 14:1-3] come echoing down the centuries. Let not your heart be troubled. Stop worrying. There is no need to be anxious. This world is not all there is. The promise of Christ's soon return lifts our spirits. It encourages our hearts. It brightens our days. It illumines our nights. It makes every mountain we climb easier.

Heaven has enough room for all. The sacrifice of Christ is sufficient for all. The cross of Calvary provides redemption for all who will receive it. Whatever your past, there is room in heaven for you. You may have denied your Lord, as Peter did, or seriously doubted His Word, as Thomas did, but His love it reaching out to you right now. He has taken your guilt to Calvary's cross. It can be gone forever. Forgiveness can be yours. At the cross we find forgiveness for our past and power for our present.

The early Christians discovered the first secret of inner peace. Take the long view. Life on this earth is short and will soon be over. Every challenge you face, every difficulty you experience, every trial you meet, will soon be over. Cling to the promise of Jesus' soon return; let your heart soar with hope, and let peace flood your soul.

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Hope Makes a Difference

When we lose hope, dark clouds of despair hang over our heads. The future appears gloomy and everything about tomorrow uncertain. But hope leads us from what is to what can be. It paints tomorrow in an array of bright colors. It lifts our spirits from the mud below to the heavens above.

Ana Jacob put it beautifully when she wrote, "The wings of hope carry us, soaring high above the driving winds of life."

William Shakespeare added, "The miserable have no other medicine but only hope."

Hope is not some wishy-washy, vague longing for a better future. It is not baseless desire or an uncertain expectation with no real certainty or assurance. In the ancient Scriptures hope is a strong, confident expectation based on the unchangeable promises of God with the certainty that the thing you hope for will be accomplished.

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The Hope of Justice

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared...  I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, "Look, God's home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever" -Revelation 21:1, 3, 4.

The beautiful descriptions above should not disconnect us from the world around us today. Instead, they should remind of us how the world was meant to be and what it means to live this eternal kind of life here and now. Our hope is not a bright light away in the distance, but it shines back to us to illuminate today. As faltering and small as our efforts might seem when confronting the brokeness of our world and the weight of its suffering, we work with God to begin to re-create the world as one day He will ultimately and gloriously re-create it. When Jesus said, "I am going away, but I will come back to you again" -John 14:28, He was also saying to His followers, "Live like it is true today, and that will make a difference."

 

 

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