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Papas Fritas!

Last summer, I went on a mission trip to Guatemala with my church. If you?re thinking that I?m going to talk about how the people, the poverty, and the atmosphere changed my life, think again. It was a great trip, but something a lot more interesting than that happened.

If you?ve ever been on a mission trip out of the country, you know that they usually don?t serve you American food. I love Latin American cuisine as much as the next person, but our mission trip was almost a month long. At the beginning of week three, I was craving a burger. Anyone who knows me knows that I have two main loves: sleep and good food. The food was good, but it was very different.

Every morning our mission team would have worship and take prayer requests before starting the day. After a slightly disappointing breakfast, I felt like snacking. When our youth pastor asked for prayer requests, I said very seriously, ?I would like French fries for lunch.? Since my request was sincere, I was appalled when the table burst into laughter. I?m glad we prayed for my fries anyway. At midday, my brother banged on the door of our tiny hotel room, hollering for me to come to lunch. Our entire church group gathered in front of a table of papas fritas!

My connection with God took a step in a new direction, thanks to the answer of a trivial prayer request. I am a witness!

-- Becky James, freshman, GCAA

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The Impossible Becomes Possible

God is not in the business of mastering methods. He wants to be the Master of men and women. When He has once captured the heart, the sky cannot limit what He will do through the life of even one fully consecrated person. ?There is no limit to the usefulness of the one who, putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart, and lives a life wholly consecrated to God.?9

We are not all called to be preachers or evangelists, but we are all called to share the good news of the gospel. God is waiting for His people to recognize their spiritual need and wake up to the possibilities so that He can do something? something much greater than what happened at Pentecost and something much greater than what we see happening today. The Bible tells us, ?With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible? (Mark 10:27).

Are we ready? Are we praying? Are we really earnestly seeking to receive the power of the Holy Spirit that will enable us to complete His work?

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Transformed by Grace

A relationship with Jesus is not just based on one decision, but rather a lifetime of daily, hourly commitment. Like any human relationship, such as marriage, commitment to Christ must be cultivated. As long as Satan is at work, he will tempt us to go our own way and ignore what we know is right.

One way to strengthen our relationship with Je-sus is through prayer. We need to pray for the Holy Spirit to help us to love Jesus and to become more and more like Him. We need to ask for faith to believe and for courage in spiritual things. A quiet place of prayer early in the morning is an ideal way to start the day.

Some people don?t grow spiritually because they interpret the Scriptures to suit themselves so they can do what they want to do. Instead, we need to surrender our heart, our will, and our intellect to Jesus, recognizing that we belong to Him because He gave His life for us.

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Our Forgiving God

Before experiencing repentance, we need to be touched by the good news of the gospel. After hearing and accepting the good news, we are ready to listen to the gospel?s imperatives. God?s grace enables us to follow and obey Him out of gratitude for His mercy and salvation.

Confession of sin is an important part of being forgiven. Admitting wrong and accepting responsibility for it is crucial. When we confess our sins to God openly, honestly, and sincerely, He is faithful to forgive all of our iniquities (1 John 1:7?9). He steps in and changes our situation. He becomes our righteousness and brings puri?cation (Isaiah 1:18; Jeremiah 23:6; 1 Corinthians 1:30). Micah 7:19 proclaims that God will hurl our sins into the depths of the sea, and the prophet Isaiah assures us that God places all of our sins behind His back (Isaiah 38:17).

Forgiveness is not obtained after a long period of doing good deeds, performing kind acts, or overcoming sin. One cannot buy or merit forgiveness. True forgiveness is a free, generous, and gracious gift given to a person with a contrite heart. God longs to embrace a repentant sinner and restore him or her into His family as His child (Luke 15:7, 10; 1 John 2:1). What a change! What a di?erence in our status before God. We now belong to His family, adopted as His children (Romans 8:15, 16; 1 John 3:1).

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Our Forgiving God

God requires that we confess our sins, and humble our hearts before Him; but at the same time we should have confidence in Him as a tender Father, who will not forsake those who put their trust in Him. . . . God does not give us up because of our sins. We may make mistakes, and grieve His Spirit; but when we repent, and come to Him with contrite hearts, He will not turn us away. There are hindrances to be removed. Wrong feelings have been cherished, and there have been pride, self-sufficiency, impatience, and murmurings. All these separate us from God. Sins must be confessed; there must be a deeper work of grace in the heart. . . .

You may see that you are sinful and undone; but it is just on this account that you need a Saviour. If you have sins to confess, lose no time. These moments are golden. ?If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness? (1 John 1:9). Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled; for Jesus has promised it. Precious Saviour! His arms are open to receive us, and His great heart of love is waiting to bless us. ?God?s Amazing Grace, p. 139.

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Hope For You and Me

I don?t know about you, but I get discouraged from time to time. And I know that I am not alone. Even Jesus? disciples got weighed down with the discouraging events they had to face. It is no accident that He said to them right before the cross that they were not to let their hearts be troubled because He was only leaving them so that He could go to heaven and prepare a place for them so He could return and take them home to be with Him (John 14:1?3).

In that promise, there is hope for all of us. The ?blessed hope? of the ages is the return of our Lord Jesus in the clouds. At that time, the dead who have accepted Christ will be resurrected, while living Christians will be caught up (or raptured) to meet both Jesus and the resurrected believers in the air. And all of that will be in the celebratory environment of blaring trumpets and shouts of joy and victory filling the air.

I want to be there on that day. I want to not only see Jesus coming in the clouds with all of His angels?but I want to be with Him through all eternity. And I want you, dear friend, to join me at the party.

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Wear Your Robe

I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 2 Corinthians 11:27.

Poor Paul. As we hike though today?s verse we discover he had some pretty hard times. He had been hungry, sleepy, cold, and naked because he chose to be faithful to Jesus.

Have you ever been really cold before? I heard a story about a man who was driving through a winter storm. The snow fell so heavily that he couldn?t see to drive anymore. He pulled his car to the side of the road. The snow kept falling and eventually covered his car. He kept the car running to keep warm, but it soon ran out of gas. The man made a mistake by not wearing a very warm coat and not bringing any food with him. He soon was shivering, and the temperature of his body dropped. This is called hypothermia. He soon became very still and almost died when, just in time, a man driving a snowplow discovered him.

Satan wants us to get Christian hypothermia. He wants our love for Jesus to fall asleep and die. Don?t let that happen. Keep moving, put on Jesus? warm robe of righteousness, and stay on fire for Him.

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Faith and Acceptance

Imagine, if you will, that it?s Sabbath and you are in church. The pastor is preaching, and you are in the back row with your friends, some of whom are texting. You dip your hand into your pocket and begin to pull out your cellphone. But as you do so, something inside you (your conscience guided by the Holy Spirit) tells you in no uncertain terms that the thing you are about to do is wrong.

Your friends seem to be enjoying themselves. The temptation to join in threatens to overpower you and a feeling of helplessness overwhelms you. ?What should I do?? you ask yourself.

This is not the time to live by your feelings. It is the time to offer up a prayer and ask God to help you overcome this temptation?then, trust that He will!

?Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.? ?Isaiah 1:18

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'Tis So Sweet

God teaches us His character: that He is loving, kind, benevolent, and passionately in love with us so that we will trust His ways.

We will not always know or understand God?s ways. The Bible is also clear in sharing with us that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not ours. We cannot predict His movements. He is incomprehensible. But when we trust His heart, we know that whatever He chooses to do will be for our good and in our best interest. Now, here?s the kicker: God needs this message to go out into the world. The way He demonstrates this is by His interaction with His friends. God displays His character by placing His relationship with His friends on exhibition. He knows people who do not know Him well will be watching, so He uses relationships closest to Him for the benefit of marketing His goodness to the world. Though the pathway is sometimes bumpy, the result is often immeasurably greater than anyone could have imagined.

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True Conversion

Adventism tends to be an ?intellectual? belief system. That is, most of us are Adventists because we agree that our doctrines most accurately re?ect Scripture?s meaning. We believe they are correct. And that?s mostly a good thing. Other churches focus more on an ?experiential? belief system. They stress the importance of how faith makes you feel and how it changes your life.

The Jewish leaders also had become mostly focused on correctness; and while their practice of rituals was an ongoing experience of religion, the experiences didn?t touch their hearts at all. They didn?t care about the people around them. In spite of the many instructions in their Torah, their Bible, they didn?t care about the poor and needy. They believed that representing God was accomplished by following rituals to be seen by all. They didn?t seem to grasp that representing God meant acting as God would act, treating others as God would treat them. Even with Jesus living that life before them, they refused to see it.

Adventists can be the same way. We easily focus on being correct in our doctrines and living out the rules and rituals of Sabbath keeping and a strict diet. We, too, can forget that we are not saved by information or the ability to eat only vegetables. We?re saved by faith in Jesus, and if that faith is authentic, if the love of God has drawn us to Him, then we will feel love toward those around us. And we will help those people in any way that we can.

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The Reading of the Word

The Bible testi?es that both man and woman were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26, 27). Some would like to deduce from this fact that Adam and Eve were created with di?erent functions (besides physiological ones, the basis of our sexuality), analogous to their view on how the Trinity functions. They wrongly argue that there are di?erent functions among the Godhead?one Person of the Deity can-not do what another Person is doing?so the Son and Spirit must submit to the will of the Father. Therefore, they claim that women have di?erent functions than men, and women must submit to the authority of men as this was God?s original plan, even before sin entered the world.

These interpreters err by creating God in the image of humans. This poses problems for understanding both human relationships and the triune God. As it turns out, the Bible describes the principal role of the Godhead as the Creator, and all Three Persons (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) play the role of a Creator and are equal in this function (Genesis 1:1, 2; Job 26:13; 33:4; Psalm 104:30; John 1:1?3; Colossians 1:16, 17). This equality is also shared in human relationships. We cannot project our own wishes or ideas onto the biblical text and its overall message.

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The Reading of the Word

Those who prayerfully study the Bible go from each search wiser than they were before. Some of their difficulties have been solved; for the Holy Spirit has done the work spoken of in the fourteenth chapter of John: ?The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.? 

Nothing worth having is obtained without earnest, persevering effort. In business, only those who have a will to do see successful results. Without earnest toil we cannot expect to obtain a knowledge of spiritual things. Those who obtain the jewels of truth must dig for them as a miner digs for the precious ore hidden in the earth.

Those who work indifferently and half-heartedly will never succeed. Young and old should read the word of God; and not only should they read it, but they should study it with diligent earnestness, praying, believing, and searching. Thus they will find the hidden treasure; for the Lord will quicken their understanding. ?Messages to Young People, pp. 259, 260.

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