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The Sinner

What was he doing in their church?

A sad picture, isn't it?  I'm sure this doesn't happen in your church, because practicing Christians know better. You understand that God loves everyone, saint and sinner alike. But we do have a tendency to hold known sinners at arm's length: the juvenile delinquent, the ex - convict, the man or woman who is not being discreet, the church member caught with his hand in the company till.

You say, But I don't know how to act around someone who is ...   Is what?  Fighting the same devil we all fight? Losing touch with the God who loves him or her? Breaking under that strain of unseen evil? Acting the way we might act, given the same temptation?

The Bible contains instructions that are very clear: hate sin, love sinners. Remember that sinking in the mire of guilt and shame, buried beneath the weight of evil is a child of God - a human being, someone just like us. Looking past the sin, we see the sinner. Looking past the sinner, we see God hanging on the cross.
 

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Seasons of Parenting

The New Testament command to make disciples comes from the Great Commission. As Jesus was about to return to heaven, He told His disciples, Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age - Matthew 28:19, 20.

Since then, the church has been God's agency in the world, making disciples of Jesus. But as parents, we have not always remembered that our children are our first responsibility and that our primary goal should be leading them to be disciples of Jesus. As Ellen White clearly states, Our work for Christ is to begin with the family, in the home... There is no missionary field more important than this.

 

 

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Keys to Family Unity

Our present peace must not be disturbed by anticipated trials, for God will never leave nor forsake one soul who trusts in Him. God is better unto us than our fears. . . .  Let mercies be remembered and enjoyed daily. We must live by faith daily. . . . .  Rejoice in God always. Today praise God for His grace, and continue to praise Him every day. - This Day With God, p. 58

 

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Outrageous Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a journey; the deeper the wound, the longer the journey. If your spouse says something hurtful, you may get over it quickly. But if your spouse cheats on you, it is going to require a lot more time for you to heal. Though all sins in the eyes of God cause us to fall short of His glory and miss the mark, their effects on us are not all the same. The deeper the wound that sin inflicts on us, the harder it is to recover.

On the other hand, the deeper the relationship with God, the quicker the forgiveness journey. The more we surrender our hurts to God, the more we pray about it, asking God to heal our broken hearts and relationships, the quicker we will feel His healing power.

 

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The Great Paradigm Shift

It's common practice for us to end our prayers with, And we ask all these things according to Your will. Amen. This is as it should be because we cannot demand God to do anything. However, could it be that we don"t fully understand what God desires to teach us through His invitation, Pray according to My will, and My answer will be Yes? Could it be that If it be Your will has become only a tagline that we throw on the end of our prayers just to be safe if things don't turn out the way we hope?

The Bible records Joshua's prayer when he commanded the sun to stand still: Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon - Joshua 10:12. Wouldn't it have been wise to end his bold prayer with, If it be Your will, O God? That way he would have been protected if the sun did not obey. But for some reason, he did not pray this way. When Joshua prayed that the sun would stand still, he already knew that this was according to God's will because God had promised him that his enemies would be overthrown.

 

 

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What is God's Kingdom

The kingdom of God comes quietly and personally to human hearts. It is not flashy and demanding like the things of this world. Today many want to make Jesus the ruler of this world's governments, courts, and marketplaces. Since He isn't here in person, they feel free to speak for Him and try to enforce laws they think are His will. This is the kind of kingdom the Jews wanted when Jesus was here. But He said, My kingdom does not belong to this world.

Today, as it was in Jesus' day, God's kingdom is not with those who demand recognition and support by governments and civil laws. It is with those who live and share this spiritual truth: I was put to death on the cross with Christ, and I do not live anymore - it is Christ who lives in me.  - Galatians 2:20, NCV

 

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Im Resigning as the Token Christian

The Bible gives us explicit instructions to take care of the poor among us, but how many of us are actually living that? We preach from the pulpit about helping the homeless, but most of us wouldn't let Larry from the corner store mow our lawns without a security system.

I've seen Christians who were courageous enough to solv the poverty epidemic by Facebooking about a man with a Will Work for Food sign and warning their entire network to not be bamboozled by this lowly scammer. Honestly, whether he spends my five dollars on a Subway sandwich or to feed his unhealthy addictions is between him and God.  I'm not worried if he is using me. Whether I choose to humanize or dehumanize another human being is between God and me.

God didn't tell us to give to people who deserve it. You don't have to police your handouts. What if God wasn't giving the command to serve because it helps people? What if the act of caring for others, regardless of whether or not they deserve it, actually helps us?

We think being Christlike is a piece of cake until no one saves us a slice of the cake. I want to be a real Christian. One who serves silently but loves loudly. I don't need to be your token Christian friend. I want to be your real friend; one that you don't have to crop the edges of your life with. I want people to tell me when they mess up. I want them to know that my love isn't conditional; that their sins won't change the value I see in their humanity. I want to love people as Christ loves me.

I've been a hypocrite. I've played up my religiosity and downplayed my struggles. My idea of sacrifice has been letting someone cut in line at Starbucks without me pulling their hair. I want to stop being satisfied with just being kind and actually start seeking opportunities where I can make sacrifices for other people, regardless of whether they deserve it.
 

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How to Keep God's Laws

During my next few flights alone in my little airplane, I began to sense something happening to me. The laws of gravity, lift, and thrust - the forces that carried and kept me aloft - faded from my thoughts. I discovered that I can go from point A to point B without even thinking of a single law. They'd become the foundation of what I did naturally during my flights. My determination to obey them to the letter was replaced by something even more permanent and powerful - a deep, abiding love for flying.

It's the same with God's Ten Commandments in the lives of practicing Christians everywhere. As we refrain from committing adultery, stealing, lying, dishonoring our parents, and murdering our fellow man, something happens deep inside us. We begin to love.

 

 

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Season of Unity

The moment Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, they stopped looking to bless each other and, instead, focused on self-protection. When God asked them what they had done, Adam pointed an accusatory finger at his wife. Eve, in turn, pointed to the serpent and indirectly at God who had created it. Since that moment, every marriage has consisted of two broken individuals who are trying to figure out how to be in fellowship together. Though we have an idea of how things should go, we are often frustrated by disappointing results.

Selfishness is the attitude of being concerned with one's own interests above the interests of others. The antidote for selfishness is to do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for
the interests of others
 -Philippians 2:3, 4, NASB

 

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Royal Love Song

There are many who err, and who feel their shame and their folly. They look upon their mistakes and errors until they are driven almost to desperation. These souls we are not to neglect. When one has to swim against the stream, there is all the force of the current driving him back. Let a helping hand then be held out to him as was the Elder Brother's hand to the sinking Peter. Speak to him hopeful words, words that will establish confidence and awaken love. . . .

Never should we pass by one suffering soul without seeking to impart to him the comfort wherewith we are comforted of God. - Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 387, 388
 

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Outrageous Forgiveness

God is willing to wipe the slate clean. He accepts us. He doesn't say, We will work out an installment plan, so you can pay back the debt.  He doesn't say, We will lower the debt so that you have to pay only a part of it.  No. He says, I forgive you totally. The debt is canceled. You are free.  When we grasp the enormity of the gift of forgiveness that has come to us in Jesus Christ, it makes a difference. The meaning and reality of that gift, when we understand it, enables us to forgive those who have wronged us.

God knows that a heart filled with gratitude for His forgiveness will inevitably forgive as it has been forgiven. Understanding that God has forgiven us an impossible debt overwhelms us, gives us a new perspective, and opens our hearts to forgive as we have been forgiven.

 

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The Sky is Not the Limit

Limitless?

Do we comprehend what this means? When it comes to God, the sky is not the limit; the universe is not the limit. There are no limits - except for the limit of our faith!

We have too little faith. We limit the Holy One of Israel. We should be grateful that God condescends to use any of us as his instruments. For every earnest prayer put up in faith for anything, answers will be returned. They may not come just as we have expected; but they will come - not perhaps as we have desired, but at the very time when we most need them. - Gospel Workers 52

 

 

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