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Beware of Satan's Devices

Satan has his evil angels around us; and though they cannot read men?s thoughts, they closely watch their words and actions. Satan takes advantage of the weaknesses and defects of character that are thus revealed, and presses his temptations where there is the least power of resistance. He makes evil suggestions, and inspires worldly thoughts, knowing that he can thus bring the soul into condemnation and bondage. To those who are selfish, worldly, avaricious, proud, faultfinding, or given to detraction?to all who are cherishing errors and defects of character?Satan presents the indulgence of self, and leads the soul off upon a track that the Bible condemns. . . .

For every class of temptations there is a remedy. We are not left to ourselves to fight the battle against self and our sinful natures in our own finite strength. Jesus is a mighty helper, a never-failing support. . . . None need fail or become discouraged, when such ample provision has been made for us.

The mind must be restrained, and not allowed to wander. It should be trained to dwell upon the Scriptures, and upon noble, elevating themes. Portions of Scripture, even whole chapters, may be committed to memory, to be repeated when Satan comes in with his temptations. The fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah is a profitable one for this purpose. Wall the soul in with the restrictions and instructions given by inspiration of the Spirit of God. When Satan would lead the mind to dwell upon earthly and sensual things, he is most effectually resisted with ?It is written.?  

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Sad for the Right Reasons

It may be normal or acceptable to despair for frivolous or superficial reasons, but we shouldn?t expect to be comforted by God when our sadness arises from these. God will not bless you in any significant way if your favorite team lost the Super Bowl or your hair coloring didn?t come out just right or you hit your finger with a hammer.

Sometimes our wishes can be so carnal that asking for God?s blessing may be an aberration. Amnon was so obsessed with a forbidden lust for his half-sister Tamar that he became physically ill (2 Samuel 13:2). Ahab was saddened to the point that he refused to eat because he couldn?t possess Naboth?s land (1 Kings 21:4).

There is the sadness of false repentance when we regret the consequences rather than the wrongness of sin. We become sad when caught in the act or when facing the punishment of our actions. Here is the adulterer who misses time with his children, the abuser who feels the weight of a restraining order, the petty thief confronted by the store?s security guard and the shame of spending time in prison.

Godly sorrow is the pain of feeling separated from God, of knowing ourselves sinners in dire need of grace and forgiveness. Isaiah 59 offers one of the sharpest descriptions of the sin state in the Scriptures.

We should mourn over this. We cannot be at rest when we wander from God. It pains us, and it pains Him. There is no peace without repentance; blessedness is incompatible with sin. 

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Mount Moriah

When sin has deadened the moral perceptions, the wrong-doer does not discern the defects of his character nor realize the enormity of the evil he has committed; and unless he yields to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit he remains in partial blindness to his sin. His confessions are not sincere and in earnest. . . .

The humble and broken heart, subdued by genuine repentance, will appreciate something of the love of God and the cost of Calvary; and as a son confesses to a loving father, so will the truly penitent bring all his sins before God.?Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 641.

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From Death to Life

The story of the so-called binding of Isaac, the ?Aqedah, has shocked, puzzled, and inspired theologians, philosophers, ethicists, and artists. It is at the heart of the three faiths who claim Abraham. For Jews, the ?binding? of Isaac points to Jewish martyrdom. For Christians, the sacrifice of Isaac points to the Cross. For Muslims, who believe that Ishmael was the son of sacrifice, the event is celebrated during Eid al-Adha (the festival of sacrifice), symbolizing the duty of submission. The common point of these religious traditions is the emphasis on death and suffering. Yet the biblical story brings a message of life and hope, reinforced by the story of the marriage of Isaac, ensuring the passing of the Messianic seed. 

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The Touch Of Faith

She thought, "If I can only reach out and touch His robe, I know I'll be healed." She squeezed an arm through the packed masses around Jesus, and as soon as she brushed the edge of His cloak, she was healed. Jesus stopped, turned and said, "Who touched Me?" Peter laughed and said, "Why would You ask something like that when people are pushing and touching every side of You?" Jesus said, "I felt holy energy go out of Me!" He knew the difference between an ordinary touch and a touch of faith. The woman threw herself at Jesus' feet in gratitude, and He affirmed her faith and blessed her again.

Faith is a powerful thing. Acknowledging truth is the first step, but it is not enough. Talking and thinking about spiritual things or religion doesn't do any good. We must believe with every bit of our souls that Jesus is our Savior, and then make that faith the foundation of every breath we take. When we  remember often, and testify to, all God's gifts to us, large and small, our own faith grows stronger and others see a clearer picture of Him.

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Mercy And Justice

I have seen that those who live for a purpose, seeking to benefit and bless their fellow men and to honor and glorify their Redeemer, are the truly happy ones on the earth, while the man who is restless, discontented, and seeking this and testing that, hoping to find happiness, is always complaining of disappointment. He is always in want, never satisfied, because he lives for himself alone. Let it be your aim to do good, to act your part in life faithfully.
Find time to comfort some other heart, to bless with a kind, cheering word someone who is battling with temptation and maybe with affliction. In thus blessing another with cheering, hopeful words, pointing him to the Burden Bearer, you may unexpectedly find peace, happiness, and consolation yourself.

-Our High Calling, p. 64

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Love: Discovering True Joy

The Scriptures confirm the importance of love. "And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love" ?1 Corinthians 13:13

Love lifts our spirits, encourages our hearts, and energizes our entire being. Love implies trust. When we trust God, our health benefits. God has promised to meet all our needs. In this world of turmoil and difficulty, challenges, big and small, surround us. Studies show that our health improves when we trust in a personal God. Trust God at all times, whether in prosperity or affliction, bright times or dark times, and you will feel remarkably better. His love, mercy, and grace give us strength, health, and courage.

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Christ In You

Until a follower of Jesus is shown how to unravel the mysteries of living a life of faith, he or she will struggle to make any forward progress. The apostle Paul described the mystery of the gospel as being ?Christ in you, the hope of glory? (Colossians 1:27). Without the actual presence of Jesus Himself in a life, the best that can be hoped for is a frustrating up-and-down existence of struggle and failure. A life without ?Christ in you? is a life lived by one?s own wits. Willpower is the enemy of faith. Until it is understood that the key to successful Christian living is Christ in the heart, a sinner can only fall far short of a consistent Christian experience.

?Christ in you? is the power of Christianity. Jesus brings His righteousness into the life of a believer. He brings His obedience. He brings His peace. When Jesus said, ?Without Me you can do nothing? (John 15:5), He meant what He said. The only successful path forward for any follower of Jesus is ?Christ in you??Jesus in the heart.  

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Hope in Jesus Christ Alone

Dear God,

We are living in the last days?I know this is so from what I read in the Bible and what church pastors often tell us. Events over the last decade seem to confirm this reality. There is an increase in catastrophic earthquakes, hurricanes, and other weather-related disasters. Devastating fires burn for weeks, leaving behind nothing but death and destruction.

Yes, the storms are raging. There is no sign or assurance that these current tempestuous events will subside anytime soon. In fact, our Savior warned, ?You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come? (Matthew 24:6, NIV).

Thank You for comforting Your church with these words: ?Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. . . . Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor?s crown? (Revelation 2:10, NIV).

Father, whatever state the world is in, Your children can rest in You and be at peace because Your Word promises You will never leave us nor forsake us (see Deuteronomy 31:8).   

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The Faith of Abraham

To the curious crowd pressing about Jesus there was imparted no vital power. But the suffering woman who touched Him in faith received healing. So in spiritual things does the casual contact differ from the touch of faith. To believe in Christ merely as the Saviour of the world can never bring healing to the soul. The faith that is unto salvation is not a mere assent to the truth of the gospel. True faith is that which receives Christ as a personal Saviour. God gave His only-begotten Son, that I, by believing in Him, ?should not perish, but have everlasting life.? John 3:16. When I come to Christ, accord­ing to His word, I am to believe that I receive His saving grace. The life that I now live, I am to ?live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.? Galatians 2:20.

Many hold faith as an opinion. Saving faith is a transaction, by which those who receive Christ join themselves in covenant relation with God. A living faith means an increase of vigor, a confiding trust, by which, through the grace of Christ, the soul becomes a con­quering power.?The Ministry of Healing, p. 62.  

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Abraham, Our Father

If you are Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, Abraham is your spiritual father because you remember and believe in the Lord (see Genesis 15:6). ?

This reality means that anyone can say ?Abraham is our father? because the faith of Abraham is more than belonging to a people, a tradition, or a religious community (John 8:39). ?Abraham, our father,? is more than a reference to our forefathers because the stress is on Abraham and not on our fathers. It is not related to ethnic pride, cultural identification, or a mystical experience of the privileged elite; nor is it self-promotion for economic or political benefit.

The faith of Abraham involves the struggle with doubt and the realization that the answer is not in you but in God who will do the job; He will work for you. It is the serious discovery of the grace hidden in God?s laughter, which is the meaning of Isaac?s name (Genesis 17:19). It is the assurance of God?s covenant of blood (Genesis 15:17, 18; 17:7?12), which founds and nurtures your hope.

Yet the faith of Abraham is more than a belief in God. The faith of Abraham also embraces the ethical care of and concern for human beings?people who are close family, such as Abraham and his nephew Lot, as well those who are far, the strangers in the world, such as Abraham and his relationship with the pagan Abimelech (Genesis 20:17). 

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Though Your Sins Are Like Scarlett

The emphasis on a godly life and the fight against sin are sometimes presented as the great objective of the spiritual journey. Some will argue the centrality of a relationship with Jesus as a one-size-fits-all formula for spiritual victory. We have created a false dichotomy of faith versus works that has caused immense strife in Christian circles. Falsehoods inhabit both extremes. An emphasis on grace is sometimes used to cover an immature and ineffective Christian experience. At the other end of the spectrum, a message of faith plus works celebrates human religious achievement at the expense of minimizing our total dependence on the work of the Spirit in our lives.

The great truth of human existence, taught by the sanctuary services in the Old Testament and the supreme sacrifice of Christ in the New, is that we are unable to purify ourselves. We have no human solution for our sins. Our righteousness is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), and our thoughts and actions are contaminated by our selfishness and inability to truly love others.

Isaiah 1:18

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