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The Character of Christ

The continuity of Christian influence is the secret of its power, and this depends on the steadfastness of your manifestation of the character of Christ. Help those who have erred, by telling them of your experiences. Show how, when you made grave mistakes, patience, kindness, and helpfulness on the part of your fellow work­ers gave you courage and hope.

Until the judgment you will never know the influence of a kind, considerate course toward the inconsistent, the unreasonable, the unworthy. When we meet with ingratitude and betrayal of sacred trusts, we are roused to show our contempt or indignation. This the guilty expect; they are prepared for it. But kind forbearance takes them by surprise and often awakens their better impulses and arouses a longing for a nobler life. ?The Ministry of Healing, pp. 494, 495. 

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The End

The book of Genesis ends the same way in which the whole Pentateuch ends?with death yet without a visible grave (Deuteronomy 34:6) and in the perspective of the Promised Land (verses 1?4). The book of Genesis, similar to the entire Pentateuch, begins with Creation and the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1; 2) and ends with the prospect of the Promised Land and the hope of the resurrection of the dead (Deuteronomy 34:6; cf. Jude 9). This literary coincidence is not accidental. The pattern of association reappears in the canonical structure of the entire Bible: the first pages of the Bible speak of Creation, and its last pages speak of the hope of the coming of the Lord (Genesis 1; 2; Revelation 22:20; cf. Malachi 4:5).

Significantly, the author of Hebrews defines faith around these two poles: ?Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen? (Hebrews 11:1). The book of Genesis is thus the Bible in microcosm?an open door to the rest of the Scriptures. But it is also a door that opens to the walk of faith with the God of Creation; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as the God of Joseph; the God who comes. For ?all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us? (verses 39, 40). 

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Christian Behavior

Have you heard the expression ?You are what you eat?? When it comes to Christian behavior, this has little to do with real food. People are very good at mirroring what they see. Try it with your friends. When you are around them, do you catch yourself saying or doing things similar to the way they say and do things? How about the people that you admire? Do you practice doing things to imitate them?

When it comes to how we behave, what we choose to ?mirror? has a great deal of importance. Jesus said, ?All men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another? (John 13:35). He also said that what comes out of the mouth reflects what is in the heart (see Matthew 12:34).

There is a relationship between what you put in and what comes out. We can easily recognize when what comes out does not feel genuine. One of the things we recoil against is hypocrisy?when people say one thing but do another. Hypocrisy, when used in the Bible, means ?to act,? not the real deal.

The opposite of hypocrisy is sincerity, authenticity. Which word resonates with you?

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God's End-Time Moseses

There are many parallels between Moses? time and ours, but I will mention three in particular. First, in both cases, God delivers His people from the powers of evil in the world. He delivered the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and guided them to their Promised Land. In our day, He will deliver His people from the tyranny of the end-time demonic forces of evil in the world and take us to our heavenly home.

Second, in Moses? day, God used ten plagues to punish Pharaoh and force him to let the Israelites go. In our day, He will use seven plagues to punish the wicked and set the stage for His second coming.

And third, God always uses humans to assist Him in accomplishing His purposes. He used Moses to challenge Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt. But Moses didn?t do this alone. There?s no way that Moses could have delivered the Israelites from Egyptian bondage without God?s help. God did the heavy lifting. Moses trusted God to be with him. When God does something significant in our world, He also commissions people to do their part. And so it will be during the final crisis. 

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Be Wise

?The Scriptures are able to make you wise.? 2 Timothy 3:15

You are able to make choices! You know what you like. I hope you will always make good choices. The Bible helps us learn. No matter how smart we get or how many things we know, there is always more to learn in the Bible.

The Bible helps us make good choices. It helps us know the right thing to do. When someone is always learning and making good choices, we say they are wise. The Bible can make you wise. Dear Jesus, help me to be wise. Amen. 

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Sometimes my own life feels like one big blur of survival from holiday to birthday to school to doctor?s office to mealtime to bedtime and back again. I am always running, and running late. There is constantly an urgent matter pressing, whether it be the next meal everyone is ?starving!? for, the next appointment, the school pickup, or someone having a mini crisis. It is hard to split my attention between four kids, a husband, and a house. It is hard sometimes to just explain what I?ve done all day, or even all month, except to say that it?s been a blur.

And yet, opposed to this mess of madness and mayhem that is life with littles, God calls me into His presence to be still. ?Be still, and know that I am God,? He invites (Psalm 46:10). As if I should know how to do that. Oh, I can be still?out cold on the couch during an accidental afternoon nap. But if I?m awake? My mind, and usually my body, are anything but still. I can be still when I?m hidden in my closet, eating the very last piece of chocolate in the house, while a little voice inquires from the bedroom doorway, ?Mommy? Are you in here?? I can be still when the kids peek in to see whether I?m awake for the morning. But that?s about all I know of being still. Am I supposed to find time alone (hahaha) to sit somewhere in solitude and silence (HAHAHAHA) for a spell? Well that?s unlikely, except in the bathroom?no, wait, never mind, not even there. . . .

Being still before the Lord sometimes means simply letting go.

This is good news for those of us in mommyland, who find stillness and quiet hard commodities to come by. It means that even if our surroundings are in chaos, our souls can be anchored deep in the stillness that comes from certainty in God?s power.

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Nature?God's Physician

Human beings were made to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine. The truth is that many have become indoor zombies. Too many people in this generation are not getting the benefit of being outdoors. We sit in front of our computers, smartphones, tablets, and TVs. However, this kind of lifestyle increases the risk for sickness and disease. There is healing power in nature; it is God?s physician. Why not make a conscious effort to spend more time in nature? It will improve your physical and mental health. . . .

Air pollution endangers our health. Children and senior citizens are the most vulnerable. Harmful gases are emitted by cars, trucks, buses, trains, and factories, which send carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and methane into the air we breathe. This polluted air, especially in the cities, is a major cause of respiratory problems and irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Those with existing heart disease are at dramatically increased risk of heart attack and stroke. . . .

Our environment is vital to our health. It is either health restoring or health destroying. The more we live in harmony with God?s original plan, the healthier we will be. Spending time outdoors in pure, fresh air makes a difference. Relaxing in nature restores our minds and bodies. It soothes our nerves and restores our health. The sights and sounds of nature are God?s blessings to us. He has provided them to give us health of body, mind, and spirit.

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In Praise of Men

The Bible has little to say in praise of men. Little space is given to recounting the virtues of even the best men who have ever lived. This silence is not without purpose; it is not without a lesson. All the good qualities that men possess are the gift of God; their good deeds are performed by the grace of God through Christ. Since they owe all to God the glory of whatever they are or do belongs to Him alone; they are but instruments in His hands. More than this?as all the lessons of Bible history teach?it is a perilous thing to praise or exalt men; for if one comes to lose sight of his entire dependence on God, and to trust to his own strength, he is sure to fall. Man is con­tending with foes who are stronger than he. ?We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits in high places.? Ephesians 6:12, margin. It is impossible for us in our own strength to maintain the conflict; and whatever diverts the mind from God, whatever leads to self-exaltation or to self-dependence, is surely preparing the way for our overthrow. The tenor of the Bible is to inculcate distrust of human power and to encourage trust in divine power. ?Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 717.  

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The Wisdom of the Prophet

For many people, wisdom and prophecy are two distinct and different domains. Wisdom concerns the present life, and prophecy concerns the future. Wisdom makes us think and discern the right way to go in our daily existence, while prophecy causes us to dream of the Promised Land of peace?a reality outside of this world.

This way of thinking is a dissociation between the physical domain and the spiritual domain. It has its origins in Greek philosophy and is based on a dualistic frame of mind that is foreign to biblical thinking. In the biblical view, ethical behavior in the present life and spiritual thinking about the future belong together. Joseph associates the spiritual prophet who knows what is next with the ethical wise man who engages in the concrete life: ?Wisdom is knowing what to do next. Virtue is doing it.? 

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A Missionary's Prayer

When a group of us were in Africa holding meetings and conducting a free medical clinic, Jaci prayed a remarkable prayer. Exhausted from the constant drain on her strength and her spirit, she begged, ?God, I don?t feel like I have anything to give today. Father, lend me Your heart today, and I will give that away.?

While Jaci doesn?t claim to know all about God, she knew enough about Him to recognize that she needed Him at that moment. Maybe all she knew was that God was the great ?I AM??and that would be enough. For the rest of the day her service to others mattered more than her own comfort, more than her inner cares and conflicting emotions. If you had asked her, she would not have claimed to know everything about God, nor would she have said she was always close to Him. But she knew enough about God to know what He is like: selfless, compassionate, and heartbroken at the sight of suffering people. The list of His traits could go on and on. Why? Because God is still revealing who He is to us. But for the moment, compassion and selfless service can become the way to live.

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Celebrate Sabbath and Mini-Vacations

Give your family the freedom and blessings of a weekly Sabbath. You?ve been given divine permission not to think about anything work related (either at the workplace or at home) every seven days for a whole twenty-four hours. In fact, God commands everyone to take this break (Exodus 20:8?11). What an incredible gift God has given to you and your family! An entire twenty-four-hour period to focus on Him and His creation, which includes your mate and your children. You can rest without feeling guilty. It?s kind of like walking into heaven. Celebrate this gift every week; don?t leave it wrapped on the shelf. You need it for maximum productivity and a full love cup. Don?t cheat yourself (or God).

In addition to a weekly time-out, every parent needs a bit of time alone each day. Parents need private places where they can put themselves back together without phone calls, doorbells, text messages, and the TV disturbing them. Healthy parents also need projects, interests, and hobbies that bring them a sense of satisfaction and remind them of their competence.

You are a child of the King. Treat yourself like royalty, even if others forget. ?Behold what manner of love the father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God? (1 John 3:1).

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You Have a Great Future

Nelson Mandela, the South African leader, once said: ?The future belongs to our youth. As some of us near the end of our political careers, younger people must take over. They must seek and cherish the most basic condition for peace, namely unity in our diversity, and find lasting ways to that goal.?

Yes, the future is yours. You are the hope of our nation. It?s time to make history! The world needs physically, mentally, and spiritually strong young people. You will face difficult battles and challenges, but in your youth, you have the ability to go through hard times. ?Don?t follow the trend, be the trend!?

If you follow God?s directions, you have a bright future. God has promised to guide you in the present and, of course, in the future too. There?s nothing to be afraid of in the future unless you don?t let God handle it for you.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,

and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5, 6).  

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