Avoidance
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Thanks to Jesus' famous parable in Luke 10 about highway bandits and an amazing rescue, the word Samaritan today always connotes compassion and generosity. The term has become a compliment.   Ironically in Jesus' time, it was the opposite. To call someone a "Samaritan" was to insult him. The Jews viewed their "middle neighbors" as racial half-breeds and renegades to their religious tradition. They showed their disapproval and fear by avoidance: "Jews do not associate with Samaritans" (John 4:9). When riding... Read More
Unity in the community
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"Rugged individualism" is a phrase Herbert Hoover often used; it became a theme of his presidency. It refers to a feature of Americans that he cherished and wished to foster-that people work hard and take care of themselves, not dependent on others or begging for handouts.   That admirable quality can become ragged individualism, however, when people think only of themselves, when they look to their relationships only for what they can get. God himself loves a diversity of viewpoints-after all,... Read More
The strong bear with the weak
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Everybody hates bullies. I would imagine that most men have painful memories of playground humiliations by older and bigger boys. I would imagine that most women have painful memories of being made to feel homely by a clique of prettier girls.   While our memories of being bullied are strong, I doubt that we are even half aware of the pain we have inflicted on others. Our culture glorifies the strong and beautiful and has only contempt for the weak and... Read More
Christ is our model
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People need heroes to look up to, to know that at least somebody has figured out life and figured out how to be successful. Who are your heroes? Achievers in sports, finance, fashion, or music?   People crave heroes also to know how to live. We pay attention not only to the achievements of athletes, musicians, and movie stars, but we crave details of their personal lives as well. A huge magazine, TV, and online industry has arisen to satisfy that... Read More
Accept One Another
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The story of the human race began so well. The first people, Adam and Eve, lived in total harmony with each other and enjoyed their first Sabbath-rest with their God. But Genesis 3 came after Genesis 2. The holy couple chose Satan and his empty promises rather than God, and they invited every manner of corruption into their once-perfect lives.   Guilt and fear replaced innocence in their relationship with God. It got worse. Genesis 4 followed Genesis 3. Cain's hatred... Read More
We will be like Jesus
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Have you ever noticed that your praying tapers off when you have a guilty conscience? Guilt makes us slink away from God’s presence instead of running to meet him. One of the greatest things about life in heaven someday is that we will be pure and sinless forever. Never again will we hurt or disappoint our heavenly Father. Never again will we feel shame and guilt. The Bible says in 1 John 3:2, “What we will be has not yet... Read More
In the direct presence of God
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If you listen for it, you will hear the word heaven pop up in people’s talk now and then. “Heavenly” desserts and chocolate treats, Caribbean cruises, and therapeutic massages are all nice. Unfortunately, the things we call heavenly on earth are pale shadows of the grand reality.  In heaven your pain will be gone. You will get back all the Christian friends and loved ones that you laid to rest. You will live in absolute security, bothered no longer by... Read More
Glorified bodies
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I’ve occasionally heard people say, “I don’t need money, fancy vacations, fame, or a huge home as long as I have my health.” Well, what if you don’t have your health anymore? Most baby boomers will remember a famous line from The Who song “My Generation” that talked about hoping to die before getting old. Are you afraid of the aging process? Do you feel sick or weak or old right now? If you’re a believer in Christ, you can... Read More
No more tears
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Bath time for small children is partly fun and partly an ordeal. There are plenty of giggles with the bubbles, but there will be angry shrieks when soap gets in their eyes. Some lab and marketing geniuses developed a “no more tears” children’s shampoo that takes the crying out of the experience. Don’t you wish that you could shampoo your hair with some miracle substance in the morning that would guarantee that you wouldn’t need to cry that day? The... Read More
He has a plan
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You can bear almost any burden if you think that tomorrow has a chance of getting better. If you’re laid off from work or have a major chronic illness, you dream about the next interview, the next operation. But when hopes are crushed, the light goes out in your eyes. The stories of God’s Old Testament people Israel will break your heart. The years 721 and 586 B.C. mark the disintegration and collapse of the two kingdoms. But God told... Read More