Forgiveness Is Not Saying It Is Okay
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Carrying the Cross

One Sabbath afternoon I received a phone call from the mother of a child I had corrected earlier at church, who had smarted off to me, when I told her to stay out of a room that was off-limits. The mother told me, “My daughter wants to tell you she is sorry, but before she gets on the phone, I wanted to ask you, when she says she is sorry, don’t tell her it is okay. Just tell her she [...]

06: The Conditions of Revival – Thought Starters
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“He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy”(Proverbs 28:13, NKJV)

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[Thought questions for The Conditions of Revival August 9, 2013]

1. The gift of repentance. If repenting of our sins means feeling sorrow for committing them, how can repentance be a gift? What are the benefits of repentance? Without repentance, where are you and I bound? Why? What is there about sin that [...]

Guilty Refuge
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Have you ever been caught up in some activity that you knew was not right, but you rationalized it somehow so that you didn’t feel guilty? Rationalization takes a lot of mental and spiritual energy to maintain, but most of the time, the guilt drifts back into your consciousness often enough that you might gradually start to believe that you can’t be forgiven for what you’ve done.

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I remember several times rationalizing things that I [...]

Tuesday: God’s Readiness to Forgive
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Read Zechariah 3. How is the gospel portrayed here?

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With, perhaps, the exception of Isaiah 53, no portion of the Old Testament better reveals the wonderful truth of salvation by faith alone than does Zechariah 3. In this vision, the high priest Joshua is being tried on accusations brought forth by the official accuser, Satan. The accusations against the high priest also apply to the nation which he represented. The name Joshua (also spelled as Jeshua) means “the Lord saves” (see Matt. [...]

The “Perfect” Debate
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In Christ’s day in Palestine, you could start a heated debate in the church by just saying the word “resurrection.” Today you can accomplish the same thing during fellowship lunch by just casually using the word “perfect.”

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In my 47 years of being an Adventist I have observed something ironic. I have met people who have told me, that if I don’t believe that we can live without sinning, that I am not a real [...]

Unforgivable
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Does anybody remember the call-in radio show with Dr. Laura? For a while, Laura Schlessinger had a very popular radio advice program where she told people exactly what she thought about their behavior and how they should fix themselves. She often didn’t let the caller get to the actual question before she started telling them how to fix it.

I will never forget the day I heard her tell a caller that she didn’t have to forgive the person who had [...]

Further Study: Eager to Forgive
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Read the following quotations and discuss how they help us to understand the messages from the book of Jonah more clearly.

“Whenever they are in need the children of God have the precious privilege of appealing to Him for help. It matters not how unsuitable the place may be, God’s ear of mercy is open to their cry. However desolate and dark the place may be, it can be turned into a veritable temple by the praying child of God.”—The SDA [...]

06: Eager to Forgive – Thought Starters
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“‘But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord’” (Jonah 2:9, NIV).

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[Thought questions for Eager to Forgive May 8, 2013]

1. The poetry of Jonah. Is the entire book of Jonah or just the song he writes from the belly of the fish a work of dramatic poetry? What are some blessings of having poetry throughout Scripture? Since Hebrew poetry doesn’t [...]

Thursday: Forgiven, Yet Unforgiving
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Read Jonah 4 .

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What important lessons did Jonah need to learn? How is his own hypocrisy revealed here?

Jonah 4 reveals some startling things about the prophet. He seems to prefer to die rather than to witness about God’s grace and forgiveness. Whereas before Jonah had rejoiced in his deliverance from death (Jon. 2:7-9), now that Nineveh lives he prefers to die (Jon. 4:2-3).

In contrast to Jonah, God is pictured in the Bible as someone who takes “no [...]

Wednesday: A Successful Mission
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After such a miraculous deliverance, when commanded by God the second time to go to preach in Nineveh, Jonah obeyed immediately.

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In his proclamation, Jonah (3:1-4) used language reminiscent of God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19). But in the original Hebrew, the word for “overthrown” (see Gen. 19:21, 29, Jon. 3:4) from Jonah’s proclamation can also have the meaning “turned around” or “transformed” (Exod. 7:17, 20, 1 Sam. 10:6). Jonah’s preaching of the divine message was not in [...]