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Friday: Further Thought ~ The Stranger in Your Gates — 6 Comments

  1. What is guiding you through your day today?

    There are either of two things that will likely be happening for you.

    1) You have trained yourself, by regular and repeated practice, to intentionally focus upon seeking first the Kingdom of God and consequently being about loving/benefiting others - including the stranger in your gates. Thus, living this way has become your 'habit'. You and God are intentionally in the driver's seat of your life-and-living each day.

    2) You awaken to your day and, by default, the things that 'pop up' in your day draw and absorb your attention. Thus, your day is guided by whatever is happening around you and you are essentially 'in the passenger's seat' - being drawn along for the ride. This is the default tendency of humans.

    Which seat are you in today? Is it the seat you choose to be in - or did it just happen without you really noticing. If you don't like the seat you are in, you can 'pull aside' at any point and make an intentional choice to seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) and in so doing join God in the driver's seat. And if you find yourself sliding back into the passengers seat, 'pull aside' again and make that choice again. Do this as many times as needed and it will gradually become habit.

    'Bad' habits are formed merely by repetition. Transformation of bad habits to good ones takes place by this same repetition process (ie, regular and repeated practice, Philippians 4:9).

    The above is not an exercise in 'humanism'. God doesn't bypass our way of being as humans to restore us. God works in us, with us for that restoration. Of necessity, we need to actively co-operate with God in that restoration process. We don't merely move out while God renovates and then move back in to the finished product.

  2. It is only a couple of quarters ago that we had a lesson series about, "The Least of These". This week's lesson is a timely reminder of the importance of our interaction with others. We tend to be very insular in our religion. We have our own language, our own world view, our perception of morality and ethics, and our understanding of freedom. Are we so insular that we forget about the needs of others?

    I live in a community where a large portion of us are Seventh-day Adventists. We are very familiar with issues that flare up in the local community that are seen as "them and us" situations. There is one going on at the moment that I am not going to detail here. Suffice it to say that some of us are having to work very hard to ensure that the non-Adventist population don't see it as crackpot Adventists wanting to control the community. The situation calls for tact and private communication, not public brawling on social media pages.

    For the most part, we are not going to draw people to Christ by detailed theological argument. Most people respond to being treated with respect. I have atheist friends who would not have a bar of our discussion about the nature of the Godhead or the state of the dead, but who appreciate the fact that I listen to them and do not respond with a lot of "Jesus talk". I ask myself how I would feel if I was an atheist and my Christian friends always pushed the notion that I was wrong. It would not be long before they were not my friends. Respect for people we believe are wrong is often very hard when we have such a protective attitude to our perception of truth.

    Our modern communities are complex and sometimes difficult to navigate. It is important in these times to be seen as Christians in action, rather than mental assenters to doctrine. The parable of the Good Samaritan is a classic illustration of where real Christianity is at.

  3. Matthew ◦ Chapter 25...40 "The King will smile and say, 'The truth of my kingdom of love is this: Whatever love you gave to the least of my family on earth, you gave it to me.'41 "Then the King will say to the unhealed-those on his left, whose hearts remain embittered with fear and selfishness: ‘You have what you’ve chosen: Depart from me, you who are terminal, doomed by your own condition; your end is eternal fire prepared to consume evil.42 For I was hungry and you let me starve; I was thirsty and you let me thirst;43 I was a stranger and you left me on the street; I needed clothes and you gave me none; I was sick and you let me suffer; I was in prison and you let me be abused............'How do you know if your heart needs to be circumcised?

  4. This past week's lesson might assumes that we just need a little refresher course to remind ourselves of who we 'ought to be' as Christians; but I wonder if there are not many who would benefit from some digging to reach the foundation of our faith and do some 'foundational' repair work.

    Asking a Christian:
    Where does the desire to 'change your ways' come from?
    Is wanting to change one's ways just the result of personal introspection - if not, who reveals it's results, based on what and how?
    Why do you want to take an assessment of yourselves if its results might indicate the need to make great changes?
    What motivated you to believe and still motivates you to live the 'Faith of Christ'?
    Who has the authority to sit in judgment to assess the outcome of your life's choices?
    I think the answer to these questions will reveal one's relationship with the Father.

    We study to know what is right according to our Savior's Gospel Truth, but do we fully accept this to include the laying bare/to uncover the true spiritual condition of our heart? Do we recognize that our Savior is also our just God, 'judging/assessing' our actions based on our heart and mind's willingness to give up the right to self-determination and be instead covered by His righteousness; living according to His Will?

    Recognizing that there is nothing 'good' in us, wanting the Goodness of God to be reflected through us instead of our sin-nature, accepting to walk by faith the Path of Christ Jesus' Truth and Light; if we cannot/do not show deference - humble submission and respect - to God's Will and Way, how could we ever be able to show kindness to others?

  5. What role should our faith have in helping us understand what is commonly referred to as “human rights”?

    Are the doctrines of Christ and His word to be so molded as to be acceptable to the current definition of "human rights"?

  6. I firmly believe to be circumcised of the heart is the striping away of dependence on ourselves. After letting God strip away our dependence on our selves God opens us to a new life, a dependence on God. Ezekiel 36:25-32. Specifically.
    I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
    Ezekiel 36:27 NKJV

    Then what happens is marvelous. You will be My people, and I will be your God.

    Now we are ready to love strangers, and judge righteously and impartially.

    Yes of course we want to let the working of God in our hearts bring out the principles of 1Corinthians 13.
    1Corinthians 13:1-13. In fact if ask Him in prayer, Gods love will flow as rich current through our soul, emanating to the stranger within our gates.


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