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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’

Each Child Is Unique

Scripture: “God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well” Romans 12:6 (TLB)

Observation:  Differing. According to the grace given to him, Paul was appointed to be an apostle (see on v. 3). According to the grace given to them, other believers were appointed to be prophets, teachers, workers of miracles, healers of the sick, etc. (1 Cor. 12:28). By the grace of God the members of the Christians church were endowed with a wide variety of spiritual powers in order to meet the many different needs of their fellow believers and to spread the gospel to every nation, tongue, and people. Paul develops this subject in much more detail in 1 Cor. 12 (see comment there). [The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Volume 6. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (618). Review and Herald Publishing Association.]

Application:. If you have more than one child then you already know that they are different. It is amazing how children can grow up in the same home, go to the same school, and be exposed to the same environment, and yet, be so very different.

We are often tempted to compare our children. “Why can’t you get good grades like your brother?” “Your sister plays the piano and so will you.” The scripture for today reminds us that God made each of us with different abilities and gifts. If we all had the exact same gifts we would miss out on so much beauty in this life.

As parents, we need to recognize the uniqueness in each of our children. What unique gifts and talents do we see in them?  How can we encourage and equip them to maximize those gifts and talents?  Do not compare your children but instead, celebrate their differences!  For example, if you see your child with an aptitude towards and interest in astronomy, take them to the library and check out books on the planets, stars, and space program. You can also purchase or rent DVDs on the same. Just be certain that all materials agree with the Bible. We have an awesome God-given responsibility as parents to nurture the gifts in each child. We can partner with the Divine and then watch how God opens the doors for each of our children by giving them opportunities to use those gifts to serve Him.

Consider a beautifully woven tapestry. It is they  various colors and threads woven together that make it a masterpiece to behold. The same applies to our families. Each family member brings a different character trait and gift. Let that uniqueness shine through.  Celebrate the differences of each individual as well as the beauty of the whole that is created as we come together as a family.

Reflect on the gifts and talents that God has given your child.  What are they and what activities can you do to foster growth in that area?

 

A Prayer You May Say: Dear Lord,women my eyes and help me to recognize each of my children for their uniqueness. Help me to encourage them to use their individual gifts and talents for Your service.

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Scripture:  Let the Spirit change your way of thinking Ephesians 4:23 (CEV)

 

Observation:  4:17–32 The first half of Ephesians emphasizes Christian doctrine or teaching, especially God’s creation of the church as the community of the redeemed (1:1–3:21). In the last half, Paul turns more directly to Christian behavior, giving instructions to the church in the world (4:1–6:24). He has already contrasted the lives of his readers before they became Christians with their lives after they believed (2:1–10, 11–13). In 4:17–32, he contrasts a Gentile pattern of life (which they would have followed earlier, vv. 17–19, 22), with the Christ-inspired pattern (vv. 20–21, 23–32). People who are watching believers should be able to tell that they have “learned Christ” (v. 20). Paul’s counsel suggests that this does not happen instantly but that we believers are to continue to be “taught by Him” (v. 21). [Andrews Study Bible Notes. 2010 (J. L. Dybdahl, Ed.) (1547–1548). Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.]

 

Application:  Sometimes we have low emotional experiences in our lives which we immediately describe as depression when it may be situational sadness (for instance after the death of a loved one, loss of a job, etc.)  Depression, on the other hand, is a powerfully negative mood that interferes with your daily life. When you are depressed, you are sad, despondent, disinterested, lethargic, you feel hopeless or helpless, you may cry all the time or feel as if you absolutely cannot get out of bed in the morning.  One of the concerns is that depression affects your body as well as your mind. You may eat less or you may eat more, but less often. You may feel at night as if you are starting to come out of it, only to wake up in the morning feeling even worse.  Depression may be the result of an adversity in your life or it may seem to have just appeared on its own, or due to a change of seasons or a change of lifestyle or for no apparent reason at all.

Depression can be a life-threatening problem and may even lead a person to feel suicidal For many people suffering from depression the easy way out is through medication.  While some medication may indeed be helpful, the side effects and the addictive effect are not desirable outcomes.  Other, healthier approaches can be more beneficial in the long run.  The good news is that as serious as it may be, depression is a state of mind and body that can be changed through a combination of things such a change in nutrition and activity, intake of vitamins, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and of course the help of God.    CBT focuses on eliminating self-defeating behavior, replacing negative thinking patterns and self-talk with realistic beliefs about oneself and the world.   CBT is the only form of psychotherapy that has been scientifically proven to work better than a placebo in treating major depression.  9For more information on healthy treatment for depression visit https://www.nedleyhealthsolutions.com/?option=com_content&view=article&id=52&Itemid=54)

Today’s text reminds us that with the help of the Holy Spirit we can change any thinking pattern that hurts us individually or asa couple or family.  We don’t have to defeat ourselves with negative thinking patterns but with His help we can established positive, healthy thoughts which lead to healthier behavior.

 

A Prayer You May Say:  Father God, may your holy Spirit help us change the negative thoughts that defeat us even when we have good intentions and desires, and may He plant good, positive thoughts that help us win victories every day in our lives, marriages, and families.

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Scripture: So he answered and said to me: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the LORD of hosts. Zechariah 4:6 (NKJV)

Observation: As the lamps burned continually, supplied with oil from a source (the living olive trees) which man did not make, so Zerubbabel need not be disheartened because of his weakness; for as the work is one to be effected by the living Spirit (compare Hag 2:5 of God, man’s weakness is no obstacle, for God’s might will perfect strength out of weakness (Ho 1:7 2Co 12:10 Heb 11:34. “Might and power” express human strength of every description, physical, mental, moral. Or, “might” is the strength of many (an “army”); “power,” that of one man [Pembellus] God can save, “whether with many, or with them that have no power” (2Ch 14:11; compare 1Sa 14:6). So in the conversion of sinners (1Co 3:6; 2Co 10:4). “Zerubbabel” is addressed as the chief civil authority in directing the work. [Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.]

Application: When we are in the middle of ongoing conflict in our marriage or trouble in our family we can feel so hopeless and helpless. It seems as if there’s no way out, no light at the end of the tunnel. This may be the ongoing financial challenges as a result of loss of income, the pain of infidelity, a child involved in harmful habits or harmful relationships. For some it may mean ongoing abuse in any of its scarring ways.
When people come to me for marriage or family counseling, there are things I can suggest they do. It may be a change in harmful habits or practices. It may mean changing communication patterns and using different forms of conflict resolution. It may involve setting short and long term goals as a couple and as a family. There are many approaches to resolving couple and family conflict that a counselor may recommend and that the couple or family may implement. However, psychology alone can’t ever solve all problems. As Christians, we have much more than psychological techniques to help us; we have the Holy Spirit on our side.
Ellen White wrote: “In the great and measureless gift of the Holy Spirit are contained all of heaven’s resources. It is not because of any restriction on the part of God that the riches of His grace do not flow earthward to men. If all were willing to receive, all would become filled with His Spirit” (Christ Object Lessons, p. 419).
I find some of her descriptive words particularly important:
(1) The Holy Spirit is a “great” and “measureless” gift. God doesn’t just give us a bit of help; He gives us His all.
(2) “All of heavens resources” – Beyond the human help we can receive, all of heavens resources are at our disposal through the Holy Spirit.
(3) If we’re willing to receive, we will be filled. It’s not lack of desire or interest on the part of God; all we need is willingness on our part.
The Holy Spirit is not just the light at the end of our tunnel of trouble; He is the light in and through that tunnel who helps us get over to the other side.

A Prayer You May Say: Father, we need the help of Your Holy Spirit, in whom all the resources of heaven are found, to help us navigate through and out of the waters of conflict, concern, and challenges in our marriage and family.

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A Bad Agreement in Marriage

Scripture: Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Acts 5:9 (NKJV)

Observation: Ananias and Sapphira were members of the early Christian Church. The church members were very generous and unselfish. Chapter four of Acts ends with these words describing the church: Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. 36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, 37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. Acts 4:32-37 (NKJV)
Ananias and Sapphira might ave started off with good intentions in their heart. They probably did have the desire to sell their property and to give the proceeds to the church. But evidently when they realized how much that would mean, probably more than they had anticipated, they decided to give only part of the proceeds. Ananias came first to present what he thought was a sizeable offering only to be confronted by Peter to tell the truth. When he lied, he died. Sapphira then came and was given the opportunity to tell the truth, but she too chose to lie and also died.
Ellen White describes these events: Ananias and Sapphira grieved the Holy Spirit by yielding to feelings of covetousness. They began to regret their promise and soon lost the sweet influence of the blessing that had warmed their hearts with a desire to do large things in behalf of the cause of Christ. They thought they had been too hasty, that they ought to reconsider their decision. They talked the matter over, and decided not to fulfill their pledge. They saw, however, that those who parted with their possessions to supply the needs of their poorer brethren, were held in high esteem among the believers; and ashamed to have their brethren know that their selfish souls grudged that which they had solemnly dedicated to God, they deliberately decided to sell their property and pretend to give all the proceeds into the general fund, but really to keep a large share for themselves. Thus they would secure their living from the common store and at the same time gain the high esteem of their brethren. (Acts of the Apostles, p. 72)
While the immediate punishment might seem harsh, God needed to protect the early church from going astray. Again, Ellen White writes: Infinite Wisdom saw that this signal manifestation of the wrath of God was necessary to guard the young church from becoming demoralized. Their numbers were rapidly increasing. The church would have been endangered if, in the rapid increase of converts, men and women had been added who, while professing to serve God, were worshiping mammon. This judgment testified that men cannot deceive God, that He detects the hidden sin of the heart, and that He will not be mocked. It was designed as a warning to the church, to lead them to avoid pretense and hypocrisy, and to beware of robbing God. (AA p.73)

Application: The influence of a spouse can serve as a great blessing or a horrible curse. When one spouse takes step in the direction opposite to God’s will, the consequences can have devastating results for the other spouse, to their children, and to many others. Our first allegiance should lways be to God. The first of the ten commandments states it clearly: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 You shall have no other gods before Me” Exodus 20:2-3 (NKJV). Jesus also quoted Old Testament writings to answer the question as to which is the greatest commandment by saying: So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself’ ” Luke 10:27 (NKJV). Jesus made it clear than in our priority list God should always take first place and then everybody else. Our spouse, our children, our parents, our friends. . .no one should ever take first place before God.
In marriage, then, it is the individual responsibility to have this order of priorities straight and maintain God first in our lives. If or when one spouse takes steps contrary to this order, the other spouse cannot simply agree and go along with the other. One of those areas where couples could fail is similar to that of Ananias and Sapphira. When it comes to returning God’s tithe to Him and presenting offering to the church to further its ministry, many couples have disagreements and in many cases defraud God. Ellen White writes: “The same sin was often repeated in the afterhistory of the church, and it is committed by many in our time; but though not attended with the visible manifestation of God’s displeasure, it is no less heinous in His sight now than in the apostles’ time. The warning has been given, God has clearly manifested His abhorrence of this sin, and all who pursue a similar course of action may be sure that they are destroying their own souls. . . .”(Christian Service, p. 312).
The spouses should agree early in their marriage, in fact before their marriage, what portion of their finances belongs to God and what part they will give to the church, and then both should encourage each other to be faithful to that commitment. If the time comes when one chooses to go back on that commitment, the other should not simply go along but they should remain faithful to God. By doing so, not only are they keeping their individual commitment of generosity and obedience to God, thus protecting their eternal salvation, but they would also be serving as an example to their spouse that they may repent and return to their walk with God. Agreeing in what is wrong could spell out devastation and death not just to one of the spouses but to both, to their marriage and ultimately to their children.

Prayer: Father, help us to remain faithful and true to You first and always, and may we help each other, as spouses, to keep You first in each other’s life for each other’s sake and for the sake of our children and others.

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Scripture: When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. . . 4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1, 4 (NKJV)

Observation: Jesus had ascended to heaven and His disciples were now left to continue the work He had started. The first days after Jesus’ departure must have been days of uncertainty and maybe even fear, but expecting His promise to be fulfilled they continued to meet together for prayer and mutual encouragement.
It was on the occasion of the Day of Pentecost, when the disciples were gathered, that they received a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit and which resulted in their speaking in other languages.

Application: If God is everywhere, what we call His “Omnipresence,” then the Holy Spirit was already present with the disciples. In fact, His work on each of their hearts is what brought them to be together in one accord. At the same time, the result of being together in a spiritual unity allowed for a greater manifestation of the Holy Spirit which also resulted in greater witness. Once the Holy Spirit was poured on the disciples, they began to speak in the language of the people who had come from many part of the world and had gathered in Jerusalem gathered there for the festival.
The same Holy Spirit is also interested and willing to bring unity to us a s a family or as a couple. Conflict, stress, and the pressures of this world continually threaten to divide us. The divorce rate in the United States, and in every country in the world, attest to the fact that marriages are breaking apart. The witness of these broken marriages leads many to believe that if God can’t keep the marriages of those who believe in Him intact then what’s the point of following Him! On the other hand, when there is unity in a Christian marriage, or in the family, those within it are a living witness to its very members and to those outside the family circle.
Something else caught my attention in today’s text and story. The result of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was that the disciples spoke other languages. Gary Chapman has become well known for his books on the Five Languages of Love through which he explains that we need to learn to speak our spouse’s love languages. When the Holy Spirit falls on us, as a result of us being in unity, we then can have the ability to speak our spouse’s love language with more regularity, ease, and comfort. What may be foreign to us, with the aid of the Holy Spirit it will become more natural and therefore our unity, our relationship will be strengthened, so not only does He bring us together but He keeps us together.
Let us submit ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and lives so He can strengthen our marriage and our family and speak to others through the life we live and through the love languages we speak to one another.

Prayer: Loving Father, pour Your Spirit on us as a couple and as a family that the unity You desire for us may be a daily reality. May Your Spirit enable me to speak the love language he/she understands and which shows him/her my love for him/her.

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Scripture: (Psa 137:1-3 NKJV)  By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down, yea, we wept When we remembered Zion. {2} We hung our harps Upon the willows in the midst of it. {3} For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, And those who plundered us requested mirth, Saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

Observation: The Israeli exiles now long for home while living in Babylon, and their pain is made more difficult to bear because those who have taken them prisoners taunt them with their condition as foreigners and make fun of them.

Application:
I spent three fantastic weeks in my homeland of Colombia.  I have lived in the US 33 years, have been adopted by this country and the people here, I’m an American citizen, and love the Us as if I had been born here.  But my heart is also in Colombia where I spent the first 18 years of my life, where I still have many relatives and friends, where I received the first part of my education, and where I have some of my strongest memories – the death of my father when I was 15, my sister’s wedding, my group of friends, and many more.

I have been back home only four times in the last 33 years, one of them for my mother’s death.  The other three visits were vacations, to see the family, and to get reacquainted with my home and my people.  I don’t know if all foreigners experience this, but I know that every time I come back from Colombia I go through a couple of weeks of deep sadness and a longing for home.  I desperately want to be back with those I love, eat their food, enjoy their music, travel their roads, watch their sunsets, share their landscapes, feel their warmth, and even their cold.

I wonder at times if Jesus ever had similar thoughts and feelings.  He left heaven and was away from home for 33 years.  He left a place where He was surrounded by beings that loved Him, indeed worshiped Him, where there was no violence, anger, or hatred, where he had daily, constant, face-to-face communion with His Father, with the Holy Spirit, and with all the angels.  And while here on earth, even though He had a loving mother and step-father, and several friends, He also encountered the hostility of His step-brothers, the anger of the people, the hatred of the authorities.  I wonder how much He longed to be home!

I couldn’t put mi fingers on it today, but remember reading of a vision Ellen White had where she was transported to heaven and then, having come out of the vision, witnessing the darkness and gloom of earth in comparison to what she had experienced in heaven she felt so sad.  I’m glad we won’t experienced that after we leave heaven to come back to earth because it will be a new earth and because God Himself, and Jesus will be with us.  In the mean time, as much as I long for my Colombian home, I also long for heaven, my eternal home.

Prayer: Father, may Jesus return soon so we can go home to be with You and with our loved ones who’ve passed away so we can enjoy eternity together and never be apart from each other again.

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