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Fellowship in the Church

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In the New Testament, the Greek word for fellowship is koinonia.  It means to share something in common together with others.  Of course, those who believe in Jesus share in the common presence and bond of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in every believer.  The Spirit brings us together in one body and shared spiritual experience. The desires of our sinful flesh put us in conflict with koinonia.  Our flesh seeks to advance the interests of self and not the Spirit.  This always results in broken relationships. Years ago National Geographic carried......

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The Fragrance of Jesus

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Musician Steven Curtis Chapman told the story of when he once went out into a nearby woods to pray.  At the time he felt very broken and discouraged, and went out to be alone with God.  As he prayed he was desperate for God to show up, to give him some wisdom or a sign that would help him break through the pain he was feeling.  As he was praying, he began to smell the strong scent of cedar.  It was so strong that it distracted him from his prayer. He looked......

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The Helper

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The great British statesman, William Wilberforce (1759-1833), worked tirelessly throughout his life to abolish the slave trade in England.  It took most of his life, but eventually his perseverance paid off. He was able to endure much opposition, discouragement and long periods of time without progress, because of his faith in Jesus.  It was apparent to all that he loved the Lord and learned to walk by, and depend on the Holy Spirit. Below is a prayer he wrote down that reveals how well he understood the dynamics of the spiritual life,......

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Fruit of the Spirit

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Jesus used many agricultural analogies to explain spiritual truths.  The parable of the four soils illustrates that the effect of God’s Word is directly related to the condition and receptivity of a person’s heart to God.  In comparing it to the growth of God’s kingdom on earth, the parable of the mustard seed illustrates how something so small can grow into something so expansive. Jesus often referred to fruit in his parables.  The seed planted in good soil bears fruit sixty and one hundred-fold.  Those who abide in Him bear much fruit.......

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Co-heirs With Jesus

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After the Japanese surrendered, officially ending World War II, a special ceremony was organized for the signing of surrender documents by the Japanese, and designated representatives of allied nations on September 2, 1945. General Douglas MacArthur officiated the ceremony aboard the USS Missouri, and was the last to sign on behalf of the United States. MacArthur took his Parker fountain pen and simply signed his first name, “Douglas.”  He then passed the pen to General Wainwright, who signed it “Mac.”  MacArthur then handed the pen to General Percival, who signed it “Arthur.”......

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Study the Promises

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Ruth Bell Graham shares a story about when she awoke one night with a start.  Someone she dearly loved flashed into her mind and she was anxious and worried about them.  She knew there was no more sleep for her that night, and so she started praying.  Her pray time was constantly interrupted by her anxious thoughts.  She had trouble as she tried desperately to conquer her fears. But then suddenly the Lord seemed to say to her, “Quit studying the problems and start studying the promises.”  She turned on the light......

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The Cost of Freedom

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When the fiftieth anniversary of our country’s birthday drew near, two great Americans closely connected with the Declaration of Independence and the establishment of our freedom – Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, were asked to participate and share a few words at celebrations taking place in New England and Virginia.  John Adam’s agreed only to a short toast in his home town of Quincy Massachusetts, which was “I will give you independence forever.” On July 4, 1826, Adam’s health was failing, and Jefferson was bedridden at his home in Monticello.  While on......

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Reason to Obey

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During my childhood I had a good reason to obey my parents and teachers – fear of punishment.  While that can be a deterrent to choosing evil in order to avoid disastrous consequences, it is purely a self-focused motivation to obey – so that I might avoid unpleasant consequences. Unfortunately, this same fear-based motivation has plagued me over the years as a Christian in my motivation to obey God.  I want to avoid pain and His displeasure.   This again is a reason based on how it profits me.  And, while it can......

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The Gospel Sets Us Free

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In Galatians Paul describes the effect of the Gospel in terms of our freedom.  “For freedom Christ has set you free.”  But what are we free from? Here are a few freedoms the Gospel makes possible for those who believe in Jesus: I am free from failure for “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:13) I am free from want for “My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19) I am free from fear for “God did not give......

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Good News About the “Good Place”

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Ask anyone on the street what God will use at the final judgment to decide whether they will go to heaven or hell, and most will answer their good works and bad works.  Everyone will get what they deserve based on what they did in this life.  Something like that philosophy is the basic theological conclusion of every religion in the world – except Christianity. It is the popular view that you are likely to see reinforced by Hollywood productions like NBC’s show “The Good Place.”  In one episode the angel, Michael,......

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