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Continue reading. Therefore, following in the character of our Creator God, James explains that we are all creative beings with God-given skills. As we engage in Christian mission, we give a little of the love that God has already showered on us. Johanna describes how this works through her experiences of mission in African countries. How can we trust the Bible? What is its message? Why should we read and live it today?

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Stephen Gaukroger shares on this vital topic. Graham shares what the Bible teaches about fasting, bringing clarity to the true reasons to do it and the powerful benefits that feasting upon the presence of Jesus brings. Unresolved conflicts and hurts between members affect the health of the whole community. Sometimes we avoid taking the initiative because we believe that the person who has sinned, who has caused the offence, is responsible for reaching out to repair the rift in the relationship.

Why not? As hard as it is to confront another person with a wrong, it is equally hard to confess and own up to doing something wrong. So, if we are concerned about a wrong that has been done to us, we are called to take the first step, to take action to heal the relationship.

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But, says Jesus, do it privately. No one likes to be publicly taken to task. No one likes to be corrected in front of others. And certainly no one likes to be the subject of gossip. I can still remember the hurt and betrayal I felt when I overheard one person telling another about something I had done to make them angry. The situation got resolved, but it was harder than it needed to be if the person I had angered had dealt with me directly and quickly. What if the person who has done the wrong refuses to listen, or refuses to accept responsibility, or insists that they are in the right, or simply refuses to deal with the conflict at all?

In this way, you get more than one take on the problem. You avoid the problem of hearsay by having witnesses to everything that is said.

People tend to be better behaved when there are witnesses around. Let the community deal with it. The community has the resources, the wisdom, the teachings, and the commitment to seek health and well-being for itself and its members. Even if the first and second steps — taking the initiative, and confronting the individual privately — go against our natural inclinations, the process works.

Either you gain that brother or sister back, relationships are healed and the community is restored, or the offender is excluded by his or her choice and with the approval and support of the whole church.

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No shame, no blame, because we have done all we could. Why are we called to take initiative and deal with those who have sinned against us?

The Parables of Jesus -- The Unforgiving Servant

Is it so that we may be found blameless? Is it to be vindicated or to get our revenge?

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Is it to get rid of people who are hard to live with? Obviously not. It is so that there may be peace and justice in the body of Christ. It is so that members of the body may know the peace, mercy, and joy of forgiveness and reconciliation. It is so that each of us may know the joy of being in right relationship with others and may have the peace of being freed from anger and hurt. Resolving differences is good for everyone — the sinner, those who are sinned against, and the church itself.

It is a matter of salvation, which also means health and wholeness. I said at the beginning that these readings are about not just the responsibilities, but the rewards of being in community, and here they are. The church is a school for the kingdom of God. Here, in this place and with these people, we may practice living the way of love. We may learn and practice living as if the kingdom is already here.

Jesus ate and drank with tax collectors and sinners, and was judged harshly for it by the righteous. The first people to show up at the birth of Jesus as Matthew tells it were the Magi - Gentiles. The first healing story told by Matthew was of the servant of a Gentile army officer. And Matthew, a tax collector, was called by Jesus to become one of his followers.

the loyal servant and the faithful donkey carol s parables book 1 Manual

See where this is headed? If we set ourselves up as judges of those whom we think should be excluded, we are likely to be judged and excluded ourselves. When you point a finger at someone else, where are the other fingers pointed? Right back at you! So we need to be very careful about the decisions, actions, and consequences we impose on others. The words first spoken to Peter alone are now spoken to the church: what we bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and what we loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Not as judges, but as those to whom we owe nothing — except to love.

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A rabbi once asked his students how they could tell when the night was over and the day had come. The students had no more answers. Until then, it is still dark. Text: Romans There is something scary about the word: therefore. Therefore is scary word because it requires response and there are consequences. A mother says her young son: okay, want a new bicycle but you will have to pay for it therefore you will cut the grass every Saturday morning for the entire summer. The father says to his eighteen year old daughter.

You can have the keys to the car therefore I expect you to drive carefully, always be the designated driver, and put gas in the tank. Therefore is the sound of the other shoe falling. Therefore what God has joined together let no one put asunder. Therefore i s a scary word. Well: starting ducking because here it comes…. I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual worship.

Nowhere is this better described than in those words found in the eighth chapter…. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels nor rulers nor things present nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor anything in all creation would be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 8: The scariest of words…. Therefore …. A response is required to the grace that is given. The mercies of God , the grace and the love of Christ should make you different. Change us. It should matter to our behavior and our ethics. This is radical stuff…. And with the Psalmst I sing…. Then will I go unto the altar of God,. O God my God. And with Isaiah I say…. Here I am send me.