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How do we learn to accept those who are different from us?
Matthew 9:11-12 "Why dogs your teacher eat with such scum?" they asked his disciples ... Jesus replied, "Healthy people don't need a doctorsick people do."
Accepting others may require us to look at people from a different perspective.
What if a person has committed a terrible sin? Do we still accept him or her?
Romans 8:38-39 ... nothing ... will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Nothing we do can separate us from God's love. In the same way, we should always love others. This does not mean we accept or condone their sinful actions, but we love and accept them as unique and special creations of God.
Are there times we should not be accepting?
2 Chronicles 34:3-7 ... He saw to it that the altars for the images of Baal and their incense altars were torn down ...
We must not accept or tolerate sin in our own lives. Sin is our enemy, seeking to destroy us. If we are willing to allow any specific sin to dwell in our heart unattended, it will begin to spread like a malignant tumor, affecting all we think and do.
PROMISE FROM GOD: Romans
15:7 So accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified.
How do I become more accountable?
Psalm 1:1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked ...
Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a friendare better than many kisses from an enemy.
To become more accountable, follow God's commands as outlined in his Word, the Bible. And choose wise friends to whom you can feel free to give an account of yourself.
Proverbs 12:15 Fools think they need no advice, but the wise listen to others.
Good advisers keep us from actions that can hurt us.
How can we choose people to hold us accountable?
1 Kings 12:8-11 But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the elders and instead asked the opinion of the young men who had grown up with him ... The young men replied, "[Tell them] if you think he was hard on you, just wait and see what I'll be like! ..."
Friends are not always the best advisers, especially if their counsel is not consistent with God's Word.
How can I effectively hold someone else accountable?
Exodus 18:21-24 But find some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes ... They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you ...
Titus 1:6-9 He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered ... He must live wisely and be fair. He must live a devout and disciplined life ...
If we are going to minister to others by holding them accountable, we must be wise, honest, godly, and trustworthy.
Does God really hold us accountable for all our actions?
Ecclesiastes 11:9 Young man, it's wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do.
Enjoy life, but stay within God's guidelines. God will hold us accountable for everything we do, and who wants to explain ungodliness to a holy God on the day of judgment?
Jeremiah 23:24 "Can anyone hide from me? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?" asks the Lord.
What you withhold from another often bursts into full view at a later time. So why not seek advice now? Besides, God knows all the secrets in your heart.
PROMISE FROM GOD: Psalm
119:9,66 How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word and following its rules ... now teach me good judgment and knowledge.
When is ambition good?
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 This should be your ambition: to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we commanded you before.
Ambition is good when it is directed not at the size of an accomplishment but at the quality of our character.
Romans 15:20 My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard ...
Paul's great ambition was to preach about Christ around the world.
When does ambition become destructive or sinful?
Genesis 11:1-4 ... Let's build a great city with a tower that reaches to the skiesa monument to our greatness! ...
Matthew 4:8-10 "I will give it all to you," [the Devil] said, "if you will only kneel down and worship me."
Ambition can become that which Satan uses to lure us away from God and toward destruction.
Mark 10:35-45 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came over and spoke to [Jesus] ... "In your glorious Kingdom we want to sit in places of honor next to you" ... When the ten other disciples discovered what James and John had asked, they were indignant.
Selfish ambition can even twist our friendships and discipleship into petty spiritual competitiveness.
How can we use ambition to glorify God?
Philippians 2:3 ... don't live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself.
Selfish ambition becomes godly ambition when transformed by a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
PROMISE FROM GOD: Psalm
119:1-5 Happy are people of integrity, who follow the law of the Lord. Happy are those who ... search for him with all their hearts ...
What are the effects of anger?
Genesis 27:41-43 Esau hated Jacob because he had stolen his blessing, and he said to himself ... "I will kill Jacob." But someone got wind of what Esau was planning and reported it to Rebekah. She sent for Jacob and told him ... "Flee to your uncle Laban in Haran ..."
Anger isolates us from others.
Psalm 37:8 Stop your anger! ... Do not envy othersit only leads to harm.
James 1:19-20 Your anger can never make things right in God's sight.
Anger produces ungodliness and evil motives in us.
1 Samuel 20:30-31 Saul boiled with rage at Jonathan ... "As long as that son of Jesse is alive, you'll never be king. Now go and get him so I can kill him!"
Anger blinds us to what is really good and right. Saul's jealous anger blinded him to the fact that God had already chosen David to be the next king because of his godly character.
Genesis 4:1-12 ... This made Cain very angry ... Later ... Cain attacked and killed his brother.
Anger in its strongest form can lead to murder.
Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up to anger.
Anger leads to conflict and arguments.
When we are angry, what should we avoid?
2 Corinthians 2:5-7 The man who caused all the trouble] was punished enough when most of you were united in your judgment against him. Now it is time to forgive him and comfort him.
Ephesians 6:4 Don't make your children angry by the way you scold them.
Avoid discipline in the heat of anger.
James 3:5 The tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do.
Avoid speaking your mind when you are angry. You are bound to say something you will regret.
1 Samuel 19:9-10 ... As David played his harp for the king, Saul hurled his spear at David in an attempt to kill him ...
Avoid acting on impulse in the heat of anger. You are bound to do something you will regret.
We all get angry at times, so what should we do about it?
Ephesians 4:26 Don't sin by letting anger gain control over you. Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil.
Anger is like a skunk in the house. Don't feed it to encourage it to stay. And try to get rid of it as soon as possible.
Matthew 5:21-26 You have heard that the law of Moses says, "Do not murder ..." But I say, if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! ... Go and be reconciled to that person ...
Confront those with whom you are angry in order to restore your relationship.
1 Corinthians 13:5 Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.
Love is the mightiest weapon in overcoming anger.
PROMISE FROM GOD: Psalm 103:8
The Lord is merciful and gracious; he is slow to get angry and full of unfailing love.
Who is a beautiful person in God's eyes."
1 Samuel 16:7 ... People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at a person's thoughts and intentions.
We train our eyes to look at someone's physical appearance. God sees through physical appearance into the heart. Society too often believes that an ugly face with a beautiful heart is an unattractive person. To God, real beauty comes from who we are, not what we look like.
Beauty may be a blessing, but how can it harm or corrupt us?
Esther 1:10-20 ... to bring Queen Vashti to him with the royal crown on her head. He wanted all the men to gaze on her beauty, for she was a very beautiful woman ...
Ezekiel 28:17 Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.
Because we tend to have a misguided view of beauty, those who are physically beautiful can be harmed by it. They can also use their beauty in a corrupt way. And those who are not beautiful may become victims of discrimination.
Ezekiel 16:18, 25 You used the beautifully embroidered clothes I gave you to cover your idols. Then you used my oil and incense to worship them ... you defiled your beauty, offering your body to ever passerby, in an endless stream of prostitution.
Beauty can be used for evil, and when it is, it becomes something very ugly.
Is inward beauty really much more important than outward beauty?
1 Peter 3:3-5 Don't be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewels, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.
Physical beauty fades with age. Inner beauty can mature with age. While we all appreciate looking as nice as we can, and strive to do so, it is that inner beauty that prevails, now and over the long term.
PROMISE FROM GOD: Proverbs
31:30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
How do we become bitter?
Genesis 27:41 Esau hated Jacob because he had stolen his blessing ...
Esther 5:9 What a happy man Haman was as he left the banquet! But when he saw Mordecai sitting at the gate, not standing up or trembling nervously before him, he was furious.
We become bitter by letting anger and hatred control us.
Ephesians 4:31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger ... Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
We become bitter when we demand our way and stop forgiving and forgetting. We would do well to remember that God has forgiven us despite our continual sinful tendencies.
Hebrews 12:15 Watch out that no bitter root of unbelief rises up among you, for whenever it springs up, many are corrupted by its poison.
We become bitter by forgetting God's grace, which is showered upon us each day.
How can we cause bitterness in others?
Amos 5:7 You wicked people! You twist justice, making it a bitter pill for the poor and oppressed. Righteousness and fair play are meaningless fictions to you.
We can cause bitterness in others when we are unjust or unfair in our dealings with others, particularly those who are poor and oppressed.
What is a remedy for bitterness?
2 Corinthians 2:7 Now it is time to forgive him and comfort him. Otherwise he may become so discouraged that he won't be able to recover.
There are times when simple forgiveness can relieve a lifetime of bitterness. Recovery from acute bitterness may be as complex as the reasons for the bitterness, but it may also be as simple as three spoken words: "I forgive you."
PROMISE FROM GOD: Isaiah 26:3
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Doesn't being a Christian sound boring to unbelievers?
Hebrews 6:12 Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God's promises because of their faith and patience.
Focusing on the eternal rewards God promises to believers should make life continually exciting. If we become bored in our Christian life it is because we are not walking with God and experiencing the daily blessings he is ready to give us.
How do I keep faithfulness in marriage from being boring?
Proverbs 5:18-19 ... May you always be captivated by her love.
God does not intend faithfulness in marriage to be boring. Real happiness comes when we commit ourselves to finding pleasure in the relationship God has given us.
Isn't a sinful way of life more exalting?
Proverbs 14:14 Backsliders get what they deserve; good people receive their reward.
With God it is hard to get bored, for his reach is as broad as the universe and as far as eternity.
Jeremiah 2:2 Why do you refuse to turn from all this running after other gods? ...
Chasing other gods is a tiring business, one pursuit after another ends with disappointment and dissatisfaction. Sin has a debilitating sameness at its core. It is only the clothing that changes. God alone truly satisfies.
PROMISE FROM GOD: Galatians
6:9 So don't get tired of doing what is good. Don't get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time.
Does God want us to celebrate?
Deuteronomy 16:9-17 ... This festival will be a happy time of rejoicing with your family ... to honor the Lord ... for it is [he] who gives you bountiful harvests and blesses all your work ...
We celebrate to thank God for all he has done for us, to recall his acts of goodness, and to enjoy each other's company.
Nehemiah 8:10 ... Go and celebrate with a feast ... and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day ... Don't be ... sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!
Joy and fun, as God intended, are important parts of celebration because they lift our spirits and help us see the beauty and meaning in life.
Leviticus 23:25 You must do no regular work on that day ...
Celebration allows us to rest and focus on what is good. It should take our minds off the ordinary and routine.
Exodus 13:4-11 This day in early spring will be the anniversary of your exodus. You must celebrate this day ... During these festival days each year, you must explain to your children why you are celebrating ...
We celebrate to mark important milestones in our lives; we also celebrate to teach our children the ultimate reason for our celebration.
Psalm 47:1 Come, everyone, and clap your hands, for joy! Shout to God with joyful praise!
Psalm 98-4-6 Shout to the Lord, all the earth; break out in praise and sing for joy! ... Make a joyful symphony before the Lord, the King!
Psalm 150:1-6 ... Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals ...
We celebrate to praise and worship God because he loves us, because of the blessings he has given us on earth, and because of the eternal blessings he has waiting for us in heaven.
What kind of celebration is inappropriate?
Exodus 32:25 When Moses saw that Aaron had let the people get completely out of controland much to the amusement of their enemies ...
Numbers 25:1-2 ... soon the Israelites were feasting with them and worshiping the gods of Moab.
1 Peter 4:3 You have had enough in the past of the evil things that godless people enjoy ... their feasting and drunkenness and wild parties ...
Celebration that is self-centered, indulgent, involves sinful acts, or has conditions that can tempt you into sin is wrong.
Are there are times when God alone should be the focus of our celebration?
Deuteronomy 2:7 The Lord your God has blessed everything you have done and has watched your every step ... the Lord your God has been with you and provided for your every need so that you lacked nothing.
Through life's journey and its regular milestones, God has been there to supply all we need. Celebration should be a time for fun and eating, of course, but it should also be a time for thanksgiving to God for his blessings to us. Celebrate occasions, celebrate persons, but most of all, celebrate God.
PROMISE FROM GOD: Psalm 5:11
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Protect them, so all who love your name may be filled with joy.
With all the change in my life, how can the Bible help me keep it all together?
Psalm 59:9-10 ... In his unfailing love, my God will come and help me ...
Hebrews 1:12 But you are always the same ...
We can trust the character of God to be unchanging and reliable.
Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
We can place our faith in Jesus Christ, whose love and grace are eternal.
Mark 13:31 Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will remain forever.
We can build our lives on God's Word because its truth is changeless.
Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love him and are called by him.
God can work his will even through traumatic, unpredictable, and unfair change.
I know there are things in my life I should change, but how?
Acts 9:1-22 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?" "Who are you, sir?" Saul asked. And the voice replied, "I am Jesus ..."
Change comes as the result of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
Luke 19:1-10 ... Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord ... "if I have overcharged people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!"
God calls not only for a change of heart, but a change of behavior.
John 8:1-11 ... Didn't even one of them condemn you?" "No, Lord," she said. And Jesus said, "Neither do I. Go and sin no more."
We do not change in order to receive God's approval, we change as a response to God's love.
Mark 4:1-20 ... the good soil represents those who hear and accept God's message and produce a huge harvest ...
The truth of God's Word produces change only when it is allowed to penetrate deep into our hearts.
Acts 3:12-19 ... Now turn from your sins and turn to God, so you can be cleansed of your sins.
Change begins with honest repentance.
PROMISE FROM GOD: 1 Corinthians 5:17 What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!
What does God think of cheating? Is it always wrong?
Proverbs 11:1 The Lord hates cheating, but he delights in honesty.
Cheating violates a holy God. Cheating and godliness cannot live together in peace. One must give in to the other.
Is some cheating worse than other cheating?
Mark 12:40 They shamelessly cheat widows out of their property, and then, to cover up the kind of people they really are, they make long prayers in public. Because of this, their punishment will be the greater.
Covering cheating with a pious sugarcoating is a double sin: first the sin of cheating and second the sin of pious deceit. God hates both.
Luke 16:10 Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won't be faithful in large ones. If you cheat even a little, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities.
Little cheating is cut out of the same piece of cloth as big cheating. Cheating is cheating.
PROMISE FROM GOD: Romans
13:9-10 For the commandments against adultery and murder and stealing and covetingand any other commandmentare all summed up in this one commandment: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no wrong to anyone, so love satisfies all of God's requirements.
How can we possibly even try to live like Christ?
Romans 8:9 You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them are not Christians at all.)
1 Corinthians 1:30 God alone made it possible for you to be in Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Christ to be wisdom itself. He is the one who made us acceptable to God. He made us pure and holy, and he gave himself to purchase our freedom.
By ourselves we cannot hope to live like Christ, for we are not capable of it. But controlled by the Spirit of Christ in us, we can!
How then do we cultivate the Christlike spirit within us?
2 Corinthians 3:18 ... as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him ...
As we let Christ control our inner life, he also controls our outer expressions of that inner life.
1 Corinthians 1:2 ... you who have been called by God to be his own holy people ... whoever calls upon the name of Jesus Christ ...
1 Corinthians 6:11 ... but now your sins have been washed away, and you have been set apart for God.
We are made more like Christ simply by believing in him.
John 17:17 Make them pure and holy by teaching them your words of truth.
We grow in Christlikeness by constantly learning the truths of the Bible, and living by them.
2 Corinthians 7:1 ... let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit.
We become more Christlike by working hard to keep sin out of our lives.
Romans 12:1-2 I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living and holy sacrificethe kind he will accept.
How can we hope to be Christlike? On our own, it is not possible, for we are a sinful people. But we can give our bodies to God as an offering, a living sacrifice to him. He will help us have Christlike conduct.