Weekly Devotions
 
 
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Unity Among the Brethren
by Michael Donahoe

 

Do you get tired of seeing such disagreement among fellow Christians? We do not see a lot of unity and agreement at all today.

 

Jesus said his followers were to be known for their love for one another. Yet today it is hard to find brothers and sisters in Christ being loving and kind.

 

Fortunately this is not the case in every situation, but it seems a lot more common than it should be.

 

I am not just talking about being accepting and kind toward those who are outside the Christian faith, but it is hard to find true love and acceptance among brethren of different denominations within the faith.

 

If we go to the same church building and accept the same doctrines, you will usually find love and acceptance. I remember when I was in the church system the first thing I would ask someone was where they went to church. If they went to an organization I liked and agreed with, I would pretty much instantly like the person. If they went to a place that was different in their way of worship or interpretation of the bible, then I would immediately be on guard and almost dismiss them as someone to get to know. This seems to be a pretty common occurrence.

 

It is sad that we put such walls up with people who think differently. It is sad that we have made such importance out of buildings, doctrines, interpretations and bible versions that we forget God loves each of us no matter what we believe. We are to love God and love others just as God does no matter what they believe, especially among those who are also followers of Jesus.

 

Loving and accepting people does not mean we are always in agreement and that we always get along. Of course there will be disagreements and differences of opinions, probably even arguments and hurt feelings at times, but that is life. We can disagree and even argue at times and still respect and accept the other person.

 

By the power of the Spirit within us, we can accept, respect and be loving toward others. Not only our brothers and sisters in Christ, but those who are not of the Christian faith and belief. I think we can disagree and have different opinions and still act in a respectful and accepting way toward our fellow human beings.

 

Jesus said that they will know we are his disciples by the love we have for one another. Love draws people, but condemnation, judgment and unloving behavior drives them away. Many times, when I say we are to love and accept others I get a lot of comments about being wrong because as Christians we are to point out the sins and mistakes of others. They say our responsibility is to make sure others know what they are doing is wrong….at least by their way of thought.

 

I personally do not think we are to be the sin police. We are not told to do such things. We are told to love God and love others. As far as I am concerned the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin where conviction is needed. That is between the Spirit and each individual as to what they do and how they respond. We are only to love others.

 

Love draws, God is love. Rather than judge, condemn, separate and argue, get out there among humanity and let the love of God flow out of you by the power of the Spirit. There is a whole world of hurting people, both Christian and non-Christian who can use the encouragement of an accepting person who cares and shows the love of God.

 

 

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Marriage and Being One with God

The institution of marriage is such a great comparison to life with our Father. I think a lot of the time we miss some good points about marriage that directly relates to life with God. To many times we do not associate marriage with Kingdom meanings.

Actually marriage is a shadow of spiritual things. Ephesians 5:31 and 32 state … For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. The church being mentioned here is not a building or an organization. The Church are the people who Jesus brings together. It is not a weekly meeting, it is a living organism made up of those of us saved by grace.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about recently is how we are one with God. It’s hard to imagine that our Father lives within us. Jesus said when he left the earth, he would send us another comforter. Through his Spirit, he came to make his home within us and he is constantly with us.

We always think of God sitting on a big throne, way off in heaven somewhere and that one of these days we will go and meet Him and live with Him forever.

The thing is, that is not what His written word tells us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, God’s physical dwelling place on earth. His Spirit dwells within us and He will never leave us nor forsake us.

Now it’s not saying we are God, but we are one with God. The best way I’ve found to make sense of this is to think of marriage. When two individual people fall in love, make a commitment to love each other and live together, the bible says the two shall become one.

Does that mean that the spouse becomes their partner, that they somehow become the same person? No, both people remain individuals, yet they live as one. Same with us and God, we are still the person He created, yet because God loves us and we love him, he made his home within us, and His spirit lives within us. We are one with God.

In John 17:21 Jesus is talking with the Father and asks … that they may all be one, even as You Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. Seems to me it is truly a marriage made in heaven.

We do not have to wait to a future time when we live with God in some far-away place, we are living as one with Him in His Kingdom right now. We are his temple, his dwelling place, and each of us are equally important parts of his body.

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