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No scripture references come to mind for this devotional, but rather, several thoughts.
In various locations around the world, to this day there are places where remnants of war have remained behind, in the form of landmines.

People, including children in particular, have accidentally stepped on landmines, sometimes decades after the shadows of war have departed. It is a strong visual – no one should have to experience the forgetfulness or ineptitude of a group that leaves landmines behind.

I am not trying to wax political. The question on my mind is – how often do we have to endure our own field of landmines – in a verbal or circumstance sense? My hero is the guy who can navigate a field of landmines, and help us get to the other side.

I am aware of one such hero — the Holy Spirit is my ‘mine sweeper guy’. The power of the Holy Spirit can go before us, and make out path straight AND uneventful.
Wee all have to manage our own journey through our own personal minefield. It makes perfect sense that we should have an expert with us, and we can expect that he will direct our path.

God is good like that.

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There are many television programs which feature people who are skilled at taking something old and restoring it so that it looks like new, or better than new.

In order for these artisans to make it like new, they must be creative, persistent, meticulous, and careful — with the right tools — in order to do the restoration. Think for a moment about what God did for the restoration of humanity.

God had to be creative

  • He told humanity exactly how He would do it.

God was meticulous about it.

  • Hundreds of prophecies were spoken.
  • All the prophecies were fulfilled.

God was persistent about making it happen.

  • the plan was established at the creation of the world
  • humanity messed up the plan hundreds of times through incompetence
  • God was always able to put his plan in motion in spite of us.

God was careful.

A reconciliation plan that leads to death would have been a failure.

The ‘right, perfect tool’ for the job was Jesus Christ. In second Corinthians, Paul talked about restoration of people to God. In more common language, God reconciled the world to himself. The challenge for us is – not everyone wants to be reconciled.

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (NIV)

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

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A Christian who has integrity has a singular focus. We are to do the right thing, and do it with God’s plan in mind — not our own. Recently I was thinking about the parable of the Bags of Gold described in Matthew 25:14-30 . In this parable, the Master gives money to his servants and “entrusts them with his wealth”. In my modern understanding, I see myself as the servant, in the role of an investment broker. I have been given a fiduciary responsibility to ‘earn interest on a sum of money’. This has several simple truths I have to recognize:

  • The money is not mine.
  • I cannot use it like it is mine.
  • I cannot borrow money from it for any amount of time.
  • I cannot give it away as if the money was mine.

I would not want to abuse this responsibility. I would be a person who maintains strong moral principles, and remains undivided in purpose.

The corollaries that come through in this parable are:

  • Christianity is never arrogant, because we do not ‘own’ it.
  • I cannot treat what God has given me as something to keep to myself.
  • I cannot use God for my own purposes
  • My gift of Christ to others is an interest-bearing method which is meant to bring benefit to God, not myself.

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Imagine if you will, that you are an employee in a large company, and a decision has to be made that will affect the appearance and effectiveness of the the entire company. If we make the decision even though we are not empowered to do so, the boss will be disgusted with our performance – and we should be also.

Answer true or false, if you ever felt this way:

  • I hate myself – because I took that extra drink…
  • I hate myself – because I lacked full integrity in that area of my life….
  • I hate myself – because I intentionally wronged another person…

For one of more of these, as humans I might respond to these as ‘True, I have felt that way’. But what can I do about it? Fortunately, since I follow Jesus Christ, my self loathing is usually short lived. My bottom line is – I will strive to make decisions based on what God wants (as defined by how the Holy Spirit leads me). After all, I know that if I am left to myself, I can make bad decisions.

When I make a bad decision. I may want to pull the decision back, but it is usually too late. When I first say the phrase ‘ I hate myself’, it may sound strange and out of character for a Christian, but Jesus expected it. In Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.

The word used in this passage is best translated as ‘hate’, but it can also mean ‘despise’ or ‘disgust’. To bring it close to my own heart, it comes down to this: “I should be disgusted with my decisions.” — when I am not allowing the Holy Spirit to help me decide.

This points out an interesting truth: I am empowered to make good decisions through Christ, who strengthens me. It is about time I recognize that I am part of God’s kingdom (equivalent to a really big company), and God enables me to be a spokesman for Him as long as I remain faithful to His kingdom message.

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For anyone, the painful sufferings we go through in life can be difficult. When we have to endure it alone, it can be unbearable. For a Christian in a difficult situation, a friend can stand by with a shoulder to cry on, provide moral support or consolation, and even encouragement, because we are united by Christ.

Wikipedia defines friendship as “a relationship of mutual affection between people”. It can be a mental leap to expect that complete strangers can hold mutual affection toward one another. BEING a Christian provides a basis for mutual affection with another Christian — the possibility for friendship, because we both possess a uniting element: the Holy Spirit.

Christian personalities can be as diverse as anyone else in the world: we are all different. But, we can love and be loved by people who are in Christ.

In the Old Testament and the New Testament there are numerous references where people stand united. As I had lunch with friends today, I was reminded of our brotherhood in Christ.

In 2 Corinthians 1:26 and following, Paul said:
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Paul nicely points out that Christians have discovered that life is not about them. It is not about greatness. It is about making God known. In the process of doing that, mutual affection and admiration are common traits among brothers and sisters in Christ.

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