Monthly Archives: October 2013

Thought For The Day 10/24/13

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As Light Is To Darkness

So Is Good To Evil

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Light-and-Darkness

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Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

http://brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/good_and_evil.html

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I was thinking today about obscurity. Now when I thought of the word in relation to faith, I was thinking of it in terms of those whose name we might not know despite the fact that they may have contributed in some way, great or small, to God’s plan for his flock.  For example, do you know the name Abishag, who was a young and beautiful virgin who was brought into the bed chamber of an old King David to keep him warm at night? (1 Kings 1:1-2 NIV, “When King David was very old, he could not keep warm even when they put covers over him. So his attendants said to him, “Let us look for a young virgin to serve the king and take care of him. She can lie beside him so that our lord the king may keep warm.”). Or how about the name Korah, a man who became angry at God (but took his anger out at Moses) when it was determined that the holder of the title and honor of Priest be limited to the descendants of Aaron? Not content with the duties he was assigned, he organized an uprising against Moses, which must have irked God, because God opened up the earth, swallowing up Korah, the insurgents and all of their families! (Numbers 16:31-33 NIV, “As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community.”).

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Anyway, as part of “fleshing out” this idea to write about, I wanted to make sure I really knew the definition of obscurity, and while I am correct in my assumption that to be obscure is the quality of being unknown, I had forgotten that it also means the absence of light. And suddenly I realized that when we do not know God or hold faith within, while we may well have a physical presence here on earth, we live in the darkness of our own making simply because the light of God is absent from our lives!  You see, as light is to darkness, so is God (and good) to Satan (and evil).

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No matter what we may think, our path in this world is one that wades through darkness unless our spiritual light is kindled by our faith. And while the light is given to every person who is born into the world, it does not remain aflame unless we work to keep its embers hot. As we seek to live lives that honor God’s commands, those embers are given the fuel they need to keep us safe from the darkness of sin that is Satan’s delight, and all too often, the downfall of man!

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So can you keep your spiritual light ablaze in a world where darkness is so pervasive? It’s not hard. All we need do is turn our hearts over in love to the Father. You see, there is nothing that Satan fears more that love and light…..and the power of the Almighty!

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“The light shines in the darkness; and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

John 1:15 NIV

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Copyright © 2011-2013 “MandysPath” Ministry

 

Thought For The Day 10/23/13

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Counting Your Blessings 

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Count Your Blessings 14x6

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What if you gave someone a gift, and they neglected to thank you for it – would you be likely to give them another? Life is the same way. In order to attract more of the blessings that life has to offer, you must truly appreciate what you already have. 

Ralph Marston

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/blessings.html

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“Life is not all moonlight and canoes!” That is one of my husband’s favorite quotes. And it’s not because he dwells on the heartaches that seem to greet us so often. No, he is a realist and someone who feels that it is always best to look at all of life’s challenges straight in the eye. You see, he sees the hard times as merely a stepping stone to life’s joys. And he would be right, because it is our heartaches that form the bricks that build our character and it is the joys and blessings that provide the mortar that gives the bricks of our character its strength!

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More of us need to take a lesson from my husband. Instead of placing so much emphasis on the things that HAVE GONE WRONG today or worrying about things that MIGHT GO WRONG tomorrow, how about focusing on everything that HAS GONE RIGHT today and with good planning on your part (and a good word to God), WILL GO RIGHT tomorrow!

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Now most adults I know have a hard time understanding the need to embrace their blessings in view of the challenging times in which we live. And if it is hard for adults, imagine how difficult it is for children which is why It is especially important that we share embracing gratitude with our little ones. After all, don’t we hope all the best for them as they grow? Well, the start to this is that they are able to recognize and appreciate their blessings in the here and now. But it must be tempered with some hard reality. You see, too many of our young people expect that blessings are their due. And unless we set them straight, they will never be prepared to deal with the hard times when they do come!

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I don’t know how many of you are familiar with a man by the name of Rabbi Shmuel “Shmuley” Boteach, who is an American Orthodox rabbi, author, TV host and public speaker. Rabbi “Shmuley” is the man responsible for a show that aired in 2006 on TLC (The Learning Channel) here in the United States called “Shalom In The Home”. And while there are many, many things to be thankful for, a few of the biggies are these pearls that he has shared with us:

 

 

  • Family: “They love us when we’re not doing anything,” Rabbi Shmuley says. “They don’t love us because we’re rich or famous—they just love us.”
  • Health: This is something many people take for granted, and it often goes unappreciated until a health crisis comes along, he says.
  • Fulfillment: “As Americans, we often think that we don’t have enough,” Rabbi Shmuley says. “We should be thankful for everything we have, especially the food on our plates when hunger is an issue all over the world.”
  • Friends: These people love you without being related to you and choose to love you, which makes you feel unique, he says.
  • Employment: “If we are lucky enough to have jobs that make us feel like we’re making an impact, we should be incredibly thankful.”
  • God: “We thank God for our lives, our health and all our blessings,” he says.

 http://www.oprah.com/oprahradio/Appreciate-Your-Blessings#ixzz2iSqdzWK1

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I urge you all to remember one thing that is especially important when thinking about our blessings. It is the gratitude for our faith that is God’s greatest delight, especially when we take the time to tell Him so! All too often we mechanically thank Him before we partake of a meal, but the thing we must remember is that grace is not just a prayer intoned before we dine. Grace is a way of living and should be asked before we go to work, or before we write a blog post, or before we walk to the mailbox, or before we hug someone we love. Yes, grace is an essential for our very living, and this is why I will always remember something written by German theologian, Eckhart von Hochheim (commonly known as Meister Eckhart). “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “thank you,” that would suffice.”

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“But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”

James 1:25 NIV

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Copyright © 2011-2013 “MandysPath” Ministry

 

Thought For The Day 10/22/13

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Taking Care With What We Share

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the world is a dangerous place

http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQtlnuf2xSna6nw8rtalZosycS_mlRHEoi45iR4MTbW0yU-iWQZ

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Bullying is killing our kids. Being different is killing our kids and the kids who are bullying are dying inside. We have to save our kids whether they are bullied or they are bullying. They are all in pain.

Cat Cora

 http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/c/catcora442597.html#aPxD5mGcbIzsfDwv.99

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Facebook is having problems. Surprise, surprise! Apparently people from across the globe have been having problems not just commenting on threads but even liking other’s posts. And this “the sky is falling” event has even struck close to home. No, not me, but my 86-year-old father has been getting messages such as “An Error Has Occurred. Please Try Again Later”! And before I heard  complaints by the thousands today, I thought that perhaps someone had reported him….taking offense at something or other that he had said or shared. You see, like many of us these days (myself included, I might add), my dad speaks his mind and sometimes says things before thinking through the consequences. And once upon a time, this was not just common, but acceptable behavior. But welcome to the 21st century, where rumors are spread like wildfire through Facebook posts and behaviors recorded for all of posterity via YouTube!

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Yes, taking care with what we share has become a must these days, when it seems as if every thing we write, say or share has the capacity to remain “out there” in cyber space for all of eternity. And while most of us will never change the events of recorded history by what we say and do, we may well change the life of one person. Case in point…..the cyber bullying of the 12-year-old Florida girl who leaped to her death from a silo to escape the remorseless taunts of 2 fellow middle school girls. Now not just have phones and laptops been confiscated from dozens of students, but the mother of one of the alleged perpetrators was arrested, her own physical actions of abuse captured and viewed countless times via cyber space! And while there is much good that can come from this technological time of enlightenment, it seems as if there is more harm that is done every day.

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Those of faith should seek to lead our world in a battle to eradicate this escalating horror. But that means changing much of what we have come to accept as normal and acceptable actions and behaviors. Do we have the strength to close our laptops and turn off our cell phones for a few hours every day? I don’t know. I do know that I have tried to lessen the time I go on my cell phone during car trips. I am making a concentrated effort to spend more time talking to Dan and looking out the window at God’s miracles all around me! Am I successful? Not as much as I might like, but I also know that of all things worth having, sometimes it is the baby steps that we take at first that will give us the skills to scale the “Matterhorn”!

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We must lead by example and as we teach our children about faith, we must also teach things such as acceptance, tolerance, mutual respect and love for others. And hopefully, as they grow and mature in that faith, they will not only understand how to better relate to others whose opinions differ, but they will also have the tools of strength to help them battle any aggression or violence that they may find directed at them or another.

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If our actions are above reproach and we are sharing our hearts with those we care about, and they respect the person we are, it is likely they will model their behaviors after our own. And I am certain that this will meet with God’s approval! 1 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV, reminds us, “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” 

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Yes, living and faith-filled life is not just paying lip-service to faith. We can not say one thing and do another…..EVER! And it is this that we must convey to those who would look to us to teach them! And yes, sometimes that means we lead them to begin their own baby-steps even as we take our own!

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“On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:25-37 NIV

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Copyright © 2011-2013 “MandysPath” Ministry

 

Thought For The Day 10/21/13

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Taking Our Time

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Job

Oil on canvas by Bonnat Leon Joseph Florentin (1833-1922)

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/73/Bonnat02.jpg

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Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.

Carl Jung

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/c/carljung157285.html

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It seems as if people today are always in a race against the clock. We run and we dash, from point A to point B. And what do we find when we get there? Well generally nothing good or at the very least, usually not what we were expecting to find or accomplish when we made our decision to thrown down the gauntlet in the first place! So why is it that we seem to become so upset in the face of experiences that should be no more than a mild irritation?

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Having patience does not mean that we are passive or milquetoast in our attitude. In fact, often the opposite is true. People with the strongest convictions as well as faith are the most patient. You see, they recognize that God views patience as a fruit of the spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 NASB reminds us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Think about Job, perhaps the one name we most closely tie to the virtue that is patience!

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Job was a righteous man who is much favored by God. But Satan is upset and says that Job’s integrity is because God provides His protection. So God turns aside and allows Satan to rob Job of his wealth, his family and even his health. Of course, Satan is certain that this will make Job abandon his faith and turn from God. And though Job curses the day he was born and pleads for an explanation from the Almighty as to why He has allowed these things to occur, Job does NOT curse God, nor does he accuse God of treating him unjustly. And it is when God speaks to Job (in the company of his friends), that Job realizes how little he really understands of God’s ways, and his reply to God is this: “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer thee? I lay my hand on my mouth.” Job 40:4 RSV. 

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Well, as we all know, Satan has lost and for his faith despite these odds, God restores Job and gives him even more blessings than he had before. Job was blessed with  seven sons, and three beautiful daughters, lived for 140 years and bore witness to 4 generations of descendants!

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Now patience learned by embracing our faith does not happen easily nor quickly. We must submit to God’s will and allow the trials to come. But as we endure, triumph, and yes, at times, even succumb to their challenges, we will not just become stronger people  but we will become stronger in our faith. After all, that which does not kill us only serves to make us stronger, does it not? And I suspect that it is this that is partly responsible for the fact that the story of Job is found in the texts that serve the faiths of Judaism and Islam, as well.

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“Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

James 5:10-11 NIV

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Copyright © 2011-2013 “MandysPath” Ministry

 

Thought For The Day 10/20/13

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This Is The Word Of The Lord

 Sunday October 20th, 2013

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St Luke

http://ts4.mm.bing.net/th?id=H.4799545507579219&pid=1.7

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Luke the Evangelist, author of one of the four Gospels of Jesus Christ, was a Greco-Syrian who lived in the Greek city of Antioch, Syria. He is believed to have authored the “Gospel according to Luke” and the book of “Acts of the Apostles”.

He was a physician and a companion of Paul on some of his missionary journeys, and unlike the other Apostles, Luke was not of the Hebrew faith.  

Luke focused on the human love Christ held for all people, especially sinners and outcasts among the general population such as tax collectors, shepherds and lepers! Luke also holds a more profound place for women in his writings than did Matthew, Mark and John, as today’s Gospel reading proves!

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Today’s Gospel Reading

Luke 17:11-19 NIV  

 

The Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge

  

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. 

He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say,
‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ 

For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'” 

The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.  Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

 

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What Does Luke Mean?

This parable was intended to stress to His followers the importance of persevering in prayer, despite any fears they may have that an answer may not be forthcoming. You see, Christ intended that they understand that in the end, God will always see that justice is meted out, even when the human part of us doubts!

In this parable, the judge is a rather unsavory character. He certainly did not respect God, nor did he respect any man or woman from his community!  I am certain we all know people who behave just like this, and more often than not, they make us feel not just uncomfortable being around them, but they also make us question our own mind, in the process! But as most good mothers are quick to teach, to respect those around us is good manners, plain and simple! And to respect God? Well, while not exactly a command, it should be! You see, God doesn’t demand from us our love, but to show respect is simply an acceptable way of living! But as far as God is concerned, to be disrespectful of others is an affront to Him and a sin! (Proverbs 14:31 NIV, “Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”)

Yes, the lesson reinforces that though the situation may be difficult, if we pray unceasingly, unlike the bad judge, God will hear our prayer and good will triumph! 

Mandy

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2 Timothy 3:14-17 NIV

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 4:1-2 NIV

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

Amen.

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Copyright © 2011-2013 “MandysPath” Ministry

Thought For The day 10/19/13

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Selfishness

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selfish_110925selfish_110925http://www.toonpool.com/user/947/files/selfish_110925.jpg

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Selfishness is never so exquisitely selfish as when it is on its knees. … Self turns what would otherwise be a pure and powerful prayer into a weak and ineffective one.

      A.W. Tozer 
1897-1963

Aiden Wilson Tozer was born April 21, 1897 on a small farm in Western Pennsylvania, the third of six children. And although he would inspire millions with his preaching and writing, he was given very little education during his childhood. He was 66 when he died of a heart attack on May 12, 1963. Buried in a small cemetery in Akron, his tombstone simply and appropriately reads, “A Man of God.”

http://christian-quotes.ochristian.com/Selfishness-Quotes/

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I was thinking yesterday about what might just be man’s greatest flaw. In fact, the jeopardy it can place us in can be so great that we can suffer what just might be irrevocable harm to not just ourselves but those who are closest to us such as our parents, children or siblings. SELFISHNESS! The polar opposite of the way God would have us act, and in fact, opposite to the way most Christians generally try to model their behavior.

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Now the biggest problem with acting selfishly is that people tend to make assumptions about us and what we are like, based on how we present ourselves to them. And most people don’t look too deeply into the things that make us “tick” when making an initial assessment of our character. Unfortunately, the result is that we often give people the wrong impression about ourselves, when we guard what we deem is and is not appropriate or worthy behavior for sharing. And as for the one doing the observing…..well, even the best of us have to admit that when it comes to seeing others,  we seldom know as much as we would like people to think we do! So consider one thing. How is it possible for us to make a fair and impartial assessment of others (and others of us) when we choose to be less than forthcoming and selfishly restrict what we share about ourselves? Well, the answer is, we can’t!

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I once read that the only thing necessary to change heaven into hell, if God were to allow it, would be selfishness, And every single synonym for selfishness, including self-centered, self-serving and self-important all contain the same root sin, which is SELF. SELF above family. SELF above friends. SELF above strangers. And worst of all……SELF above God!

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We live in a corrupt and corruptible time in history, and the lesson that society teaches is that it is OK to be selfish. After all, if we don’t take care of “numero uno”, who will? But this is merely a ruse by Satan to make it seem as if it is an acceptable way to travel life’s road. But it’s not. You see, there is another synonym for selfishness that I haven’t shared as of yet. Selfishness = Sin! No one ever sins for altruistic reasons! And no person who really cares about themselves and those around them will intentionally sin thinking it the preferable option to take.

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Of all the religions that are known to man, it is Christianity that teaches us first and foremost, that it is our mission and personal responsibility to love our enemies and to put the needs of others before our own. And it is through our faith and allowing God to enter our hearts, that we can learn to change selfishness into selflessness, which is exactly what happens when we desire and act in ways that align with God’s will for us! And I don’t know about you all, but I know that for me, it is selflessness that makes me feel really good inside! After all, the fruit of the spirit is made all the sweeter when you start your planting with the best seeds, don’t you think?

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“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

GALATIANS 5:19-21 NKJV

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Copyright © 2011-2013 “MandysPath” Ministry

Thought For The Day 10/18/13

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“Hallowmas”

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JesusPumpkin2

http://images.quickblogcast.com/2/5/4/2/8/290956-282452/JesusPumpkin2.jpg?a=32

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It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

C. S. Lewis

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_change.html

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There is a day coming that is not one we associate with God. In fact, “Halloween”, a word that is really a contraction of the phrase “All Hallows’ Evening”, is generally associated with the pagan harvest festivals that were celebrated during this time of the year in Europe of Olde. But there is increasing consensus that “All Hallows’ Eve(ning)” is really the beginning of a trio of Christian feast days dedicated to remembering all of the departed faithful, including the Saints, Martyrs and other believers. The three-day Hallowmas, also known as the  Triduum of All Hallow include All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day and All Souls Day.

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Now according to Wikipedia,  On All Hallows’ Eve, Christians traditionally believed that the veil between the material world and the afterlife thinned. And afraid that the living would be recognized by the angel of death or a departed loved one, people would don masks in an attempt to conceal their true identity. And it is this that has given birth to the trick-or-treating that has become commonplace in my part of the world! Another Halloween tradition includes the carving of pumpkins into fun or scary designs. And it is this that I want to focus on today.

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pumpkin 2011pumpkin 2011 b

“Mickey-O-Lantern” 2011

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Every year it seems to become my mission to go out and choose what seems to be the perfect pumpkin. I look for one that is brightly hued, smooth and perfect for what I have planned. But look just a bit closer. On closer inspection, it’s not quite as pristine as I once thought. The surface is ridged and sometimes bumpy. It is not uniformly orange but has flecks of the greenish tint of immaturity marring its harvest color. And yes, it is even stained with the soil upon which it grew. Not perfect like I first thought but flawed and imperfect. Sounds a bit like most people we all know, don’t you think?

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Now carve around the stem, remove the top and what you find are the seeds and flesh that make up the core of the pumpkin. Yes, the pumpkin’s “innards” are slimy and gooey and ugly, exactly the same as the parts of us that are our sins and transgressions. But scoop out the seeds and stringy parts from the inside, and what is left is smooth and pure. Now carve a design on the front, insert a light inside, and what is left is a transformation from a simple pumpkin to a bright, shining and wonderful Jack-O-Lantern! It is exactly this very same thing that allowing God into our hearts does for us.

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We start out on life’s journey flawed and imperfect and all too human in out weaknesses.  Then suddenly, often before we really know what has happened, He touches us, and we will never be the same again. You see, once we choose to allow the light and love of God to enter our hearts, all of our imperfections and flaws and sins are washed away….cleansed by the promise of salvation that was a gift to us when God sent His Son to our world to die for us! And it is Christ’s death that allows us to become the holder of God’s heavenly light. And every step we take to grow that faith and every thing we do to share our faith filled heart with others, makes that light glow brighter and more beautifully. Yes, just as the light shines forth through the carving of that once imperfect pumpkin creating a magical glow, so will faith’s light shine from every fiber of our being.

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So think about something. Now that I’ve shared this with you, will you think about Halloween and the Jack-O-Lantern the same way ever again? Probably not. Isn’t it amazing how we can identify something about faith in every single thing we encounter in our world?

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“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16 NIV

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Copyright © 2011-2013 “MandysPath” Ministry