Humanity, as the image of God, is stamped from the beginning for beautiful community. That is, we’re marked out for a God-glorifying life of unity in diversity. This is where God is taking humanity. We’re fractured and divided, but he’s going to knit the human race together under the lordship of Jesus Christ. And the church is called to pursue beautiful community in the here and now as a witness to the world of the Holy Spirit’s reconciling power. Experiencing community means experiencing a sense of belonging, of welcome and embrace, a sense of being at home. It’s the exact opposite of feeling you’d rather be someplace else. Since beautiful community is a matter of the Spirit and can’t be engineered, there’s a cost to becoming the kind of people who welcome and embrace fellow image-bearers across lines of difference.

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Scripture References: Revelation 1:3; Revelation 1:19; Revelation 4:1-13; Jeremiah 18:2-4, 6-10; Revelation 5:1-7; Genesis 49:10; Isaiah 11:1, 4; Isaiah 53:7-8; John 1:29; John 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

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Scripture References: 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:3-4; Romans 10:17; 1 Peter 1:22-23; 1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 5:12-14; Psalm 119:130; Psalm 107:17-20; Proverbs 4:20-22; Psalm 119:9, 11; Ephesians 5:25-27; James 1:23-25; 2 Timothy 2:15

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Most children are introduced to prayer through prayers offered before meals and before bed, but when trials strike, those traditional prayers fall short of helping our kids through life’s most difficult days. Is there a prayer to pray when your best friend moves away? How do you approach God when you lose the big game? How do you face God the day after you get caught cheating on a test?  What can help our kids connect with God through a more severe trial like when a family member is hospitalized or when a beloved grandparent passes into glory? The Psalms provide Spirit-inspired examples of petition, confession, declaration, and lament for our kids and us to learn and follow. Turning to these prayers in times of trouble move our focus away from our weakness and onto God’s strength.

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Scripture References: Revelation 1:3; Revelation 1:19; Matthew 16:18; Luke 19:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:7; Galatians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Romans 12:2; Revelation 3:1-22

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Scripture References: 2 Samuel 15:12; 2 Samuel 16:23; Psalm 41:9; Psalm 55:12-14; 2 Samuel 23:8; 2 Samuel 23:34; 2 Samuel 11:2-5; 2 Samuel 11:14-17; 2 Samuel 17:23; Hebrews 12:14-15; Matthew 18:21-35, Genesis 41:51

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I confess I have a prayer problem—sometimes my own prayers bore me. So boring that my mind completely wanders away from God. At times, I’ve even fallen asleep while praying! Over the years, I’ve noticed that I tend to pray the exact same phrases over and over in a kind of empty way. My prayers can be dull and repetitive. My mind and heart drift, and I feel like I’m just going through the motions instead of communicating with the Living God. This doesn’t exactly fit my image of a vibrant prayer life!

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Scripture References: Colossians 2:17; Revelation 1:3, Revelation 1:19; Matthew 16:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:7; Luke 19:13; Revelation 2:1-17, 1 Corinthians 15:33

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Has anyone done you wrong? How does that person make you feel? You feel angry, right? You feel resentful and you want that person to feel pain, too, right? How does it feel when that person is around? Does that person make you feel good or bad?
When someone has done us wrong, we feel negative emotions, such as hate, anger, and resentment. But when you take a deeper look at the situation, who is hurting more? Is it the person that did you wrong? Or is it you?
The Bible tells us a lot of things about forgiveness and unforgiveness. In Ephesians 4:32, it says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

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