Stretch Me

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Offering to Adopt You
God, at different junctions in your life, puts different things in front of you to cause you to see things in a way that you didn’t before. It may be through a story, an illustration, a passage of Scripture, or something else where you feel as if God is speaking directly to you, serving as a way to move you in the direction or towards the action that you are meant to go to. And that action may be opening the gift that has been given to you by a good, gracious Heavenly Father.  So, have you opened the gift that God has been offering you? You can keep putting it off, but eventually the time will come when it will be too late and you will have missed out on the incredible gift that God has been waiting for you to open. You don’t have to do anything to earn this gift or save enough “good deeds” to qualify to open it. None of us deserve the gift as we all are sinners and have fallen short, but thankfully, Jesus didn’t. Through Jesus’s sacrifice, we are all presented with the opportunity to be adopted into God’s family; we just have to accept Jesus. For those who receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, they have the promise of forgiveness, and they have the promise of eternal life. God, in return, asks that since his son died for you, would you be willing to live for him?  Please don't leave the gift unwrapped today! Reflection/Discussion Question: What is holding you back from opening the gift or encouraging someone in your life to open it themselves?
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God as the Giver
What do we know about the Giver? We know he left Heaven and he came to Earth, and the Word became flesh. The word “became” implies leaving what you once were to become something new. Divinity became humanity, and that's a trade that no one else would've made. So, the Giver was sacrificial and unselfish.  In verse 14, John says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus is the perfect balance of justice and mercy. In fact, that's why he made it possible for us to receive the gift. And throughout the Old Testament, we read that without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness of sin. And so, on that first Christmas, he came to Earth so that on the first Good Friday, he could pay our penalty. It's because of our sin that he came to earth. He knew our predicament. We had no escape without him, so he calls us to repent of our sin, to turn to him and to live for him.  Your boss may not be faithful. Your spouse may not be faithful. Your friend may not be faithful, but Jesus will always be faithful. In his faithfulness, we can be certain that when he makes a promise, he will keep that promise. He follows through. He will never leave. He will never forsake you.  Reflection/Discussion Questions: When has someone in your life not been faithful? Do you ever project that doubt or hurt onto your relationship with Jesus?
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Children of God
When you receive and accept Jesus Christ, you become a child of God. You are adopted into a family. You have the same rights and privileges as every other sibling. In Romans 8:16, it says, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Galatians 3:26-27 also states, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." When everything around you seems unknown and unexpected, your Heavenly Father is the one in whom you can trust, because you know, as his beloved child, he only wants the best for you. Becoming a child of God is a conscious and intentional decision that happens when you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. While we are always loved and cared for by God as his creation that was made in his image and knit together in your mother’s womb, we only become adopted as sons and daughters into his family when we make this decision to receive Jesus into our hearts by recognizing what happened on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It’s a big and important decision; in fact, there is no decision in life that has more at stake. As a child of God, you are seen as righteous in His eyes because of what Jesus did on the cross. As his child, you can be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven, despite what you did or didn't do in life, because of the amazing grace that was shown to you by Jesus’s incredible sacrifice.  Reflection/Discussion Questions: Do you identify as a child of God? How does this adoption make you feel towards God?