* Religious differences in marriage
Marriage between royal families was a common practice in the ancient Near East because it secured peace. Although Solomon’s marital alliances built friendships with surrounding nations, they were also the beginning of his downfall. These relationships became inroads for pagan ideas and practices. Solomon’s foreign wives brought their gods to Jerusalem and eventually lured him into idolatry. It is easy to minimize religious differences in order to encourage the development of a friendship, but seemingly small differences can have an enormous impact upon a relationship. God gives us standards to follow for all our relationships, including marriage. If we follow God’s will, we will not be lured away from our true focus. (NLT)
1 Kings 3:1 – Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and married one of his daughters. He brought her to live in the City of David until he could finish building his palace and the Temple of the Lord and the wall around the city.
* Do people see the differences God makes in your life?
Moses’ face glowed after he spent time with God. The people could clearly see God’s presence in him. How often do you spend time alone with God? Although your face may not light up a room, time spent in prayer, reading the Bible, and meditating should have such an effect on your life that people will know you have been with God. (NLT)
Exodus 34:28-35 – Moses was up on the mountain with the Lord forty days and forty nights. In all that time he neither ate nor drank. At that time he wrote the terms of the covenant—the Ten Commandments—on the stone tablets.
When Moses came down the mountain carrying the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn’t aware that his face glowed because he had spoken to the Lord face to face. And when Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses’ face, they were afraid to come near him.
But Moses called to them and asked Aaron and the community leaders to come over and talk with him. Then all the people came, and Moses gave them the instructions the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever he went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with the Lord, he removed the veil until he came out again. Then he would give the people whatever instructions the Lord had given him, and the people would see his face aglow. Afterward he would put the veil on again until he returned to speak with the Lord.
* Disciples were to work together despite their differences
Jesus selected “ordinary” men with a mixture of backgrounds and personalities to be his disciples. Today, God calls “ordinary” people together to build his church, teach salvation’s message, and serve others out of love. Alone we may feel unqualified to serve Christ effectively, but together we make up a group strong enough to serve God in any way. Ask for patience to accept the diversity of people in your church, and build on the variety of strengths represented in your group. (NLT)
Luke 6:13-16 – At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles. Here are their names: Simon (he also called him Peter), Andrew (Peter’s brother), James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (the Zealot), Judas (son of James), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).
* How early church settled their differences
The debate over circumcision could have split the church, but Paul, Barnabas, and the Jews in Antioch made the right decision—they sought counsel from the church leaders and from God’s Word. Our differences should be settled the same way—by seeking wise counsel and abiding by the decisions. Don’t let disagreements divide you from other believers. (NLT)
Acts 15:31 – And there was great joy throughout the church that day as they read this encouraging message.
* Differences of opinion need not harm Christian unity
This verse assumes there will be differences of opinion in the church about what is right or wrong. Paul says we are not to quarrel about issues that are matters of opinion. Differences should not be feared or avoided but accepted and handled with love. Don’t expect everyone, even in the best possible church, to agree on every subject. Through sharing ideas we can come to a fuller understanding of what the Bible teaches. Accept, listen to, and respect others. Differences of opinion need not cause division. They can be a source of learning and richness in our relationships. (NLT)
Romans 14:1 – Accept Christians who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong.
* – To “let there be real harmony,” allow for no “divisions” and “be of one mind, united in thought and purpose” does not require everyone to believe exactly the same. There is a difference between having opposing viewpoints and being divisive. A group of people will not completely agree on every issue, but they can work together harmoniously if they agree on what truly matters: Jesus Christ is Lord of all. In your church, speak and behave in a way that will reduce arguments and increase unity, harmony. Petty differences should never divide Christians. (NLT)
1 Corinthians 1:10-11 – Now, dear brothers and sisters, I appeal to you by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ to stop arguing among yourselves. Let there be real harmony so there won’t be division in the church. I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. For some members of Chloe’s household have told me about your arguments, dear brothers and sisters.
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