Resources from 2016

September

Immediately he [Jesus] made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.
 
—Matthew 14:22


I want you to think about today’s verse for a moment. Jesus made the disciples get into that boat, knowing that a storm was coming their way.
 
Yet Jesus didn’t send them into the teeth of a storm to be malicious or mean. He did it to help build the disciples’ faith! And by doing this, Jesus also showed that He was in complete control.
 
You know, outside of salvation itself, the most liberating, life-producing, joy-producing, peace-giving truth is the fact that Jesus Christ is sovereignly in control of your life. This means no matter what storm you’re in or what storm you’re going to be in (because you’ll always be in one of those two places), God has you there for a reason. 
 
So you can give Him thanks… not necessarily for the circumstance or the crisis itself… but for the Christ who reigns and rules in your heart and in your daily experiences. And you can thank God for loving you enough to be willing to send storms into your life to either perfect you or correct you.
 
There’s a song by Babbie Mason that says, “God is too wise to be mistaken, God is too good to be unkind. So when you don’t understand, when you don’t see His plan, when you can’t trace His hand, trust His heart.”
 
The same God who took you into the storm is the same God who will bring you out of it! So trust His heart… and His love for you… today.
 
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Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
 
—John 14:6


 
At one point or another, every person has to come to grips with the question, “Who is Jesus Christ?” And today I want to help you answer that question in your own heart and life.
 
It’s true that the miracles of Jesus identify Him as God. They give Him credibility that He was who He said He was. But Jesus didn’t perform them as publicity stunts. He performed them to show you and me something about who He was and what His supernatural power can accomplish in our lives.
 
Maybe today, you can relate to the disappointment of the couple in the Bible who ran out of wine at the wedding in Canaan (John 2:1-12). By turning water into wine, Jesus was saying to them… and He’s saying to you today, “I am the answer for life’s disappointments… I can turn your disappointments into joy.”
 
Or perhaps today you’re in need… like the thousands of people Jesus fed with two fish and five loaves of bread (John 6:1-15). In feeding them, Jesus showed them… and He’s showing you today… that He is the answer to your needs and your desires. 
 
And lastly, maybe today you’re going through a dark time of life… and you’d admit that you’re fearful of what the future holds. If so, think about when Jesus walked on the water in the middle of the night (John 6:16-21). By doing this, Jesus showed Peter… just like He shows you and me… that He is the answer in the dark times of...

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Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

—John 14:6

 

At one point or another, every person has to come to grips with the question, “Who is Jesus Christ?” And today I want to help you answer that question in your own heart and life.

 

It’s true that the miracles of Jesus identify Him as God. They give Him credibility that He was who He said He was. But Jesus didn’t perform them as publicity stunts. He performed them to show you and me something about who He was and what His supernatural power can accomplish in our lives.

 

Maybe today, you can relate to the disappointment of the couple in the Bible who ran out of wine at the wedding in Canaan (John 2:1-12). By turning water into wine, Jesus was saying to them… and He’s saying to you today, “I am the answer for life’s disappointments… I can turn your disappointments into joy.”

 

Or perhaps today you’re in need… like the thousands of people Jesus fed with two fish and five loaves of bread (John 6:1-15). In feeding them, Jesus showed them… and He’s showing you today… that He is the answer to your needs and your desires. 

 

And lastly, maybe today you’re going through a dark time of life… and you’d admit that you’re fearful of what the future holds. If so, think about when Jesus walked on the water in the middle of the night (John 6:16-21). By doing this, Jesus showed Peter… just like He shows you and me… that...

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So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”

—John 4:35

 

You know, it’s funny. Human nature really hasn’t changed much since Jesus walked the earth 2,000 years ago.

 

Back then, people wanted a sign… a miracle… from Jesus. They wanted something tangible, something they could see, to believe in Him. And today, people are the same way! So many men and women say they would believe in Christ if only He would show Himself physically… if only He would come through miraculously in their lives.

 

But when Jesus said, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe,” He was saying, “Don’t wait for a sign to believe and trust in Me. Don’t wait on some miracle. Don’t demand that I perform for you in order for you to believe in Me.”

 

You may be struggling to trust Christ today in your life. While I don’t know what you may be facing, I want to challenge you to trust Him even if you can’t see Him in your circumstances right now.

 

Jesus had no confidence in the kind of faith that demands sight. Because faith that demands sight is not real faith! It’s just doubt expecting evidence!

 

I know it’s hard to come to grips with this fact, but oftentimes, you just can’t figure God out. There will be times when you cannot see in the dark. There will be times when you just have to keep clinging, singing, and bringing your heart to God by faith. And this may be that kind of time in your...

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And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

—Matthew 4:19

 

There are many, many reasons why people reject Jesus Christ. And one of the most popular excuses people give for rejecting Him is because of hypocrisy in the church.

 

Yes, there are hypocrites in the church of Jesus Christ. Think about it. Jesus had 12 disciples and one of them was even a hypocrite! So yes, there are—unfortunately—people who say they are Christians, and yet don’t live like Christians.

 

But did you ever consider that the devil may put a hypocrite in your path just to keep you from Jesus Christ? The devil can do that. Let me help you understand why.

 

Have you ever considered that when people want to counterfeit something, they don’t counterfeit gum wrappers? They counterfeit $20 bills, $100 bills… something that’s real! So for people to counterfeit the Christian faith…. and for the devil to put those counterfeits in your path… only indicates that Christianity is real! 

 

Again, the fact that there are hypocrites in the church doesn’t lessen the credibility of the Christian faith. You need to make a distinction between sin and hypocrisy. All Christians sin. 

 

But not all sinful Christians are hypocrites. Just because a Christian may sin doesn’t mean that Christianity is phony. And… look again at today’s verse. Jesus said, “Follow me.” He didn’t say, “Follow that person” or “Follow that church.” He said, “Follow me”! 

 

Jesus Christ isn’t a hypocrite. When you follow Jesus Christ, you’re following Someone who always keeps His promises…...

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…Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

—1 Thessalonians 5:18

 

If you live in America, you are blessed to live in one of the most wonderful nations in the world. But these are difficult times right now. And as we celebrate Labor Day, and the productivity of the American worker, I’m mindful of many who have lost jobs as a result of our troubled economy. 

 

So today, if you’re one of the many people across our nation who’s lost their job, I want to bless you with some words that I pray will strengthen you and help you draw closer to God. And if you haven’t lost your job, I hope these words are an encouragement for you as well.

 

The apostle Paul knew a thing or two about suffering and trials. And it was Paul who gave us today’s verse while he was in prison suffering for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Isn’t that amazing? From across the ages, Paul is coaching us from a dark and dingy cell, pointing us to the only source of true strength, hope, and provision.

 

Are you without a job? Then Paul says, “Give thanks.” Do you have a job? Then give thanks! You see, in every circumstance, we are called to have humble hearts and grateful spirits.

 

This Labor Day, whether you are blessed with a job or are waiting on God’s provision, it’s time to be grateful. God is at work on your behalf. So give thanks!

 

IN EVERY CIRCUSTANCE, HAVE...

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How to take your life from ordinary to extraordinary
By Jack Graham | September 1, 2016

As believers, we should desire a life that’s beyond average. But too often we settle for a life that’s “just okay” instead of extraordinary.

We shouldn’t settle for a good marriage when we could have a great marriage. You see, we can settle for mediocrity with mundane jobs and minimal ministries – or we can take action to escape apathy and live life in ways that are beyond our wildest imaginations.

So how do we become more active, passionate, and joyful followers of Jesus Christ? You’ll find three virtues highlighted in the book of Proverbs that will help you move your life beyond average to awesome:

1. Choose to be obedient: put God’s Word into action.

Remember what Jesus said? “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Obedience to God and His Word will move you from apathy to action!

We’re commanded to be witnesses, faithful worshipers, and prayer warriors; to give generously to the work of Christ; and to love God’s Word. We’re commanded to live holy lives for Christ (not just happy, but holy). Are you living in obedience to God’s instructions?

God has put you where you are to be a witness for Him. When you’re obedient to God in everything you do, He’ll use you in powerful, meaningful ways for His Kingdom.

2. Choose to be diligent: serve God wholeheartedly.

Romans 12:11 says, “Be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” Your strong work ethic will give you credibility at your office with your coworkers and at school with your classmates. The Christian ought to do more than the average. God has not called us to do just the minimum required. No, we’re to exceed...

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PowerPoint Returns to the UK!
By Jack Graham | September 1, 2016

After much prayer and deliberation, PowerPoint has returned to the United Kingdom, bringing God’s message of hope to the hurting and spiritually hungry at this critical time.  We are on Premier Radio every weekday at 18:30 (BST).

As I consider circumstances across Britain – the threat of terrorism, the economic and political uncertainties from the Brexit vote – I’m convinced there’s no better time for PowerPoint to proclaim the message of Christ.

I’m also reminded of Britain’s giants of the faith – William Tynedale, Charles Spurgeon and John Bunyan among them, and of course C.S. Lewis. Lewis, a brilliant academic and writer who abandoned his faith as a teen, accepted God’s existence in his early 30s and gave his life to Jesus two years later after a long talk about Christianity with J.R.R. Tolkien and others.

“I gave in, and admitted that God was God,” Lewis said.

Our prayer is that all of Britain will respond the same way.

The need is enormous. A recent report shows church membership plunging across the UK, from 10.6 million in 1930 to just 5.5 million in 2010. If that trend continues, experts predict only 4.3 percent of the people in England will be church members by 2025.

C.S. Lewis wouldn’t be surprised.

“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next,” Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity. “It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”

Things are so bad that the Church of England could disappear by 2033 at the current rate of decline.

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We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.
 
—2 Corinthians 4:8-9
 
As a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, I can say with integrity that every day with Him has been sweeter than the day before… just as the old hymn says.
 
Now, when I say that, please listen to what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that my life hasn’t had its share of valleys. I’m not saying that I haven’t experienced times of grief, illness, distress, or stress. I’m not saying that!
 
What I am saying is that I may have been afflicted in every way, but I’ve never been crushed. I may have been perplexed, but I’ve never been driven to despair. I may have been persecuted, but I’ve never been forsaken. I may have been struck down, but I’ve never been destroyed.
 
And you know why I can say this? Because of the work of Jesus Christ in my life. He’s never let me be crushed. He’s never let me driven to despair. He’s never forsaken me. And He’s never let me be destroyed!
 
But perhaps today you’d say, “Pastor Graham, that’s great for you, but you don’t know what I’ve been through. You don’t know how hard my life has been. You don’t know how many of my prayers have gone unanswered. You don’t know how disappointed I am in God.”
 
You know, I don’t know. But you know what I do know? That we serve a God who is bigger than whatever it is you’re holding on to. He’s bigger than your past sins… your past hurts. And He’s even bigger than your disappointments.
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August

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

—John 1:6-8

 

As believers, you and I can learn so much from God’s man, John the Baptist.

 

He was sent from God to introduce Christ to the world. And in just the same way, you and I are to be witnesses… to introduce men, women, boys, and girls to faith in Jesus Christ before He comes again.

 

Now, a witness is someone who steps aside, someone who gets out of the spotlight, someone who removes themselves from the scene. And a witness for Christ is someone does nothing but point others to Christ. That’s what John the Baptizer did. He was willing for his great life to be eclipsed by the greater life of Christ. He was willing to say, “I’m not the light, but Jesus Christ is the light.”

 

John the Baptist was a passionate and powerful witness for Jesus Christ. 

 

Now let me ask you, are you a passionate and powerful witness for Jesus Christ? If not, why not?

 

Today, it’s my prayer that you would understand God’s call on your life to be a witness in this generation for Jesus Christ… like John the Baptist was for his generation.

 

Live your life in such a way that you point people to the one true Savior… Jesus!

 

You and I are to introduce...

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Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.

     —Isaiah 45:22

 

It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve done, or where you’ve been, no one is too far gone for Jesus. 

 

I think that statement’s important enough that it’s worth repeating: No one is too far gone for Jesus.  No one!  And there’s no better evidence of this than the woman that Jesus met at the well.

 

When Jesus meets this woman she has been used and abused.  She has been divorced five times and was living with her boyfriend.  She was a mess!  At least, she was a mess to the people around her.  Even so, Christ reached out to her with the living water of eternal life.  And her life was transformed instantly and eternally!

 

This woman…a woman who had been ravaged by regrets and failures and brokenness…this wasted, burned out woman…was made brand new because of the power of Jesus Christ which began to change her!  She wasn’t too far gone for the Lord Jesus!

 

And the application in your life and my life is clear.  No one around us…no matter how wasted, burned out, or strung out they may seem…is too far gone for Jesus Christ. 

 

And you know what else?  Neither are you!

 

In John 4:13, Jesus says, “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever.  The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up...

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And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

—John 1:16

 

As human beings, you and I sin. We mess up. In fact, you’ve probably already messed up today!

 

But the Scripture contains an amazing promise for you and me. It’s found in today’s verse.

 

Do you know what “grace upon grace” means? It means that as believers, God’s grace keeps flowing into our lives like the waves of the sea that just keep coming again and again and again. It’s grace upon grace upon grace upon grace upon grace upon grace! 

 

It’s not as though we received God’s grace five years ago and we’re still trying to hang on to that grace. No. We keep receiving grace, grace, grace, grace and more grace… His marvelous grace. We never run out of the grace of God because His grace is infinite! 

 

God gives us His grace the moment we’re saved… and He continues to give us His grace each day… for daily strength and endurance to face the trials and temptations of life.

 

Lamentations 3:21-23 promise us, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

 

God’s grace is new every morning! And it’s my prayer today that you’d be encouraged to know you have this daily grace as a follower of Jesus Christ. Walk in this light today… and every day… as you faithfully follow Him!

 

God gives us his grace to face the trials and temptations...

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There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.

—Romans 8:1-2

 

In the fifth chapter of the Gospel of Mark, we see a remarkable story about a madman who was set free by the Lord Jesus Christ from the evil that tormented his life.

 

And it’s such a great reminder of what Jesus has done for you and me!  Without Christ, we’re madmen who are addicted to sin…broken and bruised…self-destructive…hurting ourselves, our families, and our friends.

 

But when we ask Jesus into our lives, He doesn’t just clean us up.  He sets us free and gives usp a brand new heart!

 

We read what God does for our hearts in Ezekiel 11:19-20 when He says, “I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them.  I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them.  And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”

 

You see, being a Christian isn’t about getting cleaned up and then trying to hang on for dear life!  No, coming to Christ means you have the power of Jesus to overcome your habits, your addictions, and your sins.  You’re no longer on your own!

 

The apostle Paul reinforces this in 2 Corinthians 5:17 when he says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a...

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Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

—2 Corinthians 5:17

 

If you walk into any bookstore today or browse an internet bookseller, you’ll find volume upon volume of self-improvement books…books about how to change and improve your life.

 

And So many of us fall into the trap of thinking that changing our jobs…changing our appearance…or changing our environment will make us happy.  But it just isn’t true!

 

All of these external changes may temporarily improve your life…they may better your life for a time…but none of them can change your life.  You may move around.  You may change cars.  You may even change jobs.  But you know what?  Wherever you go, it’s the same old you, right?

 

It’s not that your circumstances or your surroundings need to change.  It’s that your heart that needs to change.  It’s your heart that needs a new birth.

 

The Bible is pretty clear when it talks about our hearts.  In Jeremiah 17:9, it says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick.”  The heart, according to the Bible, is not good!

 

Which means your heart needs a spiritual transformation.  I’m not talking about a resolution…promising to be better, do better, or live better.  I’m talking about a revolution!

 

It’s something so radical, so dramatic, that it’s like beginning life all over again!  It’s a new beginning!  It’s an inward change!  Your heart undergoes a spiritual transformation when God takes it and transplants it with His love and His...

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Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

        —Matthew 7:7

 

God has called you not to just make a living, but to make a life. God has called you not to just take up space in this world, but to make our world a better place in which to live! 

 

Yes, God wants you to make a difference! 

 

Now, the people God uses to make a difference in this world are people who are vulnerable to Him, who are dependent on Him, and who are available to Him. If you desire and seek a courageous faith… and if you ask God to give you a compassionate heart… then anything is possible. I’m telling you, you can change the world!

 

I believe it’s time to make an impact on this generation and the coming generations for Christ. It’s time for us to fulfill our calling before He comes again. It’s time for God’s Church to rise up and shake off the past and shake the world for Christ. It’s time for God to do a new thing… a brand new thing in the hearts of His people! And that means you!

 

The story of Nehemiah is a compelling illustration of how God uses people… all kinds of people… for His glory. 

 

Someone put it this way: “A zealous man in religion is preeminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say he is earnest, hardy, uncompromising, thoroughgoing, wholehearted, firm in spirit. He only sees one thing...

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Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.      

—Joshua 1:7

 

Nehemiah was one of the great leaders of the Bible even though he wasn’t a prophet, a priest, or a preacher!

 

Nehemiah described himself as a cupbearer to the king. He was just a guy who worked hard and had risen to some prominence in his day and time. Nehemiah was just a man… but he was a man whom God raised up! 

 

As we look at his life, there are some steps that Nehemiah took that insured his success… steps that made him a very effective leader. They’re the same steps you can take as a follower of Christ to ensure you’re an effective leader in your sphere of influence as well.

 

Step number one is to pray fervently. We see this trait over and over again in the life of Nehemiah. He was a man of prayer. Real leaders understand that opportunity swings on the hinges of prayer.

 

Step number two is to proceed confidently and courageously. You accomplish this by living what Proverbs 3:5-6 says: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

 

Step number three to being an effective leader is to plan wisely. Too often we have an idea… we have a dream… and...

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Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

—Jeremiah 32:17

 

Today, you may find yourself in a rut. Maybe you’re in a place where you’re thinking, “Well, this is as good as it gets.” And perhaps you’ve settled for mediocrity. Mediocrity in your marriage… mediocrity with your children… mediocrity in your career. 

 

But God has so much more for you!

 

“Well,” you say, “I’ve got all kinds of problems… all kinds of issues in my life you don’t know about.” You know, that may be true, but God is bigger than your problems. As 1 John 4:4 says, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

 

So let me ask you today: What are you asking God to do in your life? Because God wants to do supernatural things in you… things you could never imagine!

 

Think about what God tells us in Isaiah 43:19: “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

 

In other words, God is saying, “Look! Can’t you see it? Can’t you taste it? Can’t you feel this new thing that I’m doing?”

 

God takes barren places in our lives and uses them for His glory. That’s when He does the brand new thing in our lives! And God wants to do something new in you. 

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“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

—Luke 21:33

 

In today’s verse, Jesus promises us that His Words are eternal. This means not one jot, not one tittle, not one mark, not one abbreviation point…not one word will pass away!

 

God’s Word is infallible. In all that it teaches and all it affirms, it is correct and right and perfect. And the Word of God is inerrant. That is, there are no errors in the Scripture. Can you imagine a perfect, pure God breathing out error? Certainly not! God's word is accurate!

 

Now, when people deny the authority of Scripture, they deny the authority of God. It’s as simple as that. In effect, when they deny or distort the authority of Scripture, they deny and blaspheme the work of the Holy Spirit in giving us the Scriptures.

 

They even defame the deity of Jesus Christ, who is described in the Bible as the incarnate Word of God. His very name is the Word of God! And while the Word of God and the God of the Word are not identical, they are inseparable. You cannot separate God from His Word. Even Jesus came believing and teaching and preaching the Word of God, affirming the Old Testament and proclaiming the new and the living way of salvation.

 

That’s why you can trust the Bible through and through. From the very beginning of Genesis when God created the heavens and the earth until the closing chapters of the Revelation, we have the Word of God…consistent, clear, and concise…telling us how to go to heaven, how to...

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The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their measuring line goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

—Psalm 19:1-4

 

God speaks to us today in the skies…through His creation. We can know God…we can see the presence of God…by simply looking up at the sky. 

 

The Greek word for “man” in the ancient world and in your New Testament is “anthropos,” which means “the upper-looking one.” Animals look down, but God created man to look up into the heavens to see His glory and to experience His power in creation.

 

And when we do, God speaks to us in the starry skies!

 

Indeed, the heavens declare the glory of God. As the psalmist says, “Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” Creation is constantly, continually, and eternally speaking. And when we look into the creation, we know that because there is a creation, there must be a creator!

 

Now, you may not be a morning person, but I’d encourage you…if you want to catch a glorious glimpse of your Creator…get up early one morning this week to watch the sun rise. I can assure you, seeing His handiwork in creation will speak words of encouragement to your soul!

 

God is constantly, continually and eternally speaking to us through His creation.

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The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

—Lamentations 3:22-24

 

God…is…faithful. Allow me to restate that again. God is faithful! He will do what He says He will do!

 

And not only is God faithful and reliable, but He is committed to your spiritual growth and maturity. First Thessalonians 5:23-24 says, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”

 

I love that! Because it promises you and me that God is constantly working on us…creatively, constructively, and continually. The Spirit of God is working in your body and in your soul. And His purpose is to make you more like Him!

 

Remember when you were a teenager and you couldn’t wait to grow up? That’s how we feel sometimes as Christians. We wonder when we will ever grow up. We wonder if we will ever be responsible and obedient in our Christian life. It’s so easy to become frustrated with ourselves!

 

But we need to remember that God is patient…and that God is persevering. And according to Philippians 1:6, “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” When God gets through with you, you’re going to stand complete, perfect in the glory of Jesus Christ. Someday you...

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