In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

Today’s gospel passage makes it seem so simple! Ask God for what you want and you’ll get it; look for what you want and you’ll find it; just knock and doors will be opened to you. However, Jesus reminds us that God is a good father and will not give us what is wrong for us! When you were young, did you ever ask your parents for something that was just not right for you? Perhaps your children have done the same to you. You don’t give a baby a steak, nor do you give a toddler a 10 speed bicycle. You wouldn’t let your children look for milk in the cabinet where you keep your cleaning supplies. But sometimes we are looking for what we think we need in all the wrong places. Yes, Jesus tells us to keep asking for what we need and we will receive it, but he also expects that we will be asking for the right things. We are bombarded with ads that tell us what we need to do or own in order to be happy, but are those things truly what we need? Jesus tells us that we need hearts that are open to others, that we must be people of peace and forgiveness, and when we ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit, we will surely receive. When we pray, do we ask God to give us those things which He knows we need in order to be happy, or do we ask for what the media says we need? If we leave the decisions up to God, then we will always receive what we ask for; we will find what we are looking for; and doors will open at our knock.

Through Jesus Christ, we can have boldness in our speech as we speak about Him, and boldness as we live knowing that death is gain. Through Jesus, we also get access to the Father, whom we wouldn’t have access to without Jesus. Beyond that, we can come to the Father confidently in the name of Jesus because Jesus covers us. He puts on us His perfection and victory over sin. Through Jesus, by faith, we get great rewards.

Father in Heaven, I am so glad that I can come before You confidently. Thank you for sending Jesus so that through Him I would be able to approach You. You have given me great things, so let me live boldly. I have no one to fear but You, Lord. You are the only one who needs to be pleased with me. Make me confident as I live out my days for You – not for men. You are good. You are beautiful. I truly serve the God of all things who created all things. There is no evil in You. I come to You, Father, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

We belong to God. We are His children. Whenever the enemy tries to tell you otherwise, stand firm on God’s word and remind the enemy of whom you belong to – God, the Father.

I really love the psalms! I hope that you are reading this on a glorious January day, but if it’s rainy or gloomy, this psalm should perk you up! How often do we really take the time to just praise God? We turn to God when we need something, when friends or family are suffering, or we hear of a tragedy. Sometimes we remember to say “thank you” to God for prayers answered, and we might even ask forgiveness for the times we have sinned, but how often do we just praise God for his goodness, for the blessing of a sunny day, for the glory of his creation or his saving grace? This psalm is the perfect prayer of praise. We are reminded of God’s goodness, his mercy and faithfulness, not just to Israel but also to us. We are invited to sing God’s praises with all creation. Actually the psalms in general are a great place to find the words when we don’t know what to pray. The psalmists were honest with God and with themselves and so we have psalms of praise and worship, fear of abandonment and thanksgiving for rescue. We have psalms where they express their anger and frustration, their hopes and their joys. There will always be times in our lives when we can’t find the words, when this happens, let us turn to the psalms. And may we find some time in each day to sing your praises.

Dear God, I thank you that I have my identity in you – as your child. Lord, I pray that when anyone tries to make me doubt who I am, I will simply shake them off and tell them, confidently, that I belong to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Lord, I thank You that You have made me a citizen of Your kingdom. You have built a firm foundation resting on all those who came before me and You have made Christ the cornerstone that holds it all together. Help me to show good citizenship in this community and pay proper respect and homage to those who laid the foundation of my faith. Amen.

Moral Strength: If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Exodus: 32:26 – Then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, “Whoever is on the LORD’s side – come with me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him.

God gave the Bible to back up the science we see today. Wernher Von Braun was known as the father of the American Space Program.

“Put your money where your mouth is!” Have you ever heard that phrase? It is often said to us when we make a claim that others think we can’t back up. Sometimes we talk a good game, but can’t play it. We let our mouths get carried away and sometimes that leads to all kinds of trouble. When we make a habit of talk, talk, talk but can’t follow it up with do, do, do, then we lose credibility and no one will believe a word we say. This verse reminds us that if we are going to “talk the talk,” then we must “walk the walk.” When we talk a lot about being a Christian and how we pray all the time and how we read our Bibles all the time and how we go to church all the time, people have an expectation of how we should behave. When our behavior contradicts what we say about ourselves, people lose faith in us. And because we represent Christianity to them, they lose faith in all Christians. It is a terrible thing to mislead someone about Christ. We must be excellent ambassadors for Him, in word and deed.

Father, I ask You to help me to live the way You would have me to. Let the words of my mouth and the actions of my heart be the same. If I speak about love, let me be known for love. If I recite scripture, let me first live by that scripture. Help me to be able to match my “walk” and my “talk.” Amen.

“The LORD has hidden himself from his people, but I trust him and place my hope in him.”

Isaiah 8:17 (GNT)

It’s easy to worship God when things are going great in your life—when he’s provided food, friends, family, health, and happy situations. But circumstances are not always pleasant. So, how do you worship God then? What do you do when God seems a million miles away?

The deepest level of worship is praising God in spite of pain, thanking God during a trial, trusting him when tempted, surrendering while suffering, and loving him when he seems distant.

The writer Philip Yancey once noted, “Any relationship involves times of closeness and times of distance, and in a relationship with God, no matter how intimate, the pendulum will swing from one side to the other.”

That’s when worship gets difficult.

To mature your friendship, God will test it with periods of seeming separation—times when it seems as if he has abandoned or forgotten you. St. John of the Cross referred to these days of spiritual dryness and doubt as “the dark night of the soul.”

King David understood days like these. Even though God called him “a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22 NIV), David sometimes complained about God’s apparent absence:

  • “Lord, why are you standing aloof and far away? Why do you hide when I need you the most?” (Psalm 10:1 TLB).
  • “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help?” (Psalm 22:1 NLT).
  • “Why have you abandoned me?” (Psalm 43:2 GNT).

Of course, God hadn’t really left David, and he’ll never leave you. God has promised repeatedly, “I will never leave you; I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5 GNT).PLAY today’s audio teaching from Pastor Rick >>

Talk It Over

  • What practical steps can you take to help you worship God even when you’re in pain or in a difficult season?
  • What do you think God might want you to learn during these times?
  • What are some of God’s promises that can give you hope and encouragement?

Have you trusted God’s promise of salvation through Jesus Christ?

If you’re ready to commit your life to Jesus, then pray this prayer:

“Dear Jesus, you have promised that if I believe in you, everything I’ve ever done wrong will be forgiven, I will learn the purpose of my life, and you will accept me into your eternal home in heaven one day.

“I confess my sin, and I receive you into my life as my Lord and Savior. You have promised that if I confess my sin and trust you, I will be saved. I trust you when you say salvation comes by grace, through faith, and not by anything I do. Today I’m turning over every part of my life to your management.

“I’m grateful for your unconditional love. I want to use the rest of my life to love and serve you instead of serving myself. I commit my life to you and ask you to save me and accept me into your family. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

God will never hide from us. He desires that we seek more and more of Him, so that we grow in our knowledge of Him. Growing in the knowledge of God builds our confidence in Him and serves as a constant reminder of why we can trust in Him. Sometimes we get all tied up trying to figure out what people want from us. It can be very frustrating and sometimes even confusing. God plainly tells us what He wants from us: to “do justly,” “love mercy,” and “walk humbly with thy God.” What does this mean to us in plain terms? God desires us to do the right thing, the “just” thing, the fair thing. To be honest in our dealings with people. He desires that we are merciful to each other. That we give people the benefit of the doubt. That we don’t give up on people too easily. And He asks that we walk with a humble spirit, not an arrogant one. That we see the need for Him and that we understand that we are nothing without Him. When our spirits are humble, we can be instructed. We can be led. Please God is a very simple thing, but the benefits are greater than anything we can imagine. No matter how good or glorious the wealth and possessions of the wicked may look, it all means nothing. It will all pass away and the wicked will be left to face the consequences of their actions. Dear Christian, you have no reason to envy what the wicked have. You are a child of God and God will always provide for you. Most importantly, you are saved. That is more important than anything in this world.

Dear God, I thank you that I can always know you more. Father, I pray that I grow in my knowledge of you on a daily basis, because in knowing you there is life and there is freedom. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Surviving Human Trafficking! And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

I am a 47 year old Native American woman who has servived being raped, being beaten and being shot by my husband who then selflessly killed himself in front of me. Seven years have past but I still can’t get the image out of my head. But, I thank God for keeping me alive. My past is my experience. An experience you can’t get in any class room. It was a hard challenging life, but By the grace of God I am here. Only to be a true testimony for the living God. To glorify His Holy Name. Fasting and prayer work hand in hand with each other. You cannot fast without praying – otherwise you will simply be on a hunger strike. The point of fasting is to sacrifice earthly needs in order to focus more on communing with God. Prayer is how we commune with God during this time of fellowship. It is in these times we can receive visions, revelations of God’s word, and a refreshed assurance in the goodness of God.

Boy, are we just like the people in Jesus’ day! We say we will follow Jesus, but we put it off with all kinds of excuses! I need to work; my kids are in sports; I’ll do it when I’m older. I don’t have time right now for you, Jesus, but the day will come when I will have time. Imagine how that works with our earthly relationships! There’s an old song called “Cat’s in the Cradle” that talks about a father who doesn’t have time for his son while the son is growing up and only realizes what he has done when he retires and the son now has no time for him. The good news is that Jesus will always have time for us no matter how long it takes for us to wake up and make room for him in our lives. But think of what we miss! We can miss years, or in some cases, a lifetime, of knowing that Jesus has our back – he will always be there to help and guide us. His grace will be there to keep us from making some pretty terrible mistakes. All we need to do is follow him. In one of the classes we had this spring, the video instructor explained that the “yoke” that Jesus asks us to take for our own, is not a burdensome piece of wood that keeps us tied to the plow, but rather, a point of view. Jesus asks us to view life as he did – working for justice, in communion with one another, always connected to the God who made us. Yes, it can be difficult at times because the world is always pulling us in all directions, but with the grace of God, we can do it. What has happened when you didn’t follow Jesus? I know that in my life, that’s when I was on my knees begging God to get me out of the mess I made. In the long run, life is actually easier when we give in, let go of the excuses, and just follow Jesus.

Dear God, my prayer is that everything I do will never be done out of ignorance or selfish desire. May I never have any ulterior motives in my actions because I know how this can nullify the very act. May I remember that the importance of all I do is to communicate with you and to ensure that your name is glorified at all times. In Jesus name I pray Amen

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

As Christians, we should never forget that God is the source of all of our help. In times of need and distress, He will send us people and things to help us but we shouldn’t see the people as the source. They are just God’s vessels who are doing His work in our lives.

Dear God, I thank you that my help comes from you. In times of distress, no matter how overwhelmed I may feel, I know that I can trust in you, Lord. You are my guide and my strength. You keep me when the world tries to tear me apart. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

Paul continues to express to his listeners the events of Christ’s return. Here he references a passage from Isaiah 25. He says that death will be “swallowed up.” What an appropriate end for Death! Death swallows up all its victims. People waste away in the throes of cancer and disease as death just consumes them. To know that one day, death itself will be swallowed up brings hope to the believer. In the glorious world Paul talks about, the power of the grave will be no more. Death will take no more loved ones. We won’t have to watch anyone else we love to die. God will wipe away the tears we’ve shed over what death has stolen from us and put an end to death once and for all.

Father, I look forward to the day when death will die. You will swallow it up and eliminate its power. No more tears will I ever have to cry because Death has stolen someone I love. You have assured me of that and I praise You for it. Amen.

Anger is a normal, healthy reaction to certain situations of attack, shame, and frustration, but we always have a choice in the way they express their angry feelings—either destructively or constructively. This study can be helpful to both extremes and may lead to much discussion. Ask yourself the following: To begin to think about anger as an emotion, try to bring to mind one incident in the last two weeks that has made you really angry. It could be something in your personal life or something in the news. And answer the following questions: 1. What made you angry? 2. How did you feel? 3. How did you deal with your anger?

“God made me and God don’t make no junk!” This slogan found its way to T-shirts several years ago. It may not be grammatically correct, but it’s true, nonetheless. Paul tells us in this verse that we are God’s “workmanship.” We are made by His hands. We are not “accidents.” We are works of art, crafted by His loving hands. Therefore, we have value. Nothing can take that away from us. Ugly words, insults, snide remarks…they are meaningless in the face of the fact that we are His workmanship. If we could only truly believe that about ourselves, there wouldn’t be a bully anywhere with any kind of power over us.

Father, Help me see myself as your workmanship, crafted on purpose with love by You. I am not less than. I am not worthless. I am a work of art that You chose to create and that makes me special. Amen.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Peace. It’s what everyone is seeking. If you ask anyone what they want most in this world, it is likely that they will say, “Peace.” This passage lets us know that the peace we seek in found is Christ Jesus. Through Him alone will find that unexplainable peace we are seeking. And we are promised that, when we do, it will guard our hearts and minds. No more will we fight the battles of our minds. No more will have an anxious heart. We are promised the peace of God. And we can rest easy and it will be fulfilled in us.

Father, I pray for Your peace, which passes all understanding. I ask that You quieten my spirit and my mind. Touch my anxious heart and calm the storm within me. I thank You for this wonderful gift that You have given to me. Amen.

He Is Our Healer; Exodus 15:26 – For I am the Lord Who Heals you, (Us).

The sea of Galilee is the place where seventy percent of the early Jesus miracles took place. Not only did He stay at Peter’s house in Capernaum, but it was here that the multitudes of the sick, the blind, and demonically oppressed came for healing and deliverance. If the mountians surrounding the sea could talk we would have more books on all the testimonies of Jesus wonderful miracles, and compassionate heart He gave showed to everyone. He healed them all.

But are they? One of the gifts of the Feast of the Epiphany is the realization that Jesus came for ALL people. When we see representations of the Magi coming to worship the new King, we notice that they are of mixed races. We are aware that they are not Jews, but they seem to know that the star they noticed “at its rising” is a sign that the promised one has been born. At this moment in time, seem to be having difficulty seeing that we are all images of the one God, brothers and sisters regardless of race, nationality or religion. We have some choices to make in this New Year. We can follow the example of Jesus who welcomes all, or we can follow the example of Herod who wishes to destroy. The road to peace is a bumpy one and requires effort. It is a road of acceptance, compassion, forgiveness and taking responsibility for our actions. We can choose to fuel the fires of division and hatred, or we can choose love. As we count down the last few days of this Christmas season, let us decide how we want the world to look. What is the legacy of all our prayers during Advent and Christmas? Let us open our arms to receive one another in peace and love so that all may feel welcome in our churches, our neighborhoods and our community.

Do not be deceived by the party culture. Do not be lured by alcohol. While wine and beer and other alcoholic beverages are popular and promise a good time, more often these drinks make fools of us. Too much alcohol leaves one intoxicated. When someone is intoxicated, he/she does not make wise choices. When we listen to the crowd or the promise of fun or relief alcohol claims, we are being foolish. True relief only comes from faith in Jesus Christ. Ask him to help you resist the temptation today.

Dear God, give me wisdom to know when I am being led in a foolish direction. Help me to resist the temptation of alcohol today. I know it is not only leads to foolish decisions, it is also dangerous. Give me the courage to turn away from alcohol or anything offering false promises of happiness. You are the only thing that will bring me true fulfillment. Thank you for giving us refuge and courage to battle temptations such as these. Please use me to help others struggling with these temptations, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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