April 16, 2010

Childlike Faith Mark 10:13-16

On our own, we are unable to choose salvation. God’s Spirit must first convict us of our spiritual need. Specifically, He nudges—that is, He almost places a discomfort within our hearts—and reveals sin. This imperfection in our lives creates the need for a Savior to redeem us.

Do you ever wonder, then, how young children can be saved? Can they truly grasp the depth of their sin and their need for redemption? In most cases, probably not. Yet both my son and daughter genuinely received Jesus at the tender age of five.

Thankfully, almighty God is a gentle Father who meets us right where we are. Preschoolers can understand the basics of right and wrong—and the difference between obedience and defiance. The Lord can place within a young heart the desire to obey and follow Christ. Then, as that little one learns at home or church, God gives him a yearning and sense of need for Jesus. It is a simple longing without the deep, more complex understanding of an adult.

In many ways, however, the unencumbered faith that children have is what He desires of us, but with more understanding and gratitude, of course. What a gift! If we were expected to understand spiritual matters in great depth prior to salvation, none of us would qualify for the gift.

The lifelong process of spiritual maturation begins the moment a person is saved. Prayer and Scripture are essential, as is the role of other Christians. Each of us should be teaching those less mature—especially children—about Jesus. God uses believers to reveal young ones’ need for the Savior.

April 15, 2010

Our Financial Security Matthew 25:14-28

Feeling safe is one of our basic human needs. Many people think they are financially secure until a little blip comes along in the economy or in their personal circumstances. Then the reality that they are vulnerable hits home. Contrary to what the world says, financial security is found not in a bank account or a retirement fund but in a relationship with the One who owns everything in heaven and on earth.

The Lord is not too busy running the universe to be concerned about your financial situation. The truth is, He cares about every detail of your life, including your need for economic security. By heeding His directions about how to acquire and use money, you can experience peace, contentment, and joy.

When it comes to finances, three basic truths should govern our thinking:

  • God owns it all.
  • We are managers of His possessions.
  • We are responsible and will one day give an account to Him about the way we used His resources.

True financial security comes only when we use God’s money His way for His purposes. He alone knows the future and has the power to provide for our needs, whereas any personal financial strategies are backed only by human effort and wisdom.

Don’t you want to experience the stability of internal peace, even during an economic earthquake? Trusting in the Lord’s provsion and obeying His instructions will fill you with confidence when others are gripped with fear and uncertainty. Rest in the knowledge that He provides for His children.

April 14, 2010

God’s Promises to the Generous 2 Corinthians 9:6-11

The principle of sowing and reaping is a universal truth ordained by God that applies not only in agriculture, but also in the area of giving. Despite the fact that the Lord promises an abundant harvest for those who give generously, many Christians still struggle with releasing their grip on money.

Some fear that they won’t have enough if they give. Others, pulled by a strong desire for worldly goods, are unwilling to sacrifice pleasures and comforts. Those who succumb to their fears or greed will miss out on the great harvest God wants to give them.

In the midst of a chaotic economy and uncertain times, we can find our security in the Lord. His ways are often the opposite of our natural tendencies. The world says that to have enough, we must acquire more. God says that in giving generously, we will have an abundance of both provision for our needs (bread) and resources to continue our generosity (seed).

Beyond this, the Lord also promises that the harvest of our righteousness will increase, and we will be “enriched in everything for all liberality” (v. 11). God’s riches encompass so much more than earthly wealth. Generosity produces godly character, which is valuable now and in eternity.

Although we’ve been given the promise of a bountiful harvest, it will be realized only by those who sow abundantly. In following God’s plan for giving, you can be free of worry because the One who guarantees you a harvest is also the omnipotent Lord who is able to richly produce it.

April 13, 2010

From Glory to Humility Philippians 2:3-11

In order to save mankind and shower grace upon the undeserving, Christ had to make a voluntary choice to leave heaven and become a man. He took upon Himself the weakness of humanity while never losing His divinity. Though still fully divine, He did not cling to equality with God but limited the use of His supernatural powers and rights.

Having an incomplete understanding of all that Christ surrendered, we often lack an appreciation of the magnitude of His descent from the riches of glory to the poverty of humanity. He traded the praise and worship of the angelic host for the mockery and jeers of an angry mob. Laying aside His omnipotence, He experienced the weakness of fatigue and the need for sleep. Being immortal but wanting to pay our sin-debt, He had to take on human flesh in order to die for you and me.

The One who had authority over all creation (Col. 1:16-17) walked this earth in complete submission to the Father’s will (John 5:19, 30), “becoming obedient to the point of death” (Phil. 2:8). Instead of relying on His own strength, He depended on the power of God (Acts 2:22). Jesus’ manner of living not only accomplished our salvation but also gave us an example to follow.

Every believer has a choice to make: Will I live my way and demand my rights, or will I empty myself and submit to God? Only by humbling ourselves in submission and obedience to the Father will we experience the joy of the Lord and the glories of His eternal rewards in heaven.

April 12, 2010

The High Cost of Grace 2 Corinthians 8:9

Grace is God’s undeserved goodness and kindness toward us without regard to our merit or worth. It is freely bestowed on all who believe the good news that Jesus is the the Son of God, and He died for their sins.

Although grace is free, it isn’t cheap—the Lord paid a high price to obtain this blessing for us. He left the wealth of heaven to come to earth so that He could redeem us and give us the riches of His celestial home. Think of what that meant in terms of Jesus’ earthly life:

The One who is Creator and Owner of all things lived on earth without possessions. He was born in a borrowed stable, had no place to lay His head during the years of His itinerant ministry, and borrowed not only a donkey for entering Jerusalem but also an upper room for the last supper. Even the tomb was not His own.

Christ also laid aside the glory He had with the Father. Although He never ceased being God while on the earth, His radiant divinity was veiled with human flesh. Being born as a helpless baby, Jesus gave up the use of His omniscience and went through all the stages of human growth and development. The Son of God descended from reigning on the Father’s throne to washing the dirty feet of His disciples.

Christ became poor but lost nothing. Jesus regained the glory of heaven and brought us along. In following Him, believers likewise lose nothing and gain everything. We die to self and gain our souls; give away riches and receive heavenly treasures; and humble ourselves to be exalted in God’s time.

April 10, 2010

Learning to Know God Jeremiah 9:23-24

Today’s verses reveal that the Lord’s top priority for us is to know and understand Him. This is a lifelong pursuit which extends all the way into eternity (John 17:3). If someone asked me, “Do you know God?,” I’d have to say that I am learning about Him. My relationship with the Lord is becoming more exciting and satisfying as the years go by, but I realize that I have much more to discover about my Savior.

Since the Lord reveals Himself in His Word, that is where we need to start. Our understanding of who God is must match what Scripture says about Him; otherwise, we have deceived ourselves by trying to make the Lord into our own image. Descriptions of His characteristics and methods are scattered throughout the Bible. As you read, look for His attributes, desires, and ways. Consider how He responds in various circumstances.

Spend time interacting with the Lord in prayer and meditation. Discuss any insights you have received, ask Him about the concepts you don’t understand, and consider how to apply what you have learned. Those who are willing to obey His commands and follow His guidance will discover how faithful He is. They’ll also find that He is their most intimate friend.

Amazingly, the Creator and Ruler of the universe wants to spend time with you so that you can learn to know Him. It’s as if He is saying, “I want you all to Myself for a little while.” Take Him up on the invitation to come away to a quiet place and learn of Him.

April 9, 2010

The Privilege of Knowing God Philippians 3:7-11

It is a great tragedy that many people go through life without ever becoming acquainted with their Creator. To overlook that relationship is to miss the purpose for their existence and the greatest privilege available to mankind—knowing God. Even Christians can undervalue the honor of getting to know Christ more intimately.

Paul’s all-consuming passion to know the Lord caused him to count everything else as worthless in comparison to that tremendous blessing. Though believers can accept Christ as their Savior, faithfully serve Him, and anticipate being with Him in heaven, many have no hunger to know Him right now.

How can we be satisfied simply with being saved and have so little interest in the most gratifying and exciting relationship available to us? Pursuing Christ with Paul’s passion requires sacrifice—spending time alone with the Lord, surrendering our will, and learning to know Him through suffering. Although salvation is a free gift, intimacy with God is a costly process, but the rewards are invaluable and eternal.

Our culture floods us with information and distractions that can fill our minds and hearts, leaving us indifferent to developing a deeper relationship with Christ. Some people even substitute learning facts about the Lord for knowing Him relationally.

Examine your life to see what is hindering your passion for God. Consider ways to carve out time each day to be alone with Him. As you go about your routine, seek His guidance and listen for His voice. You, too, will eventually count everything else as rubbish compared to knowing Christ.

April 8, 2010

Our Heavenly Place: New Jerusalem Revelation 21:1-8

The apostle John heard Jesus promise to prepare a place for His followers (John 14:1-6). Many years later, he was given a vision of that place—and he watched the New Jerusalem come down out of heaven. The sight was beyond human description, but he did his best to put this heavenly vision into earthly language (Rev. 21:9-22:5).

John saw the brilliance of God’s glory radiating from the structure, whose foundation gleamed with the dazzling colors of precious stones. The gates were made of pearls and the street of transparent gold. This 1500-mile cube-shaped city was designed by the Lord as a place for Himself and mankind to live in perfect intimacy for all eternity. In verses 3 and 4, he notes that “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face.”

Though we may have difficulty imagining the physical structure of this heavenly city, we have no trouble understanding the meanings of the things that are not in the New Jerusalem. There will be no pain, tears, mourning, or death. Sin and every one of its consequences will be removed. All frustration, boredom, and problems will cease. No one will have handicaps, and our bodies will never grow tired or sick.

When the difficulties of this life become burdensome, focus on your glorious heavenly future. The only trouble and pain you will ever experience is now. When your feet walk on the streets of New Jerusalem with the Savior, all the old ravages of sin will be gone, and your joy will be full.

April 7, 2010

A Place Called Heaven John 14:1-6

Because mankind is earthbound until death, misconceptions about heaven are common. Some people imagine it as an ethereal world of formless spirits who float about, while others flatly deny its existence. A few have returned from near-death experiences to describe what they saw. Amid all the confusing and contradictory views, we would do well to remember that our only sure source of accurate information about heaven is God’s Word.

Jesus had firsthand knowledge of heaven because He came from the Father to earth. Shortly before dying, He told His disciples that He would return to His Father’s house to prepare a place for them and then would come back to take them to their new home. Several weeks later, while standing on the Mount of Olives, the disciples watched the resurrected body of Jesus ascend into heaven (Acts 1:9-11).

Ever since that day, believers throughout history have been waiting for the Lord’s promised return. Each one will be given an immortal resurrection body similar to Christ’s. It will be physical, visible, and recognizable to others. We will even be able to eat (Luke 24:41-43). Heaven is a literal place for physical bodies—a place to live, serve God, and worship and enjoy Him forever.

Knowing all the specifics of our heavenly home is impossible, but we can be sure that Jesus will fulfill His promise to come back for us. Stepping into our custom-designed dwelling places, we’ll each realize that we’re finally home—and throughout eternity can never be separated from God.

April 6, 2010

The Purpose of Life 2 Corinthians 3:15-18

Why am I here on earth? No doubt this question crosses everybody’s mind at some point. Unscriptural theories of evolution suggest that we are merely taking up space and will return to nothingness when we die. Cultural propaganda says that we choose our own destiny—in other words, we can live for any cause we choose. But that is absolutely untrue! The Lord has placed you on earth to fulfill His purpose.

Our heavenly Father has a unique plan for every person’s life, but He means for us all to share one goal: to be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ. The process of perfecting our moral, spiritual, and physical selves begins here on earth and is finished in heaven. Much of the work the Lord does in our earthly lives centers on our character. He shows us how to be as loving, kind, and peaceful as Jesus.

One would think that being like God’s Son must require a lot of effort. But the truth is, we are not called to work at it. The Holy Spirit indwells the believer and then lives the life of Christ through him or her. Christians have the responsibility to be submissive to His guidance. That means we respond to every circumstance and event with this question: “How can You use this to make me more like Jesus?”

The sovereign Lord is behind everything that happens to you—either He directly instigates the situation or He allows it to take place. Both trials and triumphs are engineered to fulfill God’s great purpose: crafting a life that reflects His love and glory to the world.

April 5, 2010

The Enemy of Security 1 John 1:5-9

Sin can shake our faith in eternal security. God promised that anyone who believes Jesus Christ died on the cross for his or her sin will live forever in heaven (John 6:40). But because unconfessed sin creates a barrier between the Lord and the believer, it short-circuits faith and assurance.

When a believer confesses wrongdoing, the Father forgives and cleanses His child (1 John 1:9). But by failing to admit to sin, a Christian will experience estrangement from God. He or she may feel unworthy of the Father’s love and can even struggle with a sense of rejection. Ask people in this situation if they are certain about their eternal future, and you’ll probably hear, “I used to be.” Sometimes they will go so far as to tell me that they are no longer saved—but that is impossible. While we can lose our assurance, we can never lose our salvation or our place in heaven.

Too often, people mistake the Lord’s chastising hand for confirmation of their lost condition. “God wouldn’t put me through this if I were saved,” they’ll say. Actually, the opposite is true. The Father disciplines those whom He loves, so correction is proof that we are His children (Heb. 12:6-7). Chastisement is His way to guide the wayward believer back into fellowship with Him.

Jesus is our Advocate before God. Like the high priests of ancient Israel, He atones for our sins through sacrifice—His death on the cross. We can’t sin our way out of His grace. The minute we confess our wrongdoing, estrangement dissipates and assurance comes flooding back into our hearts.

April 2, 2010

What Jesus’ Blood Can Do Revelation 5:6-10

There are five words that every believer should know and be able to explain. I have defined and discussed all of them many times in sermons and writings, but I am doing so again because they are so essential. Being confident in our beliefs is ever more important as cultures become bolder about persecuting Christians.

Jesus’ shed blood redeems believers (1 Peter 1:18-19). This means that we are purchased from a life of slavery to sin. Furthermore, we receive forgiveness—the wrongs of our past, present, and future are totally washed away (Eph. 1:7-8). For the rest of eternity, God views His children through the “veil” of Christ’s blood, which makes them pure and holy. Everyone who trusts in Jesus is declared no longer guilty (justified—Rom. 5:8-9) and brought into relationship with God (reconciled—Col. 1:19-22). This unalterable change in status from sinner to saint happens the moment a person receives Christ as Savior.

The final word, sanctified, describes the life-long maturing process that begins when a person trusts in the Savior (Heb. 13:12). A saint is set apart from the rest of humanity for the purpose of making him Christ-like. Through discipleship, testing, and teaching, God “drains out” our old self and pumps the life of Jesus into our heart and life.

These five words tell the story of our faith. Meditate upon the verses related to each one, and pray that God will write the meanings on your heart. When we’re confident in our beliefs, we can be a light to others instead of crumbling at the threat of pain.

April 1, 2010

Where the Battle Is Won Matthew 26:36-46

The garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives was one of the Lord’s favorite places to pray throughout His earthly ministry (Luke 22:39). But believers remember it best as the site of a great spiritual battle. The story of Jesus pleading with His Father is extremely meaningful to Christians, and one of the reasons is that the Lord looked so human. From the gospel’s description, we can see that Jesus, the God-man, experienced fear, anxiety, and dread as He prayed. In other words, He reacted to His imminent ordeal with feelings we can relate to and understand.

Satan taunts believers by telling them they can’t be like Jesus because He is God. But He was God cloaked in human flesh, which means that He experienced the world as we do. Yet He won every spiritual and life battle he faced. The secret to His success is what He did at Gethsemane. He secluded Himself and prayed until His will was fully surrendered to the Father. The battle was won on His knees.

Jesus left the garden a prisoner, but at the same time He walked out a winner. He accepted God’s will for His life, even though pain was a guarantee. Our Savior had been called to die, and He knew that the potential blessings and consequences were all in His Father’s hands.

Believers confront fearsome trials too. God uses these hardships to conform us to His Son’s image (Rom. 8:29). If we are to be like Jesus, we must learn from His actions. In the face of difficulty, we should seek God’s will, commit to following it, and leave the consequences in His almighty hands.

March 31, 2010

The Precious Blood of Jesus 1 PETER 1:17-21

Many churches today have erased all mention of Jesus’ blood from their worship. But the shedding of blood is essential to the Christian faith—without a sacrifice, no one can have a relationship with God. For that reason, the Lord wove the story of death, renewal, and reconciliation like a red thread from Genesis to Revelation.

What do you have if you take all the blood from a body? A lifeless corpse, right? The same thing is true of the Bible. Scripture would be no more than historical literature if we edited the “unpleasant” bits regarding animal sacrifice, Jesus on the cross, or the power of His blood.

God designed the redemption system in such a way that anyone could understand the connection between shed blood and freedom from sin. The Lord gave detailed instructions for offering a perfect animal sacrifice so that His holiness would be satisfied. God also wanted His followers to understand that sin brought terrible consequences and resulted in death. The first fatality in Scripture was the animal whose skin was used to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness (Gen. 3:21). Every time an Israelite brought to the priests a lamb or a pair of doves, he recognized that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).

God chose a graphic solution to the world’s sin problem. Therefore, believers cannot be squeamish about explaining what truly happened at Golgotha. The words we choose influence listeners; “Jesus shed His blood for you” is a powerful statement. It is also the message God repeats throughout the Bible.

March 30, 2010

Understanding Jesus’ Sacrifice MATTHEW 26:36-46

Jesus journeyed into the deepest pit of despair hours before His crucifixion. In the garden of Gethsemane, He repeatedly prayed that “the cup” would pass away (Matt. 26:39). Christ was staring into a chalice of wrath and judgment that must have made His soul recoil (Is. 51:17). Mankind had filled it with the most depraved and evil deeds and thoughts they could conceive. According to Scripture, Jesus Christ did not just die for our sins; He became our sin (2 Cor. 5:21). The holy, perfect Lamb took on Himself all that was vile and dark.

Furthermore, Jesus knew the consequences of accepting mankind’s evil. God’s holiness prevented Him from being in the presence of sin. Therefore, the Father would have to separate Himself from the Son. Jesus had always enjoyed perfect oneness and relationship with God. To contemplate a wrenching rejection and separation must have been terrifying.

There was no question that Jesus would do God’s will. He would become sin and be separated from the Father, if that’s what was required to save mankind. For a while in the garden, He pleaded for another route to our redemption. However, when it was clear that the Father’s answer was “No, this is the only way,” Jesus obediently sacrificed Himself.

Jesus Christ sacrificed more than His life. He exchanged perfection for wickedness and holy union for separation. The Savior did this so we could be transformed into righteous men and women with an eternal future. No wonder all of heaven exalts Him (Rev. 5:11-14). We must do the same.

March 29, 2010

The Heart of the Cross 1 CORINTHIANS 1:18-31

Consider how illogical Jesus’ crucifixion looked to first-century observers. The Romans, who were concerned with power, probably wondered how a mighty God could allow enemies to kill Him. The Greeks valued wisdom and no doubt thought, There must surely have been a better way than the cross! And the Jews, who longed for victory over oppressors, probably felt bewildered to see Jesus humbly let Himself be brutally killed.

Yet, what seemed foolish was actually a brilliant plan. Through the cross, the Lord powerfully revealed His character. First, we see His unconditional love in dying for those who sinned against Him (John 3:16). Second, His righteousness is apparent—only the perfect sacrifice of His own blood could satisfy the penalty for sin. Third, He shows His faithfulness by redeeming us at so great a cost. And fourth, Jesus demonstrates power by conquering sin and death.

In addition to all this, the cross exposed and disarmed Satan (Col. 2:15), who no longer has authority over Christians. Though he can tempt and try followers of Christ, the Holy Spirit is there to strengthen and guide believers to victory.

One last benefit of God’s remarkable plan is that we are eternally secure because of the price Jesus paid. That gives us hope and confidence about our future.

Though the cross seems absurd to those who don’t understand, God’s children know it is the Father’s wise design. We have assurance for today and security for tomorrow only because of this amazing event that occurred over 2000 years ago. We have no need to fear, but every reason to hope.

March 27, 2010

Eternal Life: You Can Be Sure JOHN 3:16-17

I have heard many reasons why people are uncertain about their eternal future. “I sin too much,” says one. “I don’t feel saved, Pastor,” says another. Someone else worries that she did not follow the “right procedure” to ask for forgiveness. Still others have erroneously learned from their families or churches that no one can be sure of salvation.

My response to all of these rationales is the same: If you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that His death on the cross purchased God’s forgiveness for your sins, then you are saved. And you can be sure.

God’s promises never change. He said that those who trust in His Son would have eternal life (John 5:24). What’s more, a believer cannot be snatched from God’s hand (John 10:27-30).

The Lord loves us unconditionally. Nothing can separate a believer from God’s love (Rom. 8:35-39). Satan’s charges against us can never change how precious we are to our Father.

The Savior’s work on the cross is finished. Jesus Christ made one perfect sacrifice—His own life. In this single act, He atoned for every sinful deed, word, and thought (Heb. 9:11-12, 26). When we receive His salvation, it is ours forever.

God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins so we could live eternally in His presence. It really is that simple. Whatever your doubts, ask the Holy Spirit to confront them with biblical truth. He will quietly assure your heart that you are God’s child forever (Rom. 8:16).

March 26, 2010

A Decision to Follow Jesus LUKE 5:27-28

Yesterday, we saw how Scripture answers the question, Who is Jesus? Once we have that information, we must decide what to do with it. Some may desire to ignore the truth of what they have learned, but that’s actually not an option. God calls us either to accept or reject Jesus as Savior; avoidance is actually a form of rejection.

How, exactly, can we accept Jesus in our life? We must believe in Him. This means placing confidence in the person of Christ, knowing that His death on Calvary’s cross paid for all our sin. This is not merely an intellectual understanding; rather, it is a total surrender to Jesus as the only One who can forgive our sins, thereby bridging the gap between us and the Father. When we receive the Savior, we immediately become children of the King!

Believers must also follow Christ’s ways. Allowing Jesus to live out His Lordship through our lives means yielding our will and desires to His. In addition, Christians are to worship Him. We ought to be so overwhelmed by His presence that our hearts and lips overflow with adoration.

One last thing, of course, is that we’re to share the truth with others. Just before ascending into heaven, Jesus commanded His followers to spread the good news of salvation to the entire world (Matt. 28:19-20).

We are blessed to have God’s Word readily available. And this benefit leaves no excuse for ignorance regarding the person of Jesus Christ. Once we know who He is, we must decide whether we will surrender our lives to Him. He longs for an intimate, personal relationship with you. Will you let Him?

March 25, 2010

Jesus: To Believe or Not to Believe MATTHEW 16:13-20

When Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:15-16). The Lord asks us the same question, though not with audible words. Let’s check Scripture for answers.

First, Jesus is God the Son—a member of the Trinity. After Christ’s baptism, the heavens opened, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove, and the Father Himself announced, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matt. 3:17).

Next, Christ is the Savior of mankind. When Adam and Eve chose to sin against Jehovah, there was a separation between God and man. In Old Testament times, an animal sacrifice was necessary to atone for the wrong in one’s life. But that was a temporary solution, until Jesus—the perfect sacrifice—atoned once for all sin. He was the only One who could satisfy God’s requirement for a Savior, because He had no sin (2 Cor. 5:21).

Finally, He is our High Priest (Heb. 4:15; 7:26). In Old Testament times, a mediator—often a temple priest—interceded between God and man, offering an animal’s blood as atonement for sin. Jesus’ death and resurrection took away the need for such sacrifice. Christ now stands as our intercessor, the bridge between Holy God and sinful man.

Who do you believe Jesus is? These characteristics of Christ are taken directly from the Bible. Do they align with your understanding? Check your view of Him against the standard of Scripture. Then ask the Lord to reveal Himself so that you can know Him accurately and personally.

March 24, 2010

The Priority of Prayer MARK 1:35-37

Our Father does not consider prayer an optional part of the Christian life. The Bible tells us that two-way communication with God is essential.

The discipline of prayer includes . . .

1. An expectant attitude. We must believe that God has something important to say to us. It could be a strengthening reminder of His love, insight into our situation, or the answer to a petition. With such an outlook, we’ll be listening more than we are speaking.

2. A focus on our heavenly Father. When we praise the Lord, our minds will let go of worldly things and center on Him. Thinking of His perfect character and sacrifice at the cross readies us to hear from Him and obey.

3. A willingness to see ourselves the way that God does. The Holy Spirit works in us to produce Christlikeness. That means uncovering what is unholy and replacing it with righteousness. It also includes recognizing when we demonstrate godly character (Gal. 5:22-23).

4. A surrender to His leadership. When we submit to Him as Lord, our petitions will be more in line with His will.

5. A regular “appointment.” Developing a strong faith-life takes commitment. Daily activities will crowd out time with the Lord unless we set a time and place to pray.

Everywhere Jesus traveled, the multitudes approached Him with their needs. Even though there were many people to help, our Savior regularly took time to pray. He’d step away from the demands of the crowd to interact with His Father (Mark 6:45-46). Won’t you give prayer that same priority?

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