Hope Reflected

Encouragement and Hope from God's Word

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Monday

14

November 2016

Encouragement: 2 Timothy 1:7

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encouragement 2 timothy 1:7

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

The past few weeks, the media’s been building and encouraging a lot of ‘fear’ in people; and admittedly, it’s easy to get caught up in the emotion and excitement. There’s something very important to remember, however. God is in control.

And what’s more? We’re clearly told in the Bible that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear”. If you are feeling afraid, or nervous, or apprehensive about the future, consider this: In Isaiah 41:10, we are encouraged to “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” In Psalm 34:4, we are told, “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”

Paul wrote to book of 2 Timothy from prison, and yet he encouraged us by saying that God hasn’t given us the spirit of fear. To have that realization and be able to admit that from prison? Wow! What a Faith! Can you imagine all the difficulties and persecution that Paul faced behind bars? I can’t either, but it probably was not an easy or comfortable place to be.

If you’re feeling nervous, or anxious, or fearful heading into the challenges of a new week, remember the second part of 2 Timothy 1:7. God has given us the spirit “of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Consider this: With the spirit of God’s power, love, and sound mind, we can set out to face any challenge that is before us. It’s easier said that done, but whatever you’re facing, God has promised that He will be there for you!

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

 

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Friday

11

November 2016

Hope Reflected: The Importance of a Firm Foundation

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remembrance day

As we approach Remembrance Day, this year more than ever before, I am reminded of the importance of having a firm foundation. The men and women who fought to protect our country, each of them truly believed in risking their lives for man and country. The men and women who served (and currently serve) believed so strongly in protecting our freedoms that they were willing to give up their lives. How many of us believe in something so passionately that we’d be willing to give up our lives for that something? We live in a world where it’s now considered acceptable to sit or kneel during the National anthem, where believing in God is considered passé, and where standing up for a faith puts one at risk of being considered hate-filled and intolerant. I find myself questioning, if we’re removing the very foundations that North America was founded upon, how can we in good conscience pay homage to those men and women who served and risked (and lost!) their lives to protect our nation?

Proverbs 22:28 reminds us to “remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” When we start messing around with our foundations, the whole structure shifts. And an unsteady structure is not a safe structure.

Think about it: The foundation is the arguably the most important part of your home. Without a firm foundation, your home is not secure. Any errors or mistakes in the foundation of your home only get worse as you build up. The framing, roof, and the rest of the structure will be completely out!

Just like your home, having a firm foundation for what you believe in is important for several reasons.

  1. A firm foundation is important because storms will come. In a home, without a firm foundation, your home would wash away when rains fall and storms blow. The same can be said about your faith. You may think it doesn’t matter what (or Who) you believe in, but when the storms in life come, you need strength and structure for your soul. Jesus told us in Matthew 7:24-27, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
  1. A firm foundation is important because our foundation is our core. Ever heard the saying, “Treat the cause, not the symptom”? Without a firm foundation, we put ourselves at risk for all kinds of surface issues. Just like errors in the foundation of a house, if we don’t have a firm foundation for our souls, we put ourselves at risk for bad influences to creep in, and ultimately, for the progression of sin. Paul says in his first letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 6:18-19), “Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, wiling to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” Think about it like this: If you’re trying to get healthy, you don’t just exercise, right? If you’re truly trying to change your health for the better, you start in the kitchen, because the fuel you put in to your body is just as – or more – important than exercise. The same can be said about our spiritual life – it’s not just good works or deeds that matter, it’s what is in our soul that truly counts.

This Remembrance Day, take time to give thanks and to remember the dedication and example of those who have – and who continue – to serve our great nation. The strength of each individual and their commitment to the foundations of our country are truly honorable.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” (John F. Kennedy)

Originally published as “The Importance of a Firm Foundation.” Minto Express. November 9, 2016. 5: Print.

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Monday

7

November 2016

Encouragement: Isaiah 46:4

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nov7_hopereflected_encouragement_isaiah

“Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.” Isaiah 46:4

Looking for some encouragement for this week? I read this verse over the weekend, and was so moved by the promises that are provided in such a short verse.

Even to our old age, God is the One Who…

God will carry us.

God made us.

God will bear us.

God will carry us. (So important it’s mentioned a second time!)

God will deliver us.

Feeling overwhelmed, and not sure how you’re going to accomplish all the tasks before you this week? Maybe you think a situation is impossible and you’re not sure how it will work out.

Rest assured, our God is bigger than any situation or fear you face, and He will carry you; He made you; He will bear you; He will carry you; He will deliver you.

WOW!

5 amazing promises for the week ahead. God is more than capable!

“Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.” Isaiah 46:4

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Monday

31

October 2016

Encouragement: Psalm 147: 7-8

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psalm 147 encouragement

“Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God: Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.” Psalm 147: 7-8

Autumn weather often brings along with it cloudy days, cold winds, and lots of rain.

Even during the dullest of days, there is so much to praise God for! He is the one Who creates the clouds, sends rain for the earth, and Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.

If you’re searching for reasons to give Him praise, consider all the ways that God has demonstrated His faithfulness throughout your life. Count your blessings, and you’re sure to be encouraged.

“Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God: Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.” Psalm 147: 7-8

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Friday

21

October 2016

Hope Reflected: What to do in the face of Adversity

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what to do in the face of adversity

 

“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” Wise words regarding adversity from one of my favourite authours, C.S. Lewis. Inevitably, we all will face adversity in our lives at some point or another. While it may not be comforting, that’s a fact. Another fact? The key to facing adversity is how we react to it.

Proverbs 24:10 says, “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” It’s easy to say, but quite often when we face times of adversity, we wonder how we’ll make it through. One of the keys to facing adversity is remembering how to keep things in perspective. Whether you’re facing adversity spiritually, relationally, physically, or emotionally, there is hope.

The most important fact to remember in the face of adversity is that God can and will help you through the toughest times in your life, if you will put your trust in Him. In the face of adversity, here are three things to do:

  1. Ask the Lord what He’s trying to teach you. Is it patience? (This is a BIG one for me!) Is it humility? Is it trust? Whatever you’re going through, God’s got you. Whatever your current circumstances and situation, God will be there for you if you’ll put your trust in Him. Largely attributed to David – who, if you’re looking or a man who faced plenty of adversity throughout his life, check out the life of David in the Bible – Psalm 119 sheds light on seeking the Lord in times of adversity, especially in verse 71, “It is good or me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” Perhaps there’s an area in your life where God is trying teach you or mature you. It seems like my life long I’ve been learning (and learning, and learning) the virtue of patience. Ask the Lord what He’s trying to teach you!
  2. Remind yourself that God is in control. Ecclesiastes 7:14 tells us, “In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider; God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.” Whatever you’re facing, God is in complete control. You know what makes that fact easier to accept? When you trust God completely. Trusting God with your whole heart brings a peace that I can’t even begin to describe. As the apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
  3. Submit, surrender, and fight the good fight. OK that’s three points in one, but you get the idea. In the face of adversity:
    1. Submit yourself to the Lord. For help with submission, see James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God.”
    2. Surrender yourself to His will. In Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus tells His disciples, “’If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.’”
    3. Fight the good fight. 1 Timothy 6:12 tells us to “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” See also 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” And finally, Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, those whom He has called according to His purpose.”

Whatever you’re dealing with today, and wherever this finds you, there is hope. God will provide for you, if you will trust in Him! I’ll close with this quote from Charles Stanley: “Often times God demonstrates His faithfulness in adversity by providing for us what we need to survive. He does not change our painful circumstances. He sustains us through them.”

Originally published as “What to do in the face of adversity.” Minto Express. September 14, 2016. 5: Print.

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Wednesday

21

September 2016

Wednesday Wisdom: Discouragement is a Choice

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discouragement is a choice

“Disappointments are inevitable. Discouragement is a choice.” Charles Stanley

It would be completely unrealistic to think that throughout our lives we’ll never experience disappointment. Yet, how often do we experience disappointment and then get discouraged, without realizing that taking the unnecessary detour of discouragement is actually a choice?

Disappointment is defined as “the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.”

Discouragement is defined as “a loss of confidence or enthusiasm; dispiritedness.”

It’s easy to see then how experiencing disappointment can lead to discouragement, right? Especially if we experience repeated disappointments; it can cause us to doubt our abilities, to question our circumstances, to choose discouragement.

Charles Stanley’s words, “Disappointments are inevitable. Discouragement is a choice.” are easy words to say, and hard to live. I know in my own life I often struggle with disappointment and discouragement. The key is not to stay there!

When you’re tempted to choose discouragement, remember these verses:

  • “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
  • “The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” Psalm 28:7
  • “Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22
  • “Fear thou not; for I am with you: be not dismayed; for I am your God; I will strengthen you, yes I will help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
  • “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11
  • “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
  • “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13
  • “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17
  • “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6
  • “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
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Friday

2

September 2016

Hope Reflected: Attributes of God, Part 1

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attributes of God

A.W. Tozer once said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing to us.” While I’ve yet to read all of Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy, that quote really resonated with me. It’s true; how we think about God determines our measure of worship. This past Sunday at church, the speaker was talking about different attributes of God that we should recognize and acknowledge in our lives that will help to alleviate anxiety and create a more whole mindset in us. The way we think about God influences the way we go through life. Too often we get caught up in the day-to-day, worrying about tomorrow or our circumstances or other things here on Earth, when the reality is that we were put here on Earth to influence others for eternity.

There are several attributes of God found throughout scripture, however today I’d like to focus on three that have truly impacted my life:

  1. God is faithful. Psalm 86:5 tells us, “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.” So many times throughout the Bible, we are shown examples of God’s faithfulness to those who trust in Him. A very realistic way to recall God’s faithfulness is to keep a journal of prayer requests and answers. Wes and I recently went through the first prayer list we ever made together, and it is incredible just how many of our prayers were answered specifically, and not just answered, answered exceedingly abundantly above all that we could have asked or thought. God is faithful! All we have to do is trust Him and commit our way to Him! “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
  2. God is love. Not just loving, God is love. And I think we’d all agree that in this world in which we live, each of us could use more love. John wrote in his epistle of 1 John 4:8, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” We read a deeper definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13. Frequently referenced at weddings, the “love chapter” of the Bible was written by the apostle Paul. [For a fascinating history of the books of Corinthians and when Paul wrote them, check out Matthew Henry’s Commentary.] The King James Version of 1 Corinthians 13 refers to ‘love’ as ‘charity’. It was originally translated from the Greek word, αγαπη (agapē), or in Latin, “caritas”, which means ‘Christian love’. We are told in 1 Corinthians 13 that love, or charity, never fails. That’s God. He will not and cannot fail. When we trust in Him, that’s a promise. We are also reminded in Galatians 5:22 that love is one of the fruits of the Spirit; if we love God, we will live in love, joy, peace, gentleness, faith, etc.
  3. God is merciful. This attribute in particular is a great reminder to me. God loves me and has forgiven me, and sent His Son to die on the cross for my sins. I haven’t got what I deserve because I serve a risen Lord who, among other awesome attributes, is merciful. Psalm 103:8 says, “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” Notice anything in particular about that verse? God’s mercy is so strong that it merits two mentions. Often confused with grace, mercy pardons sin (whereas grace grants favour). God is plenteous in mercy; He has mercy enough to cleanse the sins of the world, should we choose to trust Him. We are promised in Isaiah 55:7 that if we forsake our sinful ways, and return to the LORD, “…he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” I love this quote from Arthur W. Pink: “He foresaw my every fall, my every sin, my every backsliding; yet, nevertheless, fixed His heart upon me.”

These are merely three of God’s amazing attributes. God’s demonstration of His faithfulness, love, and mercy in my life have molded me into who I am, and without God’s faithfulness, love, and mercy, I can’t imagine where I might be today. God’s attributes are parts of His character that help us to really understand Who He is. The truth is, we’ll never understand them all, but we can observe what the Bible tells us about Who God is, and believe it, and be encouraged.

 

Originally published as “Attributes of God, Part 1.” Minto Express. July 27, 2016: 5. Print.

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Monday

29

August 2016

Monday Encouragement: 2 Timothy 4:17

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2 Timothy 4:17

“Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me;” 2 Timothy 4:17

The beginning of a new week always brings with it a sense of freshness. While I’d love to say the start of a new week always brings along with it a renewed energy, that’d be a lie, because quite often on Mondays we wake up longing for the weekend past and not ready to get out of bed at an early hour. (Especially as the days are getting shorter, am I right?!)

That being said, I find encouragement in the words of Paul in his second letter to Timothy: “Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me”.

Two things we quite often take for granted:

  1. The Lord stands with us,
  2. The Lord strengthens us.

There are some commentaries on the book of 2 Timothy that state that God provided Paul with courage and readiness. Heading into a new week, I can’t think of two qualities better fitted to equip us for the week ahead.

If you’re entering this week feeling discouraged, or down, or lacking the energy you think you need to make it through, meditate on God’s Word and promises. He will stand with you and strengthen you if you put your trust in Him.

“Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me;” 2 Timothy 4:17

 

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Friday

19

August 2016

Hope Reflected: 3 Things We Should Do Every Day

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3 things we should do every day

In my last column, I discussed the importance of doing devotions every day. After writing that column, Wes and I were talking about how devotions have impacted our life, and also about other habits we’ve developed that have worked wonders in our Christian faith.

We live in a world that where there are so many distractions that being busy and constantly connected is too easy. But what about being constantly connected to God? Are we truly taking time each day to connect with our Lord and Saviour about the things that truly matter?

There are so many good habits that we could get into, however here are three things that we should all do every day.

  1. Read God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” The Bible is available to us so that we are equipped for life here on Earth, and if we’re not reading it, we’re missing out on some serious life hacks. King David says in Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” If you’re feeling lost, lonely, or misguided, get into God’s Word for direction. There is no topic untouched, and there are no exceptions. He’ll provide the light you need.
  2. Pray. 1 John 5:14 states, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:” Does that mean we should only go to God in prayer when we need something? Definitely not! God wants to hear from us everyday, about everything. Even the things you think don’t matter have significance in God’s eyes. He wants to hear our worries, our fears, our hopes, our dreams, and especially our thanks. You may wonder if there’s a special way to pray, and there is. Jesus Himself talked about the way to pray in Matthew 6:9: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” Whenever we pray, we’re instructed to pray in Jesus’s name.
  3. Rejoice. Philippians 4:4 says it best, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” It’s not always easy to choose joy, however rejoicing is something we’re commanded to do in the Bible. Does this mean we should always be happy and walk around with a fake smile plastered on our faces? Not at all! Rejoicing means to “feel or show great joy or delight”, and also “cause joy to”. Rejoicing doesn’t mean that one always has to be happy, it just means that we have true lasting joy, no matter what the season. That’s a gift from God! Psalm 5:11 says, “But let all who take refuge in You be glad, Let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, That those who love Your name may exult in You.” God is our refuge and he is a shelter to us; that’s reason enough to rejoice each day!

Good habits take a while to develop, so if you miss a day of devotions or find yourself with a bad attitude, don’t lose heart. Nobody is perfect, and the great thing is that God already knows that, and that’s why He sent His Son. Develop the above habits one day at a time. You may find it helpful to set aside time in the morning for reading God’s Word, to start your day off right. The great thing about prayer is we pray anytime, anywhere, however you may also find it helpful to pray before and after your Bible reading. And remember, we aren’t expected to be happy all the time, however we are commanded to rejoice – choose joy and count your blessings.

Originally published as “3 Things We Should Do Everyday.” Minto Express. June 29, 2016: 5. Print.

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Wednesday

17

August 2016

Wednesday Wisdom: The Power of Prayer

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Wednesday Wisdom: Max Lucado Prayer Quote

“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the One Who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” Max Lucado

You may not always feel like praying, but God is always ready to listen to your prayers. At times, prayer may not seem convenient; it may not seem necessary, but it is. We don’t always realize the significance and importance of praying, especially when things are going well. We ought always to give God thanks and share our gratitude for His blessings, and to bring our concerns, worries, anxieties, hopes, fears, and requests to Him. But do we always? The answer is, unfortunately, no.

Why is it that quite often we view prayer as a last effort, rather than a proactive practice? Each of us has heard (and possibly used) the statement, “All we can do now is pray!” No! Prayer should be the first thing we do. First thing in the morning, and last thing at night, and at all points in between. Not just when we need something. Prayer is about more than just selfish requests. It’s about recognizing the Lord as our hope, joy, trust, relying on Him, putting our faith in Him, leaning on Him for grace, mercy, healing, understanding, comfort, peace, and company.

Here are some 15 great Bible verses about prayer:

  • “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” Psalm 5:3
  • “Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the day time, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.” Psalm 42:8
  • “I call upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place.” Psalm 118:5
  • “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.” Psalm 145:18
  • “Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.” Jeremiah 29:12
  • “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Jeremiah 33:3
  • “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” Matthew 6:7
  • “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Matthew 21:22
  • “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.” Romans 12:12
  • “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 hears and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
  • “Continue in prayer, and watch int he same with thanksgiving.” Colossians 4:2
  • “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
  • “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
  • “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16
  • “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.” 1 John 5:14

 

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