Archive for Faith & Inspiration

Verse of the Day and Devotional 5/26/2022

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Verse of the Day May 26th, 2022

Scripture

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:10-12 NLT

Devotion

The times we live in are the times between Jesus Christ’s first and second coming. Although the power of the devil has been broken in principal through the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ to the right hand of God, the enemy still wields considerable power here on earth. Indeed, the Bible can still refer to the devil as “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30). This does not mean that he has all power over the world, for “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1), but it does mean that he is the mighty prince of a spiritual regime of “evil rulers and authorities” at work within God’s world.

The devil is not some sort of impersonal evil force. The devil is a created spiritual being with the power of reason and thought. He is a thinker. He does not confront us without thinking about it. He has strategies designed for our destruction. Although Paul tells us that “we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies,” he uses flesh-and-blood enemies to effectuate his purposes in the world. We must always realize, therefore, that there is a devious spiritual strategist behind the struggles we face with other people—and even with our own selves, for we can be our own worst enemy.

In order to fight effectively against the devil and his cohorts, Paul tells us that we must be “strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” We must not, therefore, try to confront the devil in our own power. It is because he thoughtfully uses his considerable power that we must not fight him on our own. We must use the armor of God listed in this chapter: the “belt of truth,” “God’s righteousness,” the “peace that comes from the Good News,” the “shield of faith,” and the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:14-17). Each of these in its own way helps us in the fight.

Today, ask the Lord to help you make intelligent use of His armor as needed against the strategies of the enemy.

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Weekly Devotional: Gems From Pastor Jim 5/23/2022

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by Jim Hughes

CrossMatt. 22:14 “For many were called, but few were chosen.”

This is the story of the great wedding feast. Jesus used this story to teach us what it will be like when He comes back to establish His kingdom. This was a wedding feast and all the guests who were initially invited were too preoccupied with their own agendas to bother coming when it was time for the wedding to take place. The host of the wedding was furious with those who spurned him and turned to those who did come, those who considered the invitation something special and dropped everything else to hurriedly come.

The point Jesus made is that we should never squander our opportunity to be ready for His coming. We will never know when He will show up and if we are not ready for Him, it will be too late. We should consider it an honor to be invited to be a part of His wedding party. It should be the number one priority of our lives. We must be ready so that at any given moment we can join Him.

Don’t assume anything about the Lord’s coming. He may come for His church, or He may come for you, at any moment. Live each moment as if it were going to be your last one on earth. If Jesus were to come for you today, would you wish that you had more time to get ready? Would you be spurned by Him because you passed up His invitation to be ready while you had it? If Jesus would call you home today, what would He find you doing with your life?

Many are invited into His kingdom, but few are chosen because most people do not value the treasure of a life lived in Christ.

About the Author:

Jim Hughes

Spending his formative years in Ft. Wayne, IN, Jim followed the love of his life to southeast Iowa where they married and have spent the majority of their lives. Jim has pastored several churches throughout his life and has worked many years in local factories to help support his family. The father of two married adult children and one son still at home, Jim is a first-time author.

C Through Marriage came into being through many years of pastoral and life experiences. The book first took on a life of its own over 20 years ago when I sought to address the much publicized moral failures of prominent leaders in the church. In the chapter on Chasity, I include the guideliness that I developed then to protect one’s self from such failures.

I am a firm believer in order to make sense out of life you have to use much common sense. We need to get back to the basics of what has worked for many, many generations. If is isn’t broke, why try to fix it? I strive to return to the basics of what really works in all my writings.

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This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.
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Verse of the Day and Devotional 5/19/2022

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Verse of the Day May 19th, 2022

Scripture

Before the world began, the Word was there. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. – John 1:1 ERV

Devotion

The first paragraph of John’s Gospel will never be easy for me to comprehend, I must confess. Today’s verse speaks about a reality so tremendously big that I will never be able to wrap my head around it. It echoes the beginning of Genesis, the beginning of all we know. In the empty darkness, God spoke.

I once heard a story about a Jewish rabbi who wept each time he read the first verses of Genesis. Why? He said, “The Eternal One could have chosen to remain silent. However, He chose to speak.” We serve a God who speaks. Moreover, we serve a God whose Word called everything we know into existence. How could I ever fathom that?

John teaches us that the Word, that was there in the beginning, was Christ. Christ, both Son of God and Son of Man. The very power that created the universe, got concentrated in a human body. That incredible creative force walked and talked just like we do. Thus, it opened the way for us to become a new creation. Christ’s birth as a humble baby was the condition for us to be born-again.

Nicodemus, an important teacher of Israel, couldn’t understand it. I don’t understand it, either. Yet, I believe it! I believe I am a new creation, not fit for this world anymore, but being prepared for eternal life. I know so, because God also chose to give His Word to us. That creative power dwells on the pages of the Bible. It is grace and love in its purest form. It contains the words of eternal life.

Today, take time to ponder that miracle. Stand in awe as you meditate on the living Word who came to save us. Never take that for granted!

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Verse of the Day and Devotional 5/12/2022

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Verse of the Day May 12th, 2022

Scripture

God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So your new life should be like this: Show mercy to others. Be kind, humble, gentle, and patient. – Colossians 3:12 ERV

Devotion

We did not choose God. God chose us. The Bible says that “Christ died for us while we were still sinners, and by this God showed how much he loves us” (Romans 5:8). Therefore, we have nothing to brag about. We did not become the people of God because of something virtuous or special about us. We were still sinners, yet God loved us and saved us through Jesus Christ. Given this, the life we live in Christ should have certain characteristics.

First, we should be merciful. God showed us mercy and saved us while we were still sinners. It would be deeply wrong to receive God’s mercy and then treat other people unmercifully. Jesus told the story of the evil servant who received mercy from his king and then refused to give mercy to another servant. When the king heard about this, it did not go well for him (Matthew 18:21-35).

We should be kind. God showed us kindness and made us His holy people. He had every right to reject us and condemn us, but He showed us kindness instead. As a result, we should reflect the kindness of our kind God.

We should be humble. The Apostle Paul said that God “chose what the world thinks is not important—what the world hates and thinks is nothing. He chose these to destroy what the world thinks is important. God did this so that no one can stand before him and boast about anything” (1 Corinthians 1:28-29). For the Christian, pride is simply out of the question.

We should be gentle. God was gentle with us. He could have been harsh with us. He could have punished us, but He didn’t. We should, therefore, be gentle in our dealings with other people.

Finally, we should be patient. Psalm 103:8 says that “The Lord is kind and merciful. He is patient and full of love.” Just as God was and is patient with us, so should we be patient with those around us.

In a world full of unmerciful, unkind, proud, harsh, and impatient people, let us always reflect the loving nature of our gracious God.

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This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.
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Weekly Devotional: Gems From Pastor Jim 5/9/2022

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by Jim Hughes

CrossMatt. 20:26-28 “But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to first must become your slave. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.”

How many servant-leaders do you know? Servant-leaders are people who are not afraid to get their hands dirty doing the things that need to be done with cheerfulness of heart. We live in a culture where it seems far too many of our spiritual leaders are content to sit in their pastoral roles and let others do all the manual labors and the serving of others. We pay our pastors and staff a lot of money and tell them not to worry about the busyness of church life. But, is this something we should be doing?

Having been a pastor for over 40 years of my life, I know how important it is for pastors to have time to study and meditate on the Word. I know the demands on his time to prepare and minister to those in need. However, I believe we do the people of the church a disservice when we deny pastors the opportunity to get dirty hands; we deny the people of the church and community the opportunity to see them serve. Leaders who don’t know how to serve can’t adequately teach his people how to serve.

If you are a leader in the church, lead by example. It is easy to delegate responsibility and retreat into our ivory towers. It is easy to hide behind the veil of meditative study. It is much harder to balance the time in the study with time in the trenches.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to walk in on your pastor sometime and catch him on his knees—cleaning the toilet? I, for one, want to follow such a leader.

About the Author:

Jim Hughes

Spending his formative years in Ft. Wayne, IN, Jim followed the love of his life to southeast Iowa where they married and have spent the majority of their lives. Jim has pastored several churches throughout his life and has worked many years in local factories to help support his family. The father of two married adult children and one son still at home, Jim is a first-time author.

C Through Marriage came into being through many years of pastoral and life experiences. The book first took on a life of its own over 20 years ago when I sought to address the much publicized moral failures of prominent leaders in the church. In the chapter on Chasity, I include the guideliness that I developed then to protect one’s self from such failures.

I am a firm believer in order to make sense out of life you have to use much common sense. We need to get back to the basics of what has worked for many, many generations. If is isn’t broke, why try to fix it? I strive to return to the basics of what really works in all my writings.

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This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.
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Verse of the Day and Devotional 5/5/2022

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Verse of the Day May 5th, 2022

Scripture

And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. – Isaiah 37:31 ESV

Devotion

What am I taking root in right now? Have you thought about that question recently? Where am I putting my roots and what fruit do I hope to produce?

The book of Isaiah contains a prophecy about the returning exiles taking root once again and bearing fruit. They were uprooted from their land and led into captivity, yet the Lord gives a promise through the prophet Isaiah that a remnant of people will once again take root and bear fruit. God is faithful and always seeks to establish a people rooted in His love to bear fruit for His glory.

Has the Lord allowed you to be uprooted from your normal daily life because of the global pandemic, natural disasters, or social/political unrest? It is so easy to allow these events to drive us to the constant media that is available at our fingertips. However, the fruit of being constantly connected to news sources tends to be anxiety, despair, or confusion. It is also easy to take root in isolating from everything and everyone which could lead to the fruits of depression, loneliness, and hopelessness.

Root systems can develop quickly. The weed that appears in garden seems to pop up overnight. A gardener needs to stay on top of the garden pulling weeds frequently before they take deeper root and choke out the good fruit. John 15 says that Jesus is the true vine and God is the gardener who cuts off every branch that does not bear fruit. He watches over us and cares for us diligently.Since He is such a faithful and merciful Father, this may be a great time to invite Him to search our hearts and reveal some of the roots we may not be able to see. Psalm 139:23-24 offers a great prayer to invite God to examine our heart:

God, examine me and know my mind.
Test me and know all my worries.
Make sure that I am not going the wrong way.
Lead me on the path that has always been right.

God desires that we take root in Him. John 15 also says that He chose us and appointed us to bear fruit—real fruit that will last. Now is the time to get rooted in Christ, rooted in the Word of God, and rooted in His body, the Church. As the Lord reveals areas of our heart that may have a faulty root system, confess and renounce them. Then seek prayer and support to lay new roots in Him. Allow those roots to sink deeply into His truth, love, and mercy through worship, prayer, and fellowship with other believers. This will help us to be rooted and grounded in His love, producing the fruit of the Spirit for a world in need.

By Scott Stevens, Bible League International staff, Illinois, U.S.

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Weekly Devotional: Gems From Pastor Jim 5/2/2022

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by Jim Hughes

CrossMatt. 19:25-26 The disciples were astounded. “Then who in the world can be saved?” they asked. Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”

Jesus had just dealt with a very rich man who had come to Him wanting to know how to be saved. He was a good and devout man. He thought he had all his bases covered, but he wanted Jesus’ affirmation. Jesus told him the only thing he lacked was to sell his possessions and then to follow Him. The price was just too steep. He left Jesus dejected. His riches just meant too much to him. The disciples were caught off guard. Jesus made a statement that they did not understand. He told them how hard, impossible, it was for rich people to be saved. Mystified, they then asked the Lord who in the world could then be saved. Jesus’ response put things in their proper perspective; only God can save a soul. There is nothing man can do to save himself.

Jesus did not come to help us help ourselves to be saved. He came to be our Savior. Without Christ in their heart, no one will make it to heaven. All the money, fame, friendships, or good works will not save the soul. Anyone who thinks he can make it to heaven without repentance is believing a lie straight from hell.

It is not impossible for God to save anyone. Whoever humbles himself before God, confesses their sins, asks for forgiveness, and accepts Jesus as their Savior and Lord will be saved. God does not exclude anyone from the reach of His saving grace. He longs for all to be saved and will not turn anyone away who sincerely seeks Him.

About the Author:

Jim Hughes

Spending his formative years in Ft. Wayne, IN, Jim followed the love of his life to southeast Iowa where they married and have spent the majority of their lives. Jim has pastored several churches throughout his life and has worked many years in local factories to help support his family. The father of two married adult children and one son still at home, Jim is a first-time author.

C Through Marriage came into being through many years of pastoral and life experiences. The book first took on a life of its own over 20 years ago when I sought to address the much publicized moral failures of prominent leaders in the church. In the chapter on Chasity, I include the guideliness that I developed then to protect one’s self from such failures.

I am a firm believer in order to make sense out of life you have to use much common sense. We need to get back to the basics of what has worked for many, many generations. If is isn’t broke, why try to fix it? I strive to return to the basics of what really works in all my writings.

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This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.
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Verse of the Day and Devotional 4/28/2022

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Verse of the Day

April 28th, 2022

Scripture

Simon Peter replied. “Lord, to whom would we go? You alone have the words that give eternal life.” – John 6:68 NLT

Devotion

Peter was a pillar of the early church. Strong, bold, zealous, devoted, courageous, generous, a gifted leader, loyal, and full of warmth of heart. He was also rash, impulsive, at times disrespectful, and selfish. George H. Morrison says of Peter, “One recognizes the slumbering greatness of him, but one also feels the boundless possibilities of evil. But Jesus handles him and plays upon him as a master musician might play on his loved instrument, till the chords are wakened into such a glorious music that the centuries are ringing with it still.”

Peter’s life with Christ and his faith gives hope to all. It can be summed up in John 6:68. The scene follows the feeding of the 5,000, such a great a miracle the people practically demanded Jesus set up His kingdom right then and there. But the Lord’s time had not come yet. Instead, He taught on a suffering Messiah rather than a conquering Messiah and the discourse on the “bread of life” which was truth the people were not willing to receive. So the crowd of some 10-15,000 (including women and children) turned away from Christ. Jesus turned to Peter, James, Andrew, Phillip, and the rest of the disciples and asks, “Will you go away as well?” In our verse for today, Peter’s soaring testimony of faith cries out, “Lord, to whom would we go? You alone have the words that give eternal life.”

Hope and comfort in this life are not found in places or world kingdoms and ways, but in the One who gave us the Word of eternal life. It is easy to say one follows Christ when times are good, when there is plenty of fish and bread and merriment. However, real faith is on display when one runs to Christ when the going is tough.

When we lose a job or struggle to make ends meet. When a marriage is falling apart, or we are in despair over a prodigal child. When facing unexpected illness or death of a loved one. To whom shall you go? To whom shall we go when the Word of God challenges our hearts as we struggle with pride or self? To whom shall we go when persecution and spiritual warfare is unrelenting?

The only answer is Jesus. Only Jesus has the true words that provide hope and comfort that God designed us to receive. Peter’s profound yet simple declaration reminds us that nothing in the world has the true answers. Nothing of the world can help us in our divine process of faith. Nothing in this world provides the answers to eternity. Jesus is the Word who was with God from the beginning of it all. He is God, and all things were created through Him. In Him is life, and the Word became life and dwelt among us (John 1:1-4, 14). Jesus is the way, the truth, the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). Only Jesus is the true answer.

Peter is one who is so fabulous in his faith as well as his flaws. He would make many missteps in his walk with the Lord, including denying Jesus three times before the rooster crowed (John 18:25-27). Peter ran away in shame in that moment, but he never turned his heart away from Jesus. And the Word of eternal life was always there for Peter. The angel at the tomb said to the women, “Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee” (Mark 16:7). Paul tells us it was Peter whom Jesus first appeared to after the resurrection. And in John 21, our Lord’s words restored Peter and his ministry as a fisher of souls.

Jesus was Peter’s Savior, his mentor, and his friend. Peter’s faith forged and tempered by the eternal words of love and grace he would faithfully share to his end. Church tradition tells us Peter was forced to watch his wife be crucified but shouting, Church tradition tells us Peter was forced to watch his wife be crucified. Historians say he shouted as she died, encouraging her to remember the Lord. When it came time for his death, church tradition says Peter asked his persecutors to crucify him upside down, as he didn’t feel worthy to die as did his Lord.

To whom shall you go friend? Peter represents the hope and comfort we all can have in Jesus Christ, no matter our circumstance. Run to the loving arms of Jesus who alone has words of eternal life and you shall have victory! He and He alone is the Shepard and Overseer of our souls (1 Peter 2:25).

By Pastor David Massie, Bible League International Staff, California, U.S.

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This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.
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Weekly Devotional: Gems From Pastor Jim 4/25/2022

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by Jim Hughes

CrossMatt. 18:21-22 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No!” Jesus replied, “seventy times seven!”

We think we do so well at practicing our faith. We listen to what our Lord says and strive to obey Him. We know that we don’t always get it right, but we do alright. We do better than many people we know. We must be a sweet aroma to God, right? Not necessarily. Jesus told Peter that what he thought was enough was not nearly good enough in God’s eyes. The problem wasn’t in Peter’s efforts, it was in his heart. What Jesus wanted Peter to understand is that the motives of the heart are the key to pleasing God.

Peter thought he was really being noble by suggesting that maybe they should forgive someone seven times, for the law only required one time. The law was more about justice and not forgiveness. Therefore, when Jesus suggested seven times as much as Peter did, He was pointing to a much deeper and better way to live. Jesus’ way is a way of grace instead of meting out justice. God will take care of the justice part; we are to act graciously towards one another.

If we are trying to keep score and noting how well we are doing, we are missing the point. If the heart is right we will always do what is right before God with no regard for how many times we have done it, even if it is thousands of times. There is no such thing as resting on our laurels or stopping our obedience to God. His life is our way of life. It is who we are and to not live like Christ wants us to live is out character for us and should be unnatural. If we want to please God we will always strive to do what is right before God. Period.

About the Author:

Jim Hughes

Spending his formative years in Ft. Wayne, IN, Jim followed the love of his life to southeast Iowa where they married and have spent the majority of their lives. Jim has pastored several churches throughout his life and has worked many years in local factories to help support his family. The father of two married adult children and one son still at home, Jim is a first-time author.

C Through Marriage came into being through many years of pastoral and life experiences. The book first took on a life of its own over 20 years ago when I sought to address the much publicized moral failures of prominent leaders in the church. In the chapter on Chasity, I include the guideliness that I developed then to protect one’s self from such failures.

I am a firm believer in order to make sense out of life you have to use much common sense. We need to get back to the basics of what has worked for many, many generations. If is isn’t broke, why try to fix it? I strive to return to the basics of what really works in all my writings.

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This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.
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Verse of the Day and Devotional 4/21/2022

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Verse of the Day

April 21st, 2022

Scripture

“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – Mark 14:38 NKJV

Devotion

Our verse for today is part of what Jesus said to Simon Peter and the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before He was to be crucified. Jesus knew what was going to happen later in the evening. He knew that Peter and the disciples would be tempted by fear to abandon Him and to deny Him. In order to help them, Jesus told them what they should do. They should “Watch and pray.”

Jesus knew that the spirits of the disciples were willing. He knew that in their heart of hearts they were willing to stay with Him and pray with Him in His time of need. However, He also knew that the flesh of the disciples was weak. He knew that as bodily beings they were given to sleep and drowsiness at that late hour. He knew there would be a struggle between the sincere intentions of the spirit and the weakness of the flesh.

It is interesting to note that Jesus Himself won the battle between spirit and flesh. He had stayed awake and prayed. And when the temptation came later that night and the next day to abandon His mission on earth, He succeeded in pressing through to the end. The disciples, on the other hand, lost the battle between spirit and flesh. They fell asleep and did not pray. And when the temptation came to abandon Jesus, they did abandon Him. Peter even denied Him three times.

What does it mean to watch and pray? The word translated as “watch” refers to the alertness required of a guard at night. Jesus was telling the disciples to watch for any attacks of the enemy. If the disciples did not remain spiritually alert and if they did not pray for help just as Jesus prayed, then they would be vulnerable to the temptations the enemy would use to attack them.

Jesus’ admonition to watch and pray is a word for all Christians for all time. The enemy is still out there attacking us with every weapon he has at his disposal. Watch and pray, like Jesus said. Stay alert, stand guard, and keep watch for the attacks of the enemy. And pray for the help of the Lord to withstand them and to overcome them.

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This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.
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