Grateful Prayer Brings Peace

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace.” Philippians 4:6-7

It’s not easy to stop worrying about the often-scary, everyday parts of our lives, but God tells us how to do it: “Pray about everything . . . thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6). Grateful prayer brings peace. God says that when you start to worry, stop to pray.

Parents understand the power of gratitude. Most parents wouldn’t appreciate their children always making requests without saying “thank you” for what they’ve already received. God sees it the same way. He wants us to ask him for what we need and want. More than 20 times in the New Testament, we’re told to “ask” him. But he wants us to ask with gratefulness.

The Bible urges us to be specific in our requests—and our praises. Instead of a simple “thank you for everything,” he wants us to tell him what we’re grateful for. When I say to my wife, “I’m so grateful for you,” she tells me to be specific. She likes to hear what I appreciate about her and what I’m grateful for about her.

God wants to hear the same things. So when you pray, tell God what you’re thankful for. Prayer is one of the most important ways we tell God “thank you.”

Thanking God in advance is a big step of faith. The Bible says that when we have the faith to thank God ahead of time for an answer to our prayers, miracles happen. The more thankful we are, the more God works in our lives.

The Bible says that God inhabits the praise of his people. He empowers and uses our thanksgiving as an instrument of power in our lives.

Don’t Just Hope You’ll Go To Heaven

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:11-12

If you asked people if they are going to heaven or hell, many of them will likely say, “I hope I’ll go to heaven.”

But hope just isn’t good enough. I pray that’s not your answer. Your eternal destiny is too important not to know for sure.

It’s foolish to be unprepared for what we all know is inevitable: death. The most recent statistics show that mortality rates in the world remain 100 percent!

You’re not guaranteed another minute on this planet, much less another hour. Don’t put off the most important choice you’ll ever make.

The Bible says in 1 John 5:11-12, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life”.

That’s about as clear as you can get. If you have Jesus, you have life. If you don’t have Jesus, you do not have life. You have a choice.

You won’t go to heaven because of someone else’s faith. And, at the same time, you’ll never go to hell because of someone else’s choice.

It’s your choice! You decide where you’ll spend eternity.

This’s why Christmas and Easter are so important. If Jesus hadn’t come at Christmas, and then if he hadn’t died and come back to life on Easter, we’d be in a hopeless situation. Nothing we do would matter. You wouldn’t have this choice.

The cross is the answer to our deepest problem: our separation from God.

The Bible says, “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14).

Can I Be Sure I’ll Go To Heaven

Those who hear my words and believe in him who sent me have eternal life. They will not be judged.” John 5:24

Jesus’ death and Resurrection release us from judgment.

You may imagine a day of judgment where you’re standing outside the gates of heaven in a really long line, and you’re slowly moving forward, one step at a time. As you get closer, you start to sweat and wonder, “Am I going to get in? Am I going to make it? Is God going to use a giant TV screen to show every foolish or wrong thing I’ve ever done? Will my every sin be exposed?”

I have Good News for you; it’s the promise of Jesus Christ. The Bible says in John 3:18 that those who believe in Jesus—his death and Resurrection—will not be judged.

Here’s the real picture: You’re standing in line waiting for the judgment. Jesus sees you and says, “I know you. We’ve been friends for years. You put your trust in me one year during Easter. Come with me. Get in the express lane. You get the fast track. You get to bypass the judgment.” Is that good news? Oh, yeah!

God is erasing, erasing, erasing all the time. Forgiving, forgiving, forgiving all the time. He’s sitting in heaven, hitting the “delete” button.

Why? Because the Bible says “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and love “keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5). If you put your trust in the love of Jesus Christ, your sins are wiped out.

“There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

God Designed Us For More Than This Earth

We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

God created us to live in heaven with him for eternity. Heaven is our home, not Earth. That’s why we sometimes experience discontentment and dissatisfaction in life. We’re not completely happy here because we’re not supposed to be! Otherwise, we might think we can live without God. He created us to long for something much better—a home in heaven with him.

A fish would never be happy living on land, because it was made for water. An eagle could never feel satisfied if it wasn’t allowed to fly. You will never feel completely satisfied on Earth because you were made for more. You will have happy moments here, but nothing compared to what God has planned for you.

This is also why some of God’s promises seem unfulfilled, some prayers seem unanswered, and some circumstances seem unfair. But this is not the end of the story.

Realizing that life on Earth is just temporary should radically alter your values. Eternal values should influence all your decisions. As C.S. Lewis observed, “All that is not eternal is eternally useless.”

The Bible tells us to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Don’t Let Limitations Limit Your Vision

The king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval . . . So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen.” Esther 2:17

God will not only use your gifts to fulfill your destiny, but he’ll also use your limitations.

Let’s look at Esther again. She had several big limitations that made her perfect for the role God wanted her to fulfill. She was an orphan adopted by Mordecai; she was a minority, a Jew living in a Persian country; and she was a single woman. A single woman in a male-dominated society had zero rights.

But God used all of these things to help her fulfill her destiny.

Sometimes what looks like a disaster in your life is part of a much bigger plan.

Esther could have just said, “If only I hadn’t been chosen . . . If only I had a better education . . . If only I was more like someone else.” A lot of people do that. They live their lives in resentment, always looking at people and saying, “Well it must be nice to be them.”

If you have that attitude, you will never fulfill your destiny. You have to realize that the unpleasant obstacles in your life are often God-ordained opportunities to make a difference.

It’s hard to see that when you’re feeling pain.

Look at Job. He was the wealthiest man in the world, and then God allowed everything to be taken from him— his family, wealth, and health.

Then, when Job started questioning God, God was silent.

Job said, “I do not see him in the north, for he is hidden. I look to the south, but he is concealed. But he knows where I am going . . . Once he has made his decision, who can change his mind? Whatever he wants to do, he does. So he will do to me whatever he has planned. He controls my destiny” (Job 23:9-10, 13-14).

We’re living in uncertain times, and you may not be able to figure everything out. But God knows what’s going on. The pleasures and pains, the opportunities and obstacles—God can use it all.

The Connection Between Purpose And Prayer

I know what I am planning for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you a hope and a good future. Then you will call my name. You will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you.’” Jeremiah 29:11-12

God is good, so by nature, he cannot do bad things. Everything he does is good. And, because he is good, God’s plans for your life will always be good.

God didn’t have to create a plan for your life. He could have just let you be born and wander around aimlessly.

But God made you with a purpose. He gave you a plan for your life.

Jeremiah 29:11-12 says, “‘I know what I am planning for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you a hope and a good future. Then you will call my name. You will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you’”

Do you see the connection between prayer and God’s plans for your life? They are revealed and realized through prayer.

The more you pray, the more you’re going to understand God’s plan. When you pray to him, he promises to listen, answer, and reveal more of himself to you.

You Will Never Face The Future Alone

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:2

This is a stressful and unsettled time. And you may feel like you’re going through it alone.

But you’re not alone! God sees what you’re going through. God cares about what you’re going through. He’s right beside you, no matter the situation or circumstances you may be facing.

There is nothing to fear when you know God is near. No matter what you face in the future, you will never face it alone. Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you”.

Satan will plant all kinds of seeds of doubt and fear in your mind like, “What if I get sick?” or “What if the economy tanks?” or “What if I lose my job?” And, you will undoubtably face anxiety from other sources too.

Give those fears to Jesus and remember God promised to never abandon you. You don’t have to know what the future holds because you know who holds the future. God promises, “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you . . . ” (Isaiah 43:2).

Focus On What’s Unseen

Things that are seen don’t last forever, but things that are not seen are eternal. That’s why we keep our minds on the things that cannot be seen.” 2 Corinthians 4:18

Everything you see around you is temporary. It’s what you can’t see that will last forever.

And those realities are what truly matter.

The truth is, spiritual realities are more real than physical ones. We need to focus on the spiritual ones—what’s really real. There are five spiritual realities all of us need to take to heart.

  • God made you to love you (see Jeremiah 31:3). God created you to love you, and he wants you to learn to love him back. This is the most important reality of life.
  • You were made to last forever (see Ecclesiastes 3:11). The evangelist Billy Graham talked about death this way: “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now. I will just have changed my address. I will have gone into the presence of God.” He is in the presence of God now.
  • God has prepared two eternal places. Both heaven and hell are real, literal places. They’re not just “states of being.”
  • You get to choose where you’ll spend eternity. You won’t accidentally find yourself in hell one day. You’ll be there because of a choice you made. If you choose to make Jesus the boss of your life, you’ll spend eternity with him in heaven. If you choose to reject him, you’ll spend forever in hell. There is no middle option.
  • You get no second chances to make your choice. Your choice has a time limit. You have your entire life to make the decision, but you can’t change your mind after death.

What you do with these five truths will not only affect your eternal destiny, it will also transform how you live on this side of eternity.

We live in uncertain times, so if you haven’t already made the choice for Jesus, don’t hesitate from doing so today.

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 believe that you are God, my Savior. I receive you into my life as my Lord. Today, I’m turning over every part of my life to your management. You have the right to call the shots in my life.

“Jesus, I want to relax in your love. Thank you that I don’t have to earn it, deserve it, or work for it. I want to use the rest of my life to serve you instead of serving myself. I humbly commit my life to you, and I ask you to save me and accept me into your family. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

Three Realities About Heaven

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.” Colossians 3:1

We have many misconceptions about what heaven is like. You won’t be an angel. You won’t have wings. You’re not going to be a little chubby cherub, wear a white robe, or float on clouds.

We need a correct view of heaven. The Bible says in Colossians 3:1, “Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand”

So what does the Bible say about these “realities of heaven”?

1. Heaven is where God lives and rules. The Bible calls heaven “the dwelling place of God,” “the house of God,” and “the city of God.” It’s where God lives, but Jesus also calls heaven “the Kingdom of God” or “the Kingdom of Heaven” 31 times in Scripture.

2. Heaven is a real place. Heaven isn’t a state of mind. It isn’t a state of being. And it isn’t a place where your essence floats around like a ghost. In fact, the Bible says there will be streets, trees, water, and homes in heaven. Many Scriptures allude to the fact that animals are there. We’ll have our physical bodies, renewed through our resurrection. Matthew 6:20 says we’re storing up treasures in heaven. You can’t store up treasures in a place that isn’t real.

3. Heaven is designed for you and me. God didn’t design heaven for himself. He designed it for us. When God started thinking about earth, he started thinking about heaven. The Bible says God made the entire universe because he wanted a family to spend eternity with. Heaven is the place he’s designed for his family. We weren’t meant to live on earth. You and I were made for heaven!

When it comes to heaven, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). The realities of heaven far exceed any of our misconceptions!

Why You Need Help To Overcome Temptation

Two are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Is there a temptation you keep stumbling with over and over again? Maybe it’s related to jealousy, worry, lust, gossip, gluttony, or the overuse of electronics and social media. Whatever it is, you won’t have victory over a persistent temptation if you try to overcome it by yourself.

Who’s helping you fight temptation? While you’re spending more time alone during the pandemic, who’s checking up on you? Who have you invited to help you grow spiritually? Who do you allow to ask you the tough questions? Who are you checking up on?

The Bible says, “Two are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

You don’t have to tell everybody about the temptations you struggle with, but you do need to tell somebody. That person can support you and help you overcome your struggles.

When someone says, “I’ve never told this to anybody before . . . ” be quick to listen and pay attention because it may mean they are taking the first step toward freedom. Remember this: Revealing your feeling is the beginning of healing. Talking about your temptations is the way you overcome them.

How serious are you about changing? Wouldn’t you like to come out of the pandemic with a stronger faith, having overcome a persistent temptation? Why not reach out to a friend, who can help you be accountable. You can connect through text, direct message, video chat, or even a good, old-fashioned phone call.

There are some bad habits in your life you’re just not going to get over until you get support from a committed friend. Find that person, and then be that person for someone else.

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