Grace

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.”

Isaiah 53:5 NIV

It is because of God’s grace that the battle has already been won…we are forgiven…we are healed…we are saved by Grace.  Nothing can separate us from Him who loves us.  Praise Him for Amazing Grace.  Amen.

Amazing Grace by Chris Tomlin

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“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

(This photo was taken in June of 2013 in Rocky Mountian National Park)

Guard Your Heart

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

We all face trials and struggles.  The one thing we can control during these times and situations is how we choose to respond.  Many of us quickly try to gain control and take charge, determined not to let the situation get the best of us…others do an about face and get away from the situation as quickly as they can.  All of us can do better if we start with bringing the situation, the difficult time or difficult relationship to God first.  We need to stop waiting and trying to do things our own way…going into battle against darkness and evil without God is like a soldier heading into a battle without any weapon.  The more we turn towards God first, the more likely we will find peace and be able to overcome the troubles of life.  Amen.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33 NIV

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“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

(This photo was taken in March of 2013 at the Botanical Gardens in the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada)

One Hope

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

Ephesians 4:1-6 NIV

Even when you feel surrounded by darkness and evil…we can find hope when we turn towards God and His Word and His Son.  We can find hope when we remember that after the brutal and tragic death of Jesus…God raised Him to life.  We can have hope because of what God has done and is doing in our lives.  It is up to us to seek Him.

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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 15:13 NIV

(This photo was taken in March of 2018 while traveling in southern New Mexico)

Character

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Colossians 3:12-14 NIV

Living life by faith is about who we are more than what we do.  Our behaviors, how we treat others and our interactions with others say more about us than our job or career path.  The world honors worldly things like wealth, awards, job titles and other self-oriented pursuits…these things are not considered to be wrong or bad…the issue is these things have become more important than God.  When self-satisfaction is more important than our relationship with God, we are going off course…to be clear we are all guilty of this sin, it is human nature in a fallen world.  The first step in repentance is awareness of the behavior and the next step is confessing to God and seeking to turn away from our sins, with God’s help.  As humans we all suffer from the same types of trouble…how we choose to respond is up to us.  May the peace of the Lord be with you. Amen.

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Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Romans 5:3-5 NIV

(This photo was taken in October of 2018 at a lake near Plymouth, Minnesota)

Seek First His Kingdom

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matthew 6:33 NIV

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.”

James 4:7-8 NIV

The most important part of our lives is our faith…put and keep first things first.  When we put our trust in Him first and not as a last resort our faith will grow and our path will be clear.  Choose to believe and put your relationship with the Lord first in your life.

We Believe by Newsboys

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For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

John 3:16-17 NIV

(This photo was taken in July of 2019 at a lake near Plymouth, Minnesota)

God Is Our Strength

Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV

What is on your heart and mind?  What is it that drains your energy?  What worry, concern or circumstance is all consuming in your life?  Bring it to God.  Open up your communication with the Lord…tell Him what it is…talk to Him about it.  Put your trust in Him for every aspect of your life…He is with you and He is for you…even though you have tried to go your own way.  Read God’s Word and seek Him…for He is our strength.  Amen.

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The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?”

Psalm 27:1 NIV

(This photo was taken in August of 2021 at a lake in northwestern Wisconsin)

We Have This Hope

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28 NIV

“‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Revelation 21:4 NIV

Why should we have hope?  Because the God of the universe, our Creator, loves us and He wants good things for us.  How do we know?  Because He sent His Son as a sacrifice to do for us that which we cannot do on our own…save us from our sinful ways.  From the greatest tragedy, Jesus Christ death on the Cross, God brought about the greatest triumph, the resurrection of our Savior.  No matter what has happened, no matter where you are…whatever you have done or left undone…there is hope because of God’s love for you and because He wants good things for you.  Turn towards the Lord, He can make all things new.  Amen.

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Let us hold firmly to the hope we claim to have. The God who promised is faithful. 24 Let us consider how we can stir up one another to love. Let us help one another to do good works. 25 And let us not give up meeting together. Some are in the habit of doing this. Instead, let us encourage one another with words of hope. Let us do this even more as you see Christ’s return approaching.”

Hebrews 10:23-25 NIRV

(This photo was taken in June of 2018 at a lake near Plymouth, Minnesota)

What Is Faith?

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Hebrews 11:1 NIV

Belief…trust…hope.  Faith is about our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Learning about Him and what He teaches us in God’s Word…that feeds our faith.  If we choose to not exercise our faith muscle it will become shriveled and weak.  We will be spiritually dead.  The Good News is we have hope because of the death and resurrection of Jesus…He is alive, He is with you and He loves you.  Build up your faith, it will impact every area of your life when you put your trust in Jesus.  Amen.

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But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Ephesians 2:4-9 NIV

(This photo was taken in March of 2018 in White Sands National Park in New Mexico)

Hope From God

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV

He gave us the greatest sacrifice to save us.  He did it for love.  God has promised to always be with you and God never breaks His promises.  Jesus Christ died to save all of us and He has risen from the dead and it is because of His sacrifice and His resurrection that we have hope.  Amen.

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Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV

(This photo was taken in July of 2016 in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming)

The Spirit Of God

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

John 4:24 NIV

“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

John 14:26-27 NIV

Holy Spirit By Francesca Battistelli

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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 15:13 NIV

(This photo was taken in July of 2018 while on a walk in a neighborhood near Plymouth, Minnesota)