Language of 2021

Could you imagine just 12 months ago that some of the words so commonplace today would commandeer so much of our daily conversation?

As a child of the 80’s when someone made the comment, “they tested positive”, it held an entirely different meaning. You may have a preconceived idea, HIV, Ebola, Bird Flu, but inevitably you’d ask, “positive for what?” However, in January of 2021 you wouldn’t have to ask that question because the answer is so well known.

Terms like, testing positive, shelter in place, virtual classroom, socially distanced, lockdown, quarantine, and vaccine, all bring to mind very similar meaning and images. We don’t really need to ask what anyone means when these words are mentioned because the entire planet is embroiled in a global pandemic. We’re all facing similar challenges, though in varying degrees. Can you imagine any time in world history where the entire human population had so much in common? Unfortunately, it seems, in this unprecedented time of commonality we are more divided than ever.

I’ve struggled this year with the disconnection between what we are capable of doing when we work together and what we are capable of doing when we’re driven by our differences. On the one hand we show extravagant generosity by reaching out and supporting one another in unprecedented ways and numbers. Demonstrating our ability to love, support, uplift, and help one another. On the other hand, we continue to demean, divide, and devise ways to debase, and destroy those who think differently than we do. People we don’t even know become our enemies because of something we read, or heard, or saw on the internet or TV. How can we be at once so capable of love and at the same time capable of such hatred?

We read in scripture that when we build our lives on the truth of Jesus, “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27

When we choose to build our lives, live our lives on the foundation of Jesus Christ, our hearts full of love can change the world. When we choose to build our lives and live our lives on a foundation created by this world, created by our own hearts and hands, it will come crashing down around our ears. We’ve all witnessed it this year.

Right now, our commonality is based on a common enemy. That enemy is not other people, it’s an infection. Our common enemy is not a politician, political party, or policy, it’s an infection. Instead of fighting over who is right or wrong and creating greater division amongst people who are equally affected, lets decide that we are not each other’s enemy and allow God to work in our lives through these trying times.

Let’s decide to make our common language with words and actions guided by the Holy Spirit, not by words derived from this world.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” Galatians 5:19-26

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, if these were to become the words that we all have in common and all understand, without question or confusion, what would our world be like? What could we accomplish, what would our conversations be? Even during a global pandemic our world be a better place than it is now because we’d work together as a united family to overcome and grow through the trials placed before us. No longer as enemies, but as friends and beloved family.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.  Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Romans 8:31-35

Let God surprise and bless you in this new year as we walk in the path He created for us!

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!

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come back and visit at ListenLearn.Live Ministries

Easy and hard, we have it backwards

I was having a conversation the other day with a friend who was facing a dilemma. She knows the right decision to make, she knows the wrong decision to make. She knows the wrong decision is going to cause long term pain and suffering while providing immediate satisfaction. This is not an uncommon conversation, someone comes to you, wanting your support for a decision they know they shouldn’t make, but they give 101 reasons why it will make them happier…in the short term.

What struck me was the comment she made, it’s one we’ve all heard, and I’m sure agreed with, for the most part. She said, “Why is choosing the right path always so hard?” The right decision is always the hard decision, the decision that is going to require sacrifice or cause pain. The wrong decision is the easy decision, the one that brings the most immediate satisfaction.

As I thought about this on my way home after the conversation, I think we have this concept of right being hard and painful and wrong being easy and satisfactory, backwards. We believe that to do right we have to suffer and to do wrong we are indulging our fleshly passions. First when I state right and wrong, I’m talking about sin; specifically, when we are faced with choices to love God first, and then others as ourselves, or the choice to place our fleshly wants and needs above loving God first and others as ourselves. When you think about it, those are the only choices that really matter.

We have a mindset, and we share it with others, that to love God first and others as ourselves (that is a very important statement found in Matthew 22:36-40) means we must suffer, it will be a grueling decision that will cause short term pain and maybe long-term gain. I want you to listen to Jesus own words, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus tells us that he is humble, we’ll find rest in him and that his burden is light. The reason that we struggle with the right decision (love God first and then others as ourselves) is that we are constantly battling with the world. We are constantly at war with what our sinful nature wants, not what the Holy Spirit in us wants. The battle is self-inflicted. When we chose God, when we chose love then as long as we stand with those choices and don’t stray from that path the choice to love is easy.

“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11

“The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” Proverbs 4:18

“Feet trample it down— the feet of the oppressed, the footsteps of the poor.  The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth. Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” Isaiah 26:6-8

When we follow the path that Jesus has laid out for us; Love God first and others as ourselves, our life, our choices will be dictated by love. The only pain or loss we’ll feel is that of the world, and the more we chose life over death the less we’ll feel that sting.

Doing what is right means we are giving up on the things of this world that lead us to death. Choosing right, then, should be the easy decision. Living for immediate gratification from things of this world that are temporary and will disappear, only leads to wanting more things of this world for immediate gratification from things of this world that are temporary and will fade away. This choice is a vicious cycle of insatiable want that will never end and leads to death. The pain in that cycle is eternal dissatisfaction with who we are, what we have, and how to get more, because it will never be enough.

The simplest way I can state this; love is the easy decision. Loving God first and others as ourselves is the only thing that can satisfy our souls. Truly satisfy, as in we will not want anything else. The hard decision, the one that brings unending pain and suffering is the one that seems to bring immediate satisfaction, but it soon fades and leads to greater and greater need for more to fill the never-ending gaping hole in our lives.

The choice, then, is easy; eternal life by loving God first then others as ourselves. When we are truly satisfied by Christ and that abundant blessing is overflowing from us to others, even when the storms of live are brewing around us, and circumstances are trying to make us forget that we have everything, we can stand firm knowing that the storm will pass, and we will be with Christ victorious. Storms subside, always. Trials cease, always. Christ’s love, forgiveness, peace, patience, kindness, and grace are boundless, unceasing, and eternal.

The hard choice is the one we make that keeps us in bondage to the world of suffering, pain, loss, and confusion, that always leads to death. The easy choice is Christ, that always leads to life.

Pease help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!

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come back and visit at ListenLearn.Live Ministries

Horizontal snow in the desert

God is working in the world today, people who say he is not, well I think they either need to redefine what they believe to be God’s work ,or they need to open their eyes.

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20

In my short time in this life, I’ve begun to notice a pattern in how God works. No, I can’t predict the future or claim to fully know the mind of God. However, I have observed how he interacts with his creation and through my own life, and how that is mirrored in scripture.

God moves. He does not sit back waiting for all his plans to fall into place. He has made plans, and they will be fulfilled. However, we have the freedom to choose how we participate in those plans. The Holy Spirit is working every moment, every day, in every heart to bring about this purpose, which is that everyone be saved and reconciled to him. I want to point out that the battle for our salvation has already been won, Jesus dealt the decisive, irrevocable blow.

God’s plan is not a plan of defeating the enemy, that he’s already done that. His plan is ensuring your victory. The enemy knows he’s lost the war, his goal is to continue fighting and to steal victory away from as many people as he can. He wants to take you out before you realize what Jesus did for you and you welcome him in.

God moves – – toward us. Throughout the scriptures and the history of mankind, no on has ever moved toward God on their own. There is a great song out right now by Casting Crowns called “Love Moved First“, the chorus reads;

You didn’t wait for me to find my way to You,
I couldn’t cross that distance even if I wanted to.
You came running after me,
When anybody else would’ve turned and left me at my worst,
Love moved first.

The Apostle Paul reminds us, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. God didn’t wait for us to turn to him, He moved toward us first, out of his love for each one of us he made a way. From the very beginning God has made himself known to his people. He walked in the Garden with Adam and Eve, he spoke with Cain and Able, Noah, and Abraham, with each subsequent generation our ability to hear him became less and less until only those deemed righteous by God  could hear him speak. Our ability to hear and see God working in the world and in our lives is directly related to how we are living.

God through the power of the Holy Spirit, is always speaking, always working, always moving, if you say you can’t see, hear, or feel his movement in your life, perhaps you need to take a good hard look at your life, your heart, your choices. The seed of God’s Spirit can’t grow in bitter, selfish, greedy and prideful soil. Those weeds that are growing and being cultivated in your life leave no room for anything else. If you are living for yourself, there is no room for God. When we live to gratify our own wants, there is no room for the Spirit of God to work in our lives, Galatians 5: 13-26. The good news is that God only needs space to plant a tiny seed. We don’t have to clear the garden on our own, we need to invite hi in and he’ll take care of the rest.

RSVP – – Respondez sil vous plait means to please respond, or to require confirmation of an invitation. The Holy Spirit is always inviting us to a relationship with God. He is always active and moving, even when it doesn’t seem that way. He moves – – toward us – – what is our response. God’s invitation is ‘open ended’ (having no determined limit or boundary). Even if we turn our back on him, he will still pursue, his invitation stands. Our response, turn toward, turn away, choose to do nothing at all, is what’s required. And choosing not to choose is a choice, not to turn toward God.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” Revelation 3:15-17

God’s invitation, though infinite in patience is imperative in nature. He requires a response, one way or the other.

“It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.” Romans 14:10-12

Every knee will bow and tongue confess he is Lord. Whether they bow in joyful, reverence to their Sovereign Lord or confess that they were wrong, in that moment all will know He Is Lord. The imperative nature of the invitation is that we don’t know when the moment will come, when we’ll face our Creator. Our decision to believe, not believe, or delay, doesn’t change God.  He is, and we will meet him face to face – our choice has no impact on his existence.

Having grown up in the desert, I might not believe that snow can blow horizontally. Even seeing pictures and hearing first hand stories, I may blow it off as myth, claiming, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” When I do come face to face with a blizzard blowing horizontal snow, having not believed, I would neither be prepared. I would die.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Hebrews 11:1-3

God moves – – toward us – – we respond. He’ll keep moving to will and work to bring us back to him. Ultimately the choice to receive his free gift is up to us.  It will always be our choice, to the last moment of our lives…not beyond.

Make a choice for Jesus, give him that tiny spot in your heart to move and you’ll be amazed at how your life will change. You don’t have to know everything you just need to RSVP your attendance, He’ll help you through the rest.

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!

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come back and visit at ListenLearn.Live Ministries

Mission Monday – What’s your Motivation?

“I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Acts 20:23-24

My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me. This is my motivation, what is yours? What keeps you moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day, serving the Lord, expanding the Kingdom of God, sharing the good news?

It’s no small task committing your entire life to God, it takes daily recommitment of your life and time. Even Jesus acknowledged that we need to take time to spend with God, time set apart and intentionally reserved for him. I think of the times I’ve worked to schedule lunches with friends or time to watch TV shows or the proverbial, ‘me’, time…why don’t we have the same fervor to make time to spend with God?

Did you know, depending on the translation, in the book of Mark alone there are between 15-18 different times that Jesus went off by himself to spend time with God. Jesus set aside time to spend with God. If our goal in life is to glorify God and be transformed into the likeness of Christ, shouldn’t we follow his example?

Right now, millions of students around the world are doing their studies at home. They are learning math, science, literature, grammar, and history. They spend several hours each day on computers, at dining room tables, in spaces modified to serve as classrooms. We, as parents, tell them the importance of studying, spending time with their notes, text books, teachers and classmates. Why don’t we, with the same exuberance and expectation, impress upon them the importance of getting to know Jesus? Why isn’t spending time learning from The Rabbi, studying The Scriptures, and in fellowship with other believers just as important…or more so? Why is our faith and our relationship with God relegated to one or two days of the week? I saw a post on social media recently that stated, “with children learning from home, is now the time to put Christ back in our schools?” I would ask with all of us spending more time at home, is now the time for us to spend more time with God?

It seems like, with the increased amount of time we have from not going out as much, that the demands from the world for our time have increased. From our streaming movie services, television programming, and internet advertising, we are inundated with distractions vying for our attention with claims of instant gratification, overnight delivery, and at home convenience, no effort required.

What is our motivation to spend time with God, studying His word, praying for His people, and lifting up His Church? “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.” My salvation is secure in Christ, I want everyone to enjoy the same salvation, the same joy, and peace, that Christ provides out of the abundance of His love for us!

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 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.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Romans 5:1-11

God’s love is abundant, Christ’s sacrifice is enough for all, the power of the Holy Spirit will transform the heart of every believer. What is your motivation to grow your relationship with God?

I would love to hear from you! Please let me know how I can pray for you, any questions or comments. and like.

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change our world!

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come back and visit at ListenLearn.Live Ministries

Unswervingly Spur

Spur Heb 10I was scanning through my Facebook feed this morning, and as I often do, I checked out my memories function. I found that on this day, on year ago, I posted this scripture, ” Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:23-25

My attention was captured by the words, unswervingly and spur. Not sure why, but these words aren’t common in my daily vocabulary, and they caught my attention. So, I spent some time this morning looking up what the meaning of them are in Greek. What I discovered created a sense of urgency from this passage that I had not grasped before.

Unswervingly, in generic English translation it means to follow a direct path, to never turn aside and to be steadfast and loyal. In Greek, the word is anthistemi, which means to set against or withstand without giving up or letting go.  We are to withstand without giving up on the hope we profess. We cannot turn or be turned aside from that hope. We must hold to it with a single-minded belief that this hope we have in Jesus, that which we profess is based on God’s promises which are unfailing.

How often do we get derailed by the frustrations of life? If any of you are like, me right now you feel like you’re in a batting cage with a rogue pitching machine, no bat, no glove and the door is locked. The fast balls of life are firing you at you, and they keep getting faster and faster and you are getting tired of dodging and swerving and trying to get out of the way, desperately trying to not get hit in the head and knocked out. We are called as Christians to hold fast to the hope of God’s promises without being turned aside, to set against all that life throws at us without giving up or letting go. Easier said than done sometimes…

“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

We will face all kinds of trials during our lives in this world, but God has overcome the world. We must stand fast, without giving up or turning aside from the hope we have in Jesus. We have the Full Armor of God, and it can withstand any fastball!

The second word that grabbed me here was, spur. Being from the Old West this word has an entirely different meaning, or so I thought. When I hear or see the word spur I think of an attachment to my boot which is meant to get my horse moving with a bit more urgency… Spur also means to provoke or stir up, to goad in to action or to incite.  It also means to urge or encourage to action, to move in vigorous pursuit of an object, to stimulate, to impel, to drive. We are to spur each other on toward love and good deeds and not to neglect meeting together. Spur does not mean suggest, imply, or consider. It does not mean that we should think about it or wait for the right time or even to hold off till it’s convenient.

The sense of urgency here is clear. We are to stand firm without turning aside, setting ourselves against all that comes at us in the hope of God’s promises. Additionally, we are to drive and incite each other toward love and good deeds. This is action! As I read this scripture with new eyes, I don’t see it as the warm fuzzy that I once did, encouraging me to remember God’s promises and to make sure I continue to meet together with the Body.

This is a call to action. A call for us to stand firm in our beliefs and to encourage one another to act as Christ has taught us. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-32

When we are sharing the negativity we hear on the television, radio, internet; are we spuring one another on to love and good works? When we put our wants before the needs of others under the guise of ‘preparing for the future’ are we unswervingly holding to the hope of God’s promises?

What is our witness to the world when we are acting like everyone else? Hoarding material comforts, spreading slander, taking political sides, and ignoring the pain and suffering of our brothers and sisters around the world? This is not who Christ called us to be.

Let no unwholesome talk come out of our mouths, build others up according to their needs (not our circumstances), get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, slander, and every kind of malice. Be kind and compassionate, forgiving as Christ forgave us. This is who we are, this is what we are called to be, this is what the world needs right now.

Together, let’s be unswerving in our hope, and spur each other on toward love and good works.

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change our world!

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God knows we choose

Romans-6-1

While spending time this week thinking and praying over what to write, I was brought back to a conversation I’d had recently.

I was having a conversation with a friend, on a variety of things when they made a statement that stuck with me. We were talking about some recent decisions they’d made, and they said, “God already knows what I’m going to do and loves me anyways, so why does it matter?” This statement reminded me of another friend who made a similar statement that, “If God wants me to die from COVID, it doesn’t matter if I wear a mask or not.” I’ve actually had several conversations, over the past few weeks, where individuals are relinquishing accountability for their choices to God’s foreknowledge, (and in some cases believed fore-planning) of them. I want to share something with you today, that as I write, I pray it will be received in the spirit which it is intended.

God’s Omniscience does not affect our choices – our relationship with Him does.

Just because God knows us completely and knows all things, knows how we’ll react and respond, this does not excuse us from our accountability for the choices we make. God’s knowledge does not equate to His approval. We cannot absolve ourselves of responsibility on the basis that God knew we’d do it, and He let us do it anyway.

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Romans 6:1-2

God created us in His image, we chose another road. God sent Jesus to die, and redeem that decision, not so we could relinquish responsibility for our choices, bu so we could make better ones. Jesus showed us the way. He showed us how to live.  As we read in Romans 6, God’s grace is not a license to drive off a cliff, it’s a get out of jail free card; for the mishaps of life – kind of like your auto insurance company’s accident forgiveness program. It’s there if you need it, but unnecessary if we practice good driving skills.

“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:22-24

We all need accident forgiveness for the things that we’ve done. Here’s the rub, knowing that God knows we’ll do it, and knowing that God will forgive it, does not give us God’s permission for it.

Our choices can’t be ‘blamed’ on Gods foreknowledge and acceptance. That’s like saying it’s a parent’s fault that a child sneaks out of their bedroom at night to steal ice cream. The parent may expect it to happen, they’ve established rules and guidelines so the child knows they should not do it, but in the end the parent also knows that the stomach ache the child may feel in the morning may be the best way for them to learn. As a parent there are choices, I could prevent my child from making, but then how would they learn? Allowing them to make, and learn from their mistakes, does not mean I approve of them, it means I’m giving them the space to learn and grow.

The flip side of this coin however, is that my child’s relationship with me, and my relationship with God, can (and will) affect their choices. Demonstrating the way, reading the Bible and praying with them, teaching them how to make Godly choices, will help them make better choices.

How can we claim to know God, to know Christ and have a relationship with Him, if we don’t know His word? How can we claim to know God’s direction for our lives when we don’t go before Him in prayer? How can we claim to follow Christ when our words and actions degrade, demean and devalue ourselves and others?

Our relationship with God, and His son Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit is the only thing that can influence, affect and change our behaviors. Just like the single greatest influence on our children’s lives is their relationship with us. The single greatest influence on our Christian walk is our relationship with Christ.

We face down decisions every day, now more than ever our choices are so polarized that it seems almost impossible to chose wisely. The world is full of advice on what to do, what to think, how to act, who to believe, which side to chose and which side to hate. We keep looking to the world for answers, mostly because they are easy, plenty and familiar. When the stakes are highest and the decisions hardest we throw our hands in the air and claim, not my responsibility; God planned all this out, He knew what would happen, it’s His will, it’s His decision, doesn’t matter what I do.

Friends, it does matter what you do, you were given a will of your own, a chance to choose God or the World. God’s knowledge of you (like a parent who knows his child) does not absolve you from the responsibility to use the mind soul and strength that He gave you. Yes His grace is sufficient, but it is not an excuse.

Your relationship with Christ is the single largest influence on your choices; it can save, redeem, restore and complete you. Your choices, and the outcome of your life is a product of your relationship with Him. A relationship which is always present, unchanging and available when you decide to turn to Him.

Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change our world!

Like, share, comment, and come back and visit at “Connectthedotblog”.