Devotional with Pastor Garrison Hayes

Check out this quick and powerful devotional from Pastor Garrison Hayes of Community Praise Church in Alexandria, VA. Based on Jeremiah 29:11,13 Pastor Hayes talks to us about everything from washing our hands to seeking God. We know you’ll be blessed. Like. Comment. Share.

100th Episode: Thief in The Night

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Friday, December 13, 2019

This is devotional thought number 76 in our devotional series titled, “Power!”

“Now on the topic of times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you. For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night. Now when they are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will surely not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in the darkness for the day to overtake you like a thief would. For you all are sons of the light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of the darkness. So then we must not sleep as the rest, but must stay alert and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But since we are of the day, we must stay sober by putting on the breastplate of faith and love and as a helmet our hope for salvation.”
1 Thessalonians 5:1–8 (NET)

Look up! Jesus is on His way! Be honest. Did you just look up? What did you see?

Punk Proof

When I was a young boy in New York City in the 70s and 80s, people would often conduct a social experiment in large crowds of people, particularly in Manhattan. One or two persons would abruptly start looking up, apparently gazing at something of intense interest. Invariably, no matter how silly passers-by felt, they had almost zero willpower to resist looking too. Some even started pointing as if they discovered something new and exciting. Of course, there was nothing there, and scores of persons were duped into looking into the nothingness of the sky. I steadfastly refused to allow others to control where my attention went. Just call me punk proof.

Signs of The Second Advent

I find myself looking up a lot lately. Unlike those many years ago, now, I am looking up spiritually. Jesus promised to return. He pledged to telegraph His movements so those with keen, sober minds can know, of certainty, that He will arrive quickly. Jesus said that, in the same way, you can discern the changing of the seasons from the development of trees, foliage, and other elements in nature, we can discern Jesus’s approach. Just as a pregnant mother’s contractions increase in frequency and intensity, and we easily observe the inevitable birth of the child of her love, Jesus gave signs and last-day events to forecast the coming of the Lord.

A Thief in The Night

I know we read that Jesus will come as a thief in the night. But we also read that He does not come upon His people like a thief. “‘Be on your guard, so that your minds are not dulled from carousing, drunkenness, and worries of life, or that day will come on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come on all who live on the face of the whole earth. But be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man’” (Luke 21:34–36, HCSB). Paul agrees with Jesus. While we do not know the exact day and hour of His arrival, we have ample evidence that it will not be long, now.

Are You Ready?

The question we all must answer daily is, “Am I really ready for Jesus to come?” If you are not, and you love God, today’s your big day! You can give your life over to Jesus for safe keeping. He is able to preserve everyone who is willing to cooperate with Him. ““For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved” Hebrews 10:37–39 (NLT). “He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people” Revelation 22:20–21 (NLT).

Enjoy our all-new 15-minute podcast based on this devotional thought here:

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Message Daily: Glory in The Lord

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Friday, November 15, 2019

This is devotional thought number 48 in our devotional series titled, “Power!”

That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:31

The Lord has a way of making Himself abundantly clear so no one need be confused. When He wants to get a point across, He does extraordinary things. He defies natural processes. He goes beyond human reasoning. The Lord is above all.

Think of some of the things God did in Bible times to separate Himself from the crowd. He loved the world so much that He gave His only Son that we might be saved. He moved the sun back ten degrees for Hezekiah. He overcame Jericho through marching Israelites and sounding trumpets. He overcame the proud Philistine Goliath, with a smooth stone in the hands of a shepherd boy. He separated the Red Sea through the staff of Moses to allow the Israelites to pass over on dry land. Perhaps the most incredible thing God did was devise a plan to empower us to be born of the Spirit. God’s demonstrative resume is quite impressive. One thing is certain. None of the things that He has done can be duplicated by human beings. He has proven beyond all reasonable doubt that He is God all by Himself.

There were many in Paul’s day who esteemed their human wisdom to be noteworthy. They worshipped their own abilities. God demonstrated through the foolishness of preaching that salvation and high godly status came only through Christ. Those who esteemed themselves above God considered godly things foolish. In turn, God chose the foolishness of this world to confound the wise. Jews required a sign and Greeks required human wisdom in order to believe in Jesus, but God gave no such signs. God did not resort to our wisdom to make Himself known.

In order to reveal His power to save, and love for humankind, God gave us salvation through Christ. As a result, He became our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. If anyone wants to glory, let them glory in the Lord. In Him, there is no room for self-worship.

Thank the Lord for giving us the most incredible blessing imaginable in which to glory. It is much more satisfying giving Him the praise, because He alone is worthy.

You can listen to Pastor Harris speak on this topic in greater detail by listening to our podcast Message Daily by clicking on the link here:

Be Blessed!

Message Daily with L. David Harris

For years many of you have tuned in to “Thoughts in Worship” and “Your Daily Portion” with Pastor L. David Harris on Facebook, iTunes, and many other platforms. He’s led many of you in early morning devotionals and study of the Sabbath School lesson for more than 1500 episodes. As many of you know, Pastor Harris is passionate about sharing the power of the Gospel on all sorts of platforms. What you may not know is that Harris is not just a Pastor. He’s also a website designer, book publisher, writer, podcast host, and so much more currently based in Jamaica. At his core Pastor Harris is committed to creating content that truly inspires, equips, and challenges the people of God to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

We are so excited to announce that we will be providing an updated devotional experience for you that we’re calling #MessageDaily. THIS THURSDAY, on Sept 5th you will be able to download and stream our new 15-minute daily devotional. It will include the morning devotionals you’re use to reading from Harris on Facebook, along with a 10 minute study of the text and concepts being discussed. We know this new devotional podcast is going to bless your life. And we are beyond excited to release the new episodes. Check out this teaser below, and look out for Message Daily wherever you listen to podcasts.

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God’s Checking Brings Holy Correction

Sin recovery is not returning to the sins that comforted us during difficult times in the past.

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Today’s Scripture Focus: Jonah 4:4-8

We are focusing on sin recovery principle number six of 12: “We are now ready for God to give us new characters that reflect that of His Son’s.”

Under what pretense do you shelter when the going gets tough?

Every one of us has suffered, to a greater or lesser degree, from addictions. Some may be addicted to the usual suspects – alcohol or drugs, while others are addicted to food, swearing, questionable entertainments, gossip, money loving or believing the hype about self. And the catchall category of addictions lest we become proud and say we’ve never had a problem with anything on my list, is sin. All have had to struggle against sin, even the noblest among us.

When Sin is Your Coping Mechanism

Think about God’s prophet, Jonah. The Lord gave him one simple set of instructions, and he lost his mind. God instructed him to go to one place, to teach one message, to one group of people, for one particular purpose. Like the rest of us with a bent towards sinning, Jonah did the exact opposite. Jonah went to another place, did not deliver the message to the people, and ignored God’s purpose during the whole ordeal. And when God checked him on it (understatement of the year), Jonah reluctantly obeyed but threw a hissy fit.

Do you get upset when God starts tugging at your addictions? When people post messages on social media that challenge your commitment to God, how do you receive it? When trials come that could have been avoided if you simply did what God said, how do you respond? When you realize you have been driving your spiritual bus the wrong direction on the road of life, do you press the brakes or keep barreling down the road? When you face challenges, do you search feverishly for a way to engage in the thing that displeases God, but makes you feel relaxed when you’re stressed?

God’s Checking Brings Holy Correction

Jonah demonstrates what not to do in this situation! He hides and bellyaches about how he figured God embarrassed him. He sheltered beneath the pretense of knowing how God would have handled his situation as justification for disobeying God.

I am going to give some free advice today, which I pray I receive too: never allow yourself to fall back on your sinful vice or indict God when the going gets tough. Recognize the situation for what it is—a wake-up call to help you reroute into the right direction. God is too loving and wise to let us go about our business unchecked. If we respond favorably to the momentary crises, God will show mercy and supply the need for which we had aimlessly sought when we rushed back into the arms of sin for comfort.

Happy in Jesus, and Jesus Alone

Sin recovery is learning to be satisfied in the person of Jesus Christ instead of the people and things of this world.

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, August 5, 2019

Today’s Scripture Focus: Psalm 51:16-19

We are focusing on sin recovery principle number six of 12: “We are now ready for God to give us new characters that reflect that of His Son’s.”

God wants to change your life forever! That is the truth as it is in Jesus.

I think we are satisfied far too easily. Some of us would be good to go if we could finally earn that six or seven figure income. Some of us would be as delighted as can be if we could finally have that spouse we have been waiting for. Some of us would think we have arrived if we earned that doctoral degree. Now, I don’t want you to be confused by what I’m trying to say here. Paul said that if we have food and clothing, we should be content and the few things I mentioned here are above and beyond that. What is wrong with being content with those? Nothing is wrong if we first find our satisfaction in the Lord regardless of anything else.

Looking for Satisfaction in All the Wrong Places

Let me try this again without confusing you with my fanciful rhetoric. I think we are satisfied far too easily (here we go again). Some of us would be good to go if we could finally say that we have been clean and sober from our pornography addiction for X number of days. Some of us would be as delighted as can be if we could finally say that we returned tithe and offering for two weeks in a row. Some of us would think we have arrived if we earned the church nominated position of [you fill in the blank].

What I failed to mention is that some are satisfied with certain earthly attainments and spiritual accomplishments regardless of whether we have true hearts toward God. Some of us have not prayed a sincere prayer (if at all) in a long time. Some of us are too busy to ask God what He thinks about our next ministry pursuit. Some of us are satisfied as long as we feel good regardless of whether there is honor in what we are doing.

Learning True Satisfaction

I think I need to be clearer now; no more riddles. God is quite fine when we aspire and achieve. Our Heavenly Father is pleased when we offer service and learn to behave well. Yet, He is even more delighted when we surrender all that we are to Him before we achieve. He throws a party in heaven when we cherish a repentant spirit that seeks after God before it seeks after sterile behaviors. There is a fine line between tidy little lives that look great on the outside from which we derive satisfaction, and asking God for purity of heart. Most of us need to learn satisfaction in surrendering our wills to God first and then reveling in the outward manifestations of that relationship. It is far more satisfying to become one with God than simply keeping up appearances.

Overcoming Generational Sin

Sin recovery is acknowledging your family’s struggles and how they impact you today so that you can overcome them now and keep your children from having to overcome them tomorrow.

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Wednesday, July 24, 2019

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Today’s Scripture Focus: Nehemiah 9:34-38

We are focusing on sin recovery principle number four of 12: “We are submitting to an honest self-inventory as the Holy Spirit makes us more aware.”

I know from experience what it’s like to suffer internal struggles due to heredity. Every person born of a woman, whether you know her or not, has to face the reality of your ancestors. This reality is that they struggled with pride, rage, hatred, pessimism, over ambitiousness, promiscuity, alcoholism, drug abuse, greed, envy, doubt, and much more. The sooner you admit this to yourself the sooner you will be in a position to experience victory.

Family Feud

If your dad was an angry man, acknowledge that his anger may have had a negative impact on you. Maybe your mother was a crack addict. Acknowledge that her addiction had some negative impact on you. If your grandmother couldn’t see a handsome man go by without soliciting him, acknowledge that this may have had some negative impact on your life. Or maybe your grandfather abandoned his family. Accept that his decision has had a negative impact on your life.

I say all this not to give you a multitude of excuses or a list of individuals to blame for all of your problems or maladaptive, yea sinful, behaviors. I say this so that you can take an honest self-inventory and begin to identify some of what makes you tick. There are a number of sins and behaviors that many of us struggle with that are directly linked to the struggles and decisions of our foreparents.

What’s Next?

What do you do once you recognize the impact of your ancestors on your life? Do you wallow in it? Do you blame someone else for your poor choices? Do you throw up your hands in despair because you feel like you got the short end of the stick in life? Let me share an idea with you.

You should talk to God about it. I know it sounds too simple to be true. But honestly. Ask God to show you how the decisions and habits of your foreparents is having and impact on your lifestyle choices today. Ask him to nullify the effects of heredity to the point that it drives you to do evil. Ask God to teach you new ways of dealing with issues; teach you new ways of viewing yourself and others; teach you new behaviors to replace the broken and sinful ones of your past. Ask God to manifest His love so powerfully in your life that you learn to make the right choices as matter of consistent habit so you can bring Him glory. And finally, ask God to adopt you in His family. His bloodline wasn’t perfect. It’s also filled with everything from liars to prostitutes to murderers. And yet, Christ was able to rise above the sin in His family’s past and live a perfect life.

God’s not asking you to condemn your family. He’s simply asking you to acknowledge their brokenness and ask for His help so that you can recover from the sins of your family. He wants to give you victory over the sins they couldn’t seem to overcome. God will not disappoint. He longs to help you recover from the sins of your past so that they don’t get passed on to the next generation.

God Still Delivers

Sin Recovery is submitting our wills and lives wholeheartedly to God.

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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Today’s Scripture Focus: Psalm 61

I can attest to the fact that God’s ears are attentive to the prayers of those who love Him. He is ready, willing and available to answer us when we call. The problem is that too many of us neglect to call Him. Too many of us put God last on our call list.

Let me tell you a story.

A Different King of Healing

This past Saturday I was in a meeting with various church leaders. After several minutes, there was a knock at the door. It was one of our elders. In my faith tradition, an elder is a servant leader who supports the pastor in facilitating relationships and spiritual growth among the membership. This particular elder said two people down in the sanctuary appeared to need emergency medical attention. Once we got to them it was evident that they were oppressed and possessed by demonic spirits as seen in Mark 5.

A Psalm 61 Anointing

Immediately, a group of us armored up, prayed, and confessed our sins to God. We did this so that no sin within us could stop the Holy Spirit from delivering these two people. We needed to intervene on their behalf under the power of the Holy Spirit and the authority of Jesus Christ. And so, we asked God to forgive us of the sins inside of us. To make an incredibly long story short, these two people were in fact under the direct oppression of evil angels. I will not share all that happened that night, but as we prayed, read Scripture, and sang hymns we chose to read Psalm 61 over them while anointing them with oil.

I asked God to hear my cry. My heart was overwhelmed as I called on His name for assistance. I asked Him to be jealous over His honor and to get glory in the situation by breaking the yoke and setting these captives free. Praying fervently, I asked the Lord to forgive them of whatever they had done. I pleaded with the Lord to loose them from whatever foothold they created within their lives. In the spirit of verse seven, I asked God to protect and reign over them. And I had full faith and assurance that God wanted to and would deliver these two souls.

Deliverance is Sweet

I am delighted to report to you that God came through! I watched Him deliver those two souls with my own eyes. He manifested His love for them by using us to pray over them. What a beautiful thing to see God free people from the Devil’s binding grip; from his efforts to force them to do his evil bidding.

What is crucial about this story is that the key to their deliverance is the divine authority of Jesus Christ. These two people are able to experience spiritual freedom today because of the sacrifice and resurrection of our Lord and Savior. We were simply servant leaders fully submitted to Him, ready and willing to step on that battlefield and be used to deliver His children.

But guess what else I asked God to do? In the spirit of verse eight, I asked Him to teach these folks to praise Him for His goodness to them, and for them to dedicate their lives in service to Him. Whenever God is so gracious to descend in the Spirit and free us in such a way, we must be certain to thank and praise Him!

Victory Comes Through Submission

We may not be spiritually oppressed to the extent that these two people were. But many of us find ourselves addicted to all sorts of sins. For some of us, pornography is our demon; lying is our demon; pride is our demon; gossip is our demon; violence is our demon; drugs and alcohol are our demons. There are so many sins and vices that oppress us on a day to day basis. And what this experience has taught me is that victory comes through submission. If I want to partner with God to participate in the freedom of another my life must be wholly submitted to Him. And if I find myself in need of victory and salvation then I simply need to surrender and confess to God my desire to be wholly submitted to Him.

Victory is is truly ours! Like the song says I want you to know that you can say with confidence “Satan, get thee behind! Victory today is mine!” I want you to ask God to teach you whole life submission, and encourage you to make this verse your life’s motto:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Philippians 4:8-9

If God could deliver those dear children from the chains of Satan’s angels, then what in your life is too difficult for Him? Absolutely nothing.

Purified in the Fire

Sin Recovery is admitting that we are powerless against sin and thus we cannot manage our lives without God’s miraculous intervention.

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Friday, July 5, 2019

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Today’s Scripture Focus: Job 6:2-13

When trials come after you’ve committed to doing whatever God says, how do you cope? See, it’s one thing to experience the consequences of our sins (like going to prison for carjacking someone), but it’s another thing altogether when we have trials for reasons that have nothing to do with our mistakes. It is a bitter pill to swallow when we are afflicted after choosing to live for God.

Job did just that. He was a truehearted follower of God. In fact, the book named after him begins with the writer declaring Job “blameless and upright…one who feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1 NKJV). That is an amazing testimony when God is the one vouching for you. Yet, as we see Job’s story unfold, he proceeds to lose everything that matters to him. He loses his children, property, wealth, and his health. This causes him to also lose a level of peacefulness because he can’t figure out why his life has taken such a sudden downturn. He even begins to wonder if he has any unconfessed sins that he needs to repent of. Day after day Job experienced the worst trials any of us could ever imagine. And the Bible says in spite of all of this he held on to his faith wishing only for death.

Depression is Common with Discipleship

Have you ever been so low that you wanted to die? Did becoming a believer bring more trials than you bargained for? Can you feel Job’s lament? “Is my strength the strength of stones? Or is my flesh of brass? Is not my help in me? And is wisdom driven quite from me?” (Job 6:12-13 NKJV).

Well I have good news, and I have great news. The good news is that trials don’t last forever. The great news is that trials don’t last forever! We will, and must, encounter our fiercest troubles the closer we get to God. Yet, in our helplessness, He promises to send divine aid. The Spirit comes near at just the right times to tell us how much God loves us. He encourages us to stay faithful even when we feel like giving up. And the Bible promises us that He will refresh our mindset. So even when we’re tempted to return to our old way of life we will resist.

The Refiner’s Fire

Today’s emphasis is not so much about the times we’ve done wrong and made a mess of our lives. It’s about realizing that even when we do what God says we are powerless against the sin that lurks around us. Distress comes because sin exists. Trials come because sin exists. Depression, pain, privation, loss, we are susceptible to all kinds of suffering in this world because sin exists. We don’t get a free pass to luxurious spiritual living when we choose to follow God by faith. However, we do receive the blessing of heavenly help through all of life’s difficulties. Indeed, we are powerless against sin in this world. But our God will continue to intervene in our lives as long as we put Him first.

Job learned some valuable lessons in the midst of his storm. Although God already considered him righteous, Job said, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear: But now my eyes see You” (Job 42:5 NKJV). Job’s experience with God was enriched after going through trials. His faith was strengthened and his faith purified because of suffering. It’s a hard message. But are you ready and willing to be purified through trials? Don’t answer now. Just fall on your knees and ask the Lord to make you battle ready. Ask Him to harden you against sin so that no matter what life throws your way, you will keep trusting in God.

If you get tired of your job, keep trusting in God. If your spouse leaves you for no fault of your own, keep trusting in God. If, God forbid, your child suddenly falls deathly ill, keep trusting in God. If you are tempted to go back to your old ways, just keep trusting in God. And as you do so, you will come through any trial like pure gold.

Trees of The River

“She shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever [she] does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore, the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.”

Psalm 1:3-5 (NKJV)

Far, far away in a land called Matunda lived two trees. One tree was called Mengi and the other Uksoefu. Each was diligent in their attempts to please the Great Gardener. Every morning and every evening Mengi would stretch her roots deep into the soil searching for access to the river they called, “Maji Milele.” Every morning and every evening she would drink of Maji Milele’s waters and feel the nutrients flow through her roots as the liquid moistened the soil around her trunk. Ascending into her branches she could feel the muscles of her stems strenghthening and the crisp but soft nature of her leaves greening.

The Fruit of Jealousy

This made Ukosefu very bitter. The Great Gardener told her and Mengi to dip their roots in the Maji Milele every morning and every evening, but there was no joy in that for her. Ukosefu wanted to be different. She wanted to stand out. She decided that she would stretch her roots down further into the soil, rather than over into the river. Everyone knows that there’s water in the soil as well, and so she would get her’s from a source other than the river. Surely the Great Gardener would be pleased with her initiative and creativity.

As Ukosefu reached further down she only became more frustrated and bitter. Her leaves did not grow strong like Mengi’s. Rather than possessing a crisp and soft nature her leaves had a crunch and hard nature to them. She quickly became jealous of Mengi complaing, “The Great Gardener is showering Mengi with special treatment. There’s no way she could grow that quickly from simply drinking of the Maji Milele.” In her frustration she remained stubborn and refused to drink of the same water source as Mengi, regardless of the fact that the Great Gardener directed so.

Comparison Kills

The full moon passed and it was time for the Great Gardener to collect his harvest. The trunk of Mengi was so large and the span of her branches so wide that she could be seen from anywhere in Matunda. When The Great Gardener stepped close to Mengi her leaves were a bright green and next to every leaf was a large, ripe fruit yellow in color with blushes of pink on its cheeks. Smooth and without indentation the Great Gardener knew of her ripeness just by the smell of her fruit. The Great Gardner could smell the fruit of Mengi from miles away.

The same was not so for Ukosefu. Her leaves were brown, burnt in color, and there was no fruit anywhere on her branches. Her trunk was narrow and it seemed as though her branches had not grown since the planting season. The wind would blow and the fruit of Mengi would decorate Matunda as ornaments. But when the wind blew on Ukosefu her leaves crumbled. The wind would blow and the trunk of Mengi would stand firm, unmovable. But when the wind blew on the trunk of Ukosefu it would bend and sway in whatever direction the wind drove.

The Word of God is Life

Ukosefu desired to stand out, and she did just that. For in Matunda, she was the only tree that did not bear fruit in season. But she was also the only tree to not drink of the river Maji Milele. And it was because of her stubbornness that she would be the only tree of Matunda to whither and die. This saddened the Great Gardener, for he could not understand how a tree that was positioned so close to her source of life could whither and die. He could not understand how this tree of the river could die of thirst.

Many of us are like Ukosefu. We have easy access to the river of God’s word and yet we seek life and strength from every other source we can find. We plug into people, our jobs, our passions, everything but God through prayer and devotion. But what we have to accept is that nothing on this Earth can feed us, fill us, strengthen us, or grow us like spending time in prayer and Bible Study. It is only when we’re planted in the life giving waters of God’s word that we can bear the fruit of the Spirit. May we drink from the river of God’s Word and live.

Read & Study: Psalm 1, Psalm 92:12-14, Jer. 17:7-8, John 4:13,14; 14:6; 15:1-8

When was the last time you sipped the words of Jesus Christ the living water? You have been placed in close proximity to the source that is your everlasting life. Don’t wither and die spiritually because you refuse to let Him flow through you to work in you.