Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 1-22-20

Matthew 9:14-17 (TPT)

I like to sew and make new things, but I am not a big fan of mending nor altering. Presently, there is a pair of John’s jeans sitting in my sewing room waiting to be hemmed. I’m not sure how long they will sit there. lol…

In our passage today, Jesus uses a sewing analogy to teach a lesson about a spiritual reality. He uses it to let his disciples know he did not come to patch up an old powerless religious system. He did not come to promote empty rituals. He came to offer something new and exciting that could never be contained in such manmade things; he came to offer humanity a relationship with Almighty God. This powerful reality Jesus offers must be held in new hearts; hearts reborn from above.

Matthew 9:14-17 Jesus Brings a New Reality
14 The disciples of John the Baptizer approached Jesus with this question: “Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast regularly, but not your disciples?”

15 Jesus replied, “How can the sons of the bridal chamber[a] grieve when the Bridegroom is next to them? But the days of fasting will come when the Bridegroom is taken away from them. 16 And who would mend worn-out clothing with new fabric? When the new cloth shrinks it will rip, making the hole worse than before. 17 And who would pour fresh, new wine into an old wineskin? Eventually the wine will ferment and make the wineskin burst, losing everything—the wine is spilled and the wineskin ruined. Instead, new wine is always poured into a new wineskin so that both are preserved.”[b]

Prayer: Lord, thank you for making my heart new and bringing the Spirit of love and power into my life. I am blessed to be a container for this new reality. In Jesus name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 1-21-20

Isaiah 53:1-3 The Passion Translation (TPT)

How do you handle insults or rejection? Certainly, it can be a hard place for our emotions; a place of emotional pain. Such cruelty is rooted in human sin and many times aimed at Christ’s followers. In the Wisdom book of Proverbs, we are taught a wise person ignores insults (12:16). Do you need to get better at ignoring insults?

In our passage today, the prophet Isaiah refers to the character and work of Messiah—Jesus. He reminds us that Jesus was the most emotionally whole human being to ever live, yet he suffered insult and rejection. Jesus is acquainted with and understands emotional pain. Therefore, we can identify with Jesus. He becomes our role model for how to handle put-downs. Jesus did not absorb the insults or rejections of his neighbors (those around him). Instead, he stayed focused on who God made him to be and the purpose he came to fulfill. Pleasing the Father remained his first priority, so when he was insulted by others he was able to overcome it.
Isaiah 53: 1-3 
1
Who has truly believed our revelation?
    To whom will Yahweh reveal his mighty arm? [power]

He sprouted up like a tender plant before the Lord,
    like a root in parched soil.
    He possessed no distinguishing beauty
    or outward splendor to catch our attention—
    nothing special in his appearance to make us desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men,
    a man of deep sorrows
    who was no stranger to suffering and grief.
    We hid our faces from him in disgust
    and considered him a nobody, not worthy of respect.

Prayer: Lord, when I am a target of insult or rejection, help me to make a decision not to absorb those things meant for my harm. Instead, help me to keep the right priorities and overcome evil by focusing on pleasing you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 1-20-20

Psalm 40:6 The Passion Translation (TPT)

A reason explains why we do certain things. For example, what is the reason behind why we go to church? What is our reason for tithing? Have we done something because we have heard the Spirit of God speak to our hearts? Has our action come from our desire to glorify God? Is our reason for a certain behavior based on our commitment to obey God’s Word? As believers, God is interested in the reasons behind our actions. He knows whether or not we do things for the “righteous” reasons. Because we are servants of Christ, we must do the will of God from the heart (Eph 6:6).

In our passage today, we will enjoy a psalm of David as he reminds us God is not looking for empty rituals; nor does he take delight in things that we have not taken to heart. God is interested in our motives or reasons for why we do things. Our reason for how we live must flow out of love for God and others.

Psalm 40:6 
It’s not sacrifices that really move your heart.
Burnt offerings, sin offerings—that’s not what brings you joy.
But when you open my ears and speak deeply to me,
I become your willing servant, your prisoner of love for life.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for reminding me, today, to think through the reasons for the things I choose to do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 1-17-20

Acts 1:1-5 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Although Christ’s work of redemption has been completed for us, there is still the unfinished work of getting us ready as his Bride. Through the work of the Spirit, the Lord is getting each one of us ready to rule and reign as the Lord’s eternal partners. We must be transformed in the renewing of our minds and our devotion to God must transcend any loyalty we have to our flesh or this world. As believers, we are not to be conformed to this world; instead, we are to allow the Holy Spirit to change how we think (Rom 12:2). The Spirit will bring us into close fellowship with the Father; a powerful place to live.

In our passage today, Luke reminds the disciples (as well as all of us) of the essential need we have for the Holy Spirit. Only the Spirit can bring the transformation we need to live in Oneness with the Father. Spiritual power and spiritual fruit are signs of the transformation process. Invite the Holy Spirit to fill you—lover of God.

Acts 1:1-5
1 To Theophilus, the lover of God.
I write to you again, my dear friend, to give you further details about the life of our Lord Jesus and all the things that he did and taught.

2 Just before he ascended into heaven, he left instructions for the apostles he had chosen by the Holy Spirit. 3 After the sufferings of his cross, Jesus appeared alive many times to these same apostles over a forty-day period. Jesus proved to them with many convincing signs that he had been resurrected. During these encounters, he taught them the truths of God’s kingdom realm 4 and shared meals with them. Jesus instructed them, “Don’t leave Jerusalem, but wait here until you receive the gift I told you about, the gift the Father has promised. 5 For John baptized you in water, but in a few days from now you will be baptized in the Holy Spirit!”

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the promised gift of the Spirit. Help me to work with the Spirit to produce the fruit and power that should characterize all your children. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 1-16-20

Galatians 1:6-7 The Passion Translation (TPT)

It can be really tough sometimes recognizing when the Truth of the gospel has been twisted by the world. Wake up; some things people want you to believe are simply not based on Truth or a relationship with Father God. The enemy is cunning and works hard trying to tempt believers into twisting the Truth (utterances from the Lord). Jesus taught his followers, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Therefore, Truth is a person and believers are called to transfer their loyalty from living by the utterances of the world (lies) and into living by the utterances of God (Truth). We have a choice to follow Truth.

In our passage today, the Apostle Paul—a Jewish believer—is upset with some of the early Christian leaders in Galatia. These leaders have twisted the gospel and taught the way to salvation is to have faith in Christ by becoming Jewish. These leaders were called Judaizers; they denied Christ’s work on the cross was enough for salvation. This “fake gospel” proclaimed to be saved one must also practice circumcision and dietary restrictions. Paul calls them out. In our world, people say there are many paths to God, but there is nothing in the Word of God to support that belief. I’m praying you realize there is One gospel of Truth and his name is Jesus!

Galatians 1:6-7 One Gospel
6 I am shocked over how quickly you have strayed away from the Anointed One who called you to himself by his loving mercy. I’m frankly astounded that you now embrace a distorted gospel! 7 That is a fake “gospel” that is simply not true. There is only one gospel—the gospel of the Messiah! Yet you have allowed those who mingle law with grace to confuse you with lies.

Prayer: Lord, I pray for discernment all the time to recognize Truth in my day to day. Thank you for being my Savior, directing my steps, and revealing how I should live. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 1-15-20

Matthew 12:15-21 The Message (MSG)

In the Bible, loyalty is best revealed by the covenant God made with His people. God promises to be loyal to those who love Him; the concept of loyalty is entirely relational. As believers, our loyalty is seen in our commitment to Jesus Christ and his commands to love the Lord wholeheartedly and love others as much as we love ourselves (Mat 22:37-40). However, sometimes we don’t love ourselves in a right way; therefore, we struggle to love others. Since Jesus is the standard of love, he tells his disciples, “So I give you now a new commandment: Love each other just as much as I have loved you. For when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know that you’re my true followers” (John 13:34-35). We are to be as loyal in our relationships with others as the Lord is loyal to us. To accomplish loving this way, we must place our hope in Christ.

In our passage today, Jesus has been confronting the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. He tells the these leaders they care more about their religious system than about the things of God who is love. They care more about their personal practice of piety than being loyal in their love to God’s family. Therefore, rather than confronting them further, Jesus simply moves on. Love is a choice.

Matthew 12:15-21 In Charge of Everything
15-21 Jesus, knowing they were out to get him, moved on. A lot of people followed him, and he healed them all. He also cautioned them to keep it quiet, following guidelines set down by Isaiah:

Look well at my handpicked servant;
    I love him so much, take such delight in him.
I’ve placed my Spirit on him;
    he’ll decree justice to the nations.
But he won’t yell, won’t raise his voice;
    there’ll be no commotion in the streets.
He won’t walk over anyone’s feelings,
    won’t push you into a corner.
Before you know it, his justice will triumph;
    the mere sound of his name will signal hope, even
    among far-off unbelievers.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for being my gentle Savior; for showing me the paths of Love. Help me follow you and choose wisely, today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 1-13-20

Acts 10:44-46 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Surrounding ourselves with other believers is a great way to experience God working in different ways. We come to God as very unique people. Our strengths are different and our weaknesses are different; therefore, we can serve and help one another through the hard times. We have different spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit and yet each one is essential to the building up of the Body of Christ. We experience the fulness of the Spirit as we connect our Spirit-led lives in worship; we share one faith, one Lord, and one baptism.

In our passage today, Peter has an awaking of how much God works in others; even non-Jews. Peter was preaching a sermon about the Messiah; his death, resurrection, and the forgiveness of sin that is available to believers. There was a group of non-Jews (Gentiles) listening to Peter and all of a sudden the Holy Spirit fell on them. Before Peter could even baptize them with water, they were filled with the Spirit. God is no respecter of persons and Peter saw that very clearly as the Spirit found his home in new hearts. The Holy Spirit comes to those who put their trust in the work of Messiah and open their hearts to living for God.

Acts 10:44-48 The Holy Spirit Falls
44 While Peter was speaking, the Holy Spirit cascaded over all those listening to his message. 45 The Jewish brothers who had accompanied Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on people who weren’t Jews, 46 for they heard them speaking in supernaturally given languages and passionately praising God.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for sending the baptism of the Holy Spirit to fill all your children with love and power. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 1-10-20

Acts 9:10-21 The Message (MSG)

Lately, it seems like every time I read an article or listen to the news I am exposed to some kind of argument that involves verbal assassinations. Whatever happened to the art of persuasion using evidence and facts? Scripture teaches one day every human being will stand before Christ—the Living Word—and give an account for the words we have chosen to use. I am reminded Jesus told those abusing their power through words, ”Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation” (Matt 12:38).

Yesterday, we read about how Saul had gotten on the wrong side of God’s plan; his flesh was actually working against the Lord. So, God got his attention. Well, today we are going to read about a man named Ananias. It is a part of God’s plan to use Ananias to bring salvation and healing to Saul. Does Ananias want to help Saul? Does he think it is a good idea to go near Saul who has been such a threat? Nope! But, he chooses not to argue with the Lord. Because Ananias goes and fulfills God’s plan, Saul is filled with the Spirit and begins to share about Jesus Messiah. Does he engage in verbal assassinations to get his message out to those who oppose him? No. He employs the art of persuasion using evidence and facts. As a result, people listen and respond to the Truth. Pray and ask God to help you take your words seriously.

10 There was a disciple in Damascus by the name of Ananias. The Master spoke to him in a vision: “Ananias.”
“Yes, Master?” he answered.

11-12 “Get up and go over to Straight Avenue. Ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus. His name is Saul. He’s there praying. He has just had a dream in which he saw a man named Ananias enter the house and lay hands on him so he could see again.”

13-14 Ananias protested, “Master, you can’t be serious. Everybody’s talking about this man and the terrible things he’s been doing, his reign of terror against your people in Jerusalem! And now he’s shown up here with papers from the Chief Priest that give him license to do the same to us.”

15-16 But the Master said, “Don’t argue. Go! I have picked him as my personal representative to non-Jews and kings and Jews. And now I’m about to show him what he’s in for—the hard suffering that goes with this job.”

Prayer: Lord, please help me take my words seriously; help me be a loving and persuasive influencer for your Kingdom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 1-9-20

Acts 9:1-9 New Life Version (NLV)

Being on the wrong side of God’s plan and will is never a good location in which to find oneself. In that place, human flesh is actually working against what God is planning to do; what has been spoken (Word) and is being guided (Spirit) into motion. Either the perfect will of God or the will of rebellious humanity has to give way. Since God is all-powerful and nothing is beyond his sovereign control, human flesh is going to experience defeat.

In our passage today, Saul—a leader of the Pharisees—is hunting down the followers of Christ; he thinks he is doing Yahweh a favor by silencing and killing these ignorant and misdirected fanatics. We find Saul sitting smugly on his spiritual high horse when the Lord knocks him to the ground. This is Saul’s turning point; experiencing God in Spirit and in Truth and realizing he does not really “know’ the heart of God nor has he been serving Him. Saul has been serving his flesh. May we work with the Lord—who is Love—and not against him when he reveals Truth to us.

Acts 9:1-8 Saul Becomes a Christian on the Way to Damascus
9 Saul was still talking much about how he would like to kill the followers of the Lord. He went to the head religious leader. 2 He asked for letters to be written to the Jewish places of worship in the city of Damascus. The letters were to say that if he found any men or women following the Way of Christ he might bring them to Jerusalem in chains.

3 He went on his way until he came near Damascus. All at once he saw a light from heaven shining around him. 4 He fell to the ground. Then he heard a voice say, “Saul, Saul, why are you working so hard against Me?” 5 Saul answered, “Who are You, Lord?” He said, “I am Jesus, the One Whom you are working against. You hurt yourself by trying to hurt Me.” 6 Saul was shaken and surprised. Then he said, “What do You want me to do, Lord?” The Lord said to him, “Get up! Go into the city and you will be told what to do.”

7 Those with Saul were not able to say anything. They heard a voice but saw no one. 8 Saul got up from the ground. When he opened his eyes, he saw nothing. They took him by the hand and led him to Damascus. 9 He could not see for three days. During that time he did not eat or drink.

Prayer: Lord, may each day I find myself working with you and not against you to bring ongoing transformation to my soul. May I allow my mind to be changed in how I see your plan. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 1-8-20

Ephesians 4:1-7 The Passion Translation (TPT)

From the beginning, it was the plan of God to form humanity in the likeness of his Son—“let us make man in our image”—and Jesus is the visible image and perfect likeness of God. Of course, sin darkened and stained our glorious likeness. Now, it is our divine destiny to be transformed; to return to the likeness of Christ.

The Apostle Paul reminds us, “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect (Rom 12:2). That means Christ must be formed within us; sin has to go. Some stuff in our human flesh is not like Christ, so the Spirit works on us in order to cut it away. To allow the Spirit to do the necessary work within us, we must know and love God. And, the more we know and love God the more we will trust him to do what needs to be done in our lives. Growth takes time and obedience. Reach for your divine calling.

Ephesians 4:1-7 Our Divine Calling
1 As a prisoner of the Lord, I plead with you to walk holy, in a way that is suitable to your high rank (joint-heirs with Christ), given to you in your divine calling. 2 With tender humility and quiet patience, always demonstrate gentleness and generous [stretching] love toward one another, especially toward those who may try your patience. 3 Be faithful to guard the sweet harmony of the Holy Spirit among you in the bonds of peace, 4 being one body and one spirit, as you were all called into the same glorious hope of divine destiny.

5 For the Lord God is one, and so are we, for we share in one faith, one baptism, and one Father. 6 And He is the perfect Father who leads us all, works through us all, and lives in us all!

The Grace-Gifts of Christ
7 And he has generously given each one of us supernatural grace, according to the size of the gift of Christ.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the transforming work of your Spirit in my life. Continue the work that must be done in me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.