Daily Devotionals
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Daily Devotionals

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-21-17

Daily Reading 7-21-17

Hebrews 6:13-20 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

If you are connected to Christ, you are set up to be blessed.  Are you aware God took an oath and made a promise to bless you in Christ?  He did it a long time ago; and he is bound by that Word.  Since you know the truth, wait patiently for God to bring forth what He has promised.  You can place your confident hope in God and His love for you.  Allow faith to move and position you; God is growing your character while you wait.  Remain obedient in His loving care, because authentic faith lives for God.

 

Hebrews 6:13-20 God’s Promises Bring Hope

13 For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name, saying:

 

14 

“I will certainly bless you,

    and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.”

 

15 Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.

 

16 Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. 17 God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. 18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. 20 Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.

 

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for your oath and promise to bless me. I am so grateful for the love you spill over me each day.  I don’t live for the hope that my circumstances will always please me; rather, I live in the confidence of your presence and the hope that you will always be good to me even beyond what I can see.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-19-17

Daily Reading 7-19-17

Matthew 13:10-17 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

When we have a growing relationship with Christ, we hear the Word and it deepens our understanding of God’s heart and multiplies our spiritual fruit.  When we neglect our relationship with Christ, hearing the Word and discerning the meaning and application becomes more difficult.  When we reject a relationship with Christ, the mind becomes deceived and the heart becomes hardened.  

 

In our passage this morning, Jesus teaches his disciples and he teaches us.  If you want a thriving relationship with Christ and you invest time in learning to live the Word, he says to you, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven.”

 

Matthew 13:10-17

10 His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?”

 

11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. 12 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. 

 

13 That is why I use these parables,

For they look, but they don’t really see.

    They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.

14 This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,

‘When you hear what I say,

    you will not understand.

When you see what I do,

    you will not comprehend.

 

15 

For the hearts of these people are hardened,

    and their ears cannot hear,

and they have closed their eyes—

    so their eyes cannot see,

and their ears cannot hear,

    and their hearts cannot understand,

and they cannot turn to me

    and let me heal them.’

 

16 “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.

 

Prayer:  Lord, I am blessed to see your hand at work in my life and to hear what you want to teach me.  Please continue to teach me the mysteries of the Kingdom.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-18-17

Daily Reading 7-18-17

Ephesians 4:17-5:2 New Living Translation

 

We are no longer to live according to the demands of our flesh—sinful nature—instead we are to put on the righteousness of Christ and live in the new nature.  The Apostle Paul teaches we are to throw off the old nature (stop lying, stealing, becoming angry, and using our words against others) and instead put on the new nature (be truthful, kind, forgiving, holy, and righteous).  There is a great deal to meditate on this morning in our passage.  We need the help and power of the Spirit if we are going to consistently apply it to our lives.  Let the Word of God minister to you, today.

 

Ephesians 4:17-5:2 Living as Children of Light

17 With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

 

20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.

 

25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”[a] Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.

 

28 If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

 

30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own,[b] guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

 

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

 

Living in the Light

5 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us[c] and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

 

Prayer:  Father, help me to remember I am to imitate you in every area of my life; it’s a journey of transformation into the image of Christ. Please continue to transform my thinking; help me to keep my heart pliable.  I realize the more like you I become the brighter the Light in my life becomes.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-17-17

Daily Reading 7-17-17

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 (NIV)

 

The temptation to live for self rather than submit to God is a daily opportunity.  God desires for us to live obedient to his Word and to offer ourselves for the process of sanctification.  Being sanctified or made holy is the process of living the Christian life.  It is how the Holy Spirit works in us to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ.  Let’s not reject God’s instruction, but take it to heart and learn from him.

 

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8  Living to Please God

1 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

 

3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

 

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for this Word on sanctification; I welcome your instruction.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-13-17

Daily Reading 7-13-17

Romans 2:12-16 The Message (MSG)

 

Every culture and society recognizes some kind of moral law.  Even though that moral law may be viewed differently, there is evidence of what a society perceives as right and wrong.  If we are honest, we will have to admit that we fail to live up to even our own standards of right and wrong.  Knowing what is right and doing what is right must be our constant goal, but understanding that God is the One who actually decides what is right, sets the standard for us, and gives us the power to live it is the greatest truth. 

 

In our passage this morning, the Apostle Paul explains how knowing and doing is connected to the Living Torah (Law)-Jesus!  Has Jesus written the Law of God’s love on your heart? If so, you know what is right according to God.

 

Romans 2:12-16

12-13 If you sin without knowing what you’re doing, God takes that into account. But if you sin knowing full well what you’re doing, that’s a different story entirely. Merely hearing God’s law is a waste of your time if you don’t do what he commands. Doing, not hearing, is what makes the difference with God.

 

14-16 When outsiders who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God’s law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God’s yes and no, right and wrong. Their response to God’s yes and no will become public knowledge on the day God makes his final decision about every man and woman. The Message from God that I proclaim through Jesus Christ takes into account all these differences.

 

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for making your standard and way known to my heart. In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-12-17

Daily Reading 7-12-17

John 13:1-17  Living Bible (TLB)

 

Do you agree Christ’s way is the humble way?  You know there is a difference between believing in the humble way and actually living it, right?  We are not better than our Master; so, if Jesus humbled himself, took on a servant’s role, and washed the feet of the disciples, then we should find ways to serve others in a way that glorifies God.  How do you treat the people around you?  Are you waiting for them to serve you?  Or, do you actively look for ways to serve them?  If we are willing to take on a servant’s role and serve others, then clearly Christ has washed us and we have become his partners.  Our passage today, reminds us to know the truth and do it is the path of blessing!  So, I am praying blessing for you today!

 

John 13:1-17

13 1-3 Jesus knew on the evening of Passover Day that it would be his last night on earth before returning to his Father. During supper the devil had already suggested to Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, that this was the night to carry out his plan to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. And how he loved his disciples! 4 So he got up from the supper table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his loins, 5 poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he had around him.

6 When he came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Master, you shouldn’t be washing our feet like this!”

 

7 Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now why I am doing it; some day you will.”

 

8 “No,” Peter protested, “you shall never wash my feet!”

“But if I don’t, you can’t be my partner,” Jesus replied.

 

9 Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well—not just my feet!”

10 Jesus replied, “One who has bathed all over needs only to have his feet washed to be entirely clean. Now you are clean—but that isn’t true of everyone here.” 11 For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

 

12 After washing their feet he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Master’ and ‘Lord,’ and you do well to say it, for it is true. 14 And since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow: do as I have done to you. 16 How true it is that a servant is not greater than his master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends him. 17 You know these things—now do them! That is the path of blessing.

 

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for the reminder that we are to serve you by serving others; we are partners in your mission.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-11-17

Daily Reading 7-11-17

Romans 3:1-8  Living Bible (TLB)

 

There are some things in life that should be overlooked, but sin is not one of them.  Do you think God overlooks your sin?  In his epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul reminds his listeners that everyone sins and stands guilty before a holy God.  With that in mind, the best way to handle the truth of that statement is repentance; a turning from sin in order to live for God.  

 

People love to make excuses for why certain sins are all right and others are not, but in reality sin is sin and God hates sin; he will judge it.  God sent the Holy Spirit so we could be delivered from sin and instead live in his righteousness.  God is good and will always be righteous, but we are his children who are to be growing into the image of Christ.  If we are not growing in righteousness, more than likely we are making excuses for the sin we want to practice.

 

Romans 3:1-8

3 Then what’s the use of being a Jew? Are there any special benefits for them from God? Is there any value in the Jewish circumcision ceremony? 2 Yes, being a Jew has many advantages.

 

First of all, God trusted them with his laws so that they could know and do his will.[a] 3 True, some of them were unfaithful, but just because they broke their promises to God, does that mean God will break his promises? 4 Of course not! Though everyone else in the world is a liar, God is not. Do you remember what the book of Psalms says about this?[b] That God’s words will always prove true and right, no matter who questions them.

 

5 “But,” some say, “our breaking faith with God is good, our sins serve a good purpose, for people will notice how good God is when they see how bad we are. Is it fair, then, for him to punish us when our sins are helping him?” (That is the way some people talk.) 6 God forbid! Then what kind of God would he be, to overlook sin? How could he ever condemn anyone? 7 For he could not judge and condemn me as a sinner if my dishonesty brought him glory by pointing up his honesty in contrast to my lies. 8 If you follow through with that idea you come to this: the worse we are, the better God likes it! But the damnation of those who say such things is just. Yet some claim that this is what I preach!

 

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for guiding me toward righteous living; I need your help and power.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-10-17

Daily Reading 7-10-17

Romans 1:18-25  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Yesterday morning when I was getting ready to leave the house for church, I saw the most amazing rainbow.  As I looked at the beauty before me, I heard myself say, “Thank you, Father, for your promise.”  The rainbow is a sign of God’s promise that never again will the world be destroyed by a flood.  As in the days of Noah, our sin grieves the heart of our Father, but His grace in Christ covers us and protects us from His wrath.  We are free to respond to God’s invitation for relationship.  If we are honest, we know God exists because of the beauty and inspiring ways He has revealed Himself through creation.  Let’s honor God’s promise by allowing Him to be the Lord of our lives.  If you have wandered away from God’s righteous ways, come back today.  The God who made the covenant with Noah, is the same God who makes His promise to us. Instead of embracing sin, let’s embrace Christ who helps us overcome sin.

 

Romans 1:18-25  God’s Anger at Sin

18 But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. 19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

 

21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles.

 

24 So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.

 

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for your promise to love me and to work with me so I may grow into spiritual maturity.  I hold onto your promise and reach for your heart.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-7-17

Daily Reading 7-7-17

Luke 10:21-24 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Although truth is for everyone to discover and receive, we all come to Christ through childlike trust.  Scripture teaches the Lord opposes the proud, so we cannot be full of ourselves and full of Christ.  In our passage today, Jesus demonstrates the importance of thanking God that we have access to Him and for helping us to trust the work of grace in our lives.  

 

If you desire a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Christ, take the humble road, listen to his instructions, pay attention to his actions, and obey him.  It’s a privileged position; to know and be known by Almighty God.

 

 Luke 10:21-24 Jesus’ Prayer of Thanksgiving

21 At that same time Jesus was filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit, and he said, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way.

 

22 “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

 

23 Then when they were alone, he turned to the disciples and said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you have seen. 24 I tell you, many prophets and kings longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”

 

Prayer:  Father, thank you for the privilege of being a participant in your grace.  Keep teaching me and guiding me in your ways.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-5-17

Daily Reading 7-5-17

Jeremiah 18:1-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

God has granted us freedom in His Son, Jesus Messiah.  Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. God has always existed in freedom; He is free to do His will, because His will is always righteous and just.  

 

In our passage today, we will read about how God is free to remake us into whatever vessel he chooses. He is our Creator; He knows the image into which we are to be made.   Remember, God will only choose good things for us, because He is Love and Light.  There is no darkness in the Lord.  That is why it is so important to allow God as the Potter to remake us into the proper image as His children.   If you believe God only wants good for you, then invite Him to fashion you as He chooses.  It means discipline, but God only disciplines those whom He loves. You are free.  How will you use your freedom?

 

Jeremiah 18:1-11  The Potter and the Clay

18 The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 2 “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” 3 So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. 4 But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.

 

5 Then the Lord gave me this message: 6 “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand. 7 If I announce that a certain nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down, and destroyed, 8 but then that nation renounces its evil ways, I will not destroy it as I had planned. 9 And if I announce that I will plant and build up a certain nation or kingdom, 10 but then that nation turns to evil and refuses to obey me, I will not bless it as I said I would.

11 “Therefore, Jeremiah, go and warn all Judah and Jerusalem. Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am planning disaster for you instead of good. So turn from your evil ways, each of you, and do what is right.’”

 

Prayer:  Lord, I want to be made in the image that is right as your daughter.  So, mold me and make me as you have willed.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-4-17

Daily Reading 7-4-17

 

Happy Independence Day!  In America, we are a free people because we are one nation under God with liberty and justice for all.  How grateful I am to live in the United States and for our military and law enforcement who keep order and maintain mutual respect among its people.  

 

Because of Jesus, we are spiritually free.   We are free to receive the love of God so we may love Him in return and extend love to all people.  We are free from the penalty of sin.  We are free to turn away from practicing sin.  In Christ, we are free to serve one another in His love.  The Spirit makes us free and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.  

 

Take time to thank God for your freedom, because He is the Maker of heaven and earth; He is the One in control. I have chosen to share some Scriptures that highlight freedom.  Enjoy!

 

Luke 4:18-19 NLT

18 

Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

    for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,

    that the blind will see,

that the oppressed will be set free,

19 

    and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come.

 

John 8:31-32 NLT

Jesus said to the people who believed in him, "You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (NLT)

 

2 Corinthians 3:17 NLT

17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

 

Galatians 5:13-14 NLT

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

 

1 Peter 2:16 ESV

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

 

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for the freedom you provide. I celebrate the independence you have granted me; but I choose to be fully dependent upon you because you are abundant life.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.  

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-3-17

Daily Reading 7-3-17

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12a Living Bible (TLB)

 

I want to thank the leadership of Connect2Christ Church, as well as the membership at large in how they have loved me and my family especially this past year. Loving and caring for my Mom has been and continues to be a great honor; it also consumes much of my time and energy.  Although we are home, I am taking this week to rest and enjoy some time with John as we celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary.  

 

How Christians actively love one another is a big deal with our Father; because Father God is Love.  As His children we are to exemplify His holy character in how we display our love and concern for one another.  We are to be a positive force in society; acting independently in the liberating love the Spirit of the Lord brings us. 

 

In our lesson this morning, the Apostle Paul is writing to the Church at Thessalonica to remind them of the importance of being responsible in every area of life.  It is a developmental journey of allowing the Holy Spirit to make us good examples of how grace and love are operating in our lives. The results should be that others who do not know the love of God, will see it in action and desire a relationship with God, as well.  Every day we should honestly examine our love walk to make sure we are living in the character, integrity, and moral courage provided to us by the Lord.

 

9 But concerning the pure brotherly love that there should be among God’s people, I don’t need to say very much, I’m sure! For God himself is teaching you to love one another. 10 Indeed, your love is already strong toward all the Christian brothers throughout your whole nation. Even so, dear friends, we beg you to love them more and more. 11 This should be your ambition: to live a quiet life, minding your own business and doing your own work, just as we told you before. 12 As a result, people who are not Christians will trust and respect you;

 

Prayer:  Lord, your love is perfect and all consuming.  Help me to love as you love and to be responsible in every area of my life.  Thank you for this time of rest and recuperation.  Thank you for the love of my spiritual family.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-30-17

 

Daily Reading 6-30-17

Galatians 5:7-10 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Since the coming of Christ, humanity has experienced a propensity for choosing a legalistic approach to faith rather than the gospel of grace Christ actually modeled and taught.  Christ modeled the perfect fulfillment of the Law given to Moses by God; therefore, as we live and move and have our being in Christ we will learn how to obey God’s true Word as it is spoken to our hearts.  The Spirit speaks and we listen and obey.  Christ’s followers are not to be burdened by the “job description or code” of how to earn salvation by following the Law in our own strength.  Apart from Christ and the power of his Spirit, we cannot begin to obey.  If we try to make ourselves holy by practicing a do’s and don’ts list, we will fail every time.

 

Either we believe in the work of Christ on the cross to save us from our sins or we do not.  Grace provides forgiveness for our sins when we believe.  The cross is where the truth of grace actually begins; where we begin the training race of faith in the Spirit who brings holiness to human life.   If we are being taught anything other than obedience to the Word in us, we are leaning toward false teaching or legalism.  Christ came to set us free, so we could learn from him as we live life.  How loving is he?  Thank Amazing Grace!

 

In our passage, today, the Apostle Paul continues his letter to the Church at Galatia.  Legalism is an issue and the person teaching it is distorting the gospel. Mary paraphrasing the Apostle, “Come back to the truth and run the race in Christ!”  Blessings for your day…

 

Galatians 5:7-12 Christ Has Set Us Free

7 You were running the race so well. Who has held you back from following the truth? 8 It certainly isn’t God, for he is the one who called you to freedom. 9 This false teaching is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough! 10 I am trusting the Lord to keep you from believing false teachings. God will judge that person, whoever he is, who has been confusing you.

 

Prayer: Father, please help me to stay focused on learning, because that is what you have called me to do in my connection to Christ.  Today, I am going to take steps and I want each one to count for your Kingdom.  Thank you for taking my sin, so I may learn from you how to operate in holy love.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-29-17

Daily Reading 6-29-17

Galatians 5:4-6 The Message (MSG)

 

Over the past few days we have been reminded in our readings to keep Jesus, the Living Word, our first love by inviting the Spirit to teach us how to honor his name.  It is a consistent message we find in the gospels, because Jesus taught his disciples, “If you love me you will obey my commandments” (John 14:15).  In other words, if we have really taken to heart the gospel of grace, we will respond with respect to the Word of the Lord by allowing its authority to bring a change in our thoughts and behavior.  Obedience to God’s Word or Commands is how we are conformed to the image of God’s Love.

 

Today, we will gain a glimpse of what I just mentioned above from a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Galatia reminding them the gospel is not about an exterior practice of a religious system.   Rather, the gospel is a faith-instigated internal obedience to the Word that becomes externally visible in our love walk.  How do you see the authority and work of the Word?  Do you understand and appropriate the power of the gospel of grace?  Pray and ask the Lord to reveal His heart to you regarding this Word, today.

 

4-6 I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.

 

Prayer:  Lord, help me to be quick to obey your Word to my heart, today.  I will recognize my level of obedience by how well I love and extend the fruit of the Spirit, today.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-28-17

Daily Reading 6-28-17

Psalm 86:11-13 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

We can all testify to times when we really needed help.  In our passage this morning, the psalmist is reaching out to God in prayer in order to gain help.  What does he want help with?  He wants the Lord to teach him how to honor His name.  Let our prayer today be, “Lord, teach me how to honor your name, today!”  

 

Teach me your ways, O Lord,

    that I may live according to your truth!

Grant me purity of heart,

    so that I may honor you.

12 

With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God.

    I will give glory to your name forever,

13 

for your love for me is very great.

    You have rescued me from the depths of death.

 

Prayer:  Lord, please hear my prayer and teach me anew how to honor your name.  I want to bring glory to you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-27-17

Daily Reading 6-27-17

Psalm 89:14-18 Living Bible (TLB)

 

Are you aware you need the Lord’s support: A vertical support system?  The Lord is the strength we need in every relationship and in every detail of life.  His ways are righteous and just; it is how He rules.  If we find ourselves dealing with others in an unrighteous, unmerciful, or unjust way, we are not walking in the light of His presence.  In order to reflect his reputation, we must rest on His support system.  Evaluate your ways before the Lord and receive His strength for Life.  He wants to be your King.

 

14-15 Your throne is founded on two strong pillars—the one is Justice and the other Righteousness.  Mercy and Truth walk before you as your attendants. Blessed are those who hear the joyful blast of the trumpet, for they shall walk in the light of your presence. 16 They rejoice all day long in your wonderful reputation and in your perfect righteousness. 17 You are their strength. What glory! Our power is based on your favor! 18 Yes, our protection is from the Lord himself and he, the Holy One of Israel, has given us our king.

 

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for the solid foundation you place in my soul for your throne in my life.  Help me to walk in righteousness and justice.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-26-17

Daily Reading 6-26-17

Revelation 2:1-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

In our reading today, we turn to the Book of Revelation and read a letter to the Church in Ephesus.  Ephesus was surrounded by pagan worshipers; they worshipped the goddess Diana and many people in the community had no fear/respect of the Lord.  Although Christ commends the Church for being faithful with a variety of things, he corrects them for leaving their first Love.  Do you love Jesus today as much as you did when you first met him?

 

Revelation 2:1-7  The Message to the Church in Ephesus

1 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands:

 

2 “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. 3 You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.

 

4 “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! 5 Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches. 6 But this is in your favor: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do.

 

7 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.

 

Prayer:  Lord, I love you and desire to be a light shining for you in this world.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-2-17

Daily Reading 5-2-17
1 Peter 2:1-3 New Living Translation (NLT)

Scripture teaches we have been given new birth by Christ’s atoning sacrifice for our sins. He has extended mercy and kindness in dying for our sins (the penalty for our sin is death) and our response for this gift of life should be gratitude and surrender. Our new birth means a new beginning and a new way to live; living by the Word of God rather than our feelings and our flesh. Our flesh thrives on doing what makes us feel good; however, that is usually exalting the flesh over the Lord. In order to move beyond infancy, we must be nourished by the Word.


1 Peter 2:1-3 New Living Translation (NLT)
2 So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. 2 Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, 3 now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.

Prayer: Lord, I am going to spend time every day in your Word; feed me until I can hold no more. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 4-3-17

Daily Reading 4-3-17

Acts 20:7-12  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Do you love going to church and listening to the Word of God being taught?  Are you spiritually hungry to the point that you can’t get enough of Christ’s teaching?  People in the early church were so eager to hear about the work of Christ, they would meet together around the clock in order to hear more of the Good News.   The Apostle Paul never tired of sharing about Christ.  As long as people would listen, he would preach.  

 

Have you ever fallen asleep in church?  In our passage today, we read about a young man who was attending a church service on the third floor of a building. The service went on for hours and hours.  This young man fell asleep while sitting on the window ledge.  This Scripture gives new meaning to the phrase “falling out” in the Spirit!

 

Acts 20:7-12  Paul’s Final Visit to Troas

7 On the first day of the week, we gathered with the local believers to share in the Lord’s Supper.Paul was preaching to them, and since he was leaving the next day, he kept talking until midnight. 8 The upstairs room where we met was lighted with many flickering lamps. 9 As Paul spoke on and on, a young man named Eutychus, sitting on the windowsill, became very drowsy. Finally, he fell sound asleep and dropped three stories to his death below. 10 Paul went down, bent over him, and took him into his arms. “Don’t worry,” he said, “he’s alive!” 11 Then they all went back upstairs, shared in the Lord’s Supper,[b] and ate together. Paul continued talking to them until dawn, and then he left. 12 Meanwhile, the young man was taken home alive and well, and everyone was greatly relieved.

 

Prayer:  Lord, make me hungry for more and more of your Word.  Keep me hungry for more of your presence.  Be blessed by my desire to enjoy you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 3-21-17

Daily Reading 3-21-17

1 Corinthians 10:1-7, 12-13

 

I have made many mistakes over the past sixty years.   How about you?  Scripture teaches a wise person learns from his or her past mistakes.  I strongly believe we can learn not only from our own mistakes, but from the mistakes of others around us.  We can evaluate the success or failure of life choices and learn from them; our choices can become wiser.  We can grow more spiritually.  God expects us to learn from mistakes.

 

Our Scripture for today has the Apostle Paul telling the early church in Corinth about the mistakes the Israelites made worshiping other gods.  Why would he dig up the past?  So these new Christians might not make the same mistakes.

 

1 Corinthians 10:1-7, 12-13 Lessons from Israel’s Idolatry

10 I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. 2 In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. 3 All of them ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ.  5 Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

 

6 These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, 7 or worship idols as some of them did.

 

12 If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. 

 

Prayer:  Father, thank you for the lessons I have learned from my mistakes and from watching others.  Continue to teach me wisdom.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 3-13-17

Daily Reading 3-13-17

Hebrews 3:1-6 New Living Translation

 

Human identity is a big deal.  As Christ followers, our journey is one of discovering who God created us to be.  Each one of us is unique, so purpose should be lingering in our minds.  We are all called to leave an honorable human legacy, as well as an inspiring mark for God in this world.  Jesus makes a huge difference in our lives for the glory of God.

 

The author(s) of Hebrews reminds us Moses was used mightily by God as people followed him; he left a tremendous legacy and mark for the Jewish people.  But, Jesus came to call all people to follow him for the glory of God. In our text this morning, the supremacy of Christ is recognized so he may draw all of humanity to himself and thereby make a connection to God.  

 

Hebrews 3:1-6 Jesus Is Greater Than Moses

3 And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. 2 For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house.

 

3 But Jesus deserves far more glory than Moses, just as a person who builds a house deserves more praise than the house itself. 4 For every house has a builder, but the one who built everything is God.

 

5 Moses was certainly faithful in God’s house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God would reveal later. 6 But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.

 

Prayer:  Father, may my life in Christ be an honorable example of your grace in action and may you receive all the glory for having accomplished it.  Thank you for giving me Jesus and the work of your Spirit to change how I view my life.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 3-9-17

Daily Reading 3-9-17

Psalm 121 NLT

 

I don’t know about you, but some days I find myself rather distracted.  I will start something important, face an interruption or two/three/four, and then become so detoured I never make it back to the first thing I was doing.  I might reflect on my day or think about the things I started and form the question, “Why didn’t I finish that, today?”

 

Scripture tells us the Lord never finds Himself distracted or detoured from the very best for our lives.  I find that so reassuring.  I am grateful God does not become distracted and walk away from me while bringing restoration to my soul and renewal to my mind.  He has promised to stand beside me and watch over my soul.  He has promised the same to you.  Let this truth refresh your soul and fill you with gratitude.

 

Psalm 121  A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.

I look up to the mountains—

    does my help come from there?

My help comes from the Lord,

    who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;

    the one who watches over you will not slumber.

Indeed, he who watches over Israel

    never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!

    The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.

The sun will not harm you by day,

    nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm

    and watches over your life.

The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,

    both now and forever.

 

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for never losing tract of finishing your work in me.  I trust your timing and your way.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 3-8-17

Daily Reading 3-8-17

Matthew 18:10-14 NLT

 

It makes us feel good when people are concerned about our well-being; we feel loved and valued.  We should care about one another.  As well, we should recognize how very much God loves us. Sometimes we forget how very much Messiah is concerned when we wander off the righteous path.  

 

In our passage today, Jesus teaches his disciples about the depth of the Father’s concern and care.  I pray you enjoy our reading for today.

 

Matthew 18:10-14 The Parable of the Wandering Sheep

10 “Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.

 

12 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? 13 And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away! 14 In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father’s will that even one of these little ones should perish.

 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for always being concerned about me; you know where I am at all times.  If I should wander away, please come and get me.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 3-7-17

Daily Reading 3-7-17

Hebrews 4:14-16 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

If we place our hope in anything getting us to heaven other than Jesus, we have become terrible confused as to what it takes to have fellowship with God.  I am so grateful for the work of Jesus and his righteousness to cover my sin so I can enjoy the presence of my Abba—Father!  Jesus gets me; he knows me—my weaknesses—and chooses to extend me mercy and cover me with grace, anyway.  It is why I can pray boldly and ask my Father for healing, restoration, and wholeness for myself and my loved ones.  Thank you, Jesus!

 

Hebrews 4:14-16 Christ Is Our High Priest

14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

 

Prayer:  Abba, thank you for Jesus.  Jesus, thank you for your merciful heart and extravagant grace.  Holy Spirit, I love living life with you guiding the way!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 3-6-17

Daily Reading 3-6-17

Hebrews 2:10-18 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Who’s your daddy?  According to the Word of God, because of Jesus our High Priest, we all have the same Abba-Daddy.  Christ restored our broken relationship with God; a relationship broken due to our sin.  Through his obedient sacrifice, Christ broke the power the devil had over us.  That is such an awesome reality isn’t it?  Now, we are set apart for God’s service.  We are brothers and sisters with Christ and all of us should be about our Abba’s business.

 

Hebrews 2:10-18

10 God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.

 

11 So now Jesus and the ones he makes holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his brothers and sisters.[a] 12 For he said to God,

“I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters.

    I will praise you among your assembled people.”[b]

 

13 He also said,

“I will put my trust in him,”

    that is, “I and the children God has given me.”[c]

 

14 Because God’s children are human beings-made of flesh and blood-the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had[d] the power of death. 15 Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.

 

16 We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters,[e] so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. 18 Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.

 

Prayer:  My Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name.  Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give me this day my daily bread.  Forgive my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me.  And, lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil; for yours is the kingdom, power, and glory forever.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 2-28-17

Daily Reading 2-28-17

Romans 11:1-6 Living Bible (TLB)

 

Kindness is the fruit of the Spirit. I looked up the biblical definition of the word “kindness” and found this: An attribute of God and quality desirable but not consistently found in humans. Kindness and mercy are used interchangeably. That means when we are truly kind and care about the heart and soul of others, we are responding like the Lord. In fact, Scripture teaches God considers extending kindness or mercy to others more important than offering ritual sacrifice to God. As you go through you day, please remember to sow kindness into the lives around you. God will smile.

 

The Apostle Paul taught all the time about the mercy of God, because God extended kindness to him. Once he experienced the fruit of kindness given as a gift by the Spirit, he better understood the heart of God. Paul shared his understanding in a letter of correction to the Christians in Rome who were convinced God no longer loved the Jews. 

 

11 I ask then, has God rejected and deserted his people the Jews? Oh no, not at all. Remember that I myself am a Jew, a descendant of Abraham and a member of Benjamin’s family.

 

2-3 No, God has not discarded his own people whom he chose from the very beginning. Do you remember what the Scriptures say about this? Elijah the prophet was complaining to God about the Jews, telling God how they had killed the prophets and torn down God’s altars; Elijah claimed that he was the only one left in all the land who still loved God, and now they were trying to kill him too.

 

4 And do you remember how God replied? God said, “No, you are not the only one left. I have seven thousand others besides you who still love me and have not bowed down to idols!”

 

5 It is the same today. Not all the Jews have turned away from God; there are a few being saved as a result of God’s kindness in choosing them. 6 And if it is by God’s kindness, then it is not by their being good enough. For in that case the free gift would no longer be free-it isn’t free when it is earned.

 

Prayer: Lord, help me to receive in a greater measure the spiritual gift of kindness, today. Then, help me to release it into the lives around me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 2-24-17

Daily Reading 2-24-17

Hebrews 11:23-27  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Deception is a very real enemy of faith; it is expressed through people.  Anyone can fall into deception unless he or she guards their heart with the Truth.  I might define the word Truth this way: Jesus is the manifestation of the Truth about God and in him there is no darkness or deception.  Therefore, there is the existence of absolute Truth.  When we give our hearts to Jesus we belong to the Truth.  

 

How does faith enter into truth?  Faith is expressed in believing something to be true (intellectual assent) and trusting it (relying on it as fact) with our lives.  Here’s another way to say it: faith is expressed in believing Christ to be Truth and trusting Him with every aspect of our lives.  When we choose to live by faith and follow the Lord, we gain heavenly eyesight.

 

Hebrews 11:23-27New Living Translation (NLT)

23 It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s command.

 

24 It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. 27 It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.

 

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for the ability to know truth and stand against deception.  You open my eyes so I may see.  You bless me!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 2-23-17

Daily Reading 2-23-17

Hebrews 8:1-7New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Sometimes repetition is very helpful; especially when it is something really important we need to grasp.  So, repeat after me, “Christ died for me!”  Let the sound of that sentence resonate in your mind.  Christ died for every person, because we are all guilty of sin and deserve death and eternal separation from God.  By Christ laying down his life as an offering for the sin of the world, humanity can call out for Grace and choose live a “risen” life.  Christ becomes our High Priest—our mediator in the faith.  The risen life woos us to live high above selfish mindsets and self-centered living.   I am so grateful for the second covenant of Grace and to know God is directly involved in my life.

 

Hebrews 8:1-7 Christ Is Our High Priest

8 Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. 2 There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands.

 

3 And since every high priest is required to offer gifts and sacrifices, our High Priest must make an offering, too. 4 If he were here on earth, he would not even be a priest, since there already are priests who offer the gifts required by the law. 5 They serve in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven. For when Moses was getting ready to build the Tabernacle, God gave him this warning: “Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.”

 

6 But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises.

 

7 If the first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no need for a second covenant to replace it.

 

Prayer:  Lord, thank you that your new covenant focuses on the reign of Christ in the hearts of believers.  Christ died for me!  And, I love you for the great love you have extended me.  Let my life worship you.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 2-21-17

Daily Reading 2-21-17

Hebrews 12:14-16 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

When we read Scripture we cannot help but notice that God desires for humans to have a revelation of his presence and love.  It is not a secret; God wants us to know.  The Bible is like a love letter describing the reality of God and how he interacts in relationship with those whom he loves.  Who does God love?  The answer is all of his creation. Every human being has a birthright to know his or her Creator.  If only we would value that birthright and listen to how He designed us to live….

 

Hebrews 12:14-16 A Call to Listen to God

14 Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. 16 Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal.

 

Prayer:  Lord, I want to see you, so help me to live according to your Word.  Open my eyes that I may see.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 2-13-17

Daily Reading 2-13-17
James 1:2-8 New Living Translation (NLT)

In our physical fitness training, the goal is to increase our endurance for activity. In our faith training, the goal is to allow endurance to grow our faith from the measure God gave us originally to what it can be with the work of the Spirit. Faith and endurance must grow. “Troubles” or perhaps another word would be “struggles” is what makes our endurance level grow. If we never faced a “struggle” our faith would not be necessary; it would never be stretched to grow. Most of the time we want to fight the struggle rather than use our endurance and faith to get beyond it, but God is faithful to call us to wisely stay the course and grow up in our faith and trust that God loves us and will make a way for us. If you are facing a struggle, today, allow endurance to do what God intends. Hold fast to your trust in His love for you!

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 2-8-17

Daily Reading 2-8-17

John 8:12-19 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Darkness is terribly unsettling at times.  Especially, when you are looking to focus on something in order to find your way.  During those times, any source of light is helpful to give perspective or guidance.  When the children of Israel were wandering through the dark wilderness, God provided a pillar of light to guide them.  Get that Old Testament picture into your thoughts.  

 

Let’s move to the New Testament and our passage for today.  Jesus was at the Temple  teaching during the Festival of Booths; a time to remember when Israel wandered through the wilderness and how God provided for them.   As we read today’s passage we understand the Light to guide God’s people through the wilderness was a picture of Jesus and his work to save.  Today, Jesus is still available to be the Light that safely guides our lives in a dark world, but we must follow the Word.

 

John 8:12-19  Jesus, the Light of the World

12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

 

13 The Pharisees replied, “You are making those claims about yourself! Such testimony is not valid.”

 

14 Jesus told them, “These claims are valid even though I make them about myself. For I know where I came from and where I am going, but you don’t know this about me. 15 You judge me by human standards, but I do not judge anyone. 16 And if I did, my judgment would be correct in every respect because I am not alone. The Father[a] who sent me is with me. 17 Your own law says that if two people agree about something, their witness is accepted as fact.[b] 18 I am one witness, and my Father who sent me is the other.”

 

19 “Where is your father?” they asked.

 

Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.”

 

Prayer:  Father, thank you for connecting the testaments of your provision and salvation to a dark world.  Jesus is my Light and my salvation.  I am so grateful for His brightness to guide.  Bless this day.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 2-7-17

Daily Reading 2-7-17

2 Corinthians 4:1-12New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Living the Christian life in the power of the Spirit is a wonderful gift from God.  As we live in that power, people respond to Christ in us.   The Word of God is essential to that power.  The Good News is the creative word of God that brings spiritual life and understanding.  When we choose to love and apply that word to our lives it becomes extremely powerful in and through us.  Humility is necessary because we can never forget we are fragile human creatures occupied by a holy all-powerful God.  As you go through your day, please do not forget, if you know Jesus—the Son of God—you are the dwelling place of His loving presence. 

 

In our reading today, the Apostle Paul tells the church at Corinth about a holy God in clay jars.

 

2 Corinthians 4:1-12  Treasure in Fragile Clay Jars

4 Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. 2 We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this.

 

3 If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. 4 Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.

 

5 You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

 

7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

 

8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

11 Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. 12 So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.

 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank you for the work of Jesus and the privilege of being filled with your spiritual presence.  Help me to submit to your Word and to apply it to my life, so I may be a powerful witness of what you accomplish through me.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 2-6-17

Daily Reading 2-6-17

Romans 11:2-10 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Happy Monday to you all!  Thank you so much for a wonderful birthday brunch at the church today; it was a delight sharing my celebration with all of you.  You blessed me.

 

Over the years I have listened to people talk about whether or not God was done with the Jews.  Has the church replaced the Jews as God’s chosen people?  Let’s turn to Scripture to answer that question…

 

Romans 11:2-10

2 No, God has not rejected his own people, whom he chose from the very beginning. Do you realize what the Scriptures say about this? Elijah the prophet complained to God about the people of Israel and said, 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

4 And do you remember God’s reply? He said, “No, I have 7,000 others who have never bowed down to Baal!”

 

5 It is the same today, for a few of the people of Israel have remained faithful because of God’s grace—his undeserved kindness in choosing them. 6 And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved.

 

7 So this is the situation: Most of the people of Israel have not found the favor of God they are looking for so earnestly. A few have—the ones God has chosen—but the hearts of the rest were hardened. 8 As the Scriptures say,

 

“God has put them into a deep sleep.

To this day he has shut their eyes so they do not see,

    and closed their ears so they do not hear.”

 

Prayer:  Father, your Word teaches you have brought a spiritual blindness to the Jews until the full number of Gentiles (non-Jews) have responded to the gospel.  Thank you for loving the Jews and for loving the rest of us, too.  Glory be to you, O Lord!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 2-3-17

Daily Reading 2-3-17

James 3:13-18New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Scripture teaches God has united us with Christ and for our benefit made Christ to be wisdom itself (1 Corinthians 1:30).  Wisdom is associated with righteous motives; it is pure, peace-loving, gentle, and merciful.  Simply put, wisdom is the spirit of Christ revealed in humble people through effective practice of God’s ways.  

 

Pride on the other hand stirs anger and contention, is puffed up, self-exalting, and demands its own way.  Simply put, pride is the spirit of fallen humanity operating in human understanding apart from God; it is foolishness and manifests in arrogant destructive competitiveness.  

 

James 3:13-18 True Wisdom Comes from God

13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

 

17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.

 

Prayer:  I pray for my heart to be right before you, Lord.  Bring to my understanding any prideful attitudes or motives that need sanctification and healing.  Help me to be a great citizen of this country by practicing wisdom in my own life.  I pray for peace and wisdom to rule in this country.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.  

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 2-2-17

Daily Reading 2-2-17

Malachi 3:1-4 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

I know very little about refining metals, but I do realize the Lord uses the word “refining” to refer to his work of holiness; taking our flesh and making it holy.  Malachi releases a prophecy the Messiah will bring the refining fire that will make a sinful people holy.  

 

We are purified by God when we are open to his purification process.  When things heat up inside, God is up to something good in our lives.  May we cooperate with the Lord’s process for his glory.  If you have been tasting the Refiner’s fire, pray for the Lord to make you strong.

 

Malachi 3:1-4  The Coming Day of Judgment

3 “Look! I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his Temple. The messenger of the covenant, whom you look for so eagerly, is surely coming,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

 

2 “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. 3 He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord.

 

Prayer:  Lord, I realize there is still much work to be done in my flesh to reflect a greater measure of your image.  Thank you for working for my good.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 2-1-17

Daily Reading 2-1-17

Luke 6:17-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

When the Word of God is partnered with the anointing (influence of the Holy Spirit), the results is people begin to understand the work of Christ and His love for them.  In our passage, today, the crowds come to hear Jesus—the Word—and receive healing and peace from inner turmoil.  

 

Jesus has authority and power over sickness and disease, as well as evil.  While on earth, he overcame sin and death.  May we remember this truth and cry out to Jesus in order to receive from His amazing Grace. Some of us may need physical healing, emotional healing, and/or spiritual renewal.  If your soul is craving an impartation of peace, Jesus is the answer.  May God’s highest and best be released for you, today.

 

Luke 6:17-19  Crowds Follow Jesus

17 When they came down from the mountain, the disciples stood with Jesus on a large, level area, surrounded by many of his followers and by the crowds. There were people from all over Judea and from Jerusalem and from as far north as the seacoasts of Tyre and Sidon. 18 They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those troubled by evil spirits were healed. 19 Everyone tried to touch him, because healing power went out from him, and he healed everyone.

 

Prayer:  Lord, please impart your peace to my weary mind, will, and emotions.  I take authority in the name of Jesus over anything that would try to rob me of the blessing of your perfect peace. In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 1-31-17

Daily Reading 1-31-17

Psalm 37:8  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Are you quick to lose your temper?  We have all experienced strong feelings when things took place that we did not expect.  Anger is a very strong emotion; sustained anger is a very destructive emotion and gives a foothold to evil.  God’s children are to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry because anger does not produce righteousness (James 1:19-20).  

 

Psalm 37:8  

Stop being angry!

    Turn from your rage!

Do not lose your temper—

    it only leads to harm.

 

Prayer:  Lord, help me to put a watch over my emotions; to choose to love and believe the best of others.  I can see the enemy is trying to get people angry and bitter.  With patience I will gain greater understanding; so, I will remain focused on You with trust.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.  

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 1-30-17

Daily Reading 1-30-17

Psalm 37:3-5 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

When our son, Joe, was eighteen, he preached a sermon on Psalm 37.  I will never forget it. Every time I read Psalm 37, his sermon rises up in my heart.  The sermon involved three simple words:  Trust, Delight, and Commitment.   

 

Joe taught about the value of trusting the Lord; trust is the root that upholds and nourishes the tree of the Christian life.  He highlighted the word “delight” and encouraged everyone “to bend toward” or “be inclined toward” pleasing the Lord; submitting to His way and working for the salvation of others. When we set our hearts on pleasing the Lord, the Lord brings us blessings in return.  Joe shared a cute story about commitment that drove a deeper meaning of that word home, too.  I will share it with you now:

 

Once upon a time, a chicken and pig lived on a farm.  The farmer was very good to them and they both wanted to do something good for him.  One day the chicken approached the pig and said, “I have a great idea for something we can do for the farmer!  Would you like to help?”

 

The pig, quite intrigued by this said, “Of course.  What is it you propose?”

 

The chicken knew how much the farmer enjoyed a good healthy breakfast.  He also knew how little time the farmer had to make a good breakfast.  “I think the farmer would be very happy if we made him breakfast,” said the chicken.  

The pig replied, “I’d be happy to help you make breakfast for the farmer!  What do you suggest we make?”

 

The chicken understanding that he had little else to offer suggested, “I could provide some eggs.”

 

The pig knew the farmer might want more, “That’s a fine start.  What else should we make?”  

 

The chicken looked around, scratched his head, then said, “Ham?  The farmer loves ham and eggs!”

 

The pig, very mindful of what this implied said, “That’s fine, but while you’re making a contribution I’m making a real commitment!”

 

As you read our passage from Psalm, today.  Please examine your level of trust, delight, and commitment to the Lord.  Blessings for your day!

 

Psalm 37:3-5

Trust in the Lord and do good.

    Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.

Take delight in the Lord,

    and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.

    Trust him, and he will help you.

 

Prayer:  Lord, you are looking for me to trust you with my whole being.  May I delight or lean toward pleasing you moment by moment.  And Lord, help me to be sold out in my commitment to love you and my neighbor, because it is you mission in the world.  Spill your favor and love over me and everyone who reads this prayer.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 1-27-17

Daily Reading 1-27-17

John 13:31-35New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Every Christ follower understands he or she is to love others.  Yet, not every follower understands the magnitude of Christ’s command.  Stated simply we are to love others the sacrificial way that Christ has loved us.   If we are honest in evaluating our love for others, more than likely we would not call it sacrificial love.   This kind of love is not convenient, can be emotionally painful because we are called to give when it hurts, is draining to our energy, and requires we think of the well-being of others not just ourselves.  It is this sacrificial kind of love that reveals us as Christ’s disciples or followers.  This love sets us apart from the shallow love of the world.  Jesus knew Peter would deny him, yet Christ sacrificially loved him.  Later, Peter would know just how much Christ loved him and he would spend his life sharing that same sacrificial love.  

 

John 13:31-35  Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

31 As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man[a] to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him. 32 And since God receives glory because of the Son,[b] he will give his own glory to the Son, and he will do so at once. 33 Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. 34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

 

Prayer:  Lord, it is time to grow up into the kind of love that reveals us as your followers.  Help me to lead, preach, and teach about this amazing love that is so valuable to your work of salvation.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 1-26-17

Daily Reading 1-26-17

Psalm 15 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Our words matter if we are interested in building up relationships as God’s children; we cannot just throw out comments that hurt people and still please God. We are called to be worshipers of the Most High and that means we live to please our Father.  It means we know when to shut our mouths if we are tempted to harm others with our words. 

 

In David’s song, he sings about the heart that may know a deep intimate place of worship with God.  In this song, how we use our words can either connect us with God or distance us from God.

 

Psalm 15  A psalm of David.

Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord?

    Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?

Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right,

    speaking the truth from sincere hearts.

Those who refuse to gossip

    or harm their neighbors

    or speak evil of their friends.

Those who despise flagrant sinners,

    and honor the faithful followers of the Lord,

    and keep their promises even when it hurts.

Those who lend money without charging interest,

    and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent.

Such people will stand firm forever.

 

Prayer:  Lord, in this world there seems to be a spiritual battle going on with words; conflict and deception are busy dividing.  Help me to guard my words carefully so I may not sin against you or my neighbor.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 1-24-17

 

Daily Reading 1-24-17

Philippians 2:12-18 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Constant complaining seems to be a way of life for many people these days. Every time I turn on the news someone is complaining about something or someone.  It is sad because according to Scripture it is choosing to live with a dark attitude rather than a Light spirit.   Why are we expecting that other people must please us?

 

A sign of our salvation is desiring to please and trust God to bring things about for our good. Maybe we need to grow in the understanding that to actually trust God means we accept this natural world is not always going to give us what we want; so God will find a way to get a better blessing to us.  Life is not always fair, but God is Good!  Can you be joyful and peaceful even when things are not going the way you want them to go?  The Father loves us; we are his children who are to shine in the darkness.

 

Philippians 2:12-18 Shine Brightly for Christ

12 Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. 13 For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

 

14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. 16 Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. 17 But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God,[a] just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy. 18 Yes, you should rejoice, and I will share your joy.

 

Prayer:  Father, please help me to watch my attitude and avoid a complaining spirit, today.  Help me to trust you with gratitude.  This world may disappoint me, but you never will.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 1-19-17

Daily Reading 1-19-17

Galatians 1:11-24  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

It is interesting to me how the Lord can turn our passions and inclinations for thinking and living around.  I can certainly testify how the Lord has changed me by renewing my mind and thoughts and imparting His will.  I have faced many a turn around once the Lord imparted Truth. The Apostle Paul was driven to destroy the Christian movement until the Lord help him see the error of his reasoning, his wrong inclinations, and the lack of love in his heart.  

 

Galatians 1:11-24 Paul’s Message Comes from Christ

11 Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning. 12 I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.[a]

 

13 You know what I was like when I followed the Jewish religion—how I violently persecuted God’s church. I did my best to destroy it. 14 I was far ahead of my fellow Jews in my zeal for the traditions of my ancestors.

 

15 But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him 16 to reveal his Son to me[b] so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles.

 

When this happened, I did not rush out to consult with any human being.[c] 17 Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to consult with those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went away into Arabia, and later I returned to the city of Damascus.

 

18 Then three years later I went to Jerusalem to get to know Peter,[d] and I stayed with him for fifteen days. 19 The only other apostle I met at that time was James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I declare before God that what I am writing to you is not a lie.

 

21 After that visit I went north into the provinces of Syria and Cilicia. 22 And still the churches in Christ that are in Judea didn’t know me personally. 23 All they knew was that people were saying, “The one who used to persecute us is now preaching the very faith he tried to destroy!” 24 And they praised God because of me.

 

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for having a plan for my life that exists apart from my performance and understanding.  May you be glorified in what I am called to share by grace.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 1-13-17

Daily Reading 1-13-17

Acts 1:1-5 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

In a world where so many people want to dismiss the reality of a loving Savior or reject a relationship with this living holy Friend, today’s passage made me smile.  Especially verse 3; for 40 days Jesus demonstrated to the apostles he was actually alive.  Jesus told the apostles what to expect and they still had difficulty receiving it as truth.  Hallelujah!  There is hope for us!  Even though it is truth that Jesus lives and moves and has his being through willing hearts, we still find it hard to believe he is really alive, don’t we? Well, maybe the more difficult thing is not just believing, but humbly surrendering our lives to him and allowing him to live through us. That’s really the toughest part; it is the reason the Father sent the Spirit.

 

Acts 1:1-5 The Promise of the Holy Spirit

1 In my first book I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. 3 During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.

4 Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. 5 John baptized with[b] water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

 

Prayer:  I believe you are alive Jesus and that you desire to save me daily from the effects of this evil world.  Help me to cooperate as you make me the daughter you planned from the beginning of time.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 1-11-17

Daily Reading 1-11-17

Matthew 12:15-21 Living Translation (NLT)

 

Intentions matter to God; He desires that we come to him not out of an act of obligation, but out of longing to be with Him.  Love must be our motivation; relationship our goal.   Jesus wants us to be as excited about the little things he is doing for us in the quietness of the heart as much as the big or outwardly obvious things he is doing to bring wholeness to our lives.  He is Good and is the Author of all Good in our lives.

 

In our passage today, Jesus has many people following him.  He heals the sick ones and instructs them not to tell others.  He wants people to come for relationship reasons not just for physical healing.  Jesus wants a forever relationship and the ways he desires to heal us are endless.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 1-3-17

Daily Reading 1-3-17

Hebrews 11:13-22 The Message (MSG)

 

To be a Christ follower is to be a person who lives, moves, and has his/her being by faith in the love of God.  It is easy to have faith that God loves us when everything in our life is going well.  We confidently tell others we are blessed!  But, what happens to our faith when we face things we never thought would happen?  What happens to our trust in God when we find ourselves pressed by life or attacked by evil?  Are we still blessed? According to Scripture, it is during the most difficult of times that our faith is tested.  During those times will we stand obedient to the Word of God and trust Him to work things together for our good?

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 1-2-17

Daily Reading 1-2-17

Psalm 20 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

The true might of any nation is found not in weaponry, but in the level of that nation’s worship.  Therefore, let us place our trust and confidence in the Lord!  Let us bow down and worship the Great I Am, because he rescues us by his power and might. 

 

Our passage this morning is a song of David.  It is his testimony to the love and care of God.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 12-29-16

Daily Reading 12-29-16

John 8:12-19 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

The Messiah is the Light of the World; he was sent by the Father so we could walk in the light of God’s love.  In God’s love there is Life and it is his desire that we experience abundant life.  Another way to describe abundant is rich with blessing.  God desires that we experience the riches of heaven while on earth; we are to share our blessings with others. If at the end of the day, after sharing our lives with those around us, we find we are still filled with hope, peace, joy, and love we have tasted abundant life!

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 12-28-16

Daily Reading 12-28-16

Matthew 18:1-7,10 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Learning to be submissive to authority always calls for humility; a state of being humble begins with respect and submission.  Father God calls us to respect Him and submit ourselves to what He speaks over our lives. This is the process for entering His Kingdom.  Jesus uses the example of a child to teach his disciples about this state of being humble, because some of his followers had become self-centered and competitive.

 

Think about the Christ child.  Jesus said to welcome a humble child with a sincere heart is to welcome Him.  May we open our hearts to others around us who demonstrate a sincere heart toward God, because to do so is to welcome and connect to Christ.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 12-19-16

Daily Reading 12-19-16

Galatians 4:8-20 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

It is the calling of spiritual guides and leaders to teach the truth of God’s Word to receiving hearts until Christ is fully developed in their lives.  Humans can get sidetracked and lose focus on the most important things.  That is why we must follow Christ.  As we place our faith in the work of the Word, spiritual maturity is developed and we become more like Jesus.  Because of the Light Christ brings, we can love God and others in a purer way.  We can be filled with joy!

 

As we are learning, we may not like everything spiritual leaders say about our attitudes or actions.  However, we need to receive correction and allow a time to examine our hearts.  Then, we can invite the Spirit to bring the necessary change.  In our passage today, we realize the Apostle Paul is not real popular with some of the people in the early church at Galatia because he has corrected them, but he is going to tell them the truth, anyway.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 12-13-16

Daily Reading 12-13-16

Jude 17-25  Living Bible (TLB)

 

Many of you know John and I have adopted a new puppy named Gracie.  Gracie is now 5 months old and is full of energy ready to experience each day.  We are trying to teach Gracie about boundaries; training her not to bolt out of an open door, stopping at the edge of the grass without going into the road, listening to our commands for her safety.  She is learning there are limits and obedience is necessary.  We are spending time speaking these commands because we love Gracie.  She needs to stay within the reach of our love and care.

 

Through His Word, Father God teaches us about boundaries for our safety, as well.  In today’s reading, Jude (brother of Jesus) reminds God’s family to listen in order to stay strong in the faith entrusted to every believer, because danger awaits those who are not paying attention.  The Word is a guard for our lives that protects us as we explore and experience life; it’s a boundary that seeks to keep us within the reach of God’s love and shelter.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 12-9-16

Daily Reading 12-9-16

Luke 3:1-18 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

John the Baptist was the one whom God called to prepare His people for the work of Messiah.  What did John ask of the people who came to him?  They were to prove by the way they lived that they had repented and turned back to God in order to receive the Word.  Let’s read Luke’s witness about John the Baptist.

 

Luke 3:1-18  John the Baptist Prepares the Way

3 It was now the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, the Roman emperor. Pontius Pilate was governor over Judea; Herod Antipas was ruler[a] over Galilee; his brother Philip was ruler[b] over Iturea and Traconitis; Lysanias was ruler over Abilene. 2 Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. At this time a message from God came to John son of Zechariah, who was living in the wilderness. 3 Then John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. 4 Isaiah had spoken of John when he said,

 

“He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,

‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!

    Clear the road for him!

 

The valleys will be filled,

    and the mountains and hills made level.

The curves will be straightened,

    and the rough places made smooth.

 

And then all people will see

    the salvation sent from God.’”

 

7 When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? 8 Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. 9 Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.”

 

10 The crowds asked, “What should we do?”

11 John replied, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.”

 

12 Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptized and asked, “Teacher, what should we do?”

 

13 He replied, “Collect no more taxes than the government requires.”

14 “What should we do?” asked some soldiers.

 

John replied, “Don’t extort money or make false accusations. And be content with your pay.”

 

15 Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come soon, and they were eager to know whether John might be the Messiah. 16 John answered their questions by saying, “I baptize you with[d] water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.[e] 17 He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire.” 18 John used many such warnings as he announced the Good News to the people.

 

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for the forgiveness you extend when I repent of my sin against your Word.  Thank you for the Holy Spirit who convicts me of sin so I may turn.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 12-8-16

Daily Reading 12-8-16

Galatians 3:23-29  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

The way of faith is the Way of Christ.  Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law.  As we put our faith in the work of Christ, we are made right with God.  The Apostle Paul’s analogy that putting on Christ is like putting on new clothes is priceless.  We are no longer separated by our differences; rather, we are all dressed alike.  We are united by our Oneness in Christ.  Now, we can all make a journey as we follow Christ into the holiness of God.  Joy Supreme!

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 12-7-16

Daily Reading 12-7-16

Matthew 12:33-37 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

How important are the words of our mouths?  Let’s go to Scripture to read about the connection between our words and our hearts.

 

The religious leaders accused Jesus of working for Satan; in so doing they sinned against the Holy Spirit.  The very leaders who were supposed to encourage God’s people of the coming Messiah, totally sinned against him when he came. Sometimes people just don’t want to recognize the power of God in and through the work of Jesus Christ—the Living Word of God.  The Word can offend hardened hearts.  

 

Jesus was always going about doing good; his heart was in sync with the Father and the Spirit.  Therefore, his words were truth and his actions righteous.  The Word teaches that what we say and do reveals what is in our hearts.  Let’s not reject the Living Word. 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 12-6-16

Daily Reading 12-6-16

Romans 15:14-21 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Are you proud of God’s holy work in you?  Recognizing all that God has done in your heart is not pride; rather, it is worship.  Recognizing all that God has done in the heart of others is also worship.  This week we are looking for the Spirit to grow the spiritual fruit of joy in our hearts.  Are you full of joy when witnessing to Christ’s saving work in human hearts?  Tell someone about Jesus, today!

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 12-5-16

Daily Reading 12-5-16

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Every now and then we need a bit of encouragement to press on in our life with God.  We can get sloppy in how we live the God-taught life.  We are to be filled with joy as we live in the holiness and beauty of God’s presence.

 

In our passage this morning, the Apostle Paul is giving a Christian pep talk to the Thessalonians.  The way he is encouraging them is by clarifying what it means to live to please God.  We can learn from Paul’s pep talk, as well.  He teaches: Passionate worship, respect for our bodies, and the practice of empathy as we love others.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 12-1-16

Daily Reading 12-1-16

Psalm 72:18-19 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

When I was a child I looked with great anticipation to the Christmas celebrations with family.  We always went to my maternal grandparents for Christmas Eve; we gathered with the whole extended family. Everyone brought an abundance of joy to share.  We always had such a wonderful time and It remains one of my favorite memories.  

 

Scripture teaches the Lord—Jesus Christ—and his Kingdom will cover the earth with his glory.  Joy will erupt from every corner of the earth.  The Christ will release his fullness of joy for believers.  We know that will take place when Christ returns to reign forever.  In the mean time, we lift praise for Christ’s first advent and patiently wait in hope and anticipation for his second advent.  It is going to be a wonderful time!

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 11-28-16

Daily Reading 11-28-16

Romans 6:1-11  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Sin is serious to God, yet he forgives and extends grace.  Grace is the unmerited favor extended by God to break the power sin has over His children.  We don’t have to live in bondage to sin; fulfilling the dictates of our flesh.   We can break free because of Christ.   We can choose obedience to the Word.  Understanding this truth should bring us a greater measure of motivation to follow Christ into freedom from sin.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 11-24-16

Daily Reading 11-24-16

Psalm 100 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Be filled with joy and thanksgiving, today, because the Lord is Good!  Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 11-22-16

Daily Reading 11-22-16
Psalm 24 New Living Translation (NLT)

Human beings are stewards of God’s world. Some people may not see it that way or even believe it, but that does not change the truth. We are to love God, love people, and take care of God’s creation. Let me repeat that same sentence but elaborate: We are to love God with surrendered lives as worshipers who follow His Word, love people by sharing Christ’s love and message of repentance and salvation, and take care of God’s world by respecting and maintaining his order as well as standing in God’s strength against evil.

This psalm of David’s not only points to the King of Glory-Jesus Christ-and his first coming to set humans free from the power of sin (cross); it also points to Christ’s future entry into the New Jerusalem-his second coming when he will reign and rule God’s world exactly as the Father commanded. The work of Christ is to clean us up and renew a right relationship with God, so we can share in the blessing and rule with him!

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 11-21-16

Daily Reading 11-21-16

Revelation 21:5-7, 22-27  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Scripture begins with God creating the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1) and it ends with God creating a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21).  One day following God’s judgment, He will create a new eternal earth.  God will live among his people in the New Jerusalem.   The inheritance of blessings we will enjoy is the fulfillment of all God’s promises; he will bring everything to pass.

 

In today’s passage from the Book of Revelation, we should note that God has truly provided for the future of His children.  There is no need to fear; be filled with hope because your God has a plan for eternity.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 11-17-16

Daily Reading 11-17-16

Luke 1:68-75 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied the coming of the Messiah.  Can you imagine the joy Zechariah would feel as he realized the Messiah would come to fulfill prophecy in his lifetime?  God had another honor in store for Zechariah, as well. God would call Zechariah’s son to prepare the way for Messiah.    

 

We must allow the Spirit to prepare us for the Messiah.  Perhaps Christ’s second coming will happen in our lifetime; we have every reason to be filled with that hope.  The very thought puts a smile on my face how about you? 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 11-18-16

Daily Reading 11-18-16

Acts 24:10-16 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Did you know that when you are faced with adversity it becomes an opportunity for you to witness for Christ?

 

The Apostle Paul was able to use every opportunity that came his way to witness for Christ.  Paul was falsely accused; the religious leaders hoped Felix would execute the apostle based on their testimony.  The Apostle Paul was accused by the religious leaders of being a troublemaker, leading an unrecognized religious cult, and trying to desecrate the temple.  Paul defended himself against these accusations by simply admitting that he followed the Way; presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 11-16-16

Daily Reading 11-16-16

Ephesians 5:1-2 The Message (MSG)

 

Good morning!  I want to thank you for your prayers.  I am home from the hospital, but still need to rest.  I have missed these devotional times, so I am going to try to post them each morning.  I need my time with the Lord and so do you.

 

God calls his children to imitate him in how he loves.  The world’s love is shallow and selective, but not God’s love.  God may not love everything we do, but he always loves us and wants fellowship with us.  We may not love everything others do, but we are still called to love them.

 

Our passage this morning is based on a letter from the Apostle Paul to the church at Ephesus.  He reminds the family of God how to love.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 11-7-16

Daily Reading 11-7-16

2 Peter 1:16-21 New Life Version (NLV)

 

How do you view Scripture? Is it a historical document, a theological story, a good book of virtues, or is it the inspired Word and revelation of God to humanity about Himself and His will?   Your perception will likely determine the measure of authority the Bible is given over your life.   

 

Scripture is filled with times of human interaction with God.  In our passage, today, Peter shares the importance of Scripture.  Remember, he had the privilege of witnessing the glorification of Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration.  Nothing would ever be able to rob him of knowing the truth of that encounter with God or sharing it with others; Peter knows Christ is the enteral Son of God.  It is a documented story in the Bible.  Peter tells us to trust the Scriptures.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 11-3-16

Daily Reading 11-3-16

Psalm 145:1-5 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Do you know what can turn a tough day around?  Praise.  It’s true.  When we lift up the name of Jesus and praise him for his amazing grace, it lifts our focus off from ourselves and onto the Savior.  Our spirits gain strength and our souls—mind, will, emotions—turn toward joy.  God inhabits the praise of his people, so we can experience more of God when we declare his goodness.  Try it!

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 11-2-16

Daily Reading 11-2-16

Luke 19:11-27 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Jesus tells his disciples he will be going back to the Father soon, but that he will one day return for them.  Until he returns, the disciples are to be busy going about the Father’s business of sharing the Good News.  They are to use their gifts for the benefit of the Kingdom.  

 

Jesus tells us the same thing through his Word, today.  How strongly does God feel about us remaining faithful to the work of the Kingdom while waiting for his Second Coming?  Jesus shared a parable to convey the importance.

 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 11-1-16

Daily Reading 11-1-16

Luke 6:20b, 31 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

I like simple or elementary ideas and tasks.  Do you like it when things are simple to understand or do?  You don’t have to spend a long time thinking about how to accomplish the task, because it is not complicated. When something is simple to understand and do, we should have no trouble doing it, right?

 

I have shortened our passage today to one verse in order to keep it simple, but as uncomplicated as the verse truly is to understand, every human being has difficulty consistently applying it to his or her life.  

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 10-31-16

Daily Reading 10-31-16

Psalm 32:1-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Have you ever wanted to do something for someone so badly, but you realized you needed to wait until that person allowed it?  Well, I believe that is how God feels sometimes about our sin.  He desperately wants to forgive us, but we have to confess our sin.  When we confess our sin, we are actually agreeing with God.  We are telling God he is right and we have been wrong.

 

In our passage today, David found joy when he finally confessed his sin to God; he got into agreement and the weight of sin fell away.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 10-28-16

Daily Reading 10-28-16

2 Peter 1:3-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Through the years, people have made some great promises to me and have delivered them; a tremendous blessing in my life.  God makes promises to His children, too.  His promises are associated with giving us the ability to share in His divine nature and escape the world’s corruption.  Talk about some great promises!  Since we cannot turn on news broadcasts without hearing the word “corruption,” God’s promises sound like something we all need.  Amen?

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 10-27-16

Daily Reading 10-27-16

2 Corinthians 1:3-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Life is full of opportunities to share our stories with others.  We may share our life lessons of success or we may share our life lessons of loss and failure.  Every lesson is important.  But, did you know when we suffer or face troubles, God comes to comfort us?  Scripture tells us God comes to shower us with his comfort.  What a shower of blessing!  And here’s an important lesson to be gained about God’s comfort.  He brings it so we will turn and share our lessons of comfort with others.  People around us may be hurting; let’s share the comfort through Christ.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 10-26-16

Daily Reading 10-26-16

Matthew 21:28-32 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Today’s passage is one of my favorite parables shared by Jesus.  It reminds me of how off track we can get with what God is really asking of us.  God desires that we might go into the world and share the Truth of His love with others; to share that when we repent of our sin Christ is faithful to forgive us.  As believers we vow, “I will go!”  But, do we?  We must believe AND follow.  Let’s remember to obey our Father.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 10-25-16

Daily Reading 10-24-16

1 Peter 5:5-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Every day most of us dress ourselves and go out into the world.  Depending upon where we go, our physical clothing changes.  Did you know there is some spiritual clothing that is always appropriate and pleases God?  In fact, this spiritual clothing is perfect for wherever we go.   What is the appropriate spiritual clothing that is attractive to God?  Humility.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 10-21-16

Daily Reading 10-21-16

2 Timothy 3:10-15 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Some of us reading this devotional today were taught the Scriptures by our parents or grandparents. They passed down what they knew to be true about the love of God for the world. That is the case with Timothy. He was taught the Scriptures (which would have been portions of the Old Testament) by his mother and grandmother long before he met the Apostle Paul who taught him that Jesus was the fulfillment of everything he had learned from his family.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 10-20-16

Daily Reading 10-20-16

2 Timothy 3:1-9  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

How would you describe godliness?  What behaviors would be consistent with a godly person?  Would it be attending church services, quoting Scripture, and practicing religious traditions?  All Scripture teaches that godliness is consistent with the character of Jesus Christ who is Truth.  The Holy Spirit brings forth love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, thoughtfulness, and self-control.  Devotion to Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit is the only way to grow in godly character.

 

In our passage today, the Apostle Paul warns Timothy that in the last days godlessness not godliness would be advancing.  In fact, Paul describes future societies and cultures driven by godlessness.  In the last days, even people who identify themselves as Christians will deny the power that could make them godly.  That means the Holy Spirit is grieved or quenched and not welcome to make even professing Christians holy and set apart from the world.

 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 10-19-16

Daily Reading 10-19-16

Luke 22:39-46 The Message (MSG)

 

As you and I are willing to turn our wills over to God and invite His will to rule and reign over our lives, we will need greater strength to remain faithful. Surrendering to God is an act that radiates great light and darkness doesn’t like it.  Temptation comes. The enemy always wants us to get discouraged and feel like God’s will is going to fail to provide something even better for our lives than what we want for ourselves. Darkness lurks to rob us of something supernatural.  When we need help fulfilling God’s will, we gain access to the help of heaven.  How do I know?  Jesus received angelic help when he needed it the most and in Christ we will too when we ask. 

 

It was a dark night for Jesus.  His friends abandoned him.  He had to surrender to the will of the Father and it was hard for him.  The Father knew it would not be easy, so He sent the angels to Christ’s side to strengthen him.  I love the image of God’s provision that bursts in my mind as I read our passage for today!

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 10-18-16

Daily Reading 10-18-16

James 5:7-12 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

I trust God and believe he has everything under control in his world. Sometimes it feels like certain things are charging toward a very unstable state, but that’s when we must pray the hardest and resist the temptation to get caught up with all the negativity and grumbling.  I have chosen to be a follower of Christ (a follower of the Word) and my “yes” must remain fervent in spite of opposition. Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he/she will keep my Word” (John 14:23). So, I will remain patient, but I do get excited when I think about Christ’s return.  What a celebration that will be! 

 

Patience and Endurance

7 Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. 8 You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.

 

9 Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. For look—the Judge is standing at the door!

 

10 For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.

 

12 But most of all, my brothers and sisters, never take an oath, by heaven or earth or anything else. Just say a simple yes or no, so that you will not sin and be condemned.

 

Prayer: Father, thank you for your Word that brings encouragement and direction.  Help me to remain patient and courageous while waiting for Jesus to return.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 10-14-16

Daily Reading 10-14-16

2 Timothy 2:14-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

More and more I am reminded that God alone recognizes and knows His people of faith; the Lord knows every heart and every personal story.  Nothing gets past the wisdom of our God and He is in control.  

 

What do you think would happen if every human being presented himself or herself to God for approval?  I believe the answer is we would know the Truth.  Truth is a person; His name is Jesus and His Word reveals the foundation of God’s love. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all reach for Truth, turn away from evil, stop engaging in ignorant arguments, so we could pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace?

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 10-13-16

Daily Reading 10-13-16

Acts 17:22-34 New Living Translation  (NLT)

 

Now more than ever before, it is essential that we prepare ourselves with the Word of God so we may share the gospel message with others.  We need to hold onto our faith and our core beliefs in Christ’s work on the cross for the atonement of sin and the redemption of lost souls.  We can know forgiveness of sin and form a relationship with the Living God. We can grow in holiness through the world of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus is coming back to judge the world with justice; the world needs to get ready.

 

The message of Jesus Christ—the resurrected Savior of the World—must be communicated and shared with others.  How we communicate the message is modeled by the Apostle Paul on his trip to Athens.  Paul used examples the people would understand by sharing about the nature of God.  By using examples, he sought to establish common ground so they could discuss and emphasize what they agreed about God.  Then, Paul pointed toward the understanding that humans have a sinful nature and all need to come to repentance and salvation through Christ Jesus the Son of God.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 10-12-16

Daily Reading 10-12-16

Matthew 10:5-15The Message (MSG)

 

Jesus instructs his disciples to tell people in their own neighborhoods the Kingdom of God is near. Confusion and discouragement was weighing people down; they were waiting for a military King to deliver them.  However, Jesus was not coming as a conquering military King.  He was coming to bring a spiritual Kingdom to earth; a Kingdom not everyone would accept.

 

For us, Jesus has already begun bringing his Kingdom to earth in the hearts of his people.  When we share the Good News with others and they accept it, we have furthered the Kingdom that is connected to Christ.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 10-11-16

Daily Reading 10-11-16

2 Kings 5:19-27Contemporary English Version (CEV)

 

Sometimes it seems that for humans one lie can lead to another.  One act of deception can lead to another, because we try to hide the lie.  Being dishonest is a snowball effect and never worth it.  Tell the truth no matter how difficult it may seem.

 

Our lesson today continues from yesterday’s passage regarding Naaman (the man who was cleansed and healed of leprosy) and Elisha (the prophet of God who was an instrument of God’s healing).  Today, we will add to the mixture of characters Elisha’s servant, Gahazi.  Through a series of greedy choices, Gahazi brought disaster on himself and his family for generations.  

 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 10-10-16

Daily Reading 10-10-16

2 Kings 5:15-19 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

 

Naaman was a military man who served in the Syrian Army; he also had leprosy.  Naaman went to Israel to see Elisha the prophet of God. Elisha gave Naaman some simple instructions for healing. Upon dipping himself in the Jordan River seven times Naaman was healed of the leprosy. Naaman recognized the power of Israel’s God and proclaimed Him Lord.  Gratitude filled this man’s heart.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 10-7-16

Daily Reading 10-7-16

2 Timothy 2:1-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

How does someone stay strong in Grace?  Grace is God’s unmerited favor extended to us.  We can all be recipients; but we must trust God and be willing to embrace His strength when ours begins to fail.  

 

As of today, 1.5 million people are under evacuation mandates and 3,500 National Guards have been deployed to help as Hurricane Matthew heads toward the east coast of Florida.  Many of us are praying for God’s protection over every life and to stay strong in the Grace that Christ alone can give.  May we all help others as best we can while being good soldiers in God’s grace.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 10-6-16

Daily Reading 10-6-16

2 Timothy 1:13-14 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

 

The Apostle Paul writes to Timothy and praises him because he has remained true to the teachings of Christ.  During this time, some other disciples who had been following Jesus fell away from faith in Christ.

 

Our faith will always be under attack.  Guard your faith in Jesus Christ every day.  Satan wants to rob, steal, and destroy the life Jesus died to bring you; deception is one of the enemy’s favorite weapons.  We cannot allow the world to confuse us or draw us into compromising the foundation of our faith.  Our faith is built on the personhood and work of Jesus Christ to redeem us from sin; a Gift from God.  Keep Jesus Christ your first love!

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 10-5-16

Daily Reading 10-5-16

Mark 11:12-14; 20-24  Contemporary English Version (CEV)

 

Today, we continue to explore the connection of the Word and our faith in Jesus Christ.  Having faith in God with a motive to advance God’s Kingdom is a key to answered prayer.  Faith-motivated prayer is what pleases God.  Jesus uses an example of a fig tree in our reading to remind us about growing faith.  Most of the time figs grow as the leaves grow, but Jesus found no fruit among the leaves.  Our faith can be like the fig tree; showing the potential of bearing fruit, but actually producing nothing for God’s kingdom.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 10-4-16

Daily Reading 10-4-16

1 John 5:1-5 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

 

Did you know you and I reflect our worship of God based on how we love and respect others?  It’s true.  In fact, how we treat the people around us on a day to day basis is the real test of our love for God.  The world cannot teach us how to love.  We gain the victory through our faith in Jesus Christ!  He is the One who teaches us how to victoriously love God and others.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-30-16

Daily Reading 9-30-16

Matthew 20:29-34 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

I tend to be an idealist or visionary. Sometimes I can look at life...and certain things--positive opportunities--seem so clear to me; yet, I can chat with others who look at the same thing and cannot see anything positive because their focus is entirely on the negative stuff. Where we choose to place our focus determines what we see! Hint: Focus on Jesus; His Word lights the Truth of his power!

 

Jesus has been teaching in the town of Jericho about laying down his life so the whole world could enjoy life with God. It’s a life of serving others and being the Light of Christ to bring answers the world so desperately needs.   Jesus talks about the power of God.  Some of those gathered around Jesus listened to his message and some did not.  

 

After Christ delivers his message he leaves town. Two blind men are sitting by the road. They called on Jesus the Son of David to open their eyes and help them see more clearly. Identifying Jesus as the Son of David is very telling, because it demonstrates these men recognized the supernatural Savior-the Messiah-when he spoke. They knew he brought power for change. The very fact these two blind men recognized Jesus is profound, because the spiritual leaders who said they were waiting and looking for the Messiah heard the same message and did not recognize him at all when he was sharing the Father’s heart with them about bringing salvation and serving others.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-29-16

Daily Reading: 9-29-16

Psalm 37:1-9 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

 

What would it look like if every day we practiced being faithful to God?  I believe the answer is we would be blessed (happy and to be envied) as well as fulfilled, because God wants to give us the desires of our hearts when we are focused on His righteousness.  Are you waiting for God to meet the desires of your heart?  If so, wait patiently for Him to provide for you.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-28-16

Daily Reading: 9-28-16

Matthew 19:16-22  The Message (MSG)

 

We hold all kinds of things in our minds, hearts, and hands, don’t we?  We like stuff.  Some stuff we hold onto is good and some stuff not so good.  We want to think that which is good will get us rewards in heaven.  But in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples they do not enter into heaven because they are good or that they do good.  They enter into heaven because God is good and they are willing to do what he asks of them.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-27-16

Daily Reading: 9-27-16
Psalm 62:5-12 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

In a world where words and actions are frequently unkind, isn’t it wonderful to know that God is entirely kind? Our hearts are always safe with God. Always. He does not love us because we are respectful or kind to Him. He loves us because He is powerful and infinitely kind enough for all of us no matter what the state of our hearts. As humans, we can accept or reject God and He will still be kind. However, how sweet to enjoy fellowship with Him in Christ. Seek His kind heart!

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Daly Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-26-16

Daily Reading: 9-26-16

Revelation 3:14-22 The Voice (VOICE)

 

To be rich in God’s Kingdom is to share the robe of Grace with Christ and to allow the purification process of the Spirit to recreate us for passionate and abundant living.  If we are not allowing the Spirit of Christ to bring that ongoing discipline and refining, we become dispassionate and ineffective for God.  Jesus said it this way, “You have a form of religion, but you reject the power that could make you godly ” (2 Timothy 3:5).

 

In our passage from John’s Revelation, Jesus sends a message to the church at Laodicea. It is a word of correction and a warning for them to grow in godliness.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-23-16

Daily Reading: 9-23-16

Ephesians 2:1-10 The Message (MSG)

 

God is a Father who desires to share his perfect love with all of his creation. It appears when we do not know how much God loves us we will expect humans to make us feel worthy and valuable.  And, if humans don’t rise to the occasion the way we expect, then we generalize things and assume “no one” cares.  It’s just not true.  God cares and many people who have experienced God’s love also care.

 

The real issue is that we have sought to gain our worth and value out of human flesh that has its own war with sin.  In time, people will let other people down.  It may not be a deliberate thing; it’s simply a human thing.  God, on the other hand, not only values us He has made a way to enjoy fellowship with us on a perfect performance level. He never disappoints. He takes our messed up thinking and living then guides us into a plan for us to prosper; a plan only we can fulfill.  If people do not seek God, they will never know how special they are nor what amazing things they could do in the power of God’s grace.   

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-22-16

Daily Reading: 9-22-16

Psalm 91:1-6 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

More and more I crave the reassurance of safety and security from my heavenly Father.  He is the refuge and shelter for my soul and I never need to be afraid, because God will cover and protect me.  Just knowing I can live in God’s shelter, causes me to breathe a sigh of relief, how about you?

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-21-16

Daily Reading: 9-21-16

Luke 20:45-21:4 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

 

Sometimes it appears that people get away with some pretty awful things; not all crimes are met with the proper justice in this world.  But, Scripture teaches that God will punish people who use their positions of responsibility to cheat others while pretending to be sincere.  God will deal with people who see themselves as superior to others.  Superiority is a worldly and dark mindset that can happen in government, the workplace, home, religion; basically, anywhere a spirit of pride is welcomed and fed.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-20-16

Daily Reading: 9-20-16

1 Corinthians 9:19-23  The Living Bible (TLB)

 

I truly love this reading, today.  It reminds me of the importance of knowing who we are in Christ Jesus; to operate in a spirit of humility and acceptance of the person without necessarily agreeing with every choice a person makes with his or her life.  Our goal as Christ’s followers is to allow God’s love and grace to so fill us that we are influential in revealing Christ operating in our lives.  The world needs Jesus not our pompous opinions or religious judgment.  We must seek to find what we share in common with others and then enjoy discussing areas of life from there while still holding onto our own convictions.   Maybe we will be able to tell many about Jesus just by starting with respect and kindness.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-19-16

Daily Reading: 9-19-16

Acts 4:1-12 The Living Bible (TLB)

The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, so they were very upset with Peter and John’s message about Christ and how God raised him.  These religious leaders set up a council to question John and Peter.  Interestingly, Peter turns the table at the inquiry and he uses this session with the council as a way to share the gospel about the Messiah.  Because of Jesus, all of humanity is offered a relationship with God.

 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-16-16

Daily Reading: 9-16-16

Romans 8:31-39 The Message (MSG)

 

Have you ever had someone stick up for you while others condemn you?  If you know Jesus and are seeking to make him the Lord of your life, you have enjoyed a divine mediator.  It’s true, nothing can separate you from divine love, because Jesus makes sure of it.  Jesus loves you and embraces you as his own. So, today, don’t allow anything to cause you to doubt God’s love.  Be convinced; live convinced.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-15-16

Daily Reading: 9-15-16

Romans 3:1-8 The Message (MSG)

 

Do you ever find yourself letting things get “under your skin?”  Well, Scripture teaches for our faith to be powerful it must get under our skin.  Otherwise, it is only hypocrisy and religious talk; we can easily become smug and self-satisfied.  God’s teachings are to be believed and practiced in the deep places of the heart; nothing superficial will sustain our faith.

 

The Apostle Paul was teaching the Romans about the need for trusting God and practicing His Word.  The work of Grace is to deliver us from evil and straighten us out.  Then we reveal the truth that God’s Word has gotten under our skin.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-14-16

Daily Reading: 9-14-16

John 3:13-18 The Message (MSG)

 

According to the Christian calendar, today is Holy Cross Day.  It is a time to celebrate by focusing on the cross and how our Lord Jesus Christ atoned for the sins of the world, defeated death and the devil, reconciled the world to God, and obtained our salvation.   Proclaim the cross today; Jesus won the victory and now he draws all people to himself.  Hallelujah!

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-13-16

Daily Reading: 9-13-16

2 Peter 3:8-13  Contemporary English Version (CEV)

 

What do you look forward to each day?  I look forward to enjoying relationships because that is what I value the most.  In our passage, today, I notice God values relationships so much that he wants everyone saved.  I am amazed by the intensity of God’s mercy.  Yet, I am aware from reading our text that his eternal judgment will be severe.  We need to be ready by accepting salvation in Christ.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-12-16

Daily Reading: 9-12-16

1 Timothy 1:18-19 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

 

With regard to your faith, can you honestly say you lean completely on God with absolute trust and confidence in His guidance?  The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to his spiritual son, Timothy.  In it, Paul reminded Timothy to keep the faith, as well as maintain a clear conscience.    In order to maintain a clear conscience, we must do what we know is right.  When we ignore our consciences, our conviction for right and wrong diminishes.  

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-9-16

Daily Reading: 9-9-16

Psalm 51:1-10Living Bible (TLB)

 

Scripture teaches that sin (rejection of God’s ways) comes with consequences.  King David had an affair with a married woman and killed her husband.   The consequences of that sin were long lasting and caused David great emotional pain; brokenness.  But God forgave David’s sin and cleansed him of sin’s residue.  God is the Healer of the brokenhearted.  He is always interested in creating a clean heart within us and we need cleansing because we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  May we ask for forgiveness and receive healing.

Psalm 51:1-10

1 Written after Nathan the prophet had come to inform David of God’s judgment against him because of his adultery with Bathsheba, and his murder of Uriah, her husband.

 

O loving and kind God, have mercy. Have pity upon me and take away the awful stain of my transgressions. 2 Oh, wash me, cleanse me from this guilt. Let me be pure again. 3 For I admit my shameful deed—it haunts me day and night. 4 It is against you and you alone I sinned and did this terrible thing. You saw it all, and your sentence against me is just. 5 But I was born a sinner, yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. 6 You deserve honesty from the heart; yes, utter sincerity and truthfulness. Oh, give me this wisdom.

 

7 Sprinkle me with the cleansing blood[a] and I shall be clean again. Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 And after you have punished me, give me back my joy again. 9 Don’t keep looking at my sins—erase them from your sight. 10 Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires.

 

Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, for creating a clean heart within me with right thoughts and right desires.  Help me to continue to follow your ways, so joy fills me.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-8-16

Daily Reading: 9-8-16

1 Timothy 1:1-11 The Message (MSG)

 

The Good News of the Gospel is that we can know and enjoy the love of God when our hearts are open to making Jesus the Lord.  God desires for us to open our lives up to His rule.  As you will read in our passage today, the law was given to bring revelation to to God’s family, so they would know when their lives were off track; when they had wandered off to live according to their own desires and inclinations.  The law was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  Now, when Jesus comes to live in our hearts, we are conformed to God by love and grace.  The Spirit helps us turn from sin in order to keep our hearts pure before God.  We are free, but not to live any way we want to live.  We are to live freely under the authority of God’s Word.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-7-16

Daily Reading: 9-7-16

Luke 18:18-30 Living Bible (TLB)

 

Sometimes Christ’s Word can make us feel very uncomfortable.  Jesus can ask for us to follow him by surrendering something that makes us feel secure or to which we base our identity.  What makes you feel secure or important?  What is it that makes you feel like you stand out from the crowd?  Chances are the thing that makes you feel the most important has the greatest chance of robbing you of receiving something even better.  God is Good and He desires to bring forth supernatural promises, but sometimes we have to let go of what is presently in our hands.

 

In today’s reading, Jesus encounters a man who gains his worth and value out of his money and possessions. These things give the man a sense of authority and power in his community.  Jesus asks the rich man to give it all away to the poor and follow him.  The lesson for this man will be to find his security and identity in Christ; not his money or his possessions.  God wants to take care of him.  Great blessings await the rich man and Jesus reminds him of that truth.  But, the request is just too much to ask and the man walks away humanly rich but spiritually robbed.  If we are going to follow Christ into Kingdom living, we must focus on what we have to gain; rather, than focus on what God has asked us to surrender.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-6-16

Daily Reading: 9-6-16

1 Timothy 3:14-4:2 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

 

The truth of the gospel is that Jesus was both divine and human, so we could know salvation.  It’s a mystery that can cause people to doubt and stumble. However, because of Jesus, we can enjoy a divine relationship with God while our human nature is being made holy by the Spirit.  If you think about it, you will realize it is an indescribable gift.  Jesus lived in perfect harmony with Father God.  We can do the same, because Jesus is Truth and Christ lives in us.

 

Division is always trying to pop up in the faith community to send the teaching of God’s love off course. Satan lies to our human side; we have to forbid him access to our thoughts.  As well, we need to be able to identify when others are lying as instruments of Satan’s deception.   We must turn our spiritual ear toward the Truth (the Spirit bears witness) so we can keep growing in the unity of faith that is modeled by Christ. 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-2-16

Daily Reading: 9-2-16

Psalm 1 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

 

If I were to ask you what makes you happy, how would you answer my question?  Many people think happiness is based on temporal pleasures; when everything in life is going well we can be happy.  Yet, Scripture teaches that happiness is actually simply knowing and following Truth (Jesus).  We were created to live in the Truth of God’s love through the Savior.  It is how God made us.  So, when we do not align our lives with the Truth, we may know fleeting pleasure but not biblical happiness.  If we are not discovering and following the Truth with our lives, who are we following?  The advice of the Liar.

 

The word blessed is translated “happy or to be envied.”  In our passage today, the Psalmist laid out the Way to Happiness or blessing; the way to success in everything we do.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-1-16

Daily Reading: 9-1-16

Psalm 139:1-6 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

 

How does God know what’s going on inside us?  In our passage from the Psalter, we are reminded that God looks in our hearts; He knows our desires.  God knows our thoughts; he discovers them from heaven.  God knows what we are going to say before we even open our mouths.  Yikes!  That thought comforts me and startles me all at the same time.  God knows me.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-31-16

Daily Reading: 8-31-16

Luke 14:15-24 Living Bible (TLB)

 

Like an excellent Host, God has extended two invitations for people to enter the Kingdom.  One invitation was through Moses and the prophets; this was really to announce an upcoming event.  Many religious people received this invitation.  The second invitation was when God sent his Son into the world to announce the guests should now come because everything is ready for relationship.  This second invitation has been met with all kinds of excuses through the years. 

Our present culture may use different excuses, but they are still excuses for not attending and feasting on spiritual provision that is found in a relationship with Christ.  By making excuses, people find themselves in spiritual starvation.  How sad when the feast is ready and waiting.

 

While Jesus was having dinner with friends and family, he was sharing with them about the invitation to enter the Kingdom.  A man listening to Jesus and witnessing his glory still did not understand how one could enter the Kingdom. So Jesus told the following parable.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-29-16

Daily Reading:  8-29-16

Psalm 119:65-72 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

If I have calculated things correctly, today would have been Mother and Dad’s 68th wedding anniversary.  It is hard to believe but it has been six years since Dad went home to be with Jesus; I miss him.  In fact, I have thought a lot about Dad recently.  He was a strict parent, but a good one.  When Dad told us to do something; he meant it and wanted it done quickly.  More than once I dallied too long and found myself in the thick of a discipline moment.

 

It can be the same with our heavenly Father.  Sometimes we can be so slow to follow God’s commands for our lives we find ourselves being disciplined.  God is honored when we pay attention to His Word and quickly step out to follow.  In our passage today, the Psalmist reminds us what a blessing it is when we allow God to teach us.

 

Psalm 119:65-72

65 

You have done many good things for me, Lord,

    just as you promised.

66 

I believe in your commands;

    now teach me good judgment and knowledge.

67 

I used to wander off until you disciplined me;

    but now I closely follow your word.

68 

You are good and do only good;

    teach me your decrees.

69 

Arrogant people smear me with lies,

    but in truth I obey your commandments with all my heart.

70 

Their hearts are dull and stupid,

    but I delight in your instructions.

71 

My suffering was good for me,

    for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.

72 

Your instructions are more valuable to me

    than millions in gold and silver.

 

Prayer:  Father, please continue to teach and instruct me; I need you. I want to thank you for the times you have disciplined me, too.  I have learned many valuable insights even from my mistakes; I thank you for my ability to recognize the truth.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-26-16

Daily Reading:  8-26-16

Psalm 112 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Do you ever read the Word of God and then sit back and ponder the great blessings that are available to those who trust and obey Him?  In our passage today, we notice those who turn from doing evil and respect God’s ways are truly blessed.  A few spiritual blessings I notice from our reading:  joy, successful relationships, prosperity, live without fear, compassion, and generosity.  Some character blessings that are developed in those who love and trust God: fairness, kindness, mercy, dependability, and influence.  And let’s not forget our passage ends with the statement that God’s blessings are so great on His children, the wicked of the world can actually be jealous. 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-25-16

Daily Reading:  8-25-16

1 Peter 3:8-12 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

In God’s Kingdom, taking revenge or insulting another person is an unacceptable behavior.  This is a very challenging expectation God has for His children, because it is our natural inclination to lash out and hurt people who hurt us.  Being tenderhearted and humble when someone else has pushed you beyond your ability to maintain peace requires God’s strength.  You cannot accomplish it alone.

 

All Christians are called to be peacemakers; sons and daughters of God who work toward peace. We work to bring people into a place of peace with God and one another.  To work toward peace with others, we must bring problems out into the open and deal with them before those problems begin to dominate our thoughts and steer us toward negativity.   Because when we allow negativity to take root, it isn’t long before our mouths are engaged in speaking evil.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-24-16

Daily Reading:  8-24-16

Luke 6:6-11The Voice (VOICE)

 

God is always trying to bring us spiritual insight, but we must be open to it.  The Word brings instruction to our souls which need salvation, but many times that Word finds a hostile reception from our mind, will, and emotions.  We may be resistant to change, so we seek to dismiss or even discredit the Word of God. 

 

In our passage of Scripture today, Jesus wants to help people understand God’s heart to heal and restore them. A man with a crippled hand would be Christ’s example.  Jesus also wants the religious scholars and teachers who are witnesses to gain a glimpse of their malicious intent; he knows their thoughts.  They wanted to accuse Jesus of breaking the spirituals law of practicing medicine on the Sabbath, but instead the Word accused them by shining a light on the evil in their own hearts. 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-23-16

Daily Reading:  8-23-16

Revelation 3:7-13 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Have you ever been falsely accused?  In this world, we may find ourselves enduring accusatory comments, nasty rumors, and unkind or even cruel treatment.  This treatment can come from unbelievers, as well as professing believers.  Just because a person confesses to know Jesus does not mean that person has allowed the Holy Spirit to bring transforming love to his or her soul (mind/will/emotions).  When a Spirit-led Christ follower opens his or her mouth, the words are not accusatory.  Satan is actually the accuser of those who love Christ.

 

In his revelation to the Apostle John, we understand Jesus knows when his followers endure trials and remain obedient despite persecution.  God knows when our hearts are faithful.  That understanding encourages my heart!  Let’s read our passage for today; Christ’s message to the church in Philadelphia.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-22-16

Daily Reading: 8-22-16

Hebrews 3:12-4:3 Contemporary English Version (CEV) 

 

Faith is what pleases God. It is faith in God’s love and promises that keeps us following and discovering more about God’s character. All too easily, we can choose to harden our hearts and refuse to listen to God’s voice. When we listen and obey God’s instructions, it actually causes us to prosper in every area of our lives.

 

The writer of Hebrews reminds his readers by revisiting the story of the Israelites in the wilderness.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-19-16

Daily Reading:  8-19-16

Psalm 103:1-8 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

 

Some days I am overwhelmed by the love of God and how He values people; His love is so pure.  God truly desires our highest and best (our wholeness) all the time. He understands our struggles and He is compassionate and merciful with our failures.  

David was very familiar with this pure love of God; His enduring kindness and absolute forgiveness.  This unfailing love and favor that surrounded David caused him to trust his whole heart to God; every aspect of his life.  Praise for God erupted from the depths of his soul.

 

As we head into the weekend, let’s spend a few minutes reading David’s song of praise to the Lord. 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-18-16

Daily Reading:  8-18-16

Hebrews 12:3-11 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

 

Suffering is the training ground for spiritual maturity. God uses it because it develops our patience and endurance.  It is never fun being corrected by God, but it is necessary because He loves us and wants us to be able to share in His holiness.  God is trying to teach us about Himself and we must decide if we are going to receive that discipline with gratitude.  

 

In our Scripture passage, today, the Apostle Paul is extending this same wisdom in his letter to the Hebrews.  He reminds God’s people, it is because of God’s great love that he corrects anyone.  If they are not being corrected, it is not a good sign.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-17-16

Daily Reading:  8-16-16

Luke 19:45-48 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

 

Did you know that Jesus gets upset when people take advantage of others?  It’s true.  God is fair and just; He expects that his children will be fair and just, as well. 

 

In our Scripture today, Jesus comes to the temple only to find the religious leaders have allowed money changers and those selling animals for sacrifice to mistreat God’s people; to take advantage of them.   People had traveled to honor God in the temple and when they got there they were met by shysters and fast talkers.    In our lesson, we see a side of Jesus that we don’t normally see in the gospels; he literally drives certain people out of the temple.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-16-16

Daily Reading:  8-16-16

Acts 7:44-53 The Message (MSG)

 

Sometimes humans can be very stubborn.  We can set our minds on what we want to believe even when faced with convincing Truth.  

 

Stephen was one of seven leaders chosen to supervise food distribution to the needy in the early church.  He was confronted and accused by Jewish leaders of dishonoring God’s temple in the process.  However, that was a lie to cover up the truth.  Stephen was simply telling people about Jesus and many were converting to Christianity.  Instead of defending himself against his accusers, Stephen took the opportunity to share his vibrant faith and relationship with God. He reminded these leaders of God’s love and provision for his people throughout history and how God was not limited to living in a temple made with human hands.  Now, through the Spirit, God can live in human hearts. 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-15-16

Daily Reading:  8-15-16

1 John 4:1-6 Contemporary English Version (CEV)

 

The message of Christ, the Son of God, coming in human flesh and dying on the cross is the message of Truth.  Christ died so that we could live forgiven and in fellowship with the Father.  The Spirit was sent so we could know the liberating power of God that lifts us out of dead living due of sin.  We can know vibrant life in Christ Jesus.  Voices that speak of anything else are not from the Spirit of God; in fact, it is the spirit of antiChrist. 

 

Don’t believe everything you read or hear.  You can identify someone who is telling the Truth from someone who is telling a lie based on whether their ways line up with Christ’s message.  Some leaders tell people what they want to hear; they do not denounce sin nor encourage a change in behavior.  They do not confess or promote the ways of God. Rather, they promote the spirit of antiChrist.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-12-16

Daily Reading:  8-12-16

Hebrews 10:32-39 The Voice (VOICE)

 

If you know Christ and He has brought light and vibrant life to your human existence, you are a member of the faith company.  In other words, we live by faith in the love and provision of God.  Hard times can come to every person; no one is exempt from the trials of life that can chip away at our faith.  However, we never give up, because Christ is our Hope. 

 

In his letter to the Hebrews, the Apostle Paul exhorted Christ’s followers to stay strong and endure every trial, because God would stay faithful to bring his promise of salvation.  

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-11-16

Daily Reading:  8-11-16

Hebrews 10:26-31 New Century Version (NCV)

 

Sometimes we know the Truth or God’s will on a matter, but do not really want to accept the Truth because it means we would have to acknowledge our will to sin.  In our passage this morning, the Apostle Paul reminds Christ’s followers to continue to allow His sanctifying work to be done in them.  When Christ speaks to specific sin in our lives, that sin must go on the cross so we can experience freedom.  Otherwise, we grieve the Spirit.  A turning away from this holy process the Father put into place for our spiritual growth is called apostasy.  We can choose to run the other direction from God, but eventually we will find ourselves back in the audience of His sovereign judgment.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-10-16

Daily Reading:  8-10-16

Luke 12:41-48

 

God has poured spiritual gifts into every one of His children.  These are gifts to be used for the exaltation of Christ and the advancement of the spiritual Kingdom.  It is unwise to handle these gifts irresponsibly, because God certainly comes with expectations.  God’s gifts are powerful and bring about the necessary results when used in obedience to God’s purposes.  We are wise if we realize God’s spiritual gifts to us are the very things that effectively draw more people into Kingdom living while on earth.  Our lives are the greatest witness to the reality of Christ in us.  In Christ, we are loving, sincere and filled with integrity, quick to witness to the goodness of God, trusting God for provision, and diligent with every task no matter what the size.  Our foreheads are sealed with the joy of our salvation.

 

In our passage today, Jesus has been teaching his disciples about staying ready for his return.  Jesus told his followers he would be leaving while the Kingdom was being prepared, but in the future he would return for them. They were to faithfully occupy until his return.  If Jesus returned today, would you be watching for him?  Would you be ready to give an account for your work on behalf of the Kingdom?

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-9-16

Daily Reading:  8-9-16

Hebrews 11:17-28 Contemporary English Version

 

Faith is associated with desiring God’s best for our lives.  As well, we can count on the fact that our faith will be tested when it comes to the things we prize the most.  Things in this world might seem good and inviting at times, but compared to the promises of God it offers only fleeting pleasures.  God offers an eternity of blessing.

 

The Apostle Paul continues his examples of faith in his letter to the Hebrews. 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-8-16

Daily Reading:  8-8-16

Hebrews 11:1-7 Tree of Life Version (TLV)

 

Recently on our Alaska vacation, John and I spent a great deal of time admiring God’s creative handiwork from afar.  Everything within me wanted to get close and enjoy it, but that was not possible.  So, I just kept my eyes focused on enjoying what I could see and basking in the revelation of God’s glory despite the distance.

 

Today’s Scripture continues the passage I taught on yesterday at C2C.  If we desire to please our Heavenly Father, every child of God must take an ongoing spiritual journey of faith.  Faith joins assurance with anticipation; a state of certainty with uncertainty.  We believe that everything God tells us is true.  For these giants of faith listed below, we can see they trusted the Father.  As children of God and disciples of faith, we must live each day knowing it is but a piece of the greater reward God will reveal one day.  God is a Rewarder of those who seek Him.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-5-16

Daily Reading:  8-5-16

Matthew 6:19-24The Message (MSG)

 

As His children, God asks us to be in step with His purposes (obedience) and be willing to offer all that we are and have at our disposal (stewardship) to increase His Kingdom.  If we are going to serve as ambassadors of God’s heart, we need spiritual vision to see things from God’s perspective. There is no room for our self-serving inclinations or entitlement attitudes, because they will cause our spiritual vision to be diminished.  The Holy Spirit not only feeds the Light within us, but He is the Light that makes Christ known to us. 

 

In our passage, today, Jesus is teaching his disciples about living in the Light of true worship.  A Christ follower cannot worship God and money.  Both require single-hearted devotion; there can only be one lord. We need to choose based on what is more permanent.  Jesus reminds his disciples they are immortal and therefore need to deposit in the security of the eternal Kingdom where no one can steal their investment.  Not only do we reap what we sow, we reap based on where we sow.  Jesus reminds every follower, “Seek first His Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33).

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-4-16

Daily Reading:  8-4-16

Romans 9:1-9  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

This world seems to be filled with leaders who throw out empty promises in order to get ahead.  I wish they understood the magnitude of this deception; making promises that one never intends (or is not able) to keep is sowing seed in the wrong soil.  I am still a firm believer that a promise is a promise.  If I promise to do something for someone, I need to follow through as best I can because I am a child of Promise. My word to someone else needs to be sown in integrity, because I want to spiritually reap from the promises of God.   Even though I have had to break a promise before, God never breaks His promise to us.  What does God promise to do?  He promises to make us His children if we are willing to repent and turn from our own way to follow Christ’s way with our lives. In other words, for those who are born from God above, practice His righteousness, and seeks to love his/her neighbor, God makes them His spiritual seed or child of Promise.  We are sown in spiritual soil to produce a harvest.

 

In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul is concerned about his Jewish brothers and sisters who continue to reject Christ.  It is their belief simply being physical descendants of Abraham is what makes them a child of Promise.  He explains it is not a matter of physical ancestry; rather, it is a matter of spiritual ancestry.  I call it a spiritual connection.  We are children of Promise when we take God at His Word and live by spiritual Guidance and Power (the Holy Spirit).  Beyond this one beautiful promise from Father God, we find a lifetime of spiritual potential and blessings as our inheritance.  We have to be willing to live as children of Promise; our lives guided by His Word.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-3-16

Daily Reading:  8-3-16

Luke 12:22-31 The Living Bible (TLB)

 

By the time you read this passage, I should be back home from a much needed vacation with my husband.  We needed a time to rest, relax, and enjoy the beauty of God’s presence in creation.  God desires that each one of us would relax, stop worrying, and simply enjoy Him.  We all need to step away from the demands of life from time to time in order to be replenished.

 

God will always meet our needs.  He has promised to provide for us when we make His Kingdom our priority.  We make the Kingdom of God our primary concern when we allow the Holy Spirit to work Christ’s righteousness in our souls (mind, will, emotions), so we can remain in peace and be filled with joy.

 

In our passage, today, Jesus is teaching his disciples about the need to trust God’s care for their lives.  If God’s people will pursue and trust Him, like creation does, we will find ourselves secure, safe, fed, and warm in His love.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-2-16

Daily Reading: 8-2-16

Colossians 4:2-6  The Message (MSG)

Let’s spiritually examine our thoughts and attitudes for a minute; it’s how we listen for truth and grow in all relationships.  When you are talking to others, is it your goal to bring out the best in others during those conversations?  To set a platform for ongoing dialogue, rather than stopping at a stiff exchange of information? 

 

When it comes to sharing the gospel, we are to pray for God to open doors of opportunity and communication in our every day lives.  We are to step into those times filled with Grace, because we are to follow our leader, Jesus.  Scripture teaches Jesus always stepped into gospel-sharing moments in humility, gentleness, meekness, and lowliness in order to be welcomed into ongoing dialogue.  The only time we see something different in Jesus’ character is when he is communicating with the Pharisees who are simply trying to further their religious agenda by controlling others.  

 

In our passage, today, the Apostle Paul is in jail for speaking about Jesus, but he is still praying for the Lord to open doors of communication so he can share the abundant gospel of salvation.  No matter where Paul finds himself, it is a place that needs a Word from the Lord.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 8-1-16

Daily Reading: 8-1-16

Colossians 3:18-21 The Message (MSG)

 

Scripture seems to always reveal something about relationships. It is Christ who brings us wisdom and the measure of love we need to be victorious in all relationships.  In our passage today, the Apostle Paul is addressing marriage and parenting in Christ.  

Mutual submission is essential for a vibrant marriage.  We must truly desire God’s highest and best for one another and be willing to work through all the challenges that come against that covenant of love.  Marriages that have Christ at the center have the greatest opportunity for happiness and lasting joy.  

 

Children require great love and discipline; they are a blessing from God.  However, children need to be taught to love and respect the Lord’s authority over their lives.  They learn by watching their parents.  In so doing, they will learn to respect and value others as well as themselves. 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-28-16

Daily Reading: 7-28-16

Romans 11:33-36 Living Bible (TLB)

 

Many people are content with living their faith at a surface level; having a form of godliness but denying the deeper power.  Christ died so we might actually explore the depths of God’s love and the wisdom He desires to extend; tools for living.  Scripture teaches that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways, so God definitely has insight I need (Isaiah 55:8).  I don’t think God will be asking me for advice any time soon.  I do, however, need His guidance and wisdom so I will go deeper in His Word every day.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-27-16

Daily Reading: 7-27-16

Matthew 5:43:-48 The Voice (VOICE)

 

In our present culture, we are witnessing an intense level of daily discord.  Satan is hard at work trying to cause division everywhere (family, friendships, work, etc.).  Division makes us weaker by forcing isolation.  

 

Jesus is teaching the disciples about loving even those we see as enemies.  We are to unselfishly seek the best or higher good for them and pray for them.  And get this: when we respond this way to those who mistreat us we are revealing ourselves as God’s authentic children.   When we reflect our Father, we are living the Higher Life.

 

It is easy to love those who love us back, but Jesus has called us to love our enemies and pray for them.  Why would he say that?  Because it is the character of God.  He even loves those who hate Him.  God knows it is a hard thing to desire good things for hateful people, so Jesus provided the Spirit who helps us. 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-26-16

Daily Reading: 7-26-16

Romans 9:30-10:4 Common English Bible (CEB)

 

Jews and non-Jews can experience the truth of the gospel; God desires to make all people His people.   Life in the Spirit—faith in Christ—helps us to understand God’s tremendous love for us all.  For many, the gospel is just too simple and too amazing, so we trip over the Rock of Ages trying to make it difficult!   We cannot earn God’s favor or forgiveness; it’s a gift of Grace.  We must trust the righteousness of God found in Christ that has been extended to humanity.  Our hands come to God empty.   Remember, God will hold us accountable to remain obedient in Christ.  Christ is the complete revelation of God.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-25-16

Daily Reading: 7-25-16

Colossians 2:16-3:1Common English Bible (CEB)

 

The Apostle Paul teaches about how easily people can be led astray from the Law of Grace if Christ is not given his rightful place.   Christ is the Head of the Church; therefore, a connection to Christ is essential for proper spiritual growth.  Christ has set us free to be led by the Spirit through faith in him alone; we are not to be led by the opinions of others, self-made religions or human traditions.  If we have a relationship with Christ, we have the understanding available to us (Spirit) so we can please God.  As we grow up and reach for maturity in Christ, our lifestyles will be based on continual change. We can trust Christ to make us anew, so stay focused on Jesus.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-22-16

Daily Reading: 7-22-16

Acts 2:22-36 Living Bible (TLB)

 

The Holy Spirit is the One through whom all things spiritually come alive.  Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit and went about with the power to perform live-giving miracles, wonders, and signs as the Father directed.  It is the Spirit who imparts the blessing to those who trust in the Lord and seek to know the ways of life eternal.  Blessings and favor await every Christ’s follower.

 

Peter proclaimed Jesus to be the Anointed Messiah the Jews had been waiting for and he used Scripture to prove his point. God’s plan had been in motion since the beginning of time and was prophesied through David, as well as others.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-21-16

Daily Reading: 7-21-16

Psalm 138 Living Bible (TLB)

 

From heaven the Creator is orchestrating the story of redemption. The Lord has promised to provide salvation and he does so by calling each of us to embrace a lifestyle of worship and an attitude of service to our neighbors.   As well, the Lord provides a plan for our individual lives so we can participate in the story.  Even when we face difficulties, the Lord is working His good plan out for our lives.  We need to remember it is essential to connect our plans with God’s plans, because He is Good.  Let’s praise Him!

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-20-16

Daily Reading: 7-20-16

John 6:41-51 Amplified Bible

 

It is Father God who deposits the desire in human hearts to know and follow Christ.  We do not generate that desire. We have no ability to believe in Christ apart from the work of God to call us.  The Father plants the Seed in human hearts and we choose to activate our faith in the work of Christ (the Bread of Life) and follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  It’s called Grace and salvation is entirely provided by God; that’s what makes it the greatest of all miracles.

 

In our passage today, the Jews are having trouble seeing the divinity of Jesus; after all, in the natural he is the carpenter’s son.  Yet, no one could deny the power of his teaching or how his Word was changing lives.  Jesus calls for their obedience to the Word, but for the most part he only receives criticism.  Since they did not like the message, they condemned the messenger.  

 

We connect to Christ by believing in his death and resurrection, as well as by devoting ourselves to living as he requires.  The Spirit teaches us and provides the power to fulfill our choice.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-1-16

Daily Reading: 7-19-16

1 John 2:1-6 The Voice (VOICE)

 

I am going to set a word out for you today that most people are afraid to use because it sounds judgmental.  The word is “sin” or that which is evil, immoral, and transgresses against God’s Word.  Jesus is the Living Word, so when we follow the Word we are following Christ.  For the Christ follower who is seeking to know the Father and gain understanding, the word “sin” is familiar.  It is not a judgmental word; rather, it is an honest assessment of our human behavior and sincere recognition of our need for a Savior.  Jesus died for the sins of the whole world; in other words everyone sins.  

 

We are to avoid judging the sins of others and focus on our own journey; remember Jesus saying, “Why is it that you see the dust in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but you can’t see the wooden plank in your own eye? (Matt. 7:3-4).  Christ’s followers realize sin is our natural condition and, without the supernatural work of the Living Word, sin separates us from our perfect God.  Knowing God means learning to follow His holy ways; we grow closer to God (intimacy) when we confess our sins to Him and choose to allow the Spirit to bring the necessary change into our lives that causes us to align our ongoing choices with God’s Word.

 

In our passage this morning, the Apostle John is writing a letter and urging Christ’s followers to avoid the inevitable pain and guilt that comes when we practice sin.  There are always consequences to practicing sin.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-18-16

Daily Reading: 7-18-16

Colossians 1:27-2:7 Living Bible (TLB)

 

This is a Word for today; keep it in your heart and never let it go:  Christ in your hearts is your only hope of tasting the glory and culture of heaven.  You need to connect to Christ.  God desires to give us glimpses of the glory; it pleases Him to share with His children.  We must press in and open ourselves up for the revelation and understanding; to live in vital union with Christ.  

 

Several weeks ago in our LIFE lesson series on Revelation, we read about the lukewarm church at Laodicea who turned away from Christ’s highest for them.  In our passage this morning we see the Apostle Paul had been pouring himself out to help them grow in the riches of heaven, but in Revelation we can see they were too full of themselves to be full of Christ and, therefore, faced God’s discipline instead of being filled with His glory.  It is always about humans making wise choices.   

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-15-16

Daily Reading: 7-15-16

Ephesians 3:14-21 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

When we truly allow Christ the Living Word to make his home in our hearts and trust our lives to his design and purpose, we can experience the unmeasurable love of God for us. God’s presence causes us to grow up spiritually. When we feel empty in our souls, it is simply because we have not invited the Word to transform us, fill us up, and become what we lack; God has fullness for each of us. He did not create us to be spiritually weak nor fragile when facing difficulties in this temporal world. By the Spirit we are to be full of love and mighty in bringing down evil. He created us to be filled with the fulness of Life (mature in Christ), so as his followers we may connect to all the resources of heaven and the wisdom to know how to use them. Every battle in this temporal world originates from a spiritual battle between good and evil and the intersection of the human will to choose between them. God’s Word teaches us about the strategies of evil, as well as the spiritual weapons (resources of heaven) that cause us to stand firm against every attack. 

 

In our passage today, the Apostle Paul encourages the church at Ephesus to give praise to God for His love and goodness in bringing spiritual maturity to everyone who desires it: 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-14-16

Daily Reading: 7-14-16

Luke 8:4-10 The Voice (VOICE)

 

Our world is certainly complex and challenging for me right now.  I am not discouraged; rather, I simply recognize what seemed really secure to me has become shaken.  This challenge has to do with the release of words.   A person’s word—what is chosen to be said—is powerful.  It has far reaching effects.  I listen to reports, leaders, and public figures, but what is said on the surface sounds like garble filled with half-truths and many times absolutely void of wisdom.  Yet, I am still grateful for free speech in this country.  The challenge that I spoke about is simply the need to cut through the garble to find Truth.  Honestly, I care about this country and world very much, so I stay connected and informed.  But I put my trust in God who is Truth.  So, I spend a lot more time in the eternal Word of God than listening to the words of the world, because His Word brings me direction, hope, joy, and blessing for eternal living.  There is life beyond this temporal world and I want to be ready for it.

 

People say the Word of God is difficult to understand and apart from the work of Holy Spirit to bring revelation it can be.  The difficulty came with humanity’s choice to know good and evil.  So now we must sift the words for Truth.  Jesus spoke in parables—little works of art—that were intended to hide the truth and force those listening to go to a deeper level in his or her understanding and comprehension. This is a deeper level in intimacy with God.   The Word of God is a love letter penned by the Spirit that always points to the spiritual riches found in Jesus Christ—Messiah.  The natural mind cannot understand the things of the Spirit, so we must press in by reading, and rereading, and praying for revelation.  Investment, understanding, application, and harvest is the Word process partnered with the Spirit. 

 

In today’s passage, Jesus tells a parable about the potential power of His Word when it is released in the natural soil or soul—mind, will, emotions—of God’s human family.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-13-16

Daily Reading: 7-13-16

Matthew 25:31-46 Living Bible (TLB)

 

Please pause with me today, as I have many things on my heart. Some times I am entirely taken back by the attitude and responses of people in our world who profess to know God. To actually know God, we must not only profess Christ’s work on the cross for the forgiveness of sin, we must put his loving Grace and mercy into action and witness to Christ’s presence in us by the integrity of our Love. Otherwise, we are simply pretenders of the gospel and not true followers; followers of Christ bear the fruit of the Spirit so the world will be given an accurate image of the One True God. It is by our fruit that we are distinguished as Christ’s followers: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). When we operate in this fruit, we accurately represent God’s attitude toward His children.

 

It isn’t hatred in the heart that causes people to be separated from God who is Love, it is indifference and rejection of His Law of Grace to bring forgiveness and eternal change to the innate selfish attitudes and routines of human beings. Grace leads us to embrace the merciful heart of God as we look at others. Hatred then has no room to grow.

 

In the Wisdom Book of Proverbs, we find seven things that God calls abominations; things that God’s Grace was sent to change. These things should never find a welcoming home in the heart of those who profess to know God, because the Spirit will aggressively convict us: a proud look (overestimate oneself and discount others), a lying tongue, hands that kill innocent people, a mind that creates wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to do evil, a false witness who speaks lies (half truths), and one who stirs up trouble among the faithful (6:16-17). Now, think about our world, country, leaders, and people who profess to know God.

 

In our passage today, Jesus reminds his disciples that the Father is looking for followers who have offered his or her entire being to the work of His kingdom. Christ is returning to earth for a second time and when he does the attitudes, integrity, and faithfulness of his followers to extend mercy and bear fruit will be evaluated. Are we doing our daily work out of love for God while responsibly loving the people around us (neighbors)?

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-12-16

Daily Reading: 7-12-16

1 John 3:11-17 The Voice (VOICE)

 

Every day is a gift from God. How we live out each day is a choice. We can choose to live out the day by practicing good (loving God and others) or we can live out the day by practicing evil (loving only self). According to the Word of God, since the beginning of the Garden the choice to practice good and evil was made available to every human being. God said, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life!” (Deuteronomy 30:19). If we choose life we choose love; they go Hand in hand. Jesus who is Life and Love takes our hand and lives His Life through us to Love the world.

 

As we look at our world, it becomes obvious that not everyone takes the Hand of Jesus by choosing Life and Love, but we cannot stop releasing both because heaven and earth witnesses our choice. If every follower of Jesus would choose TODAY to release Life and Love, the media would light up witnessing accounts all over the world; because earth would witness our choice. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for the media to be shaken with reporting Good! The Love and Life of Jesus on the move...because He alone overcomes evil.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-11-16

Daily Reading: 7-11-16

Psalm 15 The Voice (VOICE)

 

God created humans to enjoy relationships. We are to love Him and worship Him alone. In His Presence we find our true home and our hearts His dwelling place; our hearts are supremely valuable. Just think of it. The Eternal One knows our hearts and welcomes us to enjoy Him when our motives are sincere. This is the very reason we must diligently guard our hearts because from a sincere and pure heart come the good and noble things of life (Proverbs 4:23). Out of our hearts, we can release the life of God into the world through our thoughts, words, and actions. But with that knowledge, we must remember turning our hearts and devotion will always be the target of the enemy.

 

For people who do not guard their hearts, they will be led all over the place by their emotions and fears. We see that going on in our world, today. Do not be tossed to and fro by the enemy. Allow God’s love to rule your heart and trust the work of His grace through you.  Listen to the Voice of the Spirit and follow peace.

 

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Dally Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-8-16

Daily Reading: 7-8-16

John 3:16-17; 19-21 The Voice (VOICE)

 

God sent the Light, Jesus, to expose the darkness of the human heart that exists without the reigning authority of God—Love.  Every human heart needs to receive the love of God.  Jesus is the answer to our greatest need as humans; otherwise, we will live in a spiritual state of anarchy.  Every act of darkness—hatred, lies, greed, violence—grieves my spirit.  This morning my heart is grieved by the darkness of the heart—the violence—released against the Dallas Police Officers.  Everything in me cries, “We must pray in Jesus’ name!”  I pray for those wounded and fighting for their lives to be healed and restored in Jesus’ name.  I pray for the families of the fallen officers to be covered and held by the Comforter in Jesus’ name.  I pray for truth and justice to rise up and take authority in Jesus’ name.  I pray for peace to cover our nation in Jesus’ name, because it is being shaken by darkness.  

 

To pray in Jesus’ name is to ask God for everything to spill forth from the glory of heaven that is consistent with His perfect character and fill the earth.  It means as humans we lay our hearts before the Savior and surrender to the work of Love who will cast out darkness from our sinful souls.  We must pray consistent with His nature to rule in our individual lives, as well as care about the things that matter to God.  I pray for our country and the world to embrace the Love of God found in Jesus Christ, because in Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).  Light overcomes the darkness (John 1:5).

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-7-16

Daily Reading: 7-7-16

James 2:14-17 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

As God’s children we are to live our life each day by faith in His Word of love, not by what we see in our realm of awareness (Hebrews 11:6) “Faith makes us sure of what we hope for and gives us proof of what we cannot see” (Hebrews 11:1 CEV). Maybe another way of saying these two things in a personal affirmation might be: I confidently live my faith out in tangible expressions of love by following the example of Jesus Christ in doing good and when I do I experience the heavenly realities of God and the riches of His kingdom being manifest on earth. Jesus prayed, “This is the way to have eternal life, to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth” (John 17:3) Faith is a catalyst (stimulus) for experiencing the realities of heaven on earth and it is connected to God who is Love and the work of Christ to provide eternal life. 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-6-16

Daily Reading: 7-6-16

Luke 10:8-11,16 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Rejection can be difficult to deal with no matter what season of life in which we find ourselves; it’s a painful reality that can be found in relationships because they involve feelings and commitments. We want to belong and feel needed; we want people to listen to our thoughts and ideas about life and the things that are important to us. 

 

Now, think about God for a minute and our conversation about rejection.  God desires to get a very important message to humanity about how much He loves us and how He longs to have a relationship with us.  All are welcomed to live in His Kingdom of love. He created us so we could all enjoy communion or fellowship with Him and one another.  How does God convey His love message?  The answer is through creation, Jesus Christ and his followers, and the work of the Spirit.  Will we welcome and listen to God’s love message or reject it?  It is our choice and we must face the effect of our decision.

 

In our passage, today, Jesus makes a point about rejecting God’s love message.  Having the right priority will help his followers.  Jesus sends the disciples out to share the Good News of God’s love and His desire to have a relationship with His human creation.  He prepares them by issuing a warning that not everyone will welcome their message about God’s love or the invitation to live in His Kingdom.  They are not to take it personally; they are to put it into perspective.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-5-16

Daily Reading: 7-5-16

Psalm 119:73-80 The Message (MSG)

 

Yesterday was such a wonderful day!  What a great celebration of freedom this nation enjoyed; one nation formed to live under God. As I watched an amazing fireworks display, my soul just lit up with excitement and gratitude for our freedom. We live as free people, yet we must never use our freedom as an excuse to live contrary to God’s righteous paths for our lives. He is our Maker and knows the plans He has for us. Our biggest assignment is to know Him and live by His wisdom.

 

Our passage this morning is from the longest chapter in the Bible. The psalmist understands that to grow in revelation and understanding we must stay in God’s Word. The culture of the world can confuse us and cause us to live contrary to God’s wisdom; therefore, His Word was given to be a guide. The Word is more than what is written on the page; sometimes the text is a challenge to understand with our natural minds.  But, praise God for the work of the Spirit.  The Spirit brings holy revelation and power to apply God's wisdom to our lives. Wisdom is the tune we should all dance to as individuals made in His image.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-1-16

Daily Reading: 7-1-16

Psalm 66:1-12The Message (MSG)

 

Today, John and I are celebrating our 38th wedding anniversary.  God brought us together and He has truly blessed our years of becoming One with Him and one another.  We started our marriage in a posture of worship (connected and submitted to Christ) and we continue to bow our imperfect yet grateful lives before our spotless Maker.  God caused our love to create two amazing sons who have recently bowed in worship with their wives to become One.  God loves His family and our family is God’s greatest gift to us; we treasure every day we can share with them.

 

Life is a journey to be lived and enjoyed for the glory of God and the work of His Son, Jesus, and His kingdom.  If we are willing to give our lives to Him and surrender to the work of the Holy Spirit to refine the soul, we can know great joy and blessing.  God gives us what the world cannot.  Honesty, John and I never enjoyed the training portion of God’s work in the soul because it was painful; sometimes God pushed us to the very limit.  But, now when we look back over our lives we can see that Father really does know best.  He has walked with us in dry times of testing—never left us alone—and He has quenched our souls with His refreshing Spirit when we have opened our hearts to receive.  For the record, John and I are still working on becoming One, because we are two very different people (somebody laugh here!). Yet, we have lived our married lives knowing we both need the Savior, Jesus.  Connecting to Christ has brought us this far.  What an awesome God we serve; He truly does take our breath away!

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-30-16

Daily Reading: 6-30-16

Romans 7:14-25  The Living Bible (TLB)

 

When I was a child, I played outside a lot.  It was a great time as there were many children around my age in the neighborhood.  One of the games we used to play was tug-o-war.   I was never picked for the team until the very end, because I brought very little mass and strength for victory. 

 

For the Christian, every day can be an inner battle or tug-o-war between choosing to do that which is good before God and choosing to do that which is evil.  Even though we are born again to new life and have the indwelling Spirit, evil still lurks within our old nature.  Just becoming a Christian does not eliminate sin and temptation from our lives. 

 

The Apostle Paul teaches us this morning that when we get into the Word, it begins to show us the Truth of our lower natures that have yet to be transformed into the image of Christ.  Knowledge of residing sin cannot save us; knowledge just reveals to us we have a problem.  Trying to change ourselves cannot save us, we will always fail the tug-o-war and fall into frustration.  We need the work of the Spirit; we must take hold of the tremendous power provided by Grace to deliver us from evil.  Christ has made the power available to us, but we must choose to let the Spirit lead us into freedom.  Becoming like Christ takes a lifetime of appropriating Grace.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-29-16

Daily Reading: 6-29-16

Matthew 10:16-25 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

The other day I was studying an official scientific research chart of the top twenty-one causes of death in the USA in 2016 (six months). Abortion is the number one cause of death at 501,325. Murder by gun was the twenty-first entry at 5,276. I noticed most of the categories in between these two were actually deaths caused by some type of disease: addictions and physical afflictions that overtake our human bodies.  As I looked at the list of words and numbers and prayed because my heart was so grieved with the facts, the Holy Spirit reminded me that everything on the list was a result of the spiritual disease and death that is connected to the world that chose to experience the knowledge of good and evil.

 

In our passage today, Jesus sends his disciples out into the world, but tells them they will be protected by the Holy Spirit against the spiritual disease of evil. The disciples are to be wise of the world's infectious environment, yet innocent and untainted from the spiritual disease of evil that invades human nature and causes humans to choose to act in opposition to God (Love). Christ's disciples will always experience hardship because we live in the world, but we are to remain devoted to Love at all cost.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-28-16

Daily Reading: 6-28-16

Ephesians 5:6-20 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

A fruit tree must have Light to bear fruit; about six hours of sunlight daily to produce fruit that is healthy and flavorful.  God has created His children to bear spiritual fruit, so we must stay in the Light (Christ) of goodness, righteousness, and truth in order to produce fruit that is healthy and has the flavor of God.  We learn what God desires for our lives through study, revelation, and experience in the Word.  We do not make the journey alone.  The Holy Spirit is available to fill us and guide us on this fruit-bearing faith journey each day.  If we allow the Spirit to lead us, we will become sensible, intelligent, and discerning people who are determined to fear (respect) and enjoy fellowship with God (know Him).

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-27-16

Daily Reading: 6-27-16

1 John 2:7-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Love is always connected to the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  He is divine Love expressed through human flesh.  If we follow Christ’s example that is revealed in Scripture-how he loved all people-we will be pleasing the heart of God.  Let’s remember Jesus did not always agree with the way people chose to live out love because sometimes people chose to love self more than God, as well as abuse others.  However, Christ extended to even the greatest offenders unconditional love and an attitude of respect.  Love is not a feeling; love is a choice.  God’s grace provides the power to put His love into action when we choose to love God’s way.

 

In his letter to believers everywhere, the Apostle John reminds Christ’s followers that living in God’s love is living in the Light of Truth.  Christ revealed a clearer picture of God’s commandments by how he loved, respected the rights of others, and served people far beyond his circle of family and friends.  In fact, Jesus loved his enemies; those who were really difficult to love.  If we find ourselves ignoring and despising people, then it really points toward our own wrong attitude and poor choice regarding love.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-24-16

Daily Reading: 6-24-16
Galatians 4:8-20 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

Some days it is more difficult than others to hold onto a positive attitude, isn’t it? We can get weighed down with the daily issues of life and forget the power of Abba--Father God--who actually forms all of our futures as His children. We say we believe God loves us and has a great plan for our lives, but do not always display that belief in our attitudes.  

When we are focused upon God and His purposes for our lives (this is called worship) we are filled with His love and joy. We can be the most positive folks around; our spirits are full of Light and Life and our souls (mind, will, emotions) respond accordingly. This is what it means to spiritually dominate. Remaining (spiritually living) in His loving presence and radiating His holy principles each day brings an infilling of the Spirit that is experientially tangible to ourselves and others. Jesus modeled this devotion to Abba so beautifully when he prayed for God to take care of us as His followers, “I come to You; I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. I have given them your word (principles for living). And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.” (John 17:13-15 NLT). When we shift our focus from God and living in the joy of our salvation and choose instead to absorb the culture of the world it can drag our otherwise positive attitudes into the stagnant pool of negativity. This is where Satan desires to drag your joy, so be on guard.

The Apostle Paul has to write a letter to the church at Galatia in order to rebuke their negativity and misguided priorities. They have allowed the world’s customs and the expectations of religious tradition to rob them of their joy. Paul reminds them of how positive and free they were at one time as they lived in the principles of God in the power of the Spirit.  

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-23-16

Daily Reading: 6-23-16

2 Corinthians 13:5-10

 

What do we gain from recognizing our weaknesses?  Some people may prefer to deny their weaknesses and simply focus on their strengths.  But, Scripture teaches that it is beneficial to examine our weaknesses, because it can grow our faith.  When we are weak—when we have come to the end to our human strength in an area of life—we can use our faith and reach for the eternal inheritance of God’s resources set aside for each one of us in Christ.  God’s divine strength in the midst of our human weakness is noticed by others and we become His witnesses.  Christ is the Anointed One who loves us and brings the resources of heaven in response to our faith; but, we must get into agreement with God’s plan for our lives.  What is that plan?  We are living true to faith when we allow the Holy Spirit to bring restoration to us; continue our growth and maturity in the Lord’s holy character.  Recognizing our weaknesses will cause us to mature in Christ.

 

In his writings to the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul challenges them to spiritually grow up as they live out their faith.  He exhorts them to recognize the areas in their lives that need more of God’s strength and to use their faith to appropriate a righteous change.  Paul was willing to correct those under his leadership for stepping away from the weak areas in their lives that needed to mature by urging them to reach for the strength of God.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-22-16

Daily Reading: 6-21-16

Luke 9:37-43 Amplified Bible (AMP)

 

The Holy Spirit invites us to enter into the presence of God; a sweet place of awareness and understanding that God loves us and is all-powerful over heaven and earth.  In that place, we have no doubts, fears, and are filled with faith and love in our understanding of His goodness.  It is a mountaintop experience with the holy Lord.  Life calls us to an awareness and understanding of holiness, but also allows an awareness and understanding of evil.  The more beauty we experience with the Lord the more ugly evil appears.  Disciples who want intimacy in Christ and to operate in His authority become very aware of the presence of evil.  The Truth (Christ) exposes evil (John 3:20).

 

Jesus has been with three of His disciples for a mountaintop experience.  During His prayer, Christ is transfigured and the disciples experience an awareness of His extreme holiness.  These three are so amazed they do not want to leave.  Instead, they want to build structures and live on the mountain with the Lord.  I understand that desire; I get it!   But, if Christ’s disciples are going to be effective in revealing the Way of eternal life to a fallen world, we will need to descend the mountain and walk into the valley to confront evil (dead living) with Truth (eternal living).

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-21-16

Daily Reading: 6-21-16

Ephesians 2:11-22 Tree of Life

 

Today, we continue our celebration of the Pentecost season of the Church where we recognize the work of the Ruach; the Holy Spirit.  Jesus made a way for all of humanity—Jews and non-Jews or Gentiles—to enjoy fellowship with God and love for one another; no more hostility for our differences because Christ is making us all a part of himself.  Jesus Messiah is the Cornerstone of Peace; he brought together two groups of people with God and began the work of building them up into One body in the Spirit.  

 

The Jews experienced the nearness of God and His faithful love through moral obedience to the Torah Scriptures and religious ceremonies He set forth, but in Christ they would repent and experience the freedom to really enjoy human life while still pleasing God.  The Gentiles passionately lived out their humanity and knew nothing about a holy God or what pleased Him, but in Christ they would repent and now be free to draw near and learn how to live in His moral standards while still enjoying life.  These two groups of people were given the opportunity to turn to a God-driven life, merge through the Spirit, and become the temple of the Lord; God’s dwelling place.  It is the work of the Spirit to form us into men and woman who bow to Christ’s authority and express holy love.  Now, in Christ, we can all live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).  God desires that no one be excluded, because this life Christ gives is abundant or beyond measure (John 10:10). The Spirit is our Guide.

 

The Apostle Paul is writing to the church at Ephesus and reminding them of Christ’s purpose to bring people together.  We share One thing in common; the love of the Father, the work of Christ’s cross (repentance/sacrifice) and the power of the Spirit to unite us and make us One so we can enjoy abundant life as a family.  

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-20-16

Daily Reading: 6-20-16

1 Corinthians 1:18-31  Tree of Life Version (TLV)

 

There is a phrase that I hear every now and then that really makes me stop and think.  The phrase is, “(So and so) is a self-made individual.”  Self-made or having become successful by one’s own efforts.   Can that be a true statement about anyone if we line it up with the evidence of creation and the Lord’s involvement as the Authority of heaven and earth?  

 

Our lives, as humans, are temporary and fragile apart from the work of God’s Spirit.  We can have one area of our lives flourishing while another area is tumbling downward faster than we can grab it.  For example, perhaps we are climbing the vocational ladder of success at an exponential rate, but the tapestry of our most personal relationships is unraveling.  We have sacrificed one for the other.  Neither the practice of our religious traditions, nor the advancement of our human intellect can bring the Wisdom for wholeness to our lives.

 

We need to be God-made individuals in order to be whole and eternally successful.  The Spirit of God is the One who brings wholeness to our lives.  Even though the very concept can seem foolish, we can know true success when we are being lead by the Spirit of Christ.  Wholeness comes through the work of the cross; we follow the sacrificial Christ and we seek His Kingdom first.  That means we do not seek after power and authority through the natural paths of the world.  Instead, we sacrificially offer ourselves to loving others as God brings a greater measure of wholeness to our lives.  It seems backwards, but it is living life forward toward eternity.  Our lives were created to be lived this way, so wholeness is available if we are willing to be God-made.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-17-16

Daily Reading: 6-17-16

Galatians 3:15-22  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Some times it is difficult to persuade people to look beyond their own perspective on a topic and/or experience just in case there is more to be known beyond a slight turn of the will.  This can be true in our natural understanding or knowledge of the material world and in our spiritual understanding or knowledge of faith.  The point is not necessarily that what is presently known or understood is a bad thing or without purpose; in fact the present knowledge and understanding can be quite beneficial.  The point is there may be something ahead that actually builds upon that present perspective; a point of revelation to be encountered if we are willing to be taught.  Such is the case with the Apostle Paul and his argument with the Galatians that we will read today.  What is the topic of this dialogue?  The “What” is the Law of Moses or specifically the Torah.   

 

History:  The Jewish leaders managed to make hundreds of rules and rituals (Torah) out of God’s Ten Commandments—moral and ethical standard that is consistent with His Love.  In fact, those rules and rituals (Torah) governed almost every aspect of Jewish life.  It was slavery and self-defeating, because no human could fulfill the Torah Law human’s actually created. lol…  In the Gospels, Jesus confronted this reality all the time, because He revealed to the religious leaders of his time that they had actually broken God’s commands, found “loopholes” and convinced themselves they were obeying the Law while at the same time living self-centered, unrighteous, and greedy lives before the Father (Matthew 23:23-28).  Humanity apart from authentic Love is a manipulating mess that denies the authority of God.  Jesus, the Promise, came as the “descendant” of Abraham to bring forgiveness for humanity’s sinful or selfishly created “loopholes,” as well as the ability to live by the Spirit into newness of life.  Jesus connects us with a new beginning in the Love of God.  Let’s see how Paul explains freedom from the Law…

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-16-16

Daily Reading: 6-16-16

Romans 2:17-29 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Scripture teaches and history reveals that human beings can be deceived into thinking they have a special relationship with God, know His heart, and at the same time terribly misrepresent Him to the world through their actions. We need the Holy Spirit shining the light of Truth on God’s Word to know Father God’s heart; we need the Word (Jesus) and the Spirit operating in our lives in order for us to be one with His heart. God’s Word must be written on our hearts and lovingly lived out each day in the power of the Spirit for us to really represent God.

 

In our passage this morning, the Apostle Paul is speaking to a group of Jews in Rome who think they are in a position to judge others. Clearly, anyone can set a standard for others, judge them, only to find himself or herself violating that standard with his or her own life. It is only through the mercy and goodness of the Lord that any of us (human beings) are saved from a life of sin and death and reborn into a life of righteousness and eternal living.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-15-16

Daily Reading: 6-15-16

Mark 2:1-12 Modern English Version (MEV)

 

The Word of God brought forth creation and is such an awesome mystery.  It reveals the vital connection between the spiritual and material realms regarding God’s creation and the world in which He placed us.  The spiritual lessons are eternal and always relevant for the material world.  A biblical story is not only about what was going on in the text at a certain time in the past material world.  The Word is eternal and alive, so it transcends time to be partnered and loaded with a spiritual context and relevant lesson for a faith application.  This revelation is imparted to us by the Holy Spirit.  The Word always accomplishes what it is sent to do in our lives, that is why we must invest time in the Word every day.  As humans on a spiritual journey, the Word-Christ-is who connects us to eternal truth about our lives.  In Christ, we walk in our humanity by faith, not by what we see going on around us.

 

God is teaching me many things lately.  I confessed to the Lord this morning that many of the things He is teaching me are deep for me.  Let’s press in, anyway!  The number four in creation is symbolic of God’s material universe.  For the past four days, I have spent more time than usual listening to the news and what is going on in God’s creation.  The reports about the many happenings in Orlando consume not only the local and national networks, but the international ones, as well.  I usually limit watching the news, because I find the reports burden my heart-the pain others are enduring-which in turn pulls on my soul (mind/will/emotion).  I want to be informed in order to invest myself in prayer for others, but I cannot allow myself to be immersed in the news.  I have to stay focused on Jesus, the Living Word my Source of Peace, and press in through the crowd of doubt to understand what He is presently doing in the center of all His creation because He loves us; rather, than focusing on the violence and display of evil in the world that seeks to distract, impart fear, as well as bring chaos, confusion, and spiritual starvation to humanity.  Fear will always seek to paralyze and hinder our movement and growth as children of faith in God’s Love for His creation.  Satan knows our lives matter to God, so evil seeks to speak deception and keep us away (sin) from opening up the Word our Healer.   As children of faith we may have to grab ahold of one another, go to the mat, and struggle with understanding the things that go on in the material world, but Jesus-the LORD of all creation-will always speak an eternal Word to bring healing that helps us to rise in victory!  Others around us will notice when we have pulled back the barrier of doubt in order to be with Jesus; our lives reflect His glory.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-14-16

Daily Reading: 6-14-16

Psalm 130:1-5 New Living Translations (NLT)

 

The spirit of deception is busy seeking to cause God’s human family to destroy one another. Deception always presents as truth, but it is evil, twisted, misleading, and self-serving at its core; all about personal advantage and power over others.  In contrast, the Spirit of Truth calls us to gather to God, as His children, and grow together as we experience and learn about His love.

 

My heart is burdened in recognizing the evil deception that drove a young man’s terroristic thoughts and actions to rob the freedom and life from so many innocent people in Orlando this weekend.  It breaks my heart that some people may be so deceived that they think this young man’s actions pleased God.   As well, my heart is burdened by the knowledge that any human being can be a host to evil deception when we do not submit ourselves to and respect God who created us to live in His loving image.  The Holy Spirit is the One who helps us understand the Truth of God’s love and our great need to learn from Him.

 

I pray for people to turn to God and connect to Love in these difficult days, because Love is the only thing that will sustain us when facing the mountain of deception that evil throws our way.  First Corinthians 13:4-8 reminds us what a person who lives loyal to God’s Love (modeled by Christ) actually exemplifies: Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”  

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-13-16

Daily Reading: 6-13-16

Galatians 3:1-9 New Living Translations (NLT)

 

The Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of the promises God made to Abraham under the Old Covenant of the Law—(based on perfect performance to God’s standards through human effort).  God promised to make Abraham the faith father of many descendants.   Through Christ’s love, death, and resurrection, humanity is offered the choice to have a right relationship with God and a New Covenant called Grace.  The New Covenant of Grace is built on trusting God to make us righteous; rather, than trying to make ourselves righteous. 

 

Human beings can always lose their way when it comes to faithfully following God’s Word.  Even though we may love God, we can still wander and lose sight of the big picture associated with God’s heart.   In our lesson, today, the Apostle Paul wants the wandering Galatians to remember the foundation of the church and having a right relationship with God is built on the New Covenant and the work of the Holy Spirit to teach us how to live by faith.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-10-16

Daily Reading: 6-10-16

2 Samuel 15:1-12 New Living Translations (NLT)

 

Since the Garden of Eden, humans have been infiltrated with deception—an egocentric bent or inclination.  It is why we must humble ourselves and draw near to God.  Deception tries to draw us away from God and tempt us to give our authority to the purposes of evil (a supernatural force that produces sin or rotten fruit:  e.g. profound immorality, wickedness, depravity, and corruption).  Only God can liberate us from the power of evil and position us for His divine purpose.  Please remember, we overcome evil with Good (Romans 12:21).

 

In our study of Revelation this past Wednesday evening, we discussed the rising presence of deceptive evil in the world.  If humans do not draw near to God in order to grow in the Word by the Spirit of Love, we can open ourselves up to controlling and deceptive spirits.  In particular, we discussed the presence of a Jezebel spirit (Jezebel is a name synonymous with an evil and seductive egocentric spirit).  A Jezebel spirit tries to control humans with the purpose of getting the unwitting to live for the kingdom of darkness; rather, than live for the purpose of releasing God’s Love and Goodness.   Some characteristics of a Jezebel spirit present as follows:  accusatory, easily offended, divisive by forming conspiracies against those who seek to release Good, twists communications, constricts the desire to live in integrity, morally unteachable, manipulating, controlling, competitive, and vindictive when others resist being controlled by them.  All we need to do is ask the Spirit to open our eyes and watch the news for a few minutes to see the presence of a Jezebel spirit active in our world. Humans can give authority to supernatural forces that control the soul (mind/will/emotions).  However, we never need to be afraid, we simply must choose to be led by the Spirit of God and resist evil by releasing Good fruit (Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, thoughtfulness, self control. Galatians 5:22). Jesus gives us the authority and power to be victorious for His Kingdom.

 

In our reading below, David’s son, Absalom, has given power to deception and presents with a Jezebel spirit.  He initiates a conspiracy against his father who seeks to honor God by twisting communications, manipulating, and competing for power and authority.  

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-9-16

Daily Reading: 6-9-16

James 4:1-7 New Living Translations (NLT)

 

I am grateful for every day God gives me breath (ruach or spirit) in my lungs to live in His created world! I believe God is the Giver of all Life. As recipients, humans are given the freedom to choose how we will live that life before the Giver. As Creator, God asks humanity to humbly draw close to Him and choose to live for a God-centric purpose. Scripture teaches how we are to live in God’s Love; we need Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit. God wants only good for humanity, so when we draw near to Him, we are actually opening the Door to our greatest and most fulfilling purpose. The world (now infiltrated by evil) seeks to draw us away from God in order to live and fulfill an egocentric purpose which always leaves a person unsatisfied and misdirected.  A focus on self alone will always produce poor choices.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-8-16

Daily Reading: 6-8-16

Luke 8:40-56 New Living Translations (NLT)

 

The last few days we have been reading Scripture passages on faith; how our faith will be stretched, because our souls need to rise in spiritual maturity.  Since it is impossible to please God without faith, it must be our faith that causes God to move in our behalf. The Word stretches our faith, guides and corrects us, so the Spirit can come and respond to our faith with healing.

Jesus is the Living Word who is filled with the Spirit of Love doing the Father’s will.  Here is another way to say the same thing: Jesus has the heart of the Father for all creation, has obediently and flawlessly applied the Word to his humanity, and is filled with the healing Spirit of Love to go about releasing the goodness of God into the world.  Jesus is the fullness of God to bring salvation.  

 

Many people claim to know Father God. Do you know the Father’s Son, Jesus, the Living Word in human flesh?  Do you realize the gift and value of Scripture when it comes to your life as a child of the Father who is spiritually growing to look like the Son, so you can be useful in the power of the Spirit for God’s kingdom?  Timothy said it this way, “All of Scripture is God-breathed; in its inspired voice, we hear useful teaching, rebuke, correction, instruction, and training for a life that is right so that God’s people may be up to the task ahead and have all they need to accomplish every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-7-16

Daily Reading: 6-7-16

Galatians 2:11-14 New Living Translations (NLT)

 

Yesterday, we looked at a passage from Genesis that reminded us our faith will be stretched.  That reminder is necessary so we will always be prepared to protect the joy of our salvation and our trust in the Lord’s Love for us.  He disciplines those He loves; He guides those who welcome renewal. 

 

Today, we will read a passage from Paul’s letter to the Galatians.  This is a great reminder why our faith needs to be stretched; our souls need a dose of divine healing and renewal to reflect the heart of God.  As Christ’s followers we must be more concerned with pleasing the Lord than pleasing people. Peter is going to experience that love and faith-stretching lesson in a public confrontation.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-6-16

Daily Reading: 6-6-16

Genesis 22:1-14  New Living Translations (NLT)

 

Has the Lord been stretching your faith? For every child of God who calls on the name of the Lord (Here I am, Lord!), he or she will experience salvation.  Please remember salvation of the spirit is instantaneous; because of Grace we become a new (redeemed) spiritual creature. Our spirits are reborn in the righteousness of Christ; the Holy Spirit remains our Companion.  Salvation of the soul (mind, will, emotions) is revealed and learned experientially; the journey for the salvation of the soul is taught by the Spirit.  Not only does the Spirit help us to learn Truth about God’s heart and ourselves through the Word, the Spirit stirs our desire and offers the power for us to bring our minds, wills, and emotions into obedience with God’s plan for us as His children of faith and Love. 

 

The fear of the Lord is reverence for His authority as our Creator.  God allows experiences to strengthen our faith and secure our devotion to Trust Him; He knows the plans He has for us and He desires to love us into that plan.  When our faith is being tested, we will be tempted to question God’s love.  It is a refining fire that purifies our faith.  God allows the test, but we must always remember God brings the provision for salvation, as well.  The revelation of God’s salvation for us and in us brings us a testimony of His goodness and an increase to our faith. We become greater instruments for God's plan to redeem the world.

 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-3-16

Daily Reading: 6-3-16

Acts 26:1-11 New Living Translations (NLT)

 

When we meet Jesus and the Holy Spirit fills us with the ability to know Truth, it changes our perspective of what is truly important in life and drives us to articulate it.  We choose our conversations more carefully, because sharing from an eternal life perspective is exalted above all things.  Why?  Because Christ in us wants others to know Him and the power outflowing His resurrection that is available to everyone.  Christ compels us to share Love and the hope of eternity with God.  Paul is an example of a compelled man with an eternal story.

 

Paul has made a journey to Jerusalem where he is arrested for preaching the truth about Jesus Christ by sharing the encounter he had on the road to Damascus.  Paul cannot stop speaking a message of Hope—resurrection from the dead—since meeting Jesus.  The Jews listen and become furious with his story, so they beat him and demand his death.  The Romans step in because they do not like the disruption to the peace; they take Paul to the fortress where he awaits sentencing.  

 

In our passage, Paul is giving his own defense before King Agrippa of the Herodians (Hellenistic Jews).  Agrippa is not sitting as judge in this inquiry, but is there to give his opinion on the matter of how to present accusations against Paul to the emperor in Rome.  Paul seeks to vindicate his character, articulate the facts of what happened in his life to cause a change in his understanding of Jesus, defend his own conversion, and preach a message of hope to everyone listening. 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-2-16

Daily Reading: 6-2-16

Acts 22:6-21 New Living Translations (NLT)

 

Humans were created to love and serve God—the Light of the World—through choice (remember the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil).  The darkness of sin came through a poor personal choice (it still does).  Humanity rejected receiving the Light and Truth of God’s Love and instead chose human effort or power.  Apart from a relationship with God through the Spirit of Love who Lights our path, we can get way off course in how we perceive the goodness of God extended to humanity, as well as how we treat people. 

 

The Apostle Paul served God’s Law as devout as anyone; tenacious for the Law to be fulfilled.  He thought that success make him a light to others as he served God.  However, in his choice to make the keeping of rules his focus he actually ventured into darkness; he mistreated and abused people rather than love them toward God.  The Light of God showed up to help Paul turn toward the Truth of authentic Love: 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-1-16

Daily Reading: 6-1-16

Mark 7:24-30 (CEV)

 

Faith is acting like we believe the Word of God’s Love is Truth; human activated faith pleases God (Hebrews 11:6).  Scripture teaches, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen” (Hebrews 11:1).   Today’s passage shares the active faith journey of a desperate mother.  Her daughter is inhabited by a demon.  We are not told how the demon gained possession.  Scripture teaches it is possible for us to open our hearts to be ruled by habitual sin and provide an invitation for a demon to enter (e.g. refusal to forgive).  A demon is an angelic entity who opposes God’s sovereign control of Love.  Demons influence people to live in a way that is contrary to God’s intentions.  

 

News has traveled the area about Jesus; the One who delivers the captives.  This mother does not stop until she finds Jesus and petitions Him to provide the grace she knows He possesses in order to heal and deliver her daughter.  She believes Jesus is the Messiah of Truth sent by God.  Therefore, she stands on the prophesied Word from Isaiah about Messiah, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, and the oppressed will be set free” (61:1).   She does not take “no” for an answer; she does not leave without the Word of the Lord being spoken over her daughter.  Jesus tells this mother He has really come to release the Word of grace in order to “feed” or teach the Jews.  It is not time to reach out for Gentiles or non-Jews.  She accepts that Messiah came first for the Jews, but she begs for the crumbs of grace, because she is convinced that even the crumbs of God’s Love and mercy will bring the miracle she needs.  Jesus is impressed with her statement of reasoning; her Word usage accompanied by faith. 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-31-16

Daily Reading: 5-31-16

Romans 12:9-16 The Voice (VOICE)

 

I trust you had a restful Memorial Day.  It is truly important for us to remember and honor the people who have served and died to defend the freedom God has extended.  When we honor those who have fallen in order to protect freedom; we honor God.  Under God’s authority, we are instructed to despise evil and take a stand against it.  Evil gains power through wrong thoughts and attitudes put to action. 

 

As humans, we have a tendency to bury all kinds of negative attitudes and mindsets deep within us.  Many times these wrong thoughts are entombed by the stone of self-denial. Some times these wrong thoughts are about ourselves; we can have haughty attitudes.  Some times these wrong thoughts are about others; people we are called to love as much as we love ourselves.  As Christ’s students, we should expect the Savior—the Living Word—to bring attention to what, in our humanity, needs a holy touch.  With that understanding, we need to invite the Holy Spirit to bring us salvation by renewing our minds about others with whom we have issues.  Jesus knows what needs to be made holy (process is called sanctification) in our souls (mind/will/emotions).   In order to enjoy the glory of the Lord, we must recognize our need for salvation in every area of our being and surrender our attitudes and mindsets for the Lord of Love to bring renewal.  Then, holiness can be the exalted action in our lives.  

 

Paul is writing to the Christ followers in Rome; he is teaching them what it looks like to be true to Christ’s calling in how they love one another.  Let’s read our passage today by keeping in mind each one of us needs a renewal of attitudes and mindsets about other Christians.  Not all of us see things eye to eye, but all of us should pray and ask God to help us love authentically.  Living in unity and harmony is hard work!

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-27-16

Daily Reading: 5-27-16

2 Corinthians 11:1-6 The Voice (VOICE)

 

Yesterday, I shared about the work of the Gospel and the necessity for our response. When we choose to respond, the work of the Gospel of Love rises up and begins to teach us to live Christ-oriented rather than self-oriented lives.  A self-oriented life is simply being overly concerned with one’s own desires, needs, or interests.  If we are honest, we can be preoccupied in our minds with ourselves. Jesus Christ brings a new focus to His followers: Loving God with every part of our being (Christ-oriented) and then turning to love others (becoming other-oriented) the way we have loved ourselves.  Jesus loves us and affirms our individual value. He is not trying to diminish us; He is seeking to bring His glory to our lives.   As Truth, He knows more about the work of deception than anyone and He knows our minds need to be renewed by the Holy Spirit, because at the core of our being we really are self-oriented.  If we are serious in our quest to live the Gospel and to be Christ-oriented, our minds will experience a type of battle.  What Christ may speak to our hearts to bring growth can conflict with our own natural inclinations and seem like foolishness.

 

The Apostle Paul urges the Corinthians to press through what seems foolish to find a deeper life with Christ. Even though they are satisfied in the shallow realms of the Gospel, the Corinthians must get beyond what they want, think, or feel to lay hold of the Christ-oriented life God has promised those who believe. Paul wants more for the Corinthians and the culture is seeking to deceive them.  He writes his letter to remind them of the work of Grace and to give them Hope to rise in the glory of God.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-26-16

Daily Reading: 5-26-16

2 Corinthians 5:11-17 The Voice (VOICE)

 

The biblical word “Gospel” or “Good News” refers to when God’s love descended from heaven, was wrapped with humanity, and given as a one time sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world.  According to John 3:16-17, “God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  God sent the Son into the world not to judge the world but to save the world through him.” Sin separates humans from experiencing the divine glory and fellowship with God.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is that divine human creation sent by the Father to reconnect humanity with God.  This is referred to as GRACE (God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense).   The gospel calls for a three-fold response:  1) Believing and trusting Grace; 2) Growing as we journey more deeply into the Gospel of the cross or dying to selfishness; and 3) Hoping in the return of Christ for his followers and the inheritance of heaven.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-25-16

Daily Reading: 5-25-16

Luke 14:34-35 

 

If you know me at all, you know I enjoy salty treats: popcorn, tortilla chips, almonds, etc.  Please don’t withhold the salt on these items, because they are just not the same for me! Salt not only preserves food, it gives these treats great flavor. There is a side effect from enjoying salt; it makes me really thirsty.  If I am going to enjoy salt, I know I will need to find something to quench my thirst.  

 

From our passage, today, we gain the understanding that Jesus enjoys salt, too; salty disciples.

 

Our reading begins as Jesus is teaching his disciples about the cost of following Him.  He uses salt as a simile.  Why? It is a local example the disciples can understand.  The salt that was used in Palestine was probably from the south end of the Dead Sea.  This salt was in contact with the ground and endured repeated exposure to the rain and sun causing it to lose its effectiveness to flavor or preserve food.  Jesus wants the disciples to realized they could lose their effectiveness to flavor the world with God’s love.  The disciples would need to endure the effects of the world in order to stay salty to the end!  If they lose their saltiness as disciples, they lose their effectiveness for growing the Kingdom. 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-24-16

Daily Reading: 5-24-16

Psalm 1 New Living Translation (NLT) 

 

Yesterday, we read Psalm 1 and considered our life-paths and who will influence us.  Our take away or understanding for commitment should be to follow or obey God’s Word and His Way of Love.  The Word is the foundation for a meaningful and prosperous life.  God knows what is best for us; others may think they do.  We may find ourselves at a crossroad where we need to choose who we will follow.  

 

Today, we are going to read the same passage we read yesterday, but in another translation, The Voice.  I find it is a great exercise to read in different translations.  Sometimes a passage will be opened up to us in a new way.  You may have your favorite translation and there is nothing wrong with that preference; but allow yourself to be stretched sometimes.  The Word is alive and it speaks spiritual life.  Period.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-23-16

Daily Reading: 5-23-16

Psalm 1 New Living Translation (NLT) 

 

In this world, we will always run into well-meaning people who want to tell us how we should think, feel, and conduct our lives.  Most of the time, human advice is based on how that person lives, as well as his or her own inclinations and personal comfort zones.  There may be wisdom mixed with their advice, but it is possible for the advice to be diluted by their own desires and what satisfies their level of expectation and or conviction.  As Christ followers—followers of Incarnate Love—we must be very careful about who we allow to influence us.  As well, we are responsible for how we influence others.  The Lord watches over the life-path of those who delight in Him.

 

The Book of Psalms is a songbook that shares stories of praise, as well as the joy a person can find in simply obeying God and His ways of Love.  People who are good influencers will always lead us closer to God and deeper in His Love.  Near them our strength is renewed and our hope refocused on Love.  We sense an inward prospering. God desires that we prosper in all that we do.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-20-16

Daily Reading: 5-20-16

Ephesians 4:1-6 New Living Translation (NLT) 

 

The LORD, our Tree of Life, calls us to come, taste, and see that God is Good (Psalm 34:8).  We gather and grow as we partake of the grace flowing from our Tree. Jesus teaches he is the Vine and we are the branches of this amazing life-giving Tree (John 15:5).  As we stay connected to our Source and one another we become bound (wrapped by grace) as One loving, forgiving, peacemaking and Spirit-led people who extend Hope to the world.  Victory is all about making a “grace connection” to the Tree in the Father’s Vineyard or Garden.  The Apostle Paul urges the Church at Ephesus to remember and apply the power outflowing their connection to God.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-19-16

Daily Reading: 5-19-16
Proverbs 3:13-18 New Living Translation (NLT)

Wouldn’t it be amazing if everything we needed in life could be gain by connecting with the wisdom and generosity of one Source? Here is a symbolic image I want to share that best reveals my thinking: a Tree of Life to which we are invited to approach and pick the fruit of Wisdom for supply whenever we needed it. Charles Haddon Spurgeon defined wisdom as the “right use or action of knowledge.” We wouldn’t need to blindly hunt around, steal from others, or go without, we could just go to the one Source, connect, and gain the necessary wisdom for meeting our greatest needs in life. This Tree would be a Source of all other connections. As all of humanity connected at the Tree we would take care of one another with the patterned provision provided by the Source. Everyone loving, working, and serving together under the Tree of Life.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-18-16

Daily Reading: 5-18-16

Luke 1:26-38  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

In our devotional yesterday, we read about how the Spirit reveals God’s goodness; God is a Giver who provides everything we need to live in spiritual victory.  If we lay hold of spiritual victory by welcoming the work of the Spirit, God’s glory will flow into every area of our lives; an inside to outside process.  The Spirit will supernaturally overshadow our human condition and ability.  I don’t know about you, but I confess my great need for the Spirit to overshadow my soul and what I bring to the table of life.  I have a great desire to accomplish or fulfill more than I could ever do on my own.

 

I love the angel’s prophetic message to Mary.  I am even comforted that she is confused by the Word of the Lord to her heart.  Why?  It means the Spirit is overshadowing her.  When the Spirit is working in our lives, we may not be able to grasp spiritual things until they are revealed in the natural.  That is when our love for God and our faith in the work of the Spirit of Truth must sustain us.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-17-16

Daily Reading: 5-17-16

1 Corinthians 2:12-16 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

God is a Giver!  In fact, God is a Generous (with a capital G) Giver of all that is Good!  We have been given God’s Spirit in order to recognize and see the many other good spiritual things He has given us.  Think about it.  God has given us good gifts in abundance, but we may only recognize them through the work of the Spirit.  The Spirit is the One who opens the spiritual eyes of humans, so we may see the hand of God—our Giver.  Therefore, if we want to see and know spiritual things or understand God’s thoughts and purposes for our lives, we need to welcome the work of the Spirit.

 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-16-16

Daily Reading: 5-16-16

1 Corinthians 2:1-11 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Yesterday, we celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit upon a diverse group of disciples.  Although many of them were from the same area, they were diverse in their soul’s condition before the work of the Spirit; each one struggled with a different sin or inclination that caused a focus on self.  All sin is the same, but we struggle in diverse ways.  Sin is always self-focused and self-exalting; sin rejects God and His eternal love. 

 

This human yet diverse condition is true of us today; we too must wrestle our selfish flesh down (submit to God and resist the devil) in order to welcome the liberating and bold work of the Spirit.  The Spirit produces spiritual fruit and becomes what we lack in our human condition.  Because they trusted God, the disciples were united as One in the Spirit and given the power to witness to the work of the Living Christ within to bring salvation.  Each disciple had a different story of how the Spirit had set them free to serve God; many were given different languages so they could tell their diverse stories of the One True God.  The Spirit of God is a Gift that is given to help us understand what is truly valuable and eternal; what is from God and what pleases Him. 

 

The Apostle Paul comes to Christ with the inclination to be a hater.  He spends a lifetime thinking he knows the mind of God; he abuses people to gain control for God.  He welcomes the Spirit and he is then able to identify his wrong spirit, as well as God’s heart. The Spirit humbles him and imparts wisdom.  What does the Apostle Paul value now?  The answer is the work of the Spirit.  Now the Apostle Paul can see the love of God for a struggling and misdirected humanity that has existed from the beginning of time.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-13-16

Daily Reading: 5-13-16

Galatians 6:7-10 New Living Translation 

 

There is an age old saying, “You reap what you sow.” This saying is Truth; the wise in life convincingly testify to it. According to the Apostle Paul, every human being either deliberately or passively plants seeds into the ground of time each day. Once those seeds are released through words or actions, they begin to take root and grow. We may not be able to see the initial growth of the seeds, but the justice of God has placed a law over nature promising that planted seeds produce a harvest of some kind. Let me refresh your memory. 

 

God promised Noah he would never again curse the ground because of human sin and evil. In His promise, God said, “As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night” (Genesis 8:22). This is a promise that manifests in physical, emotional, and spiritual applications or realms. It’s not just about a farmer planting crops like corn. The lesson is about every individual responsibly taking action to plant something “Good” into the ground of a day that will produce a positive harvest of Goodness for tomorrow. Good grows Goodness. Goodness is not a passive quality; rather it is the deliberate preference of being right with God. Goodness is a fruit of the indwelling Spirit of God. God is Good and His Goodness is seen in Scripture by how He deals with people. Let’s read it together:

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-12-16

Daily Reading: 5-12-16

Galatians 5:16-25 New Living Translation 

 

Humans may have the greatest of intentions to accomplish really good things for God and still fall short or fail.  We can accept the work of Christ on the cross and receive his forgiveness and still find ourselves struggling to stay faithful or fruitful.  Sometimes we fail because the things we intend to accomplish are not God’s plan or desire for us.  Because God has given us the ability to choose our path, we may find our personal desires are in conflict with God’s desires for His Kingdom people. The Kingdom of God is a spiritual realm where righteousness, peace and joy have dominion; King Jesus is the Ruler.  Sometimes we fall short of manifesting good things that reveal God’s Kingdom, because we just don’t possess the character endurance to press on when things become more difficult for us.  God understands our dilemma and has provided a way.

 

We must remember there is a gap that was formed by sin between our natural intentions and manifestation of the Good that pleases God; that gap needs to be filled with spiritual substance and power that comes from outside our own energy and ability.  The Apostle Paul reminds us that Person of substance or Helper with power we need is the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit of God is the perfect One to fill, motivate, and guide believers to accomplish what God desires for our lives; what God determines is Good for us as His children.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-11-16

Daily Reading: 5-11-16

Luke 9:18-27 New Living Translation 

 

Many people have opinions about God; who He is and how Jesus may or may not play a role in the divine Presence. Many religions acknowledge Jesus’ loving leadership in some form or another. Yet, Jesus was not just some amazing leader, prophet, teacher or healer. Jesus Christ strategically meets a lost humanity in a moment of authentic seeking; spiritual exploration to understand the God who claims to be Love. 

 

In our reading today, the disciples have just witnessed Jesus feeding 5,000 men with a sack lunch: five loaves and two fish. By the way, when everyone was fed there were still leftovers. Seriously? Peter and the other disciples are still shaking their heads and wondering who this Jesus really is and how this miracle fits with their image of Almighty God whose Presence they believe lives in the Temple. Jesus knows when we seek and he responds to help the disciples discover Truth.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-10-16

Daily Reading:  5-10-16

Acts 26:19-29  New Living Translation 

Paul returns to Jerusalem where he is told by his friends of the many rumors traveling around religious circles about him and his missionary ministry.  Paul is being accused by religious leaders of teaching things that are against the instructions of Moses; circumcision.  As well, Paul is accused of defiling the temple by bringing in non-Jews or Gentiles.  Paul spends the next seven days in prayer and fulfilling Jewish customs in order to demonstrate he is not against the leaders.   He still practices the Jewish lifestyle; he goes the extra mile to avoid offending the religious leaders.  However, there is still a huge uprising when Paul goes to the Temple.  The Jews try to kill him.  Well, the Romans hear about the altercation and go into the mob in order to identify Paul and the reason for the riot.

 

Jerusalem was the seat of Jewish government, but Caesarea was the Roman headquarters for the area.  Paul was a Jew and a Roman citizen, so he was sent to Caesarea to stand trial.  First, Paul stands trial before Felix, the Roman governor, but Felix avoids judgment in order to keep a level of peace.  The Jews are not happy with Felix’s decision.  Paul is kept in prison for two years until Felix is moved back to Rome and Festus becomes governor.  King Agrippa, descendent of Herod the Great and of Jewish descent, travels to attend the trial, because he is responsible for the Temple.  Agrippa and Festus are seeking to govern together.  Paul tells these men the story of his encounter with the resurrected Lord on the road to Damascus and Christ’s appointment for Paul to be a witness of what he has seen of the eternal Lord.  We pick up our reading with Paul’s trial before Festus and Agrippa.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-9-16

Daily Reading:  5-9-16

Acts 16:35-40  New Living Translation 

 

The Apostle Paul and his missionary companion, Silas, have been unjustly beaten and placed in jail while in Philippi.  The reason for this treatment is because Paul decides to cast a demon out of a young girl.  The demon in this girl speaks the truth about Paul, Silas, and God, but is doing so in order to make evil look godly—remember Satan comes as an angel of light to rob the glory from God.  Paul takes issue with the lie by casting out the demon.  He makes a lot of people angry, because they are making money from the evil in this girl; the evil fed money fountain becomes dry.

 

While Paul and Silas are in prison (unjust place) singing praises to God and witnessing about God’s glory to the fellow inmates, God sends an earthquake to bring them freedom.  The chains fall off and the cell doors open; the God of Justice moves in behalf of His children.  The jailer tries to kill himself because he is afraid all the prisoners have escaped; it’s what he would have done.  Yet, Paul and Silas remain in the jail in order to bring salvation to the jailer and his family.  We pick up our reading from there…

 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-6-16

Daily Reading:  5-6-16

Psalm 97 The Voice Version

 

This morning we will read from Psalm 97 from the Voice version.  I read it in three different translations and I just really liked this one and wanted to share it.  In a world where so many people focus on temporal things, this passage is a wonderful Word for turning our heads to recognize the power and work of the Eternal God.  

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-5-16

Daily Reading:  5-5-16

Ephesians 1:15-23 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

In his letter to the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul exhorts the people for the growth of their love.  He praises God for them; he prays for them to receive a spirit of wisdom and revelation in their connection to Christ.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-4-16

Daily Reading:  5-4-16

Luke 2:25-38 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

In our reading from Luke, today, we are in Jerusalem at the Temple.  We meet Simeon; a Spirit-empowered man who is holding on to a promise from the Lord regarding Israel’s Messiah.  As, well, we find Joseph and Mary who have come to fulfill their sacred obligations by presenting Jesus to the Lord.  We meet Anna, a woman devoted to worshiping God.  In a divine appointment, the promise and the present (sign) intersect at a point of revelation; the prophecy is proclaimed to be fulfilled by two witnesses.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-3-16

Daily Reading:  5-3-16

Psalm 93 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

I have decided to spend more time this morning meditating on Psalm 93. God loves me and takes care of me; I am touched by His glory.  I believe it; yet, there is more here I need to understand.  

  

The Lord is king! He is robed in majesty.

    Indeed, the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength.

The world stands firm

    and cannot be shaken.

Your throne, O Lord, has stood from time immemorial.

    You yourself are from the everlasting past.

The floods have risen up, O Lord.

    The floods have roared like thunder;

    the floods have lifted their pounding waves.

But mightier than the violent raging of the seas,

    mightier than the breakers on the shore—

    the Lord above is mightier than these!

Your royal laws cannot be changed.

    Your reign, O Lord, is holy forever and ever.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 5-2-16

Daily Reading:  5-2-16

Psalm 93 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

During my quiet times, I sometimes sit looking out over the beauty of creation and allow my thoughts to wander in the Love of God.  It is a special time where I give myself permission to let go of thoughts of pressing duties or expectations and I just enjoy the freedom to daydream about life.  If you know me at all, you realize this place of wandering is an exercise in discipline because I function by a to-do list and a schedule of order most of the time because the many responsibilities I carry require it. These quiet moments are gifts for Mary, because they allow me to focus on things beyond my influence and control; they allow me to remember Who is actually in control.

 

The Lord is king! He is robed in majesty.

    Indeed, the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength.

The world stands firm

    and cannot be shaken.

Your throne, O Lord, has stood from time immemorial.

    You yourself are from the everlasting past.

The floods have risen up, O Lord.

    The floods have roared like thunder;

    the floods have lifted their pounding waves.

But mightier than the violent raging of the seas,

    mightier than the breakers on the shore—

    the Lord above is mightier than these!

Your royal laws cannot be changed.

    Your reign, O Lord, is holy forever and ever.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 4-29-16

Daily Reading:  4-29-16

Proverbs 2:6-8 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Yesterday, we read about gaining wisdom and how that is connected to the fear (reference and awe) of the Lord.  I always think about wisdom being applied truth. Honesty has to do with our behavior in action and in words; the goal is to convey truth.  The quality of honesty is extremely important for a Christ follower, because it is an essential aspect of God’s own nature and purposes.  Christ is Truth.  God is Love and cannot lie (Heb. 6:18).  Satan is the father of lies and our inclination without Christ is to follow Satan and remain lost to the Truth of God’s Love (John 8:44).  We either operate in truth with regard to representing God and our faith in His Love or we, by default, communicate lies.  This is why we must make a decision to stay in God’s Word and seek revelation and understanding.

 

In our reading from the Book of Wisdom today, our passage confirms that wisdom, knowledge and understanding are imparted by the Lord and our goal should be to honestly represent God’s Love with our words and actions.  Let’s read…

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 4-28-16

Daily Reading:  4-28-16

Proverbs 2:1-5  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Sometimes asking for things is difficult, but God clearly desires that we would ask for wisdom.  In the Old Testament, wisdom is broken down and described in levels.  At one level, we can connect wisdom with skilled arts (weavers, architects, goldsmiths, etc).  Another level of wisdom is described as an insight into life and offering ways of dealing with life issues.  At still another level, wisdom is described as applied truth to the lives of men and women who represent a way of thinking and conduct that is orderly, socially sensitive, and morally upright.  In the New Testament, wisdom is filled with the elements of practical advice for Christian Living.  Jesus Christ is our role model and God has caused him to be revealed wisdom for us.

 

The Benefits of Wisdom

My child, listen to what I say,

    and treasure my commands.

Tune your ears to wisdom,

    and concentrate on understanding.

Cry out for insight,

    and ask for understanding.

Search for them as you would for silver;

    seek them like hidden treasures.

Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord,

    and you will gain knowledge of God.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 4-27-16

Daily Reading:  4-27-16

Luke 10:25-28  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

How important do you think it is that we learn to love by God’s standard? Jesus said it was the most important mandate from the Father and the way to eternal life.  As I read our passage for today, it is clear that if I am going to learn to love by God’s standard, it means a change must come to my human ability to love.

 

The Most Important Commandment

25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”

27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”[a]

28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 4-26-16

Daily Reading:  4-26-16

Psalm 133  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Yesterday we looked at our passage from the perspective of harmony and its connection to love.  Harmony is achieved when we stay focused on what is important to God.  Today, please read the passage, again, and this time when you read verse one and the word “brothers” think about the word “family.”

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 4-25-16

Daily Reading:  4-25-16

Psalm 133  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Do you enjoy harmony in your relationships?  My father used to say, “I like peace in the valley!”  In other words, Dad loved it when everyone was together and could stay in a place of unity within the family.  It was work, but it was possible.

 

David enjoyed and wanted to achieve “peace in the valley” or unity with his fellow pilgrims as they all ascended to Jerusalem.  He wrote a song about it to keep them all focused on their purpose—working together with God and one another.

 

Psalm 133

How wonderful and pleasant it is

    when brothers live together in harmony!

For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil

    that was poured over Aaron’s head,

    that ran down his beard

    and onto the border of his robe.

Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon

    that falls on the mountains of Zion.

And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing,

    even life everlasting.

 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 4-22-16

Daily Reading:  4-22-16

Psalm 148  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Do you like listening to a symphony?  For my birthday this last year, our son Joseph and daughter-in-love Sarah sent us to the Mahaffey Theater to enjoy a Florida Orchestra production.  With every musician playing each of their parts with great passion, music filled the theater; it filled me.  Well, the Psalmist who wrote Book 148, was calling all of creation to make music to the Lord for His greatness; to fill the heavens and the earth with praise and worship to the point of filling every inch of space and piece of matter.  Let’s read…

 

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 4-21-16

Daily Reading:  4-21-16

Daniel 7:13-14  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

In many, many passages in the Old Testament, we will find the prophetic description of the Lord; Yeshua HaMashiach or Jesus the Messiah.  In the Old Testament, YHWH (Yahweh) told His people He would send Mashiach to rescue them, set things right again (a result of sin), and destroy evil.  Daniel dreamed about Messiah (translates the Anointed or the Christ) and how he would rule a spiritual kingdom that was eternal and supremely powerful.  During the time in which Yeshua lived on earth, kings were anointed with oil but in our reading we see Yeshua was anointed with God’s authority.  Messiah would be greater than any earthly ruler and all of creation would be called to obey and bow to his authority.

 

Daniel 7:13-14

13 As my vision continued that night, I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 4-20-16

Daily Reading:  4-20-16

Jeremiah 50:17-20  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Jeremiah the prophet was given a word from the Lord concerning Babylon.  Babylon was a mighty empire in Jeremiah’s time.  In fact, God used Babylon to punish Judah for her sin.  When God was done with Babylon, it was destroyed by the Medes and Persians around 539BCE (Daniel 5:30-31). In our passage below, we can discern a message that spiritually applies to a time when God will wipe out all sin forever; called the end times.  It is a message of Hope found in Messiah!

 

Jeremiah 50:17-20  Hope for God’s People

17 

“The Israelites are like sheep

    that have been scattered by lions.

First the king of Assyria ate them up.

    Then King Nebuchadnezzar[a] of Babylon cracked their bones.”

18 

Therefore, this is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,

    the God of Israel, says:

“Now I will punish the king of Babylon and his land,

    just as I punished the king of Assyria.

19 

And I will bring Israel home again to its own land,

    to feed in the fields of Carmel and Bashan,

and to be satisfied once more

    in the hill country of Ephraim and Gilead.

20 

In those days,” says the Lord,

    “no sin will be found in Israel or in Judah,

    for I will forgive the remnant I preserve.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 4-19-16

Daily Reading:  4-19-16

Psalm 100:4-5  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Yesterday, in our daily devotional, we highlighted the invitation God extends to every person to enter and worship Him.  Remember, worship is connection, oneness, and agreement with God; He is the Source of all that is good and righteous.  Please keep that worship invitation in mind this morning as we read the rest of Psalm 100.

 

Psalm 100:4-5

Enter his gates with thanksgiving;

    go into his courts with praise.

    Give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the Lord is good.

    His unfailing love continues forever,

    and his faithfulness continues to each generation. 

 

If we offer a spirit of thanksgiving to God for His goodness and kindness to us, that spirit will also work to keep us kind and thoughtful with others.  Why?  Because when we enter into worship we experience the love and acceptance God extends to us; we know we do not really deserve what God offers us.  God offers pure, undefiled, and redeeming love and all we have to do is receive it with thanksgiving.   Without the impartation of God’s love through His Spirit, human love fades and turns toward self.  When we accept God’s invitation to enter His presence with thanksgiving, we are acknowledging our lack, as well as His greatness; we come to receive what we do not possess.  God is generous, dependable, and gives us the necessary grace to honor Him and His love as we connect with others.  So when others behave in an unkind fashion, we can be like Jesus and receive the grace to remain kind even when they do not deserve it.   This is the love that remains from generation to generation because it is eternal love.  

 

Prayer:  Father, there are many things going on around me, today.  With all the tasks forthcoming, help me to stay in a place of thanksgiving for your love and grace.   I receive what You alone can give me.  Help me to return what is from You to others in the many different encounters I will make, today.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 4-18-16

 

Daily Reading:  4-18-16

Psalm 100:1-3 New Living Translation (NLT)

Invitations are requests that come in a written or verbal form.  These invitations call for an action; to go somewhere or do something.  Depending upon the event, we may be joyful about getting an invitation to attend.  In fact, we may be saddened when we do not receive one.   I know from recent experiences it would bring great joy to me to be able to invite everyone I love and know to an upcoming wedding event, but it is absolutely impossible to do so.  Some events have limitations.  But, there is a moment-by-moment event to which every human being on earth is invited to attend; an invitation that should bring great joy.  The Host is the Creator of All.  That invitation is to come into the protective fold of the Good Shepherd and worship the Lord with gladness.

 

A psalm of thanksgiving.

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!

    Worship the Lord with gladness.

    Come before him, singing with joy.

Acknowledge that the Lord is God!

    He made us, and we are his.[a]

    We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 4-15-16

Daily Reading:  4-15-16

Ezekiel 20:39-44  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Ezekiel is a prophetic visionary used by God to gain Israel’s attention.  God’s people—Israel—have been worshiping other gods while trying to worship the one true Lord; therefore, they are experiencing judgment. (Note: remember judgment can be translated “to distinguish”).  The Word lends Light to help us distinguish, but it’s our choice.  This situation is really no different with many professing Christians, today.  The pleasures of this tangible world can lure us to compromise our commitment to follow God’s Word and ways.  According to Romans 12:2, humanity can easily try to live with one foot in the world [conforming to the behavior and customs of the world] and one foot in the Kingdom [renewed in thought and transformed by God’s Word].  Eventually the Word will make us choose between the things that call for our allegiance or devotion.  It’s the same with Israel in our passage this morning.  God will bring a symbolic fork in the road and at the appointed time God’s people will choose the Sovereign Lord of lords and the King of kings—Jesus—the Living Word.

 

Ezekiel 20:39-44

39 “As for you, O people of Israel, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Go right ahead and worship your idols, but sooner or later you will obey me and will stop bringing shame on my holy name by worshiping idols. 40 For on my holy mountain, the great mountain of Israel, says the Sovereign Lord, the people of Israel will someday worship me, and I will accept them. There I will require that you bring me all your offerings and choice gifts and sacrifices. 41 When I bring you home from exile, you will be like a pleasing sacrifice to me. And I will display my holiness through you as all the nations watch. 42 Then when I have brought you home to the land I promised with a solemn oath to give to your ancestors, you will know that I am the Lord. 43 You will look back on all the ways you defiled yourselves and will hate yourselves because of the evil you have done. 44 You will know that I am the Lord, O people of Israel, when I have honored my name by treating you mercifully in spite of your wickedness. I, the Sovereign Lord, have spoken!”

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 4-14-16

Daily Reading:  4-14-16

Psalm 23  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

While he is going about his day to day vocational activity, David has an experience with the Lord.  In his “aha” moment, David writes a song of wisdom about and to God.  A light shines in his heart and he realizes God loves him and cares for him in very specific ways.  David is a shepherd; through the lens of that responsibility, David experiences and understands the Lord as his Shepherd.  God meets David and kindles a growing relationship with him by working through something familiar.  God takes what is familiar to us; what we do understand and uses it to teach us more about Himself and His great longing for our hearts.  God longs for communion—the sharing or exchange of familiar thoughts and feelings on a spiritual level.

 

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd;

    I have all that I need.

He lets me rest in green meadows;

    he leads me beside peaceful streams.

    He renews my strength.

He guides me along right paths,

    bringing honor to his name.

Even when I walk

    through the darkest valley,[a]

I will not be afraid,

    for you are close beside me.

Your rod and your staff

    protect and comfort me.

You prepare a feast for me

    in the presence of my enemies.

You honor me by anointing my head with oil.

    My cup overflows with blessings.

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me

    all the days of my life,

and I will live in the house of the Lord

    forever.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 4-13-16

Daily Reading:  4-13-16

Isaiah 6:1-8  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

In our reading today, we recognize Isaiah (like Ezekiel) uses imagery to describe a heavenly realm that opens up to him in a vision; he sees the Lord.   This vision is Isaiah’s commission from the Lord to be a messenger to His people.  NOTE:  King Uzziah was a good king for Israel, but he tried to take over the high priest’s duties (not God’s idea) and God afflicted him with leprosy.  He was trying to do in human strength what only God can do.  As a result, during Uzziah’s reign many of the people wander away from their relationship with the Lord; they reject God’s holy ways for living.  As we read, we get a strong message that God alone decides who represents and speaks for Him; it requires a vision of Truth, repentance, a purifying touch, and a willing heart for the messenger.  Let’s read:

 

Isaiah’s Cleansing and Call

6 It was in the year King Uzziah (a permissive king 742BCE) died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. 2 Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 They were calling out to each other,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!

    The whole earth is filled with his glory!”

 

4 Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.

 

5 Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”

 

6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”

8 Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”

 

I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 4-12-16

Daily Reading:  4-12-16

Ezekiel 1:26-2:1  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

We continue in our reading today with Ezekiel’s vision of God and his call to prophetically speak God’s message of hope to an exiled people.  The call begins with Ezekiel seeing the Light.

 

1:26 And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance. 27 And upward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were gleaming metal, like the appearance of fire enclosed all around. And downward from what had the appearance of his waist I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. 28 Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.

Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking.

 

Ezekiel's Call

2:1 And he said to me, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak with you.”

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 4-11-16

Daily Reading:  4-11-16

Ezekiel 1:1-25  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Ezekiel (name translates God is strong) is called to be a prophet of God during Israel’s exile in Babylon around 571BC.  Ezekiel, approximately 30 years old, has several visions that reveal God’s absolute moral perfection.  The purpose of the vision(s) is to help Israel understand their sin or rebellion against God (why they have been taken captive), God’s greatness (draw them to divine dependence), as well as His power to help them overcome sin and reflect His holiness (a message of truth and hope).   

 

The vision Ezekiel has is categorized as apocalyptic (symbolic pictures that vividly convey an idea).  If you choose to do so, you can read a similar vision the Apostle John has in Revelation 4:6-7.  Read the passage below several times; don’t get too bogged down in the symbolism.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 4-8-16

Daily Reading:  4-8-16

Psalm 30:6-12  New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Daily Reading:  4-8-16

Psalm 30:6-12  New Living Translation (NLT)

When I was prosperous, I said,

    “Nothing can stop me now!”

Your favor, O Lord, made me as secure as a mountain.

    Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered.

I cried out to you, O Lord.

    I begged the Lord for mercy, saying,

“What will you gain if I die,

    if I sink into the grave?

Can my dust praise you?

    Can it tell of your faithfulness?

10 

Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me.

    Help me, O Lord.”

11 

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.

    You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,

12 

that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.

    O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 4-7-16

Daily Reading:  4-7-16

Psalm 30:1-5  New Living Translation (NLT)

A psalm of David. A song for the dedication of the Temple.

 

I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me.

    You refused to let my enemies triumph over me.

O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,

    and you restored my health.

You brought me up from the grave, O Lord.

    You kept me from falling into the pit of death.

Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones!

    Praise his holy name.

For his anger lasts only a moment,

    but his favor lasts a lifetime!

Weeping may last through the night,

    but joy comes with the morning.

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Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 4-6-16

Daily Reading:  4-6-16

Psalm 122 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

Pray for peace in Jerusalem.

    May all who love this city prosper.

O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls

    and prosperity in your palaces.

For the sake of my family and friends, I will say,

    “May you have peace.”

For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,

    I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem.

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Daily Devotional with Pastor Mary 4-5-16

Daily Reading:  4-5-16

Psalm 122 New Living Translation (NLT)

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David.

I was glad when they said to me,

    “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

And now here we are,

    standing inside your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is a well-built city;

    its seamless walls cannot be breached.

All the tribes of Israel—the Lord’s people—

    make their pilgrimage here.

They come to give thanks to the name of the Lord,

    as the law requires of Israel.

Here stand the thrones where judgment is given,

    the thrones of the dynasty of David.

Pray for peace in Jerusalem.

    May all who love this city prosper.

O Jerusalem, may there be peace within your walls

    and prosperity in your palaces.

For the sake of my family and friends, I will say,

    “May you have peace.”

For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,

    I will seek what is best for you, O Jerusalem.

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Daily Devotional with Pastor Mary 4-4-16

Daily Reading: Psalm 40:5-10 New Living Translation (NLT)

 

O Lord my God, you have performed many wonders for us.

    Your plans for us are too numerous to list.

    You have no equal.

If I tried to recite all your wonderful deeds,

    I would never come to the end of them.

You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings.

    Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand[a]—

    you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.

Then I said, “Look, I have come.

    As is written about me in the Scriptures:

I take joy in doing your will, my God,

    for your instructions are written on my heart.”

I have told all your people about your justice.

    I have not been afraid to speak out,

    as you, O Lord, well know.

10 

I have not kept the good news of your justice hidden in my heart;

    I have talked about your faithfulness and saving power.

I have told everyone in the great assembly

    of your unfailing love and faithfulness.

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Blessing the Sons 2-10-16

Genesis:  The Beginning

Blessing the Sons 2-10-16

Genesis 48, 49, 50

  

In our reading yesterday, Israel (Jacob) and Joseph are reunited and the family is set up—compliments of Pharaoh—for a new life beginning in Goshen.  They will be taken care of during the next five years of famine, because of the goodness of God to send Joseph to Egypt years earlier as an instrument of salvation.  Today, Israel is going to bless all the sons before he returns home to God.

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Slavery for Joseph 2-2-16

Genesis:  The Beginning  

Slavery for Joseph 2-2-16 

READ:  Genesis 37

 

Yesterday, we read about the rape of Dinah, revenge of her brothers, and Jacob’s [Israel’s] subsequent return to Bethel.  I did not spend time on Genesis 36, but please read it and realize the entire chapter is about Esau’s twelve sons; His family goes from tribal structure to kingship.  Today, we will read about Joseph and his big dreams; those dreams land him in slavery.  Look for the (glimpses) of how Joseph’s life foreshadows the life of Jesus. 

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Jesus, the Interrupter Day 23

Jesus, The Interrupter

ReRead: John 4:13-15

3/16/15   Day 23

Ponder: Water is necessary for our physical bodies; we must drink water for our bodies to function properly.  Water flushes out toxins, provides fuel for our muscles, helps us to stay mentally focused and much more. We also need spiritual water.  Jesus, the Interrupter brings “a spring welling up to eternal life” that is necessary for flushing out lies, providing fuel for our mission, and helping us stay faithful in the difficult places of life.  Are you drinking from the well of eternal life?

Practice:  Eternal life is living everyday in the presence of God and Jesus provides the necessary resources.  Truly, if you and I are determined to live in the eternal life of God, we must realize we actually live in two parallel realms: the human and Divine. When we choose to love compassion, justice and mercy, we have chosen to allow a divine interruption.

Prayer: Jesus, help me to continually live in your spring of eternal life. I need Truth for spiritual health.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

Mission:  Give someone a drink today from God’s “spring of eternal life” in you.

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