Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 2-17-20

James 1:2-8 The Voice (VOICE)

If I have a difficult task ahead of me I always find comfort when I don’t have to go it alone. The spiritual life is like that for me. I may face some difficulties in life, but I do not have to endure them alone; I have a spiritual family who is always there for me. In fact, I don’t have to rely on my own wisdom to navigate through the difficult times. God has offered to give me his wisdom and strength so I can make it to the finish line; spiritual maturity. I just need to ask God for help and remain single-minded in my commitment to him. Are you going through some hardships? This passage is for you!

James 1:2-8
2-4 Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing. 5 If you don’t have all the wisdom needed for this journey, then all you have to do is ask God for it; and God will grant all that you need. He gives lavishly and never scolds you for asking.

6 The key is that your request be anchored by your single-minded commitment to God. Those who depend only on their own judgment are like those lost on the seas, carried away by any wave or picked up by any wind. 7 Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn’t assume the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything. 8 The splinter of divided loyalty shatters your compass and leaves you dizzy and confused.

Prayer: Lord, for everyone who is going through difficult times, may you use that pressure to make every person strong. Keep me patient as I ask for help with my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 2-14-20

1 John 2:7-17 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Today, many people will recognize Valentine’s Day; a day to celebrate love and romance. This is an old tradition and expression of love. Yesterday, two of my friends sent me a Happy Galentine’s Day message; evidently it is also a day to celebrate gal friends. This is a new expression for me. However, I do love my gal friends—all my sisters in Christ—a lot, so I may choose to observe this new expression of love. These may be human celebrations of love, but at the most pure level possible, real love is sacred and believers are carriers.

Scripture teaches God is love and nothing can separate believers from him. Humans were created to love God. We were also created to love one another—especially believers in Christ. In our passage today, the Apostle John reminds his readers that believers now embrace the values of the Kingdom of God; we love each other the way God loves us. We become a human expression of his love. Although the enemy is always trying to pervert love and get believers to turn on one another, we need to stay in the light of God’s pure agape (sacrificial) love. “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. 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 ever circumstance” (1 Cor. 13:4-7). That is the way God loves us. That is how we are to love one another.

1 John 2:7-17
7 Beloved, I’m not writing a new commandment to you, but an old one that you had from the beginning, and you’ve already heard it. 8 Yet, in a sense, it is a new commandment, as its truth is made manifest both in Christ and in you, because the darkness is disappearing and the true light is already blazing.

9 Anyone who says, “I am in the light,” while holding hatred in his heart toward a fellow believer is still in the darkness. 10 But the one who truly loves a fellow believer lives in the light, and there is nothing in him that will cause someone else to stumble. 11 But whoever hates a fellow believer lives in the darkness—stumbling around in the dark with no clue where he is going, for he is blinded by the darkness.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for imparting to me your pure and sacred love; for loving me s perfectly. Help me to love as you love; to genuinely love my brothers and sisters in Christ as you have loved me. I pray for my heart to love even those who are difficult to love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 2-13-20

James 1:12-16 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Do you make decisions based on how you feel? People who are led by their feelings, tend to do so as the foundation for evaluation. In other words, “I feel this way; therefore, this is what I should do.” Psychologists remind us feelings and desires are closely linked; desires emerge from our feelings. What comes to your mind when you think about the word “desire?” Desires may cover a wide range of human wants, emotions, and cravings. It might be a desire for God, but it can also be a desire for lust, greed, or the fulfillment of our flesh. God created human beings and knows our desires, but does God generate all desires? Is it possible that some of our desires actually flow from our unredeemed flesh?

Our desires have to be wisely discerned, because we do not want to ascribe something to God that is far from His heart and plan for our lives. If we are honest, we must accept the fact that our desires are not all holy. In fact, that is the very reason we are not to be led by our feelings; instead, we are to walk by faith in the Word of God. We are to be led by the Holy Spirit who brings us into unity with God’s Word. As believers who walk by faith, therefore, we need to take a good look at our desires. If our desires are completely self-centered and opposed to God’s Word, chances are our flesh is generating that longing (1 Cor. 13:5). If our greatest desire is living in the will of God and standing on the foundation of God’s Word, then that is a desire that flows from the Spirit. Personal responsibility is a big deal with God; so, use the Word of God as your plumb line and honestly and wisely evaluate your feelings and desires.

James 1:12-16
12 If your faith remains strong, even while surrounded by life’s difficulties, you will continue to experience the untold blessings of God! True happiness comes as you pass the test with faith, and receive the victorious crown of life promised to every lover of God!

13 When you are tempted don’t ever say, “God is tempting me,” for God is incapable of being tempted by evil and he is never the source of temptation. 14 Instead it is each person’s own desires and thoughts that drag them into evil and lure [hooked by the bait of evil from their own desires] them away into darkness. 15 Evil desires give birth to evil actions. And when sin is fully mature it can murder you! 16 So my friends, don’t be fooled by your own desires!

Prayer: Father, thank you for knowing me and understanding my personality, desires, and feelings. I will remain faithful to your Word; help me to walk by faith in your ways. As I do so, please keep my relationships healthy and holy, because that is where most of my desires and feelings are expressed; the proving grounds of my faith. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 2-12-20

Proverbs 6:16-21 Amplified Bible

Solomon was a young boy when he took over the throne of his father, King David. It was an overwhelming task for one so young. The Lord invited Solomon to ask for whatever he wanted and He would give it to him. So, Solomon prayed and asked God for wisdom—to discern and know right from wrong according to Almighty God. God was pleased with Solomon’s request, so God imparted to him divine wisdom. When you pray, what do you desire most? Is it your desire to discern God’s heart regarding right and wrong?

Solomon wrote in the wisdom book of Proverbs the life lessons God had revealed to him over the years; things that were important to God and represented him as a Light in the darkness. In our passage today, God continues to share wisdom—Truth in actions—with Solomon. There are things God hates; things he detests and are wrong in His sight. We need to ask ourselves, “What is my stand on these things God detests?” As believers, we are responsible to run from these foolish actions; learning to live in a way that pleases God must become our way of life. May we never practice or put a stamp of approval on the very actions God claims to hate.

Proverbs 6:16-21
16 These six things the Lord hates, indeed, seven are an abomination to Him:
17 A proud look [the spirit that makes one overestimate himself and underestimate others], a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

18 A heart that manufactures wicked thoughts and plans, feet that are swift in running to evil,

19 A false witness who breathes out lies [even under oath], and he who sows discord among his brethren.

20 My son, keep your father’s [God-given] commandment and forsake not the law of [God] your mother [taught you].

21 Bind them continually upon your heart and tie them about your neck.

22 When you go, they [the words of your parents’ God] shall lead you; when you sleep, they shall keep you; and when you waken, they shall talk with you.

23 For the commandment is a lamp, and the whole teaching [of the law] is light, and reproofs of discipline are the way of life…

Prayer: Lord, I want that which is right in your sight to become my way of living. Continue to teach me and help me to learn from your wisdom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 2-11-20

2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (TPT)

Life can bring many pressures that are difficult to bear even for the strongest. Life is going to happen; not everything in life is pleasant or comfortable. Jesus told us about such trials and sorrows (John 16:33). Life can squeeze us spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Sometimes we may entertain the thoughts of quitting; yet, we cannot always be relieved of responsibility or the sorrows of human life. Let’s never forget the encouraging words of Christ, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill (sacrifice) and destroy. My purpose is to give them (believers) a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10).
The Apostle Paul wants us to know it is during those pressures, we have the greatest opportunity to shine forth the glory of God; for the life of Christ to be revealed from the core of our being. Is life bringing you pressures that are difficult? If so, may God bring you eternal strength and grace. Invite Jesus into those pressures and ask him to give you the strength you need from his Kingdom resources, so you may shine with his glory in the midst of life.

2 Corinthians 4:7-12 Treasure in Clay Jars
7 We are like common clay jars that carry this glorious treasure within, so that the extraordinary overflow of power will be seen as God’s, not ours.[h] 8 Though we experience every kind of pressure, we’re not crushed. At times we don’t know what to do, but quitting is not an option. 9 We are persecuted by others, but God has not forsaken us. We may be knocked down, but not out. 10 We continually share in the death of Jesus in our own bodies[j] so that the resurrection life of Jesus will be revealed through our humanity. 11 We consider living to mean that we are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake so that the life of Jesus will be revealed through our humanity. 12 So, then, death is at work in us but it releases life in you.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for being at the core of this clay jar named Mary. I know you are always there for me and you will make sure my life is sustained and satisfied by your grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional with Pastor Mary 2-10-20

Psalm 119:105-108, 112 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the world…don’t hide your light…let it shine brightly for others” (Matt. 5:13-16). When we are committed to living with the Word of God shining through our actions, we can truly represent the heart of God for his creation and experience the divine perspective. Our lives can take on the flavor of God’s righteous love, because Jesus makes righteousness available to us.

In our passage today, the psalmist reminds us to remain faithful to the Word—the Truth. If we are willing to embrace the Truth and allow the Spirit to bring the necessary adjustments to the way we live, we will grow in our faith and understanding of the ways of God. However, we must remain teachable or willing to receive ongoing instruction. Are you teachable? If so, the life of the Spirit will continuously manifest through you, because you have pleased the heart of God with your spiritual hunger and obedience.

Truth’s Shining Light
105 
Truth’s shining light guides me in my choices and decisions;
the revelation of your word makes my pathway clear.
106 
To live my life by your righteous rules
has been my holy and lifelong commitment.
107 
I’m bruised and broken, overwhelmed by it all;
breathe life into me again by your living word.
108 
Lord, receive my grateful thanks
and teach me more of how to please you.
112 
I have determined in my heart to obey whatever you say,
fully and forever!

Prayer: Lord, thank you for inviting me to abide with your Spirit and enjoy the divine perspective as you release it. May my obedience bless and please you Father. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 2-7-20

James 3:13-18 New Life Version (NLV)

How would you define wisdom? A biblical definition is the ability to tell right from wrong; the ability to make good use of knowledge. I’ve always thought of wisdom as “applied Truth.” In other words, the Word of God is Truth and when we apply it to our lives, we can operate in godly wisdom.

In our passage today, James teaches wisdom from above is dependent upon the level of commitment a person makes to Christ, as well as the depth of a person’s character forged by the Spirit. Jesus has been made wisdom for us (1 Cor. 1:30). Therefore, wisdom from above is given to those living in Christ—the perfect Peacemaker.

James 3:13-18 Wisdom from Above
13 Who among you is wise and understands? Let that one show from a good life by the things he does that he is wise and gentle. 14 If you have jealousy in your heart and fight to have many things, do not be proud of it. Do not lie against the truth. 15 This is not the kind of wisdom that comes from God. But this wisdom comes from the world and from that which is not Christian and from the devil. 16 Wherever you find jealousy and fighting, there will be trouble and every other kind of wrong-doing. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure. Then it gives peace. It is gentle and willing to obey. It is full of loving-kindness and of doing good. It has no doubts and does not pretend to be something it is not. 18 Those who plant seeds of peace will gather what is right and good.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for making Jesus to be wisdom for me. I will allow the Word to be living in my life. Help me to be a peacemaking spirit. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 2-6-20

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

In a culture that seems to have lost a grip on demonstrating genuine kindness, how strongly do you feel your life reflects the kindness of God? Kindness and integrity cannot be separated; they begin as seeds that grow together and flourish in the hand of God. Kindness is a fruit produced by the Holy Spirit that meets the needs of people, operating in God’s way of doing good, while avoiding harshness (or cruelty). Kindness makes us useful in the hand of Almighty God and Christ brings us the wisdom to understand where to apply it. Our duty is to obey the Word; faith expresses itself in the lovingkindness of the Lord (Gal. 5:6).

If we are not willing to produce the fruit of kindness, then we can easily get off the righteous path seeking to fulfill our own agendas at any cost. We must treat people the way we would want to be treated if we were standing in his or her shoes. Never forget the Word teaches unkindness is also a seed that grows in human flesh and it doesn’t end well, “Your boast becomes a prophecy of a future failure. The higher you lift up yourself in pride, the harder you’ll fall in disgrace (Proverbs 16:18). True love lives out the commands of God to genuinely love one another. Kindness is the love of Christ in action.

1 John 5:1-5 The Proof of Love and the Victory of Faith
5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Messiah is God’s spiritual child and has been fathered by God himself. And everyone who loves Father God loves his children as well. 2 This is how we can be sure that we love the children of God: by having a passionate love for God and by obedience to his commands. 3 True love for God means obeying his commands, and his commands don’t weigh us down as heavy burdens [grace is made available]. 4 You see, every child of God overcomes the world [conquers the world’s system], for our faith is the victorious power that triumphs over the world. 5 So who are the world conquerors, defeating its power? Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your lovingkindness found in the Son that is extended to all your children. Holy Spirit please continue to produce the fruit of kindness in me, so I may remain useful in your hands to bring you glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 2-5-20

Luke 6:20-23 (TPT)

Last Sunday, the Spirit led me to teach from Matthew’s gospel chapter 5:1-12. Today, we will read a parallel passage from Luke’s gospel regarding Jesus’ Sermon on the Mt. of Beatitudes (6:20-23). Jesus reaches out to teach those who will listen about what matters most in his Kingdom message; come to the Kingdom and be “blessed.”

The word “blessed” is a more common translation; however, in Aramaic, the word “blessed” does not do the text justice. In fact, please note in our passage the many words that are used as part of the translation “blessed.” Toowayhon [blessed] is Aramaic and it means to have the capacity to enjoy union and communion with God. It is why those poor in spirit wisely acknowledge their inadequacy or weakness and turn to God for strength—finding themselves blessed. If you are covered by the blood of Jesus, you have been given the capacity to enjoy communion with God. Today, please turn to God and be “blessed.”

Luke 6:20-23 Jesus Taught Them What Matters Most
20 Looking intently at his followers, Jesus began his sermon. “How enriched [blessed] you become when you are poor,[suffer spiritual poverty] for you will experience the reality of God’s kingdom realm.

21 “How filled [blessed] you become when you are consumed with hunger and desire, for you will be completely satisfied.

“How content [blessed] you become when you weep with complete brokenness, for you will laugh with unrestrained joy.

22 “How favored [blessed] you become when you are hated, excommunicated, or slandered, or when your name is spoken of as evil because of your love for me, the Son of Man.

23 “I promise you that as you experience these things, you will celebrate and dance with overflowing joy. And the heavenly reward of your faith will be abundant, because you are being treated the same way as your forefathers the prophets.

Prayer: Lord, you have extended abundant blessings to me; may I be filled to overflowing, today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 2-4-20

Mark 7:5-7
God has instructed humanity to obey his commands; loving God and loving others. According to Jesus—the Living Word of God— we can be successful in meeting these requirements. Jesus taught, “Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me” (Matthew 11:29). Where the practice of religious rituals fail to renew us or bring lasting change into our lives, Jesus actually offers training opportunities, brings us power as we practice, and keeps us company on the journey. What a Savior!

In our passage today, Jesus has an encounter with the religious leaders. Jesus is not criticizing good hygiene practice. Instead, he is shining the light of Truth on the fact that these leaders have exalted the writings and traditions of the religious elders above the actual commands of God. They hold fast to what is not working in their lives while rejecting Jesus who came to bring victory.

Mark 7:5-7
5 So the Pharisees and religious scholars asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the age-old traditions passed down by our elders? They should first ceremonially wash their hands before eating.”

6 Jesus replied, “You are frauds and hypocrites! How accurately did Isaiah prophesy about you phonies when he said:
‘These people honor me with their words
    while their hearts run far away from me!

Their worship is nothing more than a charade!
    For they continue to insist
    that their man-made traditions
    are equal to the instructions of God.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the change you have brought to my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.