Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-22-20

Romans 16:17-20 (MSG)

17-18 One final word of counsel, friends. Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.

19-20 And so while there has never been any question about your honesty in these matters—I couldn’t be more proud of you!—I want you also to be smart, making sure every “good” thing is the real thing. Don’t be gullible in regard to smooth-talking evil. Stay alert like this, and before you know it the God of peace will come down on Satan with both feet, stomping him into the dirt. Enjoy the best of Jesus!

Since I have been home convalescing from the effects of unbridled horsepower (lol), I have had a lot of time to think and pray about how I am fulfilling my life’s purpose before the Father, praying for our spiritual family and my leadership, evaluating my relationships (family/friends) looking for growth and health; basically paying attention to what is truly important according to the Word—Jesus Christ. I want to enjoy the best of Jesus with this rest time I have been given. But, of course, I have had to face and win some spiritual battles to do so.

In our passage today, the Apostle Paul encourages the church in Rome to continue to press on for spiritual maturity as well as avoid being tricked by the smooth-talking work of evil. Now, Paul is referring to those who use pieces of the Word in order to satisfy their own sinful appetites; they twist the Word to sound good and noble—even obedient—but it is not the whole Truth nor the real message of Christ. We feast on the Bread of heaven—EVERY Word that flows from the mouth of God (Mat. 4:4). We guard our hearts through every battle by remaining in peace and holding onto the Truth of God’s love. When you know the Word and take it to heart, you know the real or genuine heart of God. Don’t let smooth-talking evil gain any ground in your life; put Satan under your feet and remain obedient to the Word.

Prayer: Lord, every spiritual battle is won in my life as I remain true to the Word. Thank you! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-21-20

Psalm 119:97-98
I Love the Word of God
97 
O how I love and treasure the revelation of your word;
throughout the day I fill my heart with its light!
98 
By considering your commands I have an edge over my enemies,
for I take seriously everything you say.

Recently, I have been reading a book written by Rabbi Schneider in order to reflect upon his thoughts regarding the biblical book of Revelation and end times. It is truly amazing how much great information is in the book and the way it builds upon my knowledge and understanding of how the Word of God—from Genesis through Revelation—all fits into an amazing story of God’s love and plan for redeeming his human creation. Yet, if all I did was read the Rabbi’s book to amass more knowledge or I never brought that insight to the whole of Scripture and the gospel of Jesus Christ, I would fail to lay hold of true godly wisdom. We must activate the truth of the Word by allowing it to permeate our attitudes and behaviors; the Word has been given to feed us the truth of God and his will for us. If we reject the Word, we will follow what seems right to us not necessary what God says is right. When we apply the Word of God to our lives, we begin to live the truth of who we are in Christ; here we can remain in the shadow of the Almighty and have power over our enemies.

In our passage today, the psalmist reminds us that no matter what is going on in the world, the challenges we face or the attacks of the enemy, God has revelation for us through his word that leads to victory. If we will allow God to guide our lives, wisdom will be released to us and we will find ourselves overcoming our enemies—the world (1 John 2:15-17), the flesh/our sinful nature (Gen 5:3-4), and the devil (1 Peter 5:8). If you need help understanding the world, your sinful nature, or the attacks of Satan to draw you away from Christ, then start spending time in the Word of God; take God’s Word seriously and begin to practice it.

Prayer: Lord, every day your inspiration comes through your Word and I become more and more aware of how very well planned out your mission to redeem humanity has been from the very beginning. Please continue to teach me through your Word and through the insights of your children. Light my path with your Word! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-18-20

Matthew 19:23-26 TPT

23 Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “Listen. Do you understand how difficult it is for the rich to enter into heaven’s kingdom realm? 24 In fact, it’s easier to stuff a heavy rope [Gamla] through the eye of a needle than it is for the wealthy to enter into God’s kingdom realm!”

25 Stunned and bewildered, his disciples asked, “Then who in the world can possibly be saved?”

26 Looking straight into their eyes, Jesus replied, “Humanly speaking, no one, because no one can save himself. But what seems impossible to you is never impossible to God!”

In our passage today, Jesus has just finished talking to the rich young man and answering his question, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”  Jesus tells him, “If you want to enter life, obey the commandments…love your neighbor as yourself” (Mat. 19:16-21).  This young man tells Jesus he has done all these things throughout his life, but truly Jesus helps him see that an eternal relationship with God must have a new starting point—an encounter with Jesus—that is followed by a changed perspective and obedient actions.  No amount of money or good deeds can substitute the responsibility of humanity to submit every aspect of one’s life to the Lord.  When we make Jesus Lord, we give him the right to direct our life paths, how we love and treat others made in God’s image, and how we use our time, talent, and treasures in a way that pleases God. Essentially, we place the Lord in the driver’s seat of our lives.

Many translations interpret verse 24 using the word “camel.”  Yet in Aramaic the word (Gamla) is a homonym that can actually be translated “camel or rope.”  No matter how it is translated, we get the message that Jesus is proclaiming.  It is impossible to save ourselves.  We know we cannot buy or push our sinful way (heavy rope) into the righteous (narrow) Kingdom, only God can open the Kingdom realm to us.  We must enter the Kingdom through the narrow Gate; the Gate to the Kingdom is Jesus (John 10:7).  If you have never invited Jesus into your heart, you need to do so, today, because he is the only Way to have eternal life with God in the Kingdom realm.  You can have a form of religion without making Jesus Lord, but you cannot experience eternal life in the presence and care of God, know the heart of true Love, have fellowship with Truth, or flow in the righteous power of the Spirit apart from Jesus.   Once Jesus enters our hearts, he provides a new starting point in life and we begin to see a life of worship (oneness) unveiled before us that Creator God designed for his children from the beginning of time. This is the relationship God had in mind for humanity.  And, it gets better; the Spirit comes to be a companion and helper so we can live for the glory of God as we enjoy continual fellowship with him. It is the work of Christ on the cross and the work of the Spirit in human hearts that makes all the difference in where we fit!

Prayer:  Lord, the enemy is always busy trying to tempt humanity to “fit” into the world.  Thank you Jesus for the new beginning you brought me years ago and how you open every day with opportunities to follow and emulate you.  Continue to mold me and shape me to fit your Kingdom.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-17-20

2 Corinthians 13:1-4 Weakness and God’s Power
13 This will be my third trip to you. And I will make sure that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter will be confirmed. 2–3 Since you are demanding proof that the Anointed One is speaking through me, I will give you proof by exercising discipline among you. For just as I told you the last time I was there—and now, though absent, I say it again—that when I come I will not go easy on those whom I’ve already warned and those who continue to persist in their sin. Christ is not weak or feeble in his dealings with you but mighty and powerful within you. 4 For although he was crucified as a “weakling,” now he lives robed with God’s power. And we also are “weak ones” in our co-crucifixion with him, but now we live in God’s triumphant power together with him, which is demonstrated on your behalf.

The word integrity is connected to the Hebrew word, shalom. Integrity is demonstrated when our motives, what we say, and how we behave both privately and publicly are in harmony with God’s righteousness. Here is another way to think about integrity; accepting the responsibility, as a believer and follower of Christ, to live according to the authority of God’s Word. A person can have an admirable nature, but fall short of biblical integrity because true integrity, as I mentioned earlier, has to do with agreement with God. Frankly, we can have a kind personality in the natural and still sin against God. This leads us to remain in our weakness; we reject the power God provided to make us holy. That is why we need the revelation of the Word and the convicting work of the Spirit, because our wrong thinking and living needs to change by the grace and power of God.

In our passage today, the Apostle Paul reminds the church at Corinth (and us) that the believers lives must align with the Word of God—practice the discipline and sacrifice of our human nature and wills—if we are actually going to profess his Lordship and reveal his integrity manifesting in our lives. Paul basically tells the people of God, “Listen to what I say, but also watch how it matches the way I live.” Christ is only Lord of our lives when we surrender our weakness, our brokenness, and our sinfulness in exchange for his integrity—wholeness. Grace is a wonderful gift and, as believers, this grace covers us everyday. Praise God! But, grace has not been given as an excuse for God’s children to continue to sin against the integrity of the Lord. Grace is given to provide a way for us to rise above sin in order to embrace the wholeness of the Lord and his anointing—his powerful hand resting upon our lives. May we as God’s children make his integrity our goal, today, tomorrow, and forever.

Prayer: Lord, we can have all kinds of excuses as to why we rebel or sin against your Word and your ways, but ultimately we have simply revealed to you and to ourselves our lack of faith in your power to redeem us and make us holy. I want you to continue to develop your integrity in my life, so I invite your discipline and I accept my responsibility to surrender to your righteousness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-16-20

Mark 11:20-25 TPT Lessons of Faith
20 In the morning, they passed by the fig tree that Jesus spoke to and it was completely withered from the roots up. 21 Peter remembered and said to him, “Teacher, look! That’s the fig tree you cursed. It’s now all shriveled up and dead.”

22 Jesus replied, “Let the faith of God be in you! 23 Listen to the truth I speak to you: If someone says to this mountain with great faith and having no doubt, [refuse to be undecided in your heart] ‘Mountain, be lifted up and thrown into the midst of the sea,’ and believes that what he says will happen, it will be done. 24 This is the reason I urge you to boldly believe for whatever you ask for in prayer—believe that you have received it and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, if you find that you carry something in your heart against another person, release him and forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also release you and forgive you of your faults.

In our passage today, Jesus is speaking and revealing the reality of a coming time of judgment and our need for faith in the redeeming work of Christ and the righteous fruit-bearing work of the Spirit moving in our lives. As believers, we know it is the Spirit who moves us into Kingdom living. We are humbled that God would forgive us, use us, and empower us for his glory, so we are quick to forgive others. We also understand that in Christ we turn from barrenness to fruitfulness by the grace of God, so we embrace the Spirit of Life and stand on the Word of God believing all things are possible. We see ourselves in the Gospel story and boldly live it out through righteous prayer. This is what it means to be a follower of Christ.

Jesus cursed [judged] the fig tree because it was not bearing fruit. Jesus is perfectly righteous and he would never judge unfairly, so we know the tree had potential but failed to fulfill its destiny when the Master called for fruit. There are so many lessons here, but let’s take a minute to look at the symbolism of Christ cursing the fig tree. Like the tree, our religious rituals, worship, works, and prayers are fruitless without the anointing of Christ and the creative and healing movement of the Spirit. Our prayers must be driven by the purpose of God in the power of the Spirit. Jesus reveals two essentials for prayer: 1) believe you are a carrier of Kingdom potential and the restoration that God wants to reveal on earth and 2) focus every request on your faith in God alone to perform it. Whatever obstacle stands before you [mountain] God is greater! Obstacles are simply opportunities for the authority of God.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the Truth and for the ability to flow in the Spirit for the Kingdom that I carry within me. Make me bold in my asking and holy in my expectations. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-15-20

Romans 14:22-23 (MSG)

22-23 Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.

Many years ago, Saint Ignatius developed a spiritual discipline to evaluate his growth in relationship with God. During my four years in seminary, I read many things about this amazing man of God. At the end of each day, Ignatius shared about meditating (visualizing himself at the scene of the Gospel story) to examine his moments and choices; to look at how he responded to the work of the Spirit that day, how he interacted with and treated people, as well as evaluating how he handled challenging situations in light of Christ’s love. This was not to make him feel prideful nor inadequate, it was to celebrate his small victories, as well as ask God to help bring correction and help as needed. Spiritual maturity was his goal: to have the resurrected Christ freely live, move, and have his being in him. In other words, for Jesus to be Lord of his life.

On August 30, John, Jimmy, Whitney, and I traveled to the Grand Teton range (WY) to take a horse tour of this beautiful mountainous area God created for humanity. The horses where necessary, because ATVs, motor vehicles, etc., could not pass through much of the area and hiking the trail would be too much. Two miles into the ride, we came to an open range and remained mounted while waiting for further instruction. Quite unexpectedly, my horse made a very fast turn to the right and began to gallop into the field; I held on trying to stop the horse, but was thrown off. I hit my lower back and just laid there trying to examine what had happened; I could not move my legs and my vision was filled with flashing lights. Jimmy was first to my side and began to assess my condition, but it was clear I was way too hurt to move or proceed. I laid in the field amidst the sagebrush for three hours before EMTs (called runners) could get to me and medically triage my injuries. Even in pain, I laid there examining my thoughts, physical symptoms, and looking for the loving care of God that I knew was coming. The owner of the horse range—young man in his early thirties—arrive shortly after the accident and stayed with me the whole time. He was so troubled and my heart just connected to him. He kept saying, “I am so sorry, Pastor Mary! Is there anything I can do?” I looked at him and said, “This is not your fault; nor do I hold you responsible. Please know that God has always and will always take care of me and he will use even this accident for my good. Don’t be afraid!” I was also preaching to myself; encouraging my faith. As I laid there, I spent the next two hours trying to share the reality of Christ with him; sharing about God’s love for him and helping him see my heart. I know God was working in his heart, because he had such tenderness and concern for me. He was with me until a rescue team arrive and carried me on a special gurney back two miles to an area where an ambulance could gain access.

No matter what goes on in a day, the attitudes, words, and actions of believers must be consistent with what we say we believe. And, when we are obedient to represent Christ even in our suffering, we have seen glimpses of the work of Grace and the power of God sustaining us and moving through us for his glory. We can take no credit for this miracle; it is the work of the Spirit. Every day I physically improve and the pain lessens. I sit quietly at night and look at how far God has brought me in two weeks and just how amazing his Grace and strength can be in all things. I am more concerned each day that the totality of my life be consistent with what I say I believe. May you be challenged to do the same.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the wonderful wisdom I find in your Word and for how it challenges me to grow up in Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 9-14-20

Hebrews 11:23-27 TPT

Greetings to you all! I have missed our devotional, Bible study, and worship times together, but I am so grateful for our amazing church leadership, congregation, worship, and safety teams to press on to the high call of God and the advancement of his Kingdom. Every moment we are granted by God to live is an opportunity for growth which brings Kingdom advancement. Please don’t waste a second of your precious moments to grow and advance the Kingdom of righteousness.

The enemy fears devoted disciples of Christ; as he should. If we are allowing Christ to lead and guide us—Christ has all-power in heaven and earth, as well as perfect vision—then the enemy knows that devotion will lead us to defeat Satan in the power of Christ. According to 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, “Our spiritual weapons are energized with divine power to effectively dismantle the defenses behind which people hide. 5 We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One.” When was the last time you used your words and said, “Satan, I stand on the Word of God and in the anointing and I insist that you bow to Christ—the Living Word?” According to Scripture, this is the makeup of every hero of the faith!

In our passage today, Moses is held up by the Apostle Paul as an example of one who recognizes the call on his life and the power God made ready for him to break through this world’s bondage of wickedness in order to bring freedom to the people of faith. We are all going to find ourselves facing difficulties, but refuse to be afraid of what is going on in the natural and keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus. God has been taking me through a dark valley and I have tasted physical suffering, but I am so grateful for this opportunity to be restored, renewed, and healed, because much more than physical healing is going on in Mary. God is rising up, taking his place in a greater measure of authority within me, and making me even stronger than I was before. Faith’s reward awaits every devoted disciple.

Moses
23 Faith prompted the parents of Moses at his birth to hide him for three months, because they realized their child was exceptional and they refused to be afraid of the king’s edict.

24 Faith enabled Moses to choose God’s will, for although he was raised as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he refused to make that his identity, 25 choosing instead to suffer mistreatment with the people of God. Moses preferred faith’s certainty above the momentary enjoyment of sin’s pleasures. 26 He found his true wealth in suffering abuse for being anointed, more than in anything the world could offer him, for his eyes looked with wonder not on the immediate, but on the ultimate—faith’s great reward! 27 Holding faith’s promise Moses abandoned Egypt and had no fear of Pharaoh’s rage because he persisted in faith as if he had seen God who is unseen.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for revealing your presence as I refuse to be bound by this world and instead reach for a greater connection in Christ. I am looking for “faith’s ultimate reward” which is seeing you visualized to the world you created! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary – 09-11-20

Think about someone within the family of Christ (the church) that drive you absolutely nuts. Maybe you think this person is annoying, you complain about them, you just simply don’t like them, they offended you, or maybe you consider them mean. So, how do you treat this person? If Jesus were to come with you to church this Sunday and observe your interaction, or lack thereof, with this person would He approve? Would Jesus treat this person just as you treat them?

In today’s passage John reminds us of the grave importance to love one another. He compares the opposite of love to murder. Remember, John was once called a “son of thunder” he understood a thing of two about anger; but, after his time with Jesus as he witnessed Him wash his feet and lay down His life for him, John was given the title of the “Apostle of Love”. John knew pure love because he walked with Him (Jesus). So, as John wrote today’s passage, he knew that if a brother or sister within the family of Christ hates another brother or sister, that person is a murderer at heart, and must immediately repent and ask God to change their heart. You might be thinking, well, “hate” is such a strong word and I merely think someone is just annoying, or mean, or sometimes I just don’t like how they act, and that’s much different than “hate”; but John tells us that as the family of believers we must pass from death to life. That means we either are dead living for this world, or we are actively living in eternal life for the Kingdom of God now; there is no grey area and we must make choice, either love like Jesus or hate like the world, it’s one or the other.

1 John 3:11-16
Love One Another

11 This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 We must not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and killed his brother. And why did he kill him? Because Cain had been doing what was evil, and his brother had been doing what was righteous. 13 So don’t be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.

14 If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. 15 Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.

16 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You so much for being the perfect example of love! Each of us desperately need Your forgiveness because we do not always love as You love. Help us to be more like You. Please open doors of opportunities for us to authentically love those within the family who we haven’t treated as You would treat them. Soften our hearts to love like You. You laid down Your life for us, so guide us so that we can also lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. Jesus, we ask that you hold the hearts of Americans today as we remember those who lost their lives 19 years ago; and we pray for those who lost loved ones. May their love live on forever. In Your Holy Name, Jesus. Amen.

Written By: Jen Auer

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary – 09-10-20

When you think about the great nation of Israel, isn’t it so amazing to know that it all began with God’s promise to one man, Abraham; and that all of the families on earth will be blessed through him (Genesis 12:2-3). In our passage today, we are reminded of how many times God has revealed His mighty power over the Israelites, and against Egypt as their oppressor and adversary.

When you think about your oppressor and adversary who comes to mind? Hopefully, you didn’t answer with a person’s name, but rather with Satan.

God delivered Israel from Egypt, even though they did nothing to deserve it. Regardless, God covered them and through His great works He set them free from their bondage. Doesn’t this sound like an all too familiar love story? You and I are part of that love story. God loves us so much that through His Son we are set free from the bondage of sin and covered by His saving grace. We don’t deserve it and it’s not by our own works, but because God wants each of His masterpieces (you and I) to reveal Jesus (the lead character in the love story); as this has been God’s plan since the beginning (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Psalm 114

1 When the Israelites escaped from Egypt—
when the family of Jacob left that foreign land—
2 the land of Judah became God’s sanctuary,
and Israel became his kingdom.
3 The Red Sea saw them coming and hurried out of their way!
The water of the Jordan River turned away.
4 The mountains skipped like rams,
the hills like lambs!
5 What’s wrong, Red Sea, that made you hurry out of their way?
What happened, Jordan River, that you turned away?
6 Why, mountains, did you skip like rams?
Why, hills, like lambs?
7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob.
8 He turned the rock into a pool of water;
yes, a spring of water flowed from solid rock.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for saving us. We are sinful people who lay down our sins at the foot of Your cross. Please forgive us. Thank You for teaching us about our own faith walk through the lessons we find throughout Your Word. We ask that You continue to guide us through Your Word. Today, we come boldly on behalf of our Pastor and ask that You cover her with your peace, comfort, and healing. Please be with her during her appointment and impart Your wisdom to the doctors. In Jesus’s Name. Amen.

Written By: Jen Auer

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary – 09-09-20

As I’m typing this devotion, I’m sitting across from an artificial orchid that’s on the top of my coffee table in our family room. If you were to enter the room, the orchid would be about 12 feet away, and at first sight you might think it’s real. But as you’d get closer, you’d begin to realize that it’s fake.

In today’s passage, Jesus sees a beautiful fig tree full of leaves, which should indicate that it has figs, but as He gets closer there is no fruit on the tree. The tree’s outward appearance was that of being fruitful, but underneath the beautiful foliage was a fruitless tree.

This passage may have been written about the Israelites, who had an outward appearance of a relationship with God, but there was no sign of spiritual fruit within their lives; but, it also applies to Christians today. The Israelites feared illustrating an outward acceptance of Jesus. Do you ever find yourself not wanting to talk about your faith, or fear how your relationship with Christ may be perceived?

Well, our “outside” living for Christ has to be in full alignment with our “inside” living for Christ. Some people like to think these are two different things, but they are truly one in the same. We must get to a point where we do not care what others think, feel, or believe about our relationship with Christ. We can’t worry about that nonsense, because we are called to be bearers of His Fruit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control. As we find ourselves in Oneness with Almighty God, living a fruitful life for Him, He calls us to lean on Him in prayer. He truly hears us my friends! Call out to Him today and let Him know how much you love Him, appreciate Him, and truly need Him.

Matthew 21:18-22
Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

18 In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, 19 and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” And immediately the fig tree withered up.

20 The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?”

21 Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. 22 You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we are so grateful for the work of Your Spirit. Please help us to be fruitful and not fruitless in all that we do. Continue to refine us and allow us to see the power behind prayer. We continue to pray healing over Pastor Mary, please be with her Lord, and fill her family with Your strength. We love You and ask all of this in Your Holy Name, Jesus. Amen.

Written By: Jen Auer