Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-7-20

Psalm 131 (TPT) My Heart Is Meek
A song of the stairway, by King David
Lord, my heart is meek before you.
I don’t consider myself better than others.
I’m content to not pursue matters that are over my head—
such as your complex mysteries and wonders—
that I’m not yet ready to understand.
I am humbled and quieted in your presence.
Like a contented child who rests on its mother’s lap,
I’m your resting child and my soul is content in you.
O people of God, your time has come to quietly trust,
waiting upon the Lord now and forever.

The Lord has been teaching me off and on for some time about being a “resting child.” It is in a spiritual realm of rest that I can better understand God’s heart and wisdom; to receive revelation from the Spirit and to grow in meekness. I feel secure in this place with the Lord; I know God will take care of me and guide me well. He will do the same for you. Let’s not forget Jesus told his disciples the Kingdom of God belongs to those who come to him like children; otherwise, we cannot enter the Kingdom (Mark 10:13-16). So, today, think about that place of spiritual rest that belongs to the children of God; trust the Lord because he has everything under his control.

Prayer: Lord, I humble myself and come to rest in your care each day. Quiet my soul and spill your peace over me. Help me to enter deeper into the mystery of your amazing grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-6-20

Romans 1:18-25 (MSG) Ignoring God Leads to a Downward Spiral
18-23 But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn’t treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand.

24-25 So God said, in effect, “If that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” It wasn’t long before they were living in a pigpen, smeared with filth, filthy inside and out. And all this because they traded the true God for a fake god, and worshiped the god they made instead of the God who made them—the God we bless, the God who blesses us. Oh, yes!

Truth is essential in our relationship with God. We cannot deceive God because he is the truth and, as believers, he looks for us to live in him—Immanuel God with us. To live any other way besides the truth would be to live a lie and it comes with horrendous consequences—finding oneself illiterate regarding life. Actually, many times it is the goodness of God that stands in-between his grace and our demands to have our own way. Jesus teaches he is the way, the truth, and the life with Father God, so we must be listening for his voice and willing to follow his guidance. Christ is our compass toward righteousness and if we want to live to worship the God who made us, we are free to do so. Conversely, if we desire to worship the god we create in our ignorance, we are free to do so. We will taste the results of our free will and choices. It really is a matter of choosing between right and wrong or truth and lies.

Prayer: Lord, I need you to provide my sense of direction each day; so, I am looking for your grace to guide me and your glory to fill me. I want your will; please be my Savior and my God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Independence Day Reflection 7-4-20

1 Peter 2:13-17 (MSG)
13-17 Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.

Happy 244th Birthday, America! Thank you, God, for America—land of the free and home of the brave! We are so blessed as a country to live in the freedom Jesus died to provide. We have forgiveness and freedom from sin, as well as Spiritual power to live for him and radiate his love as humans living together in a republic that protects our God-given liberty. Where other countries may have a form of freedom, we have a hierarchy of government—One Nation Under God—that has been structured to protect our God decreed freedoms. Obviously, some people do not appreciate the priceless freedom and maintained order we have in America, because they have never tasted life without it, nor have they been called to sacrifice themselves to protect the freedom of others. It is easy to condemn and destroy something when you have contributed nothing of yourself or sacrificed loved ones to protect it. No government will ever be “perfect” until God’s Kingdom comes to earth. But, America’s freedom with secure boundaries is a priceless gift while we live in a selfish and sinful world.

As unique individuals, we are never going to see things exactly the same; yet, we are free to use our differences to grow and increase in love, appreciation, and respect. We are free to use our gifts of dialogue and compromise to bring awareness to the need for change. Because sin is real and evil is a thief, we will always need to seek restoration and change that heals and renews. We need one another to gain perspective and how we treat and speak to one another either glorifies God or exalts self. True listening is first and foremost a God imparted spiritual skill for human beings that is motivated to seek the highest and best for every person made in God’s image. May God give us listening ears to hear, a heart of love for one another, and a desire to see his goodness worked out in every life.

As citizens of the United States of America, we all have choices to make for our lives. Many of us have dreams that we may worship and serve our loving God, enjoy a meaningful and healthy life, rest in a measure of security, and cultivate rich and growing relationships with our neighbors. I want to take this time to thank God for the spiritual freedom we have been given in the Son; we are free to love and value every life not just our own. And, I want to thank our President and Vice-President, government leaders, public service personnel, and law-enforcement officers who maintain the commitment to our Constitution and for seeking to balance our freedom, security, and safety. This has been a difficult year my fellow Americans, but my prayer is that Almighty God will be exalted in the hearts and lives of his worshipers and grace will make a way through this present wilderness by faith in his unfailing love. “America, America, God shed his grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.”

Prayer: Lord, I am one voice crying out, but many of us love and desire to serve you from this land called America. Have mercy upon us we pray; we have fallen short as guardians of your glory. As your children, we turn our hearts toward you for answers. Give us vision to heal this land and the power to love as you love your whole creation. As you have forgiven us, we turn to forgive one another. For those who are vessels of destruction, we pray and ask you to remove the spiritual scales from their eyes that have blinded them to the truth of your beautiful and loving presence among us. In your authority, we stand against the enemy who seeks to rob, steal, and destroy our freedom and our country. You favor the humble, so we humble ourselves before your mighty hand. We resist the work of Satan and demand that he flee. We come close to you knowing you will come close to us. We declare our loyalty to you with undivided hearts. In the power of your grace and love, we bow united in Spirit and ask for your glory to fall and your righteous authority to reign in this land! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-3-20

Luke 10:21 (TPT)
21 Then Jesus, overflowing with the Holy Spirit’s anointing of joy, exclaimed, “Father, thank you, for you are Lord Supreme over heaven and earth! You have hidden the great revelation of this authority from those who are proud, those wise in their own eyes, and you have shared it with these who humbled themselves. Yes, Father. This is what pleases your heart and the very way you’ve chosen to extend your kingdom: to give to those who become like trusting children.

God does not use his love and power to control like the elite and powerful of the world. His salvation and grace is given to all who believe God exists and are willing to come to him in childlike trust. In our world, the news continually reports the failure of government leadership and civil servants like those leaders actually have the ability to bring salvation and wholeness. Really? I appreciate and value our government structure, leaders, and servants who work to bring order; I pray for them. Yet, please remember we presently live in a deceived and sinful world where evil is flagrantly displayed in greed, lust, hatred, self-centeredness, and demands for autonomy are being presented and served up in every direction. Government cannot take spiritual dominion over evil or fix hearts. Apart from salvation in Christ, the world is first and foremost rebellious against God, sinful, and therefore destined to destroy itself. We have no ability to save ourselves from the sin that is within. However, according to the Word of God, our Father is omnipotent (all powerful), owns everything in heaven and on earth, and he offers to every single heart the same opportunity to have a relationship with him, experience victory over sin in Christ, and enjoy the inheritance and benefits of GRACE—God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. God makes this invitation available now and I rejoice in it. Wake up, look up, and connect to Christ, because in him we are equal—One sinful Human Race in need of salvation—and he is the righteous Ruler of believers who will save us and, as a loving Father, always provide for us.

Prayer: Lord, in childlike faith I look to you to bring salvation and redemption to your world. I ask you to have mercy on your sinful human creation and make a way to bring truth and righteousness to every willing and open heart. As your daughter, I lift my heart to you, today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-2-20

Psalm 145:8-14 (TPT)

You’re kind and tenderhearted to those who don’t deserve it
and very patient with people who fail you.
Your love is like a flooding river overflowing its banks with kindness.

God, everyone sees your goodness,
for your tender love is blended into everything you do.
Everything you have made will praise you, fulfilling its purpose.
And all your godly lovers will be found bowing before you.
They will tell the world of the lavish splendor of your kingdom
and preach about your limitless power.
They will demonstrate for all to see your miracles of might
and reveal the glorious majesty of your kingdom.
You are the Lord who reigns over your never-ending kingdom through all the ages of time and eternity!
You are faithful to fulfill every promise you’ve made.
You manifest yourself as kindness in all you do [all God’s works are holy].
Weak and feeble ones you will sustain.
Those bent over with burdens of shame you will lift up.

As I am reading the passage for today, my thoughts lean toward the word “bent” in verse 14, so I am digging deeper. According to biblical definition, to be “bent” is to be unable to straighten oneself up or unable to fulfill God’s law of love. Human inclination is bent toward rebellion and we cannot please God or fulfill his standard of love on our own. We find ourselves bent, weak, and weary simply trying to be good or holy in our own strength. Our “bent” posture can be changed if we will allow ourselves to be “yoked” or connected to the power of Christ the Good Shepherd. We must willingly bow to the Savior who uses his power as Shepherd to straighten up our lives. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Christ alone can lift us up and help us bear the challenges of life that evil tries to use to hinder our relationship with God. Only Christ can help us move beyond sin and shame, because he is Perfect Love. He is the Sustainer we need in order to enjoy the goodness of God. We are all inclined toward self-sufficiency which is rebellion against God; a form of idolatry to self. If you are feeling “bent” in some area of your life, then please choose to “bow and be yoked” to the Good Shepherd.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for straightening up my life and giving me the lift I need to enjoy each day in your goodness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 7-1-20

Matthew 11:20-24 (NLT) Judgment for the Unbelievers
20 Then Jesus began to denounce the towns where he had done so many of his miracles, because they hadn’t repented of their sins and turned to God. 21 “What sorrow awaits you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago, clothing themselves in burlap and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse. 22 I tell you, Tyre and Sidon will be better off on judgment day than you.

23 “And you people of Capernaum, will you be honored in heaven? No, you will go down to the place of the dead.[hell] For if the miracles I did for you had been done in wicked Sodom, it would still be here today. 24 I tell you, even Sodom will be better off on judgment day than you.”

Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum were Jewish villages near the Sea of Galilee where Jesus performed many powerful miracles. Korazin (Chorazin) was known for the quality of its wheat, but it was also filled with great wickedness. In fact, a synagogue in Korazin featured a stone carved head of Medusa—the snake haired goddess. Think about that for a minute. These Jewish people had gotten so far away from their God, they brought a statue from Greek mythology into the synagogue that was dedicated to Yahweh and worshipped this graven image. They broke the covenant, “You must not have any other god but me; do not make for yourself a graven image or idol” (Ex. 20:3-4).

Bethsaida and Capernaum were equally as wicked, because they did not turn from sin even though God in Christ came near to save them. We cannot hold onto wickedness and be near to God. The biblical definition of wickedness is evil committed consciously by free will or evil in practice. These people who thought they had a relationship with Yahweh because of their heritage or race are told by Christ they will receive the harshest judgment for their wickedness because they know better. As Christians, we must realize God’s expectation for us as his covenant people because his word reveals those expectations and we, too, know better. We cannot engage in the practice of evil or one day we will be confronted by the Lord’s judgment, as well.

Prayer: Lord, until you defeat evil once and for all, wickedness will remain a temptation in this world. I pray for my heart to know the Truth of your will and for my will to choose to live it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-30-20

1 John 4:1-6 (TPT) A Warning against False Teaching
4 Delightfully loved friends, don’t trust every spirit, but carefully examine what they say [prophesy] to determine if they are of God, because many false prophets have mingled into the world. 2 Here’s the test for those with the genuine Spirit of God: they will confess Jesus as the Christ who has come in the flesh [fully human and fully God to bring salvation—God with us]. 3 Everyone who does not acknowledge that Jesus is from God has the spirit of antichrist, which you heard was coming and is already active in the world.

4 Little children, you can be certain that you belong to God and have conquered them,[the spirit of antichrist that denies Jesus the Christ] for the One who is living in you is far greater than the one who is in the world [the devil and the culture of the world]. 5 They belong to this world and they articulate the spirit of this world, and the world listens to them. 6 But we belong to God, and whoever truly knows God listens to us. Those who refuse to listen to us do not belong to God. That is how we can know the difference between the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit [antichrist].

The Apostle John teaches in the Word there are eight ways we can discern the difference between a teacher of truth vs. deception: 1) they must confess Jesus as God—perfect and sinless Love—who came in a human body to save humanity through his death, burial and resurrection[vv. 2-3]; 2) they do not condone the spirit and culture of this world under Satan’s rule, rather they obey the commands of the Lord [v. 5]; 3) they listen and honor the Spirit of Truth who makes them fruitful [v. 6]; 4) they demonstrate sacrificial love [vv. 7-21]; 5) the Truth is in them growing and comes out as witnessed and affirmed by the Holy Spirit [vv. 4-6]; 6) they honor the written Word of God as the foundation for life [v. 6, 5:10, 2 Timothy 3:16]; 7) they are overcomers because Christ lives and serves in and through them [v. 4]; and 8) they have a commitment to the Body of Christ to see each member follow Christ’s commands and commission to make more disciples [Ephesians 4:12, 16].

Prayer: Father, in this world that is loaded with accusations and condemnation in every direction, help me to identify between truth and deception then empower me stand for Truth. Your Word teaches Satan is the Accuser of your sons and daughters and he is certainly busy right now. As Truth is revealed to my heart, help me to keep love as my focus for my words and to go about loving others. Help me put a watch over my mouth that I would not sin against you or my brothers and sisters in the faith. Holy Spirit, I offer myself to your work to make me a fit vessel in each of these areas to share the Truth of the Father’s heart and Love found in Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-29-20

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 (TPT) Loving Others
9 There’s no need for anyone to say much to you about loving your fellow believers, for God is continually teaching you to unselfishly love one another. 10 Indeed, your love is what you’re known for throughout Macedonia. We urge you, beloved ones, to let this unselfish love increase and flow through you more and more. 11 Aspire [make it your driving desire] to lead a calm and peaceful life as you mind your own business and earn your living, just as we’ve taught you. 12 By doing this you will live an honorable life, influencing others and commanding respect of even the unbelievers. Then you’ll be in need of nothing and not dependent upon others [self-supporting].

God’s Word teaches the preeminence of love in the lives of believers. In fact, the love God teaches and empowers in our lives increases; it is to flow first to the brothers and sisters in the faith and then out to the world. Do you have a driving desire to remain in peace and live an honorable life? Well, it becomes easier to remain in peace if we will mind our own business and stop pulling the world’s problems into our thought life; otherwise, we give negativity too much power. Recognize the problems, but instead of talking and talking and talking about them all, take time to pray and give every problem up to God. Use your faith and your love for God and others to pray for answers to come. We serve Almighty God to whom nothing is impossible.

Prayer: Lord, I aspire to unselfishly love you and others in an increasing fashion. You make it possible as I stay focused on what is most important—loving by your standard. I pray for our country, government leaders, believers, and unbelievers to gain an overwhelming awareness of your presence, your love, and your ways. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-26-20

Luke 17:1-4 (TPT) Teachings about Forgiveness and Faith
One day Jesus taught his disciples this: “Betrayals are inevitable, but great devastation will come to the one guilty of betraying others. 2 It would be better for him to have a heavy boulder tied around his neck and be hurled into the deepest sea than to face the punishment of betraying one of my dear ones! So be alert to your brother’s condition, 3 and if you see him going the wrong direction, cry out and correct him. If there is true repentance on his part, forgive him. 4 No matter how many times in one day your brother sins against you and says, ‘I’m sorry; I am changing; forgive me,’ you need to forgive him each and every time.”

When someone hurts you, please do not pretend it never happened. We are called to be truthful. Otherwise, we will walk around and keep an internal record of the wrong we have endured. If left to grow, it will produce bitterness. Share your feelings with the person who betrayed you, but refrain from telling other people, because that is not an act of love. Then, when the person apologizes it is your duty to forgive and restore them.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be honest when I’m hurt and faithful to forgive. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 6-25-20

Psalm 89:15-18 (TPT)
O Lord, how blessed are the people
who experience the shout of worship,
for they walk in the radiance of your presence.
We can do nothing but leap for joy all day long,
for we know who you are and what you do,
and you’ve exalted us on high.
The glory of your splendor is our strength,
and your marvelous favor makes us even stronger,
lifting us even higher!
You are our King, the holiest one of all;
your wrap-around presence is our protection.

If something wraps-around an object, it shapes to follow a contour or encircles and overlaps. God is love and his abiding presence is available to wrap around every believer. As we remain in his love, our souls (mind/will/emotions) are guided toward God’s protective love; our connection to Christ is essential as he is Perfect Love. In Christ, we cannot spew forth condemnation AND love from our lips at the same time. Either our mouths will speak and reveal the glorious love, strength, and presence of God in our inner lives, or we will give away our energy to the very evil that seeks to overtake and destroy us. Remember, the enemy comes to rob, steal, and destroy the word that leads to Life (John 10:10). And, we cannot serve two masters.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for helping me understand my own heart better each day. Continue to reveal things to me and renew my mind so I may enjoy the attitude of Christ and produce the fruit of your holiness. I love you! Be glorified in Jesus’ name. Amen.