Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 08-12-22

Intro: In Scripture, you will frequently find the word persecution and it is alway associated with pressure, harassment, mistreatment, betrayal or intimidation for the purpose of entrapment or even going so far as killing people. In the Old Testament, persecution came against the Jews as intense pressure to cause them to renounce their faith in God. In the New Testament, Jesus was harassed, mistreated, betrayed and entrapped. Jesus told his disciples they could expect the same, because the world is evil and hates God’s Word or authority (John 15:20).

Over the past few weeks in our LIFE Lessons Bible Study, we have been exploring the Words of Christ about the end times and how we can discern where we are on God’s calendar regarding Christ’s return. Night before last, we looked at the persecution Jesus said would affect his disciples in the last days. An escalation of persecution is one of the signs that we are approaching the time of Christ’s return. Holding onto our faith is wisdom; choosing to trust Christ and patiently endure in the midst of any persecution we may face as His followers will cause our faith to grow. It is through faith that we trust what Christ has done for us in the past for salvation; it is also through faith that we trust Christ for what he will do today, as well as what he will do for our future. Live by faith! Have a wonderful weekend.

Hebrews 10:32-39 NLT

32 Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. 33 Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. 34 You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.
35 So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! 36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.
“For in just a little while,    the Coming One will come and not delay.
And my righteous ones will live by faith.    But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.”
39 But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for preparing your disciples with the truth about the persecution all your disciples face. Help us patiently endure as we live for your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 08-11-22

Intro: Pride hinders people from abiding or communing with God. It also sets people up for destruction (Prov 16:18). In fact, Scripture teaches God detests a prideful or haughty spirit (Prov. 8:13). If a person is prideful, he or she is arrogant. A prideful person truly sees himself or herself as humble and always right while degrading other people—pride is the foundation of self-centeredness.

In his sermon on the Mount of Beatitudes, Jesus taught the “poor in spirit” or humble are blessed to inherit the Kingdom of God (Matt. 5:3). If we are poor in spirit, we understand our spiritual emptiness apart from the work of Grace, as well as our inability to save ourselves. Pride is a constricting spirit that seeks to hinder the exaltation of God who is Love. Pride tempts the human soul seeking to induce self-worship; rather than worship God from whom all things are provided. As well, the enemy uses pride to restrict sacrificial love in our relationships; pride brings division to the Body of Christ. So, we need to be mindful of how pride works against our relationship with God and others. Once we identify a wrong spirit of pride, we know the answer is agape.

Peter understood the destructive work of pride, because he suffered from it before Christ delivered him. In Christ, Peter learned the power of love. Agape—sacrificial love—overcomes pride. So, let the love of God take down any pride that tries to exalt itself in your life. Humble yourself, worship, and exalt God above all things.

1 Peter 3:8-12 NLV Teaching for All Christians
8 Last of all, you must share the same thoughts and the same feelings. Love each other with a kind heart and with a mind that has no pride. 9 When someone does something bad to you, do not do the same thing to him. When someone talks about you, do not talk about him. Instead, pray that good will come to him. You were called to do this so you might receive good things from God. 10 For “If you want joy in your life and have happy days, keep your tongue from saying bad things and your lips from talking bad about others. 11 Turn away from what is sinful. Do what is good. Look for peace and go after it. 12 The Lord watches over those who are right with Him. He hears their prayers. But the Lord is against those who sin.”

Prayer: Lord, thank you for this lesson on spiritual pride; a mindset that hinders fellowship with you and my connection with others. May I willingly humble myself under your mighty hand each day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 08-10-22

Intro: Rejection is a painful experience for the soul. Anyone who has experienced rejection knows it leaves scars and memories that are difficult to work through. Healing takes time; it takes divine Love.

If you have felt the sting of rejection, there is Someone who knows all about your wounds and wants to heal them. No one has experienced rejection more than Jesus. Seriously, I want you to think about Jesus—the Son of God—for a minute. Jesus experienced rejection from his biological family, friends, religious leaders, as well as his spiritual family. Scripture teaches Jesus was rejected by an entire generation (Luke 17:25). And, every time people reject the Word of God as Truth even today, they are rejecting Jesus the very One who can heal them, as well as save them from eternal destruction (Acts 4:12).

In our passage today, the writer of Hebrews shares about this rejection of Christ and the judgment people will face because of it. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31).

Hebrews 10:26-31 (TLB)
26 If anyone sins deliberately by rejecting the Savior after knowing the truth of forgiveness, this sin is not covered by Christ’s death; there is no way to get rid of it. 27 There will be nothing to look forward to but the terrible punishment of God’s awful anger, which will consume all his enemies. 28 A man who refused to obey the laws given by Moses was killed without mercy if there were two or three witnesses to his sin. 29 Think how much more terrible the punishment will be for those who have trampled underfoot the Son of God and treated his cleansing blood as though it were common and unhallowed, and insulted and outraged the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to his people.

30 For we know him who said, “Justice belongs to me; I will repay them”; who also said, “The Lord himself will handle these cases.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for blessing me with your grace and forgiveness through the blood of Jesus. Help me to honor the work of the Spirit who extends mercy. When I feel a sense of rejection, help me to remember I am in divine company. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 08-09-22

August 9, 2022
Intro: Most every day we encounter problems to be solved; therefore, we must seek Christ who has been made Wisdom for us (1 Cor 1:30). Whenever possible, we usually try to avoid trouble, but when that isn’t an option we need to face the adversity with Wisdom. In Scripture, Jesus teaches this fallen world provides tribulations [trouble, adversity, grief, setbacks, etc], but we are to take heart and hold onto the supernatural peace he has given us (John 16:33). Have you ever been tempted to run away from adversity and trouble?

In our passage today, David deals with his problems and fear by applying a strategy of trust and confidence. In fact, the opposite of fear is confidence. Now, placing confidence in our own abilities to deal with the adversities of life is precarious at best. Instead, we need to place our confidence in Christ; in so doing we are automatically taking a stand against fear. Every time you prevail over fear, you are growing stronger spiritually. Problems and troubles are opportunities for growth no matter how hard we try to avoid them. The next time you face something difficult, place your confidence in God. Realize the righteous, as well as the wicked face adversity; no one can avoid tribulation. However, Jesus makes all the difference in how we manage adversity. Place your confidence [trust] in God and be victorious, today.

Psalm 11 (NLT) For the choir director: A psalm of David.

I trust in the Lord for protection.So why do you say to me,    “Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!

The wicked are stringing their bows    and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings.They shoot from the shadows    at those whose hearts are right.

The foundations of law and order have collapsed.    What can the righteous do?”

But the Lord is in his holy Temple;    the Lord still rules from heaven.He watches everyone closely,    examining every person on earth.

The Lord examines both the righteous and the wicked.    He hates those who love violence.

He will rain down blazing coals and burning sulfur on the wicked,    punishing them with scorching winds.

For the righteous Lord loves justice.    The virtuous will see his face.

Prayer: Lord, when I face tribulation, please help me turn to place my confidence in you. I know you will provide Wisdom and help me through every problem I face. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Jen Auer 08-08-22

Today’s devotion is the first part of Hebrews 11. In the previous chapter, a warning and a word of encouragement were given specifically to “those who have faith”; and now a direct definition of faith and examples are given in a letter to the Hebrews, and to all believers.

So, what is faith? Everyone talks about it, but how many people actually live out the true Biblical meaning of godly faith each and every moment of their life?

We read the “definition” of faith within the first three verses of today’s passage; and it’s clear that faith is not simply knowing a few Bible verses and believing that God exists. Rather, godly faith is based on trust. In order to truly trust God, we have to intimately know Him. The only way we do that is by daily growth in His Word, by understanding our direct oneness with God’s Son, Jesus, through our salvation, by growing in the understanding that our existence is not in this world but is eternal in God’s Kingdom, by our obedience to all that God has revealed through warnings and promises in the Word and not picking and choosing how we live, but by living out ALL of the Word for ALL to witness. Once we are on this path, we are growing in our godly faith.

Below, we see that “by faith” a few Biblical brothers set the example within the Old Testament for us:
· By faith, Abel was commended as righteous (v. 4)
· By faith, Enoch was commended as having pleased God (v. 5)
· By faith, Noah received righteousness (v. 7)

The faith of these men points us directly to our own salvation in Jesus. The only reason anyone can be righteous is because Jesus is righteous and by faith we share in His righteousness. The only way anyone can be pleasing to God, is because Jesus is pleasing to God and by faith, we share in that same spirit of being pleasing to God. Simply put, faith joins us to Jesus. Friends, we want to be joined to Jesus by faith, because in Him and only Him will you and I be carried through the judgment of God. I don’t know about you, but I want my Master to be full of praise and to hear Him say: ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful…’ (Matt 25:21).

Hebrews 11:1-7 NLT
Great Examples of Faith

1 Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see. 2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.

3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

4 It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.

5 It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying – “he disappeared, because God took him.” For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. 6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

7 It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

Prayer: Jesus, Thank You for being the One who helps me to grow with You. Please strengthen my faith and keep me focused on eternity with you and make me strong in the spirit against this dark and failing world. I love You, Lord, and I ask this in Your Holy Name, Jesus. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 08-05-22

Intro: The times in which we live are disconcerting; there are so many things happening in the world for which we must pray. Deception, corruption, violence…yes, evil is busy at work in the hearts of those who live only for this world [lost spiritually]. Believers and people of faith see and know what is going on, yet we are not really surprised at the present level of darkness. As much as I pray and want God to move in mighty ways to bring salvation to this world, I know Scripture reminds us that this world will never be built on truth, integrity, or peace until Jesus is our governing Ruler. All that being said, we must never forget Christ’s promise, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (John 14:1-3).

Are you watching for the return of Christ? In our Bible Study last night, we were sharing about being prepared for Christ’s return, because He tells us He will come unexpectedly and suddenly like a thief in the night. Unfortunately, many people tend to think Christ’s return is far off in the future; after all, people have been talking about His return and expecting Him a long time. Be careful with that kind of thinking, because if you are lulled into indifference, you will not be living ready when the Lord returns.

In our passage today, Jesus tells his disciples to be waiting and ready: 1) to live as sincere people of integrity; 2) to walk by faith being led by the Spirit; 3) to trust God in all things; 4) to delight in being generous to others; and 5) to be diligent and hardworking as we serve, because we know we are working for God! As we live this way, we will be filled with joy when we see our Savior. Be ready all the time!

Luke 12:35-40 NLT Be Ready for the Lord’s Coming
35 “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 as though you were waiting for your master to return from the wedding feast. Then you will be ready to open the door and let him in the moment he arrives and knocks. 37 The servants who are ready and waiting for his return will be rewarded. I tell you the truth, he himself will seat them, put on an apron, and serve them as they sit and eat! 38 He may come in the middle of the night or just before dawn. But whenever he comes, he will reward the servants who are ready.

39 “Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would not permit his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.”

Prayer: Lord, thank You for the Word of Truth that keeps our lamps burning. We believe You are coming to get Your loved ones. So, we are going to do the things You teach that will keep us ready. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 08-04-22

Intro: The first eight chapters of the Book of Romans teaches us about humanity’s great need for a Savior and the work of the Holy Spirit. Without salvation through Christ’s atoning work on the cross and the leading of the Holy Spirit guiding us toward righteousness, humans self-slaughter in sin. In chapters 9-11, the Apostle Paul addresses the problem of Israel’s sin since they rejected the arrival of Messiah whom God sent to save them. Paul is burdened because he knows, without faith in the redeeming Savior, the people of Israel are separated from God’s love by sin and unbelief. This is true for all humanity who rejects the work of Christ and the Spirit for salvation.

In Paul’s letter, he expresses his great concern for the souls of the people of Israel. Paul is burdened for them and the eternal future they could face being separated from God. God blessed Israel with such a rich legacy; He gave them His Word. He delivered them from the bondage of sin time and time, again. But, even though Israel, by God’s Hand, experienced spiritual freedom, they returned to their old ways of serving other gods. Does that mean God’s Word was not powerful on behalf of Israel? It is not an issue of the Word being powerless; rather, it is a problem of the hardened human heart fighting God for control. We cannot serve two masters.

Paul goes on to identify the chosen. The Jews think their heritage as descendants of Abraham makes them the chosen of God. However, Paul sets them straight by telling them the chosen are obedient sons and daughters of faith who ‘choose to have their lives governed by God.’ Because Israel rejected the Word of God in Christ, God allowed the hearts of the Jews to be hardened until the full number of non-Jews have come to salvation as the chosen. In God’s original plan, the Jews were to be a blessing to the Gentiles. They missed this mission and blessing, but they are not far from God’s love. Israel will be saved—God will continue to have mercy on whomever He chooses.

Scripture teaches us one day ever knee will bow to the Word of God—Christ; we will be judged by Him (Phil 2:10). Our lesson today is to remind us to live authentically as the chosen. It is much easier to bow our hearts and lives in obedience to the governing of God’s Word now, than to bow later when all hell rages against the Word. Pray for Israel; pray for the world to accept Christ.

Romans 9:1-8 NLT God’s Selection of Israel
With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness. My conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm it. My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them. They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children. God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them his law. He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are their ancestors, and Christ himself was an Israelite as far as his human nature is concerned. And he is God, the one who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.

Well then, has God failed to fulfill his promise to Israel? No, for not all who are born into the nation of Israel are truly members of God’s people! Being descendants of Abraham doesn’t make them truly Abraham’s children. For the Scriptures say, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted,”though Abraham had other children, too. This means that Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. Only the children of the promise are considered to be Abraham’s children.

Prayer: Father God, thank You for salvation in Christ and for the assurance of what it means to be Your chosen. Help us to live each day being governed by Your Word and led by Your Spirit. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 08-03-22

Intro: Are you tempted to be a worrier—tempted by anxious or disturbing thoughts? What kinds of thoughts capture and drag you into the den of worry? Many people exhaust themselves worrying about money or never having enough to live. Certainly, we should take responsibility for our lives by working and making wise decisions, but it will always be necessary for us to trust the love of God with our lives. That is why Jesus commands us not to worry. Worry causes stress; stress causes poor health and prompts disease. God does not want any of that for us. So, instead of falling into worry, the Lord instructs us to use our faith by praying, seeking God’s Kingdom of unlimited supply, and asking for what we need (Mat 7:7).

When we seek salvation in Christ, we become God’s children. The Creator of all things in heaven and on earth becomes our Father. He is ready to care for us and provide for us. Everything belongs to God and when we seek His Kingdom and His way of being righteous, God provides the things we need. We may not have all the things we want, but that doesn’t justify worry either, because let’s be honest, that is an attitude of greed. If we truly believe God loves us enough to die for us, why would we worry about even our necessities?

Holocaust survivor, Corrie Ten Boom, once said, “Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength—carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” The Bible is described as God’s Testimony; therefore, the great task before us each day is to believe the Word of God is true when the Lord testifies how much He loves us. Jesus knows we can get weary and burdened, but He promises rest for our souls (Mat 11:28). We need to take God at His Word. When we trust God with our lives, we are acting by faith and living our worship.
Luke 12:22-31 Teaching about Money and Possessions

22 Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. 23 For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing. 24 Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds! 25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that, what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?

27 “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
29 “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. 30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.

Prayer: Lord, thank You for promising to care and provide for us as Your children. As we seek Your Kingdom supply, we place our faith in Your Word knowing You cannot lie. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 08-02-22

Intro: Making connections is a part of life. God formed His human creation for relationships. We pray to make great spiritual connections with people, but we need wisdom from God in how we influence those relationships. We pray to connect to righteous mindsets and actions, but we need discernment and power from God to live them out in our relationships. We pray for God to bring us opportunities to be connectors—connecting unbelievers to Christ—but we need the mercy of God to view people the way He sees them as we evangelize. Prayer empowers us to connect in righteous ways as we walk out Christ’s call for fruitful evangelistic living.

The Book of Colossians is about making a connection to Christ—as Lord—so we can make righteous connections with others for the purpose of sharing the true gospel in words and actions. In our passage today, the Apostle Paul is a prisoner in Rome. He writes to the church in Colosse to encourage them to pray for him; Paul wants to be effective in evangelism while he is incarcerated. As well, he encourages the Colosse believers to pray and ask Christ to give them all the resources they need for sharing the gospel in their city. False teaching had been luring people away from evangelistic living and Paul was determined to call them back to the Truth.

There are many ways God may use us to proclaim Christ. We can evangelize as we connect through conversations that leave people focused on Christ. We can evangelize through our life-styles that reveal Christ’s character. We can evangelize while we share meals with others as we thank Christ for his provision. The key will always be to share truth in a way that keep people thirsty for more of Christ; to share conversations and moments that are tasty or “seasoned with salt.”

Colossians 4:2-6: An Encouragement for Prayer
2 Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. 3 Pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to speak about his mysterious plan concerning Christ. That is why I am here in chains. 4 Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.

5 Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be gracious and attractive [seasoned with salt] so that you will have the right response for everyone.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the power of prayer for salvation. Help all of your children to pray for opportunities to share the gospel in gracious words and actions. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Jen Auer 08-01-22

If today was your last day on earth, what kind of legacy will you leave behind?

The word “legacy” takes on a different meaning for people. Some believe they need to build something grand to leave behind, while others believe they need to preserve something that has been passed down by family. Matthew reminds us that our legacy is a true treasure; “Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (6:20-21) In other words, our heart will either want our legacy to be of this world and it will ultimately be destroyed; or it will want our legacy to be eternal which will mean that it will be forever connected to Christ.

In today’s passage, Solomon challenges us to consider wisely the legacy we will choose to leave behind for our children and for future generations.

Solomon points us to remember that God is the builder of all things, He watches over all things, and He is the One who gives all things. So, when we take over the building, the watching, and/or the giving, we are doing it all for nothing. “For the Lord gives to His loved ones even while they sleep.” (v.2) If God allows each of our physical systems to operate even while we are sleeping, providing all that is needed to sustain our physical life during rest, why do we not trust Him to provide all that is needed to sustain our physical lives when we are awake? Rather, we often attempt to take the control of our lives in our own hands. God seeks for us to give full control of our lives into His hands.

As you read Psalm 127, remember that these words were written for the community of Israel as they made their way up to Jerusalem and to the temple, it was a reminder to them (and remains a reminder to us today) of God’s covenant promise to His people and His many blessings. We know from history that we must have faith and trust in God to build, watch, and give us each our future plan, because apart from His eternal and perfect plan for each of our lives, our own great worldly achievements are fleeting.

Psalm 127 NLT
God Is Good to His People

1 Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders work for nothing. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the men who watch over it stay awake for nothing. 2 You rise up early, and go to bed late, and work hard for your food, all for nothing. For the Lord gives to His loved ones even while they sleep.

3 See, children are a gift from the Lord. The children born to us are our special reward. 4 The children of a young man are like arrows in the hand of a soldier. 5 Happy is the man who has many of them. They will not be put to shame when they speak in the gate with those who hate them.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for the plan that You have for my life. Help me, Lord, to submit my own will in order to allow Your will to be done in and through my life. I want to walk out the plan that You have designed especially for me, because I know that it is the best plan. Please forgive me for not always trusting in Your plan for my life. Help to bring me closer to walking out Your desired plan for my life. I want to glorify You, Jesus. I ask all of this in Your Holy Name, Jesus. Amen.