Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 01-31-23

January 31, 2023

Intro: Every day, as children of God, we have an opportunity to respond with faith to the evil permeating the world.  When human beings fail to value the Creator and his good and righteous character, then those individuals have wandered into evil’s camp to feed on unrighteousness.  For this reason, James instructs believers, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” [4:7]. We must prepare for these times, so we can handle them wisely. 

David has some answers for us in our passage today.  First, we are reminded to trust the Lord; to lean our whole being in his direction and place our confidence in his integrity, justice, and power to conquer evil by doing good [Ro 12:21].  If we are devoted to doing what is good, then we are devoted to divine wisdom.  Next, we take delight in the Lord; we experience pleasure and joy in his presence because he remains faithful to love us righteously.  Finally, with our trust and delight properly focused, we are able to commit or entrust everything—our lives, families, relationships, jobs, finances, and future—to the Lord because we believe he is the best One to guide our lives.  

God knows us better than we know him or know ourselves.  If our trust, delight, and commitments are in the Righteous One, we will have the help we need.  In the gospel of John, Jesus says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” [16:33].

Psalm 37:3-5 NLT


Trust in the Lord and do good.
    Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.

Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
    Trust him, and he will help you.

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for this wonderful reminder today about the righteous power found in my trust, delight, and commitment to you.  Help me align my soul in these righteous ways, today, so evil gains no foothold in my life.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 11-30-22

Intro: If you spend time in the Word of God, you will run across passages where God speaks of Himself as the faithful Creator and Husband who has committed Himself to His Bride (Israel and the Church). Because of the ongoing practice of sin, Israel continually separated herself from her Husband. So, God released Israel for a brief time—seventy years in Babylonian exile—to learn some valuable lessons about His power, purpose, and promise. Now, seventy years does not seem like a brief time to me, but I guess in light of eternity, it is brief indeed. The Exile of Israel was similar to the Flood, because both happened due to humanity’s sinfulness and unfaithfulness to the Creator and Husband. Yet, the Lord made a promise to restore all of creation after the Flood and His people after the Exile; and He did.

In our passage today, God speaks through the Prophet Isaiah about His faithful love for Israel. The Exile was a traumatic and humiliating thing for Israel; yet, God was merciful and remained their saving Hope. The people claimed to be God’s chosen ones, but instead of resting in the protective care of her Husband and wearing the righteous garments He provided, Israel found herself vulnerable and oppressed wearing the filthy things of the world. How much better would it have been for Israel to stay in the Holy City close to God instead of wandering away by wearing the sins of the world?

Our lesson and response today is to thank God for His faithful and enduring love in the midst of humanity’s unfaithfulness. If we will turn toward God each day and live for His honor and glory—reflect His character—we will enjoy His presence and protection; we will grow in wholeness as we experience divine blessings. God wants to redeem Israel and the Church and draw each to Himself to become One. What can we learn from all of this today? “Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world” (James 4:8).

Isaiah 54: 9-10 NLT

“Just as I swore in the time of Noah    that I would never again let a flood cover the earth,so now I swear    that I will never again be angry and punish you.
For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain.    My covenant of blessing will never be broken,”    says the Lord, who has mercy on you.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your faithful love. Please continue to teach us about your enduring love, as well as help us to live righteously far beyond the hatred and filth of the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 10-28-22

Intro: Yesterday, although it was a busy day as far as appointments and errands are concerned, it was a day full of contemplation. I was preoccupied with an awareness of the goodness of God. Everywhere there seemed to be a residue of the goodness of God surrounding me; not based on anything I had done, but based on who Christ has been made for us as God’s children. If you know and serve Jesus, God’s goodness is there for you, too.

We have been enabled to share God’s divine nature—we can share his righteous qualities. Think about it, God supplements our faith and improves our lives with himself. Let’s define supplement: something that completes or enhances something else when added to it. Christ completes our faith and lives. We are invited to experience God as he transforms us from one level of his glorious nature to another (2 Cor 3:18). When we desire to grow each day in the virtuous character of Christ, we reveal our Lord to the world. So, let the Lord supplement your faith with his generous provision. The psalmist said it well, “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” (Ps 34:8). Have a blessed and God-filled weekend, my friends!

2 Peter 1:1-11 NLT Growing in Faith
3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

10 So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. 11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for offering salvation through faith to all people and for placing us on equal footing as your children. Because we all sin and fall short of your glory, no one is better than another. We are lovingly cared for by you and are free to serve you each day. Therefore, help your children to grow; supplement our faith and cause us to look and act more like you, today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Curtis Tumicki 07-29-22

Although there are many things that I don’t like in this life, but one of those things is being alone in the dark. Just the thought of being in the dark scares me. You’re all alone and there’s no one there with you except you and your thoughts. What’s interesting to see is when you light a candle or light up a small flashlight in the midst of the dark, the small room isn’t dark anymore. That small amount of light is able to cast away the darkness. That’s how powerful light is. A small amount of light is so powerful that it can light up the entire room. Let me explain about how powerful God’s light is. God’s light is so powerful that it will cast away or remove the darkness from not only within our lives but also within the world. What we need to do is to be a vessel for the light of Christ to be shown through us. In Matthew 5:16, Jesus goes on to say, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (NASB95 Translation). In Ephesians 5:1, Paul reminds us to be “imitators of God.” In other words, we need to be Christ-like because we are His children.

In today’s passage from Ephesians 4:17-32, Paul reminds us how we need to be living as children of light. In other words, we need to be vessels of light so that the world will no longer be in the dark. We need to let people be in the know about Christ. I want to be in the know. I like what verses 21-24 says. The Bible reads: “21. Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22. throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24. Put on your new nature, created to be like God-truly righteous and holy.” This is very familiar to what Paul wrote to the church of Corinth in 2 Corinthians 5:17 where he says “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” Both of these passages are saying that we need to put away the old self because we are renewed by Jesus Christ. It’s so important for us, as students of the Bible, to have an understanding of what it means to put off the old self. When we are baptized into the possession of Christ, that means that the old self is no longer in effect and the new life is beginning. When it comes to baptism, there’s nothing significant about the water. It’s an act of obedience. As I have said before, something has happened within you that you want to publicly share with others. One pastor said it like this: It’s an outward expression of an inward experience. My two challenges to you is this: 1. Surrender yourself to the Lord. We have been pulled in multiple directions from the culture. Because we are being pulled, there’s the possibility of being conformed. Don’t let it happen. Romans 12:2 says to not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. 2. Take some time for self-examination. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.” Take some time and see where you are at in your spiritual walk with the Lord.

Ephesians 4:17-24 (NLT)
Living as Children of Light

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

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

Daily Devotional from Curtis Tumicki 07-27-22

All of us on this journey through life have been hurt. I have learned that there are different kinds of pain. I believe that one of the worst kinds of pain is being hurt by a friend. Once you have been hurt by your friends, it changes the whole dynamic of the friendship, or it completely ends that friendship. There was a time in my life where I thought that I had a friend, but it turned out that it wasn’t the case. Unfortunately, that friendship had ceased, but it showed me how I need to forgive them. One of the hardest things that is hard for people to do is to forgive other people for their wrongdoings. Sometimes people would keep score and keep tabs of their wrongdoings. That’s not the kind of life that we are supposed to live. We shouldn’t keep score but instead we should forgive them. While it may be a hard thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do and it’s biblical. How do I know this? It’s in today’s passage.

In today’s passage, Jesus talks about the idea of forgiveness, specifically in Matthew 5:43-48. I want to focus on verses 43-44. The Bible reads: “43. You have heard the law says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” The phrase: “love your neighbor” has been mentioned all throughout the Bible. It first came into play in Leviticus 19:18 where it says “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Did you see the phrase: “love your neighbor.” This is something that we all must do. In other words, we cannot show favoritism. Paul tells us this in Romans 2:11 where it states, “For God does not show favoritism.” God loves people and wants to be in relationship with us. Not only do we need to love one another, but we also need to forgive others as well. It may be a hard thing to do, but it’s something that we need to do. If God can forgive people, then so can we. My challenge to you is to think about the people that you have held a grudge for the longest time. When you have thought of those people or that one person, pray for them and surrender that grudge. James 5:16 says to not only confess but we need to pray for them as well. Life is not worthy living if we held grudges against other people.

Matthew 5:43-48 (NLT)
Teaching about Love for Enemies

43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Daily Devotional from Curtis Tumicki 07-25-22

Over the course of time, people have turned different things or people as their “god.” This is what is known as paganism. We see this practice all throughout the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. We see it during the time of Elijah in the book of 1 Kings. One particular account is in 1 Kings 18 where Elijah and King Ahab had a little “competition” if you will about who “god” was the most powerful. In King Ahab’s corner, there were 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who were supported by this wicked woman named Jezebel. In the other corner was Elijah and the Almighty God. There were different things that they had to do and none of the prophets for King Ahab were able to make their “god” do the things that they were supposed to do. For instance, they made an altar and they had put their sacrifice on it, and they called on the name of their god and he was supposed to set that altar on fire. Their god didn’t answer. What? How can this be? When they didn’t get their answer, the people began to dance, chanted, and they were hobbling around the altar. Nothing happened. They thought that their god was asleep, and he needs to wake up. So, they began to shout louder, and they also started to cut themselves with knives and swords until the blood was gushed out. In other words, they were taking things to the extreme when it came to their god. All during the afternoon, they were expecting a response from their god, but they never got the answer they wanted. Then, Elijah called the people over and the crowd had gathered around him. After he put together his altar, he began to pray to the Lord. After his prayer, the Lord had answered by casting a fire down from heaven and burned the bull, the stones, as well as the dust of the ground. Not only did that happen, but also the water that was surrounding the altar had been dried up. Once the people saw this, they bowed down and worshipped the Lord.

How does this apply to us? In today’s passage from Psalm 44, it talks about how powerful God is. In verse 2, it says “You drove out the pagan nations by your power…You crushed their enemies and set our ancestors free.” In verses 4 through 8, here’s a declaration that we need to assure ourselves each and every day. It says, “4. You are my King and my God. You command victories for Israel. 5. Only by your power can we push back our enemies; only in your name can we trample our foes. 6. I do not trust in my bow; I do not count on my sword to save me. 7. You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies; you disgrace those who hate us. 8. O God, we give glory to you all day long and constantly praise your name.” This is something that we need to remind ourselves every day. While we may go through the darkest parts of life, we need to remind ourselves that He is always there (Psalm 23:4). The prophet Isaiah says in Isaiah 2:5 “Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the world.” In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus goes on to say “14. You are the light of the world-like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to. See, so. That everyone will praise your Heavenly Father.” Other translations would say to “let our light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

I want to challenge you to let the light of God shine through you. In Ephesians 5:1, Paul reminds us to be imitators of God. In other words, we need to be Christ-like to others. Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 2:9 part B where it says “for he has called you out of the darkness into his marvelous light.” No matter what the world is trying to do to you, continue to let the light of Christ shine through you so that others can see Christ through you. This is so important because this world needs to have God’s light shine because the world cannot see right now due to the events that is currently happening in the world right now. No matter how dark the world gets, the light of Christ will always shine through the dark every time.

Psalm 44 (NLT)

For the choir director: A psalm of the descendants of Korah.

1 O God, we have heard it with our own ears—
our ancestors have told us
of all you did in their day,
in days long ago:
2 You drove out the pagan nations by your power
and gave all the land to our ancestors.
You crushed their enemies
and set our ancestors free.
3 They did not conquer the land with their swords;
it was not their own strong arm that gave them victory.
It was your right hand and strong arm
and the blinding light from your face that helped them,
for you loved them.

4 You are my King and my God.
You command victories for Israel.
5 Only by your power can we push back our enemies;
only in your name can we trample our foes.
6 I do not trust in my bow;
I do not count on my sword to save me.
7 You are the one who gives us victory over our enemies;
you disgrace those who hate us.
8 O God, we give glory to you all day long
and constantly praise your name. Interlude

9 But now you have tossed us aside in dishonor.
You no longer lead our armies to battle.
10 You make us retreat from our enemies
and allow those who hate us to plunder our land.
11 You have butchered us like sheep
and scattered us among the nations.
12 You sold your precious people for a pittance,
making nothing on the sale.
13 You let our neighbors mock us.
We are an object of scorn and derision to those around us.
14 You have made us the butt of their jokes;
they shake their heads at us in scorn.
15 We can’t escape the constant humiliation;
shame is written across our faces.
16 All we hear are the taunts of our mockers.
All we see are our vengeful enemies.

17 All this has happened though we have not forgotten you.
We have not violated your covenant.
18 Our hearts have not deserted you.
We have not strayed from your path.
19 Yet you have crushed us in the jackal’s desert home.
You have covered us with darkness and death.
20 If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread our hands in prayer to foreign gods,
21 God would surely have known it,
for he knows the secrets of every heart.
22 But for your sake we are killed every day;
we are being slaughtered like sheep.

23 Wake up, O Lord! Why do you sleep?
Get up! Do not reject us forever.
24 Why do you look the other way?
Why do you ignore our suffering and oppression?
25 We collapse in the dust,
lying face down in the dirt.
26 Rise up! Help us!
Ransom us because of your unfailing love.

Daily Devotional from Jen Auer 07-11-22

Friends, we must remember that our salvation in Christ is not something any of us deserve, and we have done absolutely nothing to earn it. Every believer is equally saved by God’s precious grace, “For God does not show favoritism” (Rom 2:11). That means every believer has never and will never be able to earn God’s grace by their own merit, good works, status, knowledge, or privilege. So, when we begin to understand God’s grace for our own life, then and only then can we begin to relate to people as all equal within God’s Kingdom. Kingdom equality is nothing like the world’s equality. The world has a surface appearance of wanting equality, but under the surface there is oppression, division, competition, judgement, favoritism, and slander. The world can never treat humanity with equality because it is sinful, but thankfully “God decided in advance to adopt us into His own Family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. So, we praise God for the glorious grace He has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son.” (Eph 1:5-7)

The contrasting example between rich and poor that James speaks of in today’s passage should clearly point us to the richness of faith that his half-brother, Jesus, wants for us. If we accept that all of our brothers and sisters of faith are equally covered by grace, and are all filled with the same Holy Spirit, then we have no room for judgement or evil motives towards any of them. Instead, we will live by the work of the Spirit and allow its fruits to bear witness within our life through our thoughts, words, and actions.

Friends, it’s so important for us to be living by faith, covered by God’s grace, and in equality with one another for the Kingdom right now. Remember, Jesus talks about our future in Matthew 24 and the wealth of this world will disappear, as all things on earth will disappear, but the only thing that will remain is the Word. (v.35) We must be living in the Word of God every single day because our eternal existence, in the Kingdom realm, depends on it.

James 2:1-7 NLT
A Warning against Prejudice

1 My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?

2 For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. 3 If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, 4 doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?

5 Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? 6 But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? 7 Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear?

Prayer: Jesus, we come before You and ask for Your forgiveness of our sins. Please help us to be more and more like You. Help us to treat others like You would treat them. Increase our faith, Lord. We thank You for the work of grace within our lives. Allow Your wisdom to continue to grow as our faith is being increased. We want our hearts to feel for others, like Your hearts feels for them. We ask all of this in Your Holy Name, Jesus. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Jen Auer 04-20-22

When was the last time that you were on the receiving end of someone who sharpened their tongue like a sword and aimed their bitter words, right at you, like arrows?

Or when was the last time that you attacked suddenly and fearlessly and encouraged others to do the same evil?

We need to constantly remember that apart from Christ, our human hearts and minds can be very cunning. The enemy is prepared to use our words and actions all of the time, and when we open the door of our hearts and allow him a simple foothold in, he then has a secure position from which he intends to make further progress towards wreaking havoc within our lives and within the lives of those who have contact with us.

In today’s Psalm, we see that people were saying bad things about King David. These things hurt him on the inside just like arrows and swords would have hurt the exterior of his body. Remember, arrows and swords were used at that time to physically kill one’s enemies; and the tongue, when manipulated by the enemy, seeks to kill, and destroy the Spirit of Christ within us. Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that death and life lie in the power of the tongue. Life is associated with Christ and our eternal existence, and death is associated with the devil and our temporal existence. Let’s face it, as Christ followers, we know what is right and what is wrong, just as David knew. We also know that only God is righteous, that only He can truly make right what is wrong, and that it is always within His time.

Friends, let’s trust that the Lord, Himself, will right what is wrong, and in our waiting let’s find shelter in Him and praise Him for the amazing things He does within our lives. No matter what we are facing, no matter how hard our circumstances are in the moment, we must rejoice in the Lord.

Psalm 64 NLT
For the choir director: A psalm of David.

1 O God, listen to my complaint.
Protect my life from my enemies’ threats.
2 Hide me from the plots of this evil mob,
from this gang of wrongdoers.
3 They sharpen their tongues like swords
and aim their bitter words like arrows.
4 They shoot from ambush at the innocent,
attacking suddenly and fearlessly.
5 They encourage each other to do evil
and plan how to set their traps in secret.
“Who will ever notice?” they ask.
6 As they plot their crimes, they say,
“We have devised the perfect plan!”
Yes, the human heart and mind are cunning.

7 But God himself will shoot them with his arrows,
suddenly striking them down.
8 Their own tongues will ruin them,
and all who see them will shake their heads in scorn.
9 Then everyone will be afraid;
they will proclaim the mighty acts of God
and realize all the amazing things he does.
10 The godly will rejoice in the Lord
and find shelter in him.
And those who do what is right
will praise him.

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for being our shelter. We desperately need You. So many circumstances are hard right now, Lord, and only You can make things right. We are choosing to trust You and we are praising Your Holy Name today. For in You, all is right and whole, and nothing is wrong or broken. So, we lay down our brokenness, we lay down our sin, we lay down anything within and around us that is not of You, Lord Jesus. We ask all of this in Your Name, Jesus. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Jen Auer 06-08-22

The nativity story of Jesus’ birth in the Gospel of Luke is one of the most beautiful expressions of God’s love and faithful promise to Israel and to all of His creation (and that includes you and me). It’s the most extraordinary story to recall during the Christmas season, but we cannot forget that it is a story we need to cling to as a daily reminder of Who ties our faith to the work of the Holy Spirit within our lives.

In today’s passage we see that Elizabeth is six months pregnant when God sends the angel Gabriel to talk to her cousin, Mary. What Mary was about to hear would change the course of history forever: “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.” (v.30-31) Most likely, Mary knew that the name Jesus in Hebrew meant savior, and in that transcendent moment she must have felt such honor, disbelief, and fear all at once.

Then Mary asked the obvious question, “’But how can this happen? I am a virgin.’ The angel replied, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.’” (v. 34-35)

The angel went on to tell Mary that her cousin, Elizabeth, who was older and had been barren, was also with child. Later, in verses 39-45, Mary goes to visit her cousin and “At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. (v. 41)

There is such a divine connection here that is almost humanly unexplainable. When the Holy Spirit fills Elizabeth, who we know was with child (John the Baptist), hears had just heard her cousin Mary’s voice, who we know was also with child (Jesus the Messiah). These two unborn babies would experience another miraculous moment in the Spirit together later on as men when John the Baptist would baptize Jesus. “After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.’” (Matt 3:16-17) The Spirit within John while in utero leaped when he heard Mary’s voice because that same Spirit knew it would one day baptize the Savior of the world…and that my friends, is beyond remarkable! We house that same Spirit of Christ within us…and that too is beyond remarkable!

Luke 1:26-38 NLT
The Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37 For the word of God will never fail.”

38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

Prayer: Jesus, we cannot thank You enough for the work of the Holy Spirit. Please continue to fill us each day and quicken the Spirit within us. May the Spirit help to soften our hearts, direct our vision, quiet our own thoughts, open our ears, and allow us to be moved in ways that bring glory to the Father. We ask this in Jesus’s Name. Amen.

Daily Devotional from Pastor Mary 05-31-22

Intro: In our passage for today, I have put into brackets some excerpts from the Greek Lexicon—a resource designed to help readers understand the original biblical text of the New Testament. Keep in mind Scripture is more than knowledge about God, it is to be applied and practiced with our lives. This letter from Paul is written to Christians in Rome and believers everywhere. In fact, the Apostle Paul wants us to know God gave us these guidelines for living, so we would submit to the Word and use our faith properly while we live in this fallen world.

Scripture has changed how I view myself as a child of God, worship the Father, Son, and Spirit, and treat other brothers and sisters in the faith. Scripture motivates me to practice my faith in fellowship with our holy God as he redeems the world. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.  God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17).
What comes to your mind when you hear the word “pretend?” According to Scripture, to pretend is to engage in hypocrisy—to wear a mask like an actor to portray what one is not. Let’s get real for a minute. Professing Christians can speak kindly to others, as well as avoid hurting their feelings, but not really deeply love or care about them enough to share life. Just because we have some self-control and skill that helps us speak in a way that sounds compassionate or kind, does not mean we are willing to take an interest and sacrificially invest our efforts in another person’s well-being. Professing Christians can be satisfied with a form of godliness, without the “heart” or love of God being engaged. This is an example of a religious spirit. It is living in the shallow waters of Christ’s love.

Actors with lip service are everywhere in this fallen world. How can you tell the difference between believers who actually love you and the actors who pretend to love you? The answer is found in: 1) the honor revealed and extended, because human beings have been made in God’s image; 2) the generous sharing of time and resources to help with the pressing needs of others; 3) a devoted effort toward personal involvement and duty to God’s genuine love that helps all of us live according to the Word. The Apostle Paul calls this the believer’s personal responsibility. We are to be living sacrifices in Christ. So, may this Scripture bring change to our understanding, renew our minds, and refresh our practice to love because it is our responsibility as disciples of Christ.

Romans 12:9-16 NLT
9 Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them [without hypocrisy]. Hate [abhor] what is wrong [evil]. Hold tightly [cling/connect] to what is good. 10 Love [be devoted] each other with genuine affection [tender love], and take delight [take the lead] in honoring [and valuing] each other. 11 Never be lazy [idle], but work hard [be diligent] and serve the Lord enthusiastically [boiling hot with passion]. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope [expectation]. Be patient [endure] in trouble [tribulation], and keep on [be devoted in] praying. 13 When God’s people [saints] are in need, be ready to help them [share]. Always be eager to practice [to pursue] hospitality [love of strangers].
14 Bless [speak well of] those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. 15 Be happy [rejoice] with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony [have an understanding mind] with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy [associate with] the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all [don’t disdain advice]!

Prayer: Lord, may I not only speak kindly to my fellow believers, but speak well of them to others. Help me to cling and bind myself to your ways, so I can express the tender love you express to me. Fan the passion of my love for the salvation of others and help me to remain diligent in practice as I endure the pressures of this sinful world. Cause me to be a living sacrifice for you. I need your power, Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name. Amen.