WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL- November 27, 2023
Thankful that He calls me friend
“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15
Isn’t it beautiful that Jesus Christ, when speaking to his disciples, calls us friend? Immanuel, The Great Redeemer, our Savior calls us friend if we do what he commands. Jesus said, 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.” Similarly, in James 2:23 states, “and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.”
I am reminded of the hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus written by Joseph M. Scriven (1855). The 1st two stanzas are below:
“What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged-
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.”
Not only does God call us friend, but He also requires us to love one another as He loves us. If He can call us friend, certainly we can extend that grace, that friendship to one another. A few verses to ponder on the topic:
Proverbs 17:17: A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a difficult time.
Proverbs 27:9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and a person’s advice is sweet to his friend.
Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.
Proverbs 16:28 A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.
Proverbs 18:24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than any brother.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.
SP Woman on the Move: Think about what a friend Jesus has been to you. This week, remember to extend that friendship, that love to others and take everything to Him in prayer.
Prayer: Dear Lord, Thank you for being the friend of all friends. Thank you for the privilege to come to you in prayer. Thank you for the gift of abundant life. Draw me nearer to you Lord. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL- November 20, 2023
Thankful for My Church Family (the Fellowship of the Believers)
Hebrews 10:23-25 says, 23“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good (Psalm 107:1). In this season of Thanksgiving, I reflect on the first time that I entered the doors of Saint Paul, and I give thanks to God for my church family and the fellowship and care we have for each other. When I came to Saint Paul, I didn’t know anyone, and I had not attended any church for eight years. My life was in tatters, and I came seeking a God whom I thought no longer heard my prayers. So, with my young children in hand that Sunday morning, I gathered my courage and entered the doors of the church. The smiles that greeted me were warm and welcoming, and I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing and I knew immediately in my spirit that I was home. Six months later I rededicated my life to Christ and never looked back. That fateful day changed the trajectory of my life and the lives of my family. Over the years, relationships were built, and the people of Saint Paul have become family. That is what a church home is meant to be for all of us who are part of the fellowship of believers. We have the same purpose and mission, which Jesus commanded in Matthew 28: 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” We need each other to carry out our mission.
Acts 2: 42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” How we, as Christians, come together looks much like the early church. Just imagine the excitement that these early believers felt as they gathered daily in the Temple to pray and to break bread in each other’s homes. They witnessed signs and wonders, and heard the Apostles preach the Word. Those early believers were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4), and many people accepted Christ and the church grew rapidly. Before the Covid 19 Pandemic many of us might have taken for granted the freedom to gather and worship together. The church building was always open. But then the unexpected happened and churches around the world closed their doors. But during those years God reminded us that the key to this Christian life was to stay connected to Him first and to each other and He reminded us that we are the church, and not the building itself. Indeed, we are blessed as a church body that the Lord brought us through those times of testing.
Have you ever thought about how amazing it is for so many different people to gather as one body to Worship the Lord? Being able to gather in one accord with like-minded believers is something precious. Every part of the Worship Service is beautiful, every prayer and every song prepares our hearts and minds to receive the Word of God. For me, the most sacred time of worship, after the Word has gone forth, is the Invitation to accept Christ. It is, after all, the purpose of our gathering. A soul surrendering to Christ is a sign and wonder that we are privileged to witness. Like the early church, all of us come from different backgrounds and experiences in this life, but the one thing that we have in common, is that we are all God’s children. Just like the early church, we must keep our focus on the Lord Jesus, gather to pray with and for each other, study the Bible together, love, encourage and comfort each other, break bread and fellowship together, and most of all we must be about our Father’s business.
SP Women on the Move: This week, reflect on these questions and write your thoughts in a journal: Do you remember the first time you came to Saint Paul? What was that experience like? How has your life changed since you gave your life to Christ? Give thanks to the Lord and pray for the opportunity to share your testimony with someone this week.
Prayer: Dear Father in Heaven, we come today thanking you for this Fellowship of Believers, the Saint Paul family. We pray for every member of Saint Paul and their families. And we pray for every person who is making the decision to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and may we be intentional about showing love and welcoming them into this fellowship of believers. To God be All the Glory!! In the Name of Jesus we pray, Amen.
WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL- November 13, 2023
Thankful in All Circumstances
"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:18
The sun rises every day, without fail. Even in cases when the sun is not visible due to cloudy or stormy weather, we can be certain that the sun rose. We have faith knowing the sun is functioning as intended even when we can't see it with our own eyes. We endure the gloomy days knowing we will eventually see the sunshine.
The same can be said for our relationship with God. He is present in our lives every day even when we don't sense his presence. It's easy to believe He is with us when life is going well and everything is going in our favor, or when He answers, "Yes" to prayers. But what about the times when we are struggling and barely making it? How about when we are in our season of grief, depression, loneliness, or brokenness ? Is God present then? Absolutely! I would argue even more so. Because this is the time God is working things out in our lives and pruning us to bear more fruit. God didn't promise sunny days every day, but He did promise He would never leave nor forsake us. And for that we can be thankful.
So how do you give thanks in all circumstances? I'm glad you asked! First, reflect on what God has already done for you - during the good times and the challenging times. Then, we have faith that He will continue to be there for you. Just like we know the sun is always there even when we don't feel the sunshine, so is our God even when we don't feel his presence. Jesus is the reason we can enjoy the sunny days and endure the gloomy ones, adn for that we ought to be thankful.
SP Women on the Move: The key to being thankful is reflecting on what God has already done in your life. If you need help, reflect on these:
A time when your friends failed you, but you didn’t feel lonely because God was there to mend your heart. Psalms 34:18
A time when you were anxious and unsure, but God calmed your mind and reminded you to be anxious for nothing, and to pray continuously because he is already working it out. Philippians 4:6-7
A time when you lost a loved one, and God demonstrated his comfort. Matthew 11:28 When you were ill and didn’t think you could go on, but God gave you the strength. 2 Cor. 12:9
When things didn’t go your way at school or at work, but God reminded you that He has a plan for you and not to give up. Jeremiah 29:11
When you had felt lost, but God guided you back to the flock. John 10:26-29
A time when you didn’t see a way out of a situation, but God worked everything out. Romans 8:28
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for your presence in my life. I know you will never leave nor forsake me. You said in your Word that we should endure hardship and discipline, because you are treating us like an earthly father who disciples the child whom he loves. For this, I praise you in all circumstances for you know what's best for me. In Jesus' Name, Amen!
WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL- November 6, 2023
Thankful for Life
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; I know that full well." Psalm 139: 13-14
In November, many are excited about food, family, and friends because it's the month we celebrate Thanksgiving Day. However, that day is more than a meal with family and friends. It is a reminder to pause and give thanks to God for His grace, mercy, and many blessings. More importantly, we should be thankful for the gift of life itself! We must embrace the gift of life and not take it for granted because life is like a vapor that appears for a moment, then it is gone (James 4:14). God wants us to unwrap it, value it, and enjoy it by living our life on purpose and to the fullest.
God knows each of us individually and collectively because he breathed life into our being (Genesis 2:7). God is our beginning and end (Revelation 1:8), and it is God who made us and not ourselves (Psalm 100:3).
Even when selfishness and sin corrupted and twisted the gift of life and relationship with God as He intended for us, He graciously made a way by sending His Son, Jesus Christ to redeem us (John 3:16). So not once, but twice, God has given us the gift of life--when we were physically born and when we were given the opportunity to be born again (John 3:3).
SP Women on the Move: Allow yourself to take a deep breath and become fully present to the gift of life right now. Take time to remember what the Lord has done for you, and express your thankfulness to Him in different ways, i.e. sing, praise, and joyfully worship God.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the gift of life. Help me to receive it with joy and celebrate this gift in every circumstance and season. Help me to appreciate every breath I take and do not let me take this gift fo granted. Help me to see your handiwork in my life. I thank you and Praise you forever and ever. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.
WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL- October 30, 2023
Fruit of the Spirit: Self-Control
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
Have you ever started to say something in response to someone, but held your tongue? Or maybe you went to make a purchase that you didn't really need, and decided that it wasn't in your budget afterall? Or perhaps you started to type an email that did not reflect the humility of Christ, and so you deleted it? Wanted to his the snooze button, but knew that if you did, you would not get your morning prayer and devotion time in, so you got up?
What is self control?
Self-control is the ability to control oneself, including thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Another word for self-control is temperance. Think of temperance as voluntary self-restraint. Self-control or temperance allows our lives to reflect the light of Christ. In 2 Timothy 3:1-9, Paul warns against many things including the lack of self-control.
How do I practice self-control?
Each of the reflection scenarios above demonstrate a practice of self-control. Each of us has areas in our life where we must rely on the Holy Spirit in order to exhibit self-control. I Timoty 1:7 says, "For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control." As with the other fruit of the spirit, we must walk in step with the Holy Spirit in order to exhibit self-control.
Why should I practice self-control?
2 Peter 1:1-11, tells us that , "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness (v.3). It tells us that He has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them we can participate in His divine nature (v.4.). And that, "For this very reason make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control perseverance; and to perseverance; godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love." (v.5-6.) Further, we learn in verse 8 that if we possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of Jesus Christ.
SP Women on the Move: In what area of life do you need to practice self-control (temperance)? Pray to God to reveal that area and practice is this week.
Prayer: Dear Lord, Thank you for giving me a heart that wants to follow you. Help me to align my ways with yours as I follow the Holy Spirit. Let me practice restraint and self-control each day, as I follow your path. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL- October 23, 2023
Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.
Let’s explore the fruit of the Spirit – Gentleness. Gentleness is described as strength under control. It means being strong enough to remain calm and speak the truth in a way that may be received. It’s the ability to show care and respect to others in the way we speak to them even when that same care is not reciprocated.
When I think of gentleness, the first visual that comes to mind is the sweetness of holding a newborn baby. How gentle we are with them. We hold them so carefully and talk to them in the sweetest tone possible. It’s not about what we say, but how we speak to them that matters because we want them to feel loved and safe in our arms. Even someone with a big booming voice knows how to speak softly to a newborn. Proverbs 16:24 says “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”
It’s easy to practice gentleness with someone who is doing the right thing or who we agree with, but how do we react when the opposite occurs? That’s where the fruit of gentleness comes in. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” We demonstrate gentleness by being able to forgive and have compassion even when we are frustrated or angry. We must ask the Lord to help us to respond truthfully and calmly, not to cause harm, but to seek an amicable resolution. We may have to take time away in prayer before responding so that the Lord can minister to us. Our example is Jesus Christ. When Jesus began his ministry, he drew thousands of people everywhere he went, in part because of his compassion and gentleness. He had the ability to speak the unadulterated truth and still show that he cared about people no matter their circumstance. Jesus’s mission was to come to earth to give His life to save us all from our sins. He showed us unmerited favor. What a blessing it is when we can demonstrate the gentleness of Christ when we converse with each other. Philippians 4:5 says, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”
As I was preparing this devotional, the Holy Spirit reminded me that we must also be gentle with ourselves when we make mistakes or face disappointment. Let the Lord lead you towards His forgiveness, peace, and restoration as you pick up the pieces and move forward. In Matthew 11:29 Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest for your souls.”
SP Woman on the move: Imagine you receive a package on your doorstep marked “Fragile, Handle with Care”. How would you handle that package? Now imagine that you or someone you know is that package.
Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for forgiveness of sin and your gentleness towards us. Help us to show the same gentleness to ourselves and towards everyone we love, and everyone we encounter on this journey called life. Strengthen us, Lord, so that when we are challenged, we will lean on You to give us the right words to say to speak the truth with love and restoration in mind. It’s in the Name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL- October 16, 2023
Fruit of the Spirit - Faithfulness
Lamentations 3:22 – 23 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.
As I reflect on this scripture, I’m reminded of that familiar song, “Great is thy faithfulness”. The chorus goes, “Great is thy faithfulness. Great is thy faithfulness. Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed thou hand hath provided. Great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me.” Just take a minute and meditate on these words. They are a powerful and a wonderful reminder of God’s devotion to His children.
Faithfulness is defined as the quality of being true to one’s word or commitments, as to what one has pledged to do, professes to believe, etc.
In Lamentations we get a glimpse at Jerusalem's suffering because of their disobedience to God. Amid lamenting about God’s anger and wrath against them, the author recognizes and expresses his continued hope in God’s love. Despite their suffering, Jerusalem knows that God’s “faithful love never ends.”
God has surely shown us that His faithfulness is everlasting. Just think how God has demonstrated His faithfulness in your life. Think about His love for us; His mercy and grace when we surely don’t deserve it; His forgiveness of our sin without even an afterthought; His truth; His protection; His guidance; and His discipline.
God can’t help but be faithful because it’s in His character – Exodus 34:6-7
His faithfulness is not predicated on our actions. Romans 3:3-4 says “What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though everyone were a liar….”
Even if we are faithless, God remains faithful because He can’t deny Himself. Hallelujah!
God promises never to leave us or forsake us. His commitment is everlasting! God’s faithfulness to us should be an example of how our faithfulness should show up in our own relationships.
St. Paul Woman on the Move: This week pray and ask God to show how you can be truly committed (faithful) in your relationships at home, church, on your job, or at school. Feel free to share with us if you are led.
Prayer: Lord, I thank you for your renewed mercy and grace. I thank you for your steadfast love. I thank you for your faithfulness despite my lack of faith or trust. You are the ultimate example of how true love should look, and I pray that you continue to teach me how to demonstrate it in my life. Great is thy Faithfulness! In Jesus name, Amen!
WEEKLY DEVOTIONAL- July 31, 2023