Devotions

Author Archives: Debbie Kerr

First Name

Worship • Devotion #3: First Name
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

“Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name.” Matthew 6:9

My dad taught the Dale Carnegie course for many years. He not only taught it, but he also lived it! One of the first principles in the book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” is the concept of addressing everyone you come in contact with by their first name. According to Mr. Carnegie, there is no sweeter sound to someone’s ears than the sound of their name. The first assignment in the class was to put this principle into practice and the following week give a two-minute talk on the results.  The testimonies were often astounding as people shared their results. People would come alive and change their demeanor or attitude when they were personally recognized and noticed. While addressing someone by their name is effective and important, nothing compares to the power and importance of addressing our Heavenly Father by His holy name in our prayers and petitions to Him.

In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus begins teaching the disciples how to pray, but first he had to show them how not to pray. Starting in verse 5, He said And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.’” He then continues the prayer that is known as The Lord’s Prayer. You will notice that the first part of prayer is acknowledging God as, “Our Father.” He is a personal, approachable, loving, caring Father. Romans 8:15 adds, “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!’” Abba means Daddy; He is our Heavenly Daddy!

The second part of the phrase, “hallowed be your Name,” acknowledges His name as holy and sacred, it is to be revered, it is not to be used casually, lightly, or in vain!  When we pray, we are to start off with worship and adoration. He alone is worthy of our praise! While we are to approach Him in reverence, we do not have to approach Him in fear.  Hebrews 4:16 (AKJV) says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” We do not have to go through a pastor or a priest; we can boldly go straight to the Throne of God.

We are not only to acknowledge His holiness in our prayers, but also through our lives. Worship is a lifestyle; it is not just reserved for an hour on Sunday. Everything we do, whether in word or deed, is to bring glory to God and exalt His name which is above every other name.

“And you will say in that day: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted.’” Isaiah 12:4

God’s Job Description

Wonderful Counselor | Devotion #3: God’s Job Description
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

Can you recall the best Christmas gift you ever received? I mean, can you think of the one that made you squeal with delight? This time of year we are inundated with television commercials for the latest and greatest products.  The stores start announcing their door buster sales in early November. Black Friday now begins on Thanksgiving Day before your turkey has had a chance to digest. We can hardly wait to score the hottest ticket items for the best price! We stress and over schedule ourselves throughout December to make our holiday one to remember.  If we are honest, we run ourselves ragged as if it is our job to make everyone on our list happy. When we put our hope in the commercialism of Christmas, we can almost guarantee disappointment and serious debt. If we can set aside the hustle and bustle of the season and focus on the true meaning of Christmas, it can be “the most wonderful time of the year!”  However, it can also be one of the most difficult times of the year that can bring depression, heartache, loneliness, and pain.  

Do you suppose it is a coincidence that the most difficult time of the year is also the same wonderful season we celebrate the greatest Gift of all, the birth of the Savior of the world? He is Immanuel, God with us! God in His abundant love and mercy sent His Only Son not just to save us from our sins but to also save us from ourselves!  The prophet Isaiah foretold hundreds of years before Christ’s birth the titles of Jesus, given to Him by the Father. One of the amazing titles and positions He possesses is our Wonderful Counselor.  He is called Wonderful, or full of wonder! He is amazing, astonishing, awesome, and miraculous! If He is a miracle working Counselor, then sign me up! He understands what our words cannot adequately articulate, counsels us in our decisions, and guides the best direction in life. In every season of life, He is there, ready to give us the counsel and wisdom that we need.  He heals us from the inside out!  Isaiah 61:1-3 (NKJV) gives us Jesus’ job description as our Wonderful Counselor. 

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3 (NKJV)

God also uses earthly counselors as a very real source of comfort and help. There is no shame in counseling with a good Christian counselor, one who knows Jesus does the healing and will point us to His Word and His ways.  Always remember that no one understands like Jesus. 

Have you made your appointment with the Wonderful Counselor?  Maybe a good God counseling session is in order?

In the Presence of Jehovah

Gather | Devotion #2: In the Presence of Jehovah
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

“I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise will continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1

It was late December 2007. The world was preparing for the busiest, and some would say, the most wonderful time of the year. While this frenzy of activity was going on in the world, my cousin Bruce and his wife Jennifer sat in a doctor’s office in Indianapolis, Indiana. They were a godly couple that loved Jesus and served in the church for many years.  They had a strong faith and knew God was good in all things.  One day Jennifer noticed a lump on the back of her neck.  She went to the doctor, and they ran some tests. Within days the doctor called Bruce and Jennifer back into the office and delivered the most devastating news anyone could hear.  It was cancer! There were not a lot of warm fuzzy words about her prognosis, and very little hope was given. While still in the doctor’s office, Jennifer looked at Bruce and said seven of the most powerful words that have impacted my faith to this day. She said, “There’s no panic in the throne room.”  Wow! I am not sure I would have that same reaction; I believe I would eventually get there, but it might take me a minute or 500.  But here she is only moments after hearing this terrifying news, and she is ministering to her husband assuring him that her faith is still strong.  Jennifer lived six more months, just long enough to see her precious daughter graduate from high school. 

In June 2008, my parents and I traveled to Indianapolis to attend Jennifer’s funeral. The service was so beautiful and God-honoring.  It highlighted how Jennifer’s life consistently pointed people to Jesus. It was obvious that she impacted many lives.  After the service, the family gathered for a meal in Bruce and Jennifer’s beautiful home. I walked around and looked at every picture and every Scripture verse that had been thoughtfully placed on the walls. I could not get enough and wanted to know as much as I could about this amazing woman.  As I looked around, I noticed a den off the foyer with a baby grand piano.  As you can imagine, I was very curious to see what was most likely the last song played in that room.  I respectfully walked in and looked at the sheet music resting there, and I was instantly undone. “In the Presence of Jehovah” was one of my all-time favorite worship songs.  Before we headed home that day, Bruce shared with me that during the last few months, he would wake up in the middle of the night to find Jennifer missing from their bed. He would make his way downstairs to find Jennifer sitting at the piano quietly worshipping the God she knew and trusted so well.  Bruce said, he would sit on the floor next to her in those darkest moments, as she worshipped. She was not waiting to be transported to her Heavenly home; she was the kind of lady that lived daily in His presence.  Jennifer had an intimacy with Jesus that I have rarely seen in all my years as a Christian.  It has been nine years since her death, and I have never forgotten the blessing and inspiration I received from her that day. Worship has an amazing way of replacing the focus from ourselves and our circumstances to our faithful and loving Jehovah God.

“In The Presence of Jehovah”
In and out of situations
That tug of war at me;
All day long I struggle
For answers that I need.
But then I come into His presence
And all my questions become clear
And for a sacred moment
No doubt can interfere.

Chorus
In the presence of Jehovah
God Almighty, Prince of Peace,
Troubles vanish, hearts are mended
In the presence of the King.

Through His love the Lord provided
A place for us to rest;
A place to find the answers
In the hours of distress.
Now there is never any reason
For you to give up in despair;
Just slip away and breathe His name
He will surely meet you there.

Mary of Bethany

Lesson Twelve | Devotion #3: Mary of Bethany
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

Broken and Spilled Out

Do you have a favorite Bible character, I mean, other than Jesus? One of my top 10 would have to be Mary of Bethany.  Mary possessed characteristics that I admire and are somewhat relatable to me.  She was a true worshipper in every sense of the word.  I have loved serving in some form of worship music ministry since I was 15.  It has always been my gifting and passion to lead people into His presence through music.  In hindsight, I can see that I did not fully understand what that even meant, or what that required of me.  As I have grown spiritually, I have come to realize that true worship is about “being,” more than “doing.”  It is about abiding in Christ in our heart and life. When we come together corporately in worship each weekend, everything we do is an act of worship, whether it is singing, giving, listening to the Word of God, or loving on each other. In the past 20 years, it is probably thought of most commonly about music.  People love to attend worship concerts by the thousands; it is a huge part of our Christian culture.  Anytime we lift up the name and awesomeness of our God, with a pure heart, it is pleasing to our Heavenly Father.   Mary understood that a life of worship must flow out of our heart and lives as a true expression of reverence and adoration to our great and awesome God.

In John 12:1-7, we get to take a peek in the window of the home belonging to Mary, her sister Martha, and her recently resurrected brother Lazarus. It is Saturday night, and they are having a dinner together known in the Jewish religion as Shabbat, meaning the end of the Sabbath.  Scripture tells us that Jesus was soon to be crucified, but no one else knew.  We find Martha very busy as she was the doer, she was busy preparing and serving and worrying about the meal as Lazarus was seated right next to Jesus. You can imagine the extra preparation and detail she was putting forth because Jesus was in attendance.  Lazarus must have felt great adoration and gratitude toward Jesus because he had recently been in the tomb for four days when Jesus raised him from the dead. Then we see Mary doing what she loved more than anything else, sitting at the feet of Jesus listening intently to every word He spoke.  Scripture describes this family as not having any special ministries, gifts, or positions of leadership and yet they caught the attention and heart of Jesus.  As Jesus taught, He began telling them that He was going to die.  His disciples and the others did not seem to fully comprehend His words, but Mary listened with her heart, and her response was sacrificial and loving.  She quickly got up to find her most priceless and precious possession, an expensive bottle of the best perfume.  She sat back down and proceeded to break the bottle and spill the ointment on her blessed Savior’s feet.  She took her long, beautiful hair and washed His feet with the fragrant mixture.  This was a beautiful picture of her life that had been broken and spilled out for the love of her Lord.  She was criticized by some for expressing her extravagant worship because of the value of the offering.  Many people will not understand a life of complete devotion to the Lord. Jesus gently rebuked the others saying that she was preparing Him for His burial, a direct reference to his imminent death.

The broken bottle of perfume poured out on Jesus is a beautiful picture of a broken life that is lavishly spilled out and used up for Him. I love what the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:6, I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.”  Paul died empty; he gave all that he had to the One who had given His all for him. I pray this will be said of me when my time on this Earth is done. I hope this is your prayer, too.  Always remember that God is more concerned with our heart of worship than our act of worship.

Broken and spilled out
Just for love of you, Jesus
My most precious treasure
Lavished on Thee
Broken and spilled out
And poured at your feet
In sweet abandon
Let me be spilled out
And used up for Thee.

~ Gloria Gaither

Mary Magdalene

Lesson Eleven | Devotion #6: Mary Magdalene
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

We are introduced to Mary Magdalene in Luke 8:2, “And also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene from whom seven demons had gone out.” She is one of the best known and yet one of the most misunderstood names in the Bible. First of all, Magdalene is not her last name. She was from the town Magdala, a very dark and violent place, due to much demonic activity. Magdalene was used to identify her from Mary the mother of Jesus, and the other women named Mary in the Gospels. The Bible does not go into great detail regarding her past or background. However, she is mentioned by name fourteen times in the Bible and all four of the Gospels, making her one of the prominent women of the New Testament. Scripture reveals that she had the distinct honor of being the first person Jesus appeared to after His resurrection. However, there are other unsubstantiated assumptions made regarding her identity. Some people believe she is the prostitute that washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, and others believe she was the woman caught in the act of adultery and almost stoned to death. According to John Macarthur’s book, “Twelve Extraordinary Women,” there is no biblical basis for either assumption.

Mary Magdalene was met by a loving and powerful Savior. Through His grace and mercy, Jesus looked beyond her faults and lovingly saw her need as He cast out seven demons from her. Before her life-changing encounter with Jesus, she lived a tormented and most likely isolated life. Demoniacs were unpopular and isolated from mainstream living. Scripture does not give us all the gory details of her darkness but instead spotlights and magnifies Christ’s grace and goodness to her. Christ set her free, and she was free indeed! Mary’s life was not simply reformed but completely transformed. We read in John 10:10, “The thief (Satan) comes only to steal, kill and destroy. I (Jesus) came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” He gave her life that day…abundant life!

Mary’s demonic deliverance led to a life of complete devotion to her deliverer and Savior. She remained very close to Jesus, and even led the women in the care and provision for Jesus and His disciples as they traveled and ministered. Luke 8:3 (NIV) reveals that these women, led by Mary Magdalene, financed the work of the Lord “out of heir own means.” Mary Magdalene remained a very close follower of Jesus and was named among the women at the foot of the cross with Mary, Jesus’ mother. In their unbearable sorrow and grief, these women stayed until the bitter and painful end. In fact, she may have been the last one to leave the tomb that horrific day. We read in Scripture that it was Mary Magdalene that informed the disciples of the location of the tomb where Joseph of Arimathea placed His lifeless body.

Luke 23:55-56 says Mary Magdalene and the other Mary had purchased more spices used for burial, and as soon as the Sabbath was over, would go first thing in the morning to give Jesus a proper burial. Mary Magdalene could not wait any longer. She went ahead of the others and was the first one to reach the tomb on the resurrection morning. Jesus meets the grieving woman outside the tomb and says her name, “Mary,” in a way that pierced her grieving heart. She knew in an instance this was her Lord and Savior, once dead and now alive. He instructed her to go and tell the others that He had risen. Mary Magdalene ran immediately to find Peter and John, to tell them. Then they went to see for themselves. He rose just as He said!

This transformed woman that went by the name of Mary Magdalene is the perfect example of the limitless power and extravagant grace of God. She was snatched out of Satan’s death grip and became one the closest followers of Jesus, with intense love and devotion. If you and I have been saved by the blood of Jesus, we also have been snatched from the enemy’s grasp and placed into His marvelous light! Do we have this type of undying devotion and love for our Savior? He desires to take the ruins of our life, and transform them into something beautiful and useful for His glory. He requires that we lay it all at the foot of the cross, give Him our whole heart, and follow close after Him. We must die to self and say as the Apostle Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” His grace is free, not cheap!



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