He Took My Place

Isaiah 53:4-6  4)Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5) But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. 6) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, everyone, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (NKJV)

I normally share a short verse for the devotionals; but someone shared this particular verse on Facebook, and after I read it, I thought it very much worthy of sharing in devotion.

One of the reasons why I felt compelled to share these verses is because it was the God given understanding of these verses that initially resulted in my personal salvation.

As if it was yesterday, I can vividly recall being at very very low point in my life. I was invited to a worship service/conference by a mentor and friend; and it was right there in that meeting that These verses literally made sense to me and my eyes were opened.

Before that point, all I could seem to think about was all of the wrong and evil I had previously done; unable to pick my head up as a result of the weight of guilt from all of the bad choices I had made.

Everyone that I had in my life was either angry, disappointed, or hurt by my choices…. I believe I even despised my ownself.

Yet, in spite of my sinful choices and destructive ways, it was in “That Place” that The Lord met me with a love and compassion that only He can give, and He opened my heart to see and realize that He had in fact Taken my place and took upon Himself what I “rightfully” deserved.

That truth Broke My Heart and changed my life.

If I was a half decent man, I don’t know if it would’ve hurt so much to know that an innocent man, out of love, suffered as much as He did for me.

But the fact that I was as despicable as I was made it unbearable to resist the kind of love exemplified In The sacrifice that Jesus made for me…. Little Ole “me”.

He Took My Place…. He Took Your Place… He Took Our Place… 

This…. Is…. The Heart of The Gospel Message.

He took the place of every person you and I will ever see in the course of a day.

Father, today we stand grateful for the Love you showed by taking our place so that we might know Peace. As you made the sacrifice for us to have life (eternal), help us to show the same love for others, in your strength.
In Jesus Name.

Peace and Blessings, 

Pastor Lowe

Walking With A Limp

So Jacob was left alone, and a Man [came and] wrestled with him until daybreak. – Genesis 32:24 (AMP)

When I was a young pup in middle school I played quarterback on the seventh grade B team. I had never played football In my entire life up to that point.
My grandparents allowed me to play, with the condition that I would keep my grades up and stay out of trouble (Staying out of trouble meant, doing as I’m told).

A few days prior to our second game of the season, I missed a Friday night church service, of which my grandfather had already forewarned that I betta’ not miss.As a result of not being where I should’ve been that night, I ended up getting into a fight, and the report came back to my grandfather.
I didn’t know that he knew, at the time. But, because I knew I missed church and would be in trouble anyway, I stayed outside the house until all of the lights were off, and snuck in the house afterwards.
I went sound to sleep, but I was awakened to a hot leather belt several hours later (I can still almost feel it now…. lol).
During the course of my punishment, I can remember making insistent promises to my grandfather that I won’t do it “no mo granddaddy!!”. But that didn’t stop him.

Several days later, we had our second game of the season. That would be my last game.While running along the sideline, an opponent appeared in front of me, so I cut into the middle of a crowd of opponents, and was hit so hard that I suffered a fracture to my femur bone.
After a couple of weeks on traction, and a few more months In an almost full body cast, I was left with the support of crutches for several more months.
Needless to say, even after all of that, I was still left walking with a Limp for a long time afterward.

Yet, that Limp, for me, served as a constant reminder that God is real, and He will, out of Love, get my attention by any means he has to. But it’s always for His Glory, and my benefit.

He wrestled with Jacob because he wanted to break him of all of his self-reliance, independence, and pride (I believe it was the same in my case).Though Jacob was determined to have his own way, the Limp he incurred was a testament to the fact that he finally came (almost by force it seems) to a place of increasing reliance and trust in God.(He was left in a position of leaning upon God for support)

Do you Walk with a Limp? Where are you when it comes to total and complete reliance upon The Lord? Who/What do you lean on?

Father, we know that it is your will that we trust you with all of our hearts and yield to you all that we are. But, sometimes we tend to take the reigns and lean on our own strength and understanding, and we put our hope and trust in other things. Help us, by your Grace, to rely solely upon you.

In Christ’s Love,

Pastor Lowe

The Evidence Of Trust

"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee." - Isaiah 26:3 
I can remember growing up hearing my grandmother quote quite a few scriptures around the house. It seemed like she had a verse for almost every circumstance that we would go through in life.
I could always tell which ones were her favorites, because those would be the ones that she would quote the most.
Reading and looking over Isaiah 26:3 earlier this week reminded me of her, because this was one of her very "favorite" verses of scripture. 
In fact, this is the only one that I can recall hearing her quote at the top of her lungs almost every time she made mention of it. I'm not exactly sure why, but I can only imagine that it was because this one was worthy of extra emphasis; and also, because she had experienced and come to know the reality of it's Truth for herself.
Whenever one of us would go through some sort of turmoil of our own, and would be totally anxious and worried about the outcome of the situation, "momma" would never allow us to leave her house carrying the same fear or worry that we came with.

I didn't know this at the time, nor did I realize and grasp it, but that is a literal Promise!
Isaiah said, Thou (God) will keep in Perfect (and constant) Peace the one whose mind is [committed and focused on you....], because he trusts in you.
In other words, trust God, and keep your mind on Him, and He will keep you in Perfect Peace.
This peace is not a temporal peace, or a peace that is penetrable; but a peace that can overrule fear, agitation, worry, anxiety, or any circumstance that may come our way.
Where is my mind and affections set today? In Whom do I trust?
If it's The Lord, His peace will be the evidence that I'm truly trusting in Him.
Lord, Help us to keep our minds and hearts stayed on you, and grant that we trust you constantly with all of our heart. It's only by the help of your Hand that this is possible; therefore, we invite you to be The Help we need.

In His Love,
Pastor Lowe

Believe and trust in ALL of God’s plan

If we never were in need of healing then God wouldn’t be the healer that He is. I believe He heals but I also know He doesn’t always choose that.
As Christians, a responsibility we must bear; means believing in His power in the midst of our trials. I believe through trials we are tested, changed, molded, strengthened, and built up.
If you find yourself sick with the flu, cold, pneumonia, or Covid, etc it doesn’t mean that you and I don’t believe enough or that we’re hiding a sin. I believe and trust in ALL of God’s plans; even when that means He doesn’t choose to heal me and I’m inconvenienced. Be encouraged. Remember that Job’s suffering was definitely NOT the result of a lack of faith.
He STILL loves us. He STILL has a plan. How we respond in our trial is important; draw closer to God and allow Him to walk with you through the dark hour.
I choose to run to God in the midst of the storm. We are not alone.  My personal prayer — “Lord if I’m in need of spiritual healing; then I want and seek that first!!!”
If you are in need of prayer my husband and I would love to pray for you in our prayer time. Love you all.

Pastor and Laurie Lowe

Just Look Away

12 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For the past few weeks, in our Sunday Morning Worship Service, We’ve been delving in to the thought “Running With God’s Purpose.”

Our primary text throughout the course of this sermon series has been Hebrews 12:1-2.

It’s been an interesting and encouraging journey.

This morning I found myself again meditating on a portion of this very context. I was contemplating The part where God says, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”. The amplified puts it, “[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus…. “

As I thought on this portion of scripture, I realized that, in this life, there will always be challenges and difficulties of various sorts that will seem to come along in our lives that will push to distract us and throw us off the course that God has set before us.

That can pretty much be expected. Even the Lord Himself said, “In this world you ‘shall’ have tribulation (and distress), but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

 Living beyond distraction, stress, and anxiety takes having a perspective that extends beyond what we can naturally see before us; and it takes faith as well.

In my morning notes I penned it like this, “When we truly look to the Lord, we embrace a level of focus that is absolutely beyond this world.”

“Looking unto Jesus”… As long as Peter had his gaze on Jesus, he was walking on the water. But as soon as he took his gaze from the One who gave him permission to step out in the midst of what was contrary to him, he began to sink.

The wind was contrary, and the storm was present, before he ever stepped out of the boat. Yet, he was able to walk on water because of the word of The Lord (come), and because of where his sight (faith) was set.

Is it hard and difficult already in this new year? Does it seem to you like this year will only be filled with a lot of the same challenges as last year? Has fear continued to rear it’s ugly head up against you?

If any of the above is the sentiment of your heart, I encourage you to simply “Look Away”.

You’ll be amazed at what good comes to the soul when we apply the exhortation to “Look” To Him….

The challenges may still yet exist, but I honestly believe that we’ll be all the more fit to walk through them when we have the perspective of the Divine working in our hearts and minds. Father, we believe that there is absolute Good and benefit in every instruction that you’ve so kindly given to us. Help us heed and apply the charge to Look To you, and away from all that will distract. We pray that not only for today, but throughout the course of this year; keep our eyes continually Looking to You.
In The Father’s Love and Care,
Pastor Lowe

Choosing What Can’t Be Taken Away

But the Lord replied to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered and anxious about so many things; (42) but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part [that which is to her advantage], which will not be taken away from her.” – (Luke 10:41-42 AMP)

One of the most valuable lessons that I learned last year was the importance of managing the time I have with greater responsibility.

That’s not say that I mastered it.

But, I did learn #1, How important time is and, #2 that time is actually a gift that has been entrusted to us; and as such, we have the obligation to steward it wisely.

Personally, I realized that, when I maximize the time that I have, wisely, life functions a lot more efficiently, and so do I. 🙂

Of course, out of all of the practices that I’ve done to make the most of the time granted, I have discovered in an even greater capacity, that there is absolutely no better investment of time than time spent in God’s presence.

The story of Martha and Mary has always been a good reference for myself (as with many of us) to reflect upon when I have found myself getting too busy and caught up with the cares of this life. I’ve reflected upon it quite often, and even more so as we have embarked upon this New Year.

Of all of the things that I could think of doing differently, or better, in this New Year, spending quality time in The Lord’s presence tops them all.

Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen that “good” part that will not be taken away; in fact, he said that it was the only thing that was needful, and that’s true.

I can resolve to lose weight, look better, spend less, and a number of other things, in this new year. But, when this life is over and this old tent is laid down, none of those things will matter anymore. The only thing that will remain are the benefits of the “good part” of sitting at Jesus’ feet and hearing His word. That’s something that can’t ever be taken away; not in this life, or in the next.

It has both short term and long term benefits.

I don’t know about anyone else; but this year, my desire for the entire year will be to “daily” Choose What Can’t Be Taken Away.

Father, thank you for the gift of Life and time. Today we simply pray what the Psalmist prayed when he asked, “Teach us to number Our Days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” And Lord, help us to daily choose the part that can never be taken away.
In Jesus’ Mighty Name.

I pray your year is Bountiful, Prosperous, and Rich with God’s presence through and through.

By His Grace,

Pastor Lowe

Prayer Truly Does Work

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Just recently our daughter turned 2 years old. 
Leading up to the time of her second birthday, on many occasions, when we would make mention of her turning 2, people would make the statement “Oh no, the terrible twos”. I really didn’t know what that specifically meant. But someone explained to me that children become more challenging and difficult at that age (I believe that’s the case for ANY age child… Ha ha).
My wife and I chose not to make that declaration about our daughter.
Yet, even though we agreed not to make such a declaration concerning her, one of her teachers mentioned to my wife that she had in fact been a little more defiant and rebellious in her attitude at school; and she said that it had been 2 weeks since she noticed the shift. When I did the math, that was right around the time of her 2nd birthday.

More than coincidence, I believe that her actions were merely the fruits of “Human Nature”. 
Every night before putting her to sleep, we pray with her (either my wife or myself, or both).Most of the time the prayers are general. Nothing specific. 
Last night, they were different. 
Considering the reports of the teacher, and our daughter’s actions at school and at home, we made a request of God for just what we needed and desired to see in her actions and attitude; and we requested of God’s help, and thanked Him in the process, basing our hope and expectation in Him and Him alone.
This is the report that my wife sent to me the morning following, verbatim…. “Baby was pleasantly good this morning. She let me change her, didn’t run from me, asked for her book and didn’t cry; ate her breakfast. It was a nice change.”
My heart leaped within me when I read the report!!, and I was encouraged to learn, once more, that prayer Truly Does Work!And, being specific in what we ask doesn’t hurt either.
God is just as concerned about the things that effect our lives as we are, and even more so (see Psalms 138:8).
But so often we go about our daily lives and do the best we can, in our own wisdom and strength, and only include God in the so-called “big stuff” or things that seem to get beyond our ability to handle. 
In reality, dependency and trust should be components of the fiber of our hearts on a daily basis, no matter how big or small.
If it’s significant enough for me to “worry” about, then it’s certainly significant enough for me to “pray” about. In fact, Prayer is the alternative that we’ve been given; and prayer is the only alternative that Truly Works.
Father, we are so grateful to have the assurance of your word and promises to us. Help us to believe you and apply your truths to every facet of our lives.
In Christ’s Love,
Pastor Lowe

Thank God For Closed Doors

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that Hath The Key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.” (Revelation 3:7)
Recently I was thinking about all of the reasons that I personally have to give God thanks. During the course of those thoughts a number of things came up, but they were the usual things that most of us often think about being grateful for. And if you’re like me (human), I’m sure most of those things were “good” things.Things like: the pay raise, the new house or car, healing in the body, food, clothes, and shelter, etc.
Don’t get me wrong. There’s absolutely  nothing wrong with being thankful for these things, because they too come to us from the gracious hand of God.
But, hindsight can be a good revealer; and as I thought back about God’s blessings and goodness over our lives, I couldn’t help but think about what things could’ve possibly been like if God had opened doors for me that I had honestly hoped and prayed He would open. 
Have you ever thought like that?
Well, I have. 
I remember several years back, I had gotten home from an “extended vacation” (the church knows what I’m referring to… :-)), and I was exhausting myself trying to seek and search out some kind of gainful employment, and nothing was opening up for me. I must’ve gone to a dozen places; and although most of them gave me the promise of calling me back, none of those promises were ever fulfilled. They were all “Closed Doors”.
Finally, a door opened, by the Grace of God. It wasn’t quite the opportunity that I was looking for, but it was something; and looking back, I can now see how God used it to allow me the liberty I needed to get around, and establish a level of trust and flexibility, in spite of the restrictions I had placed upon me. It was the perfect opportunity. 
After that door opened, another door opened!! God blessed me with not one, but TWO jobs!! Then, as a result of the second job, I was able to be equipped with the skill-set needed to eventually start my very own business!!!… It just kept getting better and better; and it’s STILL getting better today!! Praise God!
But here’s the point that I want to emphasize: Many doors were closed to me; but had it not been for the “closed doors”, who knows if I would’ve ever been blessed to walk through the “open doors”??
Many times we get discouraged over supposedly “missed opportunities”, or “lost chances”; it’s a natural thing to feel this way. But have you ever considered that, sometimes, what we miss out on could very well be The Sovereign and loving hand of God “protecting us” from something that may somehow be a detriment to our lives?
I’ve often wanted so many things to Be “My will” that was not necessarily “God’s will” for my life. I’ve gotten bent out of shape more than once over not getting to have “my way”, and I’ve found myself being disappointed about what I naturally do not understand nor see the end of. 
Yet I’ve come to realize and learn (still an ongoing growth process) that God is Faithful, above all else; and whatever Doors He chooses to Keep Closed in my life is a direct extension of His Faithfulness towards me.
So, today, along with everything else that I have to be Thankful for, I am just as Grateful for The “Closed Doors” in my Life.

Lord, we don’t see as you do; therefore, we oftentimes fall short in trusting you when things don’t seem to go our way. Help us to know and understand that, no matter what happens in our lives, good or bad, You are working it all out together for our good because You are faithful. We thank you for what you protect us from, and we thank you for what you bring.
In Christ’s Love, 
Pastor Lowe