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Gone Too Soon
Jan 31 3:17 AM

Gone Too Soon

Jan 31 3:17 AM
Jan 31 3:17 AM

How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!

2 Samuel 1:27

David had not yet been crowned king when he heard the news that both King Saul and his dearly beloved friend Jonathan had been killed in battle.  This news caught David totally by surprise and literally broke his heart.  David had great respect and devotion for King Saul and was hoping that one day they would move past their difference and come together and serve the Lord in the spirit of unity.  And his heart longed for the rich, godly fellowship he had experienced with Jonathan as iron sharpening iron.  It’s no doubt that David loved Jonathan like a brother, and hearing of his death brought a very real and deeply felt grief to David’s heart.  His friend was truly gone too soon.

My hope and prayers are that you are not experiencing the deep sorrow and pain that comes from the loss of a love one, but if you are hurting due to the loss of someone you love, please know that you are not alone in your sorrow.  Isaiah 53:3 tells us that Jesus, our Savior and Lord “….was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”  If we take a close look at 2 Samuel 1:22-26, we will see how David handled his grief, and in turn, learn a few things about how we should handle ours.  The text says:

From the blood of the slain, From the fat of the mighty, The bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
And the sword of Saul did not return empty. 23 “Saul and Jonathan were beloved and pleasant in their lives, And in their death they were not divided; They were swifter than eagles,
They were stronger than lions. 24 “O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with luxury; who put ornaments of gold on your apparel. 25 “How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan was slain in your high places. II Samuel 1: 22-26

 David did four things to help put his broken heart back together again:

  1. He cried. In 2 Samuel 1:11 we are simply told that David mourned and wept. David’s eyes became a faucet for him to release soul-cleansing tears. Tears ran down his checks, dropped off his chin and fell to the earth. The same earth that Saul and Jonathan have now returned.
  2. He honored them. In verse 17, we find that David poured out his heart before the people with a song of lament that spoke about their beauty and their courage.  Find ways that uniquely celebrate the memory of your love one and write it down as a memorial to them.
  3. He trusted in the Will of God. Three times in this passage (verses 19,25, and 27) David calls Saul and Jonathan ‘mighty’. David recognized that, though both men were uniquely flawed, they were loved and anointed by God.  David turned his thoughts to the truth that God saw something wonderful in both these men and offered to them the leadership over His people.
  4. He took comfort that they were finally at rest. In verse 27, we can almost feel a sigh of relief that Saul and Jonathan’s days of battle are now over.  David rested in the knowledge that God had called them off the battlefield, never to study war again. 

Our loved ones may have gone on before us, but let us remember that we, too, are soldiers in the army of the Lord. Let us keep marching on toward victory until the day we hear our Commander in Chief say, “Come up here, servant of God, well done!”

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Contessa

Thank You so much for this devotion Pastor!!!

Posted on Sun, Jan 31, 2021 @ 10:41 AM CST

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Pray | Fast | Meditate

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Becoming a Better You   |   Marlin D. Harris

Welcome to our 31-Day Corporate Fast. 

In 1988, I was 15 years old, sitting on a plane flying from Oklahoma to Seoul, South Korea. I felt that I was leaving more than a country but leaving my entire concept of normalcy and certainty.  I was going from the world I knew to a world that I was completely unprepared to face.  My father had received military orders to move from Ft. Drum, New York, and for the next 3 years, live in Taegu, South Korea.  Now, this is not uncommon.  Military families travel across the globe to new duty stations all the time and often make wonderful and amazing memories and experiences while living in a foreign country.  But that was precisely the problem – we were certainly not a family, and this was most definitely not promising to be an amazing memory.  My stepmother was a non-functioning alcoholic, and my father was a functioning one.  I was placed in their home because my home of origin had become too unstable and abusive for me to live in.  I was traveling 5,000 miles away from what I had come to know as normal, with people that I had just met less than 9 months ago.  I sat on that plane believing that I was leaving one disaster and heading into another one.  Nothing could have convinced me that day that this one experience would have so deeply changed my life and so firmly established my faith and confidence in God.

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Finish Well, Finish Strong
Jan 31 12:38 AM

Finish Well, Finish Strong

Jan 31 12:38 AM
Jan 31 12:38 AM

By Loretta Shelton and Pastor Marlin Harris

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

2 Timothy 4:7

The Apostle Paul uses an illustration in 2 Timothy 4:7 reminiscent of competing in the Roman Olympic games in order to demonstrate the Christian believer’s life of faithfulness.  He says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

What is remarkable is that Paul makes these comments while imprisoned in a Roman jail knowing he is at the end of his life, and consequently at the end of his God-given mission.  Throughout Paul’s Christian journey, he remained steadfast and loyal to his calling, despite the unimaginable obstacles and perils that he faced.  Paul remained faithful to his ministry for the sake of Christ by fighting what he called “the good fight of faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). This means he maintained a godly character, lived by Biblical principles, and was unwavering in his faith and trust in God.  This characterized Paul’s life regardless of the unpleasant circumstances that he was often attacked with.  He did not rely on his past service, but he persevered and served God until crossing the finish line at the end of his ministry on earth.

Like the Apostle Paul, we must live this Christian life with the same convictions and fortitude as the athletes who were competing in the Roman games.  Christians must run the race, fight the good fight, and endure hardships valiantly, in order to receive the prize of an incorruptible crown that never fades away. The qualifications required to receive this coveted prize are to run lawfully and diligently until we finish. Running this race means honoring God with our hearts and bodies, developing a character that looks more and more like Christ each day, and living a life that pleases our Father, and is worthy of the great redemption that we have been graced to receive.   We must start, run, and then finish the race.  We will finish, because no believer ever runs the race of his life alone.  The Lord Jesus Christ runs with us, and He will get us to the finish line, if we stay the course and “finish well and finish strong”. 

When you are running the race of life there are a few things you want to be sure to do.  First of all, you must be spiritually prepared for the journey.  This spiritual preparation is impossible without being filled  with the Holy Spirit, for which there is no substitute.  The scripture is clear that we are to be empowered by the Holy Spirit if we hope to accomplish anything in this life that brings glory to God. The Spirit of God empowers us with wisdom, strength, and godliness that causes the blessings of God to rest upon our journey.  He alone conditions our hearts to endure the pain of the race, and to not turn back or give up before we reach the finish line.

Secondly, we must endure the necessary disciplines needed to prepare us for the rigor of the race we are to run.  When runners prepare for lengthy marathons they will often spend months preparing themselves physically for that one race.  They will attempt smaller races and work their legs and test their endurance with exercise regimens.  They do this so that when they are in the ‘big’ race, they will have the strength to finish.  Finishing our Christian race is more about the strength of our spirit than it is about the desire we may have in our hearts.  Many people start out with Christ, and they desire greatly to finish, but they have not developed the spiritual strength to endure the trials and tests that befall them along their journey and they, sadly, fall away. 

Jesus speaks about this reality in Matthew 13:1-9 when He shares the Parable of the Sower, where he outlines four different scenarios of seed-planting.  One of his 4 scenarios involves a farmer who sowed his seeds in soil that was cluttered with rocks. He says that the soil received the seed quickly, but because the ground had not been tilled and prepared, the rocks were too numerous in the soil and made the soil depth shallow.  Soon the seed died in the soil because there was no depth created by tilling.  This is what happens to any of us who set out to run this Christian race, and we have not had the hard, stony rocks in our hearts, minds, and habits broken up and tilled away.  Without the discipline of dedicated study of the Word of God, the daily practice of prayer, and regular worship and thanksgiving to God, we will not be able to break those hard rocks that have settled into our hearts and have made them resistant and impervious to the convictions and truths of the Word of God.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, every sincere believer must have an ardent and passionate desire to finish their race well.  God placed that desire in your heart when you gave your hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ.  The only way to satisfy that aching and longing in your soul to finish well is to daily discipline your life with the Spiritual practices of prayer, worship, and time in the Word.  As you attend to the things of God, He will attend to the cares and desires of your heart.  Let’s lay aside the weights and the many distractions, and run this race with all we have so that when we are finished, we will feel our Master’s embrace and hear him say, “Well done”.

PRAYER

Holy Father, we all have our own individual race to run.  May You grant us the strength and the conviction to run our race well.  Remove the hindrances from our path, and unchain our feet from the heavy weights and burdens that have weighed us down.  Lord, grant us the freedom to run and not get weary, and to walk and not faint.  In Jesus’ Strong Name, I pray.  Amen.

SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINE

Spend today surveying your life to determine what are those weights and distractions that make it difficult for you to finish your race well.  Consider those challenges, temptations, and tests that you are engaged in daily, and actively name them before the Lord, and make the decision to do whatever is necessary to lay them aside.  Seek the Lord for His strength and lean upon the Holy Spirit for His guidance.

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