Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept.
The Gospels reveal that Mary Magdalene or Mary of Magdala continually shows up in the life of Jesus. Luke 8:2 tells us that she was present when he went through every city and village preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God and that she also provided for Him of her substance. Matthew 27:56 tells us that she was there at the crucifixion to witness the inhumane way in which he took his last breath. Verse 61 of that chapter reveals that she was present when Joseph of Arimathea gently wrapped him in clean linen cloths and placed him in his new tomb. We learn from John 20 that early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, she went to the tomb, only to discover that indeed it is empty. While she is still there weeping and wondering where he could be, he chooses to appear to her first. In Mark 16:9 we see that she indeed was the first to run to tell the good news that He was risen!
What sticks out to me the most in looking closely at what is known about this female disciple, is that she consistently showed up to fulfill her ministry, even though she came from a troubled past. In fact, the Bible states in Luke 8:2 that Jesus had delivered her from not one, but seven demons. All throughout the gospels we see the myriad of ways that demon possession affected the lives of people, causing tremendous suffering through sickness, disease, mental illness, and evil or strange behavior. Now we don’t know what way her demonic possession manifested itself in her life, but due to the sheer number of demons, I am certain that it could not have been good! It is no wonder, the gospel writers repetitively remind us who she used to be.
Actually, I’m amazed at how she did not allow her past experiences to prevent her from being present to minister to her Savior. Even after His crucifixion and resurrection, she was the very first one present to proclaim the Good News! I am often tempted to allow the issues from my past, or my personality flaws, to prevent me from being present and available to minister to others. Sometimes I feel like the remnants of what God has delivered me from, still tries to define me. Maybe you have this struggle as well. Mary Magdalene gives us a great pattern to follow, and the Apostle Paul sums it up perfectly in Phil 3:13-14 (ESV) “… But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Let’s press on from our past, to be present for God to use us to minister in the lives of others!
Published on Jan 07 @ 3:17 AM EDT
Thank you for the wonderful Work and reminder that we are not defined by our path. I personally know someone who is still allowing their past to interfere in their live and work of ministry, but I continue to pray for them. God is able to heal.
Posted on Thu, Jan 7, 2021 @ 5:49 AM CST
There are some consequences of my life that cannot be erased or will never leave me, but God.
Posted on Thu, Jan 7, 2021 @ 7:36 AM CST
Thank You Sister Botts- We must move forward and always remember who we are now and now who we used to be because our God has delivered us from our past life into this new and marvelous life, because of our faith and trust in Him. WE THANK YOU GOD AND YOUR PRAISE WILL CONTINUALLY BE IN MY MOUTH!!!!!
Posted on Thu, Jan 7, 2021 @ 7:39 AM CST
This devotion resonated with me so much. One of my prayers this year is to be free from any residuals from my past; to receive a heart transplant and given the heart of Christ. To not allow the past to continue to hold me hostage and hinder me from being the woman of God I am called to be.
Posted on Thu, Jan 7, 2021 @ 7:42 AM CST
What wonderful insight! In these days of such uncertainty, you have reminded us of what we must do as follower's of Christ Jesus! Thank you!!! And be blessed Huge!
Posted on Thu, Jan 7, 2021 @ 7:58 AM CST
Thank you for the word today as we press on
Posted on Thu, Jan 7, 2021 @ 8:42 AM CST
Thank you for showing me the importance of not letting myvpast affect my desire to be in the presence of God daily.
Posted on Thu, Jan 7, 2021 @ 10:32 AM CST
Thank you for that devotion on Mary Magdalene. It allowed me to look at her life from a different angle. To not allow our past mistakes to hinder us from moving forward in what God has in store for us. I pray that God will continue to bless you as you share what He has placed on your heart.
Posted on Thu, Jan 7, 2021 @ 9:00 PM CST
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”.
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.
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.
Published on Jan 31 @ 12:38 AM EDT