Passion for the House of God 

February 1, 2024 Devotional by Rose-Marie Slosek

Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?” (Haggai 1:4 ESV)

It is easy, especially amongst the comforts of the western world, to become focused on our own interests, even our own spiritual interests, and forget that we should be focused on our Father’s business. As Jesus was found in the temple when He was expected to be on his way back to his natural family’s home in Nazareth, He was surprised that His parents didn’t know where to find Him. Our interests: where our time is spent, our focus, and our passions, predict where we will be found. 

The prophet Haggai speaks forth the heart of God to the people and the leaders of Israel.  He tells them that they are putting their own lives, their own needs, their own interests before the restoration of the house of God. Cyrus had permitted them to return to their land, but rebuilding the temple was a tall order and would require much attention and work.  It was easier to focus on what they needed for their own lives rather than giving all their attention to rebuilding His House so they could all honor God and worship Him together.

Has anything changed?  We must admit that we sometimes neglect the corporate nature of our lives together. As Christians, we are living stones that are being built together! We cannot isolate from each other. We can find ourselves distracted from doing our Father’s business together by self-interest and self-seeking.

Perhaps we should be to ourselves as Haggai, a prophet, calling ourselves back to rebuilding the house of God. We need to examine what has fallen in the Body of Christ and what does not honor, represent, or glorify Him. We need to call each other back to a burning passion to see the glory of God come fully to the house of God, of which all believers are members. Zeal for His house should consume us. Holiness should refine us. Passion for His purposes should inflame us. Wholeheartedness should drive out any lesser preoccupation. 

Part of the Maranatha cry is a cry for the house of God to be whole, for Jesus to rule over us and to have our entire hearts.  Let us lavish our full attention upon Him as we prepare for the fullness of the coming age! He shall surely have our attention and Israel’s on the Day that He returns. We who know Him and love Him should be both hastening that Day not only with the Maranatha cry, but also living together in a corporate foretaste of the fullness of His coming glory.  Maranatha. 

Rose-Marie Slosek came to know the Lord in the early nineteen seventies and has a passion for organic church and the maturing of the Body of Christ. She loves to connect people and build healthy community in small groups. She travels widely and assists several mission teams. Rose-Marie also serves Women of the Word on their Board of Directors. She can be reached at email
rmslosek@comcast.net

Opportunity and Opposition 

January 30, 2024 Devotional by Rose-Marie Slosek

For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. (1 Cor. 16:9)

Opposition comes with every opportunity to preach the gospel. That opposition may appear to come from human sources, but ultimately all opposition to the gospel has a spiritual element.  We live amid a clash of kingdoms: the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world. 

“Then the seventh angel sounded, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15). Can you hear the strains of Handel’s Messiah echoing gloriously forth from the words of Revelation 11:15? Yes! All the struggles of this age will have passed, and we shall enjoy the kingdom rule of Jesus. 

Until then, an effectual door is open to preach the gospel, and yes, there are many adversaries.  This should not stop us. Behind all those that oppose the going forth of the gospel is a spirit that has already been defeated. Hoping to convince men and women to turn away from God, the devil and his cohorts are still fighting over their souls, but the Holy Spirit is still wooing untold hearts.  It is our call to work with Him to gather those souls into the Lord’s fold. 

To do that we must go and begin to build relationships, waiting upon God for the right words—words of life that will penetrate the hearts of the weary waiting for a message of hope. Sometimes we will need to be bold.  Sometimes we will need to be soft and gentle. Always we must allow the Lord to show us what to do and how to do it. He is the One who draws, and we gather. Allowing a chance to receive the gospel, we must seek to create a little safety bubble around those we are seeking to draw in so that anything which is adversarial is neutralized coming to God. Nothing can stop a soul, who is truly seeking, from coming to God, but much can war against it. So we, too, must war for souls with our kindliness, our care, our shepherd’s heart, and our willingness to run interference against anything that would hinder someone from freely choosing God.

God will open many “effective doors” in this hour. Let’s look for them and go through them to locate those who need to hear the glorious message we hold in our hearts and in our hands. Let no adversary stop us.

Maranatha.

Rose-Marie Slosek is on the Board of Directors of Women of the Word. She also serves on the Lead Team for FAI Emmaus Online School. Rose-Marie travels regularly to Northern Ireland and Israel. 

She can be reached at email rmslosek@comcast.net

Let Love Unite You

January 27, 2024 Devotional by Rose-Marie Slosek

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

God is one within Himself. He is undivided within Himself. God calls us to love Him wholeheartedly, with all of who we are: our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love is what unites the various aspects of my whole being. There will be discord within my personal being, if my mind is in unity with God, but my heart is not. I may not recognize the discord, but something will be incomplete within me. 

As I love God and as I worship Him, there comes together within me a singularity of focus and function. I become one within myself, no warring parties within, and I become one with God. This is bliss! God is love (1 John 4:8).  To be caught up in that love is to function as God intends for all of us. There is no striving in this place of oneness. All is content and at peace. God does not call us to love Him wholeheartedly for self-serving reasons. Our health and well-being are a benefit that comes to us when we love Him rightly. Who better than Love Himself could instruct us properly in how to love? 

All disease comes from imbalance. In God there is perfect health. As we “unite our heart to fear His Name” (Psalm 86:11c), we come to a place where everything within us is pointing in one direction: toward God. How wonderful to be in such a place of peace, of surrender, of rest, and of health! To gaze upon God with a unified heart, soul, mind, and spirit is our life’s work! And so, the Shema, this same call to hear and to obey, is the heart of all that God intends for our good. Jesus reiterates this when He refers back to the Shema to sum up what is the greatest commandment, “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself,” (Mark 12:30-31). This is the heart and soul of all that God requires. This is life to our souls and health to our bodies.

Maranatha.

Rose-Marie Slosek is on the Board of Directors of Women of the Word. She also serves on the Lead Team for FAI Emmaus Online School. Rose-Marie travels regularly to Northern Ireland and Israel. 

She can be reached at email rmslosek@comcast.net

Preparing to Suffer

January 23, 2024 Devotional by Rose-Marie Slosek

Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind. (1 Peter 4:1)           

The apostle Peter, writing toward the end of his life, is pastorally giving the believers advice about the attitude that will serve them best. He points to Jesus, who chose to embrace suffering to ransom us and to do the will of God. Jesus was utterly committed to walking according to the will of God. He never sinned. He turned His back on temptation. He delighted in obeying the will of God. Likewise, our job is to follow Him and to prepare to follow Him no matter what.

To ready for that, we must arm ourselves with the idea that we will suffer.  Suffering will come because it came to Jesus. Our suffering serves a purpose: it shows that we are utterly committed to following God, no matter what, and we are willing to turn our backs to our old life of sin. 

Suffering may come as a shock to us. Therefore, we must agree to it ahead of time so that we won’t be taken by surprise or run away when it presents itself. Peter tells us that embracing the suffering that comes from following Jesus is part of the normal Christian life. God doesn’t enjoy our suffering.  It is not for His pleasure that we suffer! God forbid! We suffer because Christ and His way are often rejected in this fallen world. If they killed the Master, we must expect that difficult things will come to us. Do you remember when Jesus said to Peter, “When you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go,” (John 21:18)?

All the apostles except John died as martyrs. Martyrdom is not the only suffering. We can be rejected by our families. We can be saddened and vexed by the godlessness around us.  We can suffer humiliation and rejection for the name of Christ. Because we are led by God, He may choose to lead us into difficult circumstances. Our lives are not our own and our destinies are woven into the purposes of God. God never wills us harm, but we may suffer because we are committed to doing the will of God. We should just see this as part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. No suffering will last forever. So let any suffering we endure be offered to the One who suffered the most entirely for our sakes. We can rejoice that our suffering is but for a season as we look toward His peaceable kingdom to come quickly. 

Maranatha.

Rose-Marie Slosek is on the Board of Directors of Women of the Word. She also serves on the Lead Team for FAI Emmaus Online School. Rose-Marie travels regularly to Northern Ireland and Israel. 

She can be reached at email rmslosek@comcast.net

Home at Last

January 20, 2024 Devotional by Rose-Marie Slosek

In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples. The nations will seek Him, and His resting place will be glorious. (Isaiah 11:10)

We who love the Lord wait eagerly for the day when Jesus will stand in His rightful place reigning from Jerusalem. All that has been prophesied will come to pass. All nations will see with their own eyes the true King of Israel. He will have gone forth and vanquished all that opposes His Kingdom.  The peoples will be gathered before Him, and all Israel will know His saving power. 

Nothing can oppose what God has determined. Everyone alive on earth will need to acknowledge what the Lord has decreed and worship Him. If any do not worship Him and go to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, rain will not fall on them (Zechariah 14: 16, 17).

Meanwhile, the kingdom of God has been slowly yet powerfully advancing in the hearts of those who yield to Him. Soon, Jesus will stand on the earth literally reigning as the rightful King of Israel. All human history is moving toward this point whether we know it or not. It is a dividing point, but it is not an arguable point. God allows man free will, but He has also determined the scope, bounds, and outcome of human history. His decisions cannot be overthrown. 

Jesus moved humbly through the world during His first coming. He did not overtake the earthly powers that ruled. He rather quietly entered human history to redeem His people. He did not come with force, but He did come with a plan evil principalities did not see until they had been spiritually defeated. His ultimate victory was accomplished on the Cross, but the final outworking of that victory is still in our future.

O the depths of the wisdom of God! He now sits assuredly in the heavens awaiting His Day. It will be a gloriously splendid Day for all who love Him, and for all who will come to love Him on that Day. He will sit down on the throne of David, and David will call Him, “My Lord,” as shall we (Psalm 110:1). Our hearts await that day. He will sit down and “His resting place will be glorious.”

Maranatha. 

Rose-Marie Slosek is on the Board of Directors of Women of the Word. She also serves on the Lead Team for FAI Emmaus Online School. Rose-Marie travels regularly to Northern Ireland and Israel. 

She can be reached at email rmslosek@comcast.net

Genuine Obedience 

January 18, 2024 Devotional by Rose-Marie Slosek

“If anyone loves me,” Jesus replied, “he will obey my teaching and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who has no love for me does not obey my teaching.” (John 14:23-24a NIV)

We must be careful we do not talk about spiritual truths more than we practice them. We can develop a taste for good sermons, which provoke and challenge us.  We also can enjoy discussing great theological truths, which has its place. Unless we have a basic childlike relationship of trust and obedience with Jesus, we are greatly fooling ourselves. 

Loving to talk about obedience but not being obedient will get me in trouble: it is stalling and pretense. It may create a good impression with others, but it creates a dangerous spiritual vacuum—one that may sweep us away from the will of God toward a place of stagnation and spiritual withering. I may become like a child asking any number of superfluous requests or silly questions when my parents have clearly told me to clean my room. 

Do you know what God is asking of you this hour? This day? This month? Until you do, stop engaging in lesser things.  Then I said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book,” (Hebrews 10:7). The writer of Hebrews then says that God takes away the system of offering sacrifices for sin and replaces it with an organic, heartfelt desire to delight in and obey God. 

Do we somehow not see or know that God’s ways are a delight? That they set us free and do not encumber us? Our attitude communicates the issues of the heart when we hesitate to obey—even what seems like hard obedience. Do we honestly think that our opinion of what is best is better than God’s? God is worthy of our complete trust, even if it is a process for us to get there. 

We must see the disconnect between our affirmations of love and love itself. We must acknowledge that a simple obedience is worth more than a hundred “I love You, Jesus,” proclamations that show no proof of that love in our lives.  What Jesus wants us to do, He has clearly told us in His teachings. It is explained in such a way that even a child can understand if he or she desires to. God does not ask more of us than we are capable of giving. It is okay to fail at momentarily understanding what God wants.  It is not acceptable to know what God wants and not do it, then cover it with religious fig leaves. Give Jesus the real obedience gladly bestowed. Delight in doing the will of God. You will not regret it.

Maranatha.

Rose-Marie Slosek is on the Board of Directors of Women of the Word. She also serves on the Lead Team for FAI Emmaus Online School. Rose-Marie travels regularly to Northern Ireland and Israel. 

She can be reached at email rmslosek@comcast.net

For His Mercy Endures Forever

January 16, 2024 Devotional by Rose-Marie Slosek

“For His mercy endures forever.” Psalm 136 NKJV

Psalm 136 is a psalm that extols the mercy and goodness of God. It reminds Israel of the innumerable things God has done on her behalf.  It is meant to be sung and meditated upon together as a congregation. Someone calls out what God has done, and the congregation responds, “for his mercy endures forever.” 

We need to have these “mercy markers” in our lives and rehearse them to ourselves and to anyone who will listen. Worry and the cares of life can cause us to forget the many mercies of God, yet we cannot help but weep with gratitude when we start to recall the many times God has undertaken on our behalf. 

The merciful acts of God link our past to our future. God’s faithfulness to us gets us through. When we are faced with insurmountable odds and fear that we will be overwhelmed, our best course of action is to review the many mercies of God from our past. When we are waiting for God to act or to sort something in our life, we can be encouraged by God’s mercy in the lives of our brothers and sisters. That is why our testimonies are so powerful and should be made public.

As believers, we do not live unto ourselves but unto each other for the common good. Our salvation is not merely our own. We are a part of a community of people who God has brought and is bringing to salvation.  To recount the mercies of God in our midst is to strengthen us for our journey. I am aided by the mercy of God to you, and you are aided by the mercy of God to me. 

Sometimes we may choose to use songs as “mercy markers” of God’s grace. Other times, we might use a place we return to. Whatever we use, or however we remember and proclaim the mercy of God, let us do it regularly. Mercy drips from the hands of God.  Let it drip on us, our congregations, our fellowships, and on the just and unjust alike, so that even those still in their sin can recognize the goodness of God and repent.

Maranatha.

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Rose-Marie Slosek is on the Board of Directors of Women of the Word. She also serves on the Lead Team for FAI Emmaus Online School. Rose-Marie travels regularly to Northern Ireland and Israel. 

She can be reached at email rmslosek@comcast.net

Flexible or Unbending?

January 12, 2024 Devotional by Rose-Marie Slosek

“What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaking in the wind?” (Matthew 11:7)

Most all of us will find that we will have to navigate to a place of balance between being unbending in our core beliefs yet flexible as we understand them in deeper and more dynamic ways. If not, we risk becoming hard or even missing how and what God is doing in this hour. 

As John the Baptist’s unbending ministry gave way to the new wineskins of Jesus, people needed to make some adjustments. Jesus notes the contrast between John and Himself by saying that people complain because one is too strict, and the other is too lax.  Kingdom tension built up as people were seeking to be saved.

And so it is as God starts to clean His house again before the return of Jesus. Should we double down and become stricter, or do we open up and become more expansive? Perhaps the answer to that depends on where you are currently standing. It is likely that wherever we stand, there are things that we need to cut the slack out of in our lives. Likewise, there are probably some areas in which we need to add some slack. If we tend toward legalism, we need to see if we are finding our identity and our pride in our performance or by comparing ourselves with others.  If we tend toward a kind of laxity, we may have to apply some disciplines to our lives in order to be prepared for the road ahead. 

Jesus tells us that those born of God are like the wind: you hear its sound but you can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going to. We have to be willing to change direction when the winds of God blow us around. It is important to know what we believe but also be willing to see more truth and adjust either our beliefs or how we practically live them out. When we are first learning something, we can miss the nuances because we are trying to paint it either as black or white.  Conversely, we can be so open-minded that we lose that fact that there is much that is entirely black and white. It is human nature to entrench ourselves in one side or another once an argument begins. We must learn flexibility in our spiritual lives, even or especially into our old age. 

Let’s be humble enough to be able to let go of lesser understandings to gain greater truth. Bend to the gentle winds of God, or be broken in the coming storms that will have no mercy. 

Maranatha.

Rose-Marie Slosek is on the Board of Directors of Women of the Word. She also serves on the Lead Team for FAI Emmaus Online School. Rose-Marie travels regularly to Northern Ireland and Israel. 

She can be reached at email rmslosek@comcast.net

Do You Love Me? 

January 10, 2024 Devotional by Rose-Marie Slosek

“Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” ( John 21:15)

 The resurrected Jesus finds Peter on the shores of the Sea of Galilee drowning his sorrows by returning to his old life of fishing.  When we are emotionally discouraged we often turn to familiar old patterns and places to seek comfort. Jesus goes looking for Peter who must be sitting with a huge amount of guilt and confusion after denying Jesus. Jesus could have yelled at Peter, humiliated him for his actions, but instead Jesus decides to do a miracle that makes one laugh to restore Peter. 

When things spin out of control we like to stabilize ourselves by doing what we do, or think we do well. Peter is a good fisherman but this time he returns to fishing and fails to catch anything. This is because Jesus has rounded up all the fish so that none will go to Peter until He says so! Jesus has already got some fish, and most likely not with a fishing pole! He is having breakfast on the shore and when he sees the tired, empty-handed fishermen near shore He asks them if they have caught anything knowing full well they didn’t! He advises them to put the net on the other side of the boat where they suddenly pull up 153 fish. Ha! Haha! John figures out it’s the Lord, perhaps because Jesus probably pranked them with amazing things in the three years they spent together. Can you feel your heart trembling when you read this and imagine that moment? 

Tabgha on the Sea of Galilee: a possible location of the Lord making breakfast

Jesus invites them to eat some breakfast with the catch of fish! He feeds Peter so that Peter can begin to heal and go forth in his calling to feed others. He knows what Peter has done and He knows He needs to clear the air and Peter’s heart before Peter can go on. He asks Peter if he loves “these”— the fish and the fishing life— more than Himself. He knows what is in Peter’s heart but Peter has to know and acknowledge what is in His heart so he will be working from love and not guilt. What a gracious Lord we have who forgives our weaknesses and restores our calling because He knows us through and through and knows we do not wish to fail Him. Three times Peter had denied Him and three times Jesus asks him to now affirm his love for Him. It is not done vindictively but with gentle humor and a miracle to boot.

Who cannot love Him, our Lord and Friend?

Maranatha.

Rose-Marie Slosek is on the Board of Directors of Women of the Word. She also serves on the Lead Team for FAI Emmaus Online School. Rose-Marie travels regularly to Northern Ireland and Israel. 

Come and See

January 8, 2024 devotional by Rose-Marie Slosek

He said to them, “Come and see.”  (Matthew 4:39)

The gospel is much about welcome.  In a world that is shutdown, segregated, gated, alienated, and separated, the life of the believer should be one of invitation and welcome. We have been graciously invited to the Lamb’s table, and we should not hoard or hide that invitation.  God has sacrificed much in inviting us, so we cannot be choosy in whom we invite. The Lord has authorized and called us to invite others to His table. It is God who determines if they are acceptable company. 

Jesus does not ask us to accept Him second hand.  He does not sell us a hidden bill of goods. His call to us is to “come and see” for ourselves: to look Him in the eye and decide what we see. Realize that your life is giving off either an open or closed feel. You are either consciously or unconsciously extending a hand to others or shutting the door to others.  You may feel that it is your prerogative, as a Christian, to decide with whom to share the good news, but it is not. Our lives are God’s invitation to others, and because of that we must be open to be able to be “read by all men.” 

Jesus said that “no man puts a light under a bushel.” It is not what a light is for!  If others feel welcome in our life by the way we treat them, then they may also become open to our Lord, who seeks to welcome them through our lives both individual and corporate. I need to ask myself, “Is my life welcoming others to come and see who Jesus is? Do I engage with people, caring about them in ways they can understand, offering to others what I have been freely given, or do I hoard my presence and the message of the good news from others as if I belonged to a secret, elite club? When we meet closed, walled-off people, we recognize how uninviting such an affect is and thus should feel a renewed conviction to be welcoming. Of all people, we are best prepared to be open-hearted and accessible. 

Is the fragrance of Christ coming off my life, or do I smell like a moldy, enclosed room? Am I subtly telling people that I don’t have time for them? Obviously we cannot be close friends with everyone we meet, but we can be open-hearted people who are continually extending an invitation to people to taste of our lives and to meet our wonderful, welcoming Lord. If we are closed off, we do not represent Him fairly or adequately. Our first job is not to tend our own lives, or to use our time and resources as we see fit. We are the bondslaves of Jesus, and we are to be seeking those that are lost and welcoming them.

This openness is something to be deliberately cultivated because it is the way of the King and His Kingdom. 

Maranatha.

Rose-Marie Slosek is on the Board of Directors of Women of the Word. She also serves on the Lead Team for FAI Emmaus Online School. Rose-Marie travels regularly to Northern Ireland and Israel. 

She can be reached at email rmslosek@comcast.net