The Secret Chamber: January 2023

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The Secret Chamber | A Digital Devotional January 2023 Edition

The Secret Chamber, the Department of Church Growth and Development’s daily devotional guide, is herein recognized as an aid to worship; it is also made an official periodical of the Church and listed in The Doctrine and Discipline of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the annual report of the pastor on periodicals.

Scripture taken from Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition, NRSVUE

Bishop Adam J. Richardson, Senior Bishop, African Methodist Episcopal Church Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, Commission Chair
The Reverend Dr. Marcellus A. Norris, Executive Director African Methodist Episcopal Church Department of Church Growth and Development
The Reverend Dr. Susan Hillary Buckson, Copy Editor The Reverend Jarrett Britton Washington, Graphic Editor

Matthew 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

God’s Work through You

Would you dare to believe that God, who called you to God’s self and equipped you with the Spirit, could work mightily through you? Have you made the connection between the time and place in which you live and God’s call upon your life? World events never catch God by surprise; God placed you precisely where you are for a purpose. You are reading this for a purpose. The Bible tells us that “[we] are the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” We are influencers because God has a purpose for our lives.

Daniel knew that to make his life useful to God, he must be obedient in all things. Regardless of what the most powerful king in the world, Nebuchadnezzar, commanded, Daniel refused to compromise what he knew God required of him. (Daniel 1:8) Examples crowd history of Christian men and women who believed that God works through them to make a significant difference for God’s kingdom. God placed Esther strategically in the king’s court at a crucial time when she could save the lives of God’s people. (Esther 4:14) God placed Joseph strategically to become the most influential adviser to the pharaoh in Egypt and to save Jacob and his family from a devastating drought. (Gen. 41:39-40)

One day, Jesus is coming back, and we will all have to stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Those who have been obedient and lived to honor and glorify God will hear God say, “Well done, good and trustworthy servant; enter into the joy of your master.” Are you letting God use you to advance God’s Kingdom?

Prayer: God, reveal your purpose in my life to the honor and glory of your name. Give me the courage to walk in your calling on my life. Amen.

Rev. Dr. Marietta Ramsey

Bethlehem AME Church, Pastor and Founder Baltimore, MD

Monday | January 23, 2023

Luke 1:28

And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.

How Is Not My Business

One of the greatest encounters in scripture is the one between the angel of the Lord and Mary, the young woman who would become the mother of Jesus. In Luke 1, the angel Gabriel interrupts Mary to greet her with a high salutation. Though Mary is stunned at the greeting, Mary listens to the angel. Though she is “much perplexed” by the “how” of the prophetic word, Mary agrees with what the angel speaks into her life. At that moment, Mary’s life changed. How often have you received a word from above, and you, too, wondered about the “how?” How God’s will comes to pass in your life is no surprise to our God. However, God’s word spoken concerning you can throw you off guard. God knows that there are times when you want to believe, yet you need help with unbelief. God is fully aware of the interruption God’s plan will have for your life, and at the same time, God still requires your yes. When you believe God is for you, you can do all things because you trust God. All things become possible once you believe the Word of God concerning your life. Mary gave the angel a yes that resonated in the heavens. Mary received the perfect will for her life with confidence in God’s word. Mary told the angel, “let it be with me according to your word.” Is there a “let it be with me according to your word” in your spirit? Can God trust you with the announcement, the assignment, and the agreement?

Prayer: God, help me to be open to interruptions that place me in your perfect will for my life. Amen.

Rev. Dr. Hope Simms Sutton Cargle Chapel AME Church, Pastor Social Circle, GA

Tuesday | January 24, 2023

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God what is good and acceptable and perfect

Detoxify Your Mind

Your thoughts guide your actions. Whatever you allow to occupy your mind will inevitably give meaning to your actions. Therefore, we must detoxify our minds of earthly junk, corruption, doubt, and confusion. In order to do this, first start by telling yourself positive things. When negative things happen, search for something positive and repeat it to yourself often. The more you look for the positive, the more you find it. Second, set aside time each day to focus on God through prayer, praise, and meditation. No matter how busy you are, you must set aside time for God. Do not focus so much on your job, school, or relationships that you forget about God. In writing to the people of Rome, the apostle Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2 Remember, your mind is a powerful tool. Remove negative words and negative phrases from your mind. Words and phrases such as “I can’t,” “It’s impossible,” “I don’t know if it can be done,” and “I’ll never be able to do that” are crippling. Once you remove the harmful, all that is left is the helpful. What negativity do you need to remove from your thinking?

Prayer: God, help me change my thinking to focus on the positive so that I can hear you more clearly.

Rev. Dr. Sinclair N. Grey, III Fidelity AME Church, Pastor Atlanta, GA

Wednesday | January 25, 2023

Jeremiah 29:11

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

Trust God’s Plan

In March 2018, I found myself in the hospital recovering from a heart attack three months after my 45th birthday. What I did not know then was that the doctors had told my daughter and best friend that I would not make it through the weekend. The chaplain instructed my husband to contact my parents and get my affairs in order. I spent a total of 93 days in the hospital and emerged a bilateral lower limb amputee who was also partially paralyzed from the waist down. Fast forward. In December 2022, I celebrated my 50th birthday. My family threw me a surprise party where I was surrounded by the people I love the most, including the very same ones who were told four years earlier that I would not live to see 46. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “’ For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘Plans to prosper you and not harm you, to give you a future with hope.’” When the doctors shared the news with my family, they could not have known the plans that God had for me. But God already had a plan in place, and it was to give me a future with hope.

So, when you feel like life is not going the way you intended, when you seem to be fighting hell on every side, be encouraged. God has a plan and a promise, and God’s promises are always yes, and amen. Do you trust God’s plan for your future?

Prayer: God, help me trust your plan for my life despite what I can see.

Dr. Chantrise Sims Holliman Educator/Author/Motivational Speaker, Disturb the Universe, LLC

Thursday | January 26, 2023

Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would approach God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him

Unwavering Faith

Have you ever wondered why humans have such a hard time putting their faith in God? We have faith that our employer will pay us for our labor, so we show up faithfully to work every day. We have faith that a doctor can heal us, so we take our prescribed medication and allow the doctor to operate on us. We have faith in a pilot that we do not know anything about, but we board airplanes having faith that the pilot will safely deliver us to our destination. We have faith in so many others, but when it comes to faith in God, many of us are lacking. Yet, we must come to God believing that God exists and that God is exactly who God has revealed God’s self to be in the Scriptures. Does your faith assure you that God will always be a way maker, a burden bearer, a bridge over troubled water, a wheel in the middle of a wheel, and a bright morning star despite the reality of your circumstance?

The scripture today tells us that without faith, it is impossible to please God. Faith does not eliminate problems; however, faith keeps you trusting in God in the midst of your problems. Regardless of the morality of your life, the good works you perform, the words you speak, or the sacrifices you make, if you do not have faith, you will not please God. Do you have an abiding faith in God?

Prayer: God, despite my earthly reality, help me to always have unwavering faith in your sovereign will for my life. Amen.

Friday | January 27, 2023

Jeremiah 5:1b

Search its squares and see if you can find one person who acts justly and seeks truth so that I may pardon Jerusalem.

Just One

We have all witnessed the power of one individual, whether it be for evil or good. In our lifetime, we have seen, unfortunately, how one individual can wreak havoc on the community, on our country, and even in the church, or, thankfully, can bless the community, the country, and the church. Jeremiah, in his struggle to save straying people in Jerusalem, received an important message from God: God would forgive the people’s sins if Jeremiah could “find one person who acts justly and seeks truth.” What a powerful statement; what a powerful opportunity! Among the thousands of people that Jeremiah would have encountered, God only wanted one!

Among all you may feel are qualified to go, it may be you whom God is calling to get the job done. God only needs one just one! Because under the anointing, as a chosen vessel, one person can bring change: change through the preached word; change through a beautiful song; change through non-violent protests; change through written inspiration.

Whatever gift God has given us, if God has called us to use that gift to work on God’s behalf, then it is our responsibility to use it. Remember, with the power of the Holy Spirit behind us, Jesus the Christ with us, and God our Creator leading us, we can make right the wrong that we see. It only takes one. Will you be the one?

Prayer: God, help me to operate boldly in the gifts you have given me so that I might be the change I want to see. Amen.

Rev. Monica C. Jones,

Big Bethel AME Church, Christian Education Director Atlanta, GA

Saturday | January 28, 2023

3 John 1:2

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul.

Prosper and Be in Good Health

This season, we face illnesses, financial disparity, family losses, and racial conflict. This season has altered our lives in ways we could not have imagined, yet, God has shown us how to shift and pivot. God has blessed us to succeed beyond social turmoil and a pandemic. Our ancestors have endured many dangers, seen and unseen socially, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. They endured deadly viruses and deadly force. Yet, just as our ancestors persevered, encouraged, and helped one another throughout history, we can declare that we have also been our brother’s and sister’s keepers through the most recent COVID-19 pandemic. We wrote letters, visited the sick, cooked, and cleaned the homes of loved ones who could not do so for themselves.

In our text, Paul is concerned about his dear friend Gaius. He is concerned about his physical and spiritual well-being. He leans in to encourage him to be whole, prosper, and be in good health. Is it not wonderful to have someone in your corner to help you when it seems you cannot make it? That is what Paul did for Gaius; this is what God calls us to do for each other. When their bodies are in pain, we send a prayer that will heal, deliver, and set our brothers free. When their minds lack clarity, we send a word to our sisters to help them through a tough time. When their hearts are broken, we sit in a space for a child who needs a listening ear. No matter what life throws your way, God will send someone to encourage you in every way possible to succeed, prosper, and be in good health. We are in this together, no matter what. Are you encouraging a brother or sister along the way?

Prayer: God, help me run and not grow weary and comfort those in need during difficult times. Amen.

Rev. Dr. Challis Bradford

Greater Garth AME Church, Pastor Dallas, TX

Sunday | January 29, 2023

{CC Chapman}

Excuses are nothing but self-imposed roadblocks

Self-Imposed Roadblocks

CC Chapman said that “excuses are nothing but self-imposed roadblocks.” I thought about this from making excuses for not exercising, not going back to school, not developing healthier financial habits, not seeking professional counseling, or not going to the doctor. It is true; we make excuses to avoid many of the very things that help us become better physically, emotionally, economically, socially, and spiritually. Then I thought about how we also make excuses for many aspects of our lives when in reality, if we planned our day differently, if we set boundaries, reclaimed the power that we have allowed others to have over our lives, or prioritized ourselves, we would not feel the need to make excuses to ourselves or others (and especially to God).

One of the biggest excuse-makers who changed the trajectory of a nation is Moses. He did not see himself as worthy of the charge God had given him, so he built a roadblock. He did not think he had the voice of the resources. However, for every excuse, God showed Moses a means. For every excuse, God reassured Moses that God had Moses’ back. Even more, for every excuse Moses made, we can now see, through written history, how God was true to God’s word to Moses. Likewise, God does the same for us. Pay attention to the excuses you make today, and then listen and watch how God responds. You will see that though we make an excuse, God does make a way for us to overcome them. What excuses are you making?

Prayer: God, forgive me for making excuses in the midst of your abundant provision and wisdom.

Rev. Dr. Susan H. Buckson Allen Temple AME Church, Pastor Atlanta, GA

Monday | January 30, 2023

Deuteronomy 17:1

“You must not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep that has a defect, anything seriously wrong, for that is abhorrent to the Lord your God.

AWorthy Sacrifice

The Old Testament reveals that God set forth high standards for the sacrifices. A worthy sacrifice had to cost the people something. As their hearts shifted away from God, the people began struggling to give God-worthy offerings. They would bring blind, lame, and sick animals, assuming God could not tell the difference. (Malachi 1:8) God saw what they were doing and declared their offerings to be in vain. (Malachi 1:10) Throughout the Old Testament period, God set the stage for the ultimate, perfect, and sinless sacrifice of His Son for the sins of humanity. The offering we give to God reflects our heart’s condition. A heart that overflows with gratitude for God will respond in a selfless offering. If we are unwilling to sacrifice our time, possessions, money, or energy, we indicate that we do not love God as God desires for us. God takes delight in the person who gives cheerfully out of a loving heart. God takes delight in those who understand that God is the source of everything and who know that God will more than compensate for whatever we sacrifice to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

God’s love for us moved God to sacrifice his only begotten Son. Our response, if we truly understand God’s love for us, is the desire to give back to God that means the most to us. Beloved, if you struggle to give your best offering to God, pause for a moment and reflect on what God sacrificed for you while you were a sinner. If you love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, show your love through your actions and always give God your best offering: Anything less than that is detestable to God.

Prayer: God, help me freely give all of myself to you.

Rev. Dr. Marietta Ramsey

Bethlehem AME Church, Pastor and Founder Baltimore, MD

Tuesday | January 31, 2023
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