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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

There’s Life in Obedience

Psalm 119:41-48; Deuteronomy 26:16-27:7 ; Matthew 19:16-22

We read about God’s unfailing love, in Psalm 119, which is fresh and new each and every day. What the Lord commands is good and true. The laws and commands of God, as well as the scriptures are designed to strengthen our hope in the Lord.

On the edge of the Promised land (Deuteronomy passage) Moses speaks to God’s people to prepare them to enter their new land, a land flowing with milk and honey. They are to observe what God commands and remain faithful once they enter the Promised Land. They are also to remember to build an altar and worship the Lord.

Jesus, in the Matthew passage, reminds the rich young ruler that there is life in following what God commands. Eternal life, however, is a matter of grace. The rich young ruler is used to earning and getting what he wants. If he wished to be perfect, he is asked to sell his possessions, give it all to the poor and then follow Jesus. But he went away sad as he was incredibly wealthy.

God is gracious and full of unfailing love. The Lord does not expect us to be perfect. We are called to remember what God wants, remain faithful, worship the Lord, and seek forgiveness when we fall short. In our journey of faith we will discover that there is life in following the way of the Lord, which we see most clearly in Jesus.

Prayer: Lord God, we are grateful for your love and your commands which you give us. Help us to understand that your way of life is what is best. We make this prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen.

It’s Just How It IS…

Today’s Readings:  click here  –  Psalm 119:41-48; Exodus 34:29-35; James 2:14-26 (to open the scripture links – hover over, right click, open hyperlink)

Like many Psalms, they are reminders of God’s love, grace, mercy, salvation, and strength in keeping the ways of the Lord at hand, that leads to a life that glorifies Him and brings us peace.  As I read today’s verses,  it brings to mind, the many times I have felt tongue tied when I give power to those who seek to taunt, harm or distract me, causing me to stumble and spew words that make no sense or I later regret.   What I have learned to do, is pray for God’s protection in those situations. Praying for His strength and  words to encompass and prepare me to step aside and allow Him to take the wheel and see me through with honorable responses to unwarranted attacks and conditions. It’s just how it is.

Living a life of faith regards the laws and yet being free.  (2 Corinthians 3:7-18 ).  God’s laws do not inhibit or restrain us, which is sometimes what people fear when shifting toward a life of faith, when really they free us to be what God designed us to be. It is a choice we make, an oath to live according to God’s plan and laws to the best of our ability.  Seeking God’s  mercy, grace, salvation and forgiveness, harnessed with the freedom from sin and the repulsive and oppressive guilt that sin weighs on us. By living according to God’s laws and direction, we have freedom to fulfill His plan for our lives. It’s just how it is.

We should not be  ashamed of our life as Christians and how we live according to God’s will and ways. Together as Christians, we are accountable to each other to live a life of example that exhibits God’s light through us. We are called to be valiant warriors who speak Gospel truth to those who otherwise are blind to it, that they would see something good in us, and soon they too would seek and acquire that same light of peace, calmness and understanding that only comes from a deep and personal relationship with Jesus, who is the truth and the way to God our Father, in heaven.  It’s just how it is.

When we live a life of faith according to God’s written word in the scriptures, we seek His forgiveness when we mess up, AND WE WILL, sometimes more often than not.  But, thank goodness that  His unconditional and unending love covers us, making it so we can get back up and start again. (2 Corinthians 4:7-18 ).   His mercies are new each day!  (Lamentations 3:22-23).  When we are living a life of faith, trusting in Jesus, making time to be alone with God in prayer, reading the bible, and meditating, we too bear resemblance to the same holy radiant glow that Moses revealed when he came down Mt. Sanai with the 2 stone tablets after being in the presence of God.  We need to seize our strong and wholesome faith and raise it to a soaring standard of confidence that we too glow with God’s awesome power within us. When we look around with eyes wide open, we do see God in the big and little things of life. That alone bears the mark of God’s glow upon us, having such an effect on our life and who we are in Christ Jesus, that people will know we have been with God. It’s just how it is.

This amazing walk with our Lord Jesus instructs us that not only do we need to be faithful, prayerful, filled with God’s word, and to be still to hear and feel Him move within us, but we are called to good works and deeds, just the same.  It’s like talking the talk but NOT walking the walk.  What good is it if you’re just talking and not doing?  True faith transforms our conduct as well as our thoughts. If our life remains unchanged, then the faith we claim is in vain.  As faithful believers, we are called to a higher standard to work God’s field, caring for and feeding His people (John 21:15-19) with the good news of the Gospel, and setting examples of a life that is rich in relationship with Jesus, and glorifying God.  The way I see it, is this:  I am prayerful to be still to hear God’s instruction to fill my days with things that are holy and pleasing to God according to His will and plans for me.    I try to find the good and glory in everything, thus bringing me closer in relationship with Jesus, and my heart is full, and glowing!

True faith warrants a choice to cultivate a concrete  commitment of our whole self to God, with certainty and obedience. In turn, this results in a changed life, good and loving deeds, confirms our devoted life to God is genuine and validates our rooted faith in Christ Jesus.   It is not these good deeds that bring forth our salvation, but our true and contrite heart eager to love and serve our Lord.  When we are full and overflowing with love for our Lord, it becomes impossible to not act on good deeds and service. It’s just how it is.

Here are a few songs that relate to todays post for your spiritual listening and development!

 ‘Freedom Reigns’ by Jason Upton

‘Let Our Faith Be Not Alone’ by Robbie Seay Band

 ‘Live Like That’ by Sidewalk Prophets

‘I Have Decided’ by 7eventh Time Down

‘Do Something’ by Matthew West

Prayer:  Lord, thank you for always having my back, protecting and preparing me for situations and conditions I cannot handle alone. Let my thoughts, words and actions be driven by your will, not mine.  for you are my living God who reigns within me. I am confident and faithful all my days and I praise your name, Jesus.  Here me now, this prayer I raise. Amen.

Kris

We Need God Every Day

Psalm 90:13-17; Deuteronomy 32:1-14,18; Titus 2:7-8, 11-15

There is one main underlying theme in all of these verses. We can’t do this alone. We can’t try to fly solo in life and trust in our own feelings or beliefs to get us through. Every time throughout Biblical history that the people of Israel fell away from God and tried to do things on their own ended up in some sticky situations and went crawling back to God for help. Had they just stuck with God all along, they may not have ever gotten into those sticky situations. In Psalm 90, the writer is crying out to God to always be there and to guide him. In Deuteronomy, Moses tells us that people turned from God despite all that he had done for them. He reminds the Israelites about how God has been faithful and true to them, and calls his people to remain true to God. And in Titus, the writer, Paul, reminds us that God’s grace came to us in the form of Jesus, who provides salvation for all who believe. 

Today and always, remember who you truly need to rely on each and every day. It is so easy to get caught up in the trap that you (we) can accomplish so much because of our own talents or, dare I say, greatness. But our talents alone will only get us so far. We NEED God on our side. So, in conclusion, trust in the Lord. 

Blessed Are The Pure

Psalm 90

Deuteronomy 31:14-21

Titus 1: 5-16

Psalm 90 O Jehovah you are the eternal one, as the evolutionists declare the cosmos to be eternal, we who trust in You, Jehovah, understand that You are the eternal one. A day to You, is like a thousand years to mankind. Our life on earth is like the grass of the fields, it grows so quickly then withers and dies. Our twisted ways and secrets sins are ever seen by You. Though we live a mere 70 years and pride ourselves for a long life, You can teach us, O LORD, to value wisdom while here on earth, with a view to eternity. Be our satisfaction, and source of strength while we live in this evil and corrupted world, and may you find pleasure in what we do.

Deuteronomy 31:14-21 Moses is about to die and Joshua, chosen by Jehovah, is about to be commissioned to take Israel into the promised land. Jehovah tells Moses to write a psalm for Israel to remember, Chapter 32, to sustain them in their coming days of rebellion. They are about to enter the promised land, the land of Canaan, that Jehovah is giving them. Yet He knows their hearts. They will turn from Jehovah as soon as they are comfortable and fat. Such is the nature of the flesh. Uncertain and troubled times, or promises of gain are the only thing that holds Israel close to God. Like a child that is extra good just days before a birthday or Christmas, as soon as the gifts come, then bad behavior resumes. Perhaps the Song of Moses will come to mind in times of selfishness and rebellion, if nothing else it’s another record of the works of God.

Titus 1: 5-16 Paul has left Titus on the Island of Crete to teach the new believers, and appoint elders in the new church. They are to be men whose lives are above reproach. No one is to be able to find hidden sins in them, like a selfish nature, or quick temper, or addicted to wine, or money hungry, or looking for trouble, or immoral. Rather they should be known for their hospitality, common sense, love of justice, devotion to Christ, self control, knowledge of the Scriptures, from which they can teach sound truths. To the pure in heart all things are pure, things like money, relations with people, and even wine. To the shallow and unrepentant these same things are desired by them for their own consumption, for ill use, and twisted purposes.

To the alcoholic, the reward for getting through another day is a drink after work. To the salesman, every person he comes into contact with is a possible sale, by any means, nothing more. To the immoral, every person is another opportunity to lust after, or a possible conquest. To the covetous, every purchase is momentary, the need for more is never satisfied. These are all problems of the heart, they can be healed and those yearnings satisfied in Christ. But it’s spiritual, not the will of the flesh. As believers we have all the wealth of Jehovah, all of His strength, all the power, all the love, all the protection, all sufficiency, spiritual gifts, justification, reconciliation, forgiveness, provision, and redemption through His Grace. Grace is an enabling attribute of God that is the means by which He shows us His love. Love endures, Grace enables. It’s free to all who believe, who by faith take the gift.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they have received the Grace of God, and and are becoming complete in Him, not by the will of the flesh, but by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.

Karl

At Kadesh Barnea

Numbers 13-14

Review & Remarks: The LORD instructs Moses to spy the land of Canaan, one from each of the 12 tribes (vv. 13:1-16) … They are to report on its terrain, its cities, its land and its peoples (vv. 13:17-20) … They did said spying for 40 days bringing back grapes, pomegranates, and figs as examples of the lands bounty (vv. 13:21-25) … The land is summarized as good, but those living on it – the Amalekites, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, and Canaanites as strong, their cities are big and well defended (vv. 13:26-29) … Caleb advises Moses to attack Canaan immediately and have faith that whatever obstacles they encounter, they will overcome (v. 13:30) … Other spies cite difficulties too great for them to overcome – their strength, their size, even “Amak giants” (vv. 13:31-33) … Upon their hearing the children of Israel express their fears to Moses and Aaron, wanting to retreat to comfort and safety of Egypt (vv. 14:1-5) … Spies Joshua & Caleb express their optimism regarding Canaan, citing the goodness of its land. Its peoples and their resources can be overcome with the LORD’s backing (vv. 14:6-9) … For their sayings, the rest of Israel begin stoning them. Coincidentally, a theophany of the LORD appears to all of them (v. 14:10) … YHWH expresses anger towards 10 instances of Israel’s lack of faith. Their punishment for these is those over 20 years old will die in the wilderness with the exception of Caleb and Joshua (vv. 14:11-30) … Their wandering is a 40 year death sentence, one year for each day spied in Canaan (vv. 14:31-38) … Moses reports, Israel morns and all are attacked driven back to Horeb by the Amalekites and Canaanites (vv. 14:39-45) … Doing nothing in a situation, or even retreating from it, still entails an element of risk, even of loss of life … A timely example is this with COVID-19 upon us … God’s plan was for Israel to suffer some casualties in its conquest of Canaan … With Israel’s cowardly rejection of God’s plan, they all perished, except Caleb an Joshua, walking in circles, accomplishing nothing outside of Canaan … Moderns don’t like to admit it but human progress, the way we currently live, is mostly the result of the sacrifices of previous generations … So that their children and their children might live better … In these sacrifices, YHWH approves.

God’s Support

Psalm 63:1-8; Numbers 12:1-9; Revelation 18:21-24

In all three passages we find God supporting and preserving his people. David (Psalm 63:1-8) is in the wilderness on the run from Absalom’s rebellion and attempt to take over and usurp David. David longs for God’s security and presence in a time of exceedingly, awful trouble; his life is on the line. The words of the Psalm remind us that God listens to our prayers and that we can share anything with the Lord. Indeed, God’s “love is better than life.” In Jesus we see and experience the fullness of God’s extraordinary love as Christ-Followers. David knew God’s gracious love in his life and was spared from the onslaught of rebellion and returned home to rule his people once more.

Moses (see Numbers 11) has all of the people complaining and angry with their situation in the wilderness and they actually begin to long for Egypt. Here in Numbers 12 his closest companions question and challenge his leadership at a pivotal time in the wilderness journey of Israel. The good news is that we see God being very clear to Aaron and Miriam about the quality and importance of Moses leadership. Moses is wholeheartedly supported by the Lord.

In Revelation 18 we read of God’s vindicating justice for his people. Babylon, is the pseudonym for Rome, in the book of Revelation. Rome (vs. 24) has remained a special and powerful antagonist of God’s people. In Rome, a number of Caesars murdered Church leaders and slaughtered Christians. There were Caesars who proclaimed themselves as the saviors of all the world. Here we find that God will punish such insolence, self-worship, and brutality of those who seek to be worshipped and who destroy his people. In the end, all of Babylons, all of the Romes, all of the nations, who defy God will be judged and destroyed. In vs. 22-23 we find a list of all of the pleasant and prosperous activities of Rome that will be found no more. One day God will say, No More to all that is evil and it will be no more.

But God’s people, the followers of Jesus will enter the eternal Kingdom of love, light, and live, which the Lord has prepared for all who love him. With Christians of every time we too pray, “Come, Lord Jesus, come!”

Prayer– Lord God, eternal ruler and Lord of All, help us to know your strong and loving presence today. Shine your light upon us, send your special grace to strengthen and preserve this day through your Holy Spirit. We make this prayer in Jesus’ name, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, our Redeemer and Savior, Amen.

Stronger Than Babylon!

Today’s Readings:  click here  –  Psalm 63:1-8; Exodus 40:34-38; Revelation 18:1-10, 19-20 (to open the scripture links – hover over, right click, open hyperlink)

Our Psalm today, much like Psalm 61 & 62, encompasses David’s quiet confidence and intense loneliness, seeking refuge from his enemies in the barren wilderness of Judah, during Absalom’s rebellion (2 Samuel 15-18). Wandering alone and longing for a friend he could trust and share his despair and fears with, he remained close to God, crying out how his soul yearned for Him, in such a dark and weary land.  This reminds us that when we too are experiencing loneliness and isolation in times of trouble, fear and doubt, our soul will ache for God’s comfort, strength and peace, so CRY OUT!  Like David, Let your heart recall all the ways God has been by your side, his faithfulness being your source of strength and power, blessing your exposed pain and sorrow, covering you with his mighty love and healing to take root to face each new day, again and again.

Our Exodus passage is the last chapter of the book of Exodus that began with gloom but finishes in glory, paralleling our progress through Christian life. We begin as slaves to sin, redeemed by God and end our pilgrimage through our salvation through Christ Jesus and eternal life with Him.   God’s presence day and night in the cloud that hovered over the tabernacle was the Israelites assurance of His promises, provisions and faithfulness.  We too can look to the beauty and splendor of the earth as our guide in life to embrace the same promises, provisions and faithfulness of God through His Son Jesus, who is our gateway and with us always!  With eyes wide open and hearts faithful to love and serve,  the bounty of God enriches us with His Glory everyday.

In our reading today in Revelation, it illustrates the complete destruction of Babylon and Babylon as a metaphorical name for the evil power in the world and all it represents, even today.  Our world continues to be infectious of the same sinful temptations of self-righteousness and evil as Babylon, spreading like wildfire through families, church communities, governments and nations.  We are warned to avoid Babylon’s sins, to not become complacent and deluded by the myth of our own independence , ignorance and pride. This is dishonoring to God. His judgement and wrath against it is harsh.

This chapter reminds us of forceful evil dangers lurking around every bend, tempting and enticing us for an easier, fuller, and richer life, that we soon become caught up in the material things of this world and take advantage of deceitful opportunities and others for selfish-gain while losing sight of God’s favor, protection and promises. We find ourselves no longer living according to our Christian values; service, giving, self-sacrifice, obedience and truth.  We become complacent in a luxury lifestyle at whatever cost, feeling invulnerable, in control, secure with no sense of needing God or anyone else.  We lose our way. We can’t seem to break free from Satan’s grip.  We, the righteous are most sought after by Satan so our battle is vicious.  His main goal is that we would turn our face from God and follow his sinful ways until we no longer can recognize ourselves. 

We must always be on our guard from these powers of evil destruction; through prayer, God’s word and church community. As I like to say ‘stop, drop and pray’ at any sign of temptation, wavering faith, conflict, questionable instinct, weakness or uncertainty. 

God always brings us right back to the basics, here’s a few spotlights:

Never compromise God’s Word or His Will – Do what is right no matter what the cost.

Consider the means of making money – If it feels wrong, it probably is – go with your gut;

Look to things that work for the good of others and build God’s kingdom not the world’s desires.

Love God, love others and yourself before material things – Our faith, character, and relationships are more important than any amount of money, power or pleasure.

Don’t let pride displace your plans and success – Give God all the glory, always!

Here are a few songs that relate to todays post for your spiritual listening and development!

‘Give Me Jesus’ by Jeremy Camp

 ‘The Basics of Life’ by 4Him   

‘Love God, Love People’ by Danny Gokey

‘Stronger’  by HIllsong Worship  

Prayer:  Lord, your love consumes me, your word strengthens me, your spirit flows through my veins, yet I live in the flesh with temptations and evil all around me. Every day is a challenge to remain strong in faith and character. Help me to keep my heart and mind on You Jesus, for you are The Way, The Truth and The Life. Let nothing  turn my face from you. I pray this in your mighty name, Jesus. Amen

Kris

We Are The Very Children of God

John 1: 12-13 “But as many as received Him to them gave He the power to become the sons of God, even to those that believe on His name, 13. who were born not of the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God.” In addition to these words it is written in John 3, while Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus, the pharisee, vs.3 “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” … vs. 6. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born the Spirit is spirit.”

This is what we understand to be the introduction into the ‘New Covenant,’ which is all things spiritual in our relationship to God , in contrast with the Law which is all things flesh in our relationship to God. To be born of the Spirit is to have the seed of God in you, which produces not fleshy things, but after its own kind, Spiritual things. This seed then like all seeds planted, has to be fed, watered, and cared for in order to mature and produce its fruit.

Colossians 1.25-29 Paul writes to the church at Colossae, ” Of this church, His body, I was made a minister, according to the stewardship from God bestowed upon me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, (Which is much more than just evangelism, but starts there) 26. which is, this this mystery which has been hidden from past ages and generations, but has manifested to His saints, 27. to whom Jehovah willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you the Hope of Glory. 28. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man, and teaching every man, with all wisdom, so that we may present Him mature, complete in Christ. 29. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power which mightily works within me.”

When we accept the truth of God’s salvation for us, which entails confession of sins, repentance of sins, understanding Jesus is LORD, and committing to follow Jesus, we are born again, and have the seed of Jehovah in us. This seed wants to grow and reproduce spiritual results, but like the parable Jesus taught on the Sower, Mark 4:3- 8, some seed fell on rocky ground and some fell among the thorns where the cares of this world choked it and rendered it unproductive. Therefore it is up to us, the believer, who has the very seed of God in us to protect, water, and nurture the seed into maturity, so that it can reproduce. This process of maturing the seed is what Paul was obsessed with, what he labored for. It’s only natural for this to be our desire also, and is accomplished only through diligent study of the Word of God, prayer, and listening to good teachers of the Scripture who have the same desire as Paul.

2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to show yourself approved, be diligent to present yourself approved to Jehovah as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the Scriptures.” (It’s spiritual, not of human origin or desire}

1 Thessalonians 4.9 ” Now as to the love of the brethren, we have no need for anyone to write to you, for you are taught by Jehovah to love one another.” ( It’s a God inspired teaching, man cannot do it)

John 14: 12 “Truly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the work that I do , he will do also, and greater works than these he will do, because I go to the Father. 13. Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, so that the Father will be glorified in the Son. 14. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. 15. If you love me, you will keep My commandments.”

2 Peter 1:5 “…In your faith supply, ( in context here the implication is, it has to be up to us alone to add to our faith) moral excellence, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love.”

All these scriptures represent a goal for us to attain to. It is up to us to desire them. It’s spiritual, and God wants us to get there, to be complete.

Karl

Flesh versus Spirit

Psalms 97

2 Kings 17:7-20

John 6:25-35

2 Kings 17:7-20 Why did Israel fall away from Jehovah? They had brought with them from Egypt idols of the gods of Egypt. Though they were warned to not bring them, they brought them, they never stopped worshipping these false idols, they never fully embraced the Living God, Jehovah, even though they saw His mighty hand and saving acts throughout their many years out slavery. They loved their sinful ways and traditions of the past too much to fully give them up. These idols were kept in secret just in case they wanted to return to them, and they did from time to time, even to the point of child sacrifice. This is why Jehovah rejected them occasionally, yet always He had a remnant that followed Him.

Palms 97 Jehovah is in complete control as He reigns over the universe. You should have seen the creation, an absolute wonder to behold. Even now, fire goes before Him, as on Mt. Sanai when He descended to give Israel His commandments. That mountain melted like wax before Him. Anyone who worships false idols, or vain philosophies that are the imagination of man should be ashamed. The purity of light is for those who worship Jehovah, those who are pure and righteous. Worship, praise and thanks belong to Jehovah.

John6: 25-35 After the feeding of the five thousand with Barley loaves and fish, Jesus walks across the water to the other side. Those who followed the disciples in boats wondered how He got there. Jesus, who sometimes ponders the blindness of the people who couldn’t even see the spiritual reality of the miracle He had just shown them yesterday, says “you just want more bread, you followed Me because I fed you, try to understand the spiritual side of these signs. Seek eternity through me, desire Spiritual food. The followers then said, “Well, show us a sign, our fathers ate Manna from heaven.” Jesus responded, “Moses gave you bread, manna, but it is God who gives you the true bread from heaven.” They said, “give us then this bread, always.” Jesus said “I am the bread of life, he who comes to me will not hunger, and he who believes in me will not thirst.” (Reminiscent of Isaiah 55.1)

Mankind tends to see only the physical side of life, while there are spiritual activities going on around us all the time. Israel never let go of their past habits and objects of worship from Egypt, even to their own destruction. It was so ingrained in their psyche that only the physical world existed, in spite of the obvious existence of Jehovah. Their world existed in the physical realm of sun, moon, earth, weather, and gods that governed them through superstitions and sacrifices. Looking around at the vastness and complexity of creation, it alone tells of intelligent design, and a creator. Then there is the testimony of eyewitnesses of the Spiritual workings of Jehovah to bring about this great salvation, and yet so many that were in the presence of so great a display of abject power over the powers of the physical realm. It’s a surety that the spirit world coincides with the physical.

No man comes to the Father without the Holy Spirit’s intervention, revealing the truth of the existence of the spirit world, and the need for so great a salvation as presented to us through Jesus Christ. John 16:8 tells the work of the Holy Spirit in revealing sin, righteousness, and judgement.

Paul writes extensively to the gentile church explaining the new covenant through Jesus Christ which moves obedience to Jehovah from the flesh, to a spiritual response, where we are born again spiritually, and understand spiritually, and worship in spirit. Galatians 3.3 Paul asks the Galation church, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected in the flesh?”

Never forget that we worship Jehovah in Spirit and in truth. It’s from the heart, and from the soul. We don’t always completely understand all things spiritual, and that is alright, but we are, each one of us who believes, being changed, bit by bit, into the image of Jesus.

Karl

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