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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

February 2015

You Are Part of God’s Family

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Q33. Why is He called God’s “only begotten Son” when we also are God’s children?

  1. Because Christ alone is the eternal, natural Son of God.1 We, however, are adopted children of God—adopted by grace through Christ.                                                                                         1 John 1:1-3, 14, 18; Heb. 1.     2 John 1:12; Rom. 8:14-17; Eph. 1:5, 6.

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Q34. Why do you call Him “our Lord”?

  1. Because— not with gold or silver, but with His precious blood—1 He has set us free from sin and from the tyranny of the devil,2 and has bought us, body and soul, to be His very own.3                                                                                                                                                                                        1 1 Pet. 1:18, 19.  2 Col. 1:13, 14; Heb. 2:14, 15.   3 1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Tim. 2:5, 6.

Jesus is the “only begotten Son” (John 3:16) in that he is unique, one of a kind, the one and only Son of God.  Yet through Jesus, we become part of the family of God.  Through the grace of Jesus we are forgiven and made a part of the community of those who follow him.  We are not meant to be alone but to be connected to each other in Christ.  We are God’s children with one Lord, the Lord Jesus who loved us enough to die for us.  He lives that we might live in him and share in his grace, love, and hope each day.

Give thanks today that you are loved by God and connected to the community of all those who love the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of all the world.  How might you share God’s love this day with all you meet?  What form would such love take depending upon who you meet this day?

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February 16

As Christians we find ourselves following on the footsteps of Christ. We desire to be like Christ in the way he served, loved and reached out to the World, but also in the way he related to the Heavenly father. In Christ we discover we are a new creation, and we are called to live that call everyday.

Make Christ the center of your life and let that nickname Christian be indeed something so dynamic that will change the world around you.

Blessings,

Bo M

Q31. Why is He called “Christ” meaning “anointed”?

A. Because He has been ordained by God the Father and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit1  to be our chief prophet and teacher2  who perfectly reveals to us the secret counsel and will of God for our deliverance;3 our only high priest4  who has set us free by the one sacrifice of his body,5  and who continually pleads our cause with the Father;6  and our eternal king7  who governs us by His Word and Spirit and who guards us and keeps us in the freedom He has won for us.8

1 Luke 3:21, 22; 4:14-19 (Isa. 61:1); Heb. 1:9 (Ps. 45:7).

2 Acts 3:22 (Deut. 18:15).

3 John 1:18; 15:15.

4 Heb. 7:17 (Ps. 110:4).

5 Heb. 9:12; 10:11-14.

6 Rom. 8:34; Heb. 9:24.

7 Matt. 21:5 (Zech. 9:9).

8 Matt. 28:18-20; John 10:28; Rev. 12:10, 11.

Q32. But why are you called a Christian?

A. Because by faith I am a member of Christ1 and so I share in His anointing.2  I am anointed to confess His name.3   to present myself to Him as a living sacrifice of thanks,4 to strive with a good conscience against sin and the devil in this life,5 and afterward to reign with Christ over all creation for all eternity.6

1 1 Cor. 12:12-27.

2 Acts 2:17 (Joel 2:28); 1 John 2:27.

3 Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10:9, 10; Heb. 13:15.

4 Rom. 12:1; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9.

5 Gal. 5:16, 17; Eph. 6:11; 1 Tim. 1:18, 19.

6 Matt. 25:34; 2 Tim. 2:12.

Jesus…Savior

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Q29. Why is the Son of God called “Jesus” meaning “savior”?

A.  Because He saves us from our sins.1 Salvation cannot be found in anyone else; it is futile to look for any salvation elsewhere.2  

1 Matt. 1:21; Heb. 7:25.

2 Isa. 43:11; John 15:5; Acts 4:11, 12; 1 Tim. 2:5.

Q30. Do those who look for their salvation and security in saints, in themselves, or elsewhere really believe in the only savior Jesus?

A.  No. Although they boast of being His, by their deeds they deny the only savior and deliverer, Jesus.1 Either Jesus is not a perfect savior, or those who in true faith accept this savior have in Him all they need for their salvation.2

1 1 Cor. 1:12, 13; Gal. 5:4.

2 Col. 1:19, 20; 2:10; 1 John 1:7.

Jesus…Savior…there are 4 passages in Scripture that, for me, speak to today’s HC questions – Colossians 1:15-20 (hyperlinked above) and Philippians 2:1-11.  Jesus…the name told to Joseph by the angel Gabriel (Matt 1:18-25).  Jesus…the name told to Mary by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:26-38).

Today, in our post-modern culture, these words from the HC are truly counter-cultural.  I have thought many times about how so many people – the writers of the HC, the Scots Confession, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Confession of ’67, etc. – all Presbyterian Confessions of Faith written over the past 500+ years and all rooted in the Bible just like you see in the HC…how all of these individuals and the times in which they lived could fully embrace Jesus as Savior – that through him and only him, Jesus, could salvation from human sin occur…and why it is so very hard, for some even impossible, to believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation.

“She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 

God’s Providence…

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Think about some of the most difficult situations you have faced in your life…no, I’m not talking about whether the Bears or the Packers win…really difficult situations…

I remember driving from Syracuse to Oswego, NY in January 2008…snow was predicted and I called ahead to figure out when to actually fly in. Well, long story short, I ended up making the drive in a 38″ blizzard – the folks out there call them “snow bands” off the lake. About 20 minutes into what should be a 45 min drive, I had to stop in some local town along the way because the windshield wipers on the Ford Taurus rental were pathetic in dealing with the snow.  I should have stopped but I pushed on…it was at the point where I remember driving past a NY snow plow overturned in the median that I thought I was in trouble.  Pray you say?  Indeed.  4-1/2 hours later I arrived in one piece.  Did I get there on my expert driving skills?  Ha Ha – In part maybe.  But I believe that God provided for me that day…maybe if I hadn’t stopped for those new wipers, I could have been that overturned car in the median…I passed many.  Does everything turn out for good as we like to define it?  No, but I do believe that in all things, “God works all things together for good” (Rom 8:28, CEB) and so, as Q28 concludes, “We can be patient when things go against us, thankful when things go well, and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from His love.”  What great comfort we find in these words from the HC!

Q27. What do you understand by the providence of God?

A.  Providence is the almighty and ever present power of God1 by which He upholds, as with His hand, heaven and earth and all creatures,2 and so rules them that leaf and blade, rain and drought, fruitful and lean years, food and drink, health and sickness, prosperity and poverty—3 all things, in fact, come to us not by chance4 but from His fatherly hand.5

1 Jer. 23:23, 24; Acts 17:24-28.

2 Heb. 1:3.

3 Jer. 5:24; Acts 14:15-17; John 9:3; Prov. 22:2.

4 Prov. 16:33.

5 Matt. 10:29.

Q28. How does the knowledge of God’s creation and providence help us?

A.  We can be patient when things go against us,1 thankful when things go well,2 and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from His love.3 All creatures are so completely in His hand that without His will they can neither move nor be moved.4

1 Job 1:21; James 1:3.

2 Deut. 8:10; 1 Thes. 5:18.

3 Ps. 55:22; Rom. 5:3-5; 8:38, 39.

4 Job 1:12; 2:6; Prov. 21:1; Acts 17:24-28.

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This Never Changes.

Our questions and answer this morning deal with creation.  I’m not even going to pretend to get all sciencey on everyone but I do know that what we believe about the world we live in changes.  We’ve had different conceptions about what the earth looked like through the years and how we originated.  Compounding this point is a (very sciencey) article I read yesterday that suggested that the universe may not have originated in the big bang, rather may have always existed (It wasn’t an argument for intelligent design).  So at the end of the day, what do we know?  We know this:

Q26. What do you believe when you say: “I believe in God the Father, almighty,

maker of heaven and earth”?

  1. That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth and everything in them,1 who still upholds and rules them by His eternal counsel and providence,2 is my God and Father because of Christ His Son.3 I trust Him so much that I do not doubt He will provide whatever I need for body and soul,4 and He will turn to my good whatever adversity He sends me in this sad world.5 He is able to do this because He is almighty God;6 He desires to do this because He is a faithful Father.7

1 Gen. 1 & 2; Ex. 20:11; Ps. 33:6; Isa. 44:24; Acts 4:24; 14:15.

2 Ps. 104; Matt. 6:30; 10:29; Eph. 1:11

3 John 1:12, 13; Rom. 8:15, 16; Gal. 4:4-7; Eph. 1:5.

4 Ps. 55:22; Matt. 6:25, 26; Luke 12:22-31.

5 Rom. 8:28.

6 Gen. 18:14; Rom. 8:31-39.

7 Matt. 7:9-11.

One God, Three Persons

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The Trinity-

Q24. How are these articles divided?

  1. Into three parts:
  2. God the Father and our creation;
  3. God the Son and our deliverance;
  4. God the Holy Spirit and our sanctification.

Q25. Since there is but one God,1 why do you speak of three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

  1. Because that is how God has revealed Himself in his Word:2 these three distinct persons are one, true, eternal God.

1 Deut. 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:4,6.   2 Matt. 3:16, 17; 28:18, 19; Luke 4:18 (Isa. 61:1); John 14:26;      15:26; 2 Cor. 13:14; Gal. 4:6; Tit. 3:5, 6.

We worship the One God who reveals himself in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  As Christ-Followers; as the Church, studied the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments they realized that in scripture we meet God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Yet we have one God.  Here we see that God is bigger, larger, more mysterious and majestic than we can fully describe or completely comprehend.

The God who created all the world, universe, and galaxies decided to come to us in person, in the Lord Jesus Christ, and to live within us through the Holy Spirit to reach us and rescue us through his extraordinary grace!  How great, wonderful, and amazing is that!

Today, I encourage you to rest in the wisdom, grace, greatness, love, wonder, and presence of the Lord God.

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Faith and Christianity in a nutshell

Q20. Are all men saved through Christ just as all were lost through Adam?

A. No.  Only those are saved who by true faith are grafted into Christ and accept all His blessings.1

1 Matt. 7:14; John 3:16, 18, 36; Rom. 11:16-21.

Q21. What is true faith?

A. True faith is not only a knowledge and conviction that everything God reveals in His Word is true;1 it is also a deep-rooted assurance,2 created in me by the Holy Spirit3 through the gospel4 that, out of sheer grace earned for us by Christ,5 not only others, but I too,6 have had my sins forgiven, have been made forever right with God, and have been granted salvation.7

1 John 17:3, 17; Heb. 11:1-3; James 2:19.

2 Rom. 4:18-21; 5:1; 10:10; Heb. 4:14-16.

3 Matt. 16:15-17; John 3:5; Acts 16:14.

4 Rom. 1:16; 10:17; 1 Cor. 1:21.

5 Rom. 3:21-26; Gal. 2:16; Eph. 2:8-10.

6 Gal. 2:20.

7 Rom. 1:17; Heb. 10:10.

Q22. What then must a Christian believe?

A. Everything God promises us in the gospel.1   That gospel is summarized for us in the articles of our Christian faith— a creed beyond doubt, and confessed through the world.

1 Matt. 28:18-20; John 20:30, 31.

Q23. What are these articles?

A. I believe in God the Father, almighty, maker of heaven and earth.  And in Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Spirit; I believe a holy catholic church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting.

I have heard it time and time again through out my seminary experience: Today’s culture is at a loss when it comes to understanding, defining and articulating the precepts of Christianity. Now we can spend hours arguing why this is happening, but for once I will give you my own take on it: As churches try to be more and more in touch with their audience, there is a gap that seems to be growing between the doctrinal teaching and the message of the church. Younger people have a harder time defining faith, their parents struggle articulating and explaining why they believe.

One of the things that we might need to do as a catholic church (universal, big, contemporary church) is for us to actually know what we believe and why we believe it. Simple concept, right? So here it is! today we just read the very essence of what Christianity is known for. This is what makes us, what gives meaning to our lives and ministry. Because of this faith conviction that God is at work we go and live our lives in our communities, we go and do good in the name of God, because of that we gather faithfully on Sunday morning and every chance we get with the people that find God to be their shelter too.

It is because of that faith that we pray that we will know God, the mystery of faith and His resurrection.

Be blessed,

Bo M.

Truth in the Word of God…

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Q16. Why must He be truly human and truly righteous? 

A. God’s justice demands it: man has sinned, man must pay for his sin,but a sinner cannot pay for others.

1 Rom. 5:12, 15; 1 Cor. 15:21; Heb. 2:14-16.

2 Heb. 7:26, 27; 1 Pet. 3:18.

Q17. Why must He also be true God? 

A. So that, by the power of His divinity, He might bear the weight of God’s anger in his humanity and earn for us and restore to us righteousness and life.

1 Isa. 53; John 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:21.

Q18. And who is this mediator— true God and at the same time truly human and truly righteous? 

A. Our Lord Jesus Christ,who was given us to set us completely free and to make us right with God.

1 Matt. 1:21-23; Luke 2:11; 1 Tim. 2:5.

2 1 Cor. 1:30.

Q19. How do you come to know this? 

A. The holy gospel tells me. God Himself began to reveal the gospel already in Paradise;later, He proclaimed it by the holy patriarchs2 and prophets,and portrayed it by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law;finally, He fulfilled it through His own dear Son.

1 Gen. 3:15.

2 Gen. 22:18; 49:10.

3 Isa. 53; Jer. 23:5, 6; Mic. 7:18-20; Acts 10:43; Heb. 1:1, 2.

4 Lev. 1-7; John 5:46; Heb. 10:1-10.

5 Rom. 10:4; Gal. 4:4, 5; Col. 2:17.

Today, we see a unifying heart to the truth of the Christian faith.  In Jesus, we see the single reason why Christianity is different from all other religions and/or faith beliefs. “In other words, God was reconciling the world to himself through Christ, by not counting people’s sins against them. He has trusted us with this message of reconciliation.” (2 Cor 5:19)  God chose at a very specific time to enter into humanity…to choose to make a difference…for humanity…for you and I.

How do you know this?  How can you believe it to be true?  Well….I have to tell you that this is the common message in the Bible – from Genesis to Revelation, the promise of a deliverer…a mediator…Jesus the Christ, is made known to you and I.  Scripture tells us that God proclaimed it through the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, etc), the prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah,etc)…depicted in the sacrifices and ceremonies of the law…fulfilled in the one truly human and truly devine, Jesus.

Seek, today, the truth that has been in existence for thousands of years…”the holy gospel”.  Romans 1 provides, for me a wonderful summation of today’s HC questions, “ For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”  (Rom 1:16-17)

Seek the truth…

There but for the grace of God…

John Bradford
John Bradford (1510-1555)

Questions 12 – 85 are covered under the main heading of GRACE – or, said a little differently, it is God’s grace that delivers us from our GUILT in sin.  In this section we find the Apostles’ Creed and the Sacraments…how we know and live in God’s grace.  With that…let’s move into today’s Q/A –

Q12. According to God’s righteous judgment we deserve punishment both in this world and forever after: how then can we escape this punishment and return to God’s favor? 
A. God requires that His justice be satisfied.Therefore the claims of His justice must be paid in full, either by ourselves, or by another.
1 Ex. 23:7; Rom. 2:1-11.
2 Isa. 53:11; Rom. 8:3, 4.
13 Q. Can we pay this debt ourselves? 
A. Certainly not. Actually, we increase our guilt every day.
1 Matt. 6:12; Rom. 2:4, 5.
14 Q. Can another creature—any at all— pay this debt for us? 
A. No. To begin with, God will not punish another creature for man’s guilt.1   Besides, no mere creature can bear the weight of God’s eternal anger against sin and release others from it.
1 Ezek. 18:4, 20; Heb. 2:14-18.
2 Ps. 49:7-9; 130:3.
15 Q. What kind of mediator and deliverer should we look for then? 
A. He must be truly human1 and truly righteous,yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, He must also be true God.
1 Rom. 1:3; 1 Cor. 15:21; Heb. 2:17.
2 Isa. 53:9; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 7:26.
3 Isa. 7:14; 9:6; Jer. 23:6; John 1:1.

Being in debt, or indebted to someone, some thing or some organization is often a terrible feeling when you get right down to it.  We often think of being in debt relative to money.  But there are many other things that can cause “debt” in our lives – for example, sin as noted in the previous day’s posts.  While we may be able to pay off our money debt in time, the debt of sin cannot be handled alone.  God makes it abundantly clear he hates sin – yup, hates!  So what does God do?  “Therefore, he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way. This was so that he could become a merciful and faithful high priest in things relating to God, in order to wipe away the sins of the people.” (Heb 2:17, CEB)  By God’s loving grace Jesus became flesh and pitched his tent with us.  Grace – from the beginning…loving grace!

Maybe you are wondering about the picture of John Bradford above…he was an evangelical preacher who is remembered for a particular phrase he once uttered upon seeing a criminal led to the gallows…”there but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford”.  Today, we may know it as, “there but for the grace of God, go I” – we often use it to express compassion in the face of trouble.  John Bradford would eventually be burned at the stake in 1555 – my guess is he still knew and felt comforted in God’s grace made real in Jesus Christ by the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life – the fully human and fully true God who paid the debt so that he, John Bradford…you and I, might live.  “There but for the grace of God………”

graceeeeeeeeeee

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