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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

June 2016

Working Together With Him.

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Mark 4.26

2 Cor. 6.1

“And He was saying, ‘The kingdom God is like a man who casts seed on the ground; and goes to bed and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows-how, he himself does not know.'”

For years now, I have personally been involved with singing ministries, evangelistic crusades, nursing home ministries, church building and or refurbishing,  plus the more normal church choirs, Sunday schools, bible studies, etc.  I have usually been the teaching minister and or preacher, a position of high esteem mind you, always by default, in most of these experiences. As a result of my studying the scriptures, I preach heavily on Grace. Eph. 2.8 ” For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God.”  Another valuable scripture concerning grace is 2 Cor. 6.1 ” we urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain;” and if you follow this blog you might recognize this from past episodes of mine.

Wow, what a revelation it was to me the other day to see for the first time the beginning words of the 2 Cor. 6.1 passage.  It starts with ” And working together with Him,” how could I have missed that. What a dramatic statement and concept!  We are working together with the Living God, with Jehovah Most High, the God of our fathers, with the great I Am, YHWH.  This is the high point of all perspectives, the dignity of our work in ministry, the honor.  We have been given a high and holy privilege that is beyond what we could hope for or imagine. We are in a cooperative effort with the Living God.  That changes everything, and puts a perspective on our efforts of service in a whole new realm.

Imagine, if you will, to be in a close work environ with a legend in your field, an award winning person that all the industry admires and aspires to be like. And you are with him on this project.  Oh what tips he might have and cues to pick up on. Well, here we are co-workers with God himself.

Hebrews 9.13 ” For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

Our willingness to serve God only opens the door for God to indwell us and work through us as a partner who accomplishes eternal results. If left to our own efforts we can accomplish only temporal results but God brings about eternal results.  We don’t know how the crop grows, God does, but we still plant the seed.  Praise the LORD, Praise the LORD!

Facing Death

I’m sure that at some point in our life we face the thought of death, feelings of sorrow and also of joy knowing that we are waiting to be with our heavenly Father. My family at this time is facing the death of two family members. We understand that their death could come at any time. Reading Psalm 130 and Galatians 3:10-14 brings comfort.

“Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. I wait for the Lord and in his word I put hope”.

“He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit”.

Please pray for all who are ill and facing death.

Todd Garrison

He Doesn’t Hold A Grudge

Psalm 130

Ps. 130:3-4  “Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive?  But you offer forgiveness, that that we might learn to fear you ”  NLT

Just when I think I’m doing well on my Christian walk, I’m reminded that no matter how hard I try, I continue to sin and fall short.  The Psalmist reminds me that God forgives over and over, and doesn’t hold sin against me.  Thank you, Lord, for this great gift!

 

 

Sorry about this!

I apologize for the lateness of this publication.  For the past three days, the three of us have been getting indoctrinated in the diverse aspects of life at Bradley University in Peoria.  I would say that 90% of myself is at ease with giving custody of my daughter to that institution; the other 10% I am holding in reserve.  In a similar vein…

Psalm 32     2 Sam. 18:28 – 19:8     Luke 5:17-26

This Psalm is about forgiveness.  It is a constant comfort that we worship a God that, through the shed blood of Jesus and our faith in His sacrifice, forgives our screw-ups and missteps –  even those we aren’t aware of.  I don’t know about anyone else, I am aware of the vast majority of mine.

The first part (vv. 1-8) of this Psalm is an acknowledgement that is God who forgives sins and protects us.  David confesses that he is not all that he is supposed to be (v. 5).  This “You are my hiding place…” (v. 7) suggests that there is something going on with himself and God that is beyond the physical realm.  How David knows all this is alluded to in verse 8; God gets through to us through our conscious, or by way of the accounts within the His Word.  Is your conciseness bothering you today?  Are you, in a general sense, aware of what the Bible is trying to say?

Finally (vv. 9-11), there is an appeal to those who have the insight that God exists to use this to their advantage (v. 10).  This goes along with what the rest of the Psalm is generally saying.  Those in communications with God are His, but the invitation is to all (Col. 1:19-23).

Craig Randolph

If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it.

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1 Corinthians 10:1-13

I am often amazed at how God works in and through people. I can think of someone I know who is not really much of a Bible reader or church goer, but who still has a heart for God. This person has a huge heart and looks out for the well-being of others all the time. This same person rarely gets frazzled by life’s many challenges, and at times is seemingly nonchalant about things that are a huge deal to most people. Where I would be falling apart and completely stressed about something, this person would probably just say “Oh well” and move on with life.

 

I am easily frustrated by people like this. I have the unfortunate virtue of not only recognizing when something isn’t going well, but becoming completely stressed and frustrated about it. I can just feel my blood pressure rise, my heart rate increase, and my ability to focus and be successful on just about anything else becomes non-existent. On the other hand, this person who I am speaking of would state something that usually reminds me to calm down. The quote goes like this: “If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” Enter a deep, relaxing sigh.

 

As I was searching for passages to write about this morning, I stumbled upon this chapter in 1 Corinthians that I felt fits perfectly with much of what we all encounter on a daily basis. We all are tempted by so many different things in our everyday lives. It may be wanting something so badly that we are willing to do almost anything to get it. It may be gossiping about someone. It may be complaining about work or our boss or the other drivers on the road. The list could go on.

 

The Israelites of Moses’ time were the exact same way. They grumbled, complained, created false idols, yelled at God, and all sorts of other things. All of this in spite of the fact that God had just freed them from the horrible slavery they had endured in Egypt for generations. All of this despite the fact that they literally had the cloud of God leading the way for them. The grass is always greener as the saying goes.

 

How did it end for the Israelites? Well, the one place the set out to be their final destination was a place they never made it to. Rather than making it back to the Promised Land, they died before they could get there. The only adults who left Egypt that were permitted to enter were Joshua and Caleb because of their faith. For the rest of them, their temptations were too strong. As Jesus stated “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41, Mark 14:38. The Israelites had a choice, and God provided them many ways out of their predicaments, but they always fell victim to more temptations.

 

What are we to learn from this? It is often stated that we study history so that history doesn’t repeat itself. But too often, along the way, the history is forgotten and we stumble and history is once again repeated. Here in 1 Corinthians, Paul reminds us of how great the Israelites actually had it, and how they continually messed things up. We are to learn from the challenges and temptations faced by the Israelites and how they ended up falling short of their ultimate goal.
Let us not lose our faith in the face of temptation, and therefore fall short of our hope of eternity in God’s kingdom. As Paul reminds us in this passage, God will not allow temptation beyond what we can handle, and He always provides a path out for us. But we need to be grounded in our faith that God will provide, as he continually did for the Israelites, so that we may find that path. If he brings us to it, he will bring us through it. 

Looking for peace

Some days I find myself looking for peace. That inner peace that brings balance to who I am. That inner peace where faith and hope grow over my worries and fears. That peace that helps me see God around me, in the people I interact with and the day to day work.

The Bible talks about God being close, about Jesus the prince of peace. But there is a bridge that each one of us needs to walk across. It is about trusting God for who God is. And letting go of who we are needs to start with recognizing who God is.

Today I pray that we can all trust God and can experience His peace.

Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the shining stars to you,
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you, for ever.
(Source unknown – early Scottish)

Blessings,

Bo M.

Foundations…

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Psalm 1

Think about the imagery…tree roots going down deep strengthening the tree – giving it stability…a strong foundation and the presence of a life source close by.  Psalm 1 compares the vitality and stability of those who follow righteous paths to the vitality and stability of trees growing in optimal soil, beside flowing streams. Because they are “grounded” in the right place, their leaves and fruit flourish. Those without such a strong and vibrant source…well, they don’t flourish.

The Psalm offers all a choice…one of 2 paths to take.  Those who depend on God are like a tree, whose roots are sunk deep into the earth next to an irrigation stream. Because of this, the tree can flourish — even when the going gets tough. Like this tree, which drinks deeply from streams of water, the righteous drink daily from God’s Word. They are resilient, but God watches over the paths they walk.

The Psalms are filled with rich imagery and Psalm 1 makes a promise…that those who drink deeply from the psalms…from God’s Word…will find a sustainable source for life. A source that sustains one on the road of life and a source that will never run dry.  Drink deeply today…tomorrow…always.

Start with Felt Needs

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Psalm 146:6-9 (NIV)

John 5:1-15 (NIV)

God has a heart for hurting and broken people.  We see that in Psalm 146 and we see it in Jesus’ healing of the crippled man.

And when we look at Jesus’ ministry, we find that he encounters people and starts with the needs that they have as a bridge to a relationship and to sharing the Good News of the Gospel.  Notice the humility he demonstrates with the man who could not walk for 38 years.  He heals him and doesn’t even tell him who he is.  No sermon, there’s no,  “Do you know who I am?” kind of thing. He just asks him, “Do you want to be well?”  The man apparently does but can’t get into the healing pool in time to be made well.  Jesus heals him and then slips away to go somewhere else.

Jesus heals this man physically and helps him at the point the man can understand.  Next they meet again and it’s at this second encounter that Jesus challenges him to invest in his spiritual health and wellbeing. Jesus had already established a relationship with him before getting to spiritual reality.

I believe this is good model for us to follow.  Build and establish relationships wherever you can.  Then once you have authentically and genuinely connected with someone then begin to share the Good News of Jesus at the right time, in the right way, in the right spirit.

How can you build a relationship today and love others with the love with which God has so loved you in Jesus Christ?

Benefactor

 

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2 Corinthians 5.21

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf,  that we might become the righteousness of  YHWH in Him.

In this verse we see YHWH’s plan for saving mankind. There is a benefactor, substitute, beneficiaries, and benefits. This is the plan, the purpose, the design from the beginning. Jesus went to the cross not because the crowd turned on Him, not because evil seducing spirits infiltrated the feeble minds of men, not because religious leaders planned His death for their protection, not because the angry crowd screamed for His death. Though all of this is true, it happened because God Most High planned it.  Hebrews 10. 5-7 “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; …it is written about me in the scroll-I have come to do your will, O God.”  John 18.11  ” Jesus commanded Peter, ‘put the sword away!  Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given to me?'”  Acts 2.23  ” This man, Jesus,  was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge.”

God is both just and justifier.  All religions of the world try to shape, mold, form, polish, calm down, clean up, agitate, somehow make man fit for eternity, for heaven. Even the Hebrews, we are told in Romans 10.3, “… did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own.” Only Christianity teaches the goal is not to get man into heaven but to get God back into man.

Only God could: Call the 2nd member of the trinity to be incarnate,  design atonement, propitiate His wrath,  design His satisfaction of justice without the destruction of the sinner, make the unholy acceptable to Him, design a way to make the law and the lawbreaker compatible.

For, “He (God the benefactor) made Him ( Jesus the substitute) who knew no sin to be sin on our (the beneficiaries) behalf, so that we might become the righteousness (the benefits) of God in Him.”

The word of God is an amazing book, designed and written by an amazing God, who is worth knowing, and worshipping.  Spend a little time with Him each day.  You won’t be disappointed.

Excerpts from John MacArthur

Karl

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