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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

June 2017

The Test of Time

Psalm 13

Summary:  David laments God’s absence (v. 1), his problems (v. 2), and the progress of his enemies…..David wants God to act (v. 3), end his sufferings and remove his enemies (vv. 3-4)…..The psalm closes with an acknowledgement of faith (v. 5) with praise and thanksgiving.

Commentary:  The end of this psalm is a change in direction, to speaking about God from speaking to Him (v. 6)…..The feeling of this psalm is what we feel daily, sometimes hourly, regarding our plight…..The godless assert that God is “out of touch,” an opinion David vigorously refutes (Psalm 9, 10)…..The passing of time, waiting for God to act, is something that was endured by peoples in both the Old (Ps. 27:13-14, 37:34, 62:5, Prov. 3:5-6, 20:22, Isa. 30:15-18, 40:31, 64:4, Lam. 3:25, Hab. 2:1-3, Zeph. 3:8) and New (Acts 1:4, Rom. 5:3-4, 1 Cor. 10:13, Heb. 11:1, 12:1-3, James 1:1-8, 1 Pet. 5:10) Testaments…..Of course, waiting can be for our own good (Ps. 25:4-5, Rom. 8:18, Phil. 1:6, James 5:6-11, 1 Pet. 1:22-25, 2 Pet. 3:8-9).

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Confessing your faith…

Today’s Passage:Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,  keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”  (1 Peter 3:14b-16)

Devotional Thought:  The very earliest statement of faith was a simple phrase.  “Jesus Christ is Lord!”  Most of us want to think that our lives are statement enough about our faith.  Live our our faith – everyone will obviously know we are Christians…right?  But…there are lots of people in this world who live out good lives…doing good for others…but who are not believers in Jesus Christ.  This leaves us with one of the hardest problems we Christians have…speaking about our faith…defending our faith…being “prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”.  So…what does it mean to tell someone that “Jesus Christ is Lord!”

Singing The Psalms

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Acts 16. 22-34

Psalms 119.61-62

Paul and Silas are preaching in Phillipi when they were being followed by a girl who was demon possessed, who recognized the Spirit of Jehovah in them, proclaiming,” These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” After days of this Paul cast the demon out of the girl, which made her masters angry for they profited from her demon possession. Paul and Silas the are arrested , beaten with rods, and thrown in prison, which included being put in stocks, in the inner prison.  Picture this if you will, they are bruised from the rods, bleeding extensively, placed in a dark filthy inner room of the prison, there is no light, their legs are stretched to the point of dislocation in the stocks, and vs. 25 says  “about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to Elohim.”  I always find it interesting to note the detail in which these stories are told. Singing at this period of time is not at all what we understand singing to be but was more like a chanting of psalms, which brings us to Psalms 119.61-62. ” The cords of the wicked have encircled me, but I have not forgotten your law.  At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You, Because of your righteous ordinances.”  Paul being a Pharisee quite probably had Psalm 119 memorized, and it seemed fitting to sing it at this time though he couldn’t possibly know what time it was. Everyone in the prison was listening to these two sang and were comforted by it, it seems.  Suddenly an earthquake arose, foundations were shaken, chains fell off, and doors were opened.  The guard came running and supposing all had escaped, he couldn’t see for the darkness, drew his sword to kill himself, probably for the sake of his family, when Paul shouted, “Stop for we are all here.”  The jailer then fell down and said “Sirs what must I do to be saved.”   The answer was “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

The power of the Spirit of God is so amazing, to bring to mind scripture when most appropriate, to find peace in the most unpeaceful places, and to bring about changed lives in the most challenging people.  We have to note that none of the other prisoners attempted escape also.  It seems the word of God had an influence on them too.

It is a benefit to us to memorize scripture, to be mindful of God’s working in our lives, to be a blessing to others, and to expect God to work in peoples lives.  ” The Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  Hebrews 4.12.

Karl

A Bloody Sacrifice

Exodus 12:1-28

Summary:  Israel was called to sacrifice a new born goat or lamb on the first month of the newly set calendar year (vv. 1-3), apparently in the spring as they were available then…..The animal was to be cooked over an open flame (v. 9) with unbroken bones (Ex. 12:46),  making hand to mouth consumption easy compared to obtaining eating utensils in Pharaoh controlled Egypt…..Unleavened bread and bitter herbs (v. 8) were typical fare for Egyptian desert…..Blood smearing on doorposts,(v. 7), however, was rather unique, related to what was to come…..The killing of the first-born beasts and humans in Egypt will happen to households without said doorposts (v. 23)…..”Pass over” (v. 13) is exactly what the “destroyer” will do to Israel, not to the Egyptians…..This happening is to be commemorated for generations to come (vv. 24-27), thereby linking Israelites for generations to come.

Commentary: The bloody sacrifice of anything does not appeal to modern tastes…..The Unleavened Bread and Passover Feasts (vv. 17-21) were instituted before priests, alters, etc……For the Christian, parallels can be drawn between these festivals and our beliefs…..The sacrifice of an unblemished, tested lamb (vv. 5-6) vs. Jesus’ public life verified His holiness (Luke 11:53-54, Jn. 8:46)…..The verified, tested are killed (v. 6, Heb. 9:22)…..Applied blood (v. 7) was a statement of Israel’s personnel faith (Jn. 3:36)…..Shed blood sufficed as protection from death (v. 13, Heb. 10:10-14, 1 Jn. 1:7)…..Unleavened bread (vv. 17-20) typifies our communion (Matt. 26:26-28, 1 Cor. 11:23-26) meal…..We are saved from spiritual death by the shed blood of Christ, our lamb (Rev. 13:8), as Israel’s  first born were saved from the “destroyers” death by the shed blood of Israel’s first born lambs.

A Bloody Sacrifice

Exodus 12:1-28

 

What are you looking for?

John 1:35-42  In this passage, Jesus calls his first disciples – 2 of which have been following John the Baptist around the countryside.  Jesus asks a very interesting question, “What are you looking for?”  The disciples answer, “where are you staying?”.  Don’t you find this interesting?  John the Baptist has been talking about the One who is coming into the world…the Light…and these individuals want to know where Jesus is staying.  Life is like this as well.  “What are you looking for?” is often asked but what we are looking for is different on different days.  Take Sunday morning for example…on average we have about 200 who come through the doors of First Pres and if you took a poll of all of them you would get a lot of different answers to the question, “What are you looking for?”.  This week begins VBS and, again, as the many children and parents of these children come through our doors, the question would get some interesting answers I would bet.  Some are curious…some are coming because mom and dad said they had to…some are looking to deepen their journey with Christ…parents want their children to know more about Jesus…some are hurting.  Each would answer the question in a different way.

Jesus responded to those that day…”Come and see.”  Jesus invited them to come take a look, see what he had to offer…to come and hang out with him for a while.  “What are you looking for?” – many are looking…won’t you invite them to “Come and see”…to come and hang out with you for a time…to get to know them and for them to get to know you…for them (and you) to hang out with Jesus for a while.  “Come and see”.

How God Intended You to Be

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Scott Darling Letter

Genesis 1:26-31

I came across this a few days ago. It is a very long read, but well worth your time to read it. You may or may not be a hockey fan. You may or may not know who Scott Darling even is. The letter has no references to religion, the Bible, or being Christian. I still encourage you to read the whole letter. Scott Darling was a goalie for the Chicago Blackhawks until this past spring when he was traded. Through a good chunk of his life, he suffered from alcoholism, which landed him in rehab. He eventually overcame his demons, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I want to share this letter with you because to a certain degree, it relates to me, and I’m guessing, plenty of other people in this world. Although I have never battled alcoholism, those of you who read this blog regularly know I have written about my experiences with anxiety. As I read this letter, I found myself, in certain parts, saying YES, that’s me too. I am concerned too much at times with how other people see me and what they may think of me. As much as I try to will myself into trying to not think about it, the more I think about it. No different than the more I try to forget that there is ice cream in the freezer that I don’t really NEED to eat, the more my brain says that a scoop (or three) won’t hurt too much.

What I, and anyone else who has worried too often about what others think, need to remember is something from the very beginning. In Genesis, when God has created each of the pieces of what we know as the universe, he looked at the pieces and deemed them to be good. On the 6th day, when he created mankind, he created mankind in HIS image; and when finished, said it was VERY good. I/we have to remember that when the Bible makes that statement, although it may be in reference to the creation of man and woman, it applies to all other people that have been given life since the dawn of time. We ALL are VERY good in the eyes of God. So why does it really matter so much what others think?

Just as Scott Darling eventually came to realize that what he has, lots of others in this world would give their right arm for, we have been blessed beyond measure. When God spoke to Moses at the burning bush, one of the laws he handed down said “You shall not covet…” (Ex 20:17). I think that often, when I worry about others too much, it is because I get caught up wishing I had something they have. Maybe I wish I had their looks, or their ability to hit a straight drive on the golf course, or whatever. Instead, as Scott Darling discovered, I need to become comfortable being exactly who I am and what skill set I have. I can only be me, no one else. If I come across people who don’t like me as is, then maybe I just don’t need to have them be an important part of my life.

In closing, cherish the life that you have. You may be facing giants in your life at the moment, but remember the boy shephard who had no chance of beating the most feared soldier of the Philistine army took down that giant with just a sling and stone. And in the same way, as we have read over the past several days, Job fought through adversity and as a result of his faith, his blessings were doubled. We may not understand why we are who we are, but God created us to be just exactly who He intended us to be. We may not know his plan, but if we remain true to Him, he will bless us all the same. We can overcome!

Jesus The Builder

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Hebrews 3.1-6

Psalms 116.1-2, 12-19

Genesis 21. 1-7

A unique phrase occurs in Hebrews 3.1.  Jesus is called the Apostle, of our confession.  It is the only place in the scriptures to use this title.  Apostle means “sent one, a delegate,” and so it is with the Son of God.  In this passage in Hebrews Jesus is being compared with Moses, and shown to be superior by “so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house.”  Moses, a man who was selected by God the Father, to be the deliverer of Israel from bondage to Egypt.  As a prophecy of salvation to come, Moses was raised in the splendor of the royalty of Egypt, yet when he realized his identity as a Hebrew, took up their cause as a slave, and eventually set them free from that bondage.  This is the the picture of our salvation through Jesus Christ who, Philippians 2.6 tells us, ” although He existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God a thing to grasped,  (held onto, to not let go,)  but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man , He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Jesus is also in this passage noted as the High Priest of our confession, and is explained that because He was tempted as a human, “in all the same ways we are, yet with out sin, is able to deal gently with us,” and  Heb. 2.18 “since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”

Seeing the way God worked in his own personal deliverance from death the Psalmist writes a description of God as his deliverer.  Claiming the truth that God really does hear our prayers, He really does listen, He really does care.  Sarah attests to the same thing, in the Genesis passage, that God cares and keeps His vows.

Our world is entering into chaos like never before, our country is divided like never before, and it is only going to worsen as we draw closer to the end times.  We as believers need to draw closer to God, who cares deeply about us and loves us.  There is a throne of grace, built by Jehovah, operated by Jesus, our Apostle and High Priest, where we can go when we need help, so that we may find mercy and grace in the time of need.

James 4.2 “…you have not because you ask not.”

Karl

Job’s Plight

Job 38-42

Introduction: Since there is no mention of laws of any kind in the Book of Job, it has    been surmised that it was composed possibly orally before written Aramaic was developed, by Job (Ezek. 14:14-20, Ja. 5:11) pre-Moses making it the earliest Revelation in our Bible…..It also speaks to the age-old problem of mankind suffering within the context of the universal realms of God and Satan…..Even with the early dating, the thought and need for a saving Messiah or help is alluded to (9:33, 16:19, 19:25, 33:23-24) as Job recognizes his insufficiency…..

Review: What we have is a litany the LORD, perhaps sarcastically, gives in response to Job’s plight.  It deals with creation (38:1-21), weather (38:22-38), and the animal kingdom (38:39 – 39:30)…..To this, Job’s response is understandably meek (40:1-5)…..The LORD accuses Job of questioning His judgement (40:8-14), something he has done (27:2-5)…..The LORD assails Job with questioning (41:1-34) regarding Leviathans, etc……Again, Job’s response is wanting (42:1-6)…..In the end, God criticizes Job’s associates (42:7-9) and restores Job (42:10-17).

Commentary: That Satan is thrust upon Job by God (1:6-22, 2:1-8) is daunting for those who believe no connection exists between the God and the devil…..Goethe’s “Faust,” and our own Reformed Theology indicate that Satan operates to the extent allowed or possibly instructed by God…..Given our present inherent sin nature, which our Creator bares some responsibility for, some will only be led to God by being pushed there by Satan…..My concept is that our sin nature will be a thing of the past when we reach heaven or the renewed earth, however that happens…..Christ could not sin.  He did not have the inclination….This book demonstrates how little we know about the dealings in the realm beyond ourselves…..The theophany (Job 38-41) directly refutes the humanist philosophy of living on this planet…..There is nothing that has happened beginning with the Garden of Eden up to the present hour that God has not allowed….Not to say that all of it God has endorsed or is His best…..This is the result of an omniscient God deciding to give humans a conscience (Gen. 3:7), resulting in making us primarily responsible for what happens on this planet…..Similarly, a responsible gardner seeing weeds pulls them before they cause real damage…..If ever a book deserved comment and thoughtful analysis as Will did yesterday, it is this one.

 

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