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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

October 2018

Sunday Reflection: God as Compassion

When was the last time you read Psalm 103?  Such wonderful words of hope!!  When you think about compassion, this Psalm is a great message.  Many ask why you would need to bless God since he is the one who blesses us.  Think of it this way…Give thanks to God for all who is, and compassion is found clearly but not until you have considered:  God forgiving sin, healing diseases, redeeming our lives from the grave, crowning us with love and mercy and satisfying our desires with good things…Wow!  Then comes the promise, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”

Today…everyday…give thanks to God for his character – he is slow to anger and then, even when angered, God never holds a grudge.  And remember, God’s character is made real in Jesus!! So, give thanks today for our compassionate God.


This Coming Week’s Readings:

10/22 Jeremiah 31-32 Psalm 119:137-144 Revelation 12 Dale
10/23 Jeremiah 33-34 Proverbs 3 Revelation 13 Craig H.
10/24 Jeremiah 35-36 Psalm 119:145-152 Revelation 14 Craig R.
10/25 Jeremiah 37-38 Proverbs 4 Revelation 15 Karl
10/26 Jeremiah 39-40 Psalm 119:153-160 Revelation 16 Matt
10/27 Jeremiah 41-42 Proverbs 5 Revelation 17 Bo

Show me Wisdom

Jeremiah 29-30
Proverbs 2
Revelation 11

First and foremost I want to call the beloved (and often misinterpreted) Jeremiah 29:11 to attention.

“For I know the plans I have you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

This verse I find in many places–and it’s true! God does have a plan for hope and a future; his plan just might not be in the now; it may not even be in our lifetime! Look at Jeremiah 29:10: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place.” Seventy years is a long time.

I want Christians to know we have hope in Jesus. I also want us to know that sometimes our hope may be our sustaining element on this side of Heaven because we may not see exactly what good God has planned for the future of His beloved.

When we’re looking to Scripture let us take in the words in Proverbs 2:5-6, “then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding.”

Before diving into Scripture it is good to get in the practice of praying first. Pray for wisdom, pray for understanding, and thank God for His willingness to give knowledge and understanding to all who ask!

The book of Revelation has always been one that interested me, but one that I have not yet mastered in understanding. Truthfully, I haven’t really delved into a study on Revelation (thank you, Barb for the devotional material though! I just haven’t gotten there!). I do know that when I begin to read it I will be sure to pray to God first for understanding–I will pray for unblinded eyes and an open heart.

May this prayer lead your morning devotional too.

Blessings,
Karissa

Few thought on Revelation

Jeremiah 27-28 Psalm 119:129-136 Revelation 10

First- Sorry for the late blog, and secondly Thank you to Tari for reminding me about it. (I was enjoying  my day off too much and forgot about it oops).

So here are a few thoughts on Revelation: I am sure by now you as a reader might be familiar with the many views on how we should read into it. The later days, the judgment days the rapture, the before or after scenarios and all that the division that comes with it. So before I go any further I will encourage you to look beyond any of that, and take a fresh look at the text from the perspective of a prophet that receives the word of God and he is consumed by the weight of it.

John wrote the revelation and that is nothing new in the sphere of prophetic writing. The Old Testament contains very similar literature and similar prophecies. But what makes Revelation special to us as followers of Christ is the way the entire world, believers or not, Jews and Gentiles are gathered before a sovereign God for judgment.  And for once this writing is not limited to just the chosen people, but it is inclusive and welcoming to all that believe in the ressuraction of Christ and live out their lives in accordance with God’s call.

Now if you are to look for interpretations of the sign and the symbolism in the text, you might find yourself very confused about what many had written on the meaning of it.  For me, the message of revelation goes far deeper than trying to read the signs of time or the symbolistic interpretation of a number or scenery. It goes to what I had said a little earlier: the call of a prophet and his duty to the world.

That is what chapter 10 is to me: A reminder of the call that is on our lives, that all-consuming fire that makes us share God’s good word time and time again. A reminder that it is sweet to believe in Jesus, to enjoy the sweetness of the word and the fellowship of the saints every Sunday. But as my mom would say, before you eat dessert you need to eat your dinner. That sweetness of God comes to us freely but also challenges us to share who we are with the lost, with the need. It calls us to be prophets.

Today I pray that the word will live in you, that the sweetness of it will give you strength but also give you the courage to speak about Christ’s love to a world in need of it.

Be blessed,

Bo M

Fear of the Lord

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Jeremiah 25-26; Proverbs 1; Revelation 9

So we’ve been through Proverbs once already, but I am going to focus on this first proverb because it is fresh in my mind since we have been focusing on this book in the Wednesday night men’s group. The purpose of these proverbs is largely to understand what will make one wise. As we have been discussing on Wednesday nights, there is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. I like to think of it a bit like book smart versus street smart. You can be a Harvard graduate, at the top of your class, and still be street dumb. If you aren’t able to take all of the knowledge that you have accumulated in your lifetime and apply it in your life when it matters most, then you are street dumb. People who are only book smart have an advantage if they are contestants on Jeopardy! But, if you are able to take the knowledge that you have accumulated and also apply it to everyday living, then you’ve got something going on.

The same is true about reading the Bible. Reading any part of or all of of this collection of books only does as much good as you are willing to take the words and apply them to how you live your life. The Proverbs largely are a “do this, don’t do that” list of ways to live your life. And the beginning of understanding all of it is “the fear of the Lord.” To fear the Lord, in this case, is to be in awe of His power.

Here is an example of His power and why I know there is a God, and why I know that science and religion should be able to coexist better than they do. My students are currently working through a book about light and how we see. One part of that includes why we see the moon, and what causes eclipses. In particular, a total solar eclipse is a natural phenomenon that only happens on this planet and nowhere else. Scientists know of no other planet/moon relationship where it is possible. A total solar eclipse happens because the ratio between the size difference of the moon and the sun and the distance between the sun and Earth and the moon and Earth are EXACTLY THE SAME! No astrophysicist will ever get me to believe that happened all just by random chance. And some of the beauty of all of the universe lies in seeing a total solar eclipse, where we can only see the outer layer, the corona, of the sun. I live in awe of phenomena like that, knowing that it all happened by the power and glory of God.

My fear of the Lord grows the more and more I learn about Him, but I am still far from being wise. There is so much more to learn and apply to my life before I can even consider myself wise. But I’m working hard at it every day.

God bless.

Prophecies

Today’s Passages (all 1 link):  Jeremiah  23-24; Psalms  119:121-128; Revelation  8

Jeremiah 23-24:   In this passage of the overall prophecies of Jeremiah we excitedly see very specific Messianic references.  In chapter 23:5-6 Jehovah tells of a “righteous branch being raised up in David who will reign as King, will act wisely, do justice and righteousness, and in His day Judah will be saved, Israel will live securely, and He will be called The LORD our Righteousness.”  Later in chapter 24 vs. 23 is a prophetic passage, rewritten by Paul in Ephesians 2:13, “ Am I a God who is near,” declares the LORD, “ And not a God who is far off?”  This shows the relationship of God wanting to be so close to us, His creation, that He would become one of us, and one with us so that we would see and understand His love for us.  As Phillip Yancey gives as an example in one of his books, that as an owner of salt water fish, which are very difficult to keep and care for, he struggles to keep the water in a perfect balance of ph and saline, and temperature, and cleanliness.  With all the care needed and given for the sake of the fish, yet they still run and hide each time he approaches.  They actually exist in fear of the one who keeps them alive. If only the fish could understand, or he could become one of them and then communicate to them that he means only good for them.  Sound familiar?  Yet God did communicate with us, and did become one of us, and did demonstrate His love toward us.

Revelation 8:  The seventh seal is opened, and dead silence is in heaven for half an hour.  How devastating and catastrophic this news must be.  Silence in the throne room of Jehovah, no one crying Holy, Holy, Holy!  Don’t gloss by this point, the news is vastly disturbing, everyone and everything is silent. They all saw, or could read the signs that something great is about to happen.  The prayers of the saints, and the incense mingled with them rise before Jehovah.  What a picture this conjures up, that our prayers come before Jehovah like a pleasing and calming, satisfying incense.   It actually pleases God that we pray to Him, He is not annoyed or bothered by it, no matter how petty, or dramatic our prayers may seem to us, they are pleasing to Him who loves and cares for us.  then the angel with the censor begins the chaos on earth, and the first trumpet sounds which brings complete destruction to one third of the earth, the next trumpet destroys one third of the sea, the next one destroys one third of the fresh waters, and the fourth trumpet destroys one third of the stars, the sun, and the moon.  Then an angel flies by and says “watch out” for some real trouble is about to come!

Yes there are about one thousand opinions as what this all means in the revelation, but I want us to focus on Jehovah’s care for us, through Israel He declared His love for us, through the prophets He declared His plan to show us His love, and through Jesus he delivered on His promise.  The important theme here is God’s caring and love for us demonstrated through Christ’s sacrifice.  The enemies of God will be destroyed, we may or not actually see it, we may or not actually be persecuted for our faith to the point of martyrdom, but some will, and we will dwell with Him for eternity.   The days of tribulation are drawing closer, the signs of the times show it so clearly, so lets be diligent to draw close to our Creator while the times are still calm.

Karl

The Fall of Jerusalem

Jeremiah 21-22     Psalm 119: 113-120     Revelation 7

Review: The LORD, speaking through Jeremiah, forecasts Judah and it’s king Zedekiah will be captured in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar led Babylon (21:1-7)…God, siding with Babylon, warns Jerusalem inhabitants to leave to avoid becoming a casualty of war (21:8-10)…Zedekiah is warned that the LORD is against him (21:11-14)…Idolatry is a cause for concern (22:1-9)…Jehoahaz, son of king Josiah, is going to Babylon (22:13-17)…Jehoiachim, son of king Josiah, will experience a bad end (22:18-19)…God speaks of Judah’s demise (22:20-24)…Coniah, son of king Jehoiachim, is headed for captivity in Babylon with everyone else (22:25-30).

Analysis: Previously, Jerusalem was miraculously saved by YHWH from the Chaldeans in 700 BC (2 Kings 18)…With this new threat, Zedekiah is looking to God for protection again (21:1-2)…Israel’s view of life is tied to its possession of land.  Life is land and its blessings.  Death is the loss of land (Deut. 30:11-20)…For these reasons, the warning to leave Jerusalem (21:8-10) is shocking…The failure of the previous five kings, primarily by their own self-aggrandizement, at the expense of others has gotten them to this point…Is Justice served?…God made a covenant with David (2 Sam. 7:12-17) that was to last forever…All of what has and is about to happen has put this promise in serious doubt for those living through these times.

The Fall of Jerusalem

Jeremiah 21-22     Psalm 119:113-120     Revelation 7

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God Prevails

Jeremiah 19-20, Psalm 119:105-112, Revelation 6 (NIV)

Jeremiah has a most difficult calling and purpose.  He prophesies bad news; news of God’s impending judgement to a nation and people who are determined to live as they wish and not as God desires.  They do not have any urgency or energy to love and serve the Lord or to love their neighbor and do what is right and just.  In fact they worship other gods and even offer their children as sacrifices, which is hard to fathom.  If they continue on this path warfare will come to them.  They will lose, many will be slaughtered, and many will be carried away to live in a foreign land.  It’s not a great future.  They will reap what they sow.

Jeremiah serves the Lord faithfully and can’t help but speak and preach the word God has placed in his heart.  However, he has grown weary of all the insults, reproaches, and suffering that have come his way from those who have forsaken the Lord and so hate his message.  Jeremiah wishes he was never born.  He is a suffering prophet and servant.

The selected verses of Psalm 119 speak of following the Lord and the suffering that comes in life to the faithful.

Revelation 6 is about the Judgement of the world and Second coming of Jesus, the Lamb.  We read of those who suffered and were martyred for their faith in verses 9-11.  They will be rewarded for their faithfulness. Throughout chapter 6 there are six seals which are opened.

R.C. Sproul, in the Reformation Study Bible, writes about Revelation 6:1-8:1, “Judgments from God’s throne unfold as the seven seals are opened one by one. The participation of the Lamb reminds us that such judgments are based on His unique qualifications and accomplishments (ch. 5). Six judgments follow (ch. 6; 8:7–9:21). A dramatic interlude promises care for God’s people (ch. 7; 10:1–11:14).  The seven judgments move forward toward the Second Coming, which occurs in 6:12–17 and 11:15–19. The first four of the seven judgments have an inner unity. The four living creatures of 4:6 the four horsemen of Zech. 1:8 are reflected in 6:1–8.”

In all three passages we learn that living a life of faith may involve suffering.  Followers of Christ are not exempt from suffering no matter what some “health and wealth gospel” writers and preachers teach.  Throughout history faithful followers of Jesus have suffered to honor and serve their Lord and Savior.  After all, Jesus invites us to take up our cross and to follow him.  Jesus, said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first… Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:18, 20). 

Jesus also said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). In the end, Jesus prevails and reigns.

Sunday Reflection: God as Generosity

Where to go with this one…there are so many possibilities.  Here are a couple of passages that I believe speak to being generous:

Rom. 10:12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him.

2 Cor 8:9,19-20 For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich…and not only that, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us while we are administering this generous undertaking for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our goodwill. We intend that no one should blame us about this generous gift that we are administering, 

It is fair to say that “generous” in this context comes directly from great love.  Therefore, we should easily come to the following passage when talking about our God as a generous God – a God of Generosity…“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.  “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)

Here’s a closing prayer/confession for all of us to reflect upon today:

God, you loved this world so much
that you sent your own son, Jesus Christ
to live and die among us,
in order that we might have life.
Forgive us for keeping that abundant life to ourselves,
for jealously hoarding your generous gifts,
for choosing self-interest over compassion and justice.
Teach us what it means to live as children of the light,
generously sharing your abundance
with our brothers and sisters in need. Amen.
— Christine Longhurst, posted on the Canadian Foodgrains Bank website.

This Coming Week’s Readings:

10/15 Jeremiah 19-20 Psalm 119:105-112 Revelation 6 Craig H.
10/16 Jeremiah 21-22 Psalm 119:113-120 Revelation 7 Craig R.
10/17 Jeremiah 23-24 Psalm 119:121-128 Revelation 8 Karl
10/18 Jeremiah 25-26 Proverbs 1 Revelation 9 Matt
10/19 Jeremiah 27-28 Psalm 119:129-136 Revelation 10 Bo
10/20 Jeremiah 29-30 Proverbs 2 Revelation 11 Karissa

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