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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

March 2019

God Almighty…

Whenever I think of “God Almighty”, I am immediately drawn to 2 passages of Scripture:  Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4.  For today, I will focus on Revelation 4.  Many Bibles provide the heading of “Heavenly Worship” for Rev 4 and it is an awe-inspiring vision to focus on.  But, just because it is a vision of heavenly worship – one to look forward to, it can also be the focus of our daily worship as well.

There isn’t enough time to spend on John’s imagery in Revelation for this blog post.  However, one image that is seen in both Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4 is the image of worship that is amazing and that is the all-encompassing participation of those worshiping!!

Have you ever thought about what it will be like to come face to face with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?  What will it be like to be surrounded by the glory of God Almighty one day?  Verses 8-9 in Rev 4 form the foundation for one the great hymns and my personal favorite.  Reginald Heber, a vicar in Hodnet, England, wrote 57 hymns.  The substance for one of these hymns is found in  Rev 4 and it is #3 in our hymnals…”Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God, Almighty.”  This passage and hymn speak of how we should see worship of God Almighty today and every day and, in so doing, preparing ourselves for when we sing and dance in the surrounding glory of the Lord God Almighty!!

Devotional Thought:  One verse stands out for our Lenten journey…“Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!  All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth and sky and sea; holy, holy, holy! merciful and mighty, God in three persons, blessed Trinity!”  All my works…all your works…shall praise the glory and majesty of the only one who is holy…the only one who is “perfect in power, in love, and purity”, the Lord God Almighty.  There is still work to be done!!

Yahweh

In the English, King James Version of the Word of God, a great work, it was necessary to translate the Latin Vulgate, and the Hebrew scriptures into a language of the people. A huge effort was employed to accomplish this work, and it was accomplished. One of the challenges was to get the common man to understand Hebrew words and culture, which was foreign to them. The Englishmen understood the ideas of gods, as there were many, and they understood lords, as land owners and masters. So such wording was naturally used to convey the ideas of another culture, the Hebrews. So the title Elohim, which means god, and can be attributed to any number of gods, is merely a tile and must be connected to descriptive adjectives to be clearly understood to the reader or listener as to which god, thus in the scriptures Elohim is most often clearly stated in many ways. We are told that our God is our Sanctuary, in the Hebrew it is Elohim Bethel, or a shortened form is El Bethel. El Elyon is Most High Visitor, El Chai is God our Living Truth, and so on for about 26 variations concerning His attributes.

Now we are told in Exodus 6. 3 that Elohim appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, El Shaddai, but now He is revealing Himself by His name, YHWH, which is spelled Yod Hai Vav Hai, and pronounced Yahweh, and transliterated into English as Jehovah. It is very difficult to translate so many of these ideas and pronunciations from one culture to another so a little leeway is necessary. Anytime in the scriptures that we see the word LORD we must understand it is the name of our God, which is in fact Jehovah, in the English language.

Many people talk of god but have little understanding of which god they are referencing. A god of nature may be, just that, in their mind, while in your mind the reference is to Jehovah the Creator of nature. A god of love, with no other attributes may not be Jehovah, the God of Love as defined in our scriptures 1 John 4.8. You understand don’t you?

We have the truth about Jehovah as revealed to mankind in the Holy Scriptures, our Holy Bible.
To fully understand Him we must study diligently, in spirit and truth.
Karl

Refuge and Life

Psalm 16:1-11 (NIV)

Psalm 16:1-11 (MSG)

Thoughts- This Psalm of David tells us who God is and what God does: Refuge, Lord, Boundary Lines, Pleasant Places, Delightful Inheritance, Counsel, Instruction, Does not Abandon, the Path of Life, Joy, Presence, and more.

When we put our trust in the Lord God this is what we receive and more.  Read through Psalm 16 in both the NIV and Message Bible versions and give thanks for the goodness and graciousness of our wonderful God, today.

Prayer- Lord, thank you for your goodness, presence, and graciousness. Thank you for providing boundaries that set us on the path of Life and Joy.  I am grateful that you are my refuge and strength in any time of trouble and that you rejoice with us in all of the joyful times of life.  Help me to be open to your wise counsel and life-giving instruction.  Guide me in serving others as a Christ-Follower, this day.  In Jesus name, Amen.

I AM

58 Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58)

Analysis:  Jesus states “Very truly I say to you” often in John’s Gospel (1:51, 5:19, 6:26, 8:34, 10:1-7, 12:24, 13:16, 20, 16:20-23).  In our 8th chapter, comparisons are made between Jesus and the Jewish standard bearer Abraham (vv. 31 – 40) to whom all Jews are natural descendants, although not necessarily spiritual ones (Rom. 9:6-13, Gal. 3:6-16). Finally, the “I AM” declaration, something regularly reported by John (see above diagram, Rev. 1:8, 17) and elsewhere by other authors (Ex. 3:13-14, Isa. 43:8-15).  The previous is courtesy of my well informed concordance.

This much is certain, Jesus claims through “I AM” to have equivalent authority with God.  The abstract “I AM” signifies there will always be some aspects of God and Jesus’ being that is beyond our finite ability to understand.  To paraphrase Thomas Aquinas, God is “that which is beyond that which can be imagined.”

Aquinas is also credited with stating, in these “beyond” situations for those who believe “no explanation is necessary,” for those who don’t believe “no explanation is possible.”

 

God is Spirit

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
John 4:24

The power of prayer is amazing.

In the past whenever I came to a hardship that needed work (I’ve written about hardships that needed grieving here) I would take charge and think “I need to do this myself! God can’t be bothered.”

Then a hardship hit, one that I could not fix on my own authority. Immediately I went to the Cross. I prayed Philippians 4:7 over and over again as I anticipated the next moment.

To anyone who was walking by, however, I might not have “looked” to be in prayer. I was just sitting at my desk. Waiting. Whispering the verse out loud; over and over and over again.

I know this was worship in my spirit and Truth because I was reciting God’s word back to Him, reminding Him of His promises.

The Psalms are a great way to look at worshipping in the Spirit and Truth–they are filled with cries of “Remember, O Lord!”

God is so much bigger than we can imagine, He is so much better than we will ever truly realize, and He is our Good Good Father. My prayer for you all today is that you find Truth in the Word of God and pray with open hearts, genuinely allowing yourself to pour out to Him who loves you.

Blessings,
Karissa

PS: Sometimes I start my prayer/meditation time with Psalm 139 because how can you go wrong with that? Feel free to try reading it before your next prayer!

God is…

Today, we start a new chapter in our blog universe: Looking at who God is.

Over the next few months, we will look every day at a new tribute of God, trying to get a deeper understanding of who God is. As we discover more about God, we will also learn more about who we are as a new creation in Christ. As ones who reflect God’s character on earth, each one of us is called to discover the light that God is, and to be able to better reflect that light. I hope that every day, you will find something to encourage you, something new about God, and something new about who you are.

God is Love

1 John 4:16

16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

There is a lot of talk about Love these days. Whenever the world is turned upside down by violence or by natural events, we hear the call for love. What is Love?

You might have a different understanding of that than I do, and I am sure that you will find some different definitions of Love any time you ask around. God is Love! That is a strong statement! A powerful definition of Love. How does that love look like? It starts at the creation, with God sharing the very essence of who God is with the creation, with those people created in His own image. Love is about looking forward to spending time and sharing in the life of those you love, about finding ways to forgive and protect them even in moments when they stray away from your love. God is love, is about enduring patience, sacrifice and restored hope in the creation.

God is love, is about trust, about hope and faith. And that is my prayer for us today, that we all can reflect that type of love in everything we do.

Be blessed,

Bo M.

Readiness…

Matthew 24:42-51 (The Faithful Servant)

Well, this wraps up the Parables of Jesus.  This particular parable reminds me of the time when my mom went back to work and I was in 7th or 8th grade.  Both of my parents worked hard to make ends meet and I had certain “chores” that were to be done…in addition to making sure my homework was done each day.  These were not difficult chores typically:  take out the garbage, clean up my room, make sure the kitchen was clean and, often, start helping to prepare dinner before mom and dad got home from work.  Now, I knew the end of the work day was typically – 5:00 pm for mom and 6:00 pm for dad.  So, what would most kids do if you got home from school at 3:00 pm?  For those of you who are of the angelic nature and never procrastinated in getting things done, my hat goes off to you.  There was always time, right?  On a couple of occasions, however, 5:00 might be 4:30 – traffic was light or mom just finished up early that day.  There is one phrase that was clearly applicable here…BUSTED!!

Jesus is saying that if you knew the exact time when a burglar would seek to burgle your house then you would be ever vigilant.  Things don’t work like that with burglars and they won’t work like that with Jesus’ return.  Constant readiness is the only sure safeguard to being ready.  Jesus calls his followers to be ready at all times because there is no doubt about his return and there are consequences for lack of readiness.  Just like there were consequences for lack of readiness for mom and dad’s return after a long day at work.

Devotional Thought:  If you profess to serve God made real in Jesus and the ongoing presence of the Holy Spirit, we must accept the truth that our service must be done to the very best of our ability so that glory and praise go to our God.  You see, I believe the reward for faithful service is not the opportunity to sit back and relax, no, the reward for faithful service is the opportunity of serving in a higher and more responsible way.

The Budding Fig Tree

jesusandfigtree

Mark 13:28-31

First, I am going to add a few more passages that I think relate to this one from Mark (click here). Jesus is teaching his disciples about the end times and to look for the signs that they are getting closer. From time to time, I hear people saying that, with the way things are going in the world now, that the signs are apparent that the end times aren’t far off. Although that may be true, I would like to point out that at many different times in history, people were convinced that the end times were near. Medieval Europe and the spread of the bubonic plague comes to mind right away for me. That is why I have added these extra verses that I found as I was preparing for this entry. There may be signs that the second coming is near, but “near” in could be tomorrow or it could still be another thousand years. We never really will know.

But what IS for sure is that we need to be ready. Jesus tells us that even the angels and the Son of Man himself don’t even know the time. But when the time comes, one person will be taken up, and the person right next to him or her will be left behind. Paul, Peter, and John all say that it will come like a thief in the night. It is exactly why we always need to be trying to live out what the Gospel has to offer. As He says in the last sentence of this parable, the things of this world will fade, but His Word will last forever. Rely on His teachings and not on what the world has to offer.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, although I may never know the time of your return, I pray that I am living out the Gospel daily so that I am ready when the time comes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Now serving…

Luke 20. 9-16

A prophetic parable:
Jesus has just had another encounter with the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders, having thrown out the sellers from the temple. These sellers of approved sacrifices, oils, grains, and wines for various offerings, had the blessings of the leaders who also reaped plenty of gain from the sales. It was a scam as the priests had final say as to whether the offering that was brought in from the outside was kosher or not. Jesus called them a den of thieves, and demanded the temple be called a house of prayer, referring to Isaiah 56.7 Soon afterwards the leaders questioned Jesus about where His authority came from to do the things He did. In typical Jesus fashion He answered their question with a question about John the Baptizer, whether or not he was sent from God. They would not answer for fear of the crowd listening to Jesus’ teaching.

Now Jesus gives them a parable, much like many others He has spoken. “A man planted a vineyard and rented it out to vine-growers, then went on a long journey. At the harvest time he sent a servant to the vine-growers, so that they would give him some of the produce of the vineyard; but they beat him and sent him away empty handed.” This happens three times until the owner finally sends his son, assuming they would surely show respect for him. But no, they did even worse, they threw him outside the vineyard and killed him, with faulty reasoning they convinced themselves they could control their future. There would be no harm to come to them.

The parable ends with, “The owner will come and destroy these vine-growers and will give the vineyard to others.” This is the picture for all to see, that the workers hired were the leaders of Israel, and the first servants sent to them were the prophets that came from God, the owner of the vineyard. As Jesus has stated before, Matthew 23. 35 “the righteous blood of all the prophets from Able to Zecharias is upon your hands.” So now even when God’s own Son is sent to them, and they know it, they will still rebel and consider their ways better, and kill Him in a feeble attempt to preserve themselves. God will reject them and give the vineyard to the gentiles. This is not replacement theology, but Israel is currently set aside until the end days when they will finally cry out, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.” They are cut off as a nation, until they welcome the Messiah.

Friends, the end times are upon us, we need to be spiritually aware, and spiritually awake to handle persecution that is already mounting in many nations against Christianity. It was well stated this past week in Bible study: “What you really know about God is what you know when your Bible is shut.” On the street, in your work, at the market, behind the wheel is the real test of a believer. Do you really love your wife, your neighbor, your mechanic, your God? Whom do you serve?

Karl

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