Search

First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

May 2019

The Son

Hebrews 1:3

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

How do you know God, when you cannot see God? How do you get to understand the depth of who God is?

For some of the people in the Old Testament, those questions where easy to answer, especially when you had experienced all the miracles and seen all the signs they witness too. But how about you and me in today’s world?

For us discovering God comes in the way of His Son, Jesus. Too many times we get caught in the arguments of what God is doing or thinking about this or that. Or where is God when this or that happens. It is at those times that I want to remind anyone that we had been there before, there is nothing new under the sun, and God indeed walked and showed us his ways through his Son.

Do you know the Son? Are you familiar with who he is? Do you understand his ways? If so, you are closer to understanding God than you thought.

Today I pray that you can experience the Risen Christ in a new way and that you can look at the world around you and discover the fullness of God in all the things that surround you.

Be blessed,

Bo m.

 

Foundations…

Today’s Passages (all 1 link):  Isaiah 28:16 and John 1:1-18

Well folks, today is my last blog post for First Pres-Joliet.  The past several years of this blog have been a real joy both in writing and seeing the growth of others along the way.

Today’s topic may simply be coincidental, but, I think it provides the foundation (no pun intended) for a final blog post.  In today’s volatile culture, pretty much anything you say is interpreted by the biases and filters of others.  To some extent, even blogging about the church etc, can bring the same responses.  So, while there may be a small amount of angst with the idea of retirement on June 1 simply because it is something new and “never done before”, I am confident that this unknown rests on my one sure conviction…my foundation in Jesus.

As I watch so much anger and hatred towards others, I think about the words of Isaiah: a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: “One who trusts will not panic.”  I often wonder what might happen if we humans were not so demanding of our own way or if we truly tried to live out what it means to love our neighbor – those we like and those we don’t.  What might happen if there is a possibility that there may be another opinion other than our own?  And then, the words of John’s gospel ring out, “He (Jesus) came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.”  

Devotional Thought:  Claiming to be a Christian – a follower of Jesus – requires more than lip service.  Claiming to be a disciple of Jesus means that we are to stand for that which is right not by beating people over the heads through our words or, worse, through violence.  For example, this past weekend the PurdueCrew gathered for the Indy 500 – 34 races for this group of individuals with a wide variety of opinions.  What started as roommates at Purdue in 1977 for some of us has blossomed into a lifelong friendship of 16 people who gather together as often as 3 times every year.  There are different religious beliefs – some of us are Presbyterians, some Methodists, Roman Catholic and Lutheran…we have opposing political opinions and differing thoughts on tough issues like abortion and LBGTQ – just to name a few.  Why even this last weekend there was a difference of opinion on how to play Euchre and what kind of beer or pizza we liked!!  But…as we all left to return to our homes we were not filled with what divided us but the foundation of our lifelong friendships – all of us knowing that if any one of us were in need, we would respond.

Friends, claiming to be a disciple of Jesus means living out his example to the best of our individual abilities even when the going gets tough or when we are divided because of differing opinions.  Why? Because we are supposed to trust in our one sure foundation and not panic.  That one sure foundation is Jesus!

It has been a privilege to write for each of you…more importantly, to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ for his Church gathered here on earth.  I pray God’s blessings on each of you…that you will be blessed by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit today and always!!  Amen.

 

 

Faithful & True

duorqxqxcaaeqnh

Revelation 19:11-16

John 14:6

John 1:1

My verse to focus on today was supposed to be Revelation 19:11. In this one simple verse, there is a lot said, and yet at the same time, not enough. One of the many things that I’ve learned about studying scripture over time, starting with a class taught by Pastor Dale several years ago, is that in order to best understand what is going on, you need to read what is happening before and after a short passage to get the full meaning. So, in doing that, I realized that you really need to have verses 11-16 to get the full scoop here.

Something that stands out as you first see and read verse 11 is that the words Faithful and True are capitalized, meaning that they are proper nouns and they are referring to Jesus. When you read through verse 16, you learn Jesus is leading an army of angels into battle against the beast. We first are introduced to the beast in Revelation 13. The beast, in conjunction with the dragon (or serpent as I saw in one translation) have been leading the people of the world astray. In chapter 13, the beast is described as having 10 heads, which, in a commentary I read to prepare for this blog, represents the nations. Its 10 crowns are the kings or princes of those nations. But Jesus, with his army of angels, strike down the beast and the nations.

As I was reading through other parts of Revelation to prepare for this, I found in Chapter 16 that God sent plagues to the Earth to urge the people to repent, and even though they suffered greatly, they cursed God and didn’t repent. In their blindness to their Earthly ways, as promoted by the beast, they couldn’t see the forest for the trees as they say. They were too short sighted to see that the only Way, the only Truth, the only Faithful master lies in the Word of God. And so, this led to their demise by His righteous judgment and war.

He is called Faithful and True, as well as the Word of God. Jesus was referred to each of these in the Gospel of John. Of course John 1 begins with “In the beginning was the Word.” And later in John 14, Jesus says he is The Way, the Truth, and the Life. We see those names come out again here in Revelation as justification for His judgment and His war. His words ARE TRUTH because HE IS GOD, and HE IS FAITHFUL to His Father.

 

Easily Touched

Easily Touched
Hebrews 4.15
Hebrews 9.13-14
Matthew 4.3-10
The attribute of Christ that concerns us today is, in the Kings English, easily touched.   Which in our current American lingo translates to, Jesus is approachable.  He is that therapist, counselor, friend, teacher, compadre who will listen to us, hear us and be our advocate. Our friend who won’t tell on us, who feels our pain, who stands by us and actually helps us.  
In the Gospel of Matthew, we can read about the temptation of Jesus, who after fasting for forty days, was encountered by the adversary, Satan. Who in like manner as Eve and Adam in the Garden being tempted were challenged, “ Is it true, did God really say that?”  The tree of knowledge is right here, the fruit looks so good and you don’t have to wait.  Then he refutes the truth of God that death is at stake here. “ You won’t die.”  Thirdly the promise of Satan was, “ you can be as God,” you don’t need Yahweh.   Jesus three temptations were, “ Is it true, did God tell you, that you are the Son of God? Prove it to me.” Second, “ Come up here and jump, you won’t die.”  Third,  “ I can give you everything, all my kingdom, you don’t need Yahweh.”
One of the basic concepts here in all of these temptations is, “ sin is a shortcut. “ You don’t have to wait, you can have it now.   Jesus withstood all the arguments and offers from Satan by quoting truth from the scriptures.  We have the same weapon at our disposal but often fail in using it. 
In Hebrews 9.13-14 we also see the truth from the old testament Hebrew offerings were inadequate for true forgiveness of sins, but the blood of Christ actually fulfills the Laws demands, and we can have the pure cleansing of our sins and are free to serve the Living God.  Yet we have this freedom, this new life in our bodies of flesh, or as Paul describes it, clay jars, earthenware.  We are fragile, we are weak and easily tempted to stray from the truth. we are easily deceived and need all the help we can get to live in victory over sin.  
Thus we have Hebrews 4.15, a high priest, an advocate, a friend, who has been tempted in all ways as we are, yet without failing.  We don’t need an advisor that fails, or has failed, or is failing, we need one who is victorious.   A teacher who is so removed from our lack of understanding, that they can’t even remember what it’s like to not know, is of little help to the student.  I personally am a horrible teacher of carpentry, though I have 47 years of experience, I can’t remember what it is like to not know.  I assume a base of understanding that isn’t there for most people.  Jesus isn’t like that, He is perfect, has a perfect memory, has compassion and understanding, is merciful and sympathetic to all our needs, and is welcoming. 
Hebrews 4.16 explains that God has established a Throne of Grace, a high place for us to come to, where we can find Mercy and Help in the time of need.  The One who mans this Throne is Jesus, our High Priest who understands our dilemma’s and weaknesses and calls out to us, begs us, yells to us to come to Him for help.   He cares.  He really cares.   

        

Karl

Godly Division

2 Corinthians 6:11-18

Review:  Presented here are the ideals of godly separation … Sometimes compromise is not possible … The easiest example of this is food cannot compromise with poison … It simply cannot … Godly separation is twofold … First, one should avoid as much as possible whatever is ungodly … My opinion is, regardless of how folk live, everyone in their conscience and heart, know the difference between God endorsed behaviors an beliefs and not so … That’s the reason for all the emotion and anger in these situations … Invariably, anger is provoked when folk are afraid of something … It’s the fear of being wrong and it’s repercussions that provokes an emotional response … Second, those God fearing and appreciating are to turn to God Himself as their refuge … Being completely separated from evil means not having the desire or motivation for it … Some call this action “living by the Spirit” … One’s beliefs are certainly framed, in part, by what one listens to … Listening and believing that which is not true will never lead to a happy ending (compare 2 Tim. 2:19-22, 2 John 7-11) … Having no contact with what is evil or bad, in our good but fallen planet or even in our own church, is impossible … The real issue is being complicit or conforming to why is wrong (vv. 14-18, John 17, Gal. 6:1) … Successful Christian living requires that one has a backbone and sides with God, despite it’s unpopularity  … It’s hard nowadays because we have politics and a media attempting to flip many issues on their collective ears … Not that the hasn’t happened before (cp. Isa. 5:8-30).

 

The Word

John 1:1-5, 14 (NIV)

John 1:1-5, 14 (NLT)

1:1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Here at the start of John’s Gospel we read about Jesus.  Christ Jesus is both the Eternal Word (verse 1) and the Word become Flesh (verse 14).  That is, here we see both the deity and humanity of Jesus.  Jesus is both God and Human, one person, the only Son of God.

Jesus is God to save us and pardon us from sin.  He is also Human in coming to earth, born of Mary, becoming “flesh.”  He knows and understands what it is to live on this earth, where there is both joy and suffering, birth and death, and more.

Yes, there is a mystery to how this can be; for God is far greater than we can completely understand or comprehend.  Yet this mysterious God and God-Man in Jesus, through whom whole all things were created, as John writes, deeply love us.  The light of his life and love shines into our lives, even in and through the darkness of this world. Nothing can overcome the light of Jesus.

Give thanks today for Jesus who came to earth to live among us, die for us, and rise again for us.  Rejoice in the mystery of his unfailing love and grace, and presence with us always, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The grace, peace, and love of Jesus be with you, Amen!

God is Our Sufficiency

Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our sufficiency comes from God.

2 Corinthians 3:5

Praise God for this verse!

My biggest struggle (and the biggest lie the devil tells me) is “I am not enough.”

I know I am not the only one who has this struggle.

Praise God for this verse to remind us that we aren’t enough on our own, but He says we are enough for Him because of Him.

Does that feel like circular language? Let’s break it down.

There is nothing in our lives that we can do that will ever make us “enough” to be considered “good” because we are sinners, we are the offspring of Adam and Eve, and we live in a fallen world where sin is rampant.

All that sounds pretty bleak.

But there is light! The Light! Through the sacrifice of Jesus, God has cleansed us of our sins and has covered us (that’s what atonement means!) with Jesus. Jesus is enough. As believers of Jesus we have become his co-heir, his sibling, and we are now seen as children of God and enough.

Just. Like. That.

We didn’t do anything to earn it. God freely gave it to us.

So that tension you have right now, thinking about that thing that you just aren’t “enough” for, take a deep breath and repeat after me “I am enough because God is enough and says I am enough.”

Isn’t it nice to rest in that Truth rather than wrestle with feelings?

Blessings,
Karissa

God Never Changes

Hebrews 13:8

If you ever need a conversation starter try mentioning Daylight Savings Time.  Everyone will have something to say.  When it should start when it should end.  The joy of falling behind, the sorrow of springing ahead. If it should exist at all.  Everybody has ideas and most are willing to share them.  What we need to remember is that the day has the same amount of sunlight no matter what. The only thing that changes is if there is more light in the morning or the evening.   The sunlight itself remains constant.

So it is with Christ. Whether it is the quietness of a Quaker meeting, in Latin with incense, a paraphrased Bible reading with guitar riffs, of a Middle English Bible reading with a harpsichord, it is the same God who is worshiped.  Worship has and will change but God remains the same.  After all Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Shalom Mark

His name is Jesus

Matthew 1:21

21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.

Names are important. Names carry meaning and in many cases names carry expectations. When God was walking with Abram and Sarai from the land of Ur towards the promised land in Genesis 17, the names of his chosen people become a reminder of God’s promise that they carry with them. So, in that very instance when God calls Abram (exalted father) – Abraham (father of a multitude) and Sarai (my princes) -Sarah (mother of nations), God is changing forever the way Abraham and Sarah are living their life, from that moment on every step of the way they are reminded of the promise of God in their life, a promise that will come to life.

When we talk about the names of God, of who God is, the name of Jesus has to be central to our understanding of God. Jesus is the Greek translation of Joshua, THE LORD SAVES. It is our constant reminder that in our life salvation, and help comes from the hand of God, it is not something we work for and try to buy favor. In that name Jesus, we find that God is the Saviour. In God, our lives are redeemed. And when we pray in Jesus name, we are reminded that we come before God not because of our achievements or our deeds but we come in the righteousness that we have in Christ Jesus.

Today I pray that you will know the Redeemer, the One who saves and that you can trust in Him the same way Abraham and Sarah did.

Be blessed,

Bo M.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑