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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

November 2019

His Love Endures Forever

Psalm 106

Praise the Lord.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

Psalm 106:1

A day after Thanksgiving I think its appropriate we remember His love endures forever! Psalm 106 is especially interesting because after the first few verses the author gives a record of the times that the Hebrew people had angered God and what happened after.

He talks a lot about the worship of false idols (be careful of money and things as idols, my friends! Especially on Black Friday!).

And still He knows the Lord is Good and His love endures forever. No matter what season you’re in, no matter what Thanksgiving looked like for you and your family, I invite you to stand on the solid foundation that God is good.

Say it out loud. Praise Him with your voice!

Blessings,
Karissa

Bring Your Worries Before God

Psalm 69

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This Psalm is a great prayer and great reminder of what living in the world is like and what having God on your side can do for you. David obviously is going through a rough patch at the moment of writing this prayer down. People are slandering him, people hate him for no reason, he is even a stranger amongst his own people. I’m sure we’ve all been there before. It seems like the world is collapsing in on you and everyone is out to get you. And in the worst moments, it’s not just people we don’t know, but also your own friends and family that cause stress and strain. But no matter what, even in the worst of times, we can rely on a God who loves us. He knows us and knows what we are going through. He alone has the power to make us whole again and help carry us through the tough times. He may not always make the difficulties go away as quickly as we would like, and he definitely isn’t going to prevent bad things from ever happening at all. With all of that being said, we can all go to Him in prayer, knowing that we can lean on Him when we are down and out. And if necessary, He will even pick us up and carry us. It all reminds me of the Footprints in the Sand poem. May you always rely, not always or only on the people of this world, but on God. 

Learn of Me

Wisdom-Begins-and-Ends-with-God

Ecclesiastes 12

Matthew 11. 28-30

 

In the final chapter of this book of wisdom by Solomon, the readers are exhorted to remember their Creator, Jehovah, while they are still young.  That is not to merely recollect that He is, and his work of creation, but to pursue Him, to keep His commandments.  The days of youth really are fleeting, though to the youth they seem endless, to those who have run their race and are no longer able to run, they are able to gauge how fast life goes by.  At the time of these writings the prophecies of a Messiah were being disclosed, the book of Psalms had already revealed a coming Savior, as in Psalms 2.7, 45.6, 91.4, 11-12, 102. 26, 104.4, to name a few.  Yet such thought was in it’s infancy and the greater theme here is, life is short and you are to know and love your God, to keep in mind and obey the Commandments, and to love your brother.

In the New Testament Jesus reiterates the whole concept of knowing God from our youth when Jesus told the Disciples in Mark 10.14 to ” Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to these.  Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”  The over reaching concept is salvation can come to man at any age, but knowing the salvation of God from our youth is of great benefit to us, saving many years of wasted time pursuing the cares of this world, and developing habits, and prejudices that are hard to overcome later in life.

Mathew 11.28-30.  As the Preacher in Ecclesiastes called for the reader to heed the words of the commandments of God, the labor of keeping the Law was burdensome and there was no power built into it to sustain the effort.  The Messiah, the Savior,  Jesus cried out for them that were seeking God to ” Come unto Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden light.”

The call to Israel was to pursue Jehovah, the call from Scripture to us is the same, seek Jehovah through the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ, from the days of your youth for maximum benefit.  But at any age don’t waste your time on earth seeking temporal ideals, but rather things of eternal value.

Karl

Instructions For Living

Ecclesiastes 11

Review & Analysis:  This opening (vv. 1-6) with it’s casting of bread to a stream of water (v. 1), no knowledge of evil forms (v. 2), variable winds (v. 4,5), and having no idea which seeds(s) will bring a harvest (v. 6) implies variability in all arenas is a fact of life, something we should always bear in mind … We can’t sit idle (cp. Prov. 19:15) and expect manna to fall from the heavens to us in the present age …  Ambition, hard work for better, and risk taking are encouraged to enable God to be glorified by way of them … Light is sweet and pleasant (v. 7) … The purpose of darkness (v. 8) is to enable one to comprehend and appreciate light … Enjoy your youth (vv. 9, 10), I mostly did, realizing old age and death await everyone of us … Therefore, make the best of each hour and each day … It is what God expects … Have a God blessed and memorable Thanksgiving, one and all.

The Folly of Excess

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Ecclesiastes 6

Luke 12. 13-21

Kenneth Bailey, who has written many books on the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus, with great insight into life in the Middle East, having lived there for decades, has opened my eyes into understanding a clear interconnection between the Old and New Testaments.  All the parables and teachings of Jesus have roots in the Scriptures of the Hebrews.  Jesus didn’t create new stories but rather capitalized and expanded on what was already known by His audience, the lost sheep of Israel.

Ecclesiastes 6 continues with a theme started in chapter 5 about the folly of the pursuit of riches.  In chapter 6 he talks about those who pursue wealth to the point of not even being able to spend it all.  Such is the futility of riches, when a man has joy only in the pursuit of a goal and never in the goal itself.  In other words, this one could be living a spartan lifestyle  himself, while investing everything back into the business he has started, and never relaxes his pursuit of wealth.

Luke 12. 13 – 21 Jesus revisits this wisdom in the parable of the rich man who had a bumper crop one year and didn’t have any more storage space for it.  Understand here that the man in this story was already wealthy.  He didn’t need more, yet that was his pursuit, enough is never enough to many like him.   It’s been suggested by writers in the past, Augustine of North Africa, that he could have stored his crops in the ” bellies of the poor,” or sold that grain and given the proceeds to those in need, yet that didn’t occur to him either.  He chose to tear down his barns and build bigger ones, saying, “then I will be satisfied.”  Yet we all know that he would not be satisfied even with that.

In verse 17 we find this man reasoning with himself,  he has isolated himself from all others, as Isaiah 5.8 says will happen in the pursuit of wealth. The rich man trusts no one’s counsel but his own.  In the Middle East culture even the smallest decisions are debated endlessly amongst the men of a community.  They might reason with each other all day on the purchase of a cart, rather than the wisdom of repairing the old one.  Pro’s and con’s are revealed and debated by all present, and all options are considered before a decision is reached.  Yet this man in the parable has no one to reason with, in his selfish pursuit, by his own choice, which is another weakness of the pursuit of wealth.

Now Jesus starts to reveal the vanity of this train of thought in the rich man.  What if God were to require your life in your vain pursuits.  If your life is taken unexpectedly, and you are an isolated “Scrooge like” person, where will your wealth go?  Jesus says someone else will spend it, and they might be a fool with it.  (Usually when wealth comes unearned to someone, it is squandered, like so many state lottery winners.)

We are to be wise with the resources that God gives us, we are to work hard, enjoy the result of our labor, and be generous to the needy.  Those who teach us the scriptures, and pastor us, are well worth their hire, and should be amply compensated.  The missionaries that are doing what God has called them to do should not be forgotten, but also rewarded for the good work they do. The poor and homeless should also be remembered, many are there by their own doings, but nonetheless they need help.  And many homeless are victims of evil done to them, through divorce, lawsuits, poor decisions, and evil trickery.  We are not to judge, that is entirely up to God, we are to give generously.

If God has blessed you, and He has, you should also bless others.  Not out of the excess of your gain, but out of the first fruits.  Malachi 3.10 ” Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there might be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says Jehovah, ” if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”

Karl

Foolishness Exposed, Wisdom Encouraged

Ecclesiastes 10 (NIV)

Foolishness Exposed: “a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.” (vs. 1), “the heart of the fool [inclines] to the left [evil]” (vs. 2),  “fools…lack sense” (vs. 3), “Fools are put in many high positions” (vs. 6), “fools are consumed by their own lips” (vs. 12), “their words are folly;…madness…fools multiply words” (vs. 13-14), “The toil of fools wearies them” (vs. 15).

Wisdom Encouraged: “The heart of the wise inclines to the right [the good]” (vs. 2), “calmness can lay great offenses to rest” (vs.4), foresight is encouraged (vs. 8-10), “Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious” (vs. 12), the morning is not a time for partying and feasting (vs. 16-17), vile criticism is better kept to oneself as it has a way of getting out and traveling to others (vs. 20).

Solomon asked for wisdom and God gave him that gift.  Jesus said, “But wisdom is proved right by her deeds” (Matthew 11:19).  Jesus was filled with wisdom and grew in wisdom (Luke 2:40, 52).  “but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (I Cor. 1:24).  Jesus is the wisdom of God.

Let us ask God for wisdom that we may not be foolish but live in faith and be loyal followers of Jesus.

Nobody, but Jesus

Ecclesiastes 9

This bit of wisdom sounds more like the enlightenment of a angsty teenage boy.. but it’s part of the Wisdom Books so here we are.

This book is written before Christ came, which means death was death–now we live in Hope. As believers in Christ, we talk about the ground being even at the cross–no one sin is any worse than another (that’s right, sexual immorality, swearing, and murder are all on the same level of sinning). When Ecclesiastes was written they didn’t have faith in Jesus to fall back on–this meant their common denominator was death.

At the end of the day, we are all the same. There is no way that we can try to be better than one another.

We are all the same. It doesn’t matter what your worldly savings have accumulated too–at the end of the day only the Lord’s name needs to be remembered.

If that message seems a little harsh, here are a song that’ll help show it in a more uplifting manner:

Blessings,
Karissa

 

More on Wisdom

 

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Ecclesiastes 7

NIV

The Message

The writer of Ecclesiastes continues on the point of wisdom in Chapter 7. Verses 1-6 say that we gain wisdom from going through tough times, and we learn nothing if all we seek in life is fun and games. 

From verse 8-9 we read that being patient and getting through things, no matter how challenging, will benefit us in the end. Like verse 10, which says to avoid saying things like “why can’t things be like they always were when I was younger?” From this I gather that things need to and will continue to change, and we need to keep moving forward rather than lamenting about why things need to change at all. 

Wisdom is good and has great benefits just like money. 

In this chapter, I think my favorite part of this passage comes from verse 15-22. People who are righteous can die young and people who live vastly evil lives can live long lives. In verse 18 is says “It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.” Or as it is translated in The Message, “So don’t knock yourself out being good, and don’t go overboard being wise. Believe me, you won’t get anything out of it. But don’t press your luck by being bad, either. And don’t be reckless. Why die needlessly?” I could be wrong, but I interpret this as it is important to avoid living a completely wreckless life, but at the same time, it is also important to not be at the other extreme and behave outwardly as if you commit no sin either. This might ruffle the feathers of the Puritans, that even they are imperfect and live sinful lives. Living at either extreme does no one any good. 

Finally, from the last seven verses, there are many things in this world that can lead us astray. Although God made all creation, including humans, perfectly in His image, we still make mistakes and fall short. It is part of our human nature. Again, from The Message translation, it says “God made men and women true and upright; we’re the ones who’ve made a mess of things.” To truer words have been spoken or written. 

So, to sum it all up, continue to see wisdom in your life. Wisdom of the world will get you as far as seeking the wisdom of God through the study of and meditation on the scriptures. But with that being said, we can’t go around holding our heads up too high just because we do seek Godly knowledge, because in the end we all are still human and still need God’s grace and mercy. 

RE: Words & Wealth

Ecclesiastes 5

Review & Commentary:  What one says and how one says it matters to God (vv. 1-3) … Vows to our LORD (vv. 4-7) need to be strictly adhered to … The state bears responsibility for the oppression of the poor and injustice in its governance (v. 8) … Historically, these matters have been best handled by the Christian Church … Riches and wealth are things to be sought (vv. 9-14) as they are earth provided and endorsed as good by God (Gen. 1) … And yet, they all come with their share of difficulties … “There is no such thing as pure pleasure; some anxiety always goes with it” – Ovid …We came to this world with nothing, we leave it in the same condition (vv. 15-17) … The best way to appreciate this life is to have an appreciation for ones death … “As we are born we die; the end of life is attached to its beginning” – Seneca … The fruits of ones labors (vv. 18-20) are endorsed to be enjoyed by God (cp. Deut. 28-30, Job 42:10-17, Psalm 128:1-4).

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