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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

January 2020

Everyday People

Luke 1:46-55; 2 Samuel 7:18; 2 Samuel 7:23-29

Society lifts up people who are important. The people who get the most attention are rich, famous, have lots of political power, multiple vacation homes, fancy cars, yada yada yada. They get on TV, end up on the front pages of the tabloids, make an appearance or two on TMZ. Who doesn’t want to be part of the lifestyles of the rich and famous? It is easy to get caught up in the mix of trying to keep up with the Jonses as the old cliche goes. 

The God of all Creation, omniscient, omnipresent, has an odd demographic that he selected throughout Biblical history through whom He did his greatest works though. He didn’t choose the most powerful. The richest. The most famous. He chose regular, everyday, humble people. In that time, the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans were the most powerful civilizations. It would have made total sense for God to have selected any one of them as His chosen people. Instead, He chose Israel as His chosen people. 

He could have chosen the wife of Augustus to be the mother of His son. Instead, He chose Mary. There wasn’t anything spectacular about her life up to that point. She was still a kid by today’s standards. Yet, there she was, being selected to be the Mother of God. 

Just like in Biblical times, God chose the most unexpected, regular, everyday people through whom to do His work, He does the same still today with regular everyday people like you and me. On my YouVersion Bible app, the verse of the day a while back that I’ve been using as a short prayer comes from Psalm 143:10: Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. Humbly ask God daily to work through you, and He will because of your belief that He can. 

The Holy Word

 

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Isaiah.7: 10-16

Psalms 80: 1-7, 17-19

Romans 1:1-7

Isaiah 7. 10-16  Snippets of scripture without the context in which they are written are only as good as any other adage, or proverb, or idiom.  In this text from Isaiah we have the prophecy of the the virgin birth of the promised Messiah, verse 14.  In the context of the time it was written, Ahaz is King of Judah, in a civil war with Israel, and a man without faith, verse 9.  God speaks to him again and offers him any sign he may desire but Ahaz refuses, and Jehovah is perturbed with him but gives a prophecy anyway, of the coming Messiah who is to come centuries later.  Such a prophecy is of little use to Ahaz who is in the midst of his own current dilemma.

Psalms 80: 1-7, 17-19   The word of God in these passages are written as songs and short prayers, and words of wisdom, unique to the rest of the scriptures that are historic and prophetic, revealing who Jehovah is and His plan for Israel and mankind.   As Psalms 80 starts we see a beautiful reference to Jehovah as Israel’s Shepherd, who is symbolically enthroned between the Cherubim on the Mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant, a reference to times past. The northern tribes of Israel are in exile to Assyria, and Judah is exiled to Babylon, and the cry is for Jehovah to restore His people and to make His face to once again shine upon them.  Send someone, like a Moses to rescue us from our bondage and we will serve you forever, is the final cry from this psalm.  God did and His name was Jesus.

Romans 1.1-7  Paul describes himself as a servant of the promised Savior.  Ahaz did not understand the prophecy given to him.   Judah didn’t understand their own request for a deliverer when they were exiled.  At the time of their visitation, the appearance of Jesus, the nation of Israel, the religious leaders, priests and Sanhedren did not recognize their savior.  Jesus was to be recognized by His power in healing and miraculous works, by His holiness, and surely by His sacrifice and resurrection, all of which were prophesied in the scriptures.

All of these men of old missed the obvious, yet obscured signs, because of the hardness of their hearts, even when Jesus was among them.  We then who have the perfect vision of hindsight, should have no problem understanding the word and works of God in our midst.  We who are saved by grace through faith in Jesus the Son of God, should not take lightly the scriptures, the Word of God, but study to understand and show ourselves approved unto God, workmen who need not be ashamed, rightly understanding the word of truth.  2 Timothy 2:15

Just a note of personal update on life for us in Missouri, for those back home in Joliet. The Lord’s ministry is flourishing here.  At Open Range Church, our home church, my Saturday night class is continually growing, a door is now open for teaching at the Abundant Life Bible study we attend, I get to preach on a scheduled basis at church and lives are being changed in many walks of life, including Walnut Waters, our Bed and Breakfast.  “The Word of God is living and active, …and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of our hearts.”  I pray that all is well back home, I surely miss you guys.

Karl

Psalms of Asaph

Psalm 78, 79, 80

Review & Analysis:  Psalms 78, 79, and 80 are known as metaphorical shepherding psalms … In 78, God is viewed as the One guiding Israel in their Egyptian experience and exit (78:12-20, 40-55) … In 79, Israel decides to be shepherded by God (79:8-13) … Lastly in 80, God is viewed as Israel’s caregiver (80:1-2, 8-11) … Sometime one can only express an experience with God through a metaphor, as it defies a precise description … Knowing human thoughts is not beyond God’s capability (Ps. 94:11, 139, Matt. 9:1-8, 12:24-30, Luke 9:46-48, 11:15-23) … The acceptance and efficacy of God’s influence within an individual thought life is impossible to know … Behind it all is our omniscient God … Human history is complete from His point of view … It is possible he bestowed special insights and wisdom to individuals near the beginning of history and had them written down to benefit all the generations of people that followed them … A prime example were the Hebrews from whom we gained values like laws, literacy, being chosen by God, righteous living, compassion for others, and salvation … Others include the Greeks and Romans for mostly different reasons … It is not beyond God’s purview to use peoples outside of His to help His (Ex. 12:31-36, Isa. 44:28, 45:1, Jer. 27:6, cp. Rom. 9, 2 Tim. 2:20-22) … This approach to the “human race” only seems fair, for the One that started the “race,” for the only One that understands the “race” … What is fair? … God must be fair, regardless of any and all circumstances, else he would not, could not, be God.

“There Is No One Like You”

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 (NRSV)

II Samuel 7:18-22 (NRSV)

Galatians 3:29-4:7 (NRSV)

 

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,…Stir up your might, and come to save us! Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved. (Ps. 80:1-3).

Times are difficult for Israel, as the Northern Tribes have been defeated by a foreign power, Assyria.  They had forgotten and forsaken the Lord their God.  But now, they cry out to God, remembering that the Lord is the true Shepherd, asking God to save them. 

Much earlier in their history as God’s people there was a time when David had become King and everything was going well.  So well that David had built himself a kings house.   After building his own house, David tells the prophet Nathan about his plans to build a house or temple for God.  Nathan is all for it as you would expect, but God is not.  The Lord informs Nathan that He needs no house to live in but he will make David’s house or reign great.  When David hears the news that God has other plans David prays thanking God for everything the Lord has done for him. And in this prayer he acknowledges the greatness of God.  “Therefore you are great, O Lord God; for there is no one like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears.”

It is true, “there is no one like [our God], and there is no God besides” the one true God who is our Shepherd, the Good Shepherd.  We are reminded of God’s goodness, greatness, and graciousness in Galatians for the Lord has sent us his Son to redeem us.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. (Galatians 4:4-5)

Called out and claimed by Jesus we become part of God’s family as his children.  This is in and through the Lord Jesus, our Redeemer.

Celebrate the goodness, greatness, and graciousness of God our Shepherd and Redeemer today and every day! Amen and Amen!         There is no one like our God!  Here’s a song to celebrate- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbsRIcihwcE

 

Go and Do

For all He has done for me!  

II Samuel 7:1-3

Now it came to pass when the king [David] was dwelling in his house, and the LORD had given him rest from all his enemies all around, that the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells inside tent curtains.” Then Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart, for the LORD is with you.

Todays Readings:  click here  – Psalm 80:1-7,80:17-19, 2 Samuel 7:1-17,Galatians 3:23-29

The opening passage to II Samuel 7, expresses that David is filled with such vigorous  gratitude for what God had done and continues to do for him, that all he wants to do is give back. Something! Anything, to prove his love and gratitude.  As,  I think of how King David may have felt, it brings to mind many times how I feel that same way when prayers are answered, wisdom is revealed, truth is unveiled, love is abounding, peace is brimming, grace is given and Jesus is all around Philippians 2:13  .

This feeling is uncontainable, unstoppable, even irresistible when I see God’s mighty works unfold before me.    Knowing I was created ON PURPOSE for A PURPOSE,  fuels my desires to serve and give back when and wherever I can. This was especially true in my early days of my faith walk, that I said YES to everything that came my way.  I thought, well it’s for the church, work for God, I can’t say NO!  Until… my plate overflowed and I could barely keep up with it all. My time at home became less and less because of meetings, events, projects, outings and such.   Nothing was getting my best work, but everything was getting a bit of my work.  Until… I realized that this is not what God wants… He wants my BEST work. Which means, realizing my gifts and talents and putting my focus in those directions and to clearly and  prayerfully consider my YES’s and  trust that  God would make room for me to do my BEST l John 2:27 .

This practice has led me to serve with a purpose, a heart of appreciation for hard , and to do it all for HIS glory and nothing less.  I attempt to approach each task with confidence that God is my strength and my portion that I need 2 Corinthians 2:14  .

Serve with a pure heart of gratitude, with your audience of ONE Matthew 6:1 . Let God be your direction and beacon of light as you open your heart to Jesus and follow Him.  I like to call it an ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ Proverbs 16:9 .

Give it a try, He won’t let you down.  When one opportunity door closes, He is sure to lead you to another one that He has prepared for you.  Be ready for what He has in store.   Go and do… because the Lord is with you Acts 9:6  .

Prayer:   Lord, my eyes and heart see how you take such good care of me. I want to live my life serving you on purpose,  with a purpose. Help me to see my gifts and use them for your glory. Cover me with the  Holy Spirit to guide me and give me strength, power and wisdom so I can GO and DO.  In your holy name I make this grateful prayer.   AMEN!

Kris

Psalm 42;
Zechariah 8:1-17;
Matthew 8:14-17, 28-34

Psalm 42.

First, you have to listen to this. It’s Psalm 42 and it is beautiful:

I listened to a sermon at my sisters church back in June where this was a major part–being satisfied in the Lord. This song was played and I fell in love.

When the psalm was written, Jesus hadn’t come yet. The psalmist cried out that God had forgotten him (remember, the Holy Spirit wasn’t with the people then like He is now) and he was real with God. He was honest, raw, and in pain.

A deer pants for water only when he is desperately in need of it. The psalmist is in so much sorrow that he can’t eat and has been eating his tears. That’s anguish. That is pain.

That is where we find our psalmist.

But hope prevailed.

The song that I posted differs around v. 6 because we have the Holy Spirit. We have received Jesus. We are satisfied and renewed with Jesus.

That being said, we will still be downcast sometimes. We will still be mocked by people who jeer at us and say “where is your God now?” We will face hard times.

And we will keep hoping in the Lord.

We will keep relying on the Lord.

The Lord is our Rock and He is not shaken when we are.

May this song bless you as it’s blessed me.

Blessings,
Karissa

Hope in God

Psalm 42

Isaiah 29:17-24

Acts 5:12-16

Psalm 42 is a great prayer that I think everyone needs in their lives. God, I long for you. I NEED you in my life. My soul is hurt; broken even. I can’t do this thing called life without you. Have you forgotten about me, God, in my time of greatest need? Ultimately, it ends with saying that I know I can put my trust in you, God, because you are my savior. 

Isaiah 29:17-24 isn’t much different. You get the sense from reading this that up to this point, things haven’t been going great for Israel. Maybe it seems like they can’t get much worse than this. Crops haven’t been all that great. Other people have been mocking Israel. Israel is surrounded by evil. Yet, the reassurance is that the time will come when God will restore hope and bring justice to those who have been trying to tear down Israel. 

The apostles in Acts have been doing things that are so amazing that everyone is trying to get to them for their healing power. Everyone whose eyes were opened to the Gospel realized they could be healed by their belief. They just needed to touch only the shadow of Peter, and the healing power just might come to them. Clearly, the Apostles must have been turning a lot of heads with their healing power that people were thronging to them in this way. 

Just like the writer of Psalm 42, the people of Israel in chapter 29 of Isaiah, and the new believers of Acts 5, we have a lot to look forward to if only we put our hope in the right place. We can hope that we can fix things on our own, or that another person can fix things for us. 

Example: As we head into another election season, we can put our hope in the Republican and Democratic candidates to “fix” the problems in America. 

 -OR-

We can put our hope in God. The one who has the power to restore Israel. The one whose power could make the lame walk and the blind see. The one whose Son overcame death and rose. 

One of those two is more likely to gain results in the end. I don’t know about you, but I’m putting my hope in God.

Old Things Have Passed Away

neighbor-message

 

2 Corinthians 6. 17

Luke 4. 16-19

Luke 10. 25-37

 

Paul was writing to the church at Corinth explaining to them the essence of the New Covenant as opposed to the Hebraic old covenant, as stated by Paul, not in relation to the eight Covenants of Jehovah to the nation Israel, but as a common understanding of the requirements of the Law of Moses.  The old covenant that he refers to is self effort in the attempt to keep the Law as is required to merit favor with God.  This law of Moses, Paul tells us in Galations 3.24, was sent to Israel as a tutor to lead them to Christ, so they could be justified by faith, not by works.  No matter how hard they tried no one could keep all the points of the Law, though the Pharisees came close in their self discipline, they failed in the larger areas, like pride, compassion, and love.

So as Jesus started His ministry in Luke 4.16, He entered the synagogue and stood up to read, from Isaiah 61.1 ” The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives. Is.35.5 And recovery of sight to the blind. Is. 58.6 To set free those who are oppressed. Is. 61.2 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” It’s important to note that He left out the last half of this last verse which says, ” And the day of vengeance of our God.”  In Israels way of thinking, one can’t have the full blessing of God with out the destruction of their enemies.  This story in Luke 4 reveals this, as this synagogue tried to push Jesus off a cliff in verse 29.

Now in Luke 10.25-37 Jesus is faced with a lawyer trying to put Him to the test, saying ” Teacher what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Jesus says “what do you think?”  He answers, ” You shall love the lord your God with heart, soul, strength, and mind, and your neighbor as your self.”  Jesus, ” you answered well.” The man, “Well then who is my neighbor?”

To the Jewish mind, a neighbor can only be a fellow Jew.  Gentiles are not in the equation at all.  So Jesus answered with the story of the Good Samaritan:  A man is on his way to Jericho and is beaten and stripped of his clothes and money, and left unconscience. A priest traveling the road sees the man but cannot help because of ceremonial restrictions of cleanliness.  A Levite following also has similar restrictions, along with political reasons too, so he passes by with out helping.  Next comes a Samaritan, who stops and helps the man. ( Samaritans are hated by the Jews because they were half breeds of the Jews, they worshipped in the wrong locations, worshipped idols, and rewrote the Torah to accommodate their positions).  This Samaritan then dresses his wounds, takes him to an Inn, and pays for his well being.  Jesus then asks the lawyer who was the neighbor to this man?  The Lawyer says,”the one who showed mercy toward him.”

Jesus quickly revealed to this man that the true relationship that God wants is for us to “Love God with all your heart, soul, strength, mind, and your neighbor, and your enemy.”  This new requirement of the Law, revealed by Jesus,  just put the demands of the Law completely out of reach for even the most disciplined man, and proved what Paul said it would do.  The Law was a tutor to show us we need a Savior, and when we cry out to that Savior, Jesus Christ, for help, for salvation, we then are no longer the same, but are born again, and made new creations in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5.17 ” Therefore if any man is in Christ he is a new creature; behold old things have passed away; behold new things have come.”   God brought us into harmony with Himself at the cross of Jesus, we who were in discord, are now in harmony with Him, the Creator of the universe.

Karl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Birth & Rebirth

1 Samuel 2:1-11

Review & Analysis:  First Samuel begins with the birth of Samuel (1:19-23) to a previously barren women Hannah (1:1-10) … Polygamy is a feature of the OT (Deut. 21:10-17) .. The practice was and is fraught with more difficulties compared to monogamy (Matt. 19:1-6, Eph. 5:18-33, cp. Gen. 2:21-24) … More than one wife, men out there in cyberspace, can you imagine a more complicated way of life? … The birth of Samuel represents a rebirth of Israel … Hannah celebrates Samuel’s birth in a prayer of celebration, rejoicing in the LORD (vv. 1, 2) … The proud, the arrogant, the mighty, they ultimately fail before God (vv. 3, 4), in a reversal of fortunes (vv. 5-8) … Those who are His are guarded (v. 9), their adversaries are broken (v. 10a) … This telling of “His king” (v. 10b) is a prophetic vision of Israel’s future governance, away from her confused Judges (Jud. 17:1-21:25) … It has been pointed out that similarities exist between the words of Hannah and Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) at the birth of Jesus … They shared a similar experience, something a guy will never comprehend … Certainly the sentiment they felt is stronger than mere words can express.

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