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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

January 2020

Blessed Are Those…

Psalm 146:5-10 (NIV)

Ruth 4:13-17 (NIV)

II Peter 3:11-18 (NIV)

“Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.” (Ps. 146:5)

How good life is for those who find their help and place their hope in the Lord God.  For the God who comes to us in Jesus is the Creator of all things.  Furthermore, this God, our God, “upholds the cause of the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, sets prisoners free, gives sight to the blind, lifts up those who are bowed down,…sustains the fatherless and the widow,” and more.

We see God at work, in Ruth 4:13-17, rescuing Naomi who has lost both her husband and her two sons.  Her daughter-in-law Ruth treats her as her own mother and remains with Naomi.  Ruth marries and has a son, who is the grandfather of King David and Naomi has a larger family to care for her.

II Peter 3 reminds us that Jesus will return again, evil will be destroyed and there will be salvation from God.

Blessed are all who put their trust in the Lord God.  When we are in relationship with the God of Salvation, known most clearly in Jesus Christ, we live in hope and we know the day to day help of the Lord.  Give thanks this day for the help and hope we have in the Lord our God. God is but a prayer away from us.

In Due Time

2 Peter 3:8-9 (NIV)

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Todays Readings:  click here  – Psalm 146:5-10; Ruth 1:6-18; 2 Peter 3:1-10

So often I have heard, read, or thought the words, “In God’s timing, not my own”.   Reading from 2 Peter 3:8-9 brings a bit of clarity and thoughts to consider.  I googled scripture for ‘God’s Timing’. There are pages and pages, Old and New Testament verses that speaks of this.  Check it out; God’s Timing.  

He is patient with us. I know that for a fact. He waited almost 38 years for me. Because He is all knowing, he knew what would become of my heart, of our relationship,  and He waited.   Like most unchurched adults, one day my heart was stirring and seeking, but I had that misconception that I had to get my life right before I could be worthy of His love and mercy. Believing that He loved me, let alone how much, was an even greater mystery.  ‘In Due Time’, God’s time, the perfect time, I was redeemed and set free. Mercy found me.

Today, I trust and believe with my whole being that there isn’t ANYTHING I can do on my own. I trust HIS timing.  It’s not easy, and always the waiting is the hardest part to not get caught up in doubt, darkness and wavering faith.  It’s about the true and intimate relationship with Christ that keeps me fixated on the Glory Road. Finding purpose every day in everything unveils God’s promises written all through scripture reminding of the day His mercy found me… IN DUE TIME.  I find solace and assurance through the lyrics of Christian worship songs. It is always a prayer on my lips.

Let His Mercy wash over you. Open your heart and be free. Live each day knowing that you are God’s treasured prize and He loves you unconditionally, higher than the heavens.  

Prayer:   Lord, you watch over us, waiting. Waiting for our hearts to seek and find you, in due time, your perfect time. You never leave us. Your mercy finds us over and over again. Our grateful heart rejoices at your name. We are chosen and redeemed. In Jesus’ holy name I make this grateful prayer.   AMEN!

Kris

Rooted

When I began being intentional with my pursuit to God I found Psalm 1:3: That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither–whatever they do prospers.

The image of my faith–and essentially my life–being a strongly rooted tree stayed with me. I have prayed in times of immense desperation that my roots grow deeper. I fall back on that image whenever I start to feel really out of control. It has been a great comfort to me to be honest.

“Let it Rain (Is There Anybody)” by Crowder is a big go to song for me when I’m stressed out.

The words in Psalm 21 speak to this image: “For the king trusts in the Lord; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken” (v. 7).

I want those roots. I want to have a faith so strong and sturdy that I cannot be shaken.

Notice too, in Psalm 1:3, not only are the roots deep–but they are next to a stream.

Jesus is living water.

I want my roots to not only be deep, but closely connected to an eternal source of life.

Can you see it?

Then Matthew 12:35 goes on to talk about what is stored up in a man is what is produced–good for good and evil for evil.. Like a tree that gains its life from a great stream, I want to be a woman whose connection to Christ produces such good fruit no one can doubt that I am His.

How rooted are you feeling today?

Blessings,
Karissa

A Psalm of Solomon

Psalm 72

Review & Analysis:  The King bestows his kingdom to his son (v. 1, Dan. 7:9-14, Rev. 5:1-10) … He will righteously judge the poor, the terrain, and oppressors (vv. 2-7, 12-14, cp. Isa. 11:1-9) … The emphatic word is “righteousness” … The extent of his reign is from “sea to sea,” “from the river Euphrates to the ends of the earth,” and “all existing wilderness (vv. 8-9) … Everywhere under  the sun (cp. Eccl. 1:9-10) … The kings of the earth will offer him golden gifts and he will be their ruler (v. 10, 15, 17) … Our earth will bountifully supply grain and fruit to all (v. 16) … The closing “doxology” (vv. 18-19) leads to a postscript alluding to the covenant God made with David (2 Sam. 7:8-17, cp. 2 Sam. 23:1-4) … The ideal king would, in theory, bring “shalom” to all the earth … No human is capable of this ideal, only Christ Jesus (cp. Luke 4:16-21, 5:1-11, Jn. 18:33-37, Rev. 19:11-16).

Right Living-The Good Life

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19 (NIV) 

Isaiah 30:19-26 (NIV) 

Acts 13:16-25 (NIV) 

In Psalm 72 there is the prayer that God would endow the king with justice and righteousness.  Why this request?  Any person of faith understood that a good King would seek to rule and live by the justice and righteousness of God.  When there is justice and righteousness in leadership, life gets better for the nation and the people.  Righteousness is about right living; that is right thinking and right doing.  It’s about doing the right things in the right way at the right time with the right attitude.  It’s thinking and doing what God wants; always following God’s will.  When leaders and people throughout the nation live in God’s righteousness, everyone benefits.  Life is better. The afflicted receive justice and needy children are protected. People flourish.

In the Isaiah 30 passage we read about Israel in captivity.  They forgot to live by the righteousness of God and life deteriorated, so much so, that they were conquered and carried off to a foreign land.  But God is still active and will call to them and share with them the righteous way of life.  “This is the way; walk in it.”  When they throw away their idols and return to the Lord, that is to righteousness, they will have a much better life.  They will sow seeds and farm and there will be rain and the crops will flourish and be plentiful.  The Lord will bind up their bruises and heal their wounds. Once again they will be a people who live in the righteousness of God’s good will.

In Acts 13, Paul is going from city to city to share the Good News of Jesus.  The first thing he usually does is to visit the local Synagogue to speak to the Jewish people.  Here he reviews their history from Egypt to King David.  The significant thing about David is that he “was a man after [God’s] my own heart.”  That is, he lives the righteous life and does what God’s wants him to do; for the most part.  But there is one of David’s descendants who lives perfectly in righteousness.  And that is the Savior Jesus.

Right living is all about following the Savior Jesus.  Jesus is the righteousness of God in person.  Let’s follow Jesus and open ourselves up to God’s righteousness; that is right living, thinking, doing, and existing.  Right living, in Christ Jesus, is the good life.

 

Growing Stronger Branches


Isaiah 4:2-6 (MSG)
And that’s when God’s Branch will sprout green and lush. The produce of the country will give Israel’s survivors something to be proud of again. Oh, they’ll hold their heads high! 3 Everyone left behind in Zion, all the discards and rejects in Jerusalem, will be reclassified as “holy” – alive and therefore precious. 4 God will give Zion’s women a good bath. He’ll scrub the bloodstained city of its violence and brutality, purge the place with a firestorm of judgment. 5 Then God will bring back the ancient pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night and mark Mount Zion and everyone in it with his glorious presence, his immense, protective presence, 6 shade from the burning sun and shelter from the driving rain.
Further study scriptures for today: Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19;  Acts 1:12-17, 21-26.
What a BEAUTIFUL image… God’s branches to  burst in lush green spouts, to claim us as HOLY – alive and therefore precious!’  This parallels one of my favorite verses, John 15:5 that Jesus tells us ‘He is the vine and we are the branches, cut off from Him and we can do nothing.’  This I believe fully.  I’ve seen it in my own life. In times of trials, doubt, busyness or self-righteousness, along comes a song, a sermon,  a scripture, or even wise words of a friend to remind me to check my branches, examine my heart, change my ways, and find God’s purpose again.   
When my heart is aligned with Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit and God’s love flowing through my veins, I know there isn’t anything I can’t do no matter what purpose or goal is on my plate. Once I recognize  this certainty, I then am able to see God’s plan slowly unfold, with His strength woven into the very fibers of my works,  and I trust, beyond any doubt that whichever task that I take on,  that if in the end it is not for God’s glory, it is a waste of time.  And it has taken me a lifetime to figure this out and to stop wasting time. There is so much good to be done, we just have to open our eyes and hearts  to see what is around us.
To be fruitful is to grow fruit [of the spirit –Galatians 5:22-23) on our branches [life with Jesus]. A life devoted to serving with a purpose that brings honor and glory to our King.  To be intentional to prayerfully consider what comes our way and trust Jesus in it all, He will make it happen with the time, talent and treasures that God has given each of us.  As we sharing and extend God’s love and message to all we encounter, we experience  peace and contentment, even in the busyness and chaos of life.
Picture a tree, like the one above.  The strong tall trunk is Jesus. We are the branches that sprout from that trunk.  The  leaves are the fruit we produce [love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control].  If a branch is cut from the tree, it and the fruit/leaves wither and die.   We are alive and living, and this image is a keepsake of Jesus in the forefront of our lives, because he is our source of life, strength and eternal salvation.
See the beauty of lush and blooming trees all around and be reminded of  your relationship and life with Jesus, our Savior, our conduit to our Heavenly Father. 
 
Prayer:   Lord, let my branches flourish and bloom and be fruitful.  May my heart be in tune to you with every choice, decision, and step I make.  May all that I do be for your glory and Your glory alone. You Lord, are my source of live – I am Alive!   AMEN!
Kris

What’s in a Name

 

In the Psalm we see that the Lord is with David and Israel. He is why they escape enemies, He is a rescuer and redeemer. The psalmist writes: “Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (v. 8).

The name of the Lord is help–just His name. Every time I hear that, I am amazed. I was talking to a little girl once about nightmares. We were talking about how I was afraid of the dark and she was afraid of the dark… I told her when she gets scared she can say “Jesus” out loud and whatever is scaring her has to go away–because the name of Jesus has that much power.

This is truth for everyone, but adults have so many more doubts and aren’t nearly as likely to actually do this. To actually say the name of Jesus as a prayer when they feel scared, stressed, or anything (shouting the Lord’s name in anger/vain doesn’t count as praying it).

But a seven year old girl? Her eyes lit up and she understood that the name of Jesus held power–she understood in the same way that the psalmist understood.

There is power in the name of the Lord. There is power in the name of Jesus.

Blessings,
Karissa

 

Clothe Yourselves in Christ

Isaiah 2:1-5

Psalms 122

Romans 13:11-14

I’m going to add Matthew 24:36-44 to these three passages. Isaiah 2:1-5 and Psalm 122 are related to the second coming and the judgment of Israel. Romans 13:11-14 is about being prepared for when that time comes. I am adding the Matthew passage as a reminder that, although we may see the current times as headed toward apocalyptic times, Jesus himself said that even HE didn’t know the time, but only the Father. For the record, as crazy and out of control as the world seems now, keep in mind that in the Middle Ages, as the plague was ravaging all of Europe, killing 25% of the European population, people in those times thought that was the beginning of the end times. Yet, here we are about 800 years later. 

So, although we can see the signs all around us that COULD be pointing to the second coming, we don’t REALLY know. With that being said, so now what? If you ask me, whether or not the second coming is before I can post this blog entry, or 10,000 years from now, we should be following the advice Paul gives in Romans 13. “12b So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”

Sometimes I (and probably most everyone) get that empty feeling inside. Some people get that feeling more than others. Some of those people fill that emptiness with sexual desire, drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc. Instead, we should be filling that “hole” with the love of Christ. Filling the hole with those other things is only a temporary fix, and often leaves you feeling worse afterwards. But filling that void with the Word is everlasting, so long as you believe it to be true. I leave you with one of my favorite, and most reassuring,  Jesus verses from Matthew 28:20b: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” 

Working Together With Him

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2 Corinthians 6.1

 

A fascinating passage in this Pauline epistle is Chapter 6 verse 1. “And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain.”  Very simply the context in which this is written is, the Greek believers in Corinth are struggling with what is acceptable behavior.  They have come to accept some blatantly wayward, fleshly concepts, that are unacceptable to God.  Just as in the church today, as time goes by the habits and culture of this world start to seep into the church.  Pre-marital sex, adulteries, pride, arrogance about the forgiveness of sin, grace being abused, alcohol being abused, tolerance for sin in general is rampant.  Paul addresses each issue and the pleads with the Church to be reconciled to God, to be brought back into harmony with God in His holiness, and purity.    2 Cor. 5.17 ” If any one is in Christ he is a new creation, the old things have passed away. behold all things are new.”  2 Cor.5.21 For ” He made Him who new no sin, to be sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

We, who are believers, are new creatures. and are made righteous, which includes holiness, and purity.  Then Paul declares that He is in partnership with Jehovah, the Creator and King of the Universe, working together with Him, and as we are being brought back into harmony with God: A. it is a privilege to be a part of God’s kingdom, “We are new creations,”  B. it is by desire to please Him that we serve completely, we are not along for the ride but on the team, C.  with integrity, and holiness we never discredit the ministry.

As believers in the Messiah of Israel, we are plugged into God’s grace, filled with His love, led by the Holy Spirit, sensitive to His leading, in communion with Him daily, and fed by His Word.

Galations 3.3 “Are you so foolish, having begun by the Spirit are you now being perfected by the flesh?”   I don’t think so, but let us be on guard to be aware that the world and the satan are constantly trying to infiltrate, deceive, confuse, and disrupt our lives both at home and in the church.  Ephesians 6.10 “Finally brethern be strong in the Lord and the strength of His might,” in this new Year.

With Love, Karl

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