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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

July 2020

Well Lit

Today’s Readings:  click here  –  Psalm 119:105-112; Deuteronomy 32:1-10; Romans 15:14-21                                                (to open the scripture links – hover over, right click, open hyperlink)

Our reading in Psalms 119 today, begins with verse 105, with words to a hymn that I fell in love with right from the beginning; ‘Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path’.  It was one of the first Christian songs I would sing in the shower. Hearing this brings me right back to those early days of my faith journey and oh how I love to embrace those memories; a time when feeling new and alive was a spark to a forever flame.  Like many songs, hymns and scriptures, back then I didn’t quite understand their full meaning or how they would weave amid the fibers of my heart and soul. God’s word truly is the lamp within me and that lamp is the light on the path before me.  God’s light.  I began to embrace that light more and more, trusting it and calling upon Him as I would fill with God’s light and love through His word, song and prayer; changing me, and pouring out strength and confidence with His light upon my path.  

The word of God directs us in our work and way, and a dark place indeed the world would be without it. The commandment is a lamp kept burning with the oil of the Spirit, as a light to direct us in the choice of our way, and the steps we take in that way.

David continues that because of God’s goodness, he keeps his word and commandments in focus and close at heart.  It appears easy to see how we would want to always strive to live out God’s plan according to His will, word and His blessings. The hard part is that we are human and obscurities veil us, that keeping our eyes on the prize becomes somewhat demanding to remain focused on His love, grace, and mercy.   In the end, it is eternally rewarding.

Deuteronomy 32 is one of the many songs that were given by God to Moses to write. Here we listen and are reminded of Israel’s rebellion, and as a  witness to God for their rebellion. It begins divinely with God commanding the heavens and earth to listen to the words of His mouth, and in doing so His teaching and doctrine drops as the gentle and perfect rain. As we read and witness the authority written with every word, our hearts are cleansed and shaped to identify God’s mighty love and purpose for us. This in itself is comforting.

In Romans 15, Paul is reminding us the importance of being filled with the Holy Spirit and to share the GOOD NEWS of the Gospel, always, whenever and wherever we are. We  never know when we may cross paths with someone who has never heard such a message. Or possibly someone who carries excruciating heavy burdens and can see no way out; but hearing God’s message of His son Jesus and the salvation and freedom His love extends, could be life changing, life saving. We may never know how many lives are saved because we share the gospel, but what a feeling it leaves when we do.

So never pass up opportunities to speak God’s word, truth and love with others, either through word, prayer or actions. We have to trust that our works are God breathed. We set the foundation and He does the rest.  It’s like cleaning a dirty window so God’s light can shine and Jesus can take captive their heart.  That is the grandeur plan after all. 

Enjoy a few songs – let them speak to your heart this day.

‘Thy Word’ by Michael W. Smith & Amy Grant

‘Deuteronomy 32’ by Highpoint Worship  

‘Nobody’ by Casting Crowns

Prayer:   Lord Jesus, as we read and study scripture we know  you are the lamp within us that lights our path. Let us not lose sight of that and always be on our guard, ready to share the Good News of the freedom and salvation we have in you, Jesus. Keep our light bright, our path lit, our hearts attentive, and our eyes wide open. Come Lord Jesus, let your Holy Spirit fill us now and always.  AMEN!

Kris

Lamp

Psalm 119:105-112
Exodus 3:1-6
Romans 2:12-16

Today’s great because there are verses in each reading that really resonate with me and I want to share with you why they resonate with me and how they are still applicable today.

Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.

Though I constantly take my life in my hands,
I will not forgot your law.

Psalm 119:105 & 109

Light and dark are common themes in the Bible. To simplify it: The World (and all the sin that it has) is dark and the Lord (with all His Truth, Grace, and Mercy) is light.

The author here knows that the World is filled with darkness. Imagine walking down a dark hallway–you can’t see in front of you, behind you, or either side of you. Now imagine there was a suddenly light just enough for you to see the next step forward. So you step. Then another light shows you where to step next. On and on and on.

That’s what it’s like to have the Word as a lamp that guides you.

A little further down I love it because the author admits that he tries to take his life into his hands (and if you tell me you’ve never tried to control you’re life I am not afraid to call you a liar) and he knows taking his life into his own hands because he uses the the word “though.” So, despite the author trying to control his life, he cannot forget the laws of God and the Word of the Lord keeps guiding him–even when he wants to take a side step.

I know I’ve side-stepped; but because the Word of the Lord is tattooed on my heart and I belong to the Lord through Christ His bright light will always guide my path back to Him.

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground”

Exodus 3:5

There are a lot of ideas about bare feet when it comes to the Lord: we were created naked and so our feet were in constant contact with the earth, to go on holy ground the Old Testament men were to take off their sandals, and Jesus’s gift of washing feet requires the removal of sandals.

In my narrative English based brain what I see is a connection to God when we take off our shoes–a chance to experience what God wanted for us before sin entered.

It also reminds me of this spoken word, which you should listen to because it’s awesome.

The Romans verse needs to be read in full Romans 2 context to really understand what Paul is saying.

The main point of Romans 2 is declaring God’s grace, His lack of favoritism, and that because of Christ the Jew and the Gentile are equal. The beginning of Romans 2 reminds us not to judge others.

Many Blessings,
Karissa

Spring always comes after winter

Song of Songs 2:8-13; Genesis 29:1-13 (The Message)

Romans 3:21-31 (NIV)

Song of Songs 

One of the Books of Wisdom, Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon) is a poem of love between a man and a woman. In chapter 2, she speaks of her excitement for her lover’s return to her, and he invites her to come with him into the countryside. Springtime has arrived and love is in the air. 

Genesis 29

Jacob has come to the land of Paddan Aram, to land owned by a member of his family. He meets some shepherds who know Jacob’s uncle, Laban. As he is conversing with the men, he sees Rachel, who is Laban’s daughter, making her Jacob’s cousin. In perfect manly fashion, Jacob removes the stone covering the well by himself. Likely, this stone would have been very heavy and required at least a few men to move it. But Jacob, in his excitement to see Rachel, and probably to show off, removes the stone all by himself. 

Romans 3

What Paul writes here, I can imagine, would have been somewhat controversial in its time. Paul says that there is no difference between Jews and Gentiles. They are all one in Christ. But in that time period, the relationship between the Jews and Gentiles was pretty contentious. The Jews saw the Gentiles as being less, and the Gentiles saw the Jews the same way. There was definitely no equality between them socially or politically…or religiously. But through faith in Christ Jesus, that barrier that existed between them was torn down. There was no longer Jew nor Gentile. 

Reflection

As in the Song of Songs, after the dark and cold of winter comes spring and a rebirth of all things that grow. The same eventually will be true for the tumultuous time we are going through now. Covid-19, quarantine, racial tension, and political tension all have us in some pretty dark and difficult days. But this too shall pass eventually. Hopefully we will all learn from it and grow as a result. My hope is that we get to a point where opposing forces can finally come together, work together, collaborate, compromise, and come out better on the other side. But all of those things are tough, even for adults apparently, and so we face some growing pains. But just like in Paul’s letter to the Romans, and also seen in Galatians 3:28-29, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free man, etc. etc., eventually we all have to get over ourselves and our ever-present need to be right while the other person is wrong. Eventually we need to see everyone as equal and one body in Christ Jesus. The phrase uttered hundreds of times in Game of Thrones was “Winter is coming,” and it was a long winter. Hopefully this winter proves to not last much longer. And when it finally has come to an end, there will once again be a spring, and a new beginning. And we will have learned from the mistakes of our past and grown together as a people. One nation, under God. 

A Messianic Prophecy

Song of Songs 2:8-13

Genesis 27:30-46

Romans 1:18-25

1 Corinthians 15:45-47

Romans 1:18-25 reveals that mankind in general has rejected the goodness, beauty, majesty, and power of Jehovah for a lie. All of nature has pointed man to this view of the goodness of Jehovah, but somehow we knew better and exchanged the truth for a lie. As in the beginning Adam chose the lies of Satan over the truth of Jehovah. 1 Corinthians 15:45 speaks of this in the comparison of the first man Adam and the second Adam, Jesus the Christ, who came to restore mankind through spiritual re-birth to the righteousness of God.

Genesis 27:30-46 tells of the story of Jacob and Esau, which again is addressed in 1 Corinthians 15:46-47 where Paul expands on the concept of the first and second Adam saying, “However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then comes the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; while the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy, and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.” Paul is describing the new life through Jesus Christ when we are born again, not of the flesh but the spirit.

Now concerning verse 1 Corinthians 15:46 the scripture reveals that, in fact, this is a Messianic prophecy, as in Mathew 20:16 Jesus said at the end of a parable about the kingdom of heaven, “so the last shall be first, and the first last.” And in Genesis 25:23 “The LORD said to Rebekah, ‘Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples will be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger.” So it was in the life of Esau and Jacob, where the older was to serve the younger, the first was to serve the last, the natural, earthy man was born first to serve the spiritual, heavenly chosen man, born last. So it was through out scripture, Aaron was the first born son and Moses was second born, but the first served the last. In the story of Abraham’s sons, the first born Ishmael, was the son of the flesh, the second born Isaac, was the son of promise. The first served the last. 1 Samuel 17:13 Jesse’s first born was Eliab, and his last born was David. David was the one who became King of Israel, and the first served the last. Even in the sons of Jacob, the older served the younger, though not as exacting, the younger son Joseph who was spiritually minded, was served by the older brothers who were earthly minded. These are in fact, Messianic, typical prophecies, meaning they are a type prophesy of the coming Savior.

When Jehovah goes to such intricate detail in the lives of His people, and the construction of the Scriptures, to reveal such detail, and exhibit such excruciating minutia in the creation of the universe, will He not also bring about the conclusion of the rebellion of Satan, and his minions, and the rebellion of mankind in like manner? In other words we can trust Jehovah to bring to a conclusion His salvation for those that love Him and serve the living God.

Since the rebellion of Adam and Eve there has been sin, turmoil, and strife on earth. As I was watching the History Channel the other day, they were discussing the great architecture of various empires from the Romans to the Chinese. As the different empires grew and expanded and built monuments and cities to their legacy, there were great engineering feats accomplished. In modern times we marvel at how it was done without electricity, hydraulics, steel, welding, or gasoline engines. The ugly truth is they did it through slave labor. People, the conquered people, were expendable. It was mentioned on the show that in Florence Italy where a great expansion was being planned, the the one thing that stood in the way were the rebellious citizens. So they gathered them together and killed them. Then all the others citizens were much more compliant and the work began. From the beginning of time there has been sin, turmoil, and strife on earth.

Only when Jesus returns, after the tribulation, will there be peace on earth.

Karl

A Typical History: Jacob & Esau

Genesis 27

Review:  Old Issac, nearly blind, tells his eldest son Esau to hunt down some game for a meal (vv. 1-4) … Issac’s wife Rebecca overhears and tells the youngest son Jacob to kill two choice young goats and she will stew them for Issac (vv. 5-9) … Jacob (means “crooked” in Hebrew) is to take said stew to his father for a blessing (v. 10) … Taking advantage of Issac’s dim vision, Rebecca stages Jacob to feed the stew to Issac and impersonate Esau physically (vv. 11-16) …  Jacob, acting the part of Esau, presents the stew and bread (vv. 17-20) … Rightly suspicious Issac attempts to verify the person of Esau by feel (vv. 21-26) and by smell (v. 27) … After the meal, Issac blesses Esau (really Jacob) telling him the riches of the earth and it’s people are at his control (vv. 27-29) … Esau, returning from his hunt, identifies himself to Issac (vv. 30-32) … Issac recognizes his erred blessing to Jacob (v. 33) … Esau laments his lost blessing (vv. 34-37), wanting one for himself (v. 38) … Issac tells Esau of his uneven future (vv. 39-40) … Esau hates Jacob to the point of wanting to murder him (v. 41) … Rebecca relays Esau’s intentions to Jacob, telling him to flee to brother Laban’s residence until Esau cools (vv. 42-45) … Weary Rebecca questions her future worth if Jacob weds a daughter of Hittite (v. 46).

Analysis:  For those believing the Bible not true to real life, refer them to Genesis 27 … Scandals and intrigue are a feature of our life, theirs too … Clearly both sons covet the value Issac’s blessing, rightly due to Esau … Rebecca plays the leading role in this scam (vv. 21-24) … Esau has a checkered past in selling his birthright to Jacob (Gen. 25:27-34), his multiple Hittite wives (Gen. 26:34-35), and in his wanting to kill Jacob (v. 41) … Jacob, the victor, did wrong … Esau, the vanquished, did more wrong … Such is history, winners and losers, neither are perfect, both sides are in the wrong to some degree (cp. Job 15:14, 25:4, Psalm 51:4, Rom. 3:9-20, Gal. 3:22, etc.) … It is a matter of faith (Heb. 11) to believe God sides with the “less wrong.”

An Aside:  I must relate my experience with blogging … I choose one passage around a  week before it’s date and begin to form my opinion of it … I do pray about it, questioning God what to do … A few days before, because I can’t type and think at the same time, I jot down on a piece of paper how to proceed … By the time I’m done, it’s nothing like I began … Might the Spirit be at work within even me?

Freedom to Love Fully

Psalm 45:10-17, Genesis 25:19-27, Romans 7:1-6 (NIV) 

In Psalm 45:10-17 a bride leaves her family to be united with her husband, in this case a king, and begin a new life.  So in Christ Jesus, our King, we leave an old way of life to begin a new life of love.  In Genesis we find the surprise of God blessing the youngest son, Jacob, and not Esau, the oldest.  The covenantal blessing will go through Jacob and not Esau.  In Romans we find the surprise (especially for Jews) of being released from the law to belong to Jesus the fulfillment of the law.

In belonging to Jesus, we die to much of the Old Testament law and now follow one who taught the law of love.  We are to love God and love our neighbor in thought, attitude, will, words, and actions.  There are both sins of omission and sins of commission not only in actions but even in our thought life.  Why such devotion?  So that we may “serve in the new way of the Spirit…” in honor of the one “raised from the dead…and “bear fruit for God.”

“So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4).

New life in Christ is all about bearing fruit for God, being free to fully live for Jesus and others in love.

Prayer- Saving and redeeming God who raised Jesus from death to new life release us to live in love for Christ in our world.  We make this prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

The ‘Glory’ Road

Today’s Readings:  click here  –  Psalm 47; Isaiah 51:1-3; Matthew 11:20-24    (to open the scripture links – hover over, right click, open hyperlink)

I just love when scripture, especially Psalms, like 47, open with reminders to PRAISE God, SING a joyful noise, clap and raise our hands, because Worship, of any kind, always fills my heart.  It’s what I relate to.  It’s how I feel God’s presence around me, and Jesus working in and through me.  Psalm 47 continues with reminding us who God is.  He is a Great King over all the earth. He reigns over all the nations, so sing and praise Him with the trumpet sounds and hearts filled with joy and gladness.  Gosh, what’s not love about that?  Oh, what feeling!

Our passage in Isaiah holds a lot to be desired.  It promises that we, His people, will find joy and gladness. It promises justice, and in v4-5, Isaiah 51:4-5,   we hear God’s promise of salvation.  In v1a “look to the rock you were cut from” clearly wants us to examine our heritage, our past, our roots, our foundation.  No matter what lies behind us, we are made in the image of God, and He is our rock. What  paths of greatness or mistakes that were made before us, should stir our souls in a way that makes us move forward with an unwavering endurance; to not ‘UNDO’ that past but to CHANGE and make it different, make it better, make a new way. God’s word is written for us to learn from the past and triumph in His victory.

‘Look to the rock you were cut from’ bears a resemblance of a language that fathers and coaches use to motivate youth.  These words speak to open our heart and mind to examine who we are; explore where we have come from—what is our history?   Consider our family name; it’s a legacy of reputation and strengths that we have gained inheritance through.  Living up to our potential requires that we embrace our heritage. It’s the conception to who we are, and what has been overcome, and God’s word is the energy and fabrication within us that moves us to be greater and better yet.  We don’t cower and forget our ancestry, we grow, change and move in a new direction with the HOPE we have in Christ Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Our scripture from the Gospel of Matthew today, underlines the act of REPENTING.  This is a word I did not fully understand. The formal definition is:  to feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin.  Yea, that’s what I thought it to be too.  However, bionically speaking, it has a whole different significance.   Repent, in scripture, means to change your mind, turn from your old ways, look to the new, choose a new path, pick up your cross and turn to God, the ONE who loves and saves, creator of the heavens and earth.

Living a sanctified life following, loving and serving our KING, Jesus, is a choice. A choice to ‘Change My Mind’ on how I live, think and act.  Early on, the distinction of confess vs repent was put this way to me and it made so much sense; When you know you have done wrong or messed up, confess this to God, seek His forgiveness, then REPENT.  What?  Repent? … make a solemn choice to ‘turn from your current sinful ways’; change how you think, feel, act, love, serve.  Repent… make it different, make it better, make it grand.  But we need God’s help to do this. We are not able to make this type of CHANGE on our own accord. When we feel we have been emptied of ourselves and things just get inour way, God steps in when we give it all to Him; we ask for His strength in our weakness and wisdom to see clearly the changes that need to be made. We choose Jesus, and we become  a ‘New Creation’ in Christ Jesus, 2Cor 5:17  with resolute faith. Nothing can stop it.  The choice to turn, change and take the ‘Hard Road’  is never effortless, but when we do make that turn, to choose and change,  it  leads to Jesus; a life filled with  grace, love, mercy, and freedom and our legacy carries on!

Enjoy a few songs – let them speak to your heart this day.

‘Clean’ by Natalie Grant

‘Motions’ by Matthew West

‘Legacy’ by Nicole Nordeman

‘Born Again’ by Third Day

Prayer:   Lord, your word confirms and reveals who You are and how much we need You.  We fall short of Your glory everyday.  Help us to see our shortcomings and sinful ways. Change our heart that we would confess, seek Your forgiveness and repent.  That we would choose to make a change for a life that embraces Your holy greatness and power. Unveil our eyes to see You, to feel Your presence and never ever wanting that that to be erased from our hearts. Fill us now with Your mighty wholeness and unconditional love. We ask these things and so much more, in the holiest name of Jesus, our Savior.   AMEN!

Kris

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