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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

August 2020

Lights Out, Power Off; God is Still at Work

Psalm 28; Genesis 39:1-23; Romans 9:14-29 (NIV)

Our power/electricity is still off (11:18 a.m.) since yesterday about 4:00 p.m.  So I will be quick and short.  We had 5 large branches from our big trees come down, fortunately all in the yard; one on our backyard shed, one on our play yard, one next to the house taking out our power lines, two more in the yard.  But none on top of our house.

We are thankful and sense God’s protection in the midst of the storm and aftermath. My brother, who has been terribly ill and on a ventilator for 5.5 days woke up yesterday and is following instructions, talking and making sense.  We are grateful to God for his healing power in my brother.

2020 is quite an unsettling year, Covid-19, protests, racial injustice, tornadoes, a derecho, hardship for the poor, rioting and looting, etc. etc.  I texted some friends, “Hopefully we will all survive 2020 and see 2021.”  I believe we will for God is our Rock, “To you, Lord, I call; you are my Rock, do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who go down to the pit. Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place” (vs. 1-2).

6 “Praise be to the Lord,
    for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
    my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
    and with my song I praise him.”

The Lord is our shepherd and will carry us forever as David writes in Psalm 28:9.

While my batteries are low and the power is not on yet, God’s power is always on and the Lord is with us always, our Shepherd and our Rock.  Praise the Lord for all his mercies!

Prayer- Lord we give you thanks for your presence, grace, and everlasting love.  Support the weak, the fainthearted, sustain the suffering and bring your wholeness, peace, justice, and goodness to us all and to all of our world.  We make this prayer in the name of the Suffering Servant, Lord, and Christ, our Savior Jesus.  Amen.

 

How Can It Be?

Today’s Readings:  click here  –  Psalm 28; Genesis 37:29-36; 2 Peter 2:4-10 (to open the scripture links – hover over, right click, open hyperlink)

Psalm 28, another beautiful prayer and praise of David.  Sound familiar?  It should, because that is exactly how we should be praying.  Trusting and praying out to our God in times of trouble ,fear and doubt.  Even in our waiting, we praise His great name and mighty works in our life, because when we can’t see what is happening within and around us, God is at work.  Someone wise once told me to pray, praise AND thank God often for answered prayers, even those yet unanswered because He IS working on my behalf all the time and it reminded me to be patient and grateful in the waiting, for God’s timing is always perfect. Here’s a wide list of scripture that confirms this:  Scripture – God’s  Timing.

Our Genesis passage today picks up after Joseph’s brothers throw him in a hole and deceive their Father to believe that Joseph has died.  They didn’t expect him to really be dead, which is what they thought when Joseph was no longer captive in the hole.  After Reuben’s reaction that the hole was empty, you might have thought there would be some positive action taken by the brothers. Perhaps they could have chased after Joseph and rescued him.  No?  Not these brothers. The first thing they do is set about to cover up their idiocy and deceive their father. There’s no remorse or sadness until they see what heartache and grief it brings to their father. And even then, they only try to comfort him. There’s no attempt whatsoever to try and make things right.   Lesson to learn here?   When we screw up badly, and we all do, it only makes it that much worse when we try and cover it up with lies and deceit.   And it just snowballs until things are totally out of our control.  So don’t cover it up.  It won’t work anyway. Deceit and lies are against God’s law right from the beginning with Moses and the 10 Commandments. God will ALWAYS reveal the truth in His timing and His magnitude. That stuff just eats at our hearts and our conscience until we can’t handle it anymore and we break, with God right there to rescue us, and revealing His mighty love and mercy for us, always.

Reading 2 Peter 2:4-10, one of many, certainly seems deemed for the days we are currently living. Our world is out of control, overwhelmed with fear, anxiety and uncertainty, so much changing and not for the better. These days align with what Jesus and the Prophets, Joel & Daniel and others, forewarned us about to prepare us for the ‘Last Days’ and Jesus’ return to save His people from destruction and take us to our heavenly eternal home.  Today, more than ever we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, read and study scripture and pray without ceasing to generate a sense of healthy and holy thinking and living when the world around us tells us otherwise.  We will be tempted to the point of destruction, but Jesus is our saving grace from our sins.  Hold fast to His word, love and mercy and find healing, strength and wisdom in these troubled days. Surround yourself with other believers to build each other up and stay on the straightaway with Jesus as  your guide. When fear, guilt, shame, doubt and temptation fill your heart, do not give in to them, release them to Jesus to remove them from your troubled heart and overflow your cup with his amazing unending abundance love, peace and joy, even in this troubled world.  It really is a beautiful thing if you just let Him in. Pray today that Jesus will hold your heart captive, to surrender your whole being, mind, body and soul to Him.  In a world so dark and sinful, let Jesus bring light to your life which is so worth living, for His glory.  Live everyday with Jesus at the helm.

Enjoy a few songs – let them speak to your heart today with prayerful thought and meditation.

‘Carry Us – Psalm 28’  by Matt Searle, performed by Miriam Jones

‘How Can it Be’ by Lauren Daigle

‘Christ Our Hope in Life and Death’ by Keith & Kristyn Getty, Matt Papa

‘Live Like That’ by Sidewalk Prophets

Prayer:   Lord Jesus, in one breath I pray and praise your marvelous, wonderful and mighty love for me.  Thank you for your unending mercy and forgiveness. Lead me and guide me in a way of life that brings glory to your name and illuminates my heart is this dark and crazy world unfolding around me. I trust you in my days of doubt and fear, my ever and always protector.  Thank you Lord for bestowing your love on me, abundantly than I will ever know.  In your holy name, Jesus, I pray this and so much more. m AMEN!

Kris

The Exploits of Jacob

Genesis 31

Review:  Jacob is told by Laban’s sons that he is rich (vv. 1-2) … The LORD commands Jacob to return to Canaan, away from Laban (v. 3, 13) … Jacob then recounts to his wives, Leah and Rachael, how their father Laban has cheated him (vv. 4-8) … In a dream, an Angel of God reveals the LORD has paid attention to Laban’s wrongs (vv. 9-12) … Rachel and Leah claim their inheritance (vv. 14-16) … While Laban is shearing sheep, Jacob camels his possessions, including Leah and Rachael, and treks for Canaan (vv. 17-21) … Laban pursues and catches Jacob’s caravan in Gilead, having been told in a dream not to be critical of him (vv. 22-29) … Laban questions Jacob about the taking of his gods and searches for them (vv. 30-35) … Jacob criticizes Laban for mistreating him for 20 years (vv. 36-42) … Laban proposes a treaty or malediction, that is a LORD supervised covenant marked by a pile of stones.  Whereby Jacob will rightly treat Rachael and Leah and Laban will end his pursuit of them and do Jacob’s family no harm (vv. 43-53) … Jacob offers a sacrifice to God, eats, and sleeps in the Gilead hills (v. 54) … The morning after, Laban kisses all of Jacob’s family good-bye and heads for home in Syria (v. 55).

Analysis:  This is a story of Canaan based Jacob taking leave of Syria based (probably Mesopotamia) Laban … Rachael’s taking of Laban’s gods (v. 19) and his subsequent all-out seek and search mission (vv. 33-35) testifies to their importance.  They were most likely heirlooms, proof that Laban was the rightful heir and leader of their family … That Jacob was angry in being accused of stealing such valuable possessions (v. 36) is not surprising. He is completely unaware of Rachael’s heist (v. 19) … Later these god’s are buried (Gen. 35:2-4) … The deal at Mizpah in Gilead (vv. 43-53) calls on YHWH t righteously judge either Laban or Jacob if they violate their agreement … To say there was a lack of trust between them, the same as today with Israel and the nations which surround her, would be an understatement.

Trust Jesus

Psalm 17:1-7, 15; Isaiah 43:1-7; Matthew 15:32-39

I’m going to keep this one pretty short I think. As I look at all three of these passages, one broad theme that I see through all three of them is that we just need to trust that God is in control. Giving up control is something that, if you are like me, is not easy to give up. I admit it, I can be a control freak at times. But in uncertain times, in an uncertain world, I know that I can’t control everything going on around me. As much as I would like to try, it just isn’t going to happen. I had a nice 2 minute conversation with a woman today who was picking up lunches for her children and we were talking about schools going back or not going back. And something she said that has stayed with me the rest of the day was that she keeps praying that God’s will be done. I’ve heard so many people talk about freedoms we have as laid out in our constitution, and those freedoms are what makes our nation great. But way more freeing than even those words written about 250 years ago by our founding fathers are the words from the Lord’s Prayer; “thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.” When we put our fate in God’s hands and trust that things will work out, it frees us from stress, anxiety, and depression. It’s not easy to trust God’s plan, but the more we leave our fears at Jesus’ feet in prayer, the easier I think it will be to leave this wild ride of life up to God to navigate for us. 

Last week was virtual VBS, and the catchphrase that was stated over and over again throughout the week was “Trust Jesus!” We just need to trust Jesus that all of this craziness will eventually simmer down and we can pick up the broken pieces and learn from them hopefully. Trust Jesus! 

Liberty

Philippians 2.1-2

Philippians 2.1-2 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, any affection and compassion, make my jot complete by being of the same mind,…

Concerning: affection and compassion. Romans 8.5 “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, on the things of the Spirit.”

Philippians 2.3 “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, regard one another as more important than yourselves, do not merely look out for your own interests, but for the interests of others also.”

We are all of great interest, and value to Jehovah. The key to caring, affection, compassion is regarding another persons needs as higher priority than your own. have no pride in yourself as to supersede the value of others.

Romans 8.32 “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things.”

Ephesians 2.7 “So that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” This is the affection of Jehovah, the love of God. There are, by my count, 49 individual attributes of Jehovah as revealed in the Scriptures, of which are affection and compassion. We also are not shallow single phase, or single planed persons, but multi faceted, and all of us are capable of affection and compassion, being as it were created in the image of God.

Romans 12.9-12 “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in in brotherly love; giving preference tone another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, servant in spirit, saving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation; devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.”

In Mark 5.1-20 the story of the demoniac in the Gerasenes is told. This man was exceedingly strong, beyond any normal man. He also was possessed, screaming in torment, frightful to be any where near, and naked, while also harming himself, and seemingly out of his mind. Any attempt to contain him was useless, even chains could not hold him. Then comes along Jesus who upon landing on the shore of the area, saw this man, called out to him, cast the demons out and got him clothes, and was having a conversation with him when the people from the near by village appeared. They were more afraid of Jesus than they were of the man, for He had the power to tame this man. As Jesus was departing the same night that He came, he appointed the man the mission of going through this are of the Decopolis and telling of the works of Christ.

Do you see that the mission of Jesus was to cross the Sea, for one night, for one man, for one reason. Compassion and affection, i.e. salvation, for this one man was the driving force for this mission.

Let us be of the same mind.

Karl

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