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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

January 2021

A Lament of David

Psalm 69

Review & Remarks: David is “up to his neck” in troubles metaphorically – water, mire, and floods (vv. 1-2) … Sobbing, dry throat, failing eyesight are his in waiting for God’s response (v. 3) … He is despised by many (v. 4, cp. Jn. 15:25) … Lord, you know me (vv. 5-6) … Because of my public relationship with You – fasting , sackcloth clothing, I am song for Jerusalem’s drunks (vv. 7-12, cp Jn. 2:17, Rom. 15:3) … I want out (vv. 13-15) … Deal me out!… LORD, listen to me, I have nowhere else to turn (vv. 16-18) … LORD, you’re witness to it all (v. 19), they are treating me horribly (vv. 20-21, cp. Matt. 27:34, 48) … Punish them, consistent with Your righteousness (vv. 22-28, Acts 1:15-20) … To summarize, David expresses God will eventually hear his concerns, and pleas and respond (vv. 29-33) … God will do His part in rebuilding Judah, into making it habitable for generations to come (vv. 34-36) … This is a similar vein to Isaiah 53, something I blogged on for Christmas Day, the Suffering Servant … A reference in my Bible associates Paul’s Rom. 11:9-10 with verses 22-23 … This psalm is classified Imprecatory as it calls for divine vengeance to befall the”enemies” of the writer … Imprecatory calls or prayers have been thought to be inappropriate for Christians to apply … Nevertheless, quite a bit of this psalm is quoted in the New Testament, including from Jesus as indicated above … Make up your own mind in this New Year … For what it’s worth, “making up my mind,” freely, on any matter that matters is not easy, as it comes with responsibility.

By Faith- Updated

Psalm 69:1-5, 30-36; Genesis 17:1-13; Romans 4:1-12 (NIV)

We live by faith even in difficult times.

In Psalm 69, a Psalm of David, we read of a most trying and troubling time for the King. Enemies are seeking to destroy him and so he cries out to God, “Save me, O God…I sink…I have come into deep waters…I am worn out…”

This past year we have all been through deep waters and the beginning of 2021 is challenging as well. We too can cry out to the Lord and share our troubles and challenges knowing that we will be heard. The Psalm ends with the praise of God for many reasons and because, “The Lord hears the needy…” Here we find faith.

In Genesis 17 we find faith in God on the part of Abraham. Just as Abraham left his home (Genesis 12) to go to a land that God would show him, in faith, so here we see Abraham, in faith, accepting God’s covenant with him. By faith Abraham says yes to God’s covenant and promise of many descendants even though he and Sarah are growing older and they don’t even have a single child. In faith Abraham says yes to God.

Sometimes it is in faith that we say yes to God for a future we cannot see but only trust God to bring to fruition. The Lord holds the future and even in dark times we can rest in the loving arms of our Heavenly Father.

Finally, in Romans 4, Paul reminds us that, just like Abraham we are justified by faith. Abraham’s faith in God was credited to him as righteous. When we trust in the Lord Jesus, put our faith in him, the righteousness of Jesus is applied to our lives and all of our sins are forgiven. We are accepted and loved by God.

It is by faith that we live. We can trust the Lord Jesus to see us through this new year of 2021 in each and every moment.

Prayer: God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we thank you for your saving grace and presence. Guide us this day and through this year and empower us to live by faith. We thank you for your amazing love shown us in the Lord Jesus, in whose name we pray, Amen.

By Faith

Psalm 69:1-5, 30-36; Genesis 17:1-13; Romans 4:1-12 (NIV)

We live by faith even in difficult times. In Psalm 69…

Lead By Example

Today’s Reading:  Click Here  –  Psalm 29; 1 Samuel 16:1-13; 1 Timothy 4:11-16 (to open the scripture links – hover over, right click, open hyperlink)  

As I read and reflect on our scripture passages today, I am compelled to take a closer look at myself, the beauty of the Earth all around me and just how I fit in, the role I am called to play, and my Lord God’s word that makes this known. 

Psalm 29 seems to illuminate the voice of the Lord, even in the storm. As a Psalm of David, in its poetic beauty, it describes the strength in a storm and unveils it as the powerful voice of God. It is pure praise. It does not call upon us to do anything because the psalm itself is doing the only thing it is compelled to do. It is praising God. Giving thanks and praise IN all things, even the storms!

Our 1 Samuel passage today, reminds me of that famous saying ‘don’t’ judge a book by it’s cover’. Not always is it referring to a book.  Thank goodness, God judges us not by our outward appearance but by our faith and character by seeing and knowing our heart. It is not how we look on the outside; the color of our skin or eyes, our body shape, what we wear, the hairstyle we have. What does our heart look like? What is God seeing?  Anyone can ‘fake it ‘til they make it’, appearing to be righteous and just on the outside, when really, on the inside, they are angry and outraged, frantic and insensible, broken and unstable. We can feel what’s going on in our own heart and live justly and accordingly to His Word even through a stormy vale. Seeing the hearts of others is not openly revealed to us, but often if we listen and pay close attention to the voice of others, we just may get a glimpse of their heart. I often pray that God helps me to have eyes to see the world and others through His eyes, with a heart to magnify His love unconditionally, without reserve, hesitation or judgement, but with a heart of compassion, empathy and pure love. I’m not saying it’s that easy, but when we are intentional to draw close to someone, God can render His love through us.

Our 1 Timothy passage today highlights our call to ‘Be the Example’. We all can recall these words; “Do as I say, not as I do.”   Anytime someone adopts this attitude, we most likely find it hard to respect that person, because it truly is hypocritical to say one thing and do another.  When a person’s actions do not match their words, integrity is lacking. And when one lacks integrity, credibility is lost.  It’s likely that we can no longer trust or respect one who continually displays a lack of integrity and no credibility.

So how does this apply to God’s word and His church as the People of God?  There is no teaching more important than the teaching of God’s word in the church, in our home and our community.  As Christians,   it is extremely essential that we often do a ‘Self Check’ to avoid being consumed by a wrongful and faithless attitude and approach to life.    Even though God’s word is true, if we don’t live and act according to it, we will soon lack integrity and lose credibility as a faithful follower of Christ Jesus.  Without credibility, people will not take God’s word seriously or as truth. I like to follow the GUT RULE, if it FEELS wrong, it probably IS wrong, and we should seek God’s word and prayer in those times of temptation and destruction to set us back on the straight away again. When we are still and focused on God’s word, we are able hear his voice and witness His power and strength as our own.

There are three disciplines that this passage brings to light;

  • set an example for others, (vs. 11-12)
  • do not neglect your spiritual gifts (vs. 13-14)
  • make visible progress and persevere (vs. 15-16)

The examples we set begin with the force of our faith and desire to serve God by our actions and behavior within our own lives to glorify and praise Him and extending His love to others. We are called to model this life of faith, to be an example.  Like children who learn from the example and teachings of their parents, whether good or bad, it is the same for us in living a life of faith committed to serving God, and keeping our ‘self’ in check to be the exemplar Child of God, the best we know how, and we know this by reading scripture, our life manual. We are to be a Christlike example, an inspiration and blessing to family, friends and others, even strangers.

Each one of us has been given spiritual gifts to do the work God has called us for. These gifts are to be used to serve God in the journey we are on. In verse 14, it considers the laying on of hands of the Elders to bear and bring forth the spiritual gifts within us. I remember this very well, moved by such spiritual force and crusade, I knew then, without a doubt that I was called to serve. Through prayer and supplication, I asked God to reveal my gifts and ways in which to best use them.  I found my passion in planning and developing practices that benefited the church and glorified God, as well as the deep care for others. 

Having recognized this, I have put my best intentions and strengths to work, giving 100% of my efforts  dedicated to the call of God’s work through the ministries of the church. Verse 15-16 instructs us to do this with outward measures for all to see, again setting that example. God acknowledges our work and deeds that glorify Him and serve His people, and His reward is ten-fold, which flourishes our desire to persevere and receive God’s extraordinary blessings. 

Go and hear God’s voice. Act on it. Set the example as a faithful believer for his glory. Model to the world what ‘a heart for God’ really looks like, and preserve always!

Here are a few songs for your spiritual listening pleasure and Advent meditation:

Alive & Breathing – Matt Maher feat. Elle Limebear (Lyrics) – YouTube

Start A Fire – Unspoken – Worship Video with lyrics – YouTube

Confidence- Sanctus Real (Lyrics) – YouTube

Who You Say I Am – Hillsong Worship [Lyric Video] – YouTube

PRAYER

Lord, let your voice ring loud through my praises that I would feel your Spirit move within me. Show me Lord, the way to be an example as your faithful servant and your beloved child.  Your blessings are abundant and your love is unconditional, because you know my heart. Open my eyes to see myself and others through your eyes. I persevere because you are my rock and you uphold me with your righteous hand.  May I always act on your precious love, grace and mercy! In this, I pray in Jesus, our Savior’s name.  AMEN.

Kris

Spiritual Understanding

Psalm 110

Proverbs 22:1-9

Luke 6: 27-31

Psalm 110 As we look at this psalm of David in our English translations it is more unclear than the Hebrew texts, which were somewhat unclear themselves, thus confusing even the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus day. Matthew 22:41-46, Mark 12:35-37, and Luke 41-44 all describe an event Jesus had with the scribes concerning this Psalm. (According to BHS Westminster Hebrew morphology, and Ginsburg edition of Masorah, pp.105-15 There are two words of similarity concerning Deity which are Adoni and Adonay, the former being a ‘master’ or ‘Lord’ in KJV English terms, the latter being substituted for YHVH, or LORD in KJV English terms.) The Psalm of David states in verse 1, “YHVH says to my Adoni, (a master) “Sit at my right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for your feet.” Thus a reference to Messiah, then in verse 4 the text says, “YHVH has sworn and will not change His Mind, ‘You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”‘ 5. “Adonay is at YVHV’s right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath. He will judge among the nations,…” The point here being the scribes could not understand that Messiah could be a mortal man, and God also. David in this psalm under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit reveals that Messiah, (Jesus) would be both God and Man, not just a Prophet, or an Anointed One, or a Deliverer like Moses, but YHVH Himself, in the form of a Son. It is passages like this from which we understand God in three persons, the Trinity. Jesus posed this passage to the sages of His day, who if under the leading of the Holy Spirit could understand, a Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but if not, they could not. Jesus is both Adoni and Adonay, both master and of the Godhead, both man and God.

Proverbs 22:1-9 A proverb about good and profitable conduct, or living. At the end of life do you want to be remembered for your good name, or your wealth? It is good to be wise and prudent, and there is nothing wrong about wealth. Some are wealthy and know how to make money, others don’t, but in all cases, both rich and poor, we are to be humble and generous. When you raise your children, they will understand your values, whether merely spoken or actually lived, they will know your real values, and will copy them, to your pride or shame. How do you want to be remembered?

Luke 6:27-31 In the sermon on the plain, the teaching of Jesus replicates here the sermon on the mount, recorded in Matthew. Verse 27 is the key to most of Jesus teaching, “let he who has ears hear,” in other words understand what I say as Spiritual teaching. The New Covenant that Jesus is introducing was prophesied by Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, and many others, and in a nutshell is, the Spirit of God is coming to indwell all who believe. We must be born again, we must be born of the Spirit. When that happens it’s easy to understand spiritual matters. Jesus taught, in part, “Do not regard wealth as something to be held onto,” ” pray for those that mistreat you,” ” give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours do not demand it back.” “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

The simplicity and the complexity of the Word of God depends whether you are understanding Spiritually or earthly. The Law of Moses was understood by Israel as with an earthly mind, or as Paul described it in 1 Corinthians 15:45 “So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life giving spirit.” 46. “However the spiritual is not first, but the natural, then the spiritual.” 47. “The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven.” Therefore, Paul explains in Romans 8:3 “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, Jehovah did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” If we walk according to the Spirit we cannot be victimized, no one can defraud us, or cheat us, or take anything away from us, for we have already given it away. The Lord gave all possessions to us and they are on loan until He decides to move it on to someone else. When that happens we merely wait patiently until blessing from God comes our way again. Desire not earthly things, but eagerly seek the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and He will take complete care of you. You are born of the Spirit, therefore walk in the Spirit, trust in the One who loves you, and be not conformed to this world and it’s economy.

Karl

Spiritual Wisdom

Proverbs 3

Review & Remarks: A covenant exists between those whose heart and life has been changed by the Word of God. It gives life to peace, mercy, and truth. Not only is the Word to be remembered, it is kept before the eyes so it cannot be forgotten (vv. 1-4) … Trusting in God is an admission of one’s incomplete knowledge (v. 5) … One who has been humble in their own self-assessment can more easily be YHWH guided (v. 6) … A wisdom driven life denounces self-sufficiency, evil, and fears the LORD, resulting in strong bones and healthy flesh (vv. 7-8) … There’s little doubt Western Civilization has had more fear of the LORD than she currently does … Humanism, that of mankind being the center of earthly life – including the control of weather and climate, has played a part … Certainly, His capabilities have not diminished … The LORD blesses life, with beginning it. Part of blessing is correction. The LORD’s chastisement is to help one grow in wisdom (vv. 9-12) … Wisdom and understanding are to be prized as the most precious of anything, simply nothing compares to them. All that is good is based on understanding and wisdom (vv. 13-20) … We have an invitation to enjoin the LORD in His wisdom (vv. 21-26) … Finally, instructions and good advise are penned on how to be at peace with each other and coincidentally in communion with the LORD (vv. 27-30).

We Yearn for Better Days

Ecclesiastes 3:1-13, Psalm 8, Revelation 21:1-6 (NIV)

We yearn for better days ahead as we start this new year of 2021. Last year, in 2020, while there was ” a time for everything,…and every activity,” there was too much disappointment, discouragement, and death. The covid-19 pandemic has ta ken too many lives, closed so many businesses, evaporated a lot of jobs, and devastated many dreams. On top of this there was political unrest and polarization that is still with us.

We yearn for better days with more life than death, worthy and productive work, and more wholeness, unity of purpose, reconciliation, and worthy accomplishment. We yearn for more because God “has set eternity in the human heart.” We know more positive transformation and accomplishments are possible for as Psalm 8 indicates, “[God has] made them [us] a little lower than the angels and crowned them [us] with glory and honor.” As the footnote specifies other translations have, “You have made them a little lower than God…”

We are wonderfully made and through God’s strength and guidance so much is possible. That’s the promise of God who seeks to work in and through his people in human history. As we long for a better world we can pray for better people and better leaders through whom the Lord can accomplish what is good and right and true. A better world needs better people and we can start with ourselves. We can ask the Lord Jesus to work in and through us so we are transformed, that we might be a transformational presence for Christ Jesus in our corner the world.

Given the sorrow and suffering of 2020 we long for that day, we read of in Revelation 21, when Christ returns and God “will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” We serve a wonderful, loving and powerful God who is “making everything new!” May God renew us as we begin this new year.

Happy new year to you and know that the Lord is alive, present, and active in our lives and in our world for good.

Prayer: Good and gracious God work your will and way in our lives through your Holy Spirit and the presence and strength of the Lord Jesus. Grant that we may grow and flourish in Christ as each day unfolds in this new year. Bring healing from the pandemic, strength to endure, and new hope as we make our journey of faith in 2021. We make this prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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