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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Brotherly Unity

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Psalm 133

“Behold,  how good and pleasant it is

For brothers to dwell together in unity!

It is like the precious oil upon the head,

coming down upon the beard,

even Aaron’s beard,

Coming down upon the edge of his robes.

It is like the dew of Hermon

Coming down upon the mountains of Zion;

For the LORD commanded the blessing – life forever.”

Jesus, please help me to shine within my local body of believers, so that others may be drawn to you. May your family grow in this community.  Amen

Karl

Jacob & Esau

Genesis 27

Review: Having previously swindled Esau of his birthright (Gen. 25:27-34), Jacob with his Mother’s encouragement (vv. 1-17) obtains Esau’s blessing (vv. 18-29)…..Comically, Rebecca helps Jacob deceive his blind father, Issac (vv. 15-16)…..Esau has been swindled by his brother again (vv. 34-38)…..Enraged, Esau confesses revenge to his Mother (vv. 41-42) who then advises Jacob to “run for his life” to his brother Laban (vv. 43-46).

Commentary: No one’s words or actions appeal to my eyes…..Possibly the most interesting character in the OT is Issac – beginning with his unlikely birth (Gen. 21:1-8), continuing to his near murder by the hands of his father, Abraham (Gen. 22:1-14), to his curious courtship of Rebecca (Gen. 24), his lapse (Gen. 26:6-16) just like his “old man” (Gen. 20) – a “chip off the old block” he is, his controversial occupation (Gen. 26:17-22), his faith (Gen. 26:23-25) this Jacob & Esau  affair, and finally at the end of his life he makes peace with Jacob (Gen. 35:27-29)…..The Hebrew meaning of the name Jacob is crooked…..Jacob is a reprobate in today’s passage, beyond question…..Later on, he improved admirably (Gen. 35:1-15) and reconciled with Esau (Gen. 33:1-16)…..The “tale of the tape” for Esau is that of irresponsibility in the sale of his birthright (Gen. 25:27-34) and marriage to multiple Canaanite women (Gen. 26:34-35, cp. 36:1-3)…..God’s choosing to work through Jacob and Rebecca led to the formation of Israel (Gen. 32:22-32), eventually leading to Christ (Luke 3:34-38)…..This history is so sorted, couldn’t God had created a better, cleaner, formation of Israel?

 

Purpose that Prevails

Matthew 9:35-38 (NIV)

Proverbs 19:21 (NIV) 

Jesus tells his disciples that he is sending them into the world “as the Father has sent me” (John 20:21).  Here in Matthew 9:35-38 we find what Jesus does in the world.

Jesus teaches the people of God, proclaims the good news (the Gospel) of the kingdom beyond the walls of the synagogue (church), heals, and has compassion on people.

These are compelling and guiding purposes.  Jesus seeks to live in us and wants to send us into our church and world, as he was sent.  He wants others each day to see Him in us.  “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:37).

Today, tonight, tomorrow, any day…will others see Jesus when they see us?  What do we want others to see?

    “Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).

May we always invite Jesus to live in and through us.

Craig Herr

Ambassadors…

2 Cor 5:17-21  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Devotional Thought:  We see ambassadors in many places, doing many things.  Ambassadors at hotels and resorts, car dealerships and college campuses.  The definition of ambassador is, “an accredited diplomat sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign country”; or, “an authorized messenger or representative”.  How do you see yourself as an ambassador of Christ?  How do you live each day as an ambassador of Christ to others?

If you are so inclined today…maybe you would like to share one way in which you are an ambassador of Christ in your daily life…..simply add a comment to today’s post.

God Will Provide

abraham

Genesis 22:1-19

Matthew 17:20

Have you ever noticed that sometimes, the harder you try to make something happen, the harder and harder it gets to make that thing happen? For example, when I write for this blog, the harder I work to find the words that I want to write, the harder it is to write. I think they call that writer’s block. It is also because I am by no means any sort of biblical scholar, so I have to work harder to find what I am looking for when I write. And also because I have a horrible disease called perfectionism. And that, despite the fact that I also know there is not really any such thing as perfect in this world. As soon as we reach what we may think is perfect, we find something better.

I think my struggle with faith is kind of the same way. Too often, I forget about simply having faith that God’s plan for me will work out. Even worse than that, the harder I try to have faith in God’s plan for me, the more I end up stressing and worrying about how things will work out. I guess it is kind of like when I have trouble getting to sleep, and the harder I try to sleep, the harder it is to get to sleep. If only I could let my mind go and not think so much about things.

I remember a coach from my childhood who would always say “don’t think.” As an athlete in a game, let’s say basketball, so much of the game is just knowing what to do and how to react to the defense because of the training that you have gone through at practice. Instead, you need to just do what comes natural, read and react to the opposing team’s defense, and make the play. If you overthink the situation, you are more likely to make a mistake or let your guard down and allow the defense to come in for the steal.

If only I had the same level of faith that Abraham had. Here is this man, who had to wait 100 years before having his first child. He finally has his first child with Sarah, and he is commanded by God to take that only child out to a place and give him up as a sacrifice. Without hesitation, Abraham takes Isaac to the place of God’s request. Along the way, when questioned by Isaac about where the sacrificial lamb is, Abraham’s response is “God will provide.”

If only I had that type of faith. I would never have to worry about how bills would get paid, how all of my work will get finished on time during the school year, how I will get the jobs around the house all finished. I wouldn’t have to worry about anything. Jesus said that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we could move mountains. I’m pretty sure much of the time, my faith is even smaller than that.

So my prayer for all of us today is that we grow in faith and trust in God’s plan for us. God will provide.

Faith in the Time of Trouble

Psalm 13

Gen 26. 23-25

Luke 17. 1-4

Jesus told His disciples that people were going to come into theirs lives that would be trouble to them.  He called them stumbling blocks.  So be aware, people will use you for your good nature, to gain something for themselves.  People will ask for your help, money, time, then after you have responded well to them they will forget you were ever there.  I personally have given time and expertise to many friends who, when I call for their help in return,  have no qualms about being too busy to help, or promise to be there but never show up.  It’s happened so many times that I have become so cynical that I honestly expect no one to ever return a good deed.  Jesus says , “Woe to them.  If though they come to you in repentance, forgive them.”

Psalms 13, is a cry from David for help from God for his enemies have come upon him.  I suppose that means those that are stumbling blocks to him. I don’t like to think of having enemies, but I guess those people who just take and never give back are in fact enemies.  They don’t have time for you, they don’t have concern for you, they don’t care if you are stranded, they just don’t care.  David says God, Elohim, cares.  He says His loving kindness abounds, and when all others drop the ball, God is there.

Genesis 26. 23-25, Isaac has been digging wells in a land he thought he was welcomed into, only to find the people of the land are filling them in behind him saying he wasn’t welcome to their water.  It’s no small matter to dig a well, sometimes going as far down as forty feet, to find the water table, then laying a stone wall on the way up to contain the water and maintain the opening.  It’s hard work, and time consuming, then to arise and find that’s been filled in overnight, might well be overwhelming.  It’s almost like not being welcome there.  So Isaac moves and moves to where no one cares anymore, then God shows up to pledge his pleasure with him and vows “I am with you, and will bless you, and multiply your descendants.”

Trouble and enemies can come into our lives daily, and sometimes without notice.  Be aware, and call out to Jesus, He really is a comfort, and a help in time of need.

The Test of Time

Psalm 13

Summary:  David laments God’s absence (v. 1), his problems (v. 2), and the progress of his enemies…..David wants God to act (v. 3), end his sufferings and remove his enemies (vv. 3-4)…..The psalm closes with an acknowledgement of faith (v. 5) with praise and thanksgiving.

Commentary:  The end of this psalm is a change in direction, to speaking about God from speaking to Him (v. 6)…..The feeling of this psalm is what we feel daily, sometimes hourly, regarding our plight…..The godless assert that God is “out of touch,” an opinion David vigorously refutes (Psalm 9, 10)…..The passing of time, waiting for God to act, is something that was endured by peoples in both the Old (Ps. 27:13-14, 37:34, 62:5, Prov. 3:5-6, 20:22, Isa. 30:15-18, 40:31, 64:4, Lam. 3:25, Hab. 2:1-3, Zeph. 3:8) and New (Acts 1:4, Rom. 5:3-4, 1 Cor. 10:13, Heb. 11:1, 12:1-3, James 1:1-8, 1 Pet. 5:10) Testaments…..Of course, waiting can be for our own good (Ps. 25:4-5, Rom. 8:18, Phil. 1:6, James 5:6-11, 1 Pet. 1:22-25, 2 Pet. 3:8-9).

Confessing your faith…

Today’s Passage:Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,  keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”  (1 Peter 3:14b-16)

Devotional Thought:  The very earliest statement of faith was a simple phrase.  “Jesus Christ is Lord!”  Most of us want to think that our lives are statement enough about our faith.  Live our our faith – everyone will obviously know we are Christians…right?  But…there are lots of people in this world who live out good lives…doing good for others…but who are not believers in Jesus Christ.  This leaves us with one of the hardest problems we Christians have…speaking about our faith…defending our faith…being “prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”.  So…what does it mean to tell someone that “Jesus Christ is Lord!”

Singing The Psalms

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Acts 16. 22-34

Psalms 119.61-62

Paul and Silas are preaching in Phillipi when they were being followed by a girl who was demon possessed, who recognized the Spirit of Jehovah in them, proclaiming,” These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” After days of this Paul cast the demon out of the girl, which made her masters angry for they profited from her demon possession. Paul and Silas the are arrested , beaten with rods, and thrown in prison, which included being put in stocks, in the inner prison.  Picture this if you will, they are bruised from the rods, bleeding extensively, placed in a dark filthy inner room of the prison, there is no light, their legs are stretched to the point of dislocation in the stocks, and vs. 25 says  “about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to Elohim.”  I always find it interesting to note the detail in which these stories are told. Singing at this period of time is not at all what we understand singing to be but was more like a chanting of psalms, which brings us to Psalms 119.61-62. ” The cords of the wicked have encircled me, but I have not forgotten your law.  At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You, Because of your righteous ordinances.”  Paul being a Pharisee quite probably had Psalm 119 memorized, and it seemed fitting to sing it at this time though he couldn’t possibly know what time it was. Everyone in the prison was listening to these two sang and were comforted by it, it seems.  Suddenly an earthquake arose, foundations were shaken, chains fell off, and doors were opened.  The guard came running and supposing all had escaped, he couldn’t see for the darkness, drew his sword to kill himself, probably for the sake of his family, when Paul shouted, “Stop for we are all here.”  The jailer then fell down and said “Sirs what must I do to be saved.”   The answer was “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

The power of the Spirit of God is so amazing, to bring to mind scripture when most appropriate, to find peace in the most unpeaceful places, and to bring about changed lives in the most challenging people.  We have to note that none of the other prisoners attempted escape also.  It seems the word of God had an influence on them too.

It is a benefit to us to memorize scripture, to be mindful of God’s working in our lives, to be a blessing to others, and to expect God to work in peoples lives.  ” The Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  Hebrews 4.12.

Karl

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