Every Day Words are short, one-minute devotionals written by our pastor and his wife. They were originally written 5 days a week but are now sporadic in their appearance.
Every Day Words | Daily Devotional
First Presbyterian Church • September 16, 2022
so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
– Ephesians 3:10
Knowing all we do about the nature and state of the church on earth, it is nearly unthinkable that God would choose to make us the great, glorious display of His wisdom. But, that is exactly what He has done. The church, as it is being perfected, is how the whole of creation, seen and unseen, understands God.
God is full of love for the unlovable. He is full of mercy for the unmerciful. He is full of grace for the graceless. And he takes those unlovable, unmerciful, graceless rebels and makes them sons and daughters. And then, slowly, He molds them into the perfect, spotless bride of Christ.
Angels and demons alike are amazed at His work on earth in the church. Scripture says this wonder is something “into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:12). We are often amazed when we think of the unseen realm and the power and majesty of those creations. But know this: we are the ones who are on permanent display to the cosmos, not them to us.
And why are we on display? Because we are redeemed and reconciled both to God and to one another. We are the witness to God’s amazing love.
First Presbyterian Church • September 15, 2022
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
– 1 Corinthians 1:2
We are made righteous in the eyes of God when we place our faith in Christ. But we live as sinning saints until the day we die or He returns. We are saints being sanctified. We are imperfect being perfected.
It is difficult to imagine a worse off church than the one in Corinth. They were overlooking perverse sin, refusing to come together for the Lord’s supper, and had out of control worship services. And yet, they were saints with the rest of the churches. They were an absolute mess of a body and yet they were just that, a part of the body of Christ.
A mistake that many make is to think the church is a place of perfection. This leads to two problems: 1. Those in the church with real problems refuse to talk about them and, instead, pretend as though everything is fine. 2. Those who are too loud about their own sin are made uncomfortable by those who pretend nothing is wrong.
We want to be a church that is always being sanctified, perfected, washed by the water of the Word, and made more and more like the perfect, spotless bride of Christ. We do not want to pretend that we’ve already arrived. We want to be a humble church, willing to acknowledge our sins and repent as we grow up together into Christlikeness.
First Presbyterian Church • September 14, 2022
For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men.
– 1 Corinthians 4:9
We, as Christians, rightly honor the saints of old—one of those being the Apostle Paul. We know he was godly, we know he was wise, and we know he was used by God in mighty ways. But to the men around him who were not believers, he was a complete and total failure of a man.
He had been a prestigious Pharisee, likely on track to become one of the high council. He was zealous and knowledgeable and learned. But when Jesus arrested him on the road, his prestigious resume was set aside for the superior worth of serving God as an ambassador in chains.
The church frequently assigns success to those who have never been in chains for the faith and have no enemies in the faith. But the world is not impressed with that. The world is amazed at the church who is willingly made a spectacle. They wonder at how this group of misfits and ill-begottens could be unified.
And so, the spectacle of folks who have given up the world for the sake of the world-maker is a stumbling block and foolishness to the world. They do not think we are wise because they think wisdom is found in themselves. They do not think we are humble; they think we are idiots. But God has chosen to make Himself known to the world in this strange way so that He alone gets the glory when people forsake the wisdom of the world for the wisdom of Christ.
First Presbyterian Church • September 13, 2022
I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
– Acts 20:29-30
Motives are sometimes hard to figure out, but they are important when dealing with men causing problems in a church. Are they working from a pure heart in hopes of helping the church, or are they seeking to draw men away to themselves? In other words, we must try to discern whether those in conflict love the church or themselves.
It is tempting to think that the worst problems for a church come from outside—but that is rarely the case. Often, the pressure from outside the church reveals conflict within that has been dormant and unseen.
This truth is hard to deal with even when we know it. We, rightly and in love, overlook many faults in one another. We bear with one another. We forgive one another. We rebuke one another. We weep with one another. We rejoice with one another. And then, against our great desire for unity and peace, it is broken by one of our own.
The worldly way of dealing with conflict is to try to ignore it. Pretending that nothing is the matter is a sure sign that severe problems are afoot. But to deal with it head on is also unpleasant because it requires judging the motives of a man. Nevertheless, we must deal with conflicts head on, or else they will leave festering wounds in the body that end in division and brokenness.
First Presbyterian Church • September 12, 2022
And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question.
– Acts 15:2
Modern church salesman preach one thing and one thing only: church conflict means failure. But, church conflict is—and always has been—normal. We forget this basic truth often, but it is obvious enough when we think about it.
A church, after all, is made up of a group of saints; yet, they are not perfect and so they sin. Often, because of the familial love within a congregation, sins are committed against one another and are done without much thought as to how it will affect the other person.
The dissension in the church Antioch was over what the Gentiles had to do in order to be faithful believers. The fight was so intense that they went to Jerusalem to see what the church at large had to say. They wanted outside counsel and help to resolve conflict in the local church.
Though we ought to pray and work for unity and love between us, it should not take us by surprise when dissension and conflict arise. Sometimes conflicts are over simple matters, and sometimes they are not. Our church, like the one in Antioch, has a built-in system of appeal to resolve conflict. The first level is between the two in conflict, the next with the elder session, and if the difficulty isn’t a matter of church discipline, it can rise to the level of presbytery. Thank God for this way of help for us.
First Presbyterian Church • September 11, 2022
and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things,
– Ephesians 3:9
The Gospel message that had been hidden was revealed to God’s apostles and prophets. And the Apostle Paul, subsequently, was given a ministry to light up the world. What an immense calling and blessing to be given the task of explaining the Gospel to every man, woman, and child from then until the end!
Now we have the light that was shed by the apostles to explain the mystery hidden for ages—the Bible is ours to read, enjoy, and declare. The great shining beacon that breaks the hearts of men and brings them into the kingdom of God is with us now because God gave it to Paul and the others. The God of all creation, who had in His mind from eternity to bring to Himself sons and daughters by the life, death, and resurrection of the Son, made Himself known by some of those He bought.
And now, through the church, He continues to make Himself known, “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 3:10) We, as God’s church, are part of the great and wonderful plan to make God’s secret wisdom known to the entire cosmos. Not only in this age but also in the ages to come. And not only to the men and women of the world, but to all of the created things, even those whose power is now unseen and spiritual!
First Presbyterian Church • September 10, 2022
And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
– 1 Corinthians 2:13
Even after we understand the core truths of the Gospel there remains the totality of God’s revelation in Scripture to be understood. And all of it must be imparted by the Spirit. Even the best preacher in the world cannot make any man understand the Gospel if the Spirit is not at work.
This is one of the most sobering realizations we can have as Christians. We are utterly dependent upon the Spirit of God to understand any of the truths of the Bible. We cannot, of our own will and mind, grasp the eternal truth about God by trying more or by reading our Bibles more. Rather, we need the Spirit’s help to open our eyes. Even after we are saved, we cannot understand the truth unless the Spirit works in us. All through Jesus’ ministry we see this on display. The disciples were believers, but they needed their eyes to constantly be opened to more and more truth.
The Apostle says the same in our book of Ephesians, “remembering you in my prayers, that the…Father of glory, may give you the Spirit …having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope…the riches of his glorious inheritance…and the immeasurable greatness of his power.” We need the Spirit now just as much as anyone needs Him. We cannot hope to comprehend the Gospel without Him and, if we don’t understand the Gospel, we have no chance of living a life in accordance with it.
First Presbyterian Church • September 09, 2022
I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
– Genesis 12:3
Now that we are on the other side of the coming of Christ into the world, it is easy for us to see the mystery of the Gospel. We think, why wouldn’t they understand the promise to Abraham as a promise to save the whole world and not just one family?
But this was not self-evident. It is only made clear by the Spirit’s guiding of the apostles of the New Testament. We, still, would be very foggy on this point had God not explained it to us and given us the Spirit to understand it. Imagine Abraham thinking about God’s promises to him—the idea that the entire world, every tribe and language, would one day be united with God in heaven because of his offspring? Inconceivable.
Abraham’s call was to come out of the land of Ur. His descendants would be the nation of Israel and would receive the priestly law of clean and unclean. Through the years this distinction would turn to hatred toward those outside the tribes and an abandonment of God. God would then tell them, in many different ways, that He would one day call the Gentiles to Himself.
But it all began in the promise that “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Abraham had the faith to believe God was telling the truth without the enlightened eyes to see how it would play out. Our faith now is so much clearer than his was. Let us press on to know all the mysteries of the faith that is found in our Lord, Christ Jesus!
First Presbyterian Church • September 08, 2022
Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
– 2 Kings 6:17
There are at least three things at work in the opening of eyes to the truth about God. First, of course, God must do it. But we as Christians also play a role by speaking the truth and praying for God to act.
When Elisha and his servant were surrounded by their earthly enemies, the truth was that God was protecting them by myriads of angels. Earthly eyes could not see spiritual truth, though, and the servant was afraid. He saw the chariots and horses and soldiers and cried, “What shall we do!?” Elisha spoke truth to his young student and declared, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Elisha was steadfast in his proclamation of the truth even though he knew the servant couldn’t see it. After proclaiming the truth, Elisha prays for the eyes of his student to see.
Both truth and prayer are necessary for the opening of eyes. We must tell of the mystery of the Gospel, even when we know the people around us cannot understand. And, we must pray that the God of glory opens their eyes to see and believe the truth we have told them. Our works are dependent upon God’s working. We are not in charge of who sees and who doesn’t. But we can declare the truth and we can pray. So, like righteous Elisha, let us give ourselves to these works.
First Presbyterian Church • September 07, 2022
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,
– Luke 24:45
Many of us have been Christians for decades. We know who Jesus is, what He did, and why it matters. And, because we have known it for so long, we forget that it is a miracle that we understand anything of the sort.
The apostles, the men who spent years with Jesus, believed that he was the Son of God, the Messiah, the Promised One, the fulfillment of prophecy and savior of the world. Yet, they could not grasp, in their natural minds, the meaning of His death, burial, and resurrection. He had to reveal to them that this was always the plan of God. He had to open their minds to the truth that this was always the point. And, Jesus repeatedly rebuked the apostles for not getting the truth. He had to show them that it was not a “learned” truth. It was a revealed truth. And only God Himself can reveal it.
Do you appreciate that you know and understand the Gospel of Jesus only because God revealed it to you? And, if you don’t understand why the death and resurrection of Jesus matters, do you realize that God has not yet opened your eyes?
It can be clearly seen that God has not opened the eyes of those who are outside of God’s people, as they think the whole of Christianity is bound up in rules and regulations. They think that Jesus was a moral man to imitate and that much of His life is a myth. God must open their eyes to see the truth.