First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @

Good to ALL People

Galatians 6:1-10 The Message

Galatians 6:1-10 NIV

Today’s thoughts begin with Galatians 6:10, which says “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (NIV translation). Craig’s sermon message from this past Sunday, based largely on Mark 12:28-31, was about where our priorities as Christians should lie. Love God, and love your neighbor…in that order. It isn’t always easy to love our neighbor, seeing as our neighbor is anyone we come into contact with, and also those we never cross paths with but read about or hear about in the news. With THAT being said, then, it is very difficult to do good to ALL people. It is probably even difficult to do good for other Christians, as some people who claim to be Christians may not always behave in a Gospel-spreading kind of way. 

I’ve added the rest of the first ten verses of Galatians 6, because I think there are some key words in there to help guide us along our path in doing good to ALL people. The first in verse one is “restore that person gently.” We aren’t supposed to correct the wrongdoings of people with a punch to the gut of words. Next, we are to carry each other’s burdens. I think somewhere in those words, I hear the word empathy. This is a characteristic trait that seems to be slowly fading away in our currently, growingly divided society. Also, there is a person reaps what they sow (slight change of words to be more gender neutral). If we want to see the best in people, we have to first give our best to them. The best can’t include being judgmental, demeaning, or lacking in empathy. 

So, today, tomorrow, and always, live out Paul’s words to do good to ALL people, Christians and non-Christians alike. It won’t always be on Easy Street, but your efforts will not go unnoticed by God. 

Not of This World




1 John 2.2

Exodus 16.3

Jesus is praying in this passage from the gospel of John, referring to the issue that His disciples, who are believers in Him as their Messiah, are not of this world, but have been elevated to a higher level of understanding of the works of Jehovah.  He himself being of the spiritual realm, of an eternal existence, is also not of this world.  He was about to be put to death as a fulfillment of the sacrifice needed according to the Torah, the Law, that a perfect sacrifice without blemish must be offered to Jehovah.  This sacrifice would result in the justification of sins, and righteousness for all who believe in the finished work of the Messiah.

1 John 2.2 says ” and He Himself, (Jesus,) is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”  So we see the concept that is in tune with Hebrews 3.12-4.5, and 2 Corinthians 5.14-15, and Romans 5.15-19, that Jesus died for all mankind, offering Himself as the justification for our sin. Justification means, to absolve, to declare guiltless, to hold blameless.  It’s the picture of Israel in slavery to Egypt, when God sent Moses to set them free from that slavery,  they then went into the wilderness free from bondage, yet when faced with entering into the Promised land they could not enter because they had no faith in Jehovah to care for them there.  Hebrews 3.19 “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”  Now in like manner Jesus has set mankind free from slavery to sin, and we now are in the wilderness of life, standing at the border of eternity and what will keep us out of eternity with our Savior, unbelief. Righteousness is not the same as justification, righteousness is the result of the saving act of Jehovah.  It is afforded only to those who trust in the work of the Savior Jesus Christ.

As a result we, as believers, are living as strangers and aliens in a foreign land, we are born into a spiritual life, John 3.3, “You must be born again”, and Romans 8.23, “..even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”

Exodus 16.3   In the wilderness Israel, having been set free from slavery to Egypt, start complaining to Moses about being hungry saying, “Would that we had died by the LORD’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by pots of meat, there we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into the wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”  Isn’t it unbelievable that they would rather go back to slavery than to continue in the new freedom they have with Jehovah.  This new freedom is so unstructured, it’s so grace full, it’s so freeing they could hardly stand it. They needed the comfort of their slavery, their aimless, unfulfilling lives, where they worked day and night for a substandard existence.

Do you see the parallel to our lives in Christ, where we are in this world, yet not of it.  And yes, too often, we as believers long for slavery to sin again because it’s so comfortable, its the life we know have known for so many years, it’s hard to not see everything through it’s lens.  Yet who would trade the freedom of life in Christ for the life of bondage again.  In Christ we have the Holy spirit to guide us, fill us, and to lead us in righteousness each day.  Just as Israel was given Manna each day for nourishment, so the Holy spirit fills us each day for spiritual nourishment, as we trust in the finished work of our savior.

Let us live each day as strangers to this world, keeping our eyes on eternity with Jesus.




God’s Purpose

Romans 8:28-39

Analysis & Commentary:  This “all work together for good to those who love God” is joined to “those who are called according to His purpose” (v. 28).  This creates a scenario of meaning to living, and all of it’s circumstances, to the followers of Christ … Some indicate, and apparently believe by what the say and do to others and themselves, that life has no meaning … It’s the godless fools, that’s who (cp. Psalm 14) … It is a promise to the chosen (vv. 29, 30) … In support of God’s purpose, He foreknew, He predestined … In my opinion, this verse (v. 31) is the high point of the entire Bible … It is God’s answer to why we have sin and suffering … God the Father is the Ruler of history (vv. 28-30) and it’s Judge (vv. 30, 33) … Above all, God is a God of love (v. 39) who did not spare His own Son but delivered Him up for all of us (v. 34) … God the Son is presented as the firstborn of the brethren (v. 29) and their Savior (v. 34) … I don’t know about you, but for me the grandeur of this passage is almost too much … I am wholly inadequate to do it justice … It is a BIG DOSE OF GOOD NEWS … Most shocking of all is that someday we will “be conformed to the image of His Son” (v. 29) … When that happens, I certainly won’t be as I am, that’s for sure!

Holy Life, Holy Calling

II Timothy 1:5-11 (NIV)

Here, Paul is encouraging Timothy who is a young leader of the Church in Ephesus. Paul reminds Timothy of the faith in Jesus that lives in him and which has been passed down from his grandmother to his mother and then to him.  Clearly God is at work in him even though he might feel inadequate and not up to the task of leading the church.

Paul writes, (verse 9), “He [that is God] has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,”

Each one of us who follows Jesus are called to a holy life, that is, we are set apart to fulfill our purpose for the sake of the Gospel.  A holy life is one that is different from the world and distinctly lived for Jesus.

God in and through Jesus Christ has a purpose for each one of us.  We are gifted because of the grace of God at work in us. Each day we have the opportunity to live into our holy calling and purposes.  What will this day mean? How will we serve Christ Jesus by serving others this day?  What purposes of God will we fulfill today?

Redeemed from the Hands of the Enemy

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story–
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe

Psalm 107:2

When we talk about enemies I think it’s important to remember that we have one collective enemy: The Devil. Once we remember our collective enemy we can remember the words of Paul when he says that we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but spiritual things (Ephesians 6:12).

That being said, we are delivered out of the enemy’s hands. Christ destroyed Death when He rose to life again. The devil will not win our souls so long as we admit we are sinners, believe in Jesus, and confess Jesus is Lord.

When a physical enemy in the shape of a person presents themselves (an uncle you don’t like or a co-worker who just has it out for you) we can remember that we are not fighting the person (the person is made in God’s image and is thus more valuable than we will ever know) but the spiritual war around us. When this moment happens, how will your battle play out? What move will you make?

Will you listen to the devil, whispering sweet nothings of revenge and wrath and cold-heartedness? Or will you allow yourself to be redeemed and choose Christ and His code of conduct?

The choice isn’t easy.

But every choice makes a great story for God and we must not be afraid to tell these stories.

“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by reason of the word of their testimony…” Revelation 12:11

Each time we talk about Christ it matters. So keep talking. Keep sharing what God has done for you.


Love God



Matthew 22.37

Luke 10.25

To start this study we need to understand that the Pharisees, and the Sadducees, and the lawyers, and the scribes who were living at the time that Jesus walked on earth, were extremely well studied in the Scriptures.  Each sub-group had its own distinct membership, and in a few cases there might be dual membership, such as a scribe might also be a Pharisee.  So when Jesus came along there was a jealousy of Him because He didn’t have membership in any group, and therefore wasn’t subject to their authority.  Like a tradesman or teacher that isn’t in the Union, it’s hard to get them to abide by the rules of said Union.  Therefore they hated Jesus, no matter how well He understood the Scriptures, or how well He taught the truth of Jehovah, He wasn’t furthering their cause, which had little to do with spiritual issues, and actually helping people.

In the passage from Matthew, a lawyer, one who studied the Law of Moses, asks Jesus what was the greatest of the Commandments in order to test Him.  In Luke a lawyer put Jesus to the test by asking how to gain eternal life.  In both cases the answer was to “love the LORD your God with heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as your self.”  In the Luke passage the Lawyer follows up with an addition question, “Who is my neighbor.   The answer Jesus gives is the parable of the Good Samaritan, where both a Priest of Israel, and a Levite, both esteemed workers in the temple, each having separate but distinguished responsibilities in the worship ceremonies of Jehovah, pass by a wounded man without giving aid.  Then comes along a Samaritan, who is regarded as a foreigner to Israel because of intermarriage with Gentiles, and unlawful worship locations, established centuries before.  The Samaritans are legally wrong according to the Torah and as such, the Israelites had legal ground to reject them.  So as Jesus uses a Samaritan as the one who shows mercy and actually helps the wounded man in this story, the lawyer has no recourse but to admit that he, the Samaritan, was the one who acted as a neighbor.

Therefore Jesus raised the awareness of this lawyer and all who were listening, a new dimension to the already high standard of loving God, and your neighbor, to now include  loving your enemy.  The lawyer who set out to test Jesus was the one who was being put to the test.  The Samaritan who was the enemy of the Israelite lawyer became a neighbor, by his own admission.  We are told by the Scriptures to love God, and many say they do, yet  show little love for their neighbor.  1 John 4.20 says, ” If someone says ‘ I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

We, as believers, have a God who loves us and wants the very best for us in this life and beyond, but also requires from us to love and pursue Him,  with all our hearts, soul, and mind.

1 Corinthians 13.4 says, ” Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous, love does not brag, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek it’s owns not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.


The Way of Salvation

Ephesians 2:1-10

Analysis:  Paul explains to the Ephesians their estrangement from God, aided by the “prince of the air,” that existed without Christ (vv. 1-3) … According to the beliefs of that time, the air was the realm between the earth and the heavens.  It was inhabited by cosmic powers like planets, stars, angels, and demons … Evil was alive and well in Ephesus … Some will always subscribe to evil as the recent news from Dayton, OH and El Paso, TX attest … Because of Christ, believers are raised up and seated with Him in the heavens at the present hour (vv. 4-7) … In the final three verses (vv. 8-10), Paul lays out his ideas on “grace,” “saved through faith,” “not of works, “the gift of God,” and “created in Christ Jesus for good works.” … Paul illustrates that salvation to God is now completely separate from Jewish Laws, it is belief in Christ’s atonement that matters … These are the results of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection for those who believe it … In a nutshell, this is what Christianity is all about.


I’m sorry I’m a day late!

in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1:14

The New Testament repeats many times “You are forgiven.” This specific verse is part of a greeting to the Colossian Church in which Paul is giving thanks to God. Remember, the letters were written to encourage and teach the early church, which means there’s still a lot to be gained from them now.

Who doesn’t need encouragement in their faith walk regularly?

In this passage (Colossians 1:9-14) we are reminded to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, to thank God for His goodness and that every good thing comes from God, and we are left in the thanksgiving part of this passage with a reminder that we are forgiven.

But what does it mean to be forgiven?

  1. to stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense.
  2. to cancel a debt

As Christians, both of these are true for us. Jesus took God’s wrath, died for us, and covered us in His blood. God sees us as children (think Prodigal Son) and loves us–no more anger, no more resentment. Furthermore, the wage of sin is death and by Jesus defeating death our debt has been cancelled as well. This is also what Jesus means when He says “It is finished” on the cross.

Forgiveness is a glorious thing: such a simple idea with such a perplex reality.

I pray that today you all sit for at least 5 minutes thanking God for His forgiveness toward you and asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate what else He wants to teach you about this topic.


PS: I want that sweatshirt.

Don’t Forget to Give Thanks


Psalm 18: 1-19

Today’s focus is on verse three of this Psalm: “I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,

    and I have been saved from my enemies.”

However, I felt to get the whole perspective, you would need to see at least the first 19 verses of this 50 verse psalm. As we see in the subtitle in bold, this psalm was from David, written after being delivered from enemies that intended to have him killed. David trusted in the strength of the Lord, and God, as a result, gave David the ability to fight off his enemies, in particular, Saul. If you have some extra time, and would like to read about the trials and tribulations between David and Saul, read 1 Samuel Chapters 19-31. To day that David and Saul didn’t get along is the understatement of the day. But throughout the story, you will see weaved in there that through David’s faith, God led David out of trouble time and time again. 

Now we might not have an archenemy chasing us daily trying to have us killed out of jealousy, but this part of history and the resulting psalm still apply to us in 2019. Our enemies might be the rude customer that we encounter at our job. It might be the driver that cuts you off while driving then gives you the one finger salute. It might be a bully at school. We will never have an easy road in life. There will be bumps, sharp turns, forks in the road, etc. But through all of those difficult times, God is still with us. We are never completely alone. And, at times, we have to go through those difficult times in order to grow and become stronger in faith. It doesn’t mean that our troubles will go completely away eventually. It also doesn’t mean that God’s answer to our prayers will be exactly how we want it and as quickly as we want it. There isn’t an exact answer to how long David had to try to elude Saul, but one source I found said it may have been close to a decade. A decade of having to sleep with one eye open! 

But ultimately, David prevailed because it was God’s will. And David remained faithful that God would protect him, which He did in many ways and through many different earthly helpers. And just like God gave a helping hand to David through his trials, He does the same for us. BUT…we have to talk to Him and listen to Him. And also, not forget to GIVE THANKS for what He has already done for us and continues to do for us daily. 

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