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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

A Psalm of David

Psalm 139

Review:  The first bit (vv. 1-6) admits the omniscience of God…..Next (vv. 7-12), is David’s understanding of divine omniscience.  It describes the human effort to escape God either up (heaven), down (hell), by air, by water, by day, or by night as folly…..The third strope (vv. 13-18) is on the human construct and God’s role in it…..Finally, David turns his attention to the enemies of God – the murderer’s (v. 19), those who outwardly oppose (v. 20) and contrasts them to his own efforts to follow Him (vv. 23-24).

Commentary:  If this is not the strongest of the Psalms, it is certainly competitive…..Each verse is worthy of a study on their own…..For those who follow God, Paul summarizes our path (Acts 17:28)…..All of it, God knows – our thoughts and actions before they become our thoughts and actions (vv. 1-6)…..The going’s on in our Mother’s womb, where we were constructed, was divinely guided (vv. 13-16), including our gender…..Again, there has always been those opposed to God, and His people, and His ways (vv. 19-20) contrasted to His followers (vv. 23-24)…..Why?  A complete answer to that is beyond David (vv. 5-6)…..Certainly, contrast is a factor…..God has authored light and darkness…..God has awarded us with all that is good (Gen. 1:31, James 1:17) and permitted evil (Isa. 45:6-7, 46:9-10, Col. 1:16) in all it’s forms…..Why?  To make human beings responsible for most, we’re not responsible for our being or our general situation, of what happens…..What I’m trying to say is that there is an unknown connection between God and evil.  There is a known connection between fallen humanity and evil, whether it’s admitted or not…..God’s folk are to stand for God and His values (Deut. 28, Luke 12:48, Gal. 6:5, Col. 3:23) against the spectacle of both the rot and decay of the earth and it’s peoples.  Living so glorifies God (Isa. 25:1, Ps. 29:1-2, 115:1, Matt. 5:16, Jn. 3:30, Rev. 7:12) which is what we’re here to do.  It also gives us something to look forward to (Rev. 21:4)…..The historical examples (Deut. 4:9, Zech. 1:4, 1 Cor. 15:6-11) of evil are to propel the follower to resist (Prov. 7:25-26, Luke 11:4, 1 Cor. 10:13, James 4:7) and do something about the surrounding rot and decay.

Great, Good, and Gracious God

Psalm 103

David provides a wonderful understanding of God for us to rest in and celebrate.

God is holy, forgiving, loving, compassionate, good, righteous, gracious  and everlasting and more.  The Lord is interested in us; he “satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed…”

Take some time today to meditate on these verses from Psalm 103.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

Know today, that you are deeply loved and forgiven by God.  How will you respond the Lord’s love this day?

Craig Herr

What makes church a special place to be?

Colossians 3:12-14The Message (MSG)

12-14 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

WhenI am asked: Why go to church? – one of the things that I always speak about is the people you find in church. Trough the many years I spent in church as a  regular church goer and also as a minister, I discover the beauty and the strength that comes from being part of this thing called church. As Christians, we are not perfect, and I will be one of the first ones to tell you that. Yes you will find different people in churches that might make you wonder about their kindness, or compassion and at the same time time you will find others that are just an example of what it means to be transformed by God’s grace.

It is in that together walk, when people from different background molded by God’s love that we grow, we learn and start to make sense of what God is doing in our lives. We need to be in that togetherness, we are called to step out from or shell and be part of something bigger than us. Church for me, is seeing God at work in a practical way, in my life and in the lives of those around me.

Today I pray that as we think church, we can all be challenged to be listen, to grow and to serve as we never did before. Because we are the church, the body of Christ, the very visible presence of who God is in a world that is looking for answers, for authenticity and for grace.

Be blessed,

Bo M.

Gossip…

Gossip…we all know what it is and it’s safe to say we’re all guilty of it sometimes…right?  But…just to refresh ourselves, here’s what most dictionaries say about gossip: “idle talk or rumor especially about the personal or private affairs of others”.  Our Bibles have a lot to say as well…The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.” (Prov 18:8).  And if you think gossip is just limited to you or me talking, we would be wrong…gossip comes in the form of listening as well, “Wrongdoers eagerly listen to gossip; liars pay close attention to slander.” (Prov 17:4)

Each of us has a certain propensity for gossip…”Did you hear about_______”; “Can you believe what ‘they’ are doing?”; “Did you know ______?”.  Gossip happens when 2 or more are gathered in most any place or event…it happens at school, at church, at work, at social gatherings.  It happens when we don’t like how someone has acted or decisions have been made.  It happens especially when we think we are the font of wisdom about a particular subject or situation.  Let’s face it, gossip is something that not only happens but can be divisive and mean-spirited.

As Christians…people who claim to follow Jesus – which means we are also imperfect people…gossip is a hard habit to avoid or break.  Paul offers us some words to ponder in this light from 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 – I’ve chosen The Message translation because it is a little more to the point.

 

He will take you by the hand

John 16:13-15 The Message (MSG)

12-15 “I still have many things to tell you, but you can’t handle them now. But when the Friend comes, the Spirit of the Truth, he will take you by the hand and guide you into all the truth there is. He won’t draw attention to himself, but will make sense out of what is about to happen and, indeed, out of all that I have done and said. He will honor me; he will take from me and deliver it to you. Everything the Father has is also mine. That is why I’ve said, ‘He takes from me and delivers to you.’

Today I want to follow up on the Sermon I preached couple weeks ago: I believe in the Holy Spirit.

I have to admit that as a guy I have a hard time asking for directions or for help. It must be that “I am a man and I can handle it” mentality that men are so known for. I will confess to you that I get lost when I drive, I need the GPS to tell me where to go and provide me with clear turn by turn directions. Today I rely on my phone for that function, because it works. I do not have to be concerned with watching a screen, or shuffling through a map, I just drive and follow the voice.

Getting to this point of comfort it has not come easy for me. I did not trust the machine at first, I had to check and plan my route myself, I ignored the directions multiples times. But I am at the point where I am comfortable with just listening and following the voice of the GPS.

It is the same with God. As we start our walk in the Spirit, the voice and the direction God will have us follow it will seem strange to us. Not only that but we tend to rely on ourselves and make our path, even when we know what God wants. I see that in me. I see that in you. I see that around us day after day. We are called to love and yet we live in discord. We are called to help our neighbor and yet we still try to define who the neighbor is. And all along the gentle reminder of God’s will, The Spirit of God is tugging at our hearts, come this way and follow me, come and see Jesus.

I pray that as we walk with God, we will be tuned in the Spirit’s frequency and be able to follow where God leads.

 

Be blessed,

Bo M.

Prophecy

Micah 1-2

Review:  There is general agreement that the writing of this book (1:1) was during the time of Hezekiah’s (727-698 BC) kingship…..Micah begins with a prophecy against Israel (1:2-5) and continues, like Amos (Amos 1:3-2:5), with prophecies against Israel’s neighbors (1:6-16).  All of these places and their significance, with the exception of Jerusalem, is unknowable at this point…..The next section is a typical example of prophecy against social injustice of the “have’s” vs. “the have not’s” (2:1-5) as land was the primary source of of wealth…..Micah reports the criticism he has received (2:6-7) for his remarks (cp. 2:1-5)…..Micah is addressing those who are paying attention to God (2:7), not those who aren’t…..Deliverance is promised to the faithful (2:12-13).

Commentary:  This passage is typical of the entire Bible.  There are those on the side of God, and those opposed…..In Jerusalem, the LORD’s coming judgement (1:2-5) was not viewed as surprising…..As to the efficacy of Micah’s prophecy, Samaria fell in 722 BC to the Assyrian’s…..Jerusalem, due to it’s sinful leadership (2:1-4), fell too – over 100 years later…..One could say that Micah was right concerning Samaria, Judah, and Jerusalem, they did fall.  His timing was a bit of on Jerusalem…..Regarding the issue of time.  One might view the passage of time as an expression of God’s grace.  In effect, He is granting us more time to get our act together (2 Pet. 3:4-9) to delay judgement….. The principle of “might makes right” is brought into question by the LORD (2:3-5)…..The chief reason for the issue of false prophets (2:6) was the unpopular of messages of the true prophets…..”We must not only obtain Wisdom: we must enjoy her.” – Marcus Tulles Cicero

Faith…

Hebrews 11:  “By faith…”  in the 60’s, Curtis Mayfield told us that “All You Need Is Faith” in the song he sang…the preacher of the sermon in Hebrews tells us the same thing, all you need is faith.  But what is faith?  Here, the preacher says that faith provides a guarantee…something you can hang your hope on – that hope is not some crazy dream…that there is substance and a sense of reality for the hearers of the sermon in the first century and for us today.  Faith provides a foundation that is strong and secure and that which guides us and gives us courage to move forward…stepping out into uncharted waters.

In this chapter, known as the “Great Hall of Faith” we find great stalwarts of faith like Noah, Moses, Abraham, Sarah.  When was the last time you read Hebrews Chapter 11? I encourage you to read it today…right now – just click on the “Hebrews 11” link above then consider the following devotional thought…

Devotional Thought:  What is the state of your faith today?

When you’re smiling …

Matthew 25:31-46

I was recently visiting someone in a nursing home, bringing flowers and a word of prayer along with me. I like to pray before I walk in the room every time I visit someone, in part because I am reminded that every time we walk in we bring with us the hope that we have in Christ. Every visit, every moment we spent in a room with someone in need, is a moment when God can enter their life.

I made a habit of praying that very thing, and this one day was no different that the other days. As I made my way to my appointment, I walked in a room where I was met by a huge huge huge smile. I blame it on the flowers 🙂  I spent some time talking with the person I was there to visit, said a prayer and started my walk back to my car. I really think that people might of wondered what was up with me, since I think I had the biggest smile on my face.

You see that visit, turned out to be a blessing for me. That welcoming smile, the understanding that Christ was present helped me  refocus my own life, and for a moment disconnect from all the norm and just be thankful for everything God is doing in my life.

I would pray that we all get to experience that feeling one day. And even more I pray that each one of us can have the opportunity to open a door where someone needs a smile, or a word of encouragement. You never know you might walk out of that room with a smile on your face.

Be blessed,

Bo M.

The Armor of God

Galatians 1:6-10

Matthew 7:15-20

Ephesians 6:10-18

Clearly, Paul is disappointed in the Galatian people at the beginning of his letter to them. Just a few years before this, Paul and Barnabas visited several towns in the province of Galatia to preach the gospel. In just a short amount of time, the churches established by Paul started to falter a bit and were reverting back to their beliefs that they needed to follow the laws of Moses in order to be saved, rather than living in the grace given to us through Jesus. So Paul starts out his letter by stating that no matter who comes along saying anything contrary to the one true gospel is not speaking truth.

Jesus warns of false prophets in Matthew 7. We are surrounded by these many false prophets daily. There are many influences in this world, both positive and negative. So how do we ensure that we are prepared to face these false prophets and not be drawn away from the one true gospel. In Ephesians, Paul tells us to put on the armor of God. This armor is built with an understanding of scripture. I know I am guilty of not reading and studying the Bible enough. I am not one who can quote scripture verbatim all that well. I know I need to be more committed to reading and studying God’s word. But every little bit helps. That is one of the many reasons why I am glad that First Pres has this blog to follow. In my busiest days, this blog might be my only interaction with the Bible and other believers.

So today, I give thanks for First Pres, the blog, and my opportunities to read, study, and share my thoughts with everyone.

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