First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @

The Fall of Jerusalem

Jeremiah 21-22     Psalm 119:113-120     Revelation 7



God Prevails

Jeremiah 19-20, Psalm 119:105-112, Revelation 6 (NIV)

Jeremiah has a most difficult calling and purpose.  He prophesies bad news; news of God’s impending judgement to a nation and people who are determined to live as they wish and not as God desires.  They do not have any urgency or energy to love and serve the Lord or to love their neighbor and do what is right and just.  In fact they worship other gods and even offer their children as sacrifices, which is hard to fathom.  If they continue on this path warfare will come to them.  They will lose, many will be slaughtered, and many will be carried away to live in a foreign land.  It’s not a great future.  They will reap what they sow.

Jeremiah serves the Lord faithfully and can’t help but speak and preach the word God has placed in his heart.  However, he has grown weary of all the insults, reproaches, and suffering that have come his way from those who have forsaken the Lord and so hate his message.  Jeremiah wishes he was never born.  He is a suffering prophet and servant.

The selected verses of Psalm 119 speak of following the Lord and the suffering that comes in life to the faithful.

Revelation 6 is about the Judgement of the world and Second coming of Jesus, the Lamb.  We read of those who suffered and were martyred for their faith in verses 9-11.  They will be rewarded for their faithfulness. Throughout chapter 6 there are six seals which are opened.

R.C. Sproul, in the Reformation Study Bible, writes about Revelation 6:1-8:1, “Judgments from God’s throne unfold as the seven seals are opened one by one. The participation of the Lamb reminds us that such judgments are based on His unique qualifications and accomplishments (ch. 5). Six judgments follow (ch. 6; 8:7–9:21). A dramatic interlude promises care for God’s people (ch. 7; 10:1–11:14).  The seven judgments move forward toward the Second Coming, which occurs in 6:12–17 and 11:15–19. The first four of the seven judgments have an inner unity. The four living creatures of 4:6 the four horsemen of Zech. 1:8 are reflected in 6:1–8.”

In all three passages we learn that living a life of faith may involve suffering.  Followers of Christ are not exempt from suffering no matter what some “health and wealth gospel” writers and preachers teach.  Throughout history faithful followers of Jesus have suffered to honor and serve their Lord and Savior.  After all, Jesus invites us to take up our cross and to follow him.  Jesus, said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first… Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:18, 20). 

Jesus also said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). In the end, Jesus prevails and reigns.

Sunday Reflection: God as Generosity

Where to go with this one…there are so many possibilities.  Here are a couple of passages that I believe speak to being generous:

Rom. 10:12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him.

2 Cor 8:9,19-20 For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich…and not only that, but he has also been appointed by the churches to travel with us while we are administering this generous undertaking for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our goodwill. We intend that no one should blame us about this generous gift that we are administering, 

It is fair to say that “generous” in this context comes directly from great love.  Therefore, we should easily come to the following passage when talking about our God as a generous God – a God of Generosity…“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.  “Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)

Here’s a closing prayer/confession for all of us to reflect upon today:

God, you loved this world so much
that you sent your own son, Jesus Christ
to live and die among us,
in order that we might have life.
Forgive us for keeping that abundant life to ourselves,
for jealously hoarding your generous gifts,
for choosing self-interest over compassion and justice.
Teach us what it means to live as children of the light,
generously sharing your abundance
with our brothers and sisters in need. Amen.
— Christine Longhurst, posted on the Canadian Foodgrains Bank website.

This Coming Week’s Readings:

10/15 Jeremiah 19-20 Psalm 119:105-112 Revelation 6 Craig H.
10/16 Jeremiah 21-22 Psalm 119:113-120 Revelation 7 Craig R.
10/17 Jeremiah 23-24 Psalm 119:121-128 Revelation 8 Karl
10/18 Jeremiah 25-26 Proverbs 1 Revelation 9 Matt
10/19 Jeremiah 27-28 Psalm 119:129-136 Revelation 10 Bo
10/20 Jeremiah 29-30 Proverbs 2 Revelation 11 Karissa

Choose wisely…

Today’s Passages (all 1 link):  Jeremiah 17-18; Psalm 119:97-104;  Revelation 5

Life is like a path – a journey with decision points along the way.  One of the keys to life, I think, is the question of what ultimately sustains us along this journey which, as so many know, can be filled with, well, let’s call them “potholes” along the way.  Sometimes these “potholes” are a momentary distraction while other times they can be debilitating.

On Wednesday evenings, the men of First Pres have been looking at Proverbs and their application in our lives as men.  One of the key points in this study is the distinction between knowledge and wisdom…they are, very clearly, not the same thing.  Knowledge is a wonderful thing but does not automatically yield wisdom.  Our application of knowledge in life will lead us down one path. On the other hand, knowledge that is infused with wisdom by the grace of  God through discernment will lead us down another path – the path of life.  Life…choices…hope.

Jeremiah 17-18:  Jeremiah very quickly places a  road marker in the middle of life’s journey – a crossroad marking of sorts…you have a choice of being one of two kinds of people:  someone who trusts in yourself or, one who trusts in the Lord.  Each path leads in different directions.  The imagery of Psalm 1 comes into ones view – a tree planted by the stream that flourishes or a barren wasteland…a choice. Because knowledge simply isn’t enough regarding our choices, Jeremiah then uses parables to drive home the point. A parable, remember, is a story, typically fictitious or made up, designed to teach a lesson that relates to life and one that conveys a message of truth through analogy, comparison or contrast…yielding, hopefully, wisdom.  These parables in Jeremiah are about God’s sovereignty in relationship to our life and our relationship with God.

Psalm 119:97-104:  Today’s Psalm reinforces Jeremiah’s message…listen to and apply God’s Word and wisdom will be the path of choice.  Knowledge is a wonderful thing, but application of knowledge is what counts, more importantly, how we apply it in life.  Simply put, this portion of the Psalm goes against the grain of culture, just like Jeremiah’s words went against the king and the so-called “important people”. This portion of Psalm 119 challenges social and moral ideals…but, we have a choice.

Revelation 5:  Reading the words of this chapter reminds of the song, “I Can Only Imagine”.  More importantly, the story behind this song is the life giving hope that can only come from the One who is truly worthy to open the scroll.  Bart Millard is the lead singer for MercyMe and the movie is about the life-giving hope found in forgiveness.  The song is about the hope we can have because of Jesus – a vision of what one day will be a reality for those who have chosen wisely…a song about what it might be like to finally be with the One who conquered death and gave us life.

Devotional Thought:  You are living a life with waypoints along the journey…choices to be made.  Jeremiah wasn’t afraid to give unpopular criticism (oh by the way…Jesus too) – there was one intention only…life. Our Psalm today guides us in the same way…are we looking for knowledge or wisdom in this life…choice.  Finally, all the happy talk in the world will not provide hope.  No amount of positive sayings by others will provide you the comfort and peace – the hope, that can be found in relationship with the God of Creation made real to humanity in Jesus the Christ by his Holy Spirit.

Only by trusting in Jesus will you know true hope. So, ask God by his Holy Spirit for the wisdom to choose wisely (James 1:5) and trust in the hope of one day realizing the glorious future that awaits us and providing the strength to face today’s difficulties. I don’t know about you but I can only imagine and…hope!!

Who was and is, and is to come.

Jeremiah 15-16
Psalm 119:89-96
Revelation 4

While the Jeremiah passage may come across as “harsh” or easily discounted as “Old Testament God,” I ask that we look into the wrath of God differently.

First and foremost, we must remember the God of the Old Testament is the God of the New Testament. Sometimes we don’t properly acknowledge the OT as being part of our Christian story believing Christ came and made it irrelevant or changed God somehow to be “nicer.”  A.W. Tozer talks about this misconception in his book The Attributes of God when he says, “We get the odd notion that God is showing mercy because Jesus died. No–Jesus died because God is showing mercy.”

God has been God from the beginning and He will be God forever.

God offers his grace and mercy to Jerusalem again when he says that they can repent (Jeremiah 15:19-21). God always leaves room for us sinners to come back to Him.

In the Old Testament and the New Testament.

We see God’s rescuing power in our Psalm passage (and all of Psalms really). He pulls the psalmist out of destruction and rescues him from the wicked who wish to harm him.

God is faithful, loyal, and so good to His people.

Revelation 4 took my breath away as I was reading it. I can’t imagine the heavenly animals that John describes, these beasts with eyes everywhere that resembles a few Earthly things we can understand. While I can’t imagine these animals witnessed, I can imagine the thrill of living out Eternity in a Kingdom where every man, angel, and beast cries out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8) and I get the chills.

My breath catches, my body tingles, and I am excited. I am reminded of our hope and our peace. I am reminded that this life is temporary and an eternity of praising the Lord awaits.

And this morning, I am filled with that hope and excitement to be with my Good Good God forever.



Seek God Everyday

Jeremiah 11-12; Psalm 119: 73-80; Revelation 2

Jeremiah 11-12

This story sounds familiar. A conversation is taking place between God and one of his faithful subjects on Earth. Judah continue to fall away and head down the path of the unrighteous. God warns that He will punish Judah for their sins. These sins aren’t new either. They are being repeated again. Jeremiah complains to the Lord about how it seems like those who are not faithful have such great lives while he and other faithful people suffer. God responds by saying that these people who are not faithful but seem to be living the good life will eventually have to meet His wrath.


Throughout this chapter, what I see is that God is well aware of the things we have done well in our lives, and He is also well aware of what we have done that are not so well. He knows how we have behaved in times of wealth and prosperity, and He knows about the difficult times that we have faced. He calls us to repent.


In Jeremiah and Revelation, we hear that we serve a God who is just. He will reward us for our faithfulness. We may face difficult times in our lives, but He hears our prayers and will bring us out of our challenges if we seek his guidance. There are those who may seem to be living the good life now, and who seemingly have lives where nothing ever goes wrong. But looks can be deceiving. It may be that those people put on a good show for those they come across, but in reality they are suffering as much as anyone else. God knows all of this. But he will only lift those up who look to Him for guidance. Last week I wrote about the love of money. Those who have been blessed with wealth and seem to have it all may seem super happy to all of us, but we don’t know the inner battles they are fighting. But money can’t always buy happiness. We NEED God in our lives to bring true happiness. All the money in the world can’t buy us heaven. We will only get that amazing wealth by faith and placing God at the center of our lives. We will fall short too often, but as long as we always re-center ourselves, and come back to God, He will always accept us back.

My prayer this morning for us is that we always find our way back to God. He is the one that can bring true happiness, but only if we seek Him and trust in Him.

By the Spirit of God

Jeremiah 9-10

Psalms 119. 65-72

Revelation 1

Psalms 119. 72 “ The law of your mouth is better for me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”   This pretty well sums it all up.  I just read a question put out on a facebook page by some affiliated person with MeToo, which basically asked women, “what would you do if there was a 9.00P.M. curfew on all men.”  The answers were varied a bit but basically said that men were the cause of all evil in life.  They yell insults at women, they drug women’s drinks, they stalk women, they jump them in the bushes, they are just inherently and perpetually evil.  I don’t necessarily disagree with these statements, but you also have to include women in this demographic too.  All homo-sapiens are evil from the start, “there are none righteous, no, not one.”  Jehovah reveals that to us in the scriptures by establishing His law for us to live by, which then reveals our inability to keep that very same law, which was supposed to be for our well being.  As Romans 8.3 points out that. “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 requirements of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”  So a curfew for men would not accomplish anything because nothing done in the strength of the flesh will ever remedy what has to happen in the heart, or spirit of the man.  Money isn’t the solution, wisdom isn’t the solution, power isn’t the solution. For all you political people who think that the right people in charge will change everything for the good, remember Jesus is the solution, not people.

Jeremiah 9.23  “Thus says the LORD, ‘ Let not a wise man boast in his wisdom, and let not a mighty man boast in his might, and let not a rich man boast in his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on the earth…”

Revelation 1  The revelation of Jesus Christ, to His bondservant John. The beginning of the fifth gospel,  the good news to mankind. John writes that he was in the Spirit on the Sabbath, or Lord’s day, which means that even in exile John was counting by sevens.  In the Hebrew way of keeping track of time for the sake of remembering the feasts of the LORD, everyone counted, and every seven days was a sabbath.  Every month was established by the first sliver of the new moon, and every new year was established by the aviv of the barley.  It was ingrained in their way of thinking and living, and everyone counted.  So even in exile John knew when the sabbath was.   Suddenly from behind him, which is unique, to come from behind, a loud voice came, and when John turned around he fainted.  He fell down like a dead man.  It was Jesus, appearing to the apostle, “whom He loved,”  and Jesus reaches out to him with the right hand of righteousness and picks him up.   Jesus says, write these things to the seven churches of Asia.  The book of Revelation cannot be understood literally, there are lampstands, and stars, and tongues like swords, and robes with golden sashes, and flaming eyes. Most of which is explained but as we study this book, though confusing in places, it is essential to understanding the future events of the end days, which are assuredly approaching.

The only way to understand the scriptures is by the Spirit of God, the only way to live as a Christian is by the Spirit of God, the only way to be content in this life is to live by the Spirit of God.  Let Him indwell you and guide your every thought and deed.


Truth or Consequences

Jeremiah 7-8     Psalm  119:57-63     Jude

Review:  YHWH relays to Jeremiah the differences between right and wrong living at the Temple gates (7:1-11)…Shiloh, the Temple of the Northern Kingdom, is used as an example to Judah.  It was unable to save it from Assyrian conquest because of the same reasoning (7:12-15)…His complaint is against both false gods and false worship (7:16-21)…Israel has a history of disobedience towards God’s commands (7:22-31) which always results in judgement (7:32-348:1-3)…They remain unrepentant (8:4-12)…They remain judged (8:13-22).

Analysis:  The pronouncement at the gate of the Temple (7:1-2) was probably done to refute peoples superstitious belief that the Temple was only a place of God’s protection and grace rather than His judgement…Their idea of God seems to be that of a good luck charm rather than One worthy of worship for no other reason than because He Is…This “queen of heaven” (7:18) is apparently part of pagan worship (44:15-30) done in the hills surrounding Jerusalem; similar if not the same as Astarte worship (Judges 2:13, 1 Sam. 31:10, 1 Kings 11:33, 2 Kings 23:13)…God directly addresses Judah (8:4-13, 16-17), as does Jeremiah (8:18-22)…They agree with one another…To the Ancients, a proper burial was the pinnacle of respect for the departed…Likewise, an improper burial spoke to popular derision (8:1-3)…This scattering of the remains of kings, princes, priests, prophets, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem speaks to God’s utter contempt for them…As a result, Jeremiah is physically weakened (18:18) and hurt (18:21) regarding his and their plight.

Sunday Reflection: God as Patience

For the Lord is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love”.You can find this phrase in so many different books of our Bible referring to our God:  Exodus, Numbers, Psalms, Joel, Jonah, and Nahum.  The phrase, interestingly enough, is also in Proverbs contrasting those who are wise and those who are foolish.  There is also a reference in James as it relates to human behavior.

Do you believe that our God is one of second chances?  Third chances?  Fourth?  Fifth?  I do.  God is patient while, for me, patience is an ongoing journey.  Yet I have complete faith that God continues to put up with me because of his steadfast love.  Need some more proof?  Take a look at 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.”

Blessings today and always!!

This coming week’s readings:

10/8 Jeremiah 7-8 Psalm 119:57-64 Jude Craig R.
10/9 Jeremiah 9-10 Psalm 119:65-72 Revelation 1 Karl
10/10 Jeremiah 11-12 Psalm 119:73-80 Revelation 2 Matt
10/11 Jeremiah 13-14 Psalm 119:81-88 Revelation 3 Bo
10/12 Jeremiah 15-16 Psalm 119:89-96 Revelation 4 Karissa
10/13 Jeremiah 17-18 Psalm 119:97-104 Revelation 5 Dale

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