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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

November 2013

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Psalm 105:1-4

Few days back I got a message from a proud father about his daughter’s homework. Emily said something so simple and yet so profound that he thought it something really neat to share. And YES it is.

When a child can understand what are some of those small thing that makes life special, it is really a thing to share. In part because we can see the beauty of God’s promise that is made during baptism, that as a church we will stand, help and support each family to bring their kids in the grace we also received. But also because at times we need to celebrate all the things that God is doing amongst us time and time again and again and we take them for granted.

Today’s psalm is about singing, telling of God’s great wonders and works among us. And i have to tell you, that sometimes even a person like myself can get caught up in the all the mundane, the pressures and negatives of every day life. And then I am reminded of the things that we need to appreciate, to value and speak about.

Things like sharing your faith, teaching a new generation of those percepts that have not only changed the way people see and interact with each other, but also change hearts and lives for eternity.

Those are things to build on because no matter what your days will bring, God has a story that he still writes everyday, and you are part of it. So take time to encourage someone with that story. You never know when what you share will cheer and give new hope and strength to someone that needs it.

Be blessed,

Bo M.

 

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Lifetime guarantee…

Romans 8:26-28 (29-39) (NLT) [I added vv 29-39 for context]

Our world is filled with “limited” warranties; guarantees that are only good under certain conditions, and prescribed periods of time.  We’ve all had experiences where you attempt to apply a warranty to a defective product…we complain, only to be pointed to the fine print which makes “clear” that it is “limited”.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a lifetime guarantee?  Iron-clad, no restrictions, unlimited?  Paul provides an understanding of a lifetime guarantee.  An understanding that is practical, and valid for daily use.

A lifetime guarantee amidst the bad things that happen around us.  When you hear words like: “Your wife has a life threatening disease”; “I’m sorry, the cancer is inoperable…there is nothing more we can do”.  A common response is: “God doesn’t love me or he wouldn’t let this happen…God has abandoned me”.  But, Paul pushes back and reaffirms that God still loves you…“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them..”

But this does not mean that God is the cause of all things. God is not the cause of sin,  evil, or disease in this world.  Everything that happens, I believe Paul tells us, finds God working in his plan for our good and his glory.  Paul states that no matter what happens in our life, within us or to us, God loves us and works for the good of those who love him.  Paul reinforces this because he is absolutely certain and proceeds into an ever-increasing crescendo of language…nothing separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

So we come back to vv 26-27…you and I are not left to our own resources amidst bad times, our times of weakness.  The Spirit helps us when we are weak.  When we are at our wits end – maybe we can remember to simply let go and know that when we simply no longer know what to pray for, the Spirit is there and will come to our rescue interceding for us with with groanings that cannot be expressed in words…knowing “that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”  Now this is a lifetime guarantee we can always count on and give thanks for this day!!

Ending On A Postive Note

In reading the commentaries on Psalm 69:30-36, it was apparent that in order to get a true picture of what the Psalmist is saying, the entire Psalm needed to be read.  Upon further review, I can break down what is going on here as follows:  In verses 1-29, David is basically venting about a time of trial and tribulation, but he ends with today’s passage, in which he gives thanks for all that God has and has yet to provide.  Verses 31-32 say that this will be more pleasing to God than any burnt offering.

After reading and reflecting on the entire psalm, I am trying to imagine what David may have been enduring at the time.  I am sure it was much worse than some of those days that I call difficult or stressful.  I think about how in times of trouble, how I tend to internalize the bad, let things simmer for way too long, and then finally, the tea kettle erupts and I lose my cool with someone who most likely wasn’t deserving of that sort of treatment.

We all have been there before I am willing to bet.  Sometimes, probably more often than we would like to admit.  What I do know for sure though, is that in times of trouble, sometimes I do something similar to what David has done in this psalm and instead of focusing on the situation, I try to focus on God and what he has done for me.  I find that when I reflect on all that I have to be thankful for, and what God has yet to provide for me, it helps set my mind at ease and reflect on what really matters most.  It may make for a bad day when I don’t get my coffee in the morning, forget my wallet at home, have negative interactions with a co-worker or student, and then get the pile of papers to grade added to the mix, but as a friend of mine always says, “this too shall pass.”  A day, month, or even year later, most of the things that stress me out won’t matter even a little bit, but God and God’s love are everlasting.  And for that, I give thanks.

Matt Blaser

II Corinthians 5:18-21- Give Thanks For Reconciliation

Ii Corinthians 5:18-21 NIV – All this is from God, who reconciled us – Bible Gateway

Reconciliation, Restoration, Redemption, Righteous; this is all from God in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God!

“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them…God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  

In Jesus, God reconciled us to himself; that is restored our relationship to God through Christ’s death on the cross that we might be forgiven of all our sins.   Jesus righteousness is applied to us so that God sees us through the righteousness of Jesus rather than through our sins.  Thanks be to God; all sins can be forgiven.

God’s love for sinners inevitably includes the offer of reconciliation.  All we need to do is to accept God’s acceptance or forgiveness by trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior.  And when we receive God’s reconciling love in Jesus we are asked to share it; to be ambassadors of this wondrous message of reconciliation.

Think about it; God wants to make his appeal to others through us.  God wants to use us as instruments of his reconciliation, hope, love and grace.

I’m Better Than I Deserve

Romans 5:6-11

In the sermon Sunday we heard about giving thanks in all circumstances.  We heard about Corrie Ten Boom who worked at giving thanks in a concentration camp.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but my first inclination is to squirm a little bit at that idea.  I mean, doesn’t someone in a concentration camp or a tornado victim deserve to just be genuinely ticked off?  Should we really expect them to be thankful in the midst of their misery?

Our verses today are what enable us to be thankful in a concentration camp or in the aftermath of a tornado.  See, before Christ reconciled us to God through His death, we were headed for eternal separation from God. We deserved God’s judgement.  In fact, if God wasn’t incredibly merciful, He would have brought that judgement on us the moment we first sinned!  Instead of just declaring us guilty the first time we sinned, He gave us mercy and withheld the judgement we deserved.  Not only that, but God sent Jesus as a man to pay for that sin so we could have fellowship with God. God reconciled us to Himself. So why can we be thankful in the midst of a concentration camp or a tornado? We can be thankful because of Romans 5:6-11. We can be thankful because no matter how bad our situation is; we are still better off than we deserve.

* I unabashedly stole the phrase “better than I deserve” from the pastor of the church I grew up in. Thanks Pastor Bob.

A daily Double – Update on this week and Monday Post

 

Psalm 75:1

Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.

 

At the end of this week all I can say is: Seeing God at work through the people he calls his own it’s an amazing thing. We are blessed to see what God is doing, we are blessed to see people understanding love and reaching out to those around them, we are blessed to be able to be a blessing. And all that starts when each one of us say: Here I am, send me, let my life be used for your glory. That is what this week has been about.

 

So where are we now? Saturday we went to Coal City/ Diamond and got to see some of the destruction left behind, but also the way people all around responded to it. And it was a great thing to see. Today 100 Christmas stockings were picked up in no time during church, and a trip to Washington IL is being plan in the next two weeks.

So thank you for being open to helping others, thank you for being ready to help and share your stories. and know that what we have done this past week makes a difference.

 

 

Be Blessed,

Bo M.

 

Also I want to share with you an email Joyce received, about your efforts.

 

Joyce,

WOW!!  Thank you so much for sending this information.  We have been in awe of His people. showing His love, for our brothers & sisters in Washington through so many generous people!!!!  Please pass on a huge THANK YOU to your church from all of us!

The water is such a God-send when you are helping someone and the water comes by!!!!!  It is so refreshing and reminds you to take a few minutes for yourself so you can continue on…..

Everywhere I go, there are stories of how God’s hand was at work…Miracle after Miracle….maybe it was finding the parent’s wedding rings, animals or the big things of how people had damage all around them and didn’t have a single scratch or minimal injuries.  I am so grateful for all the generosity shown to our local communities.  We keep remembering that this phase is a marathon and not a sprint…we have to pace ourselves.

We are a faith-based community and it was the obedience to Him that saved so many people’s lives.  I hope that someone gathers stories and writes a book, because it would be a true testament to our very loving Heavenly Father!!

Thank you once again.

Love,

Sherri

Becoming what we are…

Today’s passage:  Colossians 2:6-7 (NLT)

These 2 verses make clear that there can be no separation between “talking the talk” and “walking the walk”.  But this seems a tad shallow here…in the context of the whole of Colossians, a more common phrase seems to get to the point, “become what you are”.  Remember that Colossians is most interested, overall, in refuting the teachings of false teachers…in this comes the challenge that the relationship between who one is in Christ and how one lives is not automatic.

We see here a very important phrase, “just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord” – one that highlights that this is what is to govern how they…we, live out our lives.  It’s not impossible or a crushing burden.  How many of you complain about their employers increasing the work load while keeping the resources the same – “do more with less” was the mantra when I was involved in day-to-day corporate business.  What Colossians makes clear is that all the resources necessary for Christian living have been provided – there is no need to feel ill-equipped so as to keep us on the sidelines.  As we have seen this week, Colossians continues to reinforce that the primary dynamic that should dictate our behavior is our relationship to Christ – an extension of what God has already accomplished in Christ.  Therefore, the emphasis is not on my willpower or yours or on any effort you or I could muster…no, it is on God’s grace which enables our living to be one of thankfulness.

Let’s “do more with more” on the foundation of God’s grace in our lives and become what we are…Christians!

Friday Update

Friday Note On Diamond City Tornado Effort:

As we are gearing up for our trip on Saturday morning 8am, i want to encourage everyone to continue to bring big plastic bins, as this are the hot item as of this morning.
Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions.
At this time it looks like Saturday effort will focus on Diamond City with a trip later in December to Washington IL

 

Blessings,

Bo <

Psalm 96:1-7 Joy is at the Heart of our Faith

Psalm 95:1-7 NIV – Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; – Bible Gateway

“Come let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.”

Joy is a central characteristic of Christ-followers.  Jesus said to the disciples, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11).  Nehemiah said to God’s people, after the people assembled to worship and hear the scriptures read, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is our strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).

We can express joy to the Lord when we worship because we worship a great and wonderful God.  God seeks us out to save us and give us the life that is truly life.

We are given the gift of the creation.  There’s spectacular beauty in the mountain peaks, lush valleys, cascading ocean waves, and the rising and setting of the sun to name but a few of God’s wonders.

We can bow down and worship with awe and a deep trust because God is good and we belong to him.  We are his flock and we also belong to each other.  We can find joy in his gracious care.

Celebrate God today.  Share your joy with the Lord.  Find some reason this day to rekindle your joy and give thanks to the Rock of your salvation.  Then let that joy spill over to others in authentic love and service.  May the joy of the Lord be your strength.

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