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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

August 2014

Psalm 104 – Bigger Than Me

Psalm 104

This is a pure worship Psalm.   Sometimes it takes David a little while to work around to the worship.  Sometimes he has to vent for a bit or tell God just how unjust the world around him is.  In this Psalm David is just focusing on who God is and what He’s done.  David fully realizes that God is limitless in His power.  This is kind of a change from how we often treat God.  I know for me God often becomes a cosmic vending machine.  “God, help me with this…”  “God.. I need…”  etc.  Not that those prayers are bad, they aren’t.  But when we focus only on God as He relates to us, we miss out on God’s greatness.  When’s the last time you just took a while and thought about how awesome God is?  Not because He’s blessed you, but because of who He is?  Because He’s infinite, incorporeal, Holy and immutable?  Take time this morning to enjoy God for who He is.  For His glory.. and not necessarily for what He’s done for you.

I wish I had faith!

Friday, August 15
Morning: Pss. 51; 148
Evening: Pss. 142; 65
Judg. 14:20–15:20
Acts 7:17–29
John 4:43–54

Today’s text: John 4:43–54 – I wish I had faith!

I wish I had faith, that certain type of faith that trusts from the very moment when prayer goes up to God, that type of faith that trusts God and helps me take the first step without hesitation. I wish I had that type of faith where every word from God, would give me hope and strength in all those moments when I need help. 

It happens to most of us, from time to time, we know somewhere in our heart what we should be doing or believing, and we find ourselves paralyzed, powerless by the insecurities that attack our lives. 

Jesus speaks to the royal official about signs and miracles that will confirm the official’s faith. Some people are just like that. Need confirmation of their faith, signs along the way. And that’s OK. Faith is not something that we get out of a can, something that is ready mixed and done. Faith is something that we grow in something that we learn along the way.

I would encourage you today to pray that God will give you faith, and help you in those times when your faith is shaking. Because faith is our anchor in this journey called life.

 

Be blessed,

Bo M. 

 

Growing the church…

Thirsty.001

Today’s Lectionary Readings:

Morning Psalms 97; 147:12-20

First Reading Judges 14:1-19

Second Reading Acts 6:15-7:16

Gospel Reading John 4:27-42

Evening Psalms 16; 62

Today’s Selected Text:  John 4:27-42

I have heard so many people talk about what Jesus would do and while I think that this is very important, what is more important in my mind is what you and I do based on knowing what Jesus would do and/or did.  Today’s passage provides just another example.

It is common understanding that Jews and Samaritans did not get along.  Second, men and women usually maintained a safe social distance from one another.  Third, the focal point for this entire passage is the Samaritan woman.

What did Jesus do?  He had just asked this Samaritan woman for a drink of water.  And now knowing who Jesus is (because Jesus had just told her) what does this Samaritan woman do?  She goes and tells the people in the city who Jesus is.  And what happens when she does this?  The people come to Jesus because of this one woman…”and many more believed because of his word”.

But something else is going on as well…Jesus is telling his disciples that instead of seeing the woman as Samaritan or the fact that he, a man, was talking with a woman, that what is really important is them having spiritual vision and perception.  If only they would look around and see those with spiritual hunger…

Jesus provided his vision of how to grow the church…you have to be willing, because you know what Jesus would do, to go and interact with those who are thirsting.  Knowing what Jesus would do is one thing but it is then what you and I do with this knowing…to go and bear witness to the one who comes to enlighten our lives and world and to give us living water to satisfy even our deepest thirst.  Can we ask…”Are you thirsty?”

Trust…

Unknown

Morning: Psalm 89:1–18; 147:1–11

First Lesson: Judges 13:15–24

Second Lesson: Acts 6:1–15

Third Lesson: John 4:1–26

Evening: Psalm 1; 33

Life is ever-changing and challenging; wonderful and difficult, a gracious gift and an awesome responsibility, filled with joy and anxiety and much more…

Who can we trust in the swirl of mystery and uncertainty, happiness and suffering? What can we count on?  Where can we find any security and stability?

The Psalms say God.  The Lord’s love stands firm forever.  Hope in the the Lord’s unfailing love.  Blessed is the one who does not walk in the ways of the wicked but delights in the things of God.  Psalm 33 reminds us that:

20 We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.

In Judges Manoah and his wife put their trust in God and they are blessed with a child, Samson.

In Acts there is conflict between Greek and Hebraic Jews as the church grows and provides food for the poor.  Yet they trust in God and the church leaders and we read of the innovation of the first board of Deacons who give themselves to serving.  Their leader Stephen trusts God even in the face of fierce persecution; he trusts enough to give himself up to death and to speak of Jesus and ask for forgiveness for those who take his life.

In John we read of Jesus’ conversation with a Samaritan woman, a despised race to the Jews of that day and a notorious sinner in her village as she has had five husbands and is living with someone.  Jesus treats her with respect and sees her as a real person whom God loves.  He accepts her while not accepting all she has done.  He trusts her with the Gospel message and she shares the Good News of the Gospel with her village. She puts her trust in the Messiah, Jesus.

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In the end, all who trust in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not disappointed.  They are not disappointed even when life is disappointing for the Lord loves and receives them and welcomes them home.

 

Jesus teaching about… Himself

stock-illustration-13036027-jesus-teaches-nicodemusJohn 3:1-21

I deeply regret being late on this one.  In this passage Nicodemus comes to Jesus and essentially says “you’re not a fake… your power clearly comes from God.”  Jesus responds by giving him the Gospel: “you must be born again.”  Jesus follows that up with one of the most well known passages in the Bible;  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”  

Jesus describes it succinctly.  We are reconciled to God by faith in the work of Christ.  This seems rather exclusivist in our current postmodern culture.  Regardless, after re-living our experiences in Guatemala it is intensely clear to me that the hope of the world is not economic.  The real poverty is spiritual; a life lived apart from Christ.  That’s why we have services like yesterday.  That’s why we have missions.

Sunday Worship Time!!

Go...share the wordToday’s Readings for Sunday, August 10, 2014

Today at First Pres we will do something a little different.  1 month ago our Senior High Youth Group left for Guatemala…the first time a youth group from FPJ has gone out of country in mission.  Come join us in worship as we pair Matthew’s Great Commission passage in a little sermonette along with testimony from three who were in Guatemala and Atlanta.   Matthew 28:16-20

Priorities

Saturday, August 9
Morning: Pss. 63; 149
Evening: Pss. 125; 90
Judg. 9:22–25, 50–57
Acts 4:32–5:11
John 2:13–25 

John 2:13-25 – Priorities 

The temple! What a sight! So much history and significance at the heart of a building that became more than a symbol in Israel! Something that started so good, soon turned to be a stumbling stone for the very people that build it. 

Think about the good intentions that shaped the worship and life in and around the temple. First a thought that God does not deserve anything else expect the very best, and that soon became a business where only a few had the power and control over the animals meant to be sacrificed in the temple. Or think of the money changers! Good intention on their part: no money used in a manner that’s not worthy of god would be used in the temple! But as you think of that also think of the hypocrisy that raised from that. Soon all the temple courts became places of business and their practices soon became a burden on people. 

I guess some things stayed the same even two thousand years later. We start something around the church with good intentions and we gave ourselves in that processes. And at the sane time we start to crystalize. Church, life should be dynamic. We should be about the things that matter to God,. to the work of God, but being careful at what monuments, or commerce we build in our service to God.

Stop turning my house into a shopping mall! Strong words, that should resonate with us today. Church is not about me, or you! It’s not about us at all! Church is about the things that God is doing and will continue to do through the life and witness of the church. In one way this passage should makes us all stop and wonder what are the things that are important in church? and as we do that we should search our own heart of the things that we think are important vs. the things that are important to God. 

I pray that today’s blog will be a good time for us to reflect on priorities and the things that really make a difference, and also I pray that as we do that we would ask the spirit of God to unite us as we do his work.

Be Blessed,

Bo M. 

Do you believe in miracles?

water to wine

All of today’s readings (click here)

 

 

 

 

Today’s Selection:  John 2:1-12

Today’s focus is why changing water into wine is Jesus’ first miracle in John’s Gospel.  Interestingly enough…in the original Greek, John does not use the word miracle – he uses “sign” because it was shown….but, sadly in some instances…not seen.  It is in and through this sign that Jesus’ glory is revealed and his disciples believed:  “He revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.”  And, the servants knew what happened with the transformation.

Do you believe in miracles?  I do.  This story tells us a lot about life. Signs…miracles happen. Signs of Jesus at work appear all around us. We can become so calloused in life that we may not see or, if we do, don’t acknowledge them for what they really are.  They happen whether or not we acknowledge them. They benefit us whether or not we notice them.  Augustine of Hippo had this to say about our passage, “He who made the wine that day at the marriage feast does this every year in vines. But we do not wonder at the latter because it happens every year; it has lost its marvel by its constant occurrence.”

It also tells us Jesus’ master plan for “marketing” the Gospel message….it’s you and I!  Perhaps the Cana story appears first in the Gospel of John because in reality the world is a wedding celebration. Jesus transforms the water of every day life into the wine of miracles. All benefit from these transformations, though some know the cause of them, and others do not. To share our faith means this: letting others know that signs are abundant, and Christ is the one to whom they point.

Do you believe in signs of the presence of Christ in your everyday life?  Who are you going to tell right now…without delay…you and I are the “billboards” for Jesus in our everyday lives?

 

 

There Is One To Whom You Go…

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Morning: Psalms- 116; 147:12–20

First Reading- Judges 8:22–35

Second Reading- Acts 4:1–12

Gospel Reading- John 1:43–51

Evening: Psalms-  26; 130

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“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.” (Ps. 116:1)

There is one to whom we can always go.  There is the one true God.  We are to “Extol the Lord…and Praise the Lord.” (Psalm 147)  Gideon reminds the people of Israel that “The Lord will rule over you” and not Gideon himself.  Israel was always wandering away in search and worship of other gods that were false gods.

Peter, with John before the Sanhedrin, the governing body of Israel, speaks boldly and reminds us  that, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)  Peter is speaking of Jesus Christ.

The Psalmist in Psalm 26 cries out to God to “Vindicate” him or spare him or save him from the death that overtakes the wicked and the ungodly.  And in Psalm 130 we read of a person of faith who cries out to the Lord and waits for the Lord and trusts in the Lord.  His deepest hope is placed in God.

7 Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
8 He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins

There is one to whom we can all go, the one true God whom we know most fully in and through the Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Let us rest this day in the grace, love, strength, and guidance of the God who seeks and welcomes us.

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