First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @


October 2014

Romans 15:14-24

Romans 15:14-24

Paul explains that he is called to convert and strengthen gentiles. Paul knows he is not writing to a novice community but to one who knows and practices the faith – they are full of “goodness” v.14.

While Paul never hesitates to affirm his position of authority and responsibility as the one to whom “grace was given” there is a humble aspect to his statement as he affirms his complete dependence on the Lord. v.18-19

So what principles can we extract from the verses for today? One clear principle is successful ministry is always God’s doing. Since we all are part of a ministry, perhaps today you can consider your ministry and how God has enabled you to be successful or what you need to do to allow God to work through you.

Mary Lynn

Why God Saved You In 81 Words.

Romans 15:7-13 – Colossians 1:27

These passages have two parallel themes.  1.  God really wanted to save the gentiles.  It was always part of the plan. 2. God did this so that by the work of the Holy Spirit we can “filled up” with Christ.  Its not just simply a Missional life, a pious life or a generous life, no, its the living out of the inward Christ. We weren’t saved to follow rules or accomplish tasks, we are saved to live out the inward Christ.

Faith for the weak, Faith for the strong

Romans 15:1-6

Video Blog

Judging others…


Today’s Passage:  Romans 14:13-23 (CEB)

Paul’s opening sentence is both the final charge on the previous subject and the introduction to the new one: We shouldn’t pass judgment on one another…instead, a Christian should judge himself or herself on his/her actions so that he does not present a stumbling block to another.

Judging others, over a whole litany of subjects, can be a favorite pastime of many.  This is especially true when disagreements on position occur.  Paul discusses food regulations and causing others to stumble.  I wanted to go a little simpler here today.  When we judge others – in the context of such statements as: “I know more than you” or “I’m right and you’re wrong” or “I am more spiritual than you”… we exhibit an attitude of arrogance and pride.  This is especially difficult when someone around us is prevented from growing spiritually.

I thought of an old poem, author anonymous, that sums up for me what Paul, and, more importantly, the Bible, guides us to regarding our perspectives on others:

I Dreamed Of Heaven
I dreamed death came the other night:
And heaven’s gates swung wide.
With kindly grace an angel
Ushered me inside.
And there, to my astonishment,
Stood folks I’d known on earth.
Some I’d judged and labeled
Unfit or of little worth.
Indignant words rose to my lips,
But never were set free;
For every face showed stunned surprise…
No one expected me!

Grace and peace to each of you as we are grow and are guided in God’s Word and love!

Choose to Be Gracious


Romans 14:1-12 (NIV)   Romans 14:1-12 (The Message)

It is easy to notice differences in others and judge them.  Sometimes when we notice differences in lifestyles, opinions, and choices in others we may say that’s interesting, or I like that, or I’ll try that, or that adds to life, etc.  But there are other times when we may say to ourselves or think thats terrible, not good, what’s wrong with them, etc.  Sometimes we are quick to judge and slow to be understanding and gracious.  And sometimes we are quick to tell others what’s wrong with their choices.

If that’s hard to imagine, just think about the elections coming up in November.  Could it be that we may wonder, how in the world can a follower of Christ vote for that candidate? Think about worship styles.  Could it be that we might think,  how in the world could so and so want to sing that song in worship?  Could it be that we are judgmental from time to time?

That’s what we see in this passage.  Here in Romans 14, there were some Roman Christians who went the market place and purchased meat for their meals that was priced at quite a discount.  It was inexpensive because it was left over from temple sacrifices to one of the gods that some people worshipped in Rome.  Other Christians thought this was terrible and should not be done because it was meat used in idol worship.  They looked down on those who did such things.  The folks who purchased the discount meat thought it was a bargain since the idols were not in reality true gods because there is only one true God, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  They thought that what they were doing was just fine.  In their minds the Christians who criticized them were weak in their faith.

Paul wants both groups to be gracious, understanding, and accepting of each other.  They could disagree and yet be kind to each other.  After all, we belong to the Lord and God is the judge.  We are not the judge, although we are tempted to be judgmental.  Isn’t that good to remember?  It will serve us well as we go through life.

Paul writes, “It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.” (Romans 14:7-9, The Message)

“For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.” (Romans 14:7-9, NIV)

Let’s be gracious and understanding today.  Let’s be loving and accepting of other Christians, our brothers and sisters in Christ; for we are all part of the family of God.

Do you know what time it is?

Do you know what time it is?
It’s really a key question for our lives, because time has a way of slipping up on us.
What time is it?  Paul tells us it’s time to be awake, and to be transformed into the newness that God’s future will bring.
Paul expected the appearance of the Lord in the very near future.  It didn’t happen that way, but who is to say it still isn’t true?  Cardinal George is reflecting on his own mortality and realizes that he may not have as long as he would like left on this earth.
When one is into older age it is apparent that most of life as we know it is over, and we may reflect both on what has happened and what is yet to be. Sudden death,fatal illness, old age, natural causes;  we all succumb.  The question is not if, but when we die.  So, what are we to do as we await.  Paul says, “Wake up!”  Love, mission, service, that’s what’s called for.  What time is it?  The time for love, generosity, service, awareness, for salvation is nearer now that when we first believed.
Put on the new life of Christ and await the transformation with joy and gladness.
Bob Haas

Romans 13:8-10 – No Biting.

Romans 13:8-10
Galatians 5:15

Does the name Louis Saurez ring a bell to anyone?  How about Mike Tyson?  These guys have a couple things in common.  First, they’re incredible athletes. Second, they’ll be remembered in part for knawing on other human beings.  Mike Tyson munched on Evander Hollyfields ear and Louis Saurez is famous for leaving marks after nibbling on an Italian defenders shoulder during the world cup this last summer.

I like how the two passages interplay this morning.  Paul writes to the Romans about loving ones neighbor in the first passage.  Then in the second passage Paul writes to the Galatians and says “Stop Biting!!”   Its funny if you think about it.  When we stop loving others we start getting critical.. whiny.. jealous.. gossipy and… well.. sort of biting. Honestly, when I look around, one of the greatest ways we fail to love each other is biting.  This gossiping, whiny and critical attitude towards others.  Aside from Mike Tyson and Louis Saurez.. do you know who gets whiny and starts biting?  Children.  Toddlers mostly.  We’re never going to love others well until we stop biting.  Doesn’t mean you can’t disagree with others.  You can.  Just don’t bite them. Give it some thought.. we’re all biters… who do we need to stop biting?

We the people …

Rom 13:1-7

Can you think what motivated Paul to write these things? Picture yourself for a moment in Rome, under house arrest or in a prison cell, as you speak these words. Would you say the same things? Would you encourage people to be submissive to the authorities the same way Paul is speaking?

Some of those answers might be hard for us in our context today, because we live in a country governed by a constitution where individuals rights are at the center, where liberties and freedoms make the very fabric of our society.

Few years back when I became a citizen of this country, I had made a pledge to uphold the values and follow the rules of this great nation. in 2002, when I made US my home, I received a letter from President Bush addressed to all the people that took to journey to US and emigrate here. The letter simply said, be part of us, we welcome you be a good citizen, get involved, we need your gifts and talents, your energy and all you have to offer.
I think about that welcome letter from time to time, and I also think about my Christian responsibilities as citizen in the light of what Paul is writing. We are good citizens not out of fear, but because of who we are as Christians, as people of this land, we are all that because we live under the understanding that God is a God of peace and order. Faith has a way of changing things, ideas and people. Faith has a way of taking each one of us and our thinking and help us become better people, because we start to understand the principals that govern our lives in Christ.

This is my experience with this text. How about you? How do you see it? How do you understand the concept of submission?

I would love to hear your comments on this text, so please don’t be shy.

Bo M.

Loving outsiders…


Today’s Passage:  Rom 12:9-21

I want to focus on how Paul talks about loving those outside the Christian community, by living in such a way that fosters peace. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil … Do not be overcome by evil.” It’s an important thought today – let’s face it…there is enough ill will in this world that we shouldn’t add to it ourselves.  Instead, how do we show love?  How do we not act as judge?  How do we live in light of God’s grace and mercy in our dealings with those outside the Christian community…and, for that matter, within the Christian community?

I have to be honest…it isn’t always easy – there are a great many things I don’t like and this influences my thinking.  Because what Paul is really talking about in today’s passage is not simply a matter of holding one’s tongue or practicing self-control when confronted.  No, he is saying initiating good – doing good for those who are our opponents…overcome evil with good.

Romans 12 provides us a Christian ethic in terms of our relationships…marked by humble, generous love, no matter the character or status of those to whom Christians relate. We saw it in Rom 12:1-2:  presenting ourselves as living sacrifices – giving everything we have for the good of others – to be transformed, our minds renewed, to know and do God’s will.  I think this is the context of true love for us to ponder today.  True love requires us to live alongside and engage with others in a full-bodied way.

How can we, engage with others in practical and physical ways – loving outsiders…those outside of First Pres to point them to Jesus?  How can we engage with those who oppose Christianity and be salt and light to them?  As Matt indicated Monday…may God bring out the best in each of us!


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