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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

January 2015

The Battle: Inside Out Living

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Ephesians 6:10-20 (The Message)      Ephesians 6:10-20 (NIV)

Being a Christ-Follower is about being strong.  It’s not about our own strength but being strong from the inside out, from within, from the Spirit of God alive within us.  It’s about allowing God to strengthen, guide, direct and preserve us in our journey of faith.  Serving the Lord is a life long pursuit, a life long battle; a battle of spirit and truth.  And the good news is that God wants to equip us with the spiritual weapons we need to live in faith, hope, love, and truth…

“God’s Word is an indispensable weapon” we read in the Message translation. Prayer is vitally important, “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

How’s your battle going? Are you reading the scriptures, saying your prayers, worshipping with your church family, serving as God so leads?  In your battle of faith do you find the joy which Jesus said would be within his followers?

Fight well this day, from the inside out!

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How’s Your Serve?

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Ephesians 6:5-9 (NIV)         Ephesians 6:5-9 (The Message)

Slavery was a reality, taken for granted, in the Greco-Roman world and in the era of the New Testament.  If you read everything Paul had to say about slavery you can see that it was his hope that slaves would be set free.  See Philemon.  Here in verse 9, Paul reminds the masters that both the slave and the master are under the reign of the ultimate master, Christ Jesus.  We all serve somebody.

Christians were a minority in the Greco-Roman world and so there was always the teaching that Christ-Followers should be model citizens and model servants/slaves if that was their situation in life.  There was the belief that transformed individuals would be a transforming and redemptive force in their world for Christ and His Kingdom.  It is so very interesting that through the work of William Wilberforce in England that the British abolished slavery without a civil war.  If you have not yet seen the movie, Amazing Grace I highly recommend it.

Now, what to do with this passage on slavery?   Often Paul describes himself as a slave/servant of the Lord Jesus Christ and he reminds followers of Jesus to remember that too.  So, can we say each day that we “7 Serve wholeheartedly,…”  Can we say to ourselves,  “Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God.”

Do we serve this way in the church, at work, in our homes, and in our community?  May we improve our serve this day for Jesus’ sake; for sharing the transforming love and grace of God wherever we go and wherever we work.  How’s your Serve, this day?

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Bob Dylan’s song “Gotta Serve Somebody” always challenges me to think about who I ultimately serve and how I serve.  Perhaps it will prompt you to reflect on your service too.

 

 

It takes a village

Ephesians 6:1-4

As i read the words from Ephesians today, I am reminded of something I see around me way too often: the need of direction for our lives and the challenge to set a good example for the generation that looks at us for direction. How many times did we say: if I would only knew? or I wish someone would off told that before I did that.

Paul’s encouragement to us is that wherever we are in life we should what is right before the Lord. To some that might come easy, to others doing that could be a challenge. Not only that but when it comes to setting that good example we can find ourselves fighting our own demons, weaknesses and insecurities.  It is in those moments that I wish and pray that someone would come along side and helps do what is right. Encourages us, speak the truth in love or help us pick up our broken lives and rebuild to the point where once again we can make a difference.

Today I pray that each one of us can experience that grace of having someone in their life to mentor or to be mentored. Someone to come along and help us see the things that God is trying to do with each one of us. I pray that spiritual mothers and fathers will rise and stand in prayer for those in need, and I pray that those that need some help will be open and willing to listen and receive the help that is offered.

Be blessed,

Bo M.

Submission???

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Today’s Passage:  Eph 5:21-33 (NIV) (The Message)

Here again is one of those passages that often is taken out of context.  How could Paul be talking about slavery of women in the household?  Well….he’s not.  He’s talking about submission…

Submission???  Yes. And, in case you haven’t noticed lately, ‘Submission’ is one of our FPJ church values – the banner hangs on the south wall furthest toward the west.  Submission – it has a very negative connotation in today’s culture doesn’t it. So, when you read “submit yourselves” don’t stop there…get to the important part of the passage…”as you do to the Lord”.  Equal and loving submission.

Paul is talking about relationships in the home…often referred to as the “Household Code”.  First Peter also contains a “Household Code” (1 Peter 2:13-3:9) and it also contains ‘submission’.  Often in marriage ceremonies, rings are exchanged between man and woman…rings, round in nature to symbolize the unending covenant being made between the two…in a Christian wedding, between the 3…man, woman and Jesus.

Christ’s death was “to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word” – this is not baptismal regeneration because as you know by now that is not Paul’s purpose in this book.  The “Word” is the preached word for all to hear.  Paul just got finished yesterday encouraging his readers to be wise in the Holy Spirit – today he is applying this to specific life relationships.  It is relatively easy to “live” a Spirit-filled life on Sunday morning – a couple of hours at most…but it really takes the work of the Holy Spirit in everyday relationships – in today’s passage shown to us as husbands and wives.  Bo and Craig will handle the upcoming examples.  In each of the examples the first partner is to be submissive as is the second partner.  Both partners are to act toward one another as a being in service to Christ Jesus.  The “submit-love” relationship then is the harmonious partnership, in today’s passage, in marriage.

Submission???  Absolutely…in our relationships together…as individuals…the church, etc., “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”.

Ephesians 5:3-20

Ephesians 5:3-20

Good Morning Church,
Doesn’t the snow look beautiful?  I am instantly reminded that Jesus made me “white as snow”!  Today’s passage in Ephesians has the potential to expose something very beautiful inside us…  LIGHT!  However, Paul’s words start off with some convicting behaviors that get in the way of the LIGHT of Christ in us.  How many of us read this loving and wise counsel from Paul and reduce his counsel to a “character list” of what NOT to do?  We may even think to ourselves, “I don’t do THIS… I am NOT like THAT.. etc “.  But the truth is we so are!  Let us begin this day with confession and a clean slate to be who we are in Christ.  And ask Him to give us the strength and honesty to walk in way that honors the Lord so His light will shine through us. Remember YOU ARE NOT A MISTAKE! YOU ARE NOT YOUR SIN! YOU ARE REDEEMED and LOVED!
Peace be with you

Cyndi

A Whole New You

Ephesians 4:22-32

Christianity is full of “already.. but not yet.”  This is one of those passages.  In it Paul describes the characteristics of the new you.  Makeover shows abound, but this is the real deal.  We go from being enemies of God to living full lives of obedience.  The already-not-yet here is that we’ve been made perfect through the death of Christ; the Christian life is us by grace becoming what we already are in the eyes of Christ.

Funny side-note before we talk application.  Have you ever noticed that Paul lists the most random sins together sometimes?   In this passage he lists bitterness, anger, lying, slander, theft and gossip all in the same passage.  I’ve often wondered why he lists what he does (most likely certain individuals in the churches he was writing needed the reminder) but I think its more important that he doesn’t seem to discern between “types” of sin.  We’d all agree that theft is a big deal, but Paul lists it right next to gossip (ie. corrupting talk).  Lying is really bad.. a little slander though?  We all do that.  God’s not interested in our self-justifying sin rankings.  He’s not impressed with me because I gossip but I won’t steal.  Let’s stop treating our personal sin as though it somehow falls in the “acceptable” category.

All that said, what do you need to put off?  What sort of stuff have you been walking in thats just not good enough for the new you?  What’s the next step in becoming what you already are in the eyes of Christ?

Don’t Catch this Drift

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Ephesians 4:17-24 (NIV)     Ephesians 4:17-24 (The Message)

The world in which we live is going in a particular direction.  The cultural pull is away from the way of Christ Jesus.  The things of faith are not being reinforced and instilled in the fabric of our society.  At best we are told that faith is a private matter; keep it to yourself.  Don’t bring your faith to the public square and the market place.

Therefore it’s easy to catch the drift of culture and the things of this world.  That’s why regular prayer, reading of the scripture, fellowship with other Christians, worship with your friends in Christ, and loving service and ministry are so vitally significant.

Here in Ephesians we are reminded to no longer live as non-Christians for “that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.”

Let’s not drift away from the life of faith.  This day may we be renewed from the inside out in the life and Spirit of Christ Jesus.

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Do one thing

Ephesians 4:1-16

Yesterday we read about Paul’s prayer, and today we read about his personal plea to those in Ephesus, a message that stems from his desire to see those in the church in Ephesus acting like one going in one direction. It is a message that we seem to hear quite a lot, and not only that but it makes us wonder why do we need to hear it time and time again.

Maybe it is because we did not hear the prayer from the day before. Maybe we had not made room for Christ in our hearts, or maybe we are still trying to figure out who Christ is to us. Whatever the reason might be, we need to remember who we are as a church, that we are united in the one that called us and in that bond we have in God’s Spirit.

It is in that spirit that I am asking you to pray for the church as a whole, and then for our own church, for those you see day after day, that we too can continue to grow and mature so that the love of Christ can be evident in our lives.

Be Blessed,

Bo M.

One GREAT Prayer…

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Ephesians 3:14-21

How do you pray?  What do you pray for?

Do a Google search for “great prayers of the Bible” and this passage from Ephesians will be present.  Paul is praying for the community – the church at Ephesus (the “you’s” are plural).  His prayer is one of the greatest in the whole of the Bible in my opinion…Just ponder for a moment what he is praying for regarding the church at Ephesus:  greater inner strength from the Holy Spirit; Christ’s presence in their hearts; the extent of God’s love for them; fullness of life with God…all from a God who is able to do more than we often give him credit for.  Can you imagine what a day would be like with this kind of spiritual life?

Problem is…we often allow road blocks to get in the way…maybe you think it is too good to be true – what Paul says really would be wonderful but that’s asking a lot for me to believe.  Or, the God we pray to is a small God instead of one who “is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope”…we pray too small.  Or, we doubt because of previously unmet expectations.

Is this prayer of Paul’s just flowery words or do you really believe in a God who can far exceed anything you and I can imagine.  Do we place God in a box – a confined space…our box – when it comes to how we pray and what we pray for?  How about as a church?

Do we have the faith to pray like Paul to imagine what God could do with First Pres? Amen.

 

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