First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @


March 2015

I don’t like authority figures.

Our students, whom I thoroughly enjoy serving, sometimes have a real difficult time with this commandment.  Its not shocking really.  We were all teenagers once and when we were; I’m sure we all thought we knew everything.  Oddly enough, having a hard time with those who have authority over you isn’t limited to our High School students.  God says honor your political leaders, your church leaders and those who are over you at work later on in the New Testament.  Sometimes our attitude when it comes to those leaders is about as helpful as one of our high school students attitudes toward their parents.  We expect our kids to suck it up and obey without whining, but give us a chance to gossip about a politician, church leader or our boss and we don’t really hold ourselves to the same standard.  Just my thoughts as someone who isn’t great at honoring authority figures.

Q104. What is God’s will for us in the fifth commandment?

A. That I honor, love, and be loyal to my father and mother and all those in authority over me; that I obey and submit to them, as is proper, when they correct and punish me;1 and also that I be patient with their failings—2 for through them God chooses to rule us.3

1 Ex. 21:17; Prov. 1:8; 4:1; Rom. 13:1, 2; Eph. 5:21, 22; 6:1-9; Col. 3:18-4:1.

2 Prov. 20:20; 23:22; 1 Pet. 2:18.

3 Matt. 22:21; Rom. 13:1-8; Eph. 6:1-9; Col. 3:18-21.


Exodus 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Q103. What is God’s will for us in the fourth commandment?

  1. First, that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained,1 and that, especially on the festive day of rest, I regularly attend the assembly of God’s people2 to learn what God’s Word teaches,3 to participate in the sacraments,4 to pray to God publicly,5 and to bring Christian offerings for the poor.6 Second, that every day of my life I rest from my evil ways, let the Lord work in me through His Spirit, and so begin already in this life the eternal Sabbath.7

1 Deut. 6:4-9, 20-25; 1 Cor. 9:13, 14; 2 Tim. 2:2; 3:13-17; Tit. 1:5.                                                                          2 Deut. 12:5-12; Ps. 40:9, 10; 68:26; Acts 2:42-47; Heb. 10:23-25.                                  3 Rom. 10:14-17; 1 Cor. 14:31, 32; 1 Tim. 4:13.                                                                               4 1 Cor. 11:23, 24.  5 Col. 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:1.    6 Ps. 50:14; 1 Cor. 16:2; 2 Cor. 8 & 9.                                                                 7 Isa. 66:23; Heb. 4:9-11.

Of Lawful Oaths and Vows

Sometimes i ask myself: Do people still keep the promises and vows they take much more they did years ago? The Old Testament is full of example where people wager their entire life before God. Today we still make vows and promises, at marriage, when a child is baptized and so on. But do they carry the same weight as it did for some of the forefathers of our faith?

Be Blessed,

Bo M.

Q101. But may we swear an oath in God’s name if we do it reverently?

  1. Yes, when the government demands it, or when necessity requires it, in order to maintain and promote truth and trustworthiness for God’s glory and our neighbor’s good. Such oaths are approved in God’s Word1 and were rightly used by Old and New Testament believers.2

1 Deut. 6:13; 10:20; Jer. 4:1, 2; Heb. 6:16.

2 Gen. 21:24; Josh. 9:15; 1 Kings 1:29, 30; Rom. 1:9; 2 Cor. 1:23.

Q102. May we swear by saints or other creatures?

  1. No.  A legitimate oath means calling upon God as the one who knows my heart to witness to my truthfulness and to punish me if I swear falsely.1 No creature is worthy of such honor.2

1 Rom. 9:1; 2 Cor. 1:23.

2 Matt. 5:34-37; 23:16-22; James 5:12.

The Bystander Effect…


Blaspheme…now there is a word we don’t hear too much.  In fact, I think the last person I heard use that word was my Grandmother.  One definition of blaspheme is – ‘to show contempt or disrespect for (God, a divine being,or sacred things), especially in speech’. Something stuck out for me in today’s HC reading – how we show contempt or disrespect for God when we are a silent bystander (Lev 5:1)…when we should speak up about something or doing something when we see something happening that is not right – don’t get me wrong, I think the “big ones” get attention…like don’t run with scissors in your hand…don’t take the Lord’s name in vain, etc.  But what about those “other things” when we remain silent…like bullying – it comes in many forms and not just on the school play yard…it can occur between adults too; or, lack of respect for others that don’t share our opinion; not speaking our opinion because we think it will “step on someone’s toes”.  

Blaspheme…to show contempt or disrespect for God…

Q99. What is God’s will for us in the third commandment?

A.  That we neither blaspheme nor misuse the name of God by cursing,1 perjury,2 or unnecessary oaths,3 nor share in such horrible sins by being silent bystanders.4  In a word, it requires that we use the holy name of God only with reverence and awe,5 so that we may properly confess Him,6 pray to Him,7 and praise Him in everything we do and say.8

1 Lev. 24:10-17.

2 Lev. 19:12.

3 Matt. 5:37; James 5:12.

4 Lev. 5:1; Prov. 29:24.

5 Ps. 99:1-5; Jer. 4:2.

6 Matt. 10:32, 33; Rom. 10:9, 10.

7 Ps. 50:14, 15; 1 Tim. 2:8.

8 Col. 3:17.


Q100. Is blasphemy of God’s name by swearing and cursing really such serious sin that God is angry also with those who do not do all they can to help prevent it and to forbid it?

A.  Yes, Indeed.No sin is greater, no sin makes God more angry than blaspheming His name. That is why He commanded the death penalty for it.2

1 Lev. 5:1.

2 Lev. 24:10-17.

RE: Commandment #2

Today’s installment (Q96, 97, and 98) of the Helvetic Confession pertains to Commandment #2 of the Ten Commandments. It needs be pointed out once again that the HC has was a document composed and revised by the Reformed Church of Switzerland in the 1500’s; it has withstood the test of time. I make the following commentary on today’s Q & A’s:

Q96. What is God’s will for us in the second commandment?

  1. That we in no way make any image of God1 nor worship Him in any other way than He has commanded in His Word.2

1 Deut. 4:15-19; Isa. 40:18-25; Acts 17:29; Rom. 1:23.

2 Lev. 10:1-7; 1 Sam. 15:22, 23; John 4:23, 24.

Comment: This specifically refers to the passage Exodus 20:4-6 and is self-explained.

Q97. May we then not make any image at all?

  1. God can not and may not be visibly portrayed in any way.  Although creatures may be portrayed, yet God forbids making or having such images if one’s intention is to worship them or to serve God through them.1

1 Ex. 34:13, 14, 17; 2 Kings 18:4, 5.

Comment: The construction of “graven images” was a persistent industry of the peoples surrounding the Israelites (Isa. 2:6-11, Acts 17:16-17, 1 John 5;21, 1 Cor. 10:19-21, 2 Cor. 6:16) since the beginning of recorded history. Their practices gradually leached into the society of the Jews (Deut. 32:17-18, Ps. 106:36-37, Ezek. 4:4-6, 14:6, 20:18). Eventually, this “graven image” problem will be resolved (Isa. 2:18, Ps. 97, Micah 5:13, Zeph. 2:11, Zech. 13:2).

Q98. But may not images be permitted in the churches as teaching aids for the unlearned?

  1. No, we shouldn’t try to be wiser than God. He wants His people instructed by the living preaching of His Word—1 not by idols that cannot even talk.2

1 Rom. 10:14, 15, 17; 2 Tim. 3:16, 17; 2 Pet. 1:19.

2 Jer. 10:8; Hab. 2:18-20.

Comment: If this precept was concisely followed by churches, there would be no images within their confines – no crosses, intersecting circles, fish, triangles, stained glass art, etc. Up to the early 19th century Presbyterian meeting-houses (they weren’t even called churches) were very plain and austere in their appearance. As is typical with the history of any grouping of people, Calvinist architecture was influenced the churches and peoples that surrounded them. By the end of the 19th century, Presbyterian constructs were more ornately adorned (see Forth Presbyterian Church, Chicago).

Craig Randolph

The Ten.

The Ten Commandments are probably the most well known part of the Old Testament Law.  Question, why do we still obey the Ten Commandements but ignore most of the rest of the Old Testament Law?  This question baffled me for a year or two.  Give me your opinions and thoughts.  I’ll post my belief on the issue around 1pm.

Q92. What does the Lord say in His law?

A. God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

1.     You shall have no other gods before me.

2.     You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

3.     You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

4.     Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

5.     Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.

6.     You shall not kill.

7.     You shall not commit adultery.

8.     You shall not steal.

9.     You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

10.  You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.1

1 Ex. 20:1-17; Deut. 5:6-21.

Q93. How are these commandments divided?

A. Into two tables. The first has four commandments, teaching us what our relation to God should be. The second has six commandments, teaching us what we owe our neighbor.1

1 Matt. 22:37-39.

Q94. What does the Lord require in the first commandment?

A. That I, not wanting to endanger my very salvation, avoid and shun all idolatry,1 magic, superstitious rites,2 and prayer to saints or to other creatures.3 That I sincerely acknowledge the only true God,4 trust Him alone,5 look to Him for every good thing6 humbly7 and patiently,8 love Him,9 fear Him,10 and honor Him11 with all my heart. In short, that I give up anything rather than go against His will in any way.12

1 1 Cor. 6:9, 10; 10:5-14; 1 John 5:21.

2 Lev. 19:31; Deut. 18:9-12.

3 Matt. 4:10; Rev. 19:10; 22:8, 9.

4 John 17:3.

5 Jer. 17:5, 7.

6 Ps. 104:27, 28; James 1:17.

7 1 Pet. 5:5, 6.

8 Col. 1:11; Heb. 10:36.

9 Matt. 22:37 (Deut. 6:5).

10 Prov. 9:10; 1 Pet. 1:17.

11 Matt. 4:10 (Deut. 6:13).

12 Matt. 5:29, 30; 10:37-39.

Q95. What is idolatry?

A. Idolatry is having or inventing something in which one trusts in place of or along side of the only true God, who has revealed Himself in His Word.1

1 1 Chron. 16:26; Gal. 4:8, 9; Eph. 5:5; Phil. 3:19.

Genuine Repentance, Authentic Apology

I apologize for such a late, late, late post.  I will do better next time. How ironic that repentance is the subject.  But it’s repentance that leads to conversion; something big and at the heart of Christianity.

Q88. What is involved in genuine repentance or conversion?

  1. Two things: the dying-away of the old self, and the coming-to-life of the new.1    1 Rom. 6:1-11; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:5-10.

Q89. What is the dying-away of the old self?

  1. It is to be genuinely sorry for sin, to hate it more and more, and to run away from it.1   1 Ps. 51:3, 4, 17; Joel 2:12, 13; Rom. 8:12, 13; 2 Cor. 7:10.

Q90. What is the coming-to-life of the new self?

  1. It is wholehearted joy in God through Christ1 and a delight to do every kind of good as God wants us to.2   1 Ps. 51:8, 12; Isa. 57:15; Rom. 5:1; 14:17.           2 Rom. 6:10, 11; Gal. 2:20.

Q91. What do we do that is good?

  1. Only that which arises out of true faith,1 conforms to God’s law,2 and is done for his glory;3 and not that which is based on what we think is right or on established human tradition.4     1 John 15:5; Heb. 11:6.    2 Lev. 18:4; 1 Sam. 15:22; Eph. 2:10.  3 1 Cor. 10:31.  4 Deut. 12:32; Isa. 29:13; Ezek. 20:18, 19; Matt. 15:7-9.



Why do we worship? Or serve? Why do we pray or do good? Is it because we need to please an angry God? Or we need to get that extra star in our report? No! We do all that because of gratitude. This last segment of HC is about the way we respond to God. Not out of fear, or a sense of duty, but in a manner that expresses that deep sense of thankfulness in return for his grace.

So as we explore the next set of questions, please consider this: “We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community

Be blessed,

Bo M

Q86. We have been delivered from our misery by God’s grace alone through Christ

and not because we have earned it: Why then must we still do good?

A. To be sure, Christ has redeemed us by His blood. But we do good because Christ by His Spirit is also renewing us to be like Himself, so that in all our living we may show that we are thankful to God for all He has done for us,1 and so that He may be praised through us.2 And we do good so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits,3 and so that by our godly living our neighbors may be won over to Christ.4

1 Rom. 6:13; 12:1, 2; 1 Pet. 2:5-10.

2 Matt. 5:16; 1 Cor. 6:19, 20.

3 Matt. 7:17, 18; Gal. 5:22-24; 2 Pet. 1:10, 11.

4 Matt. 5:14-16; Rom. 14:17-19; 1 Pet. 2:12; 3:1, 2.

Q87. Can those be saved who do not turn to God from their ungrateful and impenitent ways?

A. By no means. Scripture tells us that no unchaste person, no idolater, adulterer, thief, no covetous person, no drunkard, slanderer, robber, or the like is going to inherit the Kingdom of God.1

1 1 Cor. 6:9, 10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:1-20; 1 John 3:14.



Right preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ…Right administration of the sacraments…Church Discipline.  These 3 are commonly known as the true marks of the true church in Reformed theology.  We have seen thus far the importance of the gospel of Christ – God’s and proclaimed.  Also, we have seen the importance of the Lord’s Supper in our walk of faith.  Today’s questions introduce church discipline.

Discipline…to each individual it has a unique understanding.  We hear the word in terms of our households…our spiritual discipline…how we take care of ourselves.  Many times it has a negative connotation – punishment for one.  I believe what Jesus was teaching, especially as we find it in Matthew’s gospel, is that church discipline is meant to build up the body of Christ and not to destroy it.  Church discipline is about reconciliation and redemption first and not punishing.  Grace is not just a character trait of our God…grace is at the heart of the Christian life.

Q83. What are the keys of the Kingdom?

A.  The preaching of the holy gospel and Christian discipline toward repentance. Both preaching and discipline open the Kingdom of Heaven to believers and close it to unbelievers.1

1 Matt. 16:19; John 20:22, 23.

Q84. How does preaching the gospel open and close the Kingdom of Heaven?

A.  According to the command of Christ: The Kingdom of Heaven is opened by proclaiming and publicly declaring to each and every believer, that as often as he accepts the gospel promise in true faith, God, because of what Christ has done, truly forgives all his sins. The Kingdom of Heaven is closed, however, by proclaiming and publicly declaring to unbelievers and hypocrites that, as long as they do not repent, the anger of God and eternal condemnation rest on them. God’s judgment, both in this life and in the life to come, is based on this gospel testimony.1

1 Matt. 16:19; John 3:31-36; 20:21-23.

Q85. How is the Kingdom of Heaven closed and opened by Christian discipline?

A.  According to the command of Christ: If anyone, though called a Christian, professes unchristian teachings or lives an unchristian life, if after repeated brotherly counsel, he refuses to abandon his errors and wickedness, and, if after being reported to the church, that is, to its officers, he fails to respond also to their admonition— such a one the officers exclude from the Christian fellowship by withholding the sacraments from him,

and God himself excludes him from the Kingdom of Christ.1 Such a person, when he promises and demonstrates genuine reform, is received again as a member of Christ and of his church.2

1 Matt. 18:15-20; 1 Cor. 5:3-5, 11-13; 2 Thess. 3:14, 15.

2 Luke 15:20-24; 2 Cor. 2:6-11.

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