First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @


April 2015

Great Faith…God’s Victory!


1 Samuel 14:15-23

We are in the middle of Jonathan’s story…yesterday we saw that it is great faith in God that is the important point.  Today we not only see this come to conclusion in God’s victory.  Jonathan boldly initiated action against the Philistines and led the Israelites into battle while Saul looked on.  Jonathan acted decisively in great faith that God would deliver.  The contrast today is Saul…Saul who hesitates – he looks to see who is missing from his ranks – he yields to religious ritual and, as we will see, will prove himself foolish in his decisions.  I think the message for us today is this…is there a reluctance to take positions or action until one is absolutely certain of which way the wind is blowing?  Said differently…is there a lack of faith in stepping out and trusting God to deliver?

Great Faith

1 Samuel 14:1-14

In today’s passage, we see Saul’s son, Jonathan, take charge and put his trust in God, and not the weapons or the people of Israel. He and just one accomplice head over to face off with the Philistines alone.

However, they are not alone. Jonathan knows that he is part of God’s chosen people, and he has favor through his faith in God. Because of his faith, and also the faith of his armorbearer, they are able to defeat the 20 oncoming Philistines.

With few resources, but strong faith, two men were able to accomplish great things. We too, if we remain faithful that God will provide can accomplish great things, even in times when it seems the odds are against us.

I pray that we hold true to our faith in times when all hope seems lost. Know that God will guide us and see us through the darkness and back into the light.

Your Circumstances Aren’t Relevent.

1 Samuel 13:16-22

This passage is amazing.  The Israelites have terrible weapons.  Literally… the worst weapons.  While they’re worrying about the details, Gods about to work through a man who isn’t worried about weapons.  He’s worried about doing what honors God.  That’s a pretty special place.  When we stop worrying about what limits us and begin to do as God leads, its unreal what can happen.

Trust and Timing


Samuel 13:1-15

When to act and when to wait on the Lord are good questions to consider.  God’s timing is not always our timing.  I think that God is usually more patient than we are and that it’s hard for us, sometimes, to wait to understand what it is that God desires.  It is also difficult at times to wait for others whom God has empowered to do their part before we do what we are called to do.

We find Saul eager to go into battle against the Philistines. As King he was only to go to battle or war when God desired.  The big idea of faith was that you won battles not by your own might, strength, or ingenuity.  Instead you went to battle in faith and it was God who gave the victory.

Saul does not wait for Samuel the Priest to arrive and offer the burnt offerings, an act of worship.  It was Samuel’s calling to lead the people in worship.  It was the King’s calling to lead the army into battle.  Saul doesn’t wait for God’s timing, for Samuel to arrive.

Today, and any time, may we wait upon the Lord and follow God’s will, way, and timing as we seek to serve and honor the Lord Jesus Christ.

Passing the baton…


1 Samuel 11:12-15

Passing the baton is crucial in a track meet – how well it is done most certainly determines the outcome of the race.  Samuel is preparing to pass the baton to Saul.  Saul is moving to center stage.  Saul has just taken care of the nasty Nahash but the people of Israel still come to Samuel – they see him as the one with authority.  Saul, though makes it clear that there will be no more killing – he wants this to be a day remembered as one where God delivered his people.  Interesting…Saul – in the presence of Samuel and under the authority of Samuel, acts in the spirit of Samuel.  Saul, sees his kingly work as God’s work of salvation.  Saul sees his actions and his leadership as part of God’s deliverance of the people.  But…there is one more act…by Samuel…the people come to him but he calls the people to Gilgal to renew the kingship.  Samuel is passing the baton.

The Better Way.

1 Samuel 11:1-11

I see a little big of myself in Saul every time I read over his reign.  In this chapter Saul is rescuing his countrymen.  He’s absolutely convinced he’s doing whats right and as a result leads decisively and powerfully.  This is when Saul was still humble before God; more sensitive to His leading.  I have moments like this in my life.  Ones of absolute clarity about what God desires.  Then you read about the rest of Saul’s life; the part where He wasn’t within a mile of God or God’s plan.  What’s extraordinary about both situations is that they’re choices.  God doesn’t walk away from us… His Spirit doesn’t leave us.  God’s the constant and when we walk humbly with our God, we get to act as one confident of what God would have.

Change My Heart Oh God

1 Samuel 10:9-27

“As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day.”  (vs 9)

The day before, Saul had been looking for donkeys and was at the point of giving up, so he went to see Samuel.  Less than 24 hours later, “God changed Saul’s heart…” and in doing so, Isreal would be changed forever.

I admit, I forget about Saul’s humble beginnings and his obedience to God through a willing and  pliable heart.  It seems we spend more time talking about the years Saul spent in pursuit of David, jealously trying to preserve his own throne and his lineage.  But in today’s passage we see just how dramatically someone can change in a matter of moments when God touches the heart.  Its also one of the powerful stories in scripture of God using some of the most unlikely characters to fulfill his purpose and continue the love story that is the Father reaching down to draw us near to him.

Aren’t we like Isreal?  Complaining that God isn’t doing enough, that we are different from the rest of the world, and please, God, come down here and do something about that!  So God does, even though it was not His perfect will for his people.  So today, my prayer is that God will change my heart—whatever needs to change, however that change needs to take place.  That’s pretty scary, but I just can’t seem to stop going back to verse 9, “…GOD changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day.”

Maybe this praise hymn will help you pray this prayer today, as it does for me:

Change my heart, O God.  Make it ever true.

Change my heart, O God, may I be like you.

You are the Potter, I am the clay.

Mold me and make me, this is what I pray.

Change my heart, O God.  Make it ever true.

Change my heart, O God, may I be like you.

Anna Johnson

It’s not about Saul!

Sorry for the late post today.

1 Samuel 9 sounds a lot like being “at the right place, at the right kind off time” feel to it. Of course we can always say that God was in control the whole time, and that God orchestrated the whole story, and that might be that case, but what I what to encourage you to see in this story is Samuel, and his way of interacting both with God and also with Saul.

Samuel knows God’s voice, he seeks for God’s guidance, and still he looks to probe what was given to him. It is that back and forth between Samuel and God that makes Samuel the prophet among prophets.

How about you? Your prayer life? Are your senses tingling when you see God at work? Can you recognize God moving in your life and follow knowing that indeed God is leading?

I pray that we can be like Samuel on this day.

Be Blessed,

Bo M.

Be careful what you pray for…


1 Samuel 8

Israel was unique…the people had no government as we would understand it today or as compared to the nations they knew of but God was their king.  God provided prophets and judges to handle day to day leadership but the central focus of their life was not in political office but in worship where God was King.  The visible symbol of government for Israel wasn’t a palace or a white house but the sanctuary where God was worshipped.

The elders of Israel demanded a king amidst good times for the most part in their history.  But, isn’t that a funny thing?  How many times does prosperity provide the right soil for restlessness?  Samuel was old and his sons were unfit for the position and the elders demanded a king.  Samuel thinks a king is a bad idea – in part because his own ego gets in the way in thinking that the people have insulted him.  But God knows the people are rejecting him once again.  In the deepest sense the elders were trying to get out from under the rule of God.

The elders saw what other nations had and they too wanted style and clout.  What they didn’t understand is all this style and clout would be at their expense – for the king’s benefit as Samuel so dramatically told them.  Did you notice the number of times the following phrase is used, “he will take”?

Peer pressure is evident here – the Israelites have no higher ambition that wanting to be like other nations.  We can read words like, “do not be conformed to this world” but when all is said and done many times, the desire to “keep up with the Jones’s” is a trouble causing trump card.  Even Samuel is reluctant to go along with God’s desire to give them what they want.  But God has a plan…he’s not giving up on the Israelites…but the lesson they are about to learn is a tough one…the lesson of realizing who the king is that they already have…God.

In the movie Evan Almighty…God asks the following three questions:  If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?

We want God to just give us what we ask for…Just change my circumstances; Just fix my problems; Just let me wake up tomorrow and be different; Just give me the solution, please.  Unfortunately, I haven’t found these to be how God works in my life.  We often go on a particular journey to develop something in us rather than just fixing something.  Often times what we want and what we need are diametrically opposing – and we find that the real learning is in the journey, not the destination.  And…the journey continues.


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