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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

October 2015

Trust

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“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream…”

Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV) 

Jeremiah 17:7-8 (The Message)

Trust in the Lord takes away fear and worry when tough times enter our lives.  It’s inevitable that we will encounter challenges, adversity, and trouble.  The scriptures teach us that fear and worry need not be an overwhelming force in our lives.  They are not inevitable.  Rather it is better to consider the inevitability of the Lord.

The way out is to trust in the Lord and place our confidence in God to bring us through whatever may come.

Read Psalm 84 and meditate on dwelling in the presence, love, and grace of God.

A prayer for reconciliation

Recently I came across a prayer that had made think that our world today is far from perfect, and as a church we have a lot of work ahead of us. And a first step towards reconciliation has to be prayer. Prayer as a way of humbling ourselves before the creator, prayer as a confession for our own shortcomings, prayers as a cry out for divine intervention and at the same time prayer as a picture of what it can be.

Be blessed,

Bo M.

“Across the barriers that divide race from race:

reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross.

Across the barriers that divide rich from poor:

reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross.

Across the barriers that divide people of different cultures:

reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross.

Across the barriers that divide Christians:

reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross.

Across the barriers that divide men and women, young and old:

reconcile us, O Christ, by your cross.

Confront us, O Christ, with the hidden prejudices and fears that deny and betray our prayers.

Enable us to see the causes of strife, remove from us all senses of superiority.

Teach us to grow in unity with all God’s children. Amen.”

From: THE WORSHIP SOURCEBOOK

Relationships 101-3

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People want real community today and many come looking for it in the church.  I’m not talking about just being friendly.  Friendly is fairly easy to do…smiling face, warm handshake, a kind hello.  Book after book has been written (and continues to be written) about individuals who are looking for real relationships…deep, authentic relationships.   They are looking for relationships where there is true concern, compassion and deep caring for others.  This is what we heard on Sunday morning when Micah read from the book of Acts…

Today’s Passage:  “The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers.  A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles.  All the believers were united and shared everything.  They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them.  Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)

Devotional Thought:  Many new people come through our doors looking for a community of people that is emotionally connected by their mutual love for Jesus and their commitment to each other because of Christ.  I received an email earlier this year from an individual who had been coming to our church for about a month – this person wrote the following…”everyday, as I drove by your church to work, I admired the incredible building itself, saw the postings of activities and sermon series, saw people in and out, and wondered what it was like. Could a big old stone structure have real life in it?”  Look around this coming Sunday when we gather…you will see many who are here because of the relationships established over many years.  And as you look around think about this…when a guest comes through our doors on Sunday (really, any day), their first thought is not about the mission, vision and values of our church…their first thought is this:  “Can I find real community here?”  The individual who wrote me the email is still coming regularly…and I’m convinced it is because of real community found within “a big old stone structure”.  Real community is more than being friendly – it’s about demonstrating “God’s goodness to everyone”…this is how the first church grew and I believe it is how God will grow our church as well.

 

Time to Refuel

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Mark 1:35-39 (NIV)

35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37 When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” 38 He answered, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.” 39 And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Life on planet earth, even in good times uses up our personal resources, saps our stamina, drains our batteries…  Sometimes life wears us out and we need to be re-energized.

Jesus needed time to pray, refuel, and be nourished.  He “went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.”  Prayer also protects purpose.

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals.  And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.”

Take time to refuel, time to pray, time to renew your strength, and protect your purposes in God today.

 

Praying for the church 

  
Today I want to encourage you to pray a little different, moving the focus from you to those around you, the people you see every time you walk in the sanctuary on Sunday morning or during the week. 

May God transform each one of us and together as a worshiping body in to a thriving church that serves with gladness and joy. 
Be blessed,

Bo M. 

PHILIPPIANS 1:9–11 – PAUL PRAYS FOR BELIEVERS

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

Relationships 101-2…

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When was the last time you met a real need?  Many are very quick to quote, “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” (1 John 3:16)  Lay down one’s life for someone else…  What does authentic community look like?

Today’s Passage:Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.” (Romans 12:9-13)

What was Paul saying?  I think you can sum this passage up in the following way:  If the real you (v9) focuses on and seeks to meet, with intentionality, the real needs (v10) of others for all the right reasons (v11) and in the right way (v12-13)…then authentic community can be realized.  Authentic community – it’s more than sipping coffee at a Bible study.  Authentic community is more than a friendly smile or providing a meal to someone in the church.  Authentic community is looking past all “the stuff” in this world and the real you being concerned with meeting real needs.

Devotional Thought:  Do you know some of the real needs in your circle of friends, co-workers, etc?  What are some things you could start doing today to begin meeting real needs of some of those around you?  Seek to live in authentic community with those around you.  Are you listening for how God may be speaking to you?

Time to Live

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Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)

Colossians 2:6-7 (The Message)

Imagine really living life all the way up, the way it’s supposed to be lived.  Think about living life in it’s fullest, joyful,  and most meaningful sense.

Colossians 2:6-7 says, that’s possible.  Can you believe it?  It has to do with living in Christ Jesus, allowing him to live through us, and being deeply rooted in what he is all about.

So, how are doing?  Are you really living or just existing?

I’ve meet people confined to a bed in a nursing home who are really living in Christ Jesus.  You are sorry when your conversation with them ends because of their joy, spontaneity, and interest in life.  And I’ve met people who have everything to live for–they have their health, energy, and gifts…and yet…they live as though they are dead.  How sad.

Are you embracing the life that is really life, life in Christ Jesus, this day?  You can always “start living it.”

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Calvin’s Tulips

1 Corinthians 1:4-9

So there was this guy named John Calvin; he was kind of a “forefather” of the Presbyterian church.  His theological highlights were popularized into a helpful little memory tool called “Tulip.”   It stands for “Total Depravity” (People are bad), “Unconditional Election” (God chooses people), “Limited Atonement” (God only died for those He knew would accept Christ) and “Perseverence of the Saints” (If you’re a follower of Christ.. you’ll work hard and stay one).

Look at verse 7.  What do you see?  God enabling some saints to persevere.  Just like Calvin said.  Following Christ is simultaneously the most difficult and most joyful thing I’ve ever done.  Its a call worth persevering in.

A prayer of Jonah – Pause and reflect

Jonah 2:2-9

Sometimes we go through life chasing after the next big thing, or just trying to survive the current crisis while trying to doge the next one. And during those times Carpe Diem – Live the moment, can mean something so different to someone that struggles. And it seems that during  times like that, we let our hearts sinks down in the present, and we let that present bring fear, worries, short sightedness and maybe even blindness to some of the things around us.

Jonah’s life is a reminder of that. For me today’s prayer is a reminder that sometimes when life takes over life, we need to pause and reflect on those things that will remind us who God was, who God is and who God will be as we run towards the next big thing.

Be blessed,

Bo M.

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