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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

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November 2015

Blessed…Rejoice!! Be Glad!!

sticksandstones“Sticks and stones may break my bones…but names will never hurt me.”  Remember this rhyme many of us said as kids?  Well…it still applies today…

Today’s Passage:  ““Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)

Devotional Thought:  This passage concludes the passages known as the beatitudes…the teachings of Jesus about the inner qualities that are to be reflected in one’s outward behavior and actions toward others.  In this last beatitude, Jesus provides a final insight for those who follow him.  Insults…opposition…lies…all these can be expected by Christ followers.  And the Christian response?  Rejoice!  Be Glad!  When others can’t see the good in you…when others can find only criticism…when others choose insults and lies…  Rejoice!  Be glad!

The future promise…”your reward is great in heaven”…does not mean that the focus is entirely future.  Jesus insists that God has the final word, bringing assurance into the present. This is why he can say, “Blessed are those who mourn…blessed are the meek…blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…blessed are the merciful…blessed are the pure in heart…blessed are the peacemakers.” Jesus gives each of us eyes to see that the future is certain and this transforms the present.  But make no mistake…Jesus calls us to join him…to live out his radical vision now with confidence that no matter what anyone can say or do to us does not change our “reward in heaven”.  So…rejoice and be glad!!

 

 

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Why the Birth of Jesus?

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Isaiah 11:1-9 (NIV)

Isaiah 11:1-9 (The Message)

This Sunday we begin the Advent Season once again.  We anticipate the birth of Jesus and consider the meaning of his birth.

Here in Isaiah we find out why Jesus came into the world: to bring Wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and fear of the Lord, righteousness, justice, and enduring peace.  Clearly our world needs all of this and more.

Read through Isaiah 11 today and give thanks for Jesus.  As we prepare to celebrate his birth, anticipate his coming again to complete the transformation described by Isaiah.

Thanksgiving Forever!

1 Peter 1:8-9

I had a really good passage on sin cooking for today but I thought this might be more appropriate.

This time of year we throw around what we’re thankful for and rightly so.  Think it through though, if the things that you’re most thankful end at your family… your friends.. having a house.. having a job, having more money than 99% of the rest of the world and eating a massive bird.. then what happens when you lose your job, money and a terrible poultry disease hits the United States?

Our Joy is bigger than that.  Its in what Christ did for us.  Its in the perfect, eternal love of our Heavenly Father.  Of course I’m thankful to serve at First Pres.  Of course I’m thankful to be married to Shelby.  But it doesn’t end there.

Give Thanks

1 Chronicles 16:34 New International Version (NIV)

34 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.

I am sure that each one of us has a list of things to be thankful for. Of course, we will find ourselves around the table today surrounded by family and friends, giving thanks for the big things: Grace, freedom, a great country, love we see manifested around us, health and so on.

I would like to add a few things to that list today.

Sunshine, clean air, running water, weekends, days off from work, the quiet evenings spent at home, a good night sleep, pain, the beauty we find around us cheering our hearts, a nice long rain, a stranger’s smile, a child’s laughter, sunsets, a clear mind, a world that’s so diverse that makes life exciting, memories of dear ones, new challenges and small victories.

The list can go on and on, and it should. Because when we pause to think about life we realize that so many moments of our life can be summed up by one word: LOVE.

I pray that you can pause today and enjoy that love that is present in your life, and one a day like this say with all your heart: Lord, Thank you for your love.

Be blessed,

Bo M.

 

Blessed…Pure in Heart

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“You can’t judge a book by its cover.”    Interesting words that came out in 1944 in the American journal, “American Speech”.

Today’s Passage:  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  (Matthew 5:8)

Devotional Thought:  Forming an opinion about someone or something based solely on what you or I can see on the surface could be misleading…upon a closer and deeper look there may be more than meets the eye.  In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis wrote about Purity, “The instrument through which you see God is your whole self.  And if a man’s self is not kept clean and bright, his glimpse of God will be blurred – like the Moon seen through a dirty telescope.”  Jesus blesses those whose outer actions and words are in harmony with their inner self…whose hearts are in tune with the heart of God.  What does this look like?  C. S. Lewis concludes, “men (and women) united together in a body, loving one another, helping one another, shown Him to one another.  For that is what God meant humanity to be like; like players in one band, or organs in one body.”

“There is an interaction between seeing and being. The kind of person you are affects the kind of world that you see. … And conversely, what you see affects what you are.”  Simon Tugwell, ‘The Beatitudes’

Good For Something

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Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

I am inspired and challenged by the Salvation Army motto, “Doing the Most Good.”  We read in Matthew that we can let the light of Christ shine to other people by doing good deeds/works to glorify God.  How wonderful it is, that God chooses to work in and through us to call people to himself.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16)

I was mightily inspired by the good work of “Feed My Starving Children” in Aurora.  They tirelessly run 5 shifts a day, 6 days a week using volunteers to assembly meal kits and package them into boxes.  The first picture above shows the four ingredients for food specifically designed to feed hungry children: vitamins, vegetables, soy, rice.  The second picture shows the meal bags (underneath the blue stand with a funnel) being stacked to be boxed (on the left side of the picture).

In one two hour shift 125 volunteers packed 181 boxes of meals.  That amounts to 39,096 meals, which will feed 107 kids for an entire year!  The cost is $8,601 in ingredients, bags, boxes or just 22 cents a meal!

The light of the Savior shines in the lives of those who receive this life giving food all over the world and in the lives of the volunteers who give themselves to assemble the meals, fund the effort, and pray over all the boxes of food.

Today, allow God to use you in “Doing the Most Good” in your corner of the world that the light of Christ may shine through you.  It might be in listening to someone who is lonely.  It might be through making a meal for a person who is facing some kind of adversity.  It might be through praying for someone who is overwhelmed at this time.  It might be through…  Who knows what God will do through you by the end of this day!

Not My Own

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

For the majority of this Chapter Paul has a central theme; you’re body is important to God.  Its purpose is to honor God, its the temple of the Holy Spirit and its not for us to use up for our own enjoyment.  Verse 20 takes it from the narrow application to the much more broad principle: You are not your own!  I forget that constantly.  Its not just limited to our physical body; it extends to our time, our talent, our money…. we are not our own.  What part do you hold back?

It’s snowing

I for one, love snow! And I know that many of you do not. I also know that every time the weather changes, we engage in some deep conversations about the weather, how hot or cold it will be, how much we dislike the seasons, but most of those conversations end up finishing with something along these lines: Well, everything has its beauty and even if we complain about it we cannot change it, so we better make the best of it.

Now think about life, day to day life. Your job, family or the people you meet everyday. In a way all that can be sum up in the very conversation we just had about the weather. So today I want to encourage you to get out there, enjoy and make the best of every situation that comes your way, and at the end remember that God might have something to do through you in the midst of all that.

Philippians 2:14-16 The Message (MSG)
14-16 Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.

 

Be blessed,

Bo M.

Blessed are the Peacemakers…

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“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”  (Matthew 5:9) Peace MAKER…not peace keeper.  There is a difference. For those who may be saying, “you skipped one” (deep down I really hope you might say this)…you are correct.  With intentionality I skipped v8 but I’ll handle it next time.   I purposely jumped to this verse because of it import especially these past couple of weeks…I have heard friends debasing other friends because of their position on a variety of issues…Syrian refugees…political opponents…red cups…and using Scripture to punctuate their point – on both sides of the discussion.  It seems it boils down in many cases to who shouts the loudest…

In our passage today, Jesus tells us that those, by what they say and the example they live out, impart peace-making to others through who they are.  It’s more than actions…Peace-makers…by their word and how they act – who they are at their core…are those who love God…love one another…and love their enemies…they promote peace among all and they will be “children of God”…God’s co-workers…God’s own “peace corps”!  Does this mean that one cannot have an opinion on a subject?  Absolutely not – what it does mean is how, in light of our opinions, do we seek to promote peace making in this world.  So, here’s today’s challenge, should you be willing to accept it…In 1 or 2 words please share with others by replying, what it means to you to be a “peace-maker”?

 

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