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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

January 2016

Do you live in the past?

rear-view-mirror

I can still remember – even though it was a long time ago – my driver’s ed instructor saying, “You don’t drive a car looking in the rear view mirror.”  I must admit that at 15 a lot of adults said “crazy things”.  Of course you can’t drive a car only using the rear view mirror.  He was trying to get us to understand the concept of glancing in the rear view mirror as we maneuvered that big intimidating vehicle forward.

Similarly, we won’t find God only in the past…his name is not ‘I Was’ – his name is “I Am”.  We can build altars to things of the past – including altars to the things God has done in our lives.  Chances are, though, that we will miss what God wants to do next in our lives.  The purpose of Old Testament altars was to remind us of God’s faithfulness in the past so that we could have the faith to believe in what he will do next.  It is ok to remember the past, but when we stop living out of imagination in favor of living out of memory…well, this is when we stop living.  Paul tells us how to be fully alive…fully present…fully alive.  “I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13b-14)  

So….press on!  The past can be crystal clear while what’s ahead of us is uncertain.  Indeed, life can be intimidating so go ahead, glance in the rear view mirror every now and then but keep your eyes focused on what God has in store for you…what he is going to do next in your life!!

 

 

Live In Love

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Ephesians 3:14-21 (NIV)

Here Paul prays that God’s people may understand and live in the extraordinary love of Christ Jesus.  It’s a wonderful prayer to start the day.  I encourage you to imagine that Paul is praying this prayer for you and for our church.

I am reminded of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s insights on living in God’s love in “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life.”  “Love yourself if that means healthy self-respect. That is the length of life.  Love your neighbor as yourself; you are commanded to do that. That is the breadth of life.  But never forget there is an even greater commandment, ‘Love the lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the height of life.”

May we live a complete life in Christ this day and always knowing that we are loved even more than can imagine by God.

 

 

New Life.

Ephesians 2:1-5

We deserved wrath, but we got new life.  Take this opportunity to thank God and worship.

On an unrelated note, by now we’ve probably said enough “good-byes” but I’m going to do it again anyway.  I just want to thank you as church for making Shelby and I a part of your lives the past three and half years.  So many of you have meant so much to us that leaving is really hard.  In light of that, if you want to stay in touch… lets do it!  Its okay if you don’t but I promise to reciprocate any effort.  More importantly, my single, unrelenting prayer for First Pres is that its people would humbly seek Christ.  The only real lasting work is work that is done by God working through us and that only happens when we know Christ.

Thanks!

We know the love that God has for us, and we trust that love …. because God’s perfect love drives out fear.  1  John 4:16a, 18a

Today it is a special day for me. It’s my mother’s birthday and as I think of her I found the bible verse above to be very meaningful in this day. As a kid growing up I got in trouble from time to time, and even if I knew that soon I will need to face my mother’s wrath so to speak, I also knew that her love for me would surpass any anger, and that help me speak to both my parents about what was going on.

Fear is something that seems to be the new norm for our times. Between the news, the family conflicts and tension at the work place, we end up being engulfed by fear. And that fear gets in to the deepest parts of our being. Soon we look in the mirror wondering if we are any good, if our spouse still loves us, we fear for the kids and their futures, we look at the person next to us with fearful eyes. Fear … such a small word that can paralyze us in a matter of seconds.

But what if we were to understand and live out the love that God has for us? What if we could love in a way that drives fear away? What if we could speak and show love instead of fear? Maybe if we could do that our own imagine of who we are could be better, our relationships would be stronger, our own understanding of life could and would change if we understood and thought about God’s love instead on living in fear.

I pray that today you can experience that love that God is, and I pray that you can let go of your fears even for just a moment and experience life in a brand new way. Who knows maybe you might even like the fear free person you will see in the mirror at the end of the day.

Be blessed,

Bo M.

What is your destiny?

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What is your destiny?  Who am I?  Why do I exist?  Have you ever asked yourself these questions? The “what is your destiny” question is one that is continually at the forefront in Star Wars…the battle between “the force” and “the dark side”.  We are faced with the same questions…the same struggles – each day…aren’t we?  Proverbs 19:21 reminds me that who I am and why I am here defines my destiny…“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  “The Force” will be with you if you allow it…the grace of Jesus will blaze a path for your journey in life…Listen to the Holy Spirit and you will know your destiny…

 

 

Live Well

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Psalm 116 (NIV)

“What shall I return to the Lord
for all his goodness to me?” (Psalm 116:12)

How can we adequately thank God for all his good gifts and graciousness to us?

Paul suggests that we “Live Well” by living a life worthy of the Gospel.  “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27).

Psalm 116 encourages us to call on the Lord or pray, serve the Lord, offer thanks to God in worship, and keep our promises to God for all his people to see.

As you go through this new day, a gift from God, think about what you can do to live a life worthy of the Gospel of Christ.  Live Well this day.

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Thank God.

Ephesians 1:3-10

After reading this passage, its hard to imagine being more blessed than we already are. We’re children of God blessed with “every spiritual blessing in Christ”.   We’re undeservingly loved by the perfect creator of the universe.  Meditate a little on that for the next ten minutes and see if it doesn’t change your morning.

Time for a new vision?

So, as some of you might know, I had the chance to have a few days off and  that gave me the chance to catch up with few things around the house, see some old friends but also see couple movies that were on my to see list. “The Big Short” and “Concussion” are two movies that made me wonder once again what are the things that we really value as society. The Big Short it’s a movie dealing with the house bubble of the 2000’s and captures some of the raw emotions and events that engulfed so many people trying to make it though those times. The second movie is about Dr. Bennet Omalu’s fight with the NFL on exposing the truth about brain damage in football players.

Both movies struck a chord in my heart and once again made me question of what is important? What drives us? What are the things that makes us wake up in the morning and go to work with that attitude that says: I can make a change!

Micah 6:8 – sums up the answer in a way to those questions:

8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly[a] with your God.

I pray that we all can take a little time today asking ourselves the question: What does my world look like? What does God want me to do for those around me? And maybe we all can find new strength and new vision for our own lives as we seek to answer those questions.

Be blessed,

Bo M.

Do we have to go to church….

chURch

How many of you, especially parents, have heard your children say, “But mommy/daddy, I don’t want to go to church!”  Or, “Do we have to go to church?  Have you ever struggled with the answer to this question?

“Going to church”…what a negative and limiting thought!!  Sometimes I think we have a mixed up way of looking at church.  We just started a sermon series on relationships and I think one of our relationships deals with us, each of us, as the gathered body of Christ…said differently…the church.  When you read your Bible, you find that the first century church was a gathering of God’s people who came to be strengthened in God and went into the world to live out the gospel of Jesus Christ – you know, that often used phrase, “we are the hands and feet of Jesus”.  Marva Dawn, in one of her many books, ‘Keeping the Sabbath Wholly’, says, “Now, the church has become a static place, to which believers go for tired and tiring rituals.”  If you look at what we believe as Presbyterians, because I am sometimes asked this question, you will find the following: Christian worship joyfully ascribes all praise and honor, glory and power to the triune God. In worship the people of God acknowledge God present in the world and in their lives…In worship the faithful offer themselves to God and are equipped for God’s service in the world.  (PCUSA Book of Order)

Look again at the above quote from Marva Dawn…in her book she continues that thought with the following, “We are NOT going to church!  We are going to a sanctuary to participate in an order of worship together with other people of God gathered in community to be nourished by all that we do there together so that we can go out into the world and BE THE CHURCH.”

In Matthew’s gospel, as part of the Sermon on the Mount…Jesus was talking about being the church when he said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.  You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16)

“Be the church…”  What does that mean to you?

This new year…if you would like to reflect on what it means to be a member of a church, you can use the following as a guide…after all, it is what we Presbyterians believe.  “Membership in the Church of Jesus Christ is a joy and a privilege. It is also a commitment to participate in Christ’s mission. A faithful member bears witness to God’s love and grace and promises to be involved responsibly in the ministry of Christ’s Church.  Such involvement includes:

  • proclaiming the good news in word and deed,
  • taking part in the common life and worship of a congregation,
  • lifting one another up in prayer, mutual concern, and active support,
  • studying Scripture and the issues of Christian faith and life,
  • supporting the ministry of the church through the giving of money, time, and talents,
  • demonstrating a new quality of life within and through the church,
  • responding to God’s activity in the world through service to others,
  • living responsibly in the personal, family, vocational, political, cultural, and social relationships of life,
  • working in the world for peace, justice, freedom, and human fulfillment,
  • participating in the governing responsibilities of the church, and
  • reviewing and evaluating regularly the integrity of one’s membership, and considering ways in which one’s participation in the worship and service of the church may be increased and made more meaningful.

(Source:  PCUSA Book of Order G-1.0304)

 

 

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