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First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @ firstpresjoliet.org

Month

February 2016

Worship is Big

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Psalm 99 (NIV)

Revelation 4:6-11 (NIV)

Romans 12:1-8 (NIV)

Worship is big and all expansive.  We can worship God with our thoughts, meditations, heart, spirit, praise, and very lives.  In Psalm 99 we see God exalted, praised, and worshipped for who God is and what the Lord has done.  In Revelation we meet the four living creatures and 24 elders who day and night offer praise and worship to the Lord God Almighty.

We too can offer our exaltation and praise to God who is great, good, gracious and so much more.

But when we turn to Romans 12, Paul informs us that we can worship God with how we live our very lives.  We read, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”  The rest of the chapter spells out how we can worship God daily with how we live our lives and treat other people.  Here, worship is the very living of our lives; being able “to test and approve what God’s will is– his good pleasing and perfect will” in every area of life.

Romans 12 is challenging chapter in the Bible calling us to worship God with all of our life, that is, how we lead our life moment to moment.

May you worship the Lord this day with all of your life; your inner life and outer life, your thoughts and your actions, your heart and your words.  Glory be to our great, good, and gracious God!

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Everyday life on earth

“John 10:9-10
I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Once in a while we find ourselves thinking about life. What’s the meaning of life? How far we had come in life! How much better we are today as people because of all the life experiences we lived through! And sometimes we end up on the opposite side of life: We day dream. We dream about what it can be! We might even panic at the thought of what tomorrow might bring. Sometimes we even dabble in the present, with the stress, the chores, with the day to day, with all those things that seems to squeeze all energy out of us.

The beauty  of life is that we are a combination of the past, the future and the present. But if we are to live our lives in past we might miss the now and the opportunity to change the tomorrow. If we live in the future without understanding the past and the now we might not have an appreciation for all those moments that shaped and continue to shape our lives. And if we live in the now without taking in the experience of the past and the opportunity to day dream we might find ourselves caught up in the mundane.

But as we think about all that, I would encourage you to think about those God’s moments that define your life. You know the ones that had an impact on your faith, the ones that continue to shape your actions today and can shape your tomorrow.

After all Jesus came that we might have life and live life abundantly.

“In almost everything that touches our everyday life on earth, God is pleased when we’re pleased. He wills that we be as free as birds to soar and sing our maker’s praise without anxiety.” ~A.W. Tozer

Be Blessed,

Bo M.

Weariness…

WWS-Insomnia

I came across a statistic recently…1/3 of our country suffers from insomnia.  Think about it.  1/3 of those driving cars, 1/3 of our high school students, 1/3 of those in church on Sunday morning…have trouble staying awake during the day because they can’t fall asleep at night. 1/3!  And the consequences…our bodies are tired…our very souls are tired.  Why?

Well…mostly, it’s self-imposed.  We do it to ourselves.  Many things keep us awake at night – jobs, bosses, health, children, parents…the things we think we want in life…we often do it to ourselves.  So what can we do about it?  The easy answer is to worry about the things you can control or influence and forget the rest – good advice from Stephen Covey.  But, seriously, what is your focus in life.  With all the noise of life, do you take time to rest?

Of the 10 commandments, #4 is the longest…“Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.  Six days shall you labor and do all your work, but the seventh is the Sabbath of the Lord your God…”  God created everything in six days and rested the seventh…what about us?  While we won’t create the world…what about rest…Sabbath…trusting…resting in the Lord?  Max Lucado writes in “Traveling Light” about God’s message to us, “If creation didn’t crash when I rested, it won’t crash when you do…It is not my (our) job to run the world.”

“He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul.”  (Ps 23:2-3)  “It is not my job to run the world”, Lucado said…  I know…you are saying the following:  But I have to work…I have to pay the bills…I need that promotion…I have to get straight A’s.  And yet, we still wonder why our bodies and minds are tired…

Let me ask you a question…why are you reading this blog?  Why do you go to church on Sunday?  Many tell me they come to church to be filled…To get something out of being in the pew.  Many come to church hoping to find some magical words to lift them up and carry them                   into the new week.  My question is this…What are you really hoping for?  Maybe a better way to look at the whole idea of Sabbath and rest in general is this question, “What are you hoping in?”  WHO are you hoping in?

There is about a month left in lent…try the following every day until Easter Sunday.  Each morning before you get out of bed and each night before you close your eyes…recite the 23rd Psalm.  Put your worries at the feet of our Shepherd…affirm your hope in our Shepherd.

 

 

 

 

Adoration: Awe & Joy

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Psalm 100 (NIV)

Worship is the adoration of God.  We can worship God with both Awe and Joy.

We express awe because God is so great.  The Lord is the unchanging, uncaused, ungoverned God who created everything that exists. We are to “Know that [this] Lord is God.”  He made us and we belong to him and we are his people!

“Adoration implies the upward and outward look of humble and joyful admiration” of God. —Evelyn Underhill, The Soul’s Delight, from A Guide To Prayer For All who Walk With God

We can also express joy in our worship.  “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”  Joy is our response to such a wonderful God.

The Psalm encourages us to have unlimited confidence, awe, and joy in the Lord. When we belong to the God who is good, loving, and faithful we have much to celebrate.  We too can “Shout for joy to the Lord,…” and “Worship the Lord in gladness;…”

I encourage you to express your adoration to God this day.  Worship in awe and joy to the Lord before the sun sets today.

Smile, It is a good day

I once asked my father what his favorite bible verse was. Without too much hesitation he recited: “Ecclesiastes 2:24 There is nothing better for mortals than to eat and drink, and find enjoyment in their toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God.”

At that time I found his reply to be a little to earthly, maybe lacking that spiritual shine that we need to have as born again Christians. You can say that maybe I got a little pharisaic on him when I heard his answer. But the more I think about it, the more credit I give to the old man. He has a healthy sense of spirituality and reality mixed together in a way that makes sense for someone that has experience the high and lows of life. Life is a gift from God, and each day is another gift, with whatever the day might bring it is a gift from God. And having that understanding makes us be thankful for the little things in life, for the laughter around the table, for the hand on your shoulder when you feel like crying. The more we think about life as God’s gift to us, the more we understand the need to appreciate and find meaning in each of the day’s moments.

As the sun is shinning on my face as I am writing this thoughts, I cannot stop smiling because my heart is filled with joy, hope and a sense that God is near. And I pray that we all can pause daily and experience that simple and yet profound truth that God is near and in his presence we find joy and hope.

Be blessed,

Bo M. heart

What do you want?

What do you want hand writing with a black mark on a transparent board

“What do you want?”  It’s a question we often ask of others. Want…we want a lot of things throughout our life.  The “wants” of our life fall into many categories and fill our prayers…better health, a new house, a new car, a new job…the lists are long.  We want a great many things and our motivations are important.  Specifically, trusting in ourself vs. trusting in God.  This trust is a common theme throughout the Bible.  The Israelites wanted out of bondage in Egypt but complained repeatedly in the desert…all the while being blind to the ever faithful presence and grace of God.  Blindness of our position to God is a common problem.  We see this in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector from Luke’s gospel – Luke 18:9-14.  The heart of this parable comes down to the Pharisee asking nothing of God – he believes that who he is and what he does is ample evidence of his piety.  On the other hand, the tax collector states his unworthiness before God.  The Pharisee asks nothing of God and the tax collector boasts nothing before God.  Trusting in our own righteousness often leads to regarding others with contempt and turning away from trusting in God’s grace. This parable is more than a warning against arrogance, self-reliance or a relationship with God because of one’s own works – things that blind us to the other side of this parable…which shows the ugly combination of claiming an elevated position with God and contempt for the tax collector.  The Pharisee had enough religion to be virtuous but not enough to be humble…and it drove him away from the tax collector instead of toward him.

Both the Pharisee and the tax collector went to the temple to pray.  In our prayers we too must be conscious of any tendency to play the role of the Pharisee.  Instead of “What do you want?”, maybe a better position to place ourselves in is one of humility and ask, “What does God want?”…and in so doing drawing us closer together as the body of Christ.

 

What God Does and What We Can Do

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Psalm 23 (NKJV)

Mark 1:14-20 (NIV)

Read through Psalm 23 and what do you see?  What do you learn?

Basically, the Psalm is all about God, “The Lord.” It’s all about who “The Lord” is and what God does.  Read through the Psalm and take in who God is and all that he does.

God acts for our good; leading us to green pastures, still waters, paths of righteousness, goodness, mercy, and promises to be with us in the darkest times, even where there is death and we are surrounded by enemies.

Jesus name means God saves.  Jesus carries on the saving ministry of God in the New Testament.  He begins his ministry, “proclaiming the good news of God. 15 ‘The time has come,’ he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!'”

The Good News of Jesus and the Old Good News of Psalm 23 is that God saves.

And the question remains, do we want to be saved or believe that we need saving?  That’s why Jesus urges people, urges us, to “Repent and believe.”

God is alive seeking to save and to lead all who would follow.  Our part is to repent, follow, and hold on to “The Lord” who deeply loves us.

Dallas Willard, author and writer on Christian Spirituality writes, “Grace is not opposed to Effort, it is opposed to Earning.”  God offers his leadership, grace, mercy, and love and we need to offer our response, our yes, our effort, our lives.  May we deepen our walk with God in this Lenten Season.

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Come and see…

comeandsee

Have you ever thought about the people we interact with?  Are they all like me?  Like you?  Do they have the same likes or dislikes?  Are they all engineers?  Maybe they are all carpenters?  The point of this is that people come in all shapes and sizes…they come from different backgrounds…different educational arenas…different ideologies…different socioeconomic perspectives.

On Sunday morning or Wednesday evening, have you ever thought about the people that walk into First Presbyterian Church?  Some have been long time church goers…some are there for the very first time.  Some are spiritually mature and others have doubts.  Truth is that those that come through our doors come in all different sizes and shapes and different perspectives about church. Some come in who have absolutely no idea who Jesus Christ is or know anything about church. Some come through the doors who know the word Christian but struggle with living it. Some come through the doors who know who know who Jesus is but have difficulty sharing Jesus with others.  Some enter knowing who Jesus is and can share Jesus with others.  Lastly, some come in who are simply hurting and looking for someone to care.

When Jesus was selecting those he wanted to follow him, he did not give them an aptitude test or ask them how much money they had or what job they had…Jesus simply said, “Come and see…” (John 1:35-42)  The point is that all who come to him must first…come to him…and they do this in different ways. This coming Sunday…maybe “Come and see” is a perfectly good welcome for anyone who enters our doors.

 

 

 

Wonder, Blessing, Praise

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Psalm 113 (NIV) 

Psalm 113 (The Message) 

There is no one like the wonderful, faithful, and loving God we find in the scriptures and meet most fully in Jesus.

The Psalmists opens us up to the wonder and blessings of God.  God raises the poor and lifts the needy.  He seats them with princes and honored guests and gives them a place of honor.  The Lord has a heart for broken and hurting people.  And thank God, that he has compassion for sinners.

God delights in transforming lives.  We experience this through his love, grace, presence, and care.  God in Jesus transforms us from “selfishness to sharing, from uselessness to usefulness, from sickness to health, and from death to life” (Rueben P. Job, A Guide to Prayer For All Who Walk with God).

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10, RSV).

What is in your heart today?  Do you have a heart for hurting people?  What can you do today to make life better, brighter, and more blessed for someone else?

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