First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @


November 2018

Friday Morning Prayer

Hosea 7-8
Psalm 137
Luke 24

Papa God,

Thank You, Lord, for a heart that longs to redeem (Hosea 7:13).

While we are still foreigners in a land (Psalm 137:1) we praise You because we can sing songs of joy.

We sing these things because Jesus has risen and Hope is alive (Luke 24). We praise You, God, for all that you have done. We thank You for sending the Holy Spirit to us, to guide us (Luke 24: 49).

May we walk among our giants today with the faith and confidence of Your beloved David.

In Jesus’ name,


His Steadfast Love Endures



Hosea 3-4; Psalm 136; Luke 22


The Message

Hosea 3-4

These chapters begin with a husband being instructed by God to accept back his adulterous wife, despite her wrongdoing. He is to do this, and in the same way, God will accept back His people, despite their falling away from His expectations. In chapter 4, we hear more specifically some of the wrongdoing of the people of Israel. And even more harsh words are expressed toward the “priests,” who are quick to pass judgment on people they see as sinners, but who are also sinners themselves.

The first part of Hosea is a metaphor for the behavior of the Israelites. As an adultress cheats a spouse, so has Israel cheated God with their behavior. Even though the husband has been faithful and continues to love his cheating wife, God still loves and takes back in the Israelites. Chapter 4 continues to describe the faults of Israel. No one is excluded from this criticism, as we see priests and prophets also weren’t living up to God’s standards. However, going back to the end of chapter 3, they all will return to God, and they will be in awe of Him.

Psalm 136

“His steadfast love endures forever.” Said another way, God’s unwavering love will last for all of eternity. He has shown this through His great creation, and by delivering the Israelites from Egypt, and giving them their land. He has shown his never-ending love by remembering us even in our toughest times, and rescues us from destruction.

Luke 22

There is a lot packed into this chapter. Judas agrees to hand Jesus over for a price. The Passover feast is celebrated, including the first communion. Jesus goes to the mountain to pray, while the disciples fall asleep. Jesus is arrested, and one of the disciples cuts off the ear of one of the people there to arrest Jesus. Finally, Jesus is mocked, beaten, and stands before the assembly of elders.


As I have blogged about numerous times, I am grateful and thankful for a merciful and graceful God. Just as the Israelites did so many years ago, I continue to fall short of God’s expectations. But I continue to always work my way back to Him through prayer, study, and worship. When I focus on God’s creation, I find myself in awe of Him. Just as the psalm describes the great creation and the manner by which God delivered the Israelites from Egypt, I can see God’s power in natural wonders such as Niagara Falls (still one of the most amazing places I’ve ever seen in person). I can see the work of God through others, for example, when at Creighton’s Cub Scout pack meeting this past week, where 2,187 pounds of food were collected to give to a local food bank. There will always be naysayers, who betray Jesus like Judas, or who deny him, just like Peter and so many others did in that last week of his life. We also have many false teachers, preaching what they call the Gospel, but is anything but the true Gospel. But through it all, God is still here, waiting for us to make our way back to Him. EVERY SINGLE TIME WE FALL AWAY, He will be there waiting for us to come back to Him! WHY? Because His steadfast love endures forever.

Today’s Passages (all 1 link):  Hosea 1-2; Proverbs 18; Luke 21

Hosea 1-2:  The word of Jehovah comes to the prophet Hosea, saying, “Take to yourself a wife of harlotry”.  In the manner of living prophecy, as in the case of so many examples with many prophets Jehovah is using an actual real life example to show without question how He feels about His people.  He regards their actions as a nation to be an adulterous relationship.  His people are having affairs with other gods.  Like a woman who will not stay home but gives herself to other men, so is Israel prostituting herself with other religions.  Yes they keep worshipping Jehovah, but only in conjunction with other religions.

Proverbs 18:  is another list of wisdom versus foolishness or wickedness proverbs. Example; verse 2, “ A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind.”   we all know people who are like this, they like the sound of their own voice.  “What you have to say is of no value, listen to me! “

Luke 21:  At the climax of Jesus ministry, He has come to Jerusalem to offer Himself as a sacrifice for Israel and the whole world.  In Luke 20.41 He actually weeps as He enters the city because of their religious leaders policies that require a devotion to Jehovah that benefits themselves only.  They have distorted the Law of God to their financial benefit.  In verse 1 of chapter 21Jesus sat down in the Court of Women in Herod’s Temple, which is the Temple in Jerusalem, and is a world wide wonder that took over fifty years to build.  As He sets there He sees donations being placed in the treasury, The rich are putting in much, which is why it’s in the open for all to see, then a widow comes and outs in all she has, two pennys.  Quite honestly this is not an example for us to give all to Jesus, but in the context, a repudiation of a system that would take all that a widow has, and no compassion for her in her poverty.  They should have been giving to her, rather than enriching the temple treasury.  Jehovah is not interested in bricks and mortar, monuments built to honor Him, but rather  compassion and grace offered in His name to mankind.  We are to be about building lives, giving and working, and helping those in need.  We are to spread the Good News, that there is a cure to heal our land.  Let us not fall into the trap of fake worship, divided loyalties, and enriching ourselves, like the Pharisees and other religious sects.

Jehovah, help us to understand true Christianity, where we are truly born into Spirit led lives.  2 Corinthians 5.21 “Jehovah made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  We are righteous, let us not fall into silly traps that divide our love.  Like the old adage, let’s be dedicated to “Jesus Only.”


Already & Not Yet

Daniel 11-12     Psalm 135     Luke 20

Review:  A prophecy concerning Kings surrounding Israel is foretold (11:1-20)…Another King of the North will come to power (11:21-35)…A King will come to power, “according to his own will.”  His power will extend to Egypt, Libya, and Ethiopia (11:36-45)…The great tribulation is predicted (12:1) and resurrections (12:2-3)…Daniel closes (12:4-13).

Analysis:  It has been suggested that all that is described in Chapter 11 is past history…The “Kings of the South” are those of Egypt – Ptolemy III (11:7-9), Ptolemy IV (11:11), and Ptolemy V (11:14-24)… The “Kings of the North” are from Syria –  Seleucus IV (11:!5) and Antiochus Epiphanes (11:21-24) who on his way to invading Egypt (11:25-28) trashed the temple in Jerusalem (11:31-35)…Alexander The Great (356-323 BC) on his conquests of the known world ran through Syria and Palestine on his way to Egypt (11:36-45)…Thinking about fulfilled prophecy like these is a way to build one’s confidence in the veracity of God’s Word…Going forward from today, a great tribulation (12:1) is in the future…Resurrections (12:2-3) are the hope of Judaism and  Christianity…The “time of the end” is a favorite theme of Daniel (8:17-19, 9:26, 11:35-45, 12:4-9); it’s duration is 3-1/2 years (12:7)…This “set-up” abomination (12:11), what amounts to mankind and it’s leaders extermination of the Deity on earth, takes 1290 days…Blessed are those who get through this period + 45 days = 1335 days (12:12)…Possibly these 45 days follow Armageddon (Rev. 16:13-16) to clear away the debris of that altercation and enable the possibility of full blessing…For more admittedly symbolic details on the happenings of these 1290 days, I refer you to the Book of Revelation (Rev. 7-20).

Sunday Reflection: God as Gardener

Well, by the sound of the weather forecast for tomorrow it looks like the gardening season is over for sure…for us anyway – lol.

There are so many opportunities for todays thoughts about our God.  I’ve used Genesis previously so that’s out.  Separating the wheat from the chaff is an option as is the workers and the vineyard.  For today though, I am going to go with the vine and the branches from John 15:1-17.

I’m not much of a gardener myself (that’s Tari’s arena), but I do know a few things – watering, feeding, caring…common sense things that keep most things growing.  There are some things that cause difficulties with gardening – raising healthy plants.  Things like weather like being too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry.

There is a direct correlation to how you and I grow in Jesus as well.  How are you doing in this arena?   Verse 4 brings this home…“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”  How are you doing at watering, caring and feeding yourself – reading your Bible, regular worship, prayer life, mission and ministry in love?  

The wonderful part of a relationship with Jesus is that it is never too late to get started or even kick start a few things in your life.  Try it – abide in Jesus and then express the resulting love toward others…and watch your priorities change.

This Coming Week’s Readings:

11/26 Daniel 11-12 Psalm 135 Luke 20 Craig R.
11/27 Hosea 1-2 Proverbs 18 Luke 21 Karl
11/28 Hosea 3-4 Psalm 136 Luke 22 Matt
11/29 Hosea 5-6 Proverbs 19 Luke 23 Bo
11/30 Hosea 7-8 Psalm 137 Luke 24 Karissa
12/1 Hosea 9-10 Proverbs 20 Matthew 1 Dale

The Problem of the Human Heart Solved

Daniel 9-10, Proverbs 17, Luke 19 (NIV)

I want to focus on Daniel and Zacchaeus: Daniel’s prayer 9:4-19 and Zacchaeus’s act of repentance. Confession is good for the soul and Acts of Restitution reveal a changed heart.

Daniel prays an authentic prayer of confession for himself and the people of Israel who are in captivity far from their homeland in Babylon.  “We have sinned and done wrong” is the very essence of confession and at the heart of this prayer.  He goes on to recite the history of sin and failure to be faithful to God.  He also is aware of God’s covenant and promises to his people as well as God’s “great mercy.”

Daniel, after honest and humble confession, prays for God to act to save his people and return them to their homeland.  The next King after Darius (mentioned in verse 1) is Cyrus and King Cyrus allows the exiles to return to their homeland in Judah and their capital city, Jerusalem.  Confession is good for the soul and the nation.

In Luke 19 we meet Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector.  It means that he had many tax collectors working under his authority, collecting much money.  And a sizable amount made it’s way to Zacchaeus,  at the top of this taxing pyramid scheme, who was very wealthy.  He lacked for nothing that money could buy.  Yet he was estranged from his own people whom he severely taxed on behalf of the occupying force, the Romans. He was also estranged from God, as he was interested most of all in money and possessions.  Zacchaeus taxed his own people beyond a just and fair rate, to selfishly keep an enormous amount for himself.

Clearly Zacchaeus was a “sinner,” that is a notorious sinner, which meant to his people that he was unforgiven, completely lost.  But Jesus saw it differently.  There was the possibility of hope, remorse, forgiveness, and salvation.

Zacchaeus, enters into the presence of the accepting love of Jesus, for Jesus is willing to visit his home and eat and have table fellowship with such a notorious sinner.  The loving and gracious presence of Jesus is transforming.  We see the fruits of authentic confession, the acts of a changed life when Zacchaeus says, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”  Four times is the full repayment under the law for theft (2 Samuel 12:6).

Jesus acknowledges a changed life, saying, ““Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Max Lucado writes, and I agree, “The heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.  Each one of us entered the world with a sin nature.  God entered the world to take it away…The…name Jesus traces its origin to the Hebrew word,…which means ‘Yahweh saves.'”

Jesus solves the problem of the human heart when we confess our sins and when we confess our need for his saving love, grace, and presence.  Allow Jesus to take away any problems of the heart this day. Jesus still saves.

Let God be God…

Today’s Passages (all 1 link):  Daniel 7-8; Psalm 134; Luke 18

There are 2 books in our Bible that are apocalyptic…a word not intended to conjure up the catastrophic…the unthinkable…the dreaded…or the terrible.  Apocalpyse means an unveiling…a revealing.  The two books are The Revelation (of Jesus Christ) and Daniel – especially chapters 7-12.  Apocalyptic literature is typically filled with bold imagery that is intended to engage our imaginations.  There is a caution though…most people spend too much time focused on trying to decode the imagery when they should focus on allowing God to work through their imaginations.

Daniel 7-8:  Chapter 7 begins the second half of Daniel – the 4 visions.  Visions of world empires.  Visions alluding to moral characteristics of these nations.  Nations that would be cruel and evil and rule over Israel.  Through it all though Daniel was able to see God’s Kingdom that would not only arrive but conquer the 4 nations.  From Ch 8 to the end of Daniel, the prophecy, even though it concerns the Gentiles, is occupied with human history as it relates to Israel.  Ch 8 is really a tough passage – it has brought many biblical scholars to their knees so, maybe a word from Paul might help as you embrace this chapter – may the Holy Spirit speak into your life…”All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17).  

There is still an agonizing question though in Ch 8 – why would God provide a prophecy that leaves Daniel “overcome and lay sick for some days…but I was dismayed by the vision and did not understand it”?  The trouble is that most of us want the answers but prophecy is not provided so that we will understand everything God has in mind and why he is doing it.  Prophecy exists so that can be comforted in knowing that the future is in God’s hands…that he is in control.  And even though there may be visions of suffering, we are to trust that God is God and we are not.

Psalm 134:  Is part of a group of “song of ascents” addressing the priests and the Levites who kept watch at the temple, the pilgrim asked that heavenly blessings be given them from Zion.

Luke 18:  These verses include two of Jesus’ parables about prayer. One was addressed to the disciples (vv. 1-8), and the other (vv. 9-14) to “some who were confident of their own righteousness.”  Verses 15-17 are a short interlude following up on the previous parable.  Jesus had taught that it was necessary to be humble before God. In these verses He compared that humility to childlikeness.  In these words Jesus was stating that a person must come to Him in humility in order to enter the kingdom. Children come with expectation and excitement. They come realizing that they are not sufficient in themselves. They depend totally on others.  The concluding verses of Ch 18 find Jesus teaching that wealth is a hindrance to the important issues of life.

Devotion:  It is good to worship the God of Creation…it is very good to humbly approach God in prayer with an attitude of childlike behavior and it is especially good to have our priorities grounded and focused on Jesus.  Through it all though comes the reality that we should let God be God…to trust that he has things under control despite what may be happening in our lives or in our world.


For His Own Glory

Daniel 5-6
Proverbs 16
Luke 17

Truth time: I have never read the story of Daniel in the lions den. I had heard it, probably a few times via Veggie Tales. When I saw that my readings today included the story of Daniel in the lions den I was thrilled!

Daniel’s devotion and trust in the Lord is of course the main point of the story–he is recovered without even a scratch! Do you want to know what I found especially interesting? King Darius didn’t want to throw Daniel in the lion den, but he did anyway. He was pained over it, tried to save his life for hours, and when night finally came he couldn’t sleep he was in such distress.

Then he rejoiced when Daniel lived and punished those who had enforced the mandate saying Daniel was to be thrown in the den.

In this whole story I am just amazed by King Darius.

All I can see is the grace. God isn’t angry at the King for following some decree, He doesn’t demand more punishment. He happily keeps Daniel alive, by faith, and then God’s power is reinforced and declared to the kingdom.

I just think that’s amazing.

The rest of the readings are filled with great things, a few verses I want to highlight for you to meditate on.

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

“A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.” Proverbs 16:28

“It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.” Luke 17:2

“One of them, when he saw was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him–and he was a Samaritan.” Luke 17:15

Think on a few of these verses today and search your heart. Have a happy Thanksgiving and love on the family you have–especially the ones that are difficult to love!


Something for everyone

Daniel 3-4 Psalm 133 Luke 16

After reading the texts above, I was left wondering what is the common theme between all of it. Most days the readings seem to just flow from one to the next, but that has not come easily to me today.

From a King in love with himself and the opinions of those around him to a call to unity and a very different take on doing business and living life, all seems so disconnected. But then again maybe it is not.

The more I thought about it there was one thing that kept bringing me back: What is really important to you?

If you are the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, maybe having the royal court in your pocket is a priority. Doing what needs to be done to gain favor and even more authority will be important. For the King that really hit a wall when the three friends showed that faith is more important than anything else, that God and their worship to the one true God overstep anything else. That was a reality check for the king.

For David writing the Psalm, unity was important. As a warrior king, David understood how important is for people to really live in harmony. That feeling of everything is well with the world, that people can enjoy peace and worship God freely must have been a real dream for David, and when he saw that glimpse of what it is his heart just rejoice.

And lastly the parables… Now if you have not read this parables before it might be a little shocking to you to see Jesus speaking about wealth in the manner which he is. But yet again that idea of what is important to you pops up. The Kingdom of God, serving the right master, learning from your own life and trying to protect the people dear to you, to help them see the blessings of living right. It is all out what it is important.

Now tomorrow it is Thanksgiving Day, and I am sure that each one will take time to remember what is important in life, God, family, friends and so on. One thing I would challenge you to is this: Please share with someone what is important to you and why. Be a Lazarus.

Be blessed,

Bo M.

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