First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @


April 2019

Once and For All

Hebrews 10:5-18 (NIV) 

The writer of Hebrews informs us that Jesus is the final sacrifice for all of our sins, “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (10:10).

No longer are animal sacrifices going to be offered to God over and over again, day after day, for the forgiveness of Sins.   There is a new covenant in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.  Verses 16 and 17, promises the prophet Jeremiah announced long ago, are now fulfilled in Jesus.

16 “This is the covenant I will make with them
    after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
    and I will write them on their minds.”[b]

17 Then he adds:

“Their sins and lawless acts
    I will remember no more.”[c]

This is wonderful promise from God fulfilled in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Give thanks for the promises of God today.  The Lord is good and trustworthy and faithful to all his promises.  And there’s more!  We are forgiven in and through the sacrifice of Jesus, his death on the cross.

Remember the goodness of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit this day and every day!

Our God is Jehovah

Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord
    that you alone are the Most High over all the earth.

Psalm 83:18

Let’s start this morning with a little Eddie James Gospel music, yeah?

How can you not be pumped after listening to that?

In life we can easily get hung up on things. We can get distracted by promotions, items, money, and status. We can begin to identify ourselves with various labels: mother, son, gay, abused, abandoned, practically perfect.

God is higher and bigger than those things. He is bigger than your struggle, He is mightier than that gold status you’re killing yourself for. His name overpowers any other label you may want to claim as your identity.

But guess what? Once you’ve accepted Christ in your heart and proclaimed with your mouth that he is your Savior all other titles fall to the wayside. Your number one identifier is Child of God.

You belong to the One who is Most High, Whose Name is greatest, and Whose strength is mightiest.

This morning, after enjoying in a little praise music, meditate and pray on the verse. What does it mean for the Lord to be Most High in your life?


Ever present…

The selected text for today comes from Psalm 139.  The suggestion is on 2 verses, #1 and #13.  One of my great pet-peeves is taking Scripture out of context…in other words, proof-texting.  While these 2 individual verses are very good, if you want to begin to understand the closeness of the God we worship then read the whole of Psalm 139.

Do you believe God is ever present?  Have you stopped, recently, to think about this?  These are Lenten journey questions.  Is God’s presence comforting to you?  We Christians love to use fancy words and phrases…like omniscience and omnipresence.  How about saying instead…God knows me and God is with me.  The picture for this post was taken when Tari and I were in Yosemite in 2012.  I thought about this particular place looking down on the Yosemite Valley and thinking again about the many times and places in my life where God is and has been present…even in those times where I have felt alone.  For today, I can imagine sitting out on this outcropping and knowing God is there.  Equally true, I can imagine being one of those very small objects down below and knowing that the God I worship knows I am there and not only knows but is…present!

For today…the following prayer comes from the PCUSA Book of Common Worship – Daily Prayer (pg. 376):

Almighty God, creator of the universe,

we are awed by your wondrous works

and overwhelmed by your infinite wisdom.

For all your majesty we praise you;

yet even more

we rejoice that you do not forget us.

that you want to know us,

that you come to care for us,

sisters and brothers of Jesus Christ, your Son in whose name we pray.  Amen.


God is All Knowing


As I sit down to type this, I have a show on that I like to watch called Expedition Unknown on the Science Channel. Archaeologist Josh Gates travels around the world trying to find “buried treasures” of the past. Artifacts from times past that tell stories of the people of that time period. Tonight, they are unearthing new artifacts in Egypt. Some of the artifacts that Josh turns up have been lost and forgotten about for thousands of years. They have become hidden from all…humans. The fact of the matter is that most archaeological finds are 100% accidental, often times by people excavating to build new roads or buildings or whatnot.

Another analogy before I get to my point. For those of you who have children (whether young or now adults), you are well aware of how being a parent can sometimes be like being a detective on Law and Order. You are about 99% sure that your child is guilty of doing something, but you need to get to the bottom of it by asking probing questions to try to get the truth out of them. Sometimes, you can get to the real truth, and sometimes, it remains hidden. At least it remains hidden until they become adults and maybe finally fess up and tell of that one time that they did that one thing that you didn’t know about. Now that I am in my 40s, I still don’t tell my own parents some of the stupid things I did when I was a kid…still hidden.

But all of this stuff that might be hidden by dirt or by children not wanting to tell the truth to their parents isn’t hidden at all from God. We have an all-knowing God who knows what is in our heart. Even if we don’t say or show our true feelings, HE KNOWS. 1 John 3:20 says “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” Psalm 139:4 says “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.” As hard as we might try to brush our sins under the rug and hide them from the people in our lives, our sins cannot be hidden from Him. With that being said, we know that we can go to Him in prayer to confess our sins and accept His grace.

Prayer: Thank you God for loving me, a sinner. Because you know all, you knew the need to send Jesus to this fallen world. Thank you for sending your Son to the cross in order to wipe the slate clean for me. I pray this in His name. Amen.

Our Infinite God

27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built! (1 Kings 8:27)

Analysis:  I’m on Spring Break this week, I’ll allow others to comment…

“Consider your origin.  You were not formed to live like brutes but to follow virtue and knowledge.”  (Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy)

“His knowledge is not like ours, which has three times: past, present, and future.  God’s knowledge has no change or variation.”  (Augustine of Hippo, The City of God)

“My friends, God is necessary for me only because He is the one being who can be loved eternally.”  (Fyodor Dostoyevski, The Possessed)

“All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”  (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature)

“Belief is a wise wager.  Granted that faith cannot be proved.  What harm will come to you if your gamble on its truths and it proves false?  If you gain, you gain all; if you lose you lose nothing.  Wager then, without hesitation, that He exists.”  (Blaise Pascal, Pense’es)

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than you dreamed of in your philosophy.”  (William Shakespeare, Hamlet)

“As I see it, only God can be all-powerful without danger because His wisdom and justice are always equal to His power.  There is no authority on earth so inherently worthy of respect, or invested with a right so sacred that I would want to let it act without oversight or rule without impediment.”  (Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America)

“God is the same everywhere.”  (Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace)



Romans 4:16-25 (NIV)

Believe in God and have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Trust in Jesus for your journey of life and faith.  Believe!  That’s the message for today.

We see the importance of faith, of believing in God throughout the scriptures and most particularly here in the example of Abraham and in Sarah, Abraham’s wife, who traveled all over with him and gave birth to their son.

In Genesis 12:1-5 (NIV), Abraham trusted God and left his home and went to a land that God wanted to show him. On several occasions God promised Abraham that his family would grow in large numbers, Genesis 15:1-7 (NIV) and Genesis 17:1-8 (NIV).  And Abraham “believed the Lord, and he credited to him as righteousness.”

Who would think by the age of 99 that you and your wife would give birth to a child and then see your family grow and grow in number as the years went by.  It seemed impossible but Abraham, “against all hope,” and “in hope believed,” believed the Lord.

Sometimes we don’t know the way to go, sometimes we can’t see a way at all.  Other times our horizons are dark, the valley is deep, and the hills are steep in life.  Yet through it all we are asked to trust in the Lord. Through faith in Jesus Christ we find our way through the darkness, out of the valleys, and up the hills that impede us. Through faith we receive the righteousness of Jesus and all of our sins are washed away and we are forgiven.  Through faith we truly live, as followers of the Lord Jesus.  Just believe.

Our God is the Creator of the World

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

John 1:3

This passage comes from the beginning of John as he makes his claims that Jesus is Messiah. The “him” in reference is Jesus–he has been there since the beginning. Check out the times that the Old Testament spoke in plural form (Genesis 1:26, Genesis 3:22, Genesis 11:7, Isaiah 6:8).

So not only do we have Genesis to tell us that God is Creator of the world, we have John reminding us.

You know that song “He’s got the whole world in His hands”? That simple Sunday School song sings volumes of Truth.

Today, as you go about your day–maybe joyfully or fretting over something–remember that our God is Creator of it all and He’s got the whole world in His hands. This allows us to let go of whatever may be stressing us out and surrender to His way.


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