First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @


July 2019

The Parable of the Talents

Matthew 25:14-30

Summary:  A talent is understood to be a large sum of money; 1 talent = 6000 denarii … A typical laborers wages for a day was one denarius … The owner of the estate goes on travel (v. 14) … To three servants he gives five, two, and one talent(s) respectively (v. 15) … He who had five, invested and doubled them to 10, he with two, invested and doubled them them to four, and he with one buried it underground for safe keeping (vv. 16-18) … Upon his lordships return, accounts are justified … The servants that doubled their talents are equally complemented for their good works (vv. 19-23) … Him with one, who did nothing with it, is sharply rebuked (vv. 24-27) to the extent that his single talent is repossessed by the master and given to someone who has 10 (v. 28) … Finally, a commentary is given saying those of means can receive more, those with less can lose what they have depending on what they do with what they have (vv. 29-30).

Analysis:  The same applause by the master is given to the servants with five and two talents because they were equally faithful, or in this case productive (vv. 20-23) … The commendation of the single talent servant (vv. 24-30) seems harsh to us moderns … According to Jesus, them that has and invests or works with what one has, gets more … The greater the ability, the greater the responsibility … Each is given a measure of ability and therefore responsibility … This parable is one of hard reality … The moral from the perspective of a Christian’s missionary work is that Christ entrusted us to carry out and expand on the work the He started … Each is expected to maximize the return on talents we’ve been given to the expansion of God’s kingdom … “God will not have His work manifested by cowards” (RW Emerson, Self-Reliance).

Rich In Mercy

Psalm 136 (NRSV)

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

This Psalm reminds us that God is rich in mercy and love.  God’s steadfast love is about the covenant love that God promised his people.  At the center of this Psalm is the description of God’s greatest act of salvation in the Old Testament, the Exodus, the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.  God has mercy and saves his people from a land of bondage and then provides for them the promised land.

Over and over again throughout the Psalm, some 26 times, we read, “for his steadfast love endures forever.”

And now we know of God’s “steadfast love” through his greatest act of salvation,  the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Savior, from the dead.  God gave us his one and only Son, for God so loved the world (John 3:16).

Today read through Psalm 136 and hold on to God’s promise, “for his steadfast love endures forever.”  Then read John 3:16 and give thanks for the wealth of God’s love for us, in and through the Lord Jesus Christ today.


being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6

This verse can be really hard to take in when your soul is feeling downcast.

This Bible verse is a promise. It is a promise that God who began to change you, who converted you to a Christian, who put it on your heart to do His work, will not stop working on you or in you until Jesus comes back and the work will be complete.

That’s where the hope is: one day we will be complete and Jesus will be back.

The hope is that one day we won’t be fighting temptation, we won’t be beating ourselves up over missteps, one day we will be with Jesus in Heaven and be so amazed by His glory and so washed in His blood that we will finally be the person He created us to be in the first place in a perfect place.

And before that day comes, this verse also promises, that God will keep fighting for us and with us. Looking back to those temptations and missteps we can remember that with ever mistake God is still working in and through us to help us become the people we were born to be to bring glory to His name.

This morning, may you remember that He has not given up on you–even on the days that you have.


A Prayer for Wisdom


Ephesians 1:17

Today, I will follow the wise acronym KISS…keep it simple stupid. I’ll be quick and to the point. 

This one verse is such a great prayer to pray each day, for others and also for yourself. Right? As you open your Bible to read a chapter or a few verses or whatever, pray that God gives you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know him better. Better yet, start off each day with just this simple one sentence prayer, that the Spirit of wisdom guide you and make God known to you during the course of your day. I would argue to add the next two verses from Ephsians 1 (vs. 18-19), which go just a step further by asking God to open your eyes and heart that you may better understand His purpose for you today, tomorrow, and always. Can I get an AMEN? 

The Holy One of God

Mark 1.23-24   There was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit;  he cried out , “ What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth I know you – the Holy One of God.”

Even in Jesus time there were people hanging out in the temples who had no true association with the true believers of Jehovah.  Filled with a demon this man was attending ceremonies, teachings, festivals, sacrifices, all the while being led in complete opposition to Godliness.  No one really knows the desire of his heart, but his actions were antagonistic to Jesus.  He was with them but not of them.

1 John 2.18-20  Many anti-Christs have appeared.  They went out from us, but they were never of us.  But we have an anointing from the Holy Spirit.  

Think back to the day when you were transformed by the Holy Spirit at the day you truly believed in the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and were transformed.  You knew something marvelous had happened, yet were unable to put your finger on it.  How do you explain that day?  Something life changing had occurred, something life giving had happened.   Each time since then that you really encounter Jesus in a Divine appointment you experience the same thing, the same feeling.  Each day of divine comfort and contentment, each day of Spirit filled joy, a special covering comes upon you.  That my friends is an anointing of the Holy Spirit.

 Anointing is a practice used in the Scriptures to set apart a person for a special calling, or appointment.  An honor performed, established for all to see the uniqueness bestowed upon the recipient.  Psalms 133.2 speaks of unity in the House of God being like an “ ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard; ”   An anointing is used in the selecting of Kings, High Priests, and prophets.  By the time of Christ it was common to anoint, less formally, guests who came into your house for a meal, depicting a specialness to the recipient.     

There are unfortunately many, who like the man in the Mark passage, are hanging out at the church house, who have no idea what the anointing of the Holy Spirit is.  They have never truly understood what belief in Jesus Christ from the inner most parts of their being is.  They have an intellectual concept of Jesus and all the stories of His life, but just don’t get the whole spiritual aspect of it.   Thus, as the scripture points out, they more or less come and go, because they are with us but not of us.  Sitting in the pew hearing the Word of God weekly, they remember the humorous stories, but not the Spiritual side of the sermon.  They remember the music not the message in the music.  

Paul says in the Corinthian letters that we should examine ourselves, he even says he takes inventory of his own life to see if in fact he had missed some aspect of the salvation gospel and run his life in vain.   So should we, lest we find ourselves missing the true anointing of the Holy Spirit.  Although if in fact you have been under the leading and filling of the Holy Spirit you won’t mistake it for anything else.  

Examine yourself and if you have any doubts call Bo or Craig, they surely can help.  Or simply cry out to Jesus, He hears and answers our prayers.


The Parable of Fatherhood

Luke 11:11-13

Analysis:  This is a continuation of Jesus’ teaching on prayer (Luke 11:1-13) … For myself as a Father, when my kid asks me for something specific (vv. 11-12), if I believe it to be in her best interest and is affordable, I will normally fill her request … I say “normally” because sometimes I say “no” regardless because I don’t want to spoil her by enabling her to always have her way … I believe this to be the definition of being a caring Father … At the time Jesus gave this parable, the gift of the Holy Spirit, just by asking from the Father (v. 13), was considered to be outrageous (cp. Joel 2:28-29) … For today’s Christian, to apply this promise (v. 13) is to forget the significance of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13).

The Keys to the Kingdom

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew  16:19

To prepare for this devotional I had to do some reading on what exactly was meant by “binding/loosing” because I didn’t understand it.

I read this article (and a few more).

When Christ gave us the keys to the Kingdom he gave us the authority to read the Word of God and interpret what it meant. When Jesus says this the disciples have him to help guide them and we have the Holy Spirit to help guide us as we walk along the path of life and interpret what we allow and what we don’t.

Human nature demands division, I truly believe it is in our sin and brokenness. Class, race, ethnicity, backgrounds, gender, and so much more can become a factor that we feel the need to draw a line where it becomes “us” and “them.”

And if we aren’t careful with this text, we may assume we are given authority to decide what is allowed and what is forbidden in The Church. But it is not up to us. We do not have authority to condemn. We are called to preach the Good News–that’s it. Therefore, I am asking all of you to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and discernment when you read Scripture. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you and do not rely on your own understanding of the text to interpret it.

As believers we should be holding ourselves up to higher standards of love while always understanding, in humility, that we don’t know everything and thus can’t dictate others. We can simply share the Gospel (over and over and over again if we must, knowing their salvation is not relying on us) and show Christ’s care and compassion to those in need.

May you all enjoy a quiet moment today with God.


The Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God



Luke 12. 32


Matthew 12. 28


Psalms 45. 7


Micah 6. 4-5



Concerning the Kingdom of God Luke 12.32 says, “Do not be afraid little flock, for your Father has gladly given you the kingdom.”   As we understand the words that both Jesus and John preached, that the Kingdom of God was near, we have to wonder what it means.


Matthew 12.28 Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees telling them, “If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.”  A glimpse then into the meaning is revealed, that it is a Spiritual Kingdom, being brought to us through the works of Jesus.


In the Old Testament the prophet Micah 6.4-5 “ Indeed I brought you up from the land of Egypt and ransomed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, (the Law giver,) Aaron, ( the Priesthood,) and Miriam, ( the prophets.)   My people remember now what  Balak king of Moab counseled, ( he tried to buy God’s blessing.)  And what Balaam son of Beor answered him, ( I can speak nothing but what God says.)  And from Shittim to Gilgal, ( the protection of God to Israel,) so that you might know the righteous acts of the LORD.”   According to this scripture we can understand righteousness as being the “saving acts of God” throughout history.


2 Corinthians 5.21  “ God made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”   We as believers then are the recipients of the “saving acts of God,” that is His righteousness.


The Kingdom of God is revealed on this earth as God’s working in the lives of men through His Holy Spirit, to redeem them from the curse of the law, so that we might have His salvation and be a part of His great, eternal kingdom.  The Kingdom of God is spiritual, and it is initiated by God and offered to all mankind.  It is up to each one to believe and participate in His Kingdom which will then go beyond this life into eternity with our Savior who redeemed us with His blood.





Equipping Us


Ephesians 4:11-16

How many of you reading this today have read the Bible from beginning to end? How about more than once? I can’t say that I have gotten through every verse yet. Why? I wish I had a better explanation for you other than I just haven’t gotten to it yet. I think part of it is how unbelievably confusing the Bible can be to read and understand. So, let’s ask this next question. How many of you understand everything that you have read in your Bible? Emphasis is put on the word EVERYTHING. If you and 99 other people all read the same exact passage in the Bible, there is likely to be 100 different interpretations of that same scripture. We all bring our own life experiences to the table as we read and interpret scripture, or any other book for that matter. And since no two people’s life experiences are exactly alike, each person will have a slightly or significantly different take on what is being said. Just look at our current political situation and how people interpret the words of our current sitting president. 

In these six verses in Ephesians, we hear of the people who Jesus appointed to be our role models for how to live. The apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers were GIVEN TO US so that we might better understand what it means to be a faithful follower of Christ. It also demonstrates that we can’t do this faith thing alone. We need each other to lean on, to talk to and listen to, to debate with, and to read and study together. Guided by the words and actions of the “characters” of the Bible, and also the Holy Spirit, we can become more mature in our faith. We can make more sense of what God has in store for us with the help of all of these people. And that is why we need to continue to read and study scripture, and to engage in Bible study groups. It is also why it is important to be part of a church. To surround ourselves with other people of faith, to learn from and grow with each other. Then we have more of a fighting chance at not being “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” 

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