First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @


July 2019

Our Hope & Glory

Colossians 1:24 – 29

Analysis: It must be flatly stated as a preamble to this discussion that God, in ages past, could have set-up a universe where no devil, evil or sin of any kind existed or was  possible … Yes, our omniscient LORD created and, therefore ultimately, controls Satan … John Milton’s (“Paradise Lost“) reasons that God created such a universe so our life experience is one of contrasts … Nothing is intrinsically good or bad on it’s own … It is only when one compares something to something else that reality is realized … In other words, one would not comprehend light but for darkness … Such a universe has enabled mankind to enjoy a large degree of freedom, thus enabling us to choose how we live … When we choose to lead a Godly life in what we say and do, God is glorified far more than if He had created a “good only” universe and mankind … And so it goes … How would you have assembled your universe ??? I don’t know about you, I don’t even know how I would start ??? And so, Paul speaks of his struggles for the Church at Colosse (v. 24) … The maintenance and care for any Church body has never been easy … At the same time, Christ’s founding of the Church is testified to by each who attends (vv. 25-27) … Being preached to about the things of Christ is a main activity of said Church (vv. 28, 29) … Putting Christian virtues into practice and promoting them outside the Church is another.

The Tension of the New

Matthew 9:14-17 (NIV) 

15 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.” (Matthew 9:15)

Something new, something different, something amazing and extraordinary is happening in Jesus ministry.  It’s not a time for fasting.  Like seeing the bridegroom and the bride at a wedding it’s a time for joy.  John the Baptist is a prophet, similar to Old Testament prophets and yet different in that he announces Jesus’ ministry, which takes precedence over John’s ministry.  John’s disciples are still tied into the old ways when they meet Jesus.

Jesus comes, not fasting, but announcing the Good News of the Gospel and God’s Kingdom present in himself and in those who follow him.  It’s an exciting time to rejoice in God’s grace and love and justice.  Jesus is healing the sick, casting out demons, that is pushing back and invading Satan’s territory and evil, and preaching the Good News of grace and forgiveness.

It is not a time for fasting, sorrow, or crying when Jesus is with you.  When Jesus is present there is rejoicing, grace, healing, hope and much more!

Today I encourage you to rest and rejoice in Jesus’ astounding gracious presence.  Jesus is alive and active in your life and in mine; and in the world. Now is a time to give thanks and serve and live in realized hope.

Our Faithful High Priest

But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of his creation.

Hebrews 9:11

and since we have a great priest over the house of God

Hebrews 10:21

To understand the language of “High Priest” we must go back to the Old Testament, to the days of Moses and Aaron. See, Aaron was the first high priest and his decedents went on to become priests. These are people who have been chosen to speak on behalf of the people to God. Remember, this was during the day when God’s holy presence was in a tent with the Israelites and was so powerful that not everyone could enter His presence–even the chosen priesthood could only enter His presence when they were ritually pure.

History lesson is now over.

Let’s fast forward to Hebrews. Jesus has taken the place of the high priest–the one who intervenes on behalf of God’s people. This is great news because the Israelite priests were messing up a lot. Aaron made a golden calf within the first week of the job!

Jesus is perfect. He is the perfect man, perfect high priest, and the Son of God. He will never be “ritually impure” which means he will always be able to intercede for us with God.

Really, as believers, we have been washed in Jesus’ blood and our sins have been atoned for. You know what this means? When God looks at us, He sees the righteousness of Jesus. This is why we can directly pray to the Lord without going through a priest anymore!

It’s an amazing and beautiful gift.


Our Strength

Philippians 4:10-19

Commentary: Paul, most likely in a prison of some sort in Rome, is grateful for the support the Church at Philippi, Greece has given him (v. 10) … He has learned to be content in whatever condition, good or ill, he finds himself in with Jesus’ help (vv. 11-13) … This ideal coincides nicely with a thinking of that days Stoic philosophy: sufficiency of the individual (cp. 2 Cor. 12:9-10), otherwise known as independence, bearing in mind the boundless potential of the individual … This Philippians Church is sufficiently wealthy or sacrificially supportive of Paul through Macedonia (cp. Acts 17-18) & Thessalonica, Greece (vv. 14-17) … This Epaphroditus is apparently the delivery boy for the Philippians Church (v. 18) … It is around 800 miles by sea and Roman roads from Rome to Philippi, no easy travel by any stretch … The section ends with what amounts to a doxology (v. 19).

Just As If…A Way of Seeing.

Romans 3:21-28 (NIV)

Romans 3:26- God is “the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”  We are made right with God through faith in Jesus Christ.  “23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”  Jesus is “received by faith.”   

When we enter into this relationship with Jesus through faith, our sins are forgiven and the righteousness of God is applied to us.  And therefore, God sees us “Just As If We Never Sinned.”  Now That’s An Extraordinary Freedom! 

God has a way of Seeing; Seeing us through his grace.

“Justified is even better than ‘just as if I never sinned.’  It is also ‘just as if I’d always obeyed.'”      Jerry Bridges

Today, I invite you to celebrate and rejoice in God’s grace come to you through faith in Jesus, that is relying on Jesus to take away all of your sins through his sacrificial death on the cross.

God is our Resurrection

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die,

John 11:25

John 11 holds so much and I think it’s important to look at the context of the entire  chapter before we breakdown this verse alone.

  • Features Mary and Martha (as seen in Luke 10:38-42).
  • Lazarus, Mary and Martha’s brother, has been dead 4 days.
  • Jesus weeps over the death of Lazarus (even though he knows the miracle he’s about to perform!).
  • John 11 ends with the plot to kill Jesus.


Jesus tells this Truth to Martha, the sister that many of us associate as the busy body who was too busy cleaning house that she was missing moments with Jesus. Yet, we see in John 11 that it is Martha who says “I believe” while Lazarus is dead and Mary who keeps weeping. Martha is the one Jesus speaks to about being the Resurrection.

In the context of John 11 Jesus did physically raise Lazarus from the dead after he proclaimed to be the resurrection.

But what does that mean for us today? Jesus is not coming to our homes, physically weeping with us over loved ones only to called out, “come out!”

No, but he is with us and we will rise again–just in the way Martha described in John 11:24.

Our organic bodies will die one day. But we have hope that the story doesn’t end with death. Why? Because Jesus conquered Death. He defeated the grave by dying and being resurrected himself. He did this so that we may have an eternity with him and our Heavenly Father.

Sometimes I wonder how people without faith can keep going in this world. There is so much brokenness, so much corruption: abuse, neglect, hatred, violence, loneliness, etc. I wonder how someone without faith could navigate through the lows of life without having the hope for an eternal peace.

Brothers and sisters, tomorrow is Independence Day. Many of you are going to see family and perhaps some in your family do not believe in God. Maybe they’re angry with God. I challenge you to use tomorrow as an opportunity to spread the Good News, to tell the family about eternal hope, and open the door to a journey that is filled with wonder and awe.


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