First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @


August 2019

Love God



Matthew 22.37

Luke 10.25

To start this study we need to understand that the Pharisees, and the Sadducees, and the lawyers, and the scribes who were living at the time that Jesus walked on earth, were extremely well studied in the Scriptures.  Each sub-group had its own distinct membership, and in a few cases there might be dual membership, such as a scribe might also be a Pharisee.  So when Jesus came along there was a jealousy of Him because He didn’t have membership in any group, and therefore wasn’t subject to their authority.  Like a tradesman or teacher that isn’t in the Union, it’s hard to get them to abide by the rules of said Union.  Therefore they hated Jesus, no matter how well He understood the Scriptures, or how well He taught the truth of Jehovah, He wasn’t furthering their cause, which had little to do with spiritual issues, and actually helping people.

In the passage from Matthew, a lawyer, one who studied the Law of Moses, asks Jesus what was the greatest of the Commandments in order to test Him.  In Luke a lawyer put Jesus to the test by asking how to gain eternal life.  In both cases the answer was to “love the LORD your God with heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as your self.”  In the Luke passage the Lawyer follows up with an addition question, “Who is my neighbor.   The answer Jesus gives is the parable of the Good Samaritan, where both a Priest of Israel, and a Levite, both esteemed workers in the temple, each having separate but distinguished responsibilities in the worship ceremonies of Jehovah, pass by a wounded man without giving aid.  Then comes along a Samaritan, who is regarded as a foreigner to Israel because of intermarriage with Gentiles, and unlawful worship locations, established centuries before.  The Samaritans are legally wrong according to the Torah and as such, the Israelites had legal ground to reject them.  So as Jesus uses a Samaritan as the one who shows mercy and actually helps the wounded man in this story, the lawyer has no recourse but to admit that he, the Samaritan, was the one who acted as a neighbor.

Therefore Jesus raised the awareness of this lawyer and all who were listening, a new dimension to the already high standard of loving God, and your neighbor, to now include  loving your enemy.  The lawyer who set out to test Jesus was the one who was being put to the test.  The Samaritan who was the enemy of the Israelite lawyer became a neighbor, by his own admission.  We are told by the Scriptures to love God, and many say they do, yet  show little love for their neighbor.  1 John 4.20 says, ” If someone says ‘ I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

We, as believers, have a God who loves us and wants the very best for us in this life and beyond, but also requires from us to love and pursue Him,  with all our hearts, soul, and mind.

1 Corinthians 13.4 says, ” Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous, love does not brag, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek it’s owns not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails.


The Way of Salvation

Ephesians 2:1-10

Analysis:  Paul explains to the Ephesians their estrangement from God, aided by the “prince of the air,” that existed without Christ (vv. 1-3) … According to the beliefs of that time, the air was the realm between the earth and the heavens.  It was inhabited by cosmic powers like planets, stars, angels, and demons … Evil was alive and well in Ephesus … Some will always subscribe to evil as the recent news from Dayton, OH and El Paso, TX attest … Because of Christ, believers are raised up and seated with Him in the heavens at the present hour (vv. 4-7) … In the final three verses (vv. 8-10), Paul lays out his ideas on “grace,” “saved through faith,” “not of works, “the gift of God,” and “created in Christ Jesus for good works.” … Paul illustrates that salvation to God is now completely separate from Jewish Laws, it is belief in Christ’s atonement that matters … These are the results of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection for those who believe it … In a nutshell, this is what Christianity is all about.


I’m sorry I’m a day late!

in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1:14

The New Testament repeats many times “You are forgiven.” This specific verse is part of a greeting to the Colossian Church in which Paul is giving thanks to God. Remember, the letters were written to encourage and teach the early church, which means there’s still a lot to be gained from them now.

Who doesn’t need encouragement in their faith walk regularly?

In this passage (Colossians 1:9-14) we are reminded to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, to thank God for His goodness and that every good thing comes from God, and we are left in the thanksgiving part of this passage with a reminder that we are forgiven.

But what does it mean to be forgiven?

  1. to stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense.
  2. to cancel a debt

As Christians, both of these are true for us. Jesus took God’s wrath, died for us, and covered us in His blood. God sees us as children (think Prodigal Son) and loves us–no more anger, no more resentment. Furthermore, the wage of sin is death and by Jesus defeating death our debt has been cancelled as well. This is also what Jesus means when He says “It is finished” on the cross.

Forgiveness is a glorious thing: such a simple idea with such a perplex reality.

I pray that today you all sit for at least 5 minutes thanking God for His forgiveness toward you and asking the Holy Spirit to illuminate what else He wants to teach you about this topic.


PS: I want that sweatshirt.

Don’t Forget to Give Thanks


Psalm 18: 1-19

Today’s focus is on verse three of this Psalm: “I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,

    and I have been saved from my enemies.”

However, I felt to get the whole perspective, you would need to see at least the first 19 verses of this 50 verse psalm. As we see in the subtitle in bold, this psalm was from David, written after being delivered from enemies that intended to have him killed. David trusted in the strength of the Lord, and God, as a result, gave David the ability to fight off his enemies, in particular, Saul. If you have some extra time, and would like to read about the trials and tribulations between David and Saul, read 1 Samuel Chapters 19-31. To day that David and Saul didn’t get along is the understatement of the day. But throughout the story, you will see weaved in there that through David’s faith, God led David out of trouble time and time again. 

Now we might not have an archenemy chasing us daily trying to have us killed out of jealousy, but this part of history and the resulting psalm still apply to us in 2019. Our enemies might be the rude customer that we encounter at our job. It might be the driver that cuts you off while driving then gives you the one finger salute. It might be a bully at school. We will never have an easy road in life. There will be bumps, sharp turns, forks in the road, etc. But through all of those difficult times, God is still with us. We are never completely alone. And, at times, we have to go through those difficult times in order to grow and become stronger in faith. It doesn’t mean that our troubles will go completely away eventually. It also doesn’t mean that God’s answer to our prayers will be exactly how we want it and as quickly as we want it. There isn’t an exact answer to how long David had to try to elude Saul, but one source I found said it may have been close to a decade. A decade of having to sleep with one eye open! 

But ultimately, David prevailed because it was God’s will. And David remained faithful that God would protect him, which He did in many ways and through many different earthly helpers. And just like God gave a helping hand to David through his trials, He does the same for us. BUT…we have to talk to Him and listen to Him. And also, not forget to GIVE THANKS for what He has already done for us and continues to do for us daily. 

Receiving Glory




2 Corinthians 3. 4-18

As the Apostle Paul was writing again to the church at the Grecian city Corinth, he was explaining to them, and thus to us, that in the prophecies of Jeremiah in the Scriptures a New Covenant was to come to Israel.  This new one was to be completely instituted by God alone, and in no way to be ratified by Israel’s agreement to obey, Deuteronomy 5.27 as they told Moses, ” Go near and hear all that the LORD our God says; then speak to us all that the LORD our God speaks to you, and we will hear it and do it.”  Jeremiah declared of this New Covenant in Jer. 31.33 ” But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days declares the LORD, ‘ I will put my law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God and they shall be my people.’ ”

As the Messiah, Jesus, came to earth to Israel, they rejected their Savior, and the door was then opened to the nations of the earth, the Gentiles, with the same covenant conditions.  God does everything.  He alone devised the plan where, as John Owens says, ” for such is the deserts of sin, and such is the immutability of the justice of God, that there was no way possible to bring men unto glory, than by the death and suffering of the son of God, who undertook to become the captain of their salvation.”

Paul writing then to the church described the “old covenant” as, in verse 7 “a ministry of death,” and in verse 9 “ministry of condemnation.”  While his description of the new covenant in verse 8 is, “the ministry of the Spirit,” and  in verse 9, “a ministry of righteousness,” abounding in glory.   Verse 11, “For if that which fades away, (the old covenant),  was with glory,  much more that which remains, (the new covenant), is in glory.”  He goes on in verse 18 to say, “but we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord the Spirit.”

This is to say that we as followers of Christ, have the Holy Spirit in us by the grace of God, and as we yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit, we are being transfigured, into the image of Christ, from glory to glory.  Day by day as we pray and submit in obedience to His leading, we are growing more and more like Jesus.  We start thinking like Him, acting like Him, seeing beyond others faults, seeing the needs of others, responding in love and compassion, bearing each others burdens, rejoicing in each others joy, lifting each other up in prayer, helping, encouraging, strengthening, challenging each other to walk closer to Christ.  Occasions arise to testify of God’s love, occasions arise to be a friend. to give an encouraging word, to give a hug, to advise, or just to be a friend. These are known as divine appointments, where God orchestrates everything.  Where He brings the person, the timing, the words you say, and the results together to His glory, resulting in eternal change.  And we get to be there.

Like the waves at the ocean shore that never cease, they keep coming and coming, low tide or high tide they keep coming, so is the change and the transformation of the Lord in our lives, from glory to glory.  Brothers and sisters let the Spirit free in you to make you and mold you  into the image of Christ.



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