First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @


September 2019

Humble Yourselves


1 Peter 5:6-7

I don’t know about any of you who are reading this right now, but I have a hard time admitting that I need help. For the most part, I pretty much like figuring things out for myself. I get much more of a sense of accomplishment and pride when I can get things to work on my own. At the same time, I feel a little defeated when I have to admit that I don’t know something or how to do something. Asking for help is a hard thing. Pride can get in the way. 

It’s also hard at times to find good, reliable help at a reasonable cost. If you have a job to be done and have to hire someone, it’s going to cost a few pretty pennies. And even then, you don’t always know what you are getting with your help. 

Recently, we got a real nice adjustable basketball hoop at our house. This required digging a pretty good sized hole, filling it with concrete, then putting up the hoop itself, which isn’t light. As hard as I tried to do all of the work myself, there is no way I could have done it all without the help of some help from some good people. I knew all along that I would need help with standing the hoop up, but I didn’t want to ask for help getting all the bags of concrete to my house, or getting rid of all of the clay that I dug up. It was one of those things that hung over my head all summer long before I started the job. Finally, when it came down to it, I had to ask my neighbor to borrow his truck and help to get the bags of concrete, and my brother to dump the clay since he has a place where he can do that sort of thing. I had to swallow my pride and get the help I needed. 

It’s very humbling to admit that you can’t do something alone. Kind of like this life. I (you/we) can’t do this life alone, as much as we would like to think we can. We have to rely on God to guide us, support us, and love us when it seems no one else does. So we have to humble ourselves before God, and put our life in His hands. There is a key phrase in this verse that needs our extra attention as well. It says “in due time.” God’s time and our time won’t always match up. Our abilities only allow us to see a very narrow view of time and what we think we need. But God can see the whole picture, from beginning to end. Therefore, we have to trust that He will take care of us when we need it, but His plan may take longer than what we would like. Again, humbling ourselves by not being selfish about (to steal a line from the great rock band Queen) wanting it all, and wanting it now. The very last line in these two verses is reassuring. He cares about us. The God who created the entire universe cares about me (and you too). I know how many things I have to keep track of in my narrow little sliver of the world; I can’t imagine how much it takes to keep track of the entire creation from the beginning to the end of time. But even still, he cares about us. Amazing. 


Kingdom of God



Colossians 1.13

1 Peter 2.9

Luke 13.29


When John the Baptist came on the scene, as a forerunner for the Messiah, he preached “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.”  Jesus also at beginning of His ministry preach repentance for the Kingdom was at hand.  This was what was needed for the nation Israel, they were the keepers of the oracles of God and were steeped in the Law and sacrificial system, so repentance was what was needed with the recognition and acceptance of their Messiah, Jesus, the Son of God.  But like the parable Jesus taught about the winegrowers that beat and rejected the servants the master had sent to gain his portion of the proceeds, surely they will receive my son, the master said, and not reject him.  Yet that is what happened, so the kingdom was taken from them for a time, and given to another people, the gentiles.

Colossians 1.13 tells us gentiles, that God has “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.”

1 Peter 2.9  “…so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”  We are living in the Kingdom of God right now, in that, according to Luke 17.21 Jesus told His followers, ” For behold the Kingdom of God is in your midst.”  The kingdom was for the taking, all they had to do was believe.  Yet as the gospel reveals, those that believe in Jesus must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.  John 3.5, ” Truly I say to you, unless one is born of the water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.”

The Kingdom of God that we, as believers, live in, is a Spiritual Kingdom, and is as real as the physical realm that we also occupy.   We have been born again according to John 3.6, and are now alive spiritually.  We pray in the Spirit, we worship in the Spirit, we are occupied by the Holy Spirit, and we are directed by God Spiritually.

All this is to say that we need to be aware that we are living in a land that is temporary, the real life is not of this world, and while we are here we need to be pursuing business in Jesus name, because he is coming back with an eternal kingdom. Luke 19.12-27 tells this directive to us in parable form.  It has little to do with money and much to do with us doing the Master’s business while he is away gaining His kingdom.  It’s not working until He comes back, but rather working because He’s coming back.


The Forever Romance

Isaiah 54

Review & Commentary:  Just as their are romances amongst members of the human family, so too a romance exists between the LORD and Israel … Like many love stories, this one results in children (vv. 1-3) … As is typical with any romance, this one has its share of “ups and downs” (vv. 4-7) … Through it all, the relationship endures (v. 8) … As God promised Noah the flood would recede and not return (v. 9, cp. Gen. 8:1-14, 9:8-19), the LORD’s covenants with Israel remain (v. 10, cp. Gen. 2:15-17, 3:14-20, 8:21-22, 9:1-27, 12:1-7, Ex. 19:3-8, Deut. 30:1-19, 2 Sam. 7:4-17) … The LORD has and will adorn Israel (vv. 11-12) … Her children will be educated and prosper (v. 13) … Assemblies and weaponry opposed to Israel will ultimately be on the losing side (vv. 14-17).

No More…

II Corinthians 5:16-21 (NIV)

Here we read about the mission and purpose of Jesus.

Paul writes,  21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus took upon himself, on the cross, all the sins of the world.  Our sins have been taken away by Jesus so that we can be forgiven through faith in him.  Our sins are exchanged, in Jesus, for  the righteousness of God.  Through the grace of Jesus,  God does not see our sin.  Instead God sees us as his righteous people and followers of Jesus.  We are forgiven and set free to live the joyful life of faith.

In the Gospel of John we read that Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

We look forward to the day when the curse of sin will come to an end forever.  In the book of Revelation we read of that day and see more references to Jesus as the Lamb of God than any other book in the Bible.  “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.”  (Revelation 22:3)

We serve the one who will one day take away all of the curse of sin.  Today, celebrate, rejoice, and give thanks for Jesus who takes away all of our sins, shortcomings, and failures.  For he gives us his awesome grace, love, and his very life. One day sin will be no more.

A Different Kind of Strength

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:1

Have any of you ever experienced a moment of supernatural strength? Perhaps it was a moment of miraculous physical strength, but I’m thinking more along the lines of emotional strength. Like, your life was completely spinning out of your control, but there was something inside of you that was soft and gentle and whispered “it’s okay” and so you didn’t cry and you didn’t even feel the chaos around you.

Anything like that?

That’s the strength in the grace of Christ Jesus.

Paul is writing this letter to his mentee, Timothy. Paul has been through so much: beatings, imprisonment, and eventual execution. But if you look at Paul, he just keeps on keeping on. He does not waiver, he does not run away in fear or rage–he just keeps going.

Paul’s physical nature isn’t described and in ancient times I’m sure he was fit as normal, but his actual body strength is never mentioned (and the Bible does mention physical strength in some men where it is prominent) which leads me to believe Paul’s strength is a different kind than we are used to seeing in today’s world.

Paul’s strength is spiritual. He is strong in his spirit and thus can fight through pain beyond the world and its limitations. He can take a beating and get back up, he can be in jail and be happy the Gospel is being spread.

This is the kind of strength I admire the most: Spiritual strength that has such deep roots it is not shaken when a storm comes.

It’s beautiful to see in believers. Perhaps you can’t think of a moment where you’ve experienced this. I challenge you five minutes of quiet time with the Holy Spirit in prayer where you ask Him help you grow stronger, where you thank Him for His goodness and grace, and where you just sit in a moment of praise, awe, and wonder.


I Can Only Imagine


Ephesians 1:3

The first verse alone in this passage is pretty straightforward…and AMAZING!! Isn’t it? God blesses us with every spiritual blessing in heaven? As in, since we walk with Christ, God isn’t going to hold anything back from us. We can sit and try to imagine what “every spiritual blessing” might be, but that would be impossible since the human mind’s ability to ponder is limited to our own experiences. I think back to when I was in confirmation class many years ago, and one of our assignments was to draw a picture of what we thought heaven looked like. My buddy and I had roller coasters, shopping malls, a golf course, a rec center, and I think we even had a bar (ya, at the age of 15, we made sure to include a bar). Now I don’t know that heaven will actually have any of those things, but my point is that my “blessings” that I looked forward to in heaven in those days included only things that I had seen or experienced in my lifetime up to that point. And, no, I didn’t spend time in bars at such a young age. 

I digress. Today, tomorrow, and always, relish in not what you have or don’t have on this exact day in life, or what you think you have coming tomorrow, or the next day. Instead, relish in knowing what we have to look forward to in the heavenly realm, at the time of the passing of this age. To quote the Mercy Me song, I Can Only Imagine.  

Joint Heirs with Yeshua



1 Corinthians 15. 1-4

Romans 8. 17

Galations 5.19-23


The Christians life is a spiritual existence.  Paul, writing to the Greek believers in Corinth, 1 Cor. 15. 1-4, tells them that what he first taught them was the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus as the ultimate need in life to believe in for a new life.  Jesus came as Messiah for His people, the Jews, and as a result  also became the Savior of the whole world. “For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believed in Him may have everlasting life.”  And this new life is spiritual birth into God’s realm, for,” God wants those who worship Him to worship Him in Spirit and in truth,” John 4.23.      Proof of this new life is the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, guiding your thoughts, revealing the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, to a new level of understanding. Not just “don’t do this, don’t touch that, don’t go there,” Colossians 2.20-21.  For the Christians life in not defined by what we don’t do, but rather what we are doing.   An EMT called to the scene of an accident does not look for signs of death,  is he standing, is he walking, is he listening to the radio, is he talking, if not, he must be dead.  Rather they look for signs of life, is he responsive, reflexive, for renewal.  Is there a pulse, breathing, does he respond to nerve stimulation.  So must the Christian life be examined.

Galations 5.19 says “The deeds of the flesh are evident, immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, jealousy, enmities, strife, outburst of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, carousing, drunkenness, and the like… those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such things there is no law.”  Note especially the phrase, ” they will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”

Romans 8.17  So we understand there is an inheritance available throughout the scriptures and in this passage we understand that if indeed we are children of God, by the wondrous process of rebirth, by faith in Jesus Christ, ” and if children of God, theirs also, Heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, if indeed we suffer with with Him so that we also may be glorified with Him.”  We are not saved for God to make us rich, and spoiled. But rather we are to be servants, obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Showing to the world signs of life, signs of the new life in Jesus Christ.  Where we are no longer slaves to sin, but servants of the Living God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.


The Blessings of Abraham Realized

Galatians 3:6-14

Review & Analysis:  Before the Laws of Moses (Ex. 20) was the faith of Abraham (vv. 6-9).  Faith has always been the singular currency, that of believing in God’s existence, care, and ultimate control, in one’s approach to living … Paul quotes Deuteronomy (Dt. 27:26) stating those who don’t fulfill the Law are cursed (v. 10) … Not wanting to invalidate the OT entirely, Paul recalls Habakkuk’s saying of faith (Hab. 2:4) as Judah faced certain invasion from Babylonia (v. 11) … The view from 30K feet on what our Bible says is faith in God brings life (Gen. 15:1-6, John 3:1-21), no faith in God leads to death (Rom. 1:16-17, Heb. 10:35-39) … Those who believe they are able are must live and fulfill the entirety of the law (v. 12, cp. Lev. 18:5), good luck with that! … Christ liberates all who have faith in Him from the curse of the law (v. 10) by becoming the the curse itself and hanging on a tree (v. 13, cp. Dt. 21:23) … This is another, very neat, view on the crucifixion of Christ and it’s meaning …  The blessings of Abraham come to the Gentiles (v. 14) through Jesus by way of our faith, confirmed by the Holy Spirit.

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