First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @



I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, I hope to live a life that emits the light of Jesus, and I am the Youth Director at First Presbyterian Joliet!


Psalm 119:105-112
Exodus 3:1-6
Romans 2:12-16

Today’s great because there are verses in each reading that really resonate with me and I want to share with you why they resonate with me and how they are still applicable today.

Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.

Though I constantly take my life in my hands,
I will not forgot your law.

Psalm 119:105 & 109

Light and dark are common themes in the Bible. To simplify it: The World (and all the sin that it has) is dark and the Lord (with all His Truth, Grace, and Mercy) is light.

The author here knows that the World is filled with darkness. Imagine walking down a dark hallway–you can’t see in front of you, behind you, or either side of you. Now imagine there was a suddenly light just enough for you to see the next step forward. So you step. Then another light shows you where to step next. On and on and on.

That’s what it’s like to have the Word as a lamp that guides you.

A little further down I love it because the author admits that he tries to take his life into his hands (and if you tell me you’ve never tried to control you’re life I am not afraid to call you a liar) and he knows taking his life into his own hands because he uses the the word “though.” So, despite the author trying to control his life, he cannot forget the laws of God and the Word of the Lord keeps guiding him–even when he wants to take a side step.

I know I’ve side-stepped; but because the Word of the Lord is tattooed on my heart and I belong to the Lord through Christ His bright light will always guide my path back to Him.

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground”

Exodus 3:5

There are a lot of ideas about bare feet when it comes to the Lord: we were created naked and so our feet were in constant contact with the earth, to go on holy ground the Old Testament men were to take off their sandals, and Jesus’s gift of washing feet requires the removal of sandals.

In my narrative English based brain what I see is a connection to God when we take off our shoes–a chance to experience what God wanted for us before sin entered.

It also reminds me of this spoken word, which you should listen to because it’s awesome.

The Romans verse needs to be read in full Romans 2 context to really understand what Paul is saying.

The main point of Romans 2 is declaring God’s grace, His lack of favoritism, and that because of Christ the Jew and the Gentile are equal. The beginning of Romans 2 reminds us not to judge others.

Many Blessings,

Fighting with Family

Psalm 47
1 Kings 18:36-39
1 John 4:1-6

I had not known much about Elijah until I worked at First Pres and was asking a co-worker what her favorite story in the Bible was. She told me Elijah. I am embarrassed to say I had to look it up (despite reading both Kings during another church’s read the Bible in three months marathon!). However, rather than look it up in the Bible I went to handy dandy Youtube. The video I watched is below. After watching the video I totally understood why; it’s such a powerful story of God’s majesty! PS: The narrator’s accent is just a great bonus.


Now, onto the meatier part of our devotional.

How often have you been told you’re following a false prophet? Or, how many times have you told someone they were following a false prophet? Recently, a man I knew that had grown up in faith told me an author I was reading was a false prophet–and no, it wasn’t Beth Moore who came under attack after posting A Letter to My Brothers. The book I was reading wasn’t written by a woman at all. He is a praised Baptist Preacher and author.

The content of this book didn’t align with the person’s personal feelings and he was very quick to call the author a false prophet and continued to tear down my belief system and even gender.

Yes, it sucked. Yes, I struggled big time on what to do.

I kept thinking about how the Bible says to “test spirits because there are false prophets” but that’s where my memory verse stopped. Luckily, as we have it, my devotional content includes this verse!

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

1 John 4:1-3

Last Sunday, Pastor Craig mentioned Christians are so quick to cut each other up–as this man was so quick to cut up my faith and reading materials. However, the man I was reading, this Baptist Preacher, does acknowledge that Jesus Christ came in the flesh and is from God.

That’s the key.

We throw out the words “false prophet,” and “antichrist” so painfully quick and don’t actually look to see how John the Evangelist told us to do to test spirits to see how we can find a true false prophet and a spirit of the antichrist (see that? Spirit of the antichrist… Not even the antichrist himself).

I want all of us to remember this when we don’t like the teachings of a man or woman: if the man or woman says Jesus is God in the flesh then they are not a false prophet and they are not the antichrist.

I called this fighting in the family because we are so much more inclined to fight about this with people in the faith. We’re probably still going to fight because our flesh will fight ideologies and translations and historical context that makes us uncomfortable.

My challenge to you: if someone wants to share a fellow Christians teaching I beg you to be open minded about it. Test the teachings in this way: do they say Christ is Lord? Christ is God in the Flesh? Do they claim to know Jesus as their own Lord? If the answer is “yes” to all of those and you still don’t like what they’re saying there are two more things to consider:

  1. Do you dislike it because it makes you uncomfortable in a convicted kind of way. For example: you think people need to wear their Sunday’s best, but the preacher talks about how Jesus sat with the lowliest of lows and took them as they were and now you’re convicted by how judgmental you were about the new family who had their teen dressed in denim shorts and a tank top. That kind of conviction hurts and opens the door to really mold your heart to be more like Jesus.
  2. Maybe there are human errors. For example: Taking Scripture out of context. Let’s say we are listening to a sermon (from a preacher who has met our criteria about knowing Jesus and professing with their mouth Jesus is God in the Flesh) and his whole sermon is based on Leviticus. He’s saying God doesn’t like women. He’s going through all the laws that showcase that men have it easier when faced with adultery and only women are tested. He’s missing the context of Leviticus. First, those rules were written for a community that had been enslaved by pagan people for hundreds of years. Second, if you look at those laws carefully, they are in place to protect women in a time and society when women were mistreated so frequently and were more like property than people. Third, God says over and over again He wants to give mercy to the people–not punishment. This sermon is filled with historical misunderstanding and thus void.
    1. Major point though: This is not the teaching of a false prophet! This is the teaching of a misinformed man.

I give you these examples because telling your family that they are following false prophets out of anger hurts. It hurts us so much to the point that we can’t help but react with our flesh that we may offer forgiveness and never reconciliation…

And maybe you’ve been where I am. If you have, that pit in your stomach has been so heavy and you wanted to know how to test the spirit–here it is! Here is how you can find comfort in that you are listening to God.

And at the very end of the day: Are you seeking the approval of God? Or man?



Psalm 86:1-10;
Genesis 35:1-4;
Acts 5:17-26

First; I am so sorry this is being posted later in the day instead of right in the AM.

When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.

Psalm 86:7

So I’ve been in distress lately (haven’t we all?). This week in particular has been an entire mood in its own right for various reasons that concern family, school, and work. Just like everyone else, I am struggling. However, since we are collectively struggling it is really hard to help lift someone up. Am I right?

We can try to overcome evil with good by writing letters to friends of love when we’re sad, or making a gratitude list when we are feeling helpless, or clean a messy room when our brains feel messy–but that doesn’t always lift the heaviness in our hearts.

Why? Because all those acts are just acts and we need God.

David is confident that God will answer him when he calls on Him.

So last night I tried it. It was a bit of calling out in distress and a bit of Jacob style wrestling. A lot of heartbreak confession. A lot of anger and fear. Some repentance (Here’s a James 5:16 style confession for you: shame is a big stopper for me when it comes to repentance) and very little gratitude (which I confessed to God in that moment).

But in that moment, so wrapped up in my emotions with a deep pain in my chest that felt like it was caving in and would suck me up from the inside out, I felt like David. I realized his poetry and dramatic language weren’t so over the top–they were honest, real, and raw.

Brothers and sisters, we all have stuff. Today I encourage you to go to the Lord with it. There is no formula for prayer, there is no right way or wrong way. Because we are covered in the blood of the Lamb, we don’t even have to worry about some discipline like boils for speaking irreverently to the Lord. Instead, He just takes whatever we have to say and only sees wrapped in robes of righteousness.

I”m going to end with a song (because I love songs, Psalms are songs, and they help me pray when I don’t know what to say).

I hope you love this song as much as I do.



Psalm 29
Job 39:26-40:5
John 14:25-26 *

Psalm 29

I have noticed that in the Midwest we (usually) love thunderstorms. My sister told me when she moved to the East Coast, thunderstorms were something she missed.

They boom of the thunder is best when it’s so loud you can feel it in your heart. The flash of lightening is most beautiful when everything goes white for a moment. The pouring rain that hits the windows is both nice to look at and calming to hear. Finally the howl of the wind, the miracle that an invisible force can bend trees.

Sometimes storms aren’t a source of comfort, I understand that. After the Plainfield tornado it’s understandable there would be trauma and fear. Not long ago we experienced a storm in Joliet that flooded the streets, basements, and uprooted trees.

All in all, whether through delight or fear, a thunderstorm brings a sense of awe to us.

In that same manner, if you read Psalm 29, you’ll see the Lord does the same. His voice brings beauty and trembling. His might is breath taking and can be destructive.

Yet, because He is the Lord, it is all good.

So whatever thunderstorm you’re  going through (and I know we’re all going through at least two storms together), I pray we take comfort knowing that God’s power in this is meant to comfort just as much as it’s meant to strike fear.



Today’s Hopeful verses.

 Psalm 104:24-34, 35b;
Joel 2:18-29;
Romans 8:18-24

What is there to write today?

Pain that goes beyond anguish is filling the hearts of every human (not just Americans) and cities are burning. Friends are fighting with friends. Families are being torn apart. Emotions are so high that articulation is out the window for so so many.

Everything hurts today.

As Christians there are a few things we need to remember: Christ is who we follow first and foremost. What is Jesus calling you to do in this moment? Our calls aren’t going to be the same so today is a day to really meditate and listen to what He’s saying. Also remember, we can’t expect Godly behavior from nonbelievers. They don’t know Jesus. They don’t get it. Did that stop Jesus from being with them? Absolutely not. He continued to live my examples and bring people up.

Here are a few verses from today’s reading that I pray strengthen you:

“How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” Psalm 104:24

“All creatures look to you to give them their food and the proper time.” Psalm 104:27

“I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praises to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord.” Psalm 104:34

“Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things!” Joel 2:21

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten” Joel 2:25

“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people…Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” Joel 2:28-29 (Fun fact: These are the days we’re living in!)

“I consider our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

May you all seek Hope through the Lord our God and pray some of the most dangerous prayers: Your Will be done, Send me, Break my heart for what breaks Yours.

Oh my sweet friends,
God Bless,

A Story

Psalm 102:1-17
Proverbs 3:5-12
Acts 7

When I was 22 Proverbs 3:5-6 was the wallpaper on my cellphone. I became a reborn Christian at 21 and drank in every word of the Bible that I could. Memory verse sticky notes littered my nightstand and a memory verse was always my background (it still is).

In December of 2014 I got a phone call from my half sister, Storm. She was upset because our paternal grandma was dying. She wanted to say goodbye to her, but our brother wouldn’t go and she was afraid to see our dad alone (he’s a sick man that’s scary at times).

I told my sister I would meet her at the hospital. Here’s the catch, I was 22 and hadn’t seen my dad since 8.

Anxiety wanted to set in, but I’m pretty good and compartmentalizing and pushed it way down. I went through my work day as a hostess for a pizza place with a fake smile and that anxiety bubbling in the pit of my stomach.

Fast forward to me in the parking lot, hands shaking. My sister wasn’t here yet. I felt that tug, you know that Holy Spirit “go and do what I’m telling you to do” tug? That’s what I felt.

So I got out of my car and made my way into the hospital. My sister had told me which room the family was in.

And here’s where memory verses become so important.

I couldn’t make it to the elevator. I could barely get pass the welcome desk. I was just frozen in fear.

Finally I asked a nurse if there was a chapel–most hospitals have one. The woman pointed me in that direction and I made my way there.

I fell on my knees instantly, ugly crying, hyperventilating, and begging God to help me. And then my phone lit up and I saw Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways seek Him
and he will make your paths straight.

I began to say that out loud–without ceasing–for at least ten minutes. By then my breathing was under control and it was just silent tears. I knew this was the most peace I was going to get, so I left the chapel and headed to the elevator.

I repeated this verse under my breath the entire elevator ride, the entire walk to the hospital room, and even that moment where I just stood in the doorway staring at mourning strangers I didn’t know, but who were supposedly my family.

Memory verses are important because if it wasn’t for that verse, I never would have been able to go up to the hospital room and be with my sister when our grandma died. If it hadn’t been for that verse, I honestly don’t know what I would have done–either left or stayed crippled with fear in the chapel.

There is power in our testimony. The Bible even says it in Revelation 12:11: They have overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.

Our stories are important because it shows others how alive the Word is. I have kids who don’t understand how a book 2,000+ years old is relevant. Our stories make it relevant. The ways that Christ has changed us, comforted us, encouraged us, moved us to be braver than we used to be.

What’s your story?

Many Blessings,

The Belly of the Fish

Psalm 114
Jonah 2:1-10
Matthew 12:38-42

It feels like we’re in the belly, doesn’t it?

There has been so much fear, waiting, praying, and unknown happening during these past 4 weeks. It’s not easy and I’m not going to pretend it is.

At the end of the story, though, Jonah is delivered. God’s people are always delivered. Best yet? As followers of Jesus we are living in a time and in a way that God’s Hebrew people didn’t get to experience. We have the Holy Spirit with us always. We have a Savior who took on God’s wrath so we don’t.

It feels like we’re in the belly of the big fish, but we’re in a much better place. We’re in peace with God. We’re in hope. We are alive with Him who lives forever.

The Psalm gives breath to poetry in a way that most people think of poetry as: full of symbolism and lyrical and just beautiful. Then verse 7 says “Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord” and that is a truth that is not hidden in poetic beauty.

God is in control.

I am not telling you to ignore social distancing. I am not telling you to protest. I am not telling you to do anything that defies what the CDC is recommending in this long season. I am reminding you that God is still in control. Even in this chaos.

He was in control when he split the Red Sea. He was in control when the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. He was in control when Jonah was in the belly. He was in control when Nineveh repented.

He was in control when He sent His Son to the Cross.

He’s in control now.

We don’t have to understand it, brothers and sisters. We don’t have to “like” it (I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a house where hate wasn’t allowed and my biggest insult to my sister was “I love you AND I don’t like your right now”). God’s big enough to handle it if you don’t like Him. If you don’t like this pandemic. If you don’t like the separation from your family and loved ones.

He’s not afraid of it.

And at the end of the day; after we’ve bemoaned the situation, after we’ve cried and screamed, and expressed ourselves, we’ll be delivered. Why? Because God is faithful and always delivers his people.

It feels like the belly of the fish, but we are in a much better place than that my friend.

Express yourself truly. Know God is good through it all.

And remember we’re in this together.

With all my love, dear FPJ family;

PS: I know the Bible says “Big Fish” and everyone has a misconception it’s a whale… but try finding a picture of a “big fish” vs. a whale for the Featured Image. Also, this PS is supposed to make you smile a little. So, I hope that worked.

Sometimes, it’s not warm and fuzzy.

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
Exodus 14:10-31
Exodus 15: 20-21
Colossians 3:5-11

So, real talk: I normally write all my blogs in one day and time them so they go out at the perfect time of 6:00am on my scheduled blog day. Luckily, it’s Sunday and I remembered my day was tomorrow–so it’ll still come out bright and shiny at 6:00am.

But with everything going on, I can’t write a blog or a devotional for you 3 weeks ahead. It doesn’t feel right. COVID19 moves too fast, time is too slow, and I want you all to know that we really are in this together.

PSA: This might be a little long, but it’s going to be so worth it. Pinky promise.

Let’s start with the beginning:

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
his love endures forever.
Let Israel say:
“His love endures forever.”

Psalm 118:1-2

In times like this, when the entire world is facing pandemics, economic crises, and so much more it’s hard to proclaim “The Lord is good! His love endures forever!” It’s harder when the world’s crises begin to hit home. I almost listed the ways this is impacting those I love, but stopped.

Because this isn’t about me.

This is about you. This about God.

However this pandemic is hurting your family, I challenge you to follow Psalm 118:14 and declare: “The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” Say it. Out loud. Say it over and over again. Your words are powerful and the more you say it, the more you’ll begin to feel your heart lighten from its heavy burdens.

Versus 22-24 are clearly talking about Jesus: “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.”

While the Psalm is talking about Jesus, I can clearly see it applying to right now. The pandemic is totally rejected–no one is happy. However, it is becoming a major part of our lives (I won’t say cornerstone because that is reserved for Jesus). So I want you to examine what is happening in the world and I want you to find the good–find the gifts God has given you in this moment of Shelter in Place.

Here are things am I rejoicing in during this time: phone calls from friends, my sister came home from Boston before everything shut down, my teenagers are still joining my Zoom meetings (sometimes twice a week!), I am enjoying being a homebody, working from home has caused long hours–but they are long hours with my cat and in the comfort of home, I am lucky enough to enjoy great meals, and I can sleep i a little.

What has happened that you can rejoice in?

The Exodus passage is a great story: it’s where Moses splits the sea. My favorite passage?

The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.

Exodus 14:14

I have held onto that verse for many years on many occasions. And now? In this time of so much unknown, loneliness, and I’ll even say fear, we have this verse to hold to.

Hear me, this is not a band aid of a verse. Your feelings are valid. I am validating you and telling you it is okay to no be okay.

And I am giving you this verse to hold close to your heart so when I’m not with you, you can have something strong to hold onto. Because what is stronger than the Lord?

NOTHING. Nothing is stronger than our God.

The Colossians passage is a good reminder for life. Here’s the verse I want to focus on though:

But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Colossians 3:8

It is so easy to be negative right now. It is so easy to curse the government, hate on the CDC, and even just yell at your family. It is stressful.

During this time I challenge you to breathe before you speak. Take a moment to think if what you’re about to say (whether to family, about government, about hospitals, about other neighbors) is going to show the love of Christ or if it will harden your heart. If it hardens your heart, pray for a softer one.

We really are in this together and I am so happy that we are of one body spiritually.

Many blessings, my sweet friends

The Next Right Thing

Psalm 31:9-16
1 Samuel 16:11-13
Philippians 1:1-11

Sorry for the delay in this! I’m sure we can all agree that life has made us a little scattered brain. This overwhelming sense of doom, but so much of life looks the same–kids still laugh when they play, we go for walks, birds chirp, and the sun comes out. Yet, we hear the news, we see the CDC stats and then it gets personal because we see our loved ones working in the hospitals–right in the hot zone.

So, this morning I am writing to you from the comfort of my bed, while my mother is enjoying a day of rest after picking up overtime at the hospital as a Respiratory Therapist.

All this to say one thing: The world changes, but God doesn’t.

Today’s Psalm may ring true for you today. It is about sorrow and agony. These emotions are okay to have! It is okay to tell the Lord how heartbroken and sick and powerless you feel right now. David does, over and over and over again the Psalms.

Which speaking of David… He’s a real Cinderella story. In the 1 Samuel reading we Samuel looking for the next great man that God had promised and he went to Jesse. Jesse had these older sons and was proud of them, but he ignored Jesse. The Lord had to prompt Samuel to ask for another and still Jesse was like “well, I got a youngest. But he’s tending the sheep.” Even after a prophet of the Lord asked to see David, Jesse was in denial. But eventually David came and the rest is a messy but beautiful history.

Which finally brings me to Paul’s words. He is grateful for the Philippians. Do you know what he prays for them, though? Health, Wealth, and Happiness?


He prays that they abound in knowledge and depth of insight so that they can discern what is best so they may be pure and blameless.

In troubling times like this, it is important to know that you’re allowed to feel those scary emotions. Then based on the other readings, it’s important to know (in the words of Anna from Frozen 2) all we can do is the next right thing: listen to the prophet calling for the lowest son, pray for discernment of God’s will, trust that asking for that will give you a peace you don’t understand.

Blessings & Stay Connected,

Okay… Here’s the music just so you have too. I know it’s secular, but the message… Guys. It’s too perfect for today’s time to NOT listen. **This is a SPOILER.**

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