First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @

The Value of Integrity

Proverbs 22

A good name is more desirable than great riches;
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

Proverbs 22:1

A theme I keep seeing in Proverbs is God’s appreciation of good character.

I think in our world there are many times when we may degrade our character for some sort of gain. Some instant gratification with long term pains–isn’t that what most sin is?

This proverb is like so many others. Gains of the world will only take you so far… but your name, character, integrity? That’s the key.

Matthew 16:26 sums it up perfectly.

I have a quick journaling/meditation question for you today: When someone hears your name, what is the first thing they probably think of? Be completely honest. If you like the answer, praise God! If you don’t, what can you do to fix it?


Good Advise

Proverbs 18

Review & Commentary:  Continuing from the previous chapter (vv. 17:21-18:3) are statements related to wise choices vs. those of a fool … “Deep waters” (vv. 4-5) relate to one’s discernment of life (see Jer. 17:5-10) … At some level, this life is a test … Generally speaking, before there is blessing there is testing … Evil words and deeds come from within (vv. 6-9) … A contrast is drawn (vv. 10-11) between one who trusts in the LORD and one who trusts in one’s wealth … The condition of the heart – for good or ill, matters greatly (vv. 12, 14) … Answering before listening leads to bad choices (v. 13) … Once again, the heart (v. 15) is at the middle of everything, it’s desire is likened to fruit that is pleasing to eat (vv. 20-21) … The finding of a wife is a good thing (v. 22) … With wealth comes advantages (v. 23) … Or put another way – “Them that has, gets” (Iron’s Law of Distribution) .. The question, in a free society, is how one positions one’s self in the light of this reality? … Finally, regarding friendships (v. 24).  Emerson states the differently – “To have a friend, one must be a friend,” but to the same effect … In my reading of RW Emerson, I’m quite confident that he was well aware of the sayings of the Book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 19

Here is a chapter of proverbs that contrast the wise and the fool:

Poverty isn’t always someone else’s fault.

God hates a liar.

Laziness reaps it’s own reward.

God rewards those who are generous to His causes.

Forgiveness to the unrepentant only encourages the same bad behavior.

Those who think they know it all are resistant to instruction.

A fool and his money are soon parted.

The knowledge and wisdom of Jehovah leads to satisfaction and peace.

A belligerent and contentious spouse is unbearable.

A government based on honor requires honorable citizens and rulers to survive.

Loyalty is a desirable trait.

It is better to live in poverty than to lie your way into wealth.

What’s in a man’s heart is revealed in his life.

Only God can change a man’s heart and life.


Hoping for the best, knowing the Lord loves always, and working on yourself.

Proverbs 16

The beginning of this proverb led me to believe the whole this was going to be about how we think we’re in control and know what’s up, but the truth is the Lord knows more and sometimes has plans that are far different from our own.

But the proverb has so much more than that!

Let’s break it into three bits of wisdom:
1. It’s all about God’s time, not ours.
2. The Lord’s love is amazing.
3. Character is important.

To humans belong the plans of the heart,
but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.

Proverbs 16:1

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and He will establish your plans.

Proverbs 16:3

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9

I’ve talked time and time again about asking the Lord for things. If you are committing your work to the Lord He is going to establish your plans, but you better be prepared for those plans to be different from what you had had in mind. This little cartoon may help:


Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
through the fear of the Lord evil is avoided.

Proverbs 16: 6

I think we need to all pause for a moment and remember this was written before Jesus came to Earth. We get this idea in our head that the Old Testament God and the New Testament God are two different gods and that just isn’t true. Through love sin is atoned for. Amazing! This isn’t the only place that talks about how God wants love more than the gore and violence we associate with the Old Testament (Hosea 6:6, Psalm 51:16, or just look at this list).

God’s love has been so evident and so clear for so long. He just wants us to be with Him.

Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.

Proverbs 16:18

Better a patient person than a warrior,
one with self-control than one who takes a city.

Proverbs 16:32

There’s a saying I learned a long time ago that for the most part is true: We can’t control what’s done to us, but we can control how we react. I think that phrase is important here. If things are going well for you, remember all good comes from the Lord, and you react by thinking you’re all that while ignoring the Lord in your life–you better watch out for that fall.

Likewise, we can’t control the co-worker who steps on our toes, doesn’t turn forms in on time, refuses to change their work ethic for efficiency, and doesn’t read emails (we all know what “per my last e-mail” really means), but you can choose to take a breath and pray. You can pray for your own heart, you can pray true blessings over them (passive aggressive prayers like “God, please help this person not be a slob” are not what I’m suggesting), and maybe even show the love of Christ to them by offering them a donut, some vitamins during cold season, or a piece of chocolate at the 2pm slump hour. All of that is a quality of a person with patience and self-control vs. the person who either straight up yells at employees in frustration (don’t be that guy, please) or goes to the boss/HR with every complaint.

Grow your character by loving others. Hear their stories. Find out why they are the way they are. They may still annoy you and you may have to keep praying for God to change your heart, but that process of working on you instead of spending so much energy disliking them proves to be fruitful…eventually.

Blessings, brothers and sisters;

Fear of the Lord


Proverbs 14

As is the case with most of the proverbs, each verse here has a “do this, don’t do that” repetition to them. Here is a list of all of the things that lead to death: 

Foolishness, Pride, Lies, Wickedness, Being quick tempered, Worldly things that seem like good things, but really aren’t

Here is a list of traits that lead to righteousness: 

Prudence, Honesty, Fear of the Lord, Patience, Discernment

We should strive to be honest with the people around us. More importantly, we need to be honest with ourselves. Remember that, although on the outside we may have one appearance, God can see what is written on our hearts. Patience isn’t always an easy thing, like when we’ve been cut off on the highway for the tenth time in as many minutes. Giving careful thought to what we say and do (prudence) gives us a better chance at being discerning (showing good judgment). 

Most of all, we should live our lives in fear of the Lord. Why should I be afraid of God? I looked into this to see an interpretation of what this means, which you can read here. According to Martin Luther, there are two types of fear: servile and filial. Servile fear would be the equivalent of a prisoner being afraid of the jailer. It may also be the fear one has of their boss. In each case, you may obey expectations just because you don’t want to get a beating or get fired. 

Filial fear is equivalent to fearing your parents’ disciplinary actions. You tend to have these fears out of respect and love for your parents. You have this fear because you don’t want to disappoint the ones you love and care about the most. Our fear of God is this type of fear. If we love and respect the Creator of All Things, then we should always strive to meet His expectations, and know that there are consequences for falling short. 

On that last note, though we fall short, we know that we are the benefactors of unmatched love, grace, and mercy through the redeeming Blood of Christ. As Paul writes in Ephesians 3:17b-19: And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. So, live your life in fear of the Lord, knowing that God loves you more than you will ever be able to understand. 

Proverbs 13




Proverbs 13

Concentrating only on the sayings pertaining to the upright in this passage of contrast of the wicked verses the upright, we see:

A. Wisdom-Correction  1. A wise son is open to correction, 2. Even the wise accept counsel, 3. One who hears reproof is is honored, 4. He who loves his children give them a disciplined lifestyle.

B. 1. Diligence-Work  1.Diligence in work equals plenty, 2. Some who are wealthy pretend poverty, 3. A man’s worth is what he has earned, 4. Wealth earned is increased, 5.Commandments respected reap reward, 6. A good  man has plenty for his children inheritance, 7.The righteous has enough to satisfy.

C. Purity.  1. The righteous hate lies, 2. The righteous protects the pure, 3. The lamp of the righteous burns brightly, 4. Righteousness is rewarded.

D. Prudence. 1. The fruit of ones mouth leads to enjoyment, 2. Desire fulfilled is a tree of life, 3. Wise teaching is a fountain of life, 4. Good understanding produces favor, 5. prudence walks with knowledge, 6. A faithful envoy brings healing, 7. Desire realized is sweet to the soul, 8. Wise men walk together.

In todays life in America, we hear a constant barrage of, ” getting what you deserve,”  from insurance companies, employers, lawsuits, government subsidies, parents and many other sources.  Everyone wants the newest, latest, most improved, the biggest lottery payout, equal pay for unequal work, high grades for undeserved performance, advancement in the job for substandard performance, and something for nothing.  All in all we want a short cut to success, as defined by todays society.  But there are few who want to put in the time and the hard work to really succeed.  Then there is the problem of what is success.  Is it really more money, a shinier car, a bigger house, more vacations?  Wisdom says a closer walk with God is the best starting point.  Pursuing a relationship of pure and undefiled love with your family, and reaching out to your neighbors in love is a good beginning.  And being content with what you have earned is essential.  By the way discipline is not the same as punishment.  The scripture requires discipline for our children, which is consistency in training, and also consistency in the parents life.





















































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































Living Coincidentally

Proverbs 12

Summary & Analysis:  To begin (vv. 1-7), a “tree of life” for God’s followers home life is defined –  including what “stupid” (v. 1), “wicked” (vv. 2, 3, 5-7), a “good man” (v. 2), and an “excellent wife” (v. 4) look like … Work (vv. 8-14), that is caring for animals and fields, results in keeping one out of trouble and, coincidentally, flourishing … Truth (vv. 15-23) fulfills the will of God and will ultimately win out and rule … Lies are but a vapor trail, they disintegrate with the passage of time … Laziness is condemned (vv. 24b, 27a), ambition applauded (vv. 24a, 27b) … For the righteous (see Rom. 10:4-13), a life well lived is one of beliefs leading to actions due to those beliefs (see James 1:22-25) … This approach to living glorifies God and improves one’s standard of living, coincidentally.

Proverbs 7



Herein lies a chapter on the wisdom of staying at home.  Like a father giving instruction to his son, he says listen to me and put value to my words.  There are many fascinating, exciting, interesting, enticing things out there in the city, the world, but they are not necessarily beneficial to you.  Keep wisdom close to your heart, value understanding as close friend, and treasure my teachings as the apple of your eye, so that they will keep you from adulterous temptations.  Describing the many enticements of an alluring woman, and the folly of following her home the young man has started this venture by putting himself in her path, passing through the street near her corner.  It seems he knew about this location and made provision to position himself in her path, which is a crooked one that will eventually lead to destruction.

She says to him so coyly, ” I was due to offer peace offerings; today I have paid my vows.”  So you can tell she is a good girl, she goes to temple and offers prayers.  What could be wrong with that?  Enticed with her purity the son follows her as an ox goes to slaughter.  He does not know that it will cost him his life. Verse 23.

In todays world sex outside of marriage is so common place, so prevalent, it is expected in a relationship before marriage, yet that does not make it right, or pleasing to God.  In our times these writings should be expanded from fornication and adultery to pornography also.  Jesus taught that the sins of the mind were as valid as the actual deed itself.  Matthew 5. 21-37, “To hate is as bad as murder, to lust is as bad as adultery itself, make no fabulous vow other than your own word, if you have integrity it will be enough.”

What is in your heart cannot be hidden, it will be revealed in your words, your actions, no matter how subtle, and in your overall persona.  If your heart is full of hate it will show up in your words, if your heart is full of pride it will come out in your attitudes to others, if your heart is full of lust it will show up in what you glance at, and everyone will see.  Fill your minds, and your hearts with purity, with love of God, love of your family, and love for your neighbor.   Make no provision for your flesh, follow no wicked paths.


Watch Your Mouth

Proverbs 10

When I was twenty-one a friend told me she heard I’d been gossiping and people didn’t trust me. Truth be told, I probably had been. I hadn’t learned yet that some stories weren’t mine to tell and I hadn’t learned who was a trustworthy friend to be a sounding board. I was a young woman, emotionally wrecked on her way to healing, and word vomit was my forte.

That evening though, learning that people were telling other people they didn’t trust me, I hit a new low. I had been on New Believer Cloud 9 and this slammed me back to reality.

After that, I learned to keep my mouth shut.

The wise in heart accept commands,
but a chattering fool comes to ruin.

Proverbs 10:8

was that chattering fool. I complained about everyone, was annoyed by everything, and let leadership (who happened to be best friend) know about it. I was a tattle tale gossiper. Thank the Lord for friends who step up and say “I love you and you’re messing up” because that is how wisdom began to grow in my heart. I took her command.

I shut up, I showed up, and I listened.

This verse speaks likewise to taking direction from authority:

Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

Proverbs 10:17

Discipline had been a tricky thing in my life until I was in ministry. I was a “good” kid in terms of the world, so I wasn’t grounded or punished or even harshly talked to by my mom. I don’t really remember being reprimanded after second grade. Which, actually proved to be a disadvantage in adulthood.

I straight up thought I was good enough. My sins in the dark were hidden away from everyone and done mostly against myself so it didn’t matter. Then, my friends showed up to love me and helped me so that would I stop leading others astray (we all know what a vent/hate train looks like–once you start going on about the faults of someone it’s easy for everyone else to jump on board).

At the end of the day, our words are important. Are your words life giving or are they hurting someone?

And, one more quick point because this verse is something I think about a lot:

Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
but the prudent hold their tongues.

Proverbs 10:19

I almost did it twice in this blog alone. What’s the “it”? Explain why I sinned. Guess what? The reason I gossiped didn’t matter. The reason I was angry doesn’t give me the right to slander someone.

We are not called to be people who make excuses.

If you were wrong confess it, repent, and move on.

Maybe gossip isn’t your struggle and you’re reading this entire post going “I’m wasting time and this doesn’t even apply to me.” Here’s the deal, I can’t speak for you–I can only speak from my own experience. What I can tell you is that all of this applies to a multitude of sin: substance abuse, sexual sins, lying, coveting, gluttony, pride, and the list goes on and on.

If you’re trying to explain it away… It might be time to confess it and live out James 5:16.


PS: All of this does not apply if you have been a victim of abuse(s) or are currently being victimized. If you are being hurt tell someone, and as a dear friend of mine told me, keep telling people until someone helps you. This devotional is for sin, and my sweet brothers and sisters, being abused is not a sin and you do not deserve it. Seek help.

Guardian Angel Domestic Violence Hotline: (815)729-1228
Guardian Angel Sexual Assault Hotline: (815) 730-8984
Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN): 1-800-656-4673
(If you Google RAINN they even have an online chat!)
Adult Abuse Hotline (for Elder Abuse): (800) 222-8000

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