First Pres Joliet

A Daily Devotional from our faith community @

Jesus, Messiah


Judges 4-6

Ecclesiastes 7

John 17

In the discourse that runs from John 14-17 Jesus reveals His final destiny and what is in store for His followers.  While He is on earth He can only be with a few men at any given time, but when He has accomplished what the Father has set for Him to do the Holy Spirit will come and fill the believers and direct their lives.  He will be everywhere the believers are, not limited to a few at a time.  John 16.8-13 tells us when the Holy Spirit comes He will convict the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgement.  Sin is then defined as not believing in the Lordship of Jesus.  Righteousness is defined as the finished work of Jesus the Messiah, including His ascension to Heaven, thus revealing and confirming the full acceptance of His perfect sacrifice. Judgement is defined as Satan has been found guilty and sentenced to eternal punishment. When the Spirit comes into our lives He will lead us into all the truth, revealing things beyond the obvious, insights into the mind of God. Troubles will come because you are still in the world but if you ask anything in my name the Father will give it to you.

John 17 continues with the same vein of thought in Jesus prayer, that the Father will glorify the Son because of His accomplished work, bringing salvation to men.  The believers are not of this world just as Jesus is not of this world, for we have been transformed, changed from dead to living. The world hates them just as they hated Jesus, because of the conviction of the Holy Spirit as stated earlier. But the Spirit brings Unity and Joy and Peace and Love into the hearts of the believers.

God is still in the life saving business. Though the world is in opposition to Him He still calls men, He still changes hearts, He still reveals and shines light into the darkest recesses of mens lives and saves them. God glorifies Himself daily in our lives when we yield ourselves to Him.  God has big plans for you as you bow to Him daily, and there is nothing so satisfying as seeing the Holy Spirit step into someones life bringing eternal change to them.  Pray today for Jesus to glorify Himself in you.



The Book of Judges

Judges  1-3     Psalm 44     John 16

Review:  The events of Judges occurred from about 1400 BC to 1100 BC.  It records the leadership activities of 1 woman and 12 men during the time of declension and disunion after Joshua’s death…The state of Judah after Joshua’s passing (1:1-3)…Judah’s military wins (1:4-20)…The tribes of Benjamin & Manasseh achieve incomplete wins (1:21-36)…An “Angel of the Lord” calls Israel out for it’s disobedience (2:1-9)… 20 years worth of Israelites births are unaware of God (2:10-15)…Because of this “lost generation” God raises deliverers (2:16-19) on one hand and employs Canaanites (2:20-23) to test Israel on the other…Israel falls for idolatry (3:1-4) and intermarriage (3:5-7)…Othniel, the first judge, leads Israel to defeat Mesopotamia (3:8-11)…Ehud, the next judge, eventually leads Israel to victory over Moab (3:12-30)…Shamgar, judge #3, subdues the Philistines with an oxgoad (3:31).

Analysis:  In Joshua 10:29-11:23 it is reported that Israel completely annihilated the Canaanites; this account is contradicted (1:1-36)…This “Angel of the Lord” recurs in the OT (cp. Gen. 16:9, 48:16, Ex. 3:2, Num. 22:22, Jud. 2:4, 6:11, 2 Kings 19:35, Isa. 63:9, Zech. 1:12, 12:8) as often as It is ignored.  Whatever It is, its not in the NT…The “lost generation” (2:10-15) begs the question, “How did that happen?”  That’s a good query at any point in any history…Essentially, God uses the Canaanites as “guinea pigs” (2:10-3:4) to teach Israel through their experiences with them.  Begging the obvious question – Are such practices employed by the LORD at the present hour?…Asherah (3:7) and their poles have been associated with idol worship since time immemorial…God allowed Israel to fall (3:8), Israel cries out (3:9), that led to victory (3:10-11)…Again, God allows Israel to fall (3:12-14), Israel cries out (3:15), and left-handed (3:21) Ehud leads Israel to victory in the most interesting manner imaginable (3:16-30), if one’s imagination is unimaginable…An oxgoad (3:31)?!…Actually, this is what Paul must have had in mind (1 Cor. 1:26-31).

Remain In Relationship…

Joshua 23-24, Ecclesiastes 6:7-12, John 15 (NIV)

Joshua 23-24 and John 15 speak to us about holding on to God, never letting go of our relationship with the Lord, that is, remaining in Christ Jesus.

“But you are to hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have until now.” Joshua 23:8

“So be very careful to love the Lord your God.” Joshua 23:11

“But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Ecclesiastes 6:7-12 shows us what happens when one lets go of God.  There is meaninglessness, “a chasing after the wind.”

However, life is meaningful and good when we are in a consistent relationship with God in and through the Lord Jesus.  Life is best, most complete,  when we never let go of Jesus.

Never, ever, give up on Jesus.  Jesus speaks to us today, right now, as clear as he spoke to those first disciples, “Remain in me and I will remain in you.”   [Never let go of me.]  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”   In effect Jesus says to us that we won’t accomplish anything that is worth accomplishing unless we remain in him.

Max Lucado puts it well in his book Anxious For Nothing, “Our assignment is not fruitfulness but faithfulness. The secret to fruit bearing and anxiety-free living is less about doing and more about abiding, remaining in Jesus.”

Live in the love and presence of Jesus this day and allow him to live in and through you.  You will bear fruit and his love will flow through you to others.

Do not let your heart be troubled…

Today’s Passages (all 1 link):  Joshua 21-22; Psalm 43; John 14

In the 2 chapters of Joshua today, as we near the completion of this book, we find how care of those who were responsible for teaching Israel the Law of the Lord.  This distribution of land, these Levite towns, were believed to be located such that no one in Israel lived more than 10 miles from one of the 48 towns.  Sort of reminds me of locating churches in various towns…allowing access to those who seek the care of the church and the God we worship.

As you transition to Psalm 43,  I hope you find, like me, the confidence in God that he is your safety. I find the words of this Psalm comforting…the writer asking God to sen his light and truth to guide him to a place where he can meet God.  We need not go far to find such direction.  During your journey in reading the entire Bible, have you found yourself in times of darkness or uncertainty…have you felt a confidence in the caring God that comes to you by his Holy Spirit through God’s Word to you?

The last passage today is from John 14…those first words, “Do not let your heart be troubled.”  Great words for all of us.  Just a little over a week from Easter now, do you still feel the joy of remembering resurrection?  Or, was it just another Hallmark holiday?  Today’s passage is the bookend to Easter Sunday – a promise of eternal life that has one clear path.  Jesus…the way, the truth and the life who promised to send his Holy Spirit.  And yet, how often are we like Philip in our doubts that the God of creation is real?

These words are Jesus’ last words to the community of disciples that would become the church. They are Jesus’ words to you and I today by his Holy Spirit because of the promise that God’s Holy Spirit will be with the community of faith as we make our journey in this life.  So, we can look back and remember and we can know the promise of eternal life for those who believe in Jesus.  What then, does this mean for the in-between time?  How are we to live now?

“Do not let your hearts be troubled.” In this in-between time we can be assured of problems, difficulties, tough times in all kinds of shapes and forms – we can also be assured of the One who cares for us in all those tough times…we know it in the peace that comes from God in our hearts and lived out so that others know it as well.  Peace be with you…





Sunday Reflection: God as Friend

The first thing that popped into my head today was a song that so many of us are familiar with…”What A Friend We Have in Jesus”.  What makes Jesus a friend?  Have you ever thought about this?  How many really close friends do you have?  In John 17:6-19, Jesus prays for his friends…whom Jesus “defined” in John 15:1-7.  How many friends do you have like this?  Friends that would pray for you.  More importantly, of all the verses in the song, “What A Friend We Have in Jesus”, the following just stands out so boldly to me…O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!  

The world got you down?  Struggling with a burden you think is so big you’ll never get out from under it’s weight?  Just need someone to talk to?  Go to the One who calls you friend…Jesus.

This Week’s Readings…

4/9/18 Joshua 21-22 Psalm 43 John 14 Dale
4/10/18 Joshua 23-24 Ecclesiastes 6:7-12 John 15 Craig H.
4/11/18 Judges 1-3 Psalm 44 John 16 Craig R.
4/12/18 Judges 4-6 Ecclesiastes 7:1-13 John 17 Karl
4/13/18 Judges 7-9 Psalm 45 John 18 Matt
4/14/18 Judges 10-12 Ecclesiastes 7:14-29 John 19 Bo

Our Servant Leader

Joshua 19-20
Ecclesiastes 6:1-6
John 13

Have you ever thought about how dirty the feet were that Jesus was washing in John 13? Even in today’s world we are often grossed out by feet–and they are comparatively much cleaner than in Jesus’s time! Let’s be blunt. They were filthy worn down feet covered in dust, mud, callouses, and I bet their toe nails were gnarly. And what did Jesus do? He washed them in an act of gentle love and care.

When was the last time you served someone in such a caring and selfless manner? When was the last time you bowed down to someone who is “below” you (whether in ranking, corporate latter, or even in the family) and said “I’m going to do something for you because I love you.”  My challenge to you, this bright and chilly Saturday morning, is to find one way to serve someone that no one expects to you to serve.

Servant leadership is a difficult concept in our culture. My prayer is that we love one another and serve one another the way that Christ has commanded us.

Many Blessings,

For the Love of…Money?


Joshua 15-16; Ecclesiastes 5:10-20; John 11

The dishwasher quit working. The grass needs to be mowed…AGAIN. The car is stuck in the driveway and won’t start. A storm has hit and knocked out the electricity, which has been out for a few hours now.

My co-worker has a beautiful 3,000 sq. ft. house with an in-ground swimming pool. My house is half that size with no pool. A friend just got back from his third family vacation this year. I haven’t been on vacation in 10 years. Ahhh, how I would love to be able to purchase that Shelby Mustang that I’ve always dreamed about owning. IF ONLY I HAD MORE MONEY!

What does all of this have to do with the passages today? Ecclesiastes 5 is all about the love of money. This world is full of people who are in LOVE with their money. And that love of money blinds so many people from what is really important. We have people in this world…in our own country even…who don’t know when their next meal will be. Who don’t have a permanent place to live. Who only have the clothes on their back. All the while, we also have people trying to figure out which house they are going to stay in this weekend, or where they would like their private pilot to fly them in their private jet this week.

Now, I’m not saying that there aren’t people who have a lot of money who also do amazing philanthropic work, because I know there are plenty. I also know that there are plenty of people who don’t have as much money as they would like everyone to think they have. So the total sum of your financial worth is somewhat irrelevant in this conversation.

What is relevant is what you do with your money and where it ranks in your priorities in life. Of course you need to pay the bills and all of that. But does your drive for money consume so much of your life that you are missing the ultimate prize at the end of the day, or end of life? That prize being Jesus. That prize being eternal life.

This passage in Ecclesiastes is all about not losing track of what is really important. It is about not placing so much importance on money and possessions that you forget where all of those things actually come from. All of what we have comes from God. Be thankful for what you DO have, and not so much on what you WISH you could have. Because God has and always will provide you with exactly what you NEED as long as you believe and are faithful to Him.



John 10

Ezekiel 34

So John 10 can’t be separated from John 9.  A blind beggar is given his sight by Jesus so that the works of God might be put on display.  Verse 5 ” While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”   The pharisees who cannot see the Spirit of God working, are angry with both the blind man and Jesus.  Jesus has violated the Sabbath by working and by putting saliva on a mans eyes, a secondary violation of a pharisaical law,  which is in their minds equal to the Torah.  An argument ensues about sight and blindness, referencing spiritual blindness.

Now Jesus in chapter 10 starts talking about shepherding, “there are those who will climb over the wall to get to the sheep, these men are thieves and robbers, he who enters by the door is a shepherd.”   Jesus tells of the beautiful symbol taken from scriptures like Psalms 23, of a true shepherd who actually loves and cares for his sheep.  The way sheep are cared for in this Hebrew culture is by day the shepherd takes his sheep from the community fold who follow because of voice recognition, he watches all day long, calling, leading to greener areas, watering in still water, protecting and at days end takes them back to the pen, or fold where a porter watches for them at night.  As the sheep go into the fold the shepherd looks over each sheep to see if any injury has occurred and tends to their needs.  It’s at night when thieves come to steal, under the nose of the sleepy porter.  The thieves can’t lead them out for the sheep won’t follow a stranger.  Jesus compares himself with these robbers who have an identity with the pharisees.

Ezekiel 34 gives a prophecy of how things will be, and are at the time of Christ, vs. 2  “Woe shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves!  Should not the shepherds have been feeding the sheep?” Vs. 4 “Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them.” Vs. 12 “I will care for my sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered, …I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries and bring them to their own land.”  This is surely the picture in Jesus mind as He is warning the religious leaders, who are consumed with their own well being and prosperity at any cost.

Jesus describes Himself as both the Good Shepherd and The Door in this chapter.  All who believe in Him come through Him, and go in and out through this door with liberty.  2 Corinthians 3.17 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is there is liberty.”  Not bound by ceremony and religious duty we are led by the Good shepherd who alone directs our paths, we have freedom to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit.

The Pharisees had Israel bound up in activity and ceremony,  when Jesus came He set them free from dead works to serve the living God, Hebrews 9.13.  He sets us free to serve in the same way.  I wish I was a better writer to be able to convey to you the same message.  Life in Christ is to be freedom, not oppression, we are to be able to live life abundantly, happily serving our Lord and Savior excited to see what he is doing and going to do next.  The whole purpose of salvation and the study of the scriptures is to change lives.  Being led by the Spirit is exhilarating and freeing.


P.S. I was out of town and could not get the lap top to function properly, sorry I am late with this post.

Land Acquisition

Joshua 11-12     Ecclesiastes 5:1-9     John 9

Review:  A listing of the enemies of Israel is enumerated (11:1-5)…The commands are issued and obediently followed (11:6-9)…Israel’s enemies are destroyed (11:10-15)…These verses (11:16-23) deal with the conquest of the Promised Land…Moses’ victories listed (12:1-6)…Joshua’s victories listed (12:7-24).

Analysis:  Joshua and Israel are fighting against the overwhelming military might of established, imperial, city-states of Palestine…Little, ill-equipped, Israel conquers them all with the LORD’s guidance and intervention (11:6-9)…Anakim (11:21-22) and Rephaim (12:4) are possibly giant peoples…Much of this harmonizes nicely with the exploits of David with Goliath (1 Samuel 17:17-58) only on a far larger scale…Leadership is the main point (11:15), without which any substantial adversary can’t be defeated…The spoils of this war (11:14) and the land acquired (11:16-17) are viewed as an inheritance (11:23)…The reason for the listings (12:1-24) seems to be that both Moses and Joshua followed the LORD’s instructions.  They led Israel to military victories against peoples who the LORD had judged.

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