By Bread Alone

 

February 28, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” – Matthew 4:1-4

Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, my grandmother still had a wood burning stove. I can remember splitting wood for the firebox and well remember my grandmother baking bread in the oven, something she did nearly every day. She would take the bread from the oven once it was baked and then slather the top crust with butter. Then, she would cut a big slice for me and I’d put more butter on the hot bread. Even now, sitting here, I can smell her bread baking and taste it hot from the oven. I’m sure that’s when I fell in love with bread. I watched my grandmother bake bread many many times but I can’t remember that she ever measured anything. She knew all of the recipes by heart and would bake them with an extra measure of love. You could taste it!

Since then, I’ve had a passion for bread and have tried many times to bake it myself; but I do not have the bread baking gene. My biggest problem seems to be getting the dough to rise properly. And, even when it looks right, it comes out of the oven beautifully golden brown on top and doughy in the middle. I thought I had it once. I decided maybe it was only white bread I couldn’t bake, what if I tried wheat?! So, I went to the grocery store and bought the wheat flour I’d need to bake a beautiful loaf of bread. I’ll never forget, everything seemed to be going perfectly. All of the ingredients came together just like the recipe said; I’d prepared my loaf pan, this time I would be a success. And, I was, sort of.

My bread baked up beautifully, I mean it looked great! It smelled wonderful baking. Everything was great, right up until I took the loaf out of the oven. This loaf of bread must have weighed four pounds. It was the heaviest loaf of bread I’d ever handled, and I’ve lifted a lot of loaves. Cutting it required a small chain saw; talk about dense! I almost fried the toaster trying to toast it! Years later, I found the secret to making good wheat bread, is to add a little bit of white flour for the gluten. Anyway, I was reminded that “man shall not live by bread alone.” And a good thing too, or I’d starve to death.

Today, that verse is very appropriate in my life, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” You see, I’m convinced that God didn’t give me a bread baking gene because He knew I could not survive on bread alone. Rather, He fills my life with His Word and continually feeds my soul.

Listen to God’s Word from John, Chapter 6.

I Am the Bread of Life

22 On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”29

Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father.

47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum. – John 6:22-59.

No, God did not give me the bread baking gene knowing full well that I’d try to live on bread. What he did give me was so much more. He feeds me daily with his Word, blessed that I am to receive it. And in the sacrament of communion, along with the bread and the wine, He shares his true body and blood with me to strengthen my faith. I am eternally blessed by the Bread of Life; my Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself on the cross as payment for all of my sins. He loves me, and I am His.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, truly you are the bread of life. Your precious Word is nourishment for my soul. When my faith is weak, you fill me up with grace and forgiveness. Who am I that you should love me so much as to give your life for me? Thank you for your gift of grace and forgiveness. Thank you for feeding me with your Word. Thank you for making me your child. Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Once For All

February 27, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. – Hebrews 10:10

Years ago, my son and I attended a Promise Keepers rally in Chicago.  At the time, it was an organization of Christian men who pledged, or “promised,” to lead and live according to God’s word.

Although it’s been almost 20 years since attending the event, there are several things that stand out in my mind from that experience.  One thing I remember is the amazing sound of more than 2000 men singing together!  That sound filled the auditorium and brought tears to my eyes.  I can only imagine that it must be like that in heaven when everyone joins in praising God.

The second thing that stands out to me was a message on how all of us are linked to God.  As His dear children, we have an eternal link and promise of forgiveness.  Each of us were given a small link of chain to add to our key ring as a reminder of that link we have with our Savior.  My son and I still have that link on our key chains to remind us.

The other thing that remains most vivid in my mind concerns the cross.  I can remember early in the day, a group of men began constructing a large wooden cross that later was brought to the stage and erected there.  Towards the end of the afternoon, everyone was invited to write a sin they were struggling with on a small piece of paper, and then bring it down to the stage where it was then nailed to the cross.  As hundreds of men brought their sins to the cross, it was a very powerful way of demonstrating that all of us have sins that nailed Jesus to his cross.  Even now, I can weep for my Savior, knowing that it was my sin that placed him there.

1 I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. – Psalm 18:1-2.

The promise of the cross is this, when Christ was nailed to the tree, the sins of the entire world were laid upon him.  Every sin ever committed, then and now, all of them were nailed to the cross with Jesus.  Christ died, once for all to redeem us.

16 So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha.18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek.21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”

23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic.[a]But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom,24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,

“They divided my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. 28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

“It is finished.”

On the cross, those words, “It is finished,” was God’s promise that the sin of the whole world was forgiven.  God had laid on his one and only Son, Jesus Christ, the iniquity of us all.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. – Isaiah 53:6

This very day, right now, at this moment, you can know with absolute certainty that your sins are forgiven. God, in his infinite love and grace has forgiven every one of them.  There is nothing more for you to do.  Listen to God’s Word from Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. – John 1:12-13.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, if you kept a record of our sin, who could stand? Daily we sin against you, daily your grace and forgiveness are sufficient for us. Forgive us Lord when we take your grace forgranted. If not for the innocent death and glorious resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we would stand doomed to an eternity in hell. But with you Father is forgiveness. Your Son, our Savior, took the world’s sin, once for all to the cross and there declared, “It is finished.” Your plan for the salvation of the world had been accomplished. We humbly stand before you now, cloaked in the righteousness of Christ as your forgiven and redeemed children. Thank you Father. Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Arrogance

 

February 26, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

12 For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up—and it shall be brought low – Isaiah 2:12

It’s rare that I hear something on the news that shocks me, but I saw a news clip this morning on Fox News regarding comments made by Bill Maher mocking middle America or the “fly-over” states.  The shear arrogance of this person borders on unbelievable.  A few of his comments, comparing the Blue states and Red states were, “We have orchestras and theaters districts and world-class shopping. We have Chef Wolfgang Puck, they have Chef Boyardee,” “The blue parts of America are having a big prosperity party while the big sea of red feels like their invitation got lost in the mail — and they still use the mail,” and, most shocking of all, “The fly-over states have become the passed-over states, that’s why red state voters are so [angry]. They don’t hate us, they want to be us.”

“They don’t hate us, they want to be us.”

Heaven help us if we ever become that arrogant and self-absorbed.

It made me wonder if there’s anywhere in scripture that arrogance was so blatant.  As it turns out, arrogance has been around for a very long time.  Listen to God’s Word from Luke, Chapter 18.

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Nebuchadnezzar’s Humiliation

28 All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, 30 and the king answered and said, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” 31 While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, “O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you, 32 and you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. And you shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” 33 Immediately the word was fulfilled against Nebuchadnezzar. He was driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws. – Daniel 4:28-33.

Those who arrogantly defy God will have a price to pay, listen to the words of Proverbs 16, verse 5 – Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished. – Proverbs 16:5.

You could easily argue that much of what befell the nation of Israel in the Old Testament was due to their arrogance before God.  Today, for all of God’s children, scripture admonishes us to maintain a humble heart.  Listen to these words from 1 Peter, chapter 5

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. – 1 Peter 5:1-11.

If we can only remember the words humility and love, we will have gone a long way to living a life of peace, within, and without.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, forgive us the sin of arrogance when you see it in our lives. It is not ours to judge and compare others, only to love them as you love everyone of us. You see all of your children equally and indeed we are all sinners in need of repentance and salvation; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But, in your manifest love and grace, you have provided a Savior for the world; your Son, Jesus Christ, who took on the sin of the world and paid for it once for all. And, in His glorious resurrection, we stand before you forgiven and blameless; made righteous by the blood of the Lamb. In whose name we give you all thanks and honor and glory. Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Restored

February 25, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

14 Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. – Jeremiah 17:14

Actor William Hurt recently had this to say about being tired, “It’s been a long comeback. Things were pretty dark for me.  But I have faith now, and it saves my day.  I was angry with God for a long time because I was unhappy with me.  I hadn’t learned to make the distinction between God and my parents.  But there’s a peace now.  In the end, I got sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Can you relate?  “I got sick and tired of being sick and tired.”  Been there, done that!  I used to say, “I was born tired!”  As he’s getting older, my grandson Ben can be “nap resistant” at times.  Not Papa though, these days, I’m in the prime of my napping ability!  I recently found this sweatshirt online and felt it was most appropriate.  “Jesus Took Naps” / Be like Jesus – Mark 4:38 – 38 But he [Jesus] was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

There’s so much in life that can tire us out, our job, our kids, our spouse, life in general, Monday.  Personally though, I feel there’s a difference between being tired and being weary.  Weary goes much deeper than being tired; weary is when we’re reaching the end of our rope, when hope has run out.  What do we do then?  What do we do when we are weary in our soul?  When our soul is weary, that’s the time when we should look to God’s Word to restore us.

25 For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.” – Jeremiah 31:25.

God promises to restore us, God promises rest; not a good nights sleep, but a restored peace for our very soul.  Listen to His words from Matthew 11:28 – 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

We have an amazing, powerful and loving God; an awesome God who created us in His image.  God promises that our reliance on Him will bring us rest; will bring us peace; will restore our souls.

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31

One of my most favorite of hymns, “Be Still My Soul,” was written by Katharina von Schlegel after reading God’s promise in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Be still my soul the Lord is on thy side
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain
Leave to thy God to order and provide
In every change He faithful will remain
Be still my soul thy best, thy heavenly friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end

Be still my soul when dearest friends depart
And all is darkened in the vale of tears
Then shalt thou better know His love His heart
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears
Be still my soul the waves and winds shall know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below

Be still my soul the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord
When disappointment grief and fear are gone
Sorrow forgot love’s purest joys restored
Be still my soul when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last

Be Still My Soul – Eclipse 6 Acapella  Listen to this beautiful rendition of this classic hymn.

Today, this very day, call to the LORD and he WILL answer you; you will find rest for your soul in the Word of God.

Hear my cry, O God,
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.

Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah – Psalm 61:1-4

“Lead me to the rock that is higher than I”

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, you promise as we come to you, you will give us rest; rest for our weary souls. This very day we pray that you will release us from those burdens that threaten to drag us down into despair; let us rest in the sanctity and safety of your arms. Hear our cry, O God, and listen to our prayer and restore our soul. And all of God’s children said, Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Stand Firm

February 24, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

17 “You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” – 2 Chronicles 20:17

Yesterday, I was reminded by a dear Christian friend to stand firm in sharing God’s Word with all of you.  I’ll admit, when Satan attacks, and he will, and he does, that the temptation is to run for cover.  Satan knows all too well our strengths and weaknesses and he’s quick to capitalize on them at every opportunity.  

Sometimes though, we need to be reminded that the battles we fight, we do not fight alone.  In the book of 2 Kings, scripture describes how God provided an army of angels with horses and chariots of fire to protect the prophet Elisha and his servant.  Unaware they were there, Elisha’s servant panicked.  So Elisha prayed that God would open his servants eyes to see the angelic army surrounding them.

15 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. – 2 Kings 6:15-17.

Like Elisha’s servant, my eyes were opened by the scripture shared by my friend, reminding me to remain faithful to God’s Word and His command to share the gospel. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20.

I am eternally grateful for God’s Word and His assurance found in scripture.  I’m also so very grateful for Christians friends who encourage me to stand firm.  We would all do well to remember the words of Romans 8:31-39 –

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, forgive us when our faith is weak and we do not stand firm in your Word. You admonish us over and over again to fear not, and yet, when confronted by adversity we forget that your power is made perfect in weakness. Teach us to remain strong in our faith with the assurance that you have already overcome the world and that we have nothing to fear with you beside us. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness found in the blood of the Lamb, your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Who Does God See You Are?

February 23, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20

Who does God see you are?  13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. – Hebrews 4:13.

Only God can see our heart and assess where we are spiritually, but other people see and judge us by our actions, good or bad.  Have you ever stopped to consider what they see?  When others see you, who do they see you are?  Do you ever stop to consider that your actions may put a bad face on Christianity?

These are hard questions, especially when we examine our own lives in terms of what others see.  What others see is constantly on display.  Consider the individual who is faithfully in church every Sunday but is a tyrant as a supervisor at work.  Or the lady who faithfully serves in church, but can’t wait to share the latest gossip with her friends.  How about the new confirmand who professes their Christian faith, but fail to stand up for a child that’s bullied at school?  God sees our heart, but others will judge us by our actions.

11 Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright. – Proverbs 20:11.

Personally, I think about this a lot when posting things to social media, or allowing others to post to my page.  I’m not a prude, but most of my posts are scriptural in nature; so, how does it look if a friend posts an off-color joke or cartoon that appears right above or below God’s Word?  Even though I didn’t make the post, how do I appear to others if I allow it on my page or blog?  If I do, how people see me, can reflect badly on all Christians; worse yet, it reflects badly on my Savior.

God would have all of us be the light of the gospel of Christ Jesus, listen to Matthew Chapter 5 – 13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:13-16.

If you’re struggling today with who you are, tormented by your past or unsure of who God would have you be, God can change you.  Listen to God’s Word from 2 Corinthians – 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:14-21.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, we come to your throne broken vessels of clay; we come to be restored by your grace and forgiveness, given freely to all who believe on the name of your Son, Jesus. Lord, make us disciples worthy of your name and salvation. May our lives constantly reflect your grace and love. Forgive us when we fail and renew us again as we come to you with repentant hearts. Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

 

 

A House Divided

February 22, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. – Luke 11:17

On June 16,1858, Abraham Lincoln, after accepting the Illinois Republican Party’s nomination for U.S. Senator gave an acceptance speech addressing the division between states on the issue of slavery.  His speech became one of the best-known speeches of his career.  The best known passage of the speech was, “A house divided against itself, cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”  Lincoln lost that election but went on to become the sixteenth President of the United States.

“A house divided against itself, cannot stand.”

This issue of division can cause great harm within the Body of Christ and scripture openly admonishes us concerning this.  Listen to God’s Word from the Book of Titus.  But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned. – Titus 3:9-11.

The larger issue here addresses our humility towards God and fellow Christians.  Where do we stand before God in submission to Him?  Within the Body, this insistence of having everything our way often takes the form of obstinance, stubbornness, even insolence and does nothing to further the ministry of Christ.

God would rather, as members of the Body, we put on the characters of charity, humility, meekness and love.

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. – Colossians 3:12-15.

When we turn our focus to the cross, all else pales and we find unity, peace and forgiveness.  For we are all one in Christ Jesus.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[a] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. – Galatians 3:23-29.

When we turn to the cross, to our Savior Jesus, we find respite.

Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
life forevermore. – Psalm 133

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, teach us to always focus only on our Savior. When our sinful nature draws us away from you, remind us that true peace and fellowship is found only in your arms. Your grace and forgiveness is always sufficient. If we have that alone, then we have everything. When this world and everything in it passes away, you alone will remain, with your children, connected to you through the innocent death and glorious resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ, who cleanses us from all unrighteousness. In his name we gratefully pray, Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

 

 

Never Alone

February 21, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” -
1 Corinthians 2:9

Have you ever heard the term "alone in a crowd?"  Is that even possible?  With the advent of today's technology, we are arguably more connected than at any other time in history.  Thanks to social networking, texting and e-mail, we're only a click away from interacting with another person.  It's interesting to note though, that couples who are "plugged in," are being drawn away from their loved ones by that same technology.  I've often been accused of "living" on my computer.  In my defense, it's how I make my living, but I know that it also draws me away from time spent with loved ones.

Social networking can give us the "illusion" of companionship but the cost can be true friendship and intimacy.  Some go as far as to "keep score" based on the number of people they "friend" or "follow."  We hide behind the anonymous face of our avatar alone in a crowd of "friends."  Sadly, we are not alone, but we are still lonely.

Personally, when I was at the loneliest point of my life I was also furthest from God.  But God never left me, I was the one who abandoned God.  A church in my neighborhood will occasionally put on their marquee, "If God seems far away, guess who moved?"  God never intended for us to be alone, indeed he promises to be with us always.  "And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:20.

In our relationship with Christ, we are brought near to God.  Though we may experience pain and challenges, we find relief and peace in Christ Jesus.  Listen to God's Word from Romans 5:1-11 -

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

We work hard at maintaining our connections with friends, what if we spent the same amount of time connecting to God?  What if we could cure our loneliness by spending time alone with God?  Jesus promises that if we connect with him, if we abide in him, he in turn will abide with us and we will begin to bear the fruit of righteousness, Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. - John 15:4.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, sometimes we fail to feel your presence in our lives, those are the times when we separate ourselves from you. Indeed you promise never to leave or abandon us; when we are at our weakest, you promise that your power is made perfect in weakness and that your grace is sufficient for us. Lord, we pray today that you will fill us with your presence, that you will repair every broken piece of our lives, and you will remind us again that with you, we are never alone. Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

 

 

Let Go

February 20, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalm 46:10

In the original Hebrew text, according to Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon, the words “be still” râphâh  רָפָה  can be translated to mean ‘sink, relax, sink down, let drop, be disheartened.’  The verse could then be written, “let go, and know that I am God.”

Be “still,” “Let go,” and know that I am God.  So, what are you holding onto today that you should let go and give it to God?  You might ask, why are people so reluctant to “let go?”  I have a theory, the fear of letting go is greater than the fear of staying where you’re at.  So, fear is what keeps us from moving forward; fear of the unknown; fear or lack of confidence; fear of failure; all of these can and will keep you from moving forward.  Are you constricted by fear in your life?  God’s Word has a lot to say on the subject.

The term “fear not,” as it applies here, is found more than 80 times in scripture.  Other pairings equal to “fear not” such as “do not be afraid,” and “do not fear,” can be found more than 30 times.  God does not want us to live in a state of fear or anxiety, but to trust Him in all things.  Listen to the words of John 14:27 – 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

To find peace with God, we first need to let go.  We need to let go of sin.  We need to let go of pride.  We need to let go of control.  We need to let go of everything that stands in the way of trusting God completely in all things.  That trust comes to us as we grow in faith, faith that in Christ Jesus we have forgiveness.  Listen to God’s Word from Colossians 1:3-8

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

Our salvation is a gift of God, found only in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ, in whom we place our faith and confidence.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. – Colossians 1:15-23

It’s scary to step out of our comfort zones, even ones that are detrimental to our lives.  But know this, God is there for you; God is always there to fight for you; God is there to give you forgiveness; trust God.  Through the very worst that life throws your way, trust God.

God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present
help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling. – Psalm 46:1-3

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, you wisely counsel us to fear not, to place our faith in you and in your Son Jesus Christ. And still we are timid and afraid. You give us every reason to trust and believe while we vainly struggle to maintain control of our lives rather than submitting our will to yours. Father forgive us when our faith is weak. Strengthen us as we read and study your Word. May we always approach your throne in reverence and humility as we believe your promises of faith and forgiveness, guaranteed by the innocent death and glorious resurrection of your Son, our Savior, Christ Jesus. We pray humbly in His name. Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

Transformed By Grace

February 19, 2019

 

Good Morning Everyone,

13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. – Joel 2:13.

What does it mean to be transformed?  Growing up, my son was a fan of Transformers, many kids still are today.  The toy, introduced in 1984, was originally produced by the Japanese company Takara and the American toy company Hasbro.  The individual parts of the toy can be moved or shifted to change the toy from a vehicle, device or animal into a robot action figure and back again.  The toys tagline “Robots In Disguise,” and, “More Than Meets The Eye,” reflected their ability to do this.

Growing up, I played “Cops and Robbers” with my friends; with Transformers, you were on the side of the “Autobots” or “Deceptacons.”  My grandchildren are great fans of Star Wars, as is my son.  The Star Wars movies focus on the conflict between the “Empire” and the “Alliance.”

There’s always a premise, “Good” vs. “Evil,”  the same can be found in scripture.  Listen to the words of the Apostle Paul, Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2.

In whatever situation you find yourself in today, remember that you are not trapped!  There is a way out, you can change; you can be changed by the renewal of the Holy Spirit as He comes to you through the transforming Word of God.  Your Father in Heaven is waiting to heal you; he waits patiently to comfort you, he waits eagerly to forgive you.  Listen to God’s Word from Psalm 91:14-16

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

And again from 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – 2 Corinthians 5:17-21.

Be transformed!  Let the Word of God change your life today.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, we are called by your Word to be transformed, indeed you promise renewal through Christ into a new creation! How we long for that renewal Lord. We come to you dead in sin, weighted down by guilt and shame, seeking comfort and rest for our souls. Through the perfect life and innocent death and resurrection or your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, you graciously transform all who believe on His name.

Thank you for that gift of forgiveness and renewal. In your arms we find forgiveness; in your arms we find comfort and peace; in your arms we are transformed! And all of God’s children said, Amen!

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

 

How’s Your Foundation?

February 18, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

16 So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.” – Isaiah 28:1

Have you ever built a retaining wall?  A number of years ago, the addition of an egress window in our basement required a major excavation of dirt from the foundation of the house.  This, in turn, required that I build a retaining wall to keep the recently excavated earth from collapsing back over the window.  Having never built a retaining wall, (how hard can it be, right?) I decided I’d save some money and build it myself.  Had I known how much head-work and back-work this would require, I would have hired someone to do it.  But I digress, how hard can it be, right?

After a miserable failed attempt (or two), I thought maybe I’d look it up on the Internet and read the instructions.  What I thought would be “just stacking one block on top of another,” appeared to be the wrong approach.  First, I had to do some further excavation until I had a flat, level (very important), place to start.  Then, I needed to haul in some sand, so much sand, to create a base to begin.  By the way, this also had to be level – very important!  Now that I had the sand in and leveled, the “directions” advised that I “firmly tamp” the sand down, and, level it – very important!  OK, so now I had level ground, level and tamped sand and, “where was the ‘class 5’?  Ah, I see, the ‘class 5’ goes UNDER the sand!

I begin again, level ground, ‘class 5’ (leveled), sand (tamped and leveled), and now, the first tier of blocks – leveled, each and every one.  On the plus side, once your first tier is firmly set, and leveled, the rest is comparatively easy.  But easy, only, because you’ve built a firm foundation.  20-years on, I’m proud to say my retaining wall is just as straight and level now as it was when I built it!

In the same way, we need to build our faith on a firm foundation.  Listen to the words of 2 Peter 2:4-10

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.”

Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,

“The stone the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”

and,

“A stone that causes people to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall.”

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

This is such an important thing for Christians, when you build your faith on the inerrant Word of God, when you build your faith on Jesus, then you’re building on the rock.

Listen, you heavens, and I will speak;
hear, you earth, the words of my mouth.
Let my teaching fall like rain
and my words descend like dew,
like showers on new grass,
like abundant rain on tender plants.

I will proclaim the name of the Lord.
Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he. – Deuteronomy:32:1-4

Our hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus and his righteousness 1

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ Name

Oh Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

Oh Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my Hope and Stay

Oh Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

When He shall come with trumpet sound
Oh may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless to stand before the throne

 Edward Moteca.1834 – Austin Stone “Solid Rock”

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, Jesus, the stone the builders rejected, has become the corner stone of our faith. Jesus Christ is the firm foundation, our promised redeemer, who has vanquished sin and death on our behalf, to all who believe on His name. Thank you Father for your love and saving grace, found in the death and resurrection of your Son. Cloaked in the righteousness of Jesus we find forgiveness at your throne and there we will forever praise your name. Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

 

 

As Far As The East Is From The West

February 17, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. – Psalm 103:11-12.

I used to fly a lot for work.  Most of the time I was headed west to California from Minnesota and it always struck me how we “chased the sun.”  If we left in the late afternoon, especially in winter, it would be getting dark until we were in the air and headed west.  And then, it would stay light as we “chased” the setting sun until the sun finally outran us.  If we had continued east though, instead of landing in California, we’d eventually wind up back in Minnesota where we started.  There is no end to that circle, there is never a time when you can measure how far the east is from the west.

The same can’t be said about traveling north or south.  If we travel south, eventually we reach the south pole; passing that and continuing on eventually we reach the north pole.  There’s a definite end to our journey if we travel north or south.  I think that’s why God tells us that he has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west.  In other words, he has removed them forever, so far that it can’t be measured.  Our guilt, remorse, shame, and even the consequences of our sin may linger, but God has forgiven our sin.  Through the perfect life and innocent death of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, our sins are forgiven and our eternal life is assured through His resurrection from the dead.

Listen to God’s Word from Psalm 103

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed, forgiven, child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and gracious Father, precious Lord and Savior, we cling to the promise of forgiveness you extend to everyone who believes on your name. Though we do not deserve it, you love us; enough to send your one and only Son to die in our stead for the forgiveness of sin. Forgive us Father when we fail, we come to you with contrite hearts seeking the comfort of your love and grace. Only clothed in the righteousness of Christ do we dare approach your throne. Thank you for your forgiveness and love. We pray all of this in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

What Is The Cost

February 16, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. – Galatians 6:7-8

What is the cost?  Years ago, I can remember my mother sending me to the store to buy cigarettes for her.  At the time, they cost .25 a pack or just over a penny a piece.  I was just 9 years old at the time and it was legal for them to sell them to me.  25 cents seemed like a lot of money to me when you consider almost everything I wanted to buy was a nickle or less.  Mom smoked, on average, about a pack and a half a day, so her habit set the family back $2.80 a week or just over $11 a month.

I thought it might be interesting to look at some of the average prices in 1958; Milk: $1.01; Gas: $.24; Bread $.19; Postage stamp: $.04; Chef Boy-Ar-Dee spaghetti, 15 1/2 .oz can $ .19; Corned Beef: $.59 lb.; Swiss Steak: $.75 lb.; Libby Tomato Juice, 5 (46 .oz) cans: $1.00; Kraft Carmels, 1 lb pkg: $.37; Milk: $.42 half gal.; Uncle Ben’s Rice, 14 oz box – $.19; Sunkist Oranges, 5 lbs.: $.49; Cantaloupe: $.05 lb.; Celery: $.04 lb.

So, what was the real cost of the cigarettes, a weeks worth of groceries and gas for the car?  Still later, in high school, I did a paper on the cost of smoking and used my mother as an example.  My mom started smoking when she was 19, that would have been in 1948, when I did the paper she’d been smoking for 20 years.  Which means that her habit had set her back $3,285.00 over that period of time; enough to buy a nice car.

When my mother died in 2002, she had been smoking for 56 years, averaging the cost increases of a pack of cigarettes over the years, she had spent more than $107,000 on cigarettes in her lifetime; enough to buy a house.

So, what was the real cost of the cigarettes?  I was holding my mother’s hand when she died at the age of 76.  My mother died, drowned in her own fluids, from emphysema brought on by a life time of smoking.  So the real cost of smoking, was her life.

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. – Isaiah 59:2.

You see, Satan offers all of us sinful pleasures, but he always hides the price tag.  If we knew the actual cost of that “pleasure” we might stop to think about it before we indulge ourselves.  Satan is the great deceiver, he always lies, always destroys.

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:1-5.

You’ve had a hard week at work, but the weekend is finally here.  Saturday you have errands to run and odd jobs to catch up on around the house, but Sunday, Sunday is a day of rest!  Maybe this Sunday, when the alarm goes off, you decide to roll over and go back to sleep instead of going to church.  After all, you were just there a week ago and you attended a mid-week Bible Study; you deserve a day off, and doesn’t the Bible even say that Sunday is a day of rest?

The following Sunday there’s a family birthday party to attend in the afternoon, it’s going to be a long day and there’s work to go back to tomorrow.  You need your rest, so, like last Sunday, you shut off the alarm and go back to sleep for a couple of hours.  And doesn’t it feel good?  You missed Bible Study on Wednesday too because of work, but God will understand, right?  All too soon, God becomes an afterthought, and not long after that, your faith begins to wane, to starve because you’re not feeding it.  Is the cost your faith, or your soul?

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. – Galatians 6:7-8.

Always count the cost and consider the ramifications; does that “harmless” flirtation at work become an affair eventually leading to divorce?  Does that one hit on a crack pipe “just to try it” lead to a lifetime of addiction and prison?  Does “a couple of beers” after work lead to a DUI?  For kids, does following the crowd and bullying a child lead to suicide for that child?  Count the cost, the real cost.

Praise be to God that He does offer another way.  Listen to the Word of God from 1 Peter 2:1-5

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

We have this promise, 19 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9.

God does not make empty promises.  God promises and we have redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ, shed on the cross; and through his glorious resurrection which guarantees eternal life to all believers.  Praise be to God!

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, the devil never reveals the true cost of sin. He comes to us adorned in the pleasures of this world, promising an empty fulfillment. Believers know that life, and life to the full, is found only in Christ Jesus. We stand before you forgiven saints won for us by the death and resurrection of your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. When we are tempted, give us discernment to recognize the devils deceit and to flee from him and into your arms. And all of God’s people said, Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

 

Light Has No Shadow

February 15, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. – John 1:1-4.

Did you know that light casts no shadow?  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  When I was in grade school, we took a field trip to Mystery Cave outside of Forestville State Park.  Besides being a beautiful cave, the thing that impressed me most came at the end of the tour.  We were at the deepest point of the cave in a fairly large cavern and our guide had us stand around him in a circle.  Suddenly, he reached over to the wall and turned off the lights!  If you’ve ever heard the expression “darker than the inside of a cow,” you have some idea of what absolute total darkness is.  As we stood there I remember holding my hand mere inches from my face, unable to see anything.  And then it began to get scary, what if the lights wouldn’t come back on?  In that moment, our tour guide turned on his flashlight. The light was so brilliant, it was almost impossible to look at, but what comfort it gave!

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. – John 1:6-13.

Jesus Is the light of the world, sent by our Father in heaven to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.  In this sin darkened world, we have that light as our own.  12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12.

As Christians, each one of us is called to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a world cloaked in the darkness of sin. Listen to God’s Word from Matthew 5:14-16 – 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

As we walk in the light of Christ, we are assured of the forgiveness won for us by Christ’s death and resurrection and this same message we can declare to the world.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. – 1 John 1:5-7.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, you are certainly the light of the world. When we are overcome by sin and darkness, it is the light of your Gospel that comforts us. In your light is life, even life eternal. You promise that all who believe are your children. Thank you for the light of Christ in our lives. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness. Teach us now to be lights for you. We ask this in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

But The Greatest of These Is Love

February 14, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13

The greatest love story ever told is the story of Jesus Christ.  God chose us, before the creation of the world, to be his children.  When man, created in the image of God, fell into sin, God promised a redeemer who would come to earth and become the atonement for our sin.  Starting in Genesis, and throughout the Old Testament we find examples to help us understand the love of God found only in Christ Jesus.

The sacrifices of the Old Testament are there to point us to the ultimate sacrifice by Jesus on the cross.  We are made righteous through His sacrificial death on the cross.  It is Christ’s death and resurrection that assures us of God’s promise – 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. – John 1:12-13.

Did you know that the word love is found over 300 times in the Old Testament and additionally over 170 times in the New Testament.  There are four unique forms of love found in the Bible that are communicated through four Greek words: Eros, Storge, Philia, and Agape.  These four are characterized by romantic love, family love, brotherly love, and God’s divine sacrificial love.

It’s the sacrificial love of God that is so important to us as sinners.  In the greatest sacrifice of all, God sent His one and only Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Listen to the words of John 3:16 – 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

There’s a beautiful section of scripture that I’d like to share with all of you.  In an amazing way it describes the love the Father has for all of us.  Listen to God’s Word from 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.

13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, over and over again in scripture you admonish us to love one another. How hard it is for sinful men to have the same sacrificial love that you displayed when you sent your Son to die in our place. Surely your love is more than we can comprehend. But we cling to that Jesus, knowing that through Him, one day we can stand in your presence, clothed in His righteousness to spend eternity with you. Teach us to love sacrificially, putting others before ourselves, loving others as you love us. Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

A Life Worth Living

February 13, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. – John 10:10

What constitutes a life worth living?  The Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Philippi described it like this; 27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. – Philippians 4:27-28.

All of us were created in the image of God.  All of us were created to have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  If we don’t have that relationship. we’ll always feel a longing deep inside, an emptiness.  But thanks be to God, we find a life worth living in Christ Jesus!  Listen to Psalm 92:12-15 – 
12 The righteous flourish like the palm tree
    and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
13 They are planted in the house of the Lord;
    they flourish in the courts of our God.
14 They still bear fruit in old age;
    they are ever full of sap and green,
15 to declare that the Lord is upright;
    he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

Christ is now our identity and in him we find redemption, forgiveness and fulfillment.  Listen to the Apostle Paul writing to the church in Colossus.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. – Colossians 1:15-23.

What a difference when we find our identity in Christ, we find a life worth living!

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, thank you for making us your own. Created in your image, you draw us ever closer through your Word and sacrament. We thank you and praise you that you create in each of us a life worth living when we live our lives for you. And all of God’s people said, Amen!

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

The Lion At The Gate

February 12, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. – 1 Peter 5:8-9

I was reminded yesterday of our annual soccer camp at church.  The theme last year was “Put On The Full Armor of God.”  Yes, put on the full armor of God, stand strong against the evil one.  It’s good advice.  The devil, the great deceiver, Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, has many names.  The Bible clearly states that the devil exists; he is called out by name, Satan, in 47 passages of scripture, the devil is mentioned an additional 33 times.

It was the devil who first tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden; it was also the devil who tempted Jesus in the desert.  Not only is the devil real, but he is at work today in our world.  And, while the devil is certainly the author of evil in this world, even more insidious is how he invades our lives.  When scripture tells us “he prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” you can believe that it’s true.  It’s how he attacks us that is so dangerous to our faith.  You see, the devil is a liar and a clever liar.  He’ll cloak his lies in ways that will make you doubt your faith and even turn your back on God.  He’ll say things in such a way that it would seem to make sense, but it’s a lie to pull you away from Jesus.

His deceit can be as simple as a friend questioning the amount of time you spend reading your Bible instead of spending that time doing something with your family.  And suddenly, you begin to wonder if that’s true, maybe you should give up some of your time in the Word so that you’ve got more time to spend with your family.

In the same way, you may miss church on Sunday for a valid reason, and then the next Sunday lay there thinking about how nice it had been to sleep in last week.  Suddenly, you’re rationalizing why it’s OK to skip church another Sunday – you work hard, you didn’t sleep well on Wednesday, you deserve a day off.  Now, before you know it, you’re finding an excuse every Sunday not to be in church.  The devil lies to you and then you begin to lie to yourself.

Listen to God’s Word from the book of James –

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. – James 4:6-10.

We have no need to fear though, for the one that is in us is greater than the one that is in the world.  Indeed, Jesus has already defeated death and the devil.  On Calvary’s cross, Christ bore the sins of the world once and for all; raised to life in His glorious resurrection he defeated death and won for each of us who believe eternal life in Heaven. –  4 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. – James 4:1-4.

Remember then, to cloak yourself in God’s Word and in His grace and in His forgiveness, so when Satan attacks you will be able to resist him and cling to your Father in heaven, even Jesus.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. – Ephesians 6:10-18.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, the devil seeks to devour our souls, but you, in your great glory, have already defeated him and overcome the world. We have that assurance that the battle is already won. For everyone who believes on the name of Jesus Christ is a child of God and safe in your arms.  Thank you Father for your gift of grace and forgiveness. Thank you for your saving Word. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

 

Here I Am, Send Me

February 11, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”  – Isaiah 6:8

Earlier this week, I was challenged by a Pastor about posting scripture and writing a devotion.  From his comments, he has an issue with a Lay person writing a devotion.  It was clear that he felt this was only the province of a Called Pastor.  In his defense, this Pastor doesn’t know me, and he doesn’t know the history behind this blog.  I found his challenge though to be discouraging, as if I were doing something wrong.  Admittedly, I am not a Pastor, nor do I profess to be.  But I am a redeemed child of God doing my best to live a life of faith.

Since then, I’ve immersed myself in scripture, trying to find the basis for his challenge.  While I wholeheartedly agree that writing a devotion or sharing scripture can be and is the job of a Pastor, I’m unable to find anywhere in scripture that says I shouldn’t be doing this; in fact, it’s quite the opposite.  Listen to God’s Word from Isaiah 6:1-8.

6 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

Isaiah’s Commission from the Lord

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” – Isaiah 6:1-8.

Over and over again, scripture encourages and charges each of us to share God’s Word.  Listen to what God has to say about sharing his Word.

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! – Psalm 96:3

15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. – Mark 16:15

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. –
2 Corinthians 5:20

37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” – Matthew 9:37-38

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10

Throughout scripture, admonishes all of us to be evangelists for him.  God tells us to be bold, to always have a defense for our faith – 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, – 1 Peter 3:15

When I started writing this blog, I did so in an effort to encourage others to read their Bibles every day.  Like a lot of people, I had a lot of excuses why I didn’t have time to spend in God’s Word every day.  In an effort to change this, five years ago I started posting a verse or two from scripture every day.  It began as an excuse to read my Bible.  Since that time, it’s become the most important part of my day.  This blog is a natural progression as I’ve dug deeper into the Word and looked for its application in my life.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. –
1 Corinthians 15:58

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, you call each of us to profess your Word boldly, to share it with others as your Ambassadors. You also ask us to be steadfast, immovable and always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labor is not in vain. We pray that you will continue to give us opportunity to share your Word boldly. For we are not ashamed of the Gospel, it is the power of God that brings salvation to all who believe. Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

 

 

February 10, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

19 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. – 1 John 5:14

Several weeks ago, my son asked me why I don’t call him more often.  There’s really not a good excuse or answer to that question.  I’d be tempted to say, “Why haven’t you called me?”  That’s not something I advocate, but it did get me to thinking.  How often do we “call” our Father in heaven?  When is the last time God heard from you?  If you’re like me, you sometimes save your prayers for Sunday while in church, as if the location has something to do with the advocacy of the prayer.  Or, it’s easy to feel somehow that the prayers of a Pastor are better than ours.

None of that is true.  God, our Father, wants to hear from us.  In fact, he continually admonishes us to talk to him, to reach out to him, in need or in plenty.  He’s our Father and he loves us.  Prayers don’t have to be fancy or eloquent, God just wants to hear your voice as you speak to him in prayer.  Listen to James 5:13-16

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

God continually encourages us to pray; we have that privilege to approach his throne personally as we hear in Matthew, Chapter 7.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! – Matthew 7:7-11.

And, remember to pray in thankfulness for God’s constant provision and blessings in our lives – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:4-7.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, today we come to you in thankfulness for all that you provide, most especially for your grace and forgiveness. Thank you for a Savior willing to give His life for ours.  Thank you for the means of grace which bring us to faith in Christ Jesus. As your children, you encourage us to pray. We thank you and praise you for that privilege. You promise to answer our prayers and in that sure faith we bring them now to you. Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

 

Whiter Than Snow

February 9, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. – Isaiah 1:18

We’ve had a bit of snow this week in Minnesota.  Here, at home, over 10.5 inches so far with possibly more to come on Monday.  Some people are complaining, others are celebrating.  It got me to thinking about what scripture has to say about being washed clean of our sin.  There is a beautiful Psalm written by King David after he was visited by the prophet Nathan.  Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband.

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.

18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar. – Psalm 51:1-19

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.  Someday, all of us will stand before the throne of God.  For those who have denied God, I suspect there will be a lot of “complaining.”  But for those of us who have been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb, there will surely be celebration as we receive our eternal inheritance in the Kingdom of God!

For as many who received Him, he gave the right to become children of God!

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:1-14

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, we are washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. Because of your love, your grace and your forgiveness, won for us through the death and resurrection of your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, we dare to approach your throne. Thank you for this Jesus, who willingly gave His life for each one of us, that we may be washed whiter than snow, clothed in His perfection and set free from sin. Though there is nothing we can do to deserve this, by faith alone we believe it. And all of God’s children said, Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

 

I’m But A Stranger Here

February 8, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

19 I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me. – Psalm 119:19

Do you ever feel like you don’t belong here?  Christians, as they grow in their faith, will naturally feel less attached to this world and in turn long more for spending eternity with Christ.  And this should not surprise us.  Listen to God’s Word from Philippians, Chapter 3.  20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. – Philippians 3:20-21.

In Hebrews, Chapter 13, we are reminded that our time on this earth is temporary – 14 For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. 15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. 17 Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. – Hebrews 13:14-17.

As Christians, our eternal home is in Heaven.  Jesus, comforting his disciples before his crucifixion told them – 14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God;  believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” – John 14:1-7.

What an amazing promise from scripture!  We have that comfort knowing that Jesus has gone ahead of us to prepare a place for us and that he will come again to gather us to him for eternity.

In 1836, Thomas R. Taylor penned the words to “I’m But A Stranger Here.” 36 years later in 1872, Arthur S. Sullivan wrote the music to this familiar hymn.

I’m but a stranger here,
Heaven is my home;
Earth is a desert drear,
Heaven is my home;
Danger and sorrow stand
Round me on every hand;
Heaven is my fatherland,
Heaven is my home.

What though the tempest rage,
Heaven is my home;
Short is my pilgrimage,
Heaven is my home;
And time’s wintry blast
Soon shall be over past;
I shall reach home at last,
Heaven is my home.

Therefore I murmur not,
Heaven is my home;
Whatever my earthly lot,
Heaven is my home;
And I shall surely stand
There at my Lord’s right hand.
Heaven is my fatherland,
Heaven is my home.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arEgXc8VnR0&start_radio=1&list=RDarEgXc8VnR0&t=52

Truly, we are but strangers here, Heaven is our home.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, before you departed this earth, you promised to go and prepare a place for us and that you would return someday to take us to live with you forever. We know that it is only by faith in God’s grace and forgiveness, won for us on the cross by Jesus and guaranteed when you raised Him from the dead that we have this hope and this promise. We praise you and confess that Jesus Christ is our Risen Savior and only in him do we find redemption from sin. Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

 

Do You Hide Your Halo?

February 7, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. – 1 Peter 3:15-16.

As Christians, God calls us to always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that we have – always.  But do we have that answer, or do we swoop down under the radar in an attempt to avoid that conversation with someone?  It’s a hard conversation if you’re not prepared; indeed, it’s a hard conversation if you are prepared.  This can be especially true if that someone is a loved one.  We are afraid even to start for fear of failure or rejection.  We need to remember though, that Jesus sends us out to simply witness to his grace and truth in our lives.  The work of convicting and converting is the work of the Holy Spirit.

We have been given, by God, the ministry of reconciliation.  Listen to 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 – 11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Witnesses are called to testify, testify to what they’ve seen, testify to what they know or testify to what they’ve experienced.  So how do we become a good witness for Christ?  Jesus used parables when he spoke to others.  A parable, at its core, is a story told in a language that the listener can relate to.  All of us have stories to tell and most of us enjoy telling them and listening to them.  When I listen to a story I can relate to, I always listen more closely.  Witnessing can be a lot like that.  Rather than approaching witnessing worrying about what you’re going to say, why not instead tell them a story about what God has done for you?

Share your faith stories; tell others how your relationship with God affects your life.  You’ll find that your audience no longer feels “preached to,” rather your story is likely to engender questions that will then allow you to share scripture with them.  As you share your stories of faith with others, you’ll also learn to listen as they in turn share their stories with you.  We’ve all had different experiences, but at our core, we all share the same triumphs and tragedies, hopes and dreams, and you’ll find we’re really not that different from one another.  We share the same hopes, the same dreams, the same God and Savior.

In time you may find that you are less likely to “hide your halo,” and more likely to share its light, the Light of Christ in your life with others as God has called us to do.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:14-16

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, you have called us to be witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Indeed we are called to be bold in sharing your Word with others. Strengthen us with your Word and sacraments reminding us daily of your grace and forgiveness poured out for all. As we you provide the opportunity, make us eager share your love with others. You assure us that the Holy Spirit is with us always and will put your words in our mouths as we tell others about Christ. You have made us your Ambassadors, and we go forward now boldly in the sure knowledge that we are yours. Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

 

Your Life, God’s Plan

February 6, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:9-14.

There’s an Author who wrote a book about you; did you know that?  That book was written before you were conceived in your mother’s womb.  That Author is God.

 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. – Psalm 139:16

What a staggering thing to think about!  Every single day, hour and moment of your life was planned by God before you were born.  Do you ever feel your life doesn’t matter?  It matters to God!  Your life is unique and special; no one is common or menial, we were all created for a unique path, an extraordinary path!

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11. 

We lose sight of that plan any time we decide to “go it on our own.”  When we lose patience with God’s timing; when we feel that God is ignoring us, when we willfully disagree with what God has to say.  It’s then, in those times, we put our faith in jeopardy when we turn our backs on God or even when we begin to just drift away.

In our arrogance, we begin to feel that we know what’s better for our lives than God.  Proverbs 19:21 tells us 21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.

What happens when your plan doesn’t work out, or, worse yet, fails completely?  It’s easy to get discouraged then and to lose hope.  Or we might even blame God.  In that time of weakness, the evil one attacks.  The great deceiver begins to work on you replacing faith with doubt and worry.  It’s during those times when we must give our worries over to God.  Listen to Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

In the book of Ephesians, Chapter 2, verse 10, Paul writes to the church at Ephesus 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God planned your path before you were conceived, but notice he writes, “which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  He didn’t say that we must do them, which means that we have a choice to cooperate with God’s plan.  And, if we do, we have His promise of success according to His will.  God has made the plan, God has set the goals, it’s up to us to discover what’s recorded in His book for our lives through prayer, through reading His word and through the means of grace.  Then, by His grace, we can fulfill his plan.

When you follow God’s plan for your life, you’ll experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. God’s peace will guard your heart and your mind as you begin to live in Christ Jesus.  Sometimes it may seem as if God hasn’t heard your prayer, but God is always listening. He hears us when we pray, and there is never a prayer that goes unanswered.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, you promise that you work all things good for those who love you. Forgive us when we are weak, when we fail to trust your plan for our lives. Lord God, you promise to listen to and to answer our prayers. We pray that you will continue to build our faith and our trust as we follow the path you set before us faithfully depending on your promises. Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

 

Your Word Is Truth

February 5, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

17 “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” John 17:17.

The power of God’s Word is a phenomenal thing.  It has the power to teach, the power to comfort, the power to find the lost, the power to save.

9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. – Romans 10:9

One of my favorite verses from scripture declares this power; listen to Isaiah 55:10-11.

10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

God’s Word will not return to him empty, what an amazing promise from scripture.  This is why it is so important that you read your Bible faithfully, every single day of your life.  God’s Word is full of the knowledge and promises you need for your life.  You and I are saved by faith and faith alone; faith that comes to us through the Word of God.

17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. – Romans 10:17

So simple, and yet so profound.  Reading God’s Word, studying God’s Word, is not a chore.  I promise, God promises that it’s the most important thing you’ll do – spending time in the Word.  God’s Word has the power to lift you up; God’s Word has the power to heal you; God’s Word has the power to save you.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16

We can rely on God’s Word, on his promises.  Listen to God’s Word from Hebrews 412-16.

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed, a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, you promise in scripture that your Word is inerrant and eternal. Heaven and earth will pass away, but your words will never pass away. Thank you for our saving faith, found only in your precious Word. Our very life depends on your grace and forgiveness. Strengthen us spiritually as we continue to meet you grace to faith every day. Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

 

February 4, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

Have you ever been in a relationship where the other person kept track of every time you’d hurt them by something you did or said – a “record of wrongs?”  Worse yet, whenever there’s a disagreement, they choose then to remind you of all of it.  Are you the person keeping the “record of wrongs?”  It’s a brutal thing in a relationship.  The individual keeping the “record” uses it as a club to remind you again and again how you’ve failed them.

Where would we be if God were to do the same thing?

God has a lot to say about forgiveness, listen to the words of Matthew 6:14-15 – “If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also for you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  That’s a pretty ominous warning.

We are blessed though, that God chooses to handle our sin differently.  “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” – Isaiah 43:25.

Love, God, keeps no record of wrongs.  Listen to the words of Psalm 103:1-22 –

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;

1as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

God blots out our transgressions, for the sake of Christ, but then remembers them no more. As far as the east is from the west, he has removed our sin from us. We are washed clean with the blood of Christ, our sins though scarlet, are as white as snow.

Praise God that he not only washed us clean in the blood of Christ, but promises to remember our sins no more.

“Love keeps no record of wrongs.” The forgiveness of Christ, the steadfast promise of forgiveness from a holy and merciful Father, freely offered to everyone who believes on His Name.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, “Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

 

February 3, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. – 1 Corinthians 1:28-29

Did you know that God chooses ordinary people to do extraordinary things by enabling them through the power of the Holy Spirit?  That was illustrated during our weekly Men’s Bible Study yesterday as we read the account of Peter healing the lame beggar from Acts Chapter 3.  Listen to God’s Word.

3 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. – Acts 3:1-10.

An ordinary person doing an extraordinary thing!  This was Peter, the disciple who doubted the Lord when he attempted to walk on the Sea of Galilee; the same disciple who denied Jesus three times in the high priest’s courtyard but was later transformed through the work of the Holy Spirit.  This is the same Peter that after receiving the power of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Day, stood up with the other remaining disciples, raised his voice, and addressed the crowd in the Temple Court.  And, for the first time, the world heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ being preached.

Truly, God has called each of us to a purpose. We are his children, not by accident, but we’ve become His children according to His will and heavenly plan.

12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. – John 1:12-13.

In our Baptism we received the power of the Holy Spirit to witness for Christ in our family, our church and our community. God wants our faith to be an active living thing. In scripture he tells us that “faith without works is dead.

God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things through the work of the Holy Spirit.  When God gives you the opportunity to be a witness for Him, remember that each of us has the power of God’s Word and the promise of the Advocate sent by God to work in the heart of those we speak to.  God has called each of us to be His witness.  Ordinary people, able to do extraordinary things through the power of the Holy Spirit working through us.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are indeed a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, have you not made foolish the wisdom of this world? You chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; you chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. You chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are. You have made us your children that we may boast in Christ Jesus, who has become wisdom for us, that is our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Called to be your witnesses we boast only in the Lord. And all of God’s people said, Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

 

February 2, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” – Jeremiah 33:3

I was struck this week by a comment from a close friend who said, “Once in prayer I asked Him if He knew what it was like to love one so deeply and not have those feelings returned.”

His comment made me wonder how many times we have rejected God?  Listen to Jeremiah 3:20 – “Surely, as a woman treacherously departs from her lover, So you have dealt treacherously with Me, O house of Israel,” declares the Lord.

Isn’t that what’s happening in society today, the almost total rejection of God?  The secular world seems bent on entirely removing God from society.  A newscast I listened to this week says that House Democrats in the current House Committee on Natural Resources, have proposed striking the phrase “so help you God” from witnesses’ oaths before their committee as part of their proposed rules package change.

News this week also included the story of an ex-Bremerton football coach who was fired because he prayed on the sidelines following High School football games.  The coach was fired when he refused to stop praying even though he did it alone, on the sidelines, after the game.

Have you heard people ask, “Where was God?,” after any horrific public school shooting?

The truth is, man has been rejecting God from the beginning starting with Adam and Eve.  And we’ve done nothing since that time but look for other ways to remove him from our lives.  So, “Does God understand?”

Listen to Genesis 6:5-6 – The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.

God does understand and I would argue that we should pay attention to how we treat him.  Scripture warns us over and over that there is a price to pay for our rejection of Him.  “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” – John 3:36.

Yet despite all of this, God loves you and me; so much so that he sent his one and only Son to be the propitiation for our sin.  16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned,but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. – John 3:16-21.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! – 1 John 3:1.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, indeed, you are a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, how do we understand or comprehend the love you have for us? Created in your image, we have constantly rejected that love. Forgive us Lord. Forgive us for questioning your love. Despite being awash in sin, you graciously extend grace and forgiveness undeserved. Our hope lies only in you. Washed clean in the blood of the Lamb we dare to approach your throne thanking you and praising you for loving us so much. Amen and Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.

 

 

 

February 1, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” – Galatians 6:7

I watched a disturbing video this week of individuals in a parade praising God for abortion.  This occurred following the State of New York approving abortions up to and including the day of birth.

As abominable as this is, we should not be surprised as scriptures tells us this is expected. Listen to 2 Timothy 3:1-9 – “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.” – 2 Peter 3:10a

Scripture admonishes all of us to be prepared for that day, the day of the Lord.  In that day, God will no longer tolerate the scoffers and those following their own evil desires.  “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” – Galatians 6:8-10.

Our hope is in the Lord the maker and perfecter of our faith.  In God we have the full hope and assurance of salvation, salvation won through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus.  “May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, rejoice that you are at peace with God, that you are a redeemed child of God.

Prayer – Almighty God and Father, precious Lord and Savior, on the cross, in perfect love, Jesus prayed for those who were putting him to death. In the same way, we pray for those who mock you and twist your Word. Today, more than ever, we reach out to you for the comfort and assurance found only in you. Jesus taught us to pray, Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. Amen.

May God bless you richly as you dwell on his word.