The Road Ahead

May 31, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. – Proverbs 3:5-8

What advice does a parent, or in this case a grandfather give to his granddaughter on her graduation from High School?  I believe the very best answer can be found in scripture.  1 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  God’s Word is infallible, it endures forever, and you can always trust God’s promises.  2 – In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  You will never go wrong trusting in God’s Word.  Keep God first in your life and he will and He will be there to guide and protect you.  3 – Be not wise in your own eyes, and turn away from evil.  In other words, be humble and submit yourself to God’s plan for your life.  Do not be selfish about anything, turn away from things that you know are not good for you.  4 – It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.  As you submit to God’s will and humbly turn to him, you will find comfort, peace and refreshment for your life.

And, child of God, remember – 

19 The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; 20 by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew. 21 My son, do not lose sight of these—keep sound wisdom and discretion, 22 and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. 23 Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. 24 If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. 25 Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, 26 for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught. – Proverbs 3:19-26.

Good advice for our loved ones and for us as they embark on life’s next great adventure.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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, watch over our dear children as they embark on the next chapter of their lives. Be with them in times of stress and times of success. Teach them always to turn to you Father for direction in the way they should go. It’s hard for us to let go, but pure joy to watch them grow in their faith and love for their Savior. Keep them safe and secure for we know that in your arms they will find all they need in life.  Precious Lord, you love us so much you sent your Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sin. In your love and grace keep them pure in heart with their eyes always focused on you. And all believers said, Amen and Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

His Mercies Are New Every Morning

May 30, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” – Lamentations 3:22-24

I read something on Facebook yesterday that would be funny if it weren’t so true.

BRAIN AT 3AM:

“I can see you’re trying to sleep, so I would like to offer you a selection of every memory, unresolved issue, or things you should have said or done today as well as in the past 40 years!”

Been there, done that!

All of us worry, but why do we allow it to consume us?  In the Book of Matthew, God’s Word tells us – 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?Matthew 6:27

The fact is, most of what we worry about never happens.  If we spent as much time being thankful for all of our blessings, we’d see the world from an entirely different perspective.  If we’re honest with ourselves, most of our worries are self-inflicted.  Take debt for instance; if we’re living beyond our means to satisfy “wants” instead of “needs,” then who’s to blame if we can’t afford to repay that debt?  There are actually very few things in life that we need, most of what the average person buys are “wants.”

I have a friend from Hungary who’s a good example of “needs.”  When I met Lazlo, I was surprised that everything he owns fits into a backpack, including his violin.  Admittedly, Lazlo came from a very poor area of Hungary, but he was able to determine what was a need and what was a want.  What was Lazlo’s most important “need?”  His Bible.  Scripture daily reminded Lazlo that he had enough.  As Lazlo placed his hope in the Lord, he was able to understand all of the blessings that God had bestowed on him, a love of music, a love in service to his friends, and most importantly, the promise of his Savior’s love for him.

Every morning as Lazlo spent time in the Word, he was reminded again of all of God’s mercies showered on him, “they are new every morning.”  I learned a lot from Lazlo, a much different perspective on looking at my own life and understanding what’s really important.  “The Lord is my portion,” therefor I will put my hope in him.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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 our selfish “wants” and refocus our eyes on Jesus, truly our only need. Lord, when we seek your face earnestly, you pour out your blessings on each of us. As we read and study your Word, remind us daily to keep our hearts focused on you and our Savior, Jesus. Truly Lord, you are our portion and our cup, therefore we put our hope in you. Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Are You Ready?

May 29, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

39 So will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.Matthew 24:39-44

Before passing away, my dad’s sister saw angels at the foot of her bed asking the family repeatedly, “Can’t you see them?”  I’ve heard or read many similar accounts of individuals getting some sort of premonition or warning(?) about their impending death.  These “messages” seem to take many forms.  Believe them or not, all of us have only so much time, a time of grace, apportioned to us in this life.

13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.Psalm 139:13-16

I read something yesterday shared by a friend on Facebook that said, “Every minute someone leaves this world behind. We are all in the line without knowing it.  You or I could be next.  We never know how many people are before us.  You cannot move to the back of the line.  You cannot step out of the line.  Make sure when you get to the front of the line that you are ready to enter eternity with Christ.”

When I was younger, I never worried much about where I might be in that line; in fact, I didn’t think about the end at all.  Life was for living, not contemplating when I might be gone.  I’d like to think that as I’ve gotten older, I’ve also become a lot wiser.  The truth is, I’m just closer to the finish line now than I was thirty years ago.  You and I could prepare for our impending exit or we could think about this in a different way.

As I’ve matured in my faith, my greatest regret is my total waste of so many of the years of grace I’ve been given.  I would challenge each of you to re-examine what’s important in your life.  If you’re only spending one hour a week with your Lord, you are cheating yourself in a monumental way.  You are missing out on so many blessings you could be enjoying while spending time with your Savior.  Time spent with God is never wasted.  And, if you’re new in your walk of faith, God’s Word will magnify your faith many times over as He reveals it to your heart.  Spend time with God, he yearns to hear from you.

God has appointed our days – Since his days are determined, and the number of his months is with you, and you have appointed his limits that he cannot passJob 14:5.

Since we do not know the number of days appointed for us, nor do we know the day or hour of Christ’s return, let’s spend our time of grace with our Father, with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s Word and to strengthen our faith until Christ’s return.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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 written your Word in our hearts that we should always be mindful of your love, your grace, your mercy and your forgiveness. Thank you Father for your saving Word and for the time of grace you have appointed for each of us. We pray that as we read and study your Word you will strengthen our faith and prepare us for that day when we will begin eternity with you. We are all but strangers here, heaven is our home. And all believers said, Amen and Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

The Righteous Shall Live By Faith

May 28, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”Romans 1:16-17

We’ve been talking a lot recently about faith.  What does it mean to have faith, how do we know when our faith is real, where does faith come from, what about defending your faith?  Most of the answers are found directly in scripture, but not always.  The ones we can be surest of though are directly revealed to us through scripture.

The Apostle Paul makes it very clear in Romans 10:5-17

For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 1So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

There is a verse from the Book of James that often confuses people concerning faith and works.  It is often misinterpreted to mean that works has a place in your salvation.  According to Bible scholars, the word “dead” is better translated as “useless.”

Faith Without Works Is Dead (Useless)

 14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. – James 2:14-17

By Faith

 1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. – Hebrews 11:1-6

So, what we learn from scripture is that faith comes from hearing the Word, faith produces good works, faith without works is useless, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen and most importantly, the righteous shall live by faith.  And one more thing, faith is our assurance of salvation.

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.

 Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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, how earnestly we seek you in your Word. Faith does indeed come from hearing your Word as it speaks to our heart and soul. And we are not ashamed of the gospel, but proudly proclaim it as believers in the salvation that comes only through the sacrifice and glorious resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Heavenly Father, as we read and study your Word, we pray that you would reveal it to our hearts and mind that we might apply it to our lives. All this we pray in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Angels, God’s Army, Our Protectors

May 27, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

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

What do we really know about angels?  Many imaginative stories and tales about angels have been with us down through the ages.  Most often artists portray them as beautiful humans with halos and harps that spend their time singing, playing and praising God.  There are those who would have us believe that we will someday be a beautiful angel in heaven.  For us to find the truth, we have to see what the Bible says about this unique creation of God.

For instance, we know that angels haven’t always existed.  Scripture tells us they are a part of the universe God created.  In Nehemiah 9:6 we read – “You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.”

In the New Testament, Paul confirms this – 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.Colossians 1:16

Scripture also tells us that even though they were created by God, their existence is different than ours. – 13 And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?Hebrews 1:13-14

Typically, we can’t see angels, but God has revealed them to humans. – 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”Luke 2:10-15

We also know from scripture there are three types of angels; Cherubim, Seraphim, and Living Creatures.  Scripture tells us that the Cherubim guarded the entrance to the Garden of Eden – Genesis 3:24; God is enthroned above them – Ezekiel 10:1-22; God rides on them – Psalm 18:10; two golden figures of cherubim sit above the Ark of the Covenant, where God promised to dwell among his people – Exodus 25:22.

The Seraphim are mentioned only once in scripture and appear in the book of Isaiah where they continually worship God saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” – Isaiah 6:3.

Ezekiel and Revelation tell us about other kinds of heavenly beings known as “living creatures” around God’s throne.  They appeared like a lion, an ox, a man, and an eagle portraying the various parts of God’s creation – And from the midst of it came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had a human likeness, but each had four faces, and each of them had four wings. Their legs were straight, and the soles of their feet were like the sole of a calf’s foot. And they sparkled like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides they had human hands. And the four had their faces and their wings thus: their wings touched one another. Each one of them went straight forward, without turning as they went. 10 As for the likeness of their faces, each had a human face. The four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle. 11 Such were their faces. And their wings were spread out above. Each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies. 12 And each went straight forward. Wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went. 13 As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches moving to and fro among the living creatures. And the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. 14 And the living creatures darted to and fro, like the appearance of a flash of lightning. – Ezekiel 1:5-14.  They also worship God continually – And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” – Revelation 4:8.

God doesn’t tell us specifically about “guardian angels,” but in Matthew 18:10, Jesus’ words seem to support the idea that people, or at least children, have guardian angels. – 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 18:10.

It’s interesting to note that Christian or not, the majority of people believe in angels.  While a lot of it revolves around notions of a guardian angel, we know from scripture that angels do exist.  For more information on the subject, check out this resource – Angels In The Bible.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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, when questions arise we need look no further than your Word. Thank you Father for revealing your Word to us in scripture. It’s there we seek your face and learn of your love, your grace, and your forgiveness for sin. We pray that as we read and study your Word, you will continue to build our faith and place our trust in you only. All this we ask in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen and Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Faith, How Do We Know It’s Real?

May 26,2019

Good Morning Everyone,

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 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”—

10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. – 1 Corinthians 2:6-14

We had an interesting discussion yesterday in our weekly Men’s Bible Study surrounding the question, “When do we know our faith is real?”  Tough question?  It can be if we make if we make ourselves responsible for the outcome.  Faith always requires an object, I can put my faith in God, or I can put my faith in me.  But, if I’m putting my faith in myself, to live up to God’s expectations, to live a perfect life, I am already lost.  There is nothing I can do, nothing I can say, nothing I can give God that merits salvation.

“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”Isaiah 64:6

Praise God that our salvation is not based on works, for what can we give the God of the universe, who created everything, who created you and me?  Ephesians 2:89 says, 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.”

So, how did we answer the question, “When do you know your faith is real?”
We submit that it’s real when you will defend it.  When you believe in the inerrancy of God’s Word, when you will not compromise God’s Word for any reason.  Scripture admonishes us to always be prepared to defend what we believe.

13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 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, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which[c] he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. –
1 Peter 3:13-22

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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 written your Word in our hearts that we should always be mindful of your love, your grace, your mercy and your forgiveness. Thank you Father that you don’t put the outcome of our faith on anyone but Christ Jesus. All our righteousness is but a filthy rage compared to the glory of your Savior Son. Lord God, as we read and study your word, teach us to rest our faith on Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross. Your grace and forgiveness is a precious gift and promise that we cling to for life eternal. Amen and Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

He Speaks My Name

May 25, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

1 But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. – Isaiah 43:1-3

Many of us have names taken from scripture, mine for instance is Joel.  Had it been left up to my older brother, I would have had a much different name.  Growing up, as a child, my brothers favorite story book was about a character named “Joey Chipmunk.”  When asked what to name his new baby brother, my brother who was 2 1/2 responded, “Joey Chipmunk!”  I’ve always been thankful they reached a compromise and named me Joel instead.  Still, I received a fair amount of razzing over the name Joel; the favorite seemed to be, “The First Jo-el.”  Kind of Christmas-like.

Growing up, we had a neighbor whose last name was Poole.  When their first child came along, a son, they named him “Tad.”  I wonder if he’s ever forgiven them for that?  I tried to be very sensitive to what kids can do with a name when naming my own children.  I wanted a name that wouldn’t cause them grief growing up but would be a name they could wear with pride as adults.  And so, my son was named Joshua, my oldest daughter Emily, and my youngest daughter was named Erin.  That I know of, they were never teased about their name.

Despite the razzing in my youth, I take great comfort in knowing that the God of the universe knows my name and calls me his own.

I saw an interesting advertisement yesterday for a personalized Bible Journal.  Each page contains a verse from scripture, and the scripture is personalized for the individual who owns the journal.  What a marvelous idea, to hear God speak your name! 

“Fear not Joel, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name Joel, you are mine.” – Jeremiah 43:1

Listen for God’s voice as He speaks your name.

Julie, before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and Julie, before you were born I consecrated you.” – Jeremiah 1:5

“For God so loved you David, that he gave his only Son, that when you believe in him David, you will not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

“I am the good shepherd Kurt. I know my you, and you Kurt know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for you. – John 10:14-15

“Because Kristin holds fast to me in love, I will deliver her; I will protect Kristin, because she knows my name. – Psalm 91:14

“When you pass through the waters Karen, I will be with you; and through the rivers Karen, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire Karen you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” – Isaiah 43:2

“The one who conquers, Dan, will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot Dan’s name out of the book of life. I will confess Dan’s name before my Father and before his angels. – Revelation 3:5

“For everyone Clarence who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – Romans 10:13

Can you hear Him?  He speaks my name!

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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 written our names in the Book of Life, you have called us by name and we are yours! What undeserved love, grace and forgiveness you bestow on your children. As we seek your face in scripture, you speak to each of us, calling us by name, revealing your Word and your plan for our lives. Forgive us when we feel you have fallen silent because we have been unfaithful in listening to your voice. Thank you Father for your grace and forgiveness we find in your word. As you call each of us by name, teach us to listen and apply what we learn. And all of God’s children said, Amen!

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Connected To God

May 24, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

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. – Romans 8:38-39

I remember growing up that my grandmother had a party-line phone in her house.  Most of the time it was just an inconvenience if you needed to use the phone, more often you’d find her with the handset to her ear while covering the mouth piece so she could listen in on the neighborhood gossip.  Everyone did it, it was one of the ways they stayed connected to each other.  You could say it was the “Facebook” of that time and place.  The difference now is we’re connected to the world.

I can remember driving over the road in the eighties always having several rolls of quarters so I could stop and use payphones for directions or to speak with loved ones at home.  Now, virtually all of us carry a phone with us whenever we leave the house so we can be instantly connected to anyone anywhere; but it’s not a guaranteed connection.  If you get beyond the range of a cell tower, your phone will drop the call.  It’s a connection, even a connection to the world, but it’s not a connection you can rely on.  The same could be said for your satellite TV, your electricity or a myriad of other connections you have in your life.

There is one connection though that is 100% reliable, all day, every day.  And that’s your connection to God.  God will never drop a call, (prayer) he’ll never put you on hold, He will always answer your call personally, and he will always be there.

1 I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
    and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
    for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

11 Come, O children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 What man is there who desires life
    and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
    and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.

19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
    but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones;
    not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
    and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
    none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned. – Psalm 34

If you desire a closer connection to God then seek him – 11 Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! –

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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, how we seek and treasure our relationship with you. If you were to treat us as we deserve, we would stand abandoned. Instead, in love and grace you offer forgiveness through your Son and our Lord, Jesus Christ. Forgive us when we lose sight of the connection you desire to have with all of us. You call us to be sons, co-heirs with Christ of the riches in heaven. Take the world, but give me Jesus, only Jesus. In whose name we pray, Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Time Well Spent

May 23, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. – Psalm 46:10-11

How many of you remember the band “The Chicago Transit Authority” or as we all know it, “Chicago?”  Most of you don’t know that I was a disc jockey in the early 70’s and my favorite group at the time was Chicago.  One of their hits was, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”   For years I used it as a “music bed” for the opening of my radio show.  You’d first hear a door open and close, then footsteps of someone walking across the floor, the creak of a chair being rolled out was next and then the band would start – da da da da dadalada da ta da da ( in the link it starts at 26 seconds in if you’d like to know exactly ) and we’d be off and running.  It’s still one of my favorite pieces to listen to.  I chose it originally, besides genuinely liking the tune, because at the beginning of my disc jockey career, my show got moved around a lot.  I was basically plugged in wherever they needed someone to fill in.  I did that for almost two years before I finally got my own “slot.”  At the time it was important that I kept my own schedule flexible so I was available when the station needed me.

All of us have the same 24 hours every day to allocate to what we feel is important.  Some of us will stand in line for 10 minutes to get a cup of coffee from Starbucks; you might stand in line for 30 minutes waiting to get into a movie.  For everyone who commutes, I’m almost afraid to ask how much time you spend getting to and from work – time you could be listening to an audio Bible, just saying!  The simple fact is, all of us have time every day we could be spending in God’s Word and feeding our faith.

Last week I shared with you that someone had asked me, “Why do you waste your time writing these meditations?”  I have an answer now for them, time spent with God is never a waste. – 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.

In fact, I would offer if you’re not spending time with God you are starving yourself spiritually.  I promise, that as you immerse yourself in God’s Word, you’ll discover that not only is the time not wasted, you’ll begin to recognize that you cannot survive without it.  Suddenly, that “wasted time” will become the most valuable time of the day for you.  How much time did you really waste today?  How much time did you spend playing Solitaire on the computer?  How much time did you spend watching something mindless on television?  How much time did you spend at work talking to someone about the ending of Game of Thrones?  How much time did you spend daydreaming?

Pick any two and substitute a half hour reading God’s Word.  I promise, you’ll never miss the two things you gave up.  And the time you spend with God, will become more and more valuable every day. – “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 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.”  – James 4:4-8.

I’ve told you before that I started these meditations selfishly to force myself to get into God’s Word every day; I can tell you in all honesty that it’s the most important thing I do every day.  As God has revealed scripture to me, my faith is stronger, my relationships are stronger, and I have a greater understanding of God’s plan for my life.  It’s a choice I make, to spend time with my God and my Savior, and it’s never wasted time.  God chose you first, before the world was born, God chose you.  If you and I are that important to God, maybe we should spend some of our time of grace with him.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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 the foundation of the world you chose us, that we would be holy and blameless before You.  You predestined us to adoption as sons through your Son Jesus Christ according to the kind attention of your will. In love, you sacrificed your Son Jesus to be the atoning sacrifice for sin. By the blood of the Lamb we are sanctified, justified, and clothed in His righteousness we dare to approach your throne as sons and co-heirs with Christ. Thank you Father for the love, the grace and the forgiveness you so freely bestow on all of us. We pray especially, as we spend time in your saving Word, you will open our hearts and our minds to understand and apply all that we learn from you. We ask this in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And all believers said Amen and Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

It’s Not About You

 

May 22, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! – Psalm 115:1

You know what?  I’m offended that you’re offended!  When did this world become all about you?  Have you ever wanted to say that to someone?  I know I have.  It seems that we live in a world of insufferable ego-maniacs.  What’s worse is seeing this attitude within your own congregation.  Pettiness and divisiveness spring up when people become more focused on themselves than on God’s ministry.  Guess what everyone, it’s not about you!

John the Baptist Exalts Christ

22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized 24 (for John had not yet been put in prison).

25 Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” 

31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

It’s time to get over your bad self.  It’s time to make worship about Christ and what he’s done for you.  Now, if that offends you, you have greater issues than cursing your church for not catering your your every whim.  

23 Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” – Jeremiah 9:23-24.

Scripture reminds us again and again to humble ourselves before God and not to be wise in our own site – 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! – Isaiah 5:21.

As far as we are able, we need to live our lives in humility, serving others even as Christ gave us the example.  At the end of the day, it’s not about you, it’s about Jesus.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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 we seek to please ourselves rather than honoring You. Far too often we want to make our lives about us when we should be living our lives for you. You should cast us away for our selfishness; instead, you offer grace and forgiveness through your Son Jesus Christ. It is only bathed in the blood of the lamb that we find forgiveness for our sins of conceit. We praise you, we bless you and we thank you for restoring us through Jesus. We pray that we will always live our lives for him for He bought us with his own precious blood. In His name we pray, Amen and Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Lay Up For Yourselves Treasures In Heaven

May 21, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. – Matthew 6:19-21

Let’s face it, people get fixated on “their” money.  So much so, they might not be aware that it’s becoming their focus in life, their god.  I saw this a lot when I lived in California, where “keeping up with the Jones” is a way of life.  Most people I knew or met were living well beyond their capacity to pay for it.  Admittedly, California is a very expensive place to live.  You pay a lot for perpetual sunshine and earthquakes, very expensive.

So, let’s narrow the focus, where are you at when it comes to giving to the Lord?  Do you give generously, cheerfully?  Do you give expecting a return on your investment?  There’s an old Hank Williams Jr. song entitled “The American Dream,” that includes this line in the lyrics, “Now there are some preachers on TV with a suit and a tie and a vest they want you to send your money to the lord but they give you their address.”  So it can work both ways.

24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. – Matthew 6:24.

If you give money to your church, tithe, can you then dictate how the money is used?  Have you really given a gift if you want to control it after it’s been given and received?  The fact is, there is nothing that God needs or lacks; and, if we’re really honest, what can we give God that has any kind of measure over what he has given us through his constant grace and forgiveness?  The simple fact is, you cannot out give God; it can’t be done.

Tithing is one way God allows us to see our faith in action.  God is the great multiplier, he will take your gift and multiply it many times over in His ministry and indeed in your life.  I know it’s hard if you’re living on the edge, paycheck to paycheck; or, maybe you’ve lost your job.  The temptation is to stop tithing, or to cut back on what you give; I would challenge you to continue your tithe or even increase it.  In this way you will give God an opportunity to reward your faith.

God is always faithful; God never lies; God promises to reward your faith – you can take that to the bank.  Keep your eyes on Jesus, your Savior and all else will be given to you.  You have God’s promise on that.

Do Not Be Anxious

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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, keep our eyes ever focused on Jesus and all of the blessings you so generously bestow. Forgive us Lord when we place more importance on the destructible things of this world than the indestructible eternity we will spend with you. Strengthen our faith through your Word and sacraments and keep us ever mindful that we are yours because you chose us, even before the beginning of the world. All this we pray in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus. And all of God’s believers said, Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Because He Loves Me

May 20, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” – Psalm 91:14-16

I had the incredible honor recently to visit with an old friend who I hadn’t seen in a number of years. I felt awkward, because at 83 his health is failing and I should have made more of an effort to stay in touch. Somewhat selfishly, I wanted to see him because I didn’t know how many opportunities I might have left and I seriously regretted missing the ones that I’d had.

Although he recognized me, he had trouble remembering my name, and yet the connection remained. So much so that the first thing he asked about, was the job I was doing the last time we had seen one another; so, he clearly remembered me. But, “Tell me your name again?” he asked.  That morning, he offered a chair, but I chose to sit next to him on a small couch and soon he was sharing stories with me about his life. He talked about the 38 countries he’s visited, and about the hundreds of paintings and drawings he’s done over the years, the thousands of people he’s met and all of the adventures he’s had. “A pretty good life,” he said.

“But I’m proudest of my children,” he said looking earnestly into my eyes and with tears in his own. “They’re self-sufficient; they’re honest, hard-working, good people.” “I’m proud of that,” he told me. “Maybe I didn’t do so bad.”  I could tell he was taking the measure of his own life by all that he’s accomplished; and, he was sharing this intimately with me.

My friend and I have always shared stories; we can sit for hours and tell one another about our adventures. It’s never a competition, but every story reminds us of another and so we tell it.  My friend has journaled for years and has encouraged me over and over to do the same, to write the stories down so they can be shared with others. I’ve never felt my stories were on a par with his, but his interest has always been genuine and so I’ve been graciously given the freedom to share mine with him. The stories I tell, in large part, are because of my friend, the ultimate story teller who feels I have something to share.

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 5:20-21.

Those of you who love to read, can appreciate that sharing stories with someone like my friend, is like reading a good book, one that you can’t put down because it takes you places you may never get to go.  Years ago, I had the privilege of knowing another individual like my friend; Vi was 101 years young, and I used to visit her home in Mesa, Arizona. I’d come to the house and she’d offer iced tea and then we’d sit in her parlor and I’d say “Vi, tell me about the good old days.” Then it was time to sit back and enjoy! And oh, the stories she’d tell! Time would stand still as she vividly remembered her life and growing up while Arizona was still a territory.

It’s a humbling thing to be made a part of their experience, and so it was that day with my friend. For more than 50 years he has been an artist, sketching and painting, “photographing” with paint or pen on canvas all that caught his artists eye. In this way, as he traveled the world he captured his adventures, preserving them for posterity and for a few of us lucky enough to own a piece of his work, we’ll always have him with us.  Now, age has robbed him of his ability to paint or draw, but it hasn’t dimmed his memories of where his life has taken him. His life has been a story, and, like any good plot, there’s been love, adventure, hard times and oh so many more good times. He has embraced life, kicked it around a little, allowed it to take him where it would, and loved every minute of it.

I’ve always wanted to share God’s love with my friend, but over the years it’s been clear that he hasn’t had a lot of time for organized religion. And so, I haven’t pressed the issue, selfishly putting the relationship in front of what’s most important, sharing the love of Jesus.  This day was different though; perhaps feeling his own mortality, it was my friend who invoked God’s blessings and invited prayer.

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, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. – Ephesians 6:18-20.

As I left we embraced, and I told my friend that I knew he’d understand when I told him that I loved him. With tears in his eyes holding each of my hands, he said “God bless you.”

Epilogue – All of you know a story teller. Scripture tells us –

Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of man!” For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning: in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers. For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.

For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh. 10 The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. – Psalm 90:1-10.

Embrace your story teller and listen as they share their adventures with you; do it now while there is yet time for another chapter.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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, give us the courage to always share your gospel boldly. Precious Lord, far too often we neglect to share your love with others, to courageously share your Word. Lord we pray today that as you give us the opportunity, we will seize it and tell others about you as you have commanded us to do. Thank you Father for the sacrifice of your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, he took our sins to the cross that we, washed in the blood of the lamb, might spend eternity with you. In His name we pray, Amen and Amen. 

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

The Enemy

May 19, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8

Can I confess that it’s been a tough week?  And, at the same time, it’s been a week full of blessings.  Let me explain.  Scripture tells us that the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Anyone who thinks that isn’t true is sadly fooling themselves.  Satan is always lurking, always looking for an opportune time to press home an advantage.    This week, I was at a low ebb when he attacked.  I was questioned why I wasted so much of my time writing this meditation daily.  It really took the wind out of my sails and made me question why.  And that’s the point, Satan waits until we’re at our most vulnerable when he makes his move.  We see this over and over again in scripture.

Immediately after Christ’s baptism, when he faced Satan’s temptation – 1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. – Matthew 4:1.  Whenever he’s able, Satan will attack your faith.  New Christians are particularly vulnerable as the enemy will immediately try to get you to question your faith.  Satan will attack you whenever you are feeling alone.  Sometimes the attack comes from a place you never expected it.  After Jesus told his disciples that he must go to the city of Jerusalem to die, he was accosted by Peter – 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord!  This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance  to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” – Matthew 16:22-23.

This is why scripture reminds us to be watchful, to be on guard so when the enemy attacks we understand what’s happening and we know where we can seek and find help.  Keep in mind that Satan attacks after a great spiritual experience; he attacks just when you step forward boldly to proclaim the gospel; Satan attacks whenever you’re physically, mentally, or spiritually hurting.  He attacks believer whenever they feel they’re all alone.  So, we must always be watchful, sober-minded and on guard.

I told you earlier that this was also a week of blessings.  When I was feeling my lowest, when I was questioning whether or not I should continue these meditations, God blessed me with three encouraging e-mails from people I’ve never met, but have found these meditations to be worthwhile.  It’s a very humbling thing to know that God chooses to use a broken vessel like me to proclaim His Word to others.  If the truth be told, I started writing these selfishly to force me to get into God’s Word every day.  But every once in a while, God gives me a peek into his Word working in others.

One e-mail I’d like to mention in particular said, “God is using you in a mighty way. I know God had me “run into” your website so I would become more bold & courageous to share Him & His Word. Blessings on you & your ministry!! Thanks for writing & sharing your posts!!”

In Isaiah 55:11, God promises – 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.  Amen to that.

Thank you for the encouragement and for reminding me that sharing His Word is indeed important.  I am so very blessed to do it.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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, your Word teaches us to walk by faith, faith in our Savior Redeemer, Jesus Christ. That faith comes from hearing the Word of Christ. Father in heaven, you are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end and your Word will endure forever. It is that promise that we can trust and turn to in all things. Your Word stands alone, your Word is the final authority over all things and we have faith in that. Thank you for sharing that encouragement this week from fellow believers. Thank you for being my comfort, my strength and my portion in all things. Most especially, thank you for finding me worthy through the atoning sacrifice of your Son, that as broken as I am, you bless me with the courage to boldly share your Word with others. In my Saviors name I pray, Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

My Word Shall Not Return Empty

May 18, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. – Isaiah 55:10-11

Every so often, I have the real privilege of hearing how God’s Word is working in someone’s life.  It is encouraging to me, and terribly humbling at the same time.  When I began this ministry of sharing God’s Word, it was with the selfish intent of forcing me into scripture and spending some time with God every day.  So often I hear from someone saying, “thank you, I really needed to hear this scripture today.”  My response is always, “thank you, I needed to hear it too.”

Isaiah 55 is one of my favorite books in the Bible.  It speaks of the compassion of the Lord and most certainly doesn’t need anything additional from me.  Listen to the living Word of God.

1 “Come, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
3 Incline your ear, and come to me;
    hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
    my steadfast, sure love for David.
Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know,
and a nation that did not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

12 “For you shall go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
    shall break forth into singing,
    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” – Isaiah 55

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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, oh the comfort we find in your Word! As Jesus told Martha, it is the one thing necessary. Time spent in your Word is more precious than gold. It’s there we find comfort, hope, grace and forgiveness; indeed, it’s there we seek your face, it’s there we find you. Thank you Father for giving us your Word, thank you for your grace and forgiveness, for providing a Savior so we may rest in your arms forever. Amen and Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

A White Stone

May 17, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it. – Revelation 2:17

The exact meaning of this piece of scripture has had numerous interpretations by Bible Scholars regarding the significance of the white stone and the new name.  My favorite interpretation though is this; at the time the Book of Revelation was recorded, if you were tried for a crime, a white stone signified acquittal while a black stone signified guilt.  To receive a white stone meant that you were found not guilty, that you have been tried and found worthy of forgiveness.

You stand victorious over sin through the resurrection of your Savior, Christ Jesus.  The white stone then is a symbol of who you have become in your faithfulness and determination to overcome sin in your life.  In your earthly life, your faith is tested daily, but in eternity it will be proven.  And, written on your stone will be your new name in Christ Jesus.  This new name will reflect the challenges and sufferings you have overcome in this life because of God’s grace and forgiveness and your faithfulness to your Savior.  Your new name will reflect both your victory and your transformation in Christ.

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 5:17-21.

Our victory is in Christ Jesus!

1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. – Isaiah 62:1-2.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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 but strangers here, heaven is our home. As we seek to glorify your name on earth, we eagerly await our new name in heaven where we will join with the saints in praising you. In this Easter Season, keep us ever mindful of your give of grace and forgiveness won through the sacrifice of your Son on Calvary’s cross. Clothed in His righteousness, we are your children, co-heirs with Christ in life eternal. Amen and Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Adrift

May 16, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? – Hebrews 2:1-3

Like a lot of congregations, my church is actively seeking out members who have drifted away from attending worship.  I don’t think we’re unusual in that respect, but I do wonder why people drift away from their faith.

I believe one reason might be that something interrupts their routine and they simply “get out of the habit” of coming to church.  Unfortunately, this can happen easily.  Maybe the first Sunday you just decide to sleep in.  You haven’t had a long weekend to yourself in a while and getting up early for church takes a back seat to a day off.  The next Sunday it’s easier to find an excuse not to go, and by the third Sunday, suddenly church has fallen way down on your list of priorities.

It could be that you’re angry with someone at church and you decide you’d rather not deal with them, it’s easier to stay home and avoid the conflict.  After a month of Sundays, we convince ourselves that we just need a break for a while; you have every good intention of going back to church, but now after several months you’re embarrassed to show your face; what will people say?  I’m sure they’ve been talking about me all the time I’ve been away and so on.

Or worse yet, maybe you’re angry with God and feel as if he’s punishing you for something.

The important thing for you to remember is that your faith in the living Triune God and especially His Son, Christ Jesus, is your most important possession in this life and in life eternal.  Scripture cautions us again and again about guarding and protecting our faith – 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 5:6-11.

And again, no one knows that day or the hour!

32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” – Mark 13:32-37.

May our prayer always be:

Lead Me In Your Righteousness

1 Give ear to my words, O Lord;
    consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
    my King and my God,
    for to you do I pray.
O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
    in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
    evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
    you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
    the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
    will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
    in the fear of you.
Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness
    because of my enemies;
    make your way straight before me.

For there is no truth in their mouth;
    their inmost self is destruction;
their throat is an open grave;
    they flatter with their tongue.
10 Make them bear their guilt, O God;
    let them fall by their own counsels;
because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,
    for they have rebelled against you.

11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may exult in you.
12 For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
    you cover him with favor as with a shield. – Psalm 5.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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, how easily we drift away from your Word. And yet, when we return, like the prodigal son you welcome us with grace and forgiveness. Lord, teach us to remain in your Word, as it is your will, reveal it to our hearts and minds that our faith might be strengthened daily. Forgive us when we fail acknowledge the importance of our faith and the magnitude of your gift in Christ Jesus. Who are we that you should care or love us this much? But Father we cling to your promises and wrap your Son’s righteousness around us as a cloak. Only then, justified by faith, we dare approach your throne as redeemed children. Amen and Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Peace With God Through Faith

May 15, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

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. – Romans 5:1-11

Much of the conversation this week in the Bible studies I’ve attended has revolved around God’s grace. In particular, I was asked how God has demonstrated grace in my life.

The enormity of the answer is almost too much to put to paper. The evidence of his grace is all around me, but what stands out the most to me, is his loving acceptance of this broken vessel. “For 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.”

At a time when I gave God every reason to cast me aside, instead he saved me. I denied him and he gave me eternal life. When I was angriest with God, he offered me peace and salvation. God’s grace amazes me.  God’s love and salvation are a gift given to us; it is never something we do for God. And that’s the amazing thing, God’s love and grace is undeserved. If we’re honest with ourselves, why would God want any of us? What have I to offer the King of Kings? On my best day, I sin continually – what can I do to deserve his gift of redemption?

“I’ve decided to accept Christ,” some would declare, as if we’re doing something for God. It reverses the roles and diminishes God’s gift of grace. And that’s the point, if we make it about us instead of Jesus, we deny his sacrifice.

The marvelous thing about God’s grace is his willingness to extend it to us, broken as we are. Have you ever felt as if you had no value? You are so precious to God that he gave his Son to redeem you. Who does that? Only God; because washed in Christ’s blood, we are redeemed and justified and are heirs with him to the kingdom of heaven.

I carry a small flat stone in my pocket that I call “enough.” It’s there to always remind me that God’s grace, God’s love is enough. On my worst day, I am reminded that through Christ I have enough.  Thank God for his grace, for his gift of a Savior and his unchanging love for all of us.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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, your Word teaches us to walk by faith, faith in our Savior Redeemer, Jesus Christ. That faith comes from hearing the Word of Christ. Father in heaven, you are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end and your Word will endure forever. It is that promise that we can trust and turn to in all things. Your Word stands alone, your Word is the final authority over all things and we have faith in that. Amen and Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

We Walk By Faith

May 14, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sightYes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. – 2 Corinthians 5:6-10

The sun came up this morning!  Was there ever any doubt in your mind that it would?  Of course not; so, why not?  Why did you have faith that the sun would rise this morning?  Well, for me, the sun has come up 24,589 times since the day I was born and I have every reason to believe that it will come up again tomorrow and the day after that.  I have faith in the sun because, well, it’s always been there.  But is the sun infallible?  Certainly not.  Even though it’s been there every morning of my life, I also know someday it won’t be.  If you believe the scientists, the sun is already 4.6 billion years old and is expected to die out in another 10-billion years.  Of course, this is all pure conjecture on their part.  Not one scientist is alive today, or who as ever lived in recorded history, was there when the sun was formed during God’s creation.  So, for them to speculate that it’s already 4.6-billion years old is just that, speculation.  There is no scientific proof that it’s true.  There is no possible way they can prove it’s age, because it doesn’t meet their own established criteria for proof or scientific method.

On the other hand, I know with absolute confidence that the day is coming when heaven and earth will pass away.  It matters not if it will be in six hours, six days, six years or even six billion years; I have God’s Word that it will take place, and I have complete faith in that.

The Coming Of The Son Of Man

25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

The Lesson Of The Fig Tree

29 And he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.30 As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. 31 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place.33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Luke 21:25-33.

As Christians, we walk by faith.  Faith and confidence in the inerrancy of God’s Word.

1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. – Hebrews 11:1-3.

Perhaps the greatest statement of faith occurs in the Book of Ephesians – By Grace Through Faith

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 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. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:1-10.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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, your Word teaches us to walk by faith, faith in our Savior Redeemer, Jesus Christ. That faith comes from hearing the Word of Christ. Father in heaven, you are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end and your Word will endure forever. It is that promise that we can trust and turn to in all things. Your Word stands alone, your Word is the final authority over all things and we have faith in that. Amen and Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

And Jesus Said

May 13, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.[a] From now on you do know him and have seen him.” – John 14:6-7

Jesus often used parables to teach important lessons in scripture, but more often, He spoke to others directly.  This morning I thought I’d share with all of you some of what our Savior has to say to all of us.

Let The Children Come To Me

13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away. – Matthew 19:13-15.

Jesus Calls Levi

27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. 29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”  Luke 5:27-32.

I Am The Way, The Truth, And The Life

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:1-6.

Paul’s  Vision And Thorn

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

The Request of James and John

35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”Mark 10:35-45.

The Lesson From the Withered Fig Tree

20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

The Parable of the Lost Sheep

 10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven. 12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”Matthew 18:10-14.

God is peaking to us constantly through His Word, we have only to listen.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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 listen as we read and study your Word. As we open our hearts and minds, you graciously reveal yourself and your plans for our life in Christ Jesus. Give us the desire to seek your face in all things, that we may live lives wholly acceptable to you. Amen and Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Pray Continually

May 12, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,[a] encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:12-18

I remember as a child saying my prayers every night before going to sleep.  Like most children I prayed, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”  Later, as I got older, I was taught to say the Lord’s prayer every night; “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever, amen.”

For many years I was persistent in praying every night, never missing a night for fear of something happening if I failed to pray.  Somehow, I equated not praying with sinning against God.  God never meant for us to pray in fear of Him.  Instead – 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

The time came though when I stopped praying every night.  It began when I was at a low point and was asking God for help.  And when God didn’t respond after I prayed continually, I started blaming God for all the ills in my life.  Instead of praying for His will for my life, I was asking him to step in and solve all of my problems for me.  At first I felt guilty not praying before I went to sleep at night, eventually I convinced myself that He wasn’t listening anyway, so what was the use of praying to Him?  That’s just the path Satan wanted me to take, to deny my Father in heaven.

What we need to do is to make prayer a priority in our life.  Not only praying for ourselves, but especially praying for others. – 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. – Philippians 4:5-6.

And when you don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us – 26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. – Romans 8:26-30.

When you remember what’s at stake, it will become a strong motivator for praying faithfully.  Set aside a time and place where you can speak to your Lord every day.  Search God’s Word for passages concerning prayer; learn to pray in faith, to pray for God’s will for your life.  You may even want to begin a journal concerning your prayer requests and God’s answers to your prayers.  As you see and feel God answering prayer your faith will gain strength, your love for God and your Savior will increase and your devotion to prayer will become strong.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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, your Word admonishes us to pray continually, to pray without ceasing. Forgive us when we fail to do so. Forgive us when a lack of faith keeps us from speaking to you. Again and again in scripture you tell us “do not fear.” Let that be our conscience and give us a willingness to always go to you in prayer. All this we ask in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen and amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

May 11, 2019

Relentless, a God of Second Chances – 05/11/2019

Good Morning Everyone,

21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:21-23

Have you ever given much thought to the heroes of the Bible?  Those that God used mightily, were often the most flawed of sinners.

Abraham, the very father of faith, lied about being married to Sarah – And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. – Genesis 20:2

Abraham’s son Isaac did the same thing – So Isaac settled in Gerar. When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he feared to say, “My wife,” thinking, “lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah,” because she was attractive in appearance. – Genesis 26:6-7.

When God promised Sarah a child, she laughed at the idea and then denied that she laughed – 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” – Genesis 18:12.

Perhaps the worst was Saul who spent his life murdering and imprisoning Christians – But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. – Acts 9:1-2.

Do you see a common thread here?  In every case, God was relentless in his pursuit of the sinner and gave each of them a second chance.  Every one of us will fail at some time, some of us will fail daily, but we have the assurance that God will forgive us.  We find that assurance in the death and glorious resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ; who took the sins of the world upon his own shoulders and bore them on the cross of Calvary. 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. – John 3:16.

Even if you feel that you’ve failed God, failed yourself, and failed everyone that you love in life, God is there eagerly waiting to forgive you and give you a second chance.  God assures us as we return to him in repentance, he promises forgiveness and renewal. – Therefore say to them, Thus declares the Lord of hosts: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. – Zechariah 1:3.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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 Lord when we insist on doing things our way. You set straight the path before us and we so often fail to follow you. We pray that you will continue to lead us out of sin, away from the sin of pride, away from the sin of lacking faith. Teach us to live lives that are pleasing to you. In this season of Easter Lord, we praise you again and again for that gift of love, forgiveness and grace found only in your Son, Jesus Christ, who willingly took our sins to the cross. Clothed in His righteousness we are your children, co-heirs with Christ for an eternity in heaven worshiping you. And all of God’s children said, Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Worship – In Reverent Awe of the Lord

May 10, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, 19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. 20 We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. 21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. 22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you. – Psalm 33:18-22

What is it you worship in life?  Funny question?  Is it really?  Let me ask the question in a different way; what’s most important to you in this life?  Your job?  Your family?  Your home?  Your favorite sports team?  All of these can be your focus of worship if they transcend everything else that is important to you.

How much time do you set aside for God each week?  Is it one hour on Sunday when you attend church?  Does God even cross your mind the rest of the week?  The point I’m making is that what’s truly the most important thing in your life, you may be giving short shrift.  You see, God created us for the sole purpose of worshiping Him.

The Throne in Heaven

4 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

“‘Holy, holy, holy

is the Lord God Almighty,’

who was, and is, and is to come.”

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they were created
    and have their being.” – Revelation 4.

Why should we do it, why should we praise and worship God?

Because, God is worthy.  Worthy of our love, worthy of our praise, worthy of our devotion, worthy of our worship.  He is our Creator God and we are commanded to worship Him.  Listen to Psalm 96:9 – Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.  Psalm 29:2 – Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.

Not only are we commanded to worship God but in John, Chapter 4, verse 23 we are told how – 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

Worship is so much more than the time we spend with God on Sunday.  Worship is a perpetual condition of our heart, a willingness to exalt God with our entire life.  God would have us be a living sacrifice to him.  I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:1-2.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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 truly worthy of honor and glory and praise and worship. Forgive us when we fail to acknowledge all that you have done for us. You love us so much that you sent your one and only Son to be the sacrifice for the sins of the world, thereby forgiving our sin and making us co-heirs with Christ in heaven. Teach us to cling to your promises of forgiveness and may we ever praise and worship you. Amen and Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Personally

May 9, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” – Isaiah 43:3-7

I recently read a devotion concerning hearing God’s voice as He speaks to us through His Word.  I don’t think it’s something I would have thought of on my own, but I can feel the power of scripture as I followed through on this idea.  Let me demonstrate.

For I am the Lord your God Joel, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior Joel; I give Egypt for your ransom Joel, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you Joel are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you Joel, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid Joel, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name Joel, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” – Isaiah 43:3-7

What a difference to hear God’s voice speaking to you personally in His Word!

The Lord himself goes before you Julie and will be with you; he will never leave you Julie nor forsake you. Do not be afraid Julie; do not be discouraged.” – Deuteronomy 31:8.

17 And whatever you do David, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:17.

Commit your way to the Lord Kristin; trust in him and he will do this:  He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. – Psalm 37:5-6.

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

13 May the God of hope fill you Jeannie with all 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.

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore everyone I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:25-34.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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, daily we seek your voice and you speak to each of us through your Word. We know and trust that your Word is personal, it’s there to assure each of us of the grace and forgiveness you extend to your children. By grace we are saved through faith in your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Through your Word and sacrament you reveal Him to us personally, strengthening our faith. Thank you Father for this precious gift, thank you for knowing us and acknowledging each of us personally. And all of God’s children said, Amen!

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Hidden

May 8, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

23 “Am I only a God nearby,” declares the Lord, “and not a God far away? 24 Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord. – Jeremiah 23:23-24

Have you ever been to Alaska?  I had the great privilege of traveling there numerous times by land, by sea and from the air.  Alaska has so many hidden treasures that it’s not possible in a single trip to see everything it has to offer.  Between the amazing scenery and the huge variety of animals, it seemed there was always something to capture your attention.  One thing that surprises most visitors is the sheer size of things, the mountains for instance, at 20,310 feet, Denali is impressive when viewed from Anchorage, but take an air taxi to base camp on the Kahiltna glacier, and you’ll get an entirely different perspective on its size.

I’ll never forget the first iceberg I saw up close and personal coming off of the face of the Columbia glacier in Prince William Sound.  The iceberg was the size of a small apartment building and the tour boat I was on got in fairly close so we were able to take pictures.  Suddenly, without warning, the ice berg rolled exposing the underside of the berg which was several times larger but had been hidden beneath the water.  Typically, two-thirds of an iceberg remains hidden from view beneath the waves and remains unseen until something happens and it’s exposed.  There’s a lesson there for our lives; what are you hiding from God?

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. – Psalm 139:1-12.

There is both comfort and conviction in that Psalm.  Comfort that God is always with you, always near to your side; but conviction that you cannot hide from God, God is witness to everything in your life.  If we’re honest with ourselves, I believe that most of us have sin in our lives that we feel God might overlook if we keep it hidden from everyone.  Either we feel it’s too small for Him to notice or somehow the good that we do trumps our “favorite” sin.  There is forgiveness though if we confess our sins to God.

Light and Darkness, Sin and Forgiveness

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. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. – 1 John 1:5-10.

There is such power in forgiveness.  In it you will find peace, you will find comfort and, you will even find love.  Today, if you’re harboring any kind of un-forgiven sin; or, if you’re harboring any animosity towards another person, remember that forgiveness will set you free.  Free from the burden of guilt, free from the anger of hate.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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 blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. It’s a promise we cling to Father, when the loss of a loved one is over-whelming, we have assurance from you of salvation through Christ. And we know from your Word, that those who die in the Lord will be with you in heaven for all eternity. Thank you Lord for that comfort and hope we share with all believers that though we mourn their loss now, it is only temporary until we are raised imperishable to eternal glory. Be with us Father as we cling to your promises and praise and bless you for your grace and salvation won by the death and resurrection of your Son, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen and Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Be Still

May 7, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

31 What, then, shall we say in response 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, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns?No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? – Romans 8:31-35

Whether you realize it or not, we are in a daily struggle with the enemy.  Our battle is against a tireless enemy, a deceitful enemy, a merciless enemy who continually presses home his attack.  This enemy is both fierce and relentless; it hates the truth and seeks only to maim and destroy.  If you’re a believer, you’re all too aware of this enemy and the constant attacks on your well-being.

The enemies attacks can be subtle, making you question even small decisions, or they can be bold attacks on your faith in God, “Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?”  And, when you find yourself at a low ebb, he chooses that time to press his advantage in an attempt to defeat you.  This enemy is as old as creation.

When the nation of Israel fled Egypt, they were pursued by Pharaoh’s army; terrified they cried out to the Lord – 10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” 13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:10-14.

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

You see, the Lord our God is always with us and stands ready to fight for us if we can just be still.  God has given us in His Word, everything we need to defeat the enemy.  We have been set free by Christ Jesus who won the victory for us on the cross.

When the enemy attacks, remember who it is that fights for you, the God of all creation is at your right hand and will not be defeated.

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. – Ephesians 6:10-18.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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 serve an awesome God, a powerful God, a God of love and a God of grace. Thank you Father for standing firm in our struggle against the enemies schemes. Forgive us when we fail to recognize that we need only to be still and know that your are God. By your grace and the sacrifice of your Son we dare to claim our inheritance as we believe on His name. Daily remind us that we are not alone, that you are always there at our side protecting us and loving us. And all of God’s children said, Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

If God Seems Far Away, Guess Who Moved?

May 6, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

2 And when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. – Deuteronomy :30:2-4

“If God seems far away, guess who moved?”

This was the quote on the church marquee near my home a few months ago; “If God seems far away, guess who moved?”  In light of all of the terrible things happening in the world today, how often do we ask “Where is God?”

It’s a question that’s worth answering.

As a society, haven’t we done everything we can do to remove God from our lives? Have we not ordered him out of our schools, out of our homes and indeed, out of our lives?  And yet, when tragedy strikes, we have the audacity to ask “Where is God?” The world turns away from God’s perfect love and his salvation; until something terrible happens and then they call out to him for rescue.  We push God away, we ignore God, we get angry with God and we turn from him; and then wonder “Where is God?” We run from God and then blame him when it seems he’s turned his back on us.

We seem to feel that we have a vengeful God who spends his time orchestrating all of the trouble we experience in our lives.

The reality is anything but that.

19 How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you. 20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them from all human intrigues; you keep them safe in your dwelling from accusing tongues. – Psalm 31:19-20.

A tragedy happens in Orlando, and our politicians blame the guns – or society blames God for allowing it to happen. As a society, don’t we have some responsibility too?  Haven’t we allowed militant fringe groups to intimidate us and remove the morals and values our country was founded on? Haven’t we retreated into the shadows and with tears watched our country shredded with political correctness? We fear somehow offending others, but give no thought to offending God.

Luke 12:5 reminds us “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”

That’s a sobering thought, and one that we should pay attention to.  Instead, we make excuses for individuals who perpetrate these horrors and ignore what’s at the root of the evil. We order God to get out; and then wonder where he’s gone.  In our personal lives, we ask “Where is God(?),” when trouble comes instead of running to him for comfort. God never promised a life without trouble, in fact he promises just the opposite – “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33.

The truth is, God is always with us; he assures us of that through his Word; “and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~ Luke 12:5.

The truth is God loves us; he loves us so much that he was willing to sacrifice his only son to save us; “for God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whosoever believes in him, should not perish but have everlasting life.” ~ John 3:16.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. – Psalm 100.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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 we fail to seek you daily. You promise to be with us always and still we neglect to call on you. Forgive us when we have the audacity to blame you for leaving us when in truth we have abandoned you. You demonstrate your love and grace daily, most especially with the gift of your Son, our Savior, who sacrificed himself to take our sins away on Calvary’s cross. Lord, as we seek you in your Word and sacrament, fill us again with the Holy Spirit, with faith and reassurance of your abounding love for us. All this we pray in the precious name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen and Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Son

May 5, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. – Romans 8:14-17

May 5, 1975, my son’s birthday.  It’s one of those days that I’ll never forget, and for a lot of reasons.  Joshua finally made it into this world after more than 16 hours of hard labor.  I can remember we went into the hospital Sunday afternoon; Joshua wasn’t born until Monday morning after an excruciating hard labor.  I had hoped to be in the delivery room when he was born, but in the end wasn’t allowed because of the length of time it took for him to be delivered.  And so, I was relegated to the waiting room where almost two hours went by.  Finally, the nurse came in holding Joshua and announced, “Here’s your new son.”  She pulled the blanket back and I couldn’t even comprehend what I was seeing.  Joshua had been in the birth canal for so long that his head was seriously pushed out of shape.  His head was totally cone shaped and his face was severely bruised from the forceps they used to deliver him.  He honestly didn’t even appear to be human.  It was a quick look and then the nurse whisked him away and I was left sitting there wondering what had happened to him.

Almost immediately, Joshua began to have grand mal seizures which were caused by the massive head trauma.  The news from the doctors was pretty grim, if Josh were to survive, he may never be normal; they were unsure as to how much trauma his brain had received and the possible diagnosis wasn’t very encouraging.  I can remember going into the hospital’s chapel and praying for Joshua; praying that the Lord would intercede on his behalf.  I felt so bad for Joshua, that he’d suffered so much.  Josh was placed in neonatal intensive care and they began doing one test after another.  I can remember they did a number of spinal taps and listening to Joshua scream in pain as the doctors performed them.

And then, miraculously as the days went by, Joshua began to heal.  His head began to look more normal, it no longer came to a point.  Eventually, the doctor’s tests could not find any sort of permanent damage and I thanked God again and again for the miracle he gave us, a son.

16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see. – Acts 3:16.

My son and I have always been extremely close.  Shortly after Josh was born, I began driving truck over the road and as soon as he was out of diapers, Josh began riding with me.  As an owner-operator, I was able to take Josh along; he was with me full-time until he started school.  By the time he started Kindergarten, he’d already visited 38 states, swam in the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico.  Josh had been to Disney World and everywhere else I could think of as we crisscrossed the country over and over again.  Josh loved trucking with his dad and I loved having him with me.  Josh was the perfect partner, we’d laugh together, I’d tell him stories, and when it was time for a nap, he’d hop back in the sleeper and I wouldn’t see him again for a couple of hours.  Some of my very fondest memories are trucking together with my son.  It was a sad day when he started school and couldn’t be with me full time.

Growing up, I always wanted to be a Pastor, but life didn’t take me in that direction.  Josh finished school and went on to college to study acoustical engineering.  Just short of his engineering degree, Joshua felt God’s calling for his life and he left Moorhead State University and enrolled at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.  Today, Joshua has been a Pastor for more than 20 years, a true man of God, humbly serving wherever God has led him.  Even more, Josh has three sons of his own, and a beautiful daughter, all of them know God as Savior and King.  

In fact, it’s largely due to my son that I found my way back to the Lord again.  Josh, by example, has shown me how to live a life of faith in God and I am forever blessed by this.

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33.

When I consider my son, I can only stand in awe of our Father in heaven who gave his only Son to be my Savior.  And not only me, but the Savior to the world.  What wondrous love is this?  That God would make this sacrifice for all of us.  That He would extend his love and grace and make us heirs with Jesus in heaven.  It’s more than we can comprehend, but we praise God daily for his gift of grace in Christ Jesus.

Thank you Joshua for setting the example of living a life of faith.  Thank you for being my son, thank you for forgiving me all of the times I’ve failed you as a father.  I never became a Pastor, but by the grace of God I am his redeemed child and I place my faith in Him.  Happy Birthday Joshua.

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? – Matthew 6:25-27.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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, forty-four years ago you blessed me with a son. Even more, you gave us a miracle when we needed it most. You see our lives in the context of forever, and for each of your children you have a plan, a plan to prosper us in our faith, a plan for us to spend an eternity with you. Thank you for the gift of my son Father, even more thank you for the gift of your Son, who you freely offered to take away my sin. And while I cannot humanly fathom the depth of your love, I am daily blessed to know you as my God, my Savior and my King. I pray in the name of your Son, my Redeemer and risen Savior. Amen and Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Faithful

May 4, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations – Deuteronomy 7:9

Faith changes everything.  Let me say that again, faith changes everything.  So, where does faith come from? 

I’ve lived a good share of my life depending on me.  I learned very early on to be self-sufficient in everything.  When there was no one else I could depend on, I could always depend on me.  Some people might think, “Well that’s great, you’re strong enough to stand on your own two feet.  If there’s an issue, you can figure it out.”  Sounds pretty good, right?  I can tell you, in many ways it’s a horrible way to live.  Why, you might ask?  Because you can never relax, you need to be constantly vigilant, always prepared, ready to do whatever it takes; and that’s draining to the soul.  Your self worth gets wrapped up in your ability to make it, and you know down deep that you can fail; you’ve done it before.

There was also a time I was at the end of my rope and I looked to God for help and He wasn’t there.  I had an entire list of things I prayed for, and God was silent.  Maybe I was fervent enough in prayer?  Maybe God was just busy.  Maybe God just didn’t care.  Or maybe, I really didn’t have any faith that he’d come through for me.

Testing of Your Faith

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord. – James 1:2-7.

“But let him ask in faith without doubting.”  I think many of us use that prayer to God as a “Hail Mary” pass, a prayer of last resort when we realize whatever we’re dealing with, we cannot handle it by ourselves.  If that’s so, then we shouldn’t be surprised when that prayer isn’t answered.

Faith changes everything – 14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:14-16.

It’s taken me many years to reach this time of grace I now live in daily, I’m not always the quickest study!  I had to learn though that there is someone else I can depend on, someone I can trust, someone I can have absolute faith in, God.  But you need to be bold, you need to learn to step out in faith, you must learn to live in God’s will for your life.  Give up that pride that keeps you from seeking God’s will for your life.

The Message of Salvation to All

For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. – Romans 10:5-17.

Today, as you read and study God’s Word, know that you are strengthening your faith.  Faith in God, who will never leave you, never forsake you; you have that promise in His Word – Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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 will never leave us or forsake us. We cling to that promise as we learn to live lives of faith in our Father and our Redeemer. We cherish your Word Lord as we find you there everywhere we look. Lord, teach us to live our lives faithfully, prayerfully seeking you every day. In this Easter season, we thank you especially for sending your Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. For by faith we are saved through grace, your grace and love Father. Amen and Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

Behold, I Am Doing A New Thing…

May 3, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

16 Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, 17 who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: 18 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. – Isaiah 43:16-19

A new beginning, a new thing?  Every day we wake up and what’s changed?  I think most people rebel at change.  Whether it’s fear of the unknown, apathy, or just plain stubbornness, people are reluctant to change.  They’re quite willing to complain about the status-quo, but they’re unwilling to do something about it.  What’s worse, is when their complaints become their “norm” and so begin to take over their outlook on life.

Unfortunately, this can spill into their spiritual life and, when that happens, they lose focus on what’s most important, their relationship with God.  They don’t agree, or are unhappy with a decision made at church, and that becomes their focus instead of their Savior.  It can be as simple as disliking a new song in worship, or not having an opportunity to sing their favorite hymn; suddenly that becomes their take-away from worship.  They allow that to harden their hearts against hearing the Word of God.

So where do we find a new perspective, where do we find a new hope, a new beginning?  We find it every day in the love of our Savior, we find it in Christ Jesus!  The prophet Isaiah, speaking to the nation of Israel, gave them a new perspective, reminding them of God’s love and commitment to be with them always.  God provides the promise that unifies all believers, that He will be with us always, that we will not be overtaken, we will not be consumed by the flames for He is with us always, to the very end of the age.

Today we too can find that hope, the gospel promise that binds us together as brothers and sisters in Christ.  Listen to God’s Word from Isaiah, Chapter 43:

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

I give Egypt as your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
    peoples in exchange for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you;
    I will bring your offspring from the east,
    and from the west I will gather you.
I will say to the north, Give up,
    and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
    and my daughters from the end of the earth,
everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.”

Bring out the people who are blind, yet have eyes,
    who are deaf, yet have ears!
All the nations gather together,
    and the peoples assemble.
Who among them can declare this,
    and show us the former things?
Let them bring their witnesses to prove them right,
    and let them hear and say, It is true.
10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,
    “and my servant whom I have chosen,
that you may know and believe me
    and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
    nor shall there be any after me.
11 I, I am the Lord,
    and besides me there is no savior.
12 I declared and saved and proclaimed,
    when there was no strange god among you;
    and you are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and I am God.
13 Also henceforth I am he;
    there is none who can deliver from my hand;
    I work, and who can turn it back?”

14 Thus says the Lord,
    your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“For your sake I send to Babylon
    and bring them all down as fugitives,
    even the Chaldeans, in the ships in which they rejoice.
15 I am the Lord, your Holy One,
    the Creator of Israel, your King.”

16 Thus says the Lord,
    who makes a way in the sea,
    a path in the mighty waters,
17 who brings forth chariot and horse,
    army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
    they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
18 “Remember not the former things,
    nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.
20 The wild beasts will honor me,
    the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness,
    rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21     the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise.

22 “Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob;
    but you have been weary of me, O Israel!
23 You have not brought me your sheep for burnt offerings,
    or honored me with your sacrifices.
I have not burdened you with offerings,
    or wearied you with frankincense.
24 You have not bought me sweet cane with money,
    or satisfied me with the fat of your sacrifices.
But you have burdened me with your sins;
    you have wearied me with your iniquities.

25 “I, I am he
    who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
    and I will not remember your sins.

26 Put me in remembrance; let us argue together;
    set forth your case, that you may be proved right.
27 Your first father sinned,
    and your mediators transgressed against me.
28 Therefore I will profane the princes of the sanctuary,
    and deliver Jacob to utter destruction
    and Israel to reviling. – Isaiah 43

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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 gather together as brothers and sisters in Christ, believing and clinging to your promise of salvation through your Son, Jesus Christ. Forgive us Lord when we allow the worries of this world to close our ears to the gospel message. Forgive us when we cling to the temporary things of this world and neglect the treasure we’ll have in heaven. We glory in your promise of grace and forgiveness, who are we that you should be mindful of us? We pray Father, that as we seek You in your Word, that you will open our eyes, our minds and our hearts to receive all that you have for us. And all of God’s children said, Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

The Power Of Prayer

May 2, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

6 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 4:6-7

At our mid-week Grow Group Bible Study this morning, one of our members shared this information regarding doctors and the power of prayer.  He told us about an excerpt from the latest edition of the American Medical Association (AMA) Family Medical Guide, that references and recognizes the power of prayer. “Several scientific studies have shown that prayer may have an objective and positive effect on health outcomes. In these studies, the health of people who were prayed for improved substantially more than that of people who were not prayed for. This outcome occurred whether or not the person who was ill knew about the praying or believed in the power of prayer. Medical science cannot explain the connection between prayer and healing. However, many doctors encourage it because it can strengthen an ill person’s emotional and psychological well-being and give encouragement to caregivers and loved ones.”

This doesn’t come as a surprise to Christians who know full well the power of prayer.  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. – James 5:14-16.

Recently in Minneapolis, a 5-year-old boy was thrown from the third level of the Mall of American to the floor below, a drop of almost 40′.  Doctors are calling his recovery, “Truly a miracle.”  The injuries sustained by the boy were characterized by one doctor as what you might expect if the child had fallen off of a bicycle rather than falling three stories to the ground.  Throughout his hospitalization his parents have repeatedly asked for prayers for their son.  Today, he is out of intensive care and is healing well.  Thousands of people all over the country have been praying for him throughout this ordeal.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. – Matthew 6:5-8.

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Ephesus, offered this prayer in thanksgiving for their faith and love for all of their fellow believers – 15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love[a] toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. – Ephesians 1:15-23.

The reminder here for all of us is to remember there is power in prayer.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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, clothed in the righteousness of Christ, we dare approach your throne with prayer. Over and over in scripture you admonish us to pray. Forgive us when our faith is weak or when we fail to come to you in prayer. We know and believe that you answer prayer and as we pray in your will we have your promise to answer our prayers. Today, we come to you with prayers of thanksgiving for sending your Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. In this season of Easter, we rejoice in his glorious resurrection and cling to your promise, your gift of grace and forgiveness for believers everywhere. In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel

 

 

In Christ Alone

May 1, 2019

Good Morning Everyone,

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. – Psalm 62:1-2

Martin Luther, in 1552, wrote, “I ask that men make no reference to my name and call themselves not Lutherans but Christians. What is Luther? St. Paul would not allow Christians to call themselves Pauline or Petrine. How then should I, a poor evil-smelling maggot sack have men give to the children of Christ my worthless name?”

Luther did know how to turn a phrase!

Martin Luther was most concerned with using scripture to point people to Jesus.  God’s grace, found only in Christ Jesus, is the salvation of the world, of believers everywhere.  In Christ alone do we find the redemption of our sins through his sacrifice on the cross.  Christ died once for all.  When He spoke the words, “It is finished.”  The atonement for sin had been paid.  From now and forever, believers have the promise and assurance of God’s grace and forgiveness.

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. – Ephesians 2:8-9.

This grace and forgiveness are extended to everyone who believe on the name of Jesus.  There is no one so broken that God will turn them away because of their sin.  The Holy Spirit working through God’s Word, along with the means of grace, can bring you to repentance and faith in God’s promise of salvation through Christ alone.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. – 1 Timothy 2:1-6.

“This is that mystery which is rich in divine grace to sinners: wherein by a wonderful exchange our sins are no longer ours but Christ’s, and the righteousness of Christ not Christ’s but ours. He has emptied Himself of His righteousness that He might clothe us with it and fill us with it; and He has taken our evils upon Himself that He might deliver us from them. Learn Christ and Him crucified. Learn to pray to Him and, despairing of yourself, say, “Thou, Lord Jesus, art my righteousness, but I am Thy sin. Thou hast taken upon Thyself what is mine and hast given to me what is Thine. Thou hast taken upon Thyself what Thou wast not and hast given to me what I was not.” – Martin Luther.

11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11-12.

Today, as you consider God’s Word, as you believe in Christ Jesus, your Savior, your risen Lord, 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 blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. It’s a promise we cling to Father, when the loss of a loved one is over-whelming, we have assurance from you of salvation through Christ. And we know from your Word, that those who die in the Lord will be with you in heaven for all eternity. Thank you Lord for that comfort and hope we share with all believers that though we mourn their loss now, it is only temporary until we are raised imperishable to eternal glory. Be with us Father as we cling to your promises and praise and bless you for your grace and salvation won by the death and resurrection of your Son, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen and Amen.

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

In His Service,

Joel