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Devotion for Tuesday, March 31, 2015

7-Chariots

“Your choicest valleys are full of chariots, and horsemen are posted at the city gates.  The Lord stripped away the defenses of Judah, and you looked in that day to the weapons in the Palace of the Forest.”  (Isaiah 22:7-8)

What is good and fitting for community gives way to the war and pestilence that comes with judgement.  As much God allowing it, as us bringing it upon ourselves, we reap what we sow.  Those who reject the Word of the Lord will reap recompense as the Lord seeks for people to repent and turn to Him.  But they do not, and war comes upon the land and the people are destroyed.

Lord, many blame You for what they have brought upon themselves.  Help me to see more clearly how this seemingly never-ending cycle comes upon those who reject You.  Guide me to grow in wisdom and although I may lament the repercussions of sin, help me see the truth of Your loving hand in the midst of everything at all times.  You alone are God and it will come to pass as You have purposed.

Thank You, Lord, for providing for my needs this day.  Guide me by Your hand that I would hold fast to all that You have in store for me this day.  May I learn and grow according to Your will and be the person You desire me to be by Your grace.  I am Your servant this day and may it be done to me according to Your purpose that in all I say and do, You alone may receive all honor and glory.  Amen.

Devotion for Monday, March 30, 2015

clay chariot

“The Lord, the Lord Almighty, has a day of tumult and trampling and terror in the Valley of Vision, a day of battering down walls and of crying out to the mountains.  Elam takes up the quiver, with her charioteers and horses; Kir uncovers the shield.”  (Isaiah 22:5, 6)

War and rumors of war have always been amongst us.  People do not have, or they want more, and so they take.  Never satisfied with what the Lord has provided, they want more.  The cycle of human existence is filled with those who will not live simply with the time and place where the Lord has placed them.  Calamity comes because of the sins of humanity.  What has been built up is destroyed.

Lord, help me learn how to live with what You have given me.  Guide me to live with the wisdom that I can be content with what You have provided and know that I am in Your hands.  Teach me to learn and then, with learning, teach me to share what You have taught me, that others may have the wisdom that You freely grant to all who will learn.  May I learn to be Your disciple, Lord.

Lord, You have plans for me this day.  As I go out into the world, show me so I may see, how wonderfully You have provided everything that is needed.  Guide me in Your wisdom so I may gain and then share what You have given.  May I be Your faithful disciple this day, learning and sharing as You direct, that others may know the truth that in every time and place, You provide what is needed.  Amen.

Devotion for Sunday, March 29, 2015

Christ_on_the_Cross_Diego_Velázquez

“All your leaders have fled together; they have been captured without using the bow.  All you who were caught were taken prisoner together, having fled while the enemy was still far away.  Therefore I said, “Turn away from me; let me weep bitterly.  Do not try to console me over the destruction of my people.”  (Isaiah 22:3, 4)

The Lord grieves over the destruction of His people.  Could He stop it?  Yes, but in His Sovereign will, there is that which is greater that is obtained through suffering.  Could Christ have been kept from the cross?  Yes!  But what was gained was the redemption of  sinners that turn to Him.  The Lord’s ways are not our ways, just as the Lord’s thoughts are not our thoughts.

Lord, help me to see that there are things I cannot yet see.  Grant that I would grow in faith, trusting that what You are doing is part of the purpose You have declared and part that I am unable to yet understand.  Guide me in wisdom so that I may live by faith alone and trust that all things are in Your hands, even when it seems they are not.  Give me Your heart which grieves over those who are lost.

Lord Jesus, You know suffering.  You know the grief of being rejected.  Help me live in the understanding of the heart You have for all people that in the heart You give me, I might care truly for others as You would have me care.  Guide me this day to be genuine and true, but not interfering with Your will in all matters that will come before me this day.  May I be faithful according to Your will.  Amen.

 

Devotion for Saturday, March 28, 2015

Faith inscription on a granite block

“A prophecy against the Valley of Vision: What troubles you now, that you have all gone up on the roofs, you town so full of commotion, you city of tumult and revelry?  Your slain were not killed by the sword, nor did they die in battle.”  (Isaiah 22:1-2)

Those who think they see, but are blind, are slain in the truth of God’s power.  Though they stand on the hills and proclaim, their words are meaningless.  Only the Word of the Lord endures forever.  It may seem for a time that this powerful man, or that is prevailing, but only the Lord will prevail in every time and place.  The Lord alone is God and there is no other.  Fear the Lord of hosts alone.

Lord, remind me in every time of trouble that the troubles of this world are temporary and will pass away, but that what You have spoken will come to pass as You have spoken it.  Guide me ever deeper into Your Word of truth that I may be valiant in every difficulty and proclaim in word and deed that You alone are God.  May I become Your faithful servant at all times.

Thank You, Lord, for calling me through grace into this faith which You alone make possible for all who believe.  Help me today to live into this faith You have given me and to live it faithfully.  May I be Your witness and servant this day, doing what it is that You would have me do, no matter what may come.  In all things, may I give you glory through all that I do this day.  Amen.

Devotion for Friday, March 27, 2015

judah

“They flee from the sword, from the drawn sword, from the bent bow and from the heat of battle.  This is what the Lord says to me: “Within one year, as a servant bound by contract would count it, all the splendor of Kedar will come to an end.  The survivors of the archers, the warriors of Kedar, will be few.” The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken.”  (Isaiah 21:15-17)

Stand firm in the face of every enemy of the Lord and hold fast to the truth that has been given you.  The Lord is with His servants and the will of the Lord shall be accomplished.  Do not flee from adversity, but if called, hold fast and know that the Lord will overcome all who stand in His way.  We are called to be the Lord’s servants in every time and place and to hold fast to the truth of Christ.

Lord, I look at what is before me and when it is adversity, I flee.  Help me have the strength in Your Spirit to hold fast and live according to Your will no matter the circumstance.  Guide my heart to fear nothing but You and to be bold in faith that I may witness to the truth that You alone are God.  In every trial and temptation, hold me fast to Your never-failing Word of truth.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for being the example of holding fast to the truth.  Guide me this day in Your Word of truth that I may be faithful in all that may come.  May I be a faithful witness that Your Word will hold in the face of every trial or temptation, knowing that only in You will I be able to be bold and strong.  May Your Word guide me this day in faithfulness for Your glory.  Amen.

Devotion for Thursday, March 26, 2015

walk-445272_1280

“The watchman replies, “Morning is coming, but also the night.  If you would ask, then ask; and come back yet again.”  A prophecy against Arabia: You caravans of Dedanites, who camp in the thickets of Arabia, bring water for the thirsty; you who live in Tema, bring food for the fugitives.”  (Isaiah 21:12-13)

We are to care for one another in every season.  Not lip service, but action.  It is amazing when the ones who do not know the Lord serve Him, while those who say they do, do nothing.  It was this way before, and it will be this way again.  Serve the Lord, and serve those in need.  Do not be as the unbelieving, but as the believing and trust in the provision the Lord brings in every season.

Lord, I become so preoccupied with my life that I do not see clearly that You have called for me to serve You at all times.  Guide me ever deeper into the mystery of the faith, that I would live by Your call and according to Your Word.  Help me to see and the act upon what You have shown me, that I may learn faithfulness at all times apart from what my feelings may tell me.

Lord, You alone are able to lead in every time and place.  Help me see You clearly this day as You lead me, that I would do what is pleasing in the sight of the Father.  Help me to choose what is right and fitting in every situation as You guide me through the day.  Keep me from the temptations that will arise and hold me fast to Your never-failing Word.  Thank You for saving me this day for Your purpose and the Father’s glory.  Amen.

Holy Week

  • March 25, 2015 - 6:19 pm
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Holy Week

“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 10:45)

It still has the power to shock and offend: God, choosing to be your servant.

I know: we often take God “for granted,” if we take Him at all, and in that sense, talking a lot about how God came to be the servant of the world could threaten to shrink His stature even more.  As pastors sometimes worry, “People think it’s God’s business to forgive!” For sure, we can think that forgiveness comes easily and cheaply, and mix it up with some kind of divine permission to go on sinning.

But the word of Jesus will not fail us.  “I came not to be served, but to serve!”  To know God, you must find Him in Jesus-on-His-knees, washing feet, bearing the cross, and praying for you at the Father’s right hand—and it may not be as easy as you think.

To have Jesus as your servant is to have yourself as someone who must be served—that is, you must see yourself as someone who needs help.  You cannot have Him any other way.  If you see yourself as someone who needs no help, God may just let you have your way, and then where would you be?

Holy Week, which we entered Sunday, is a time for getting it right. We get it right by being put in our place: Jesus in the place of the Servant, bearing the world, and yourself in the place of the world, being served and helped by this gracious Servant.

It’s not easy, but neither is it hard.  It’s just new: a new way of knowing God and ourselves, and new things call us both to adjust our vision and to rejoice in the gift of this Savior.

LET US PRAY: O Jesus, good Servant, who am I to commend You?  You have the word of life!  Yet since You choose to be my Servant, I do commend You: I commend You for Your faithful service to Your Father, by which You also redeemed the world.  Commend me into Your Father’s hands daily, and bear me into Your kingdom.  Amen

Pastor Steven K. Gjerde
Zion-Wausau

 

The Small Town of Orthodox Lutheranism by Pastor Cori Johnson

  • March 25, 2015 - 2:14 pm
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The Small Town of Orthodox Lutheranism
Pastor Cori Johnson

I grew up in a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan — a mass of land dotted with small towns.  Life in a small town comes with its own set of troubles, but it also comes with its virtues.  One of the virtues of living in a small town is learning and living forbearance.

Forbearance is a necessity for living in a small town.  You do not get to choose whether you will practice it.  You simply must.  In a small town, you don’t have the privilege of excising people from your life — no matter what ills they’ve committed against you.  You are going to run into your exboyfriend and his wife at McDonald’s when you’ve stopped there on your way to the high school football game with your current boyfriend.  You are all going to exchange pleasantries, because that is the way you were raised.  Plus, you know all sorts of both positive and damaging information about that exboyfriend.  You know what the secret ingredient is in his father’s famous spaghetti sauce.  You know exactly how the gears got stripped in the truck he borrowed — after all, you were there with him.  You know promises made and broken.  You know his courage and his cowardice.  And he knows similar information about you.

You aren’t able to turn your back on anyone, because the person who hurt you is going to be a part of your life forever, like it or not.  His sister is going to be your grandfather’s hospice nurse.  Your children are going to play on the same baseball team.  You are going to run into each other at the bank, the hockey rink, and the Fourth of July parade.  He may come upon you during a snowstorm when your car is in the ditch, and he is going to pull you out with his (new, non-stripped-gears) truck.  Your lives will be woven together, because that is life in a small town.

There was a time when more people lived in small towns and in rural areas.  It is possible the virtue of forbearance was more plentiful then.  However, urbanization and atomization have become the norm.  Outside of the small town, you no longer must deal with anyone in particular.  You can click the little icon to make someone an acquaintance, unfollow, unfriend, and even block a person right out of your life, depending on the severity of your perceived hurt.  You have the illusion of being able to pick and choose who is and who isn’t in your life, as though the Lord’s creation of and love for another has no bearing or claim upon you.

The lessons of forbearance learned in a small town need to apply to those of us who live in the small town of orthodox Lutheranism.  We are truly a small town.  There are so few Lutherans on this planet and even fewer who are orthodox.  There are only so many orthodox Lutheran congregations, pastors, professors, ministry conferences, and organizations.  No matter the real or perceived hurts we have caused one another along the way, no matter which alphabet we wear, we are on the same small team in a very small town.  Let us exercise forbearance with one another even to the point of remembering how to love one another again, as our Lord Jesus Christ has indeed loved us.  After, all we are stuck together eternally.  We are a small town on the way, by the grace of God, to a new, shining city on a hill.

Devotion for Wednesday, March 25, 2015

wildfire-56835_1280

“My people who are crushed on the threshing floor, I tell you what I have heard from the Lord Almighty, from the God of Israel.  A prophecy against Dumah: Someone calls to me from Seir,  “Watchman, what is left of the night?  Watchman, what is left of the night?”  (Isaiah 21:10-11)

No matter how much we may think we can prepare, how does one prepare against the Lord?  No, prepare by storing up in your heart the truth of the Lord and His Word.  Know that the pain of this world is but a moment and what the Lord offers is forever.  Do not live in the hope of this world, but live in the hope of the Lord.  Keep watch and be on the alert, for this life will seek to rob you of what the Lord has already given you.

Lord, You are the strength of every person who calls on You.  Keep my eyes on You that I may be strengthened in the truth You have spoken.  Guide my thoughts to be in harmony with Your thoughts and lead me deeper into this faith which promises and future and keeps me in hope.  Through all that will come in my life, help me to be faithful to You, who alone endures forever.

Thank You, Lord, for the grace You have given me.  Guide me today to meditate on Your Word and dwell with You in prayer.  As things come along today, may I be faithful to the calling You have given me, knowing that in You alone is there true hope.  Help me to stand fast with You in Your Word that I may live and grow this day in You, for You alone are Lord and Savior.  Amen.

Devotion for Tuesday, March 24, 2015

babel

“Look, here comes a man in a chariot with a team of horses.  And he gives back the answer:  ‘Babylon has fallen, has fallen!  All the images of its gods lie shattered on the ground!’” (Isaiah 21:9)

No matter the power that we deem powerful on earth, it is momentary and fleeting.  The greatest nations will fall.  The time of sinful man upon the earth is short and the time of the Lord is forever.  Do not be alarmed at the seasons and times, but know that the hand of the Lord is forever.  Live in the truth of the Lord and trust Him in all times, whether times of calamity, or times of blessings.

Lord, I think in terms of my own lifetime and do not see clearly that what is happening has happened before.  As long as there is sin in the world, there will be those who will sinfully manipulate things for themselves.  But they will fail.  Help me see what You would have me see and become firm in the faith You give, standing in the face of any and ever announcement that may come.

Lord, You alone are God and there is no other.  You will shatter the idols of all of the nations, for they are nothing.  Turn my heart to worship You, knowing that all the gods of this world tempt and taunt, but they are nothing.  Keep my heart in You that I would fear nothing this earth will bring, but will trust in You alone.  Thank You for sharing the things that will come that I may have strength to persevere.  Amen.