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Thursday, March 31, 2016 Devotion

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“Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry and struck him; I hid My face and was angry, and he went on turning away, in the way of his heart.  I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners”  (Isaiah 57:17-18)

Though you and I have struck out against the Lord, yet He will offer forgiveness and teach us His humble and gentle ways.  Turn to the Lord, change direction and He will lead in the way of righteousness.  Know that in the Lord, You will find the righteous way of life.  Those who walk in the way of the Lord will not be disappointed.  They will see life and know true purpose.

Lord, this world is filled with strife and hatred.  It is easy to get caught up in the way of this world and walk according to its precepts.  Take me through the cross and lead me away from the anger and injustice in my heart to the place where I live according to Your eternal Word.  Help me to overcome the obstacles that come along that I may be in Your Word, in Your way and know the truth and life that You offer.

Lord Jesus, You are the Way, Truth and Life and all who come through You will be led away from the strife of this world and into the never-failing promises You have given.  May I learn yet more today of Your faithfulness and walk as You walked to the Father’s glory.  Moment by moment lead me throughout this day that I would look to You, the author and finisher of the faith You have given me.  Amen.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016 Devotion

core devo

“For thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.  For I will not contend forever, nor will I always be angry; for the spirit would grow faint before Me, and the breath of those whom I have made.’”  (Isaiah 57:15-16)

The Lord has come and invited all who will come through His means of grace to enter into the life that He created to be lived.  Those who accept the invitation learn to lay down their weapons of rebellion and with contrite hearts come to Him as they are and for the purpose for which He created them.  Live the life the Lord intended and walk in His ways and know the truth which has always been.

Lord, You have called me through the waters of my baptism to live into a life of faith that trusts You through and in all things.  Guide me, I pray, to live life as it was meant to be lived knowing that in You alone is there hope and a future.  Keep me close to You knowing that only in You will I find what life is supposed to be.  Help me through every trial and temptation to walk in Your never-failing ways.

O Lord, You know the difficulty of the flesh, for You have lived a life such as mine, yet without falling prey to sin.  Guide me in Your way O Lord, that I would learn from Your gentle ways how to navigate through this life filled with pits and temptations.  Guide me in the gentle way of faith to learn once again Your way as You lead all who follow You out of this age of sin in preparation for what is to come.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 Devotion

core devo

“When you cry out, let your collection of idols deliver you.  But the wind will carry all of them up, and a breath will take them away.  But he who takes refuge in Me will inherit the land and will possess My holy mountain.  And it will be said, ‘Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove every obstacle out of the way of My people.’”  (Isaiah 57:13-14)

The inheritance of the Lord is forever for those who become His children.  Those who chase after the false idols of this world will come to nothing, for they worship nothing.  The world tugs at us all, but the Lord speaks His Word steadily amidst all the wind of the world.  The time is coming and is short and those who are in Him will see the reward of their steadfast faith in the One who makes all things possible.

Lord, I am often confused in this world where there are so many voice shouting to go this direction and that.  Help me, I pray to understand more clearly and see that all the false idols that are lifted up are nothing more than anything but You being offered as a meaning for life.  Help me, I pray, to live into the faith You have given me knowing that only in You is there hope and a future.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for the life You have given me in You.  You have called for me to follow after You in every circumstance.  Guide me, I pray, to see those things that would lead me astray from the truth You have revealed and help me understand the investment I make with my life in the cause for which You gave up Your life.  May I be faithful in the hope You have revealed through the cross and resurrection.  Amen.

Clergy Connect: Campus Ministry Position at West Virginia University

  • March 28, 2016 - 1:24 pm
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There is search going on for an ordained Lutheran pastor to do campus ministry here. Here you fill find more info about the position and their values statement: LCMWVU-PD LCMWVU-values-statement

Monday, March 28, 2016 Devotion

core devo

“Of whom were you worried and fearful when you lied, and did not remember Me nor give Me a thought?  Was I not silent even for a long time so you do not fear Me?  I will declare your righteousness and your deeds, but they will not profit you.”  (Isaiah 57:11,12)

Think about the times you sin, but do not think that the Lord is hearing what you say.  Do you fear the one to whom you are lying more than the One who hears all things?  Sometimes we forget that the Lord knows everything and treat Him as a sidekick who is there when we want Him, but can be ignored at other times. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.

Lord, You have called me into Your presence and I know You are always with me.  Help me, I pray, to understand that in good times and bad, You are always there.  Guide me in Your righteousness that I would never fear others more than You.  Help me not to live as one who is paranoid, but as one who knows in whose presence I am in always.  Guide me into Your ways of righteousness.

Lord Jesus, You have come to lead me into a new way of life in order to live according to Your never-changing Word.  Help me, I pray, to think about what I say and do, knowing that You know what I will say even before I say it.  Guide me to be humble, gentle, but always truthful in all that I do that I may bring glory to the Father.  Guide me in Your mercy and grace this day to be faithful.  Amen.

Sunday, March 27, 2016 Devotion

core devo

“You have journeyed to the king with oil and increased your perfumes; you have sent your envoys a great distance and made them go down to Sheol.  You were tired out by the length of your road, yet you did not say, ‘It is hopeless.’  You found renewed strength, therefore you did not faint.”  (Isaiah 57:9-10)

We scheme and think of ourselves and the ways in which we can gain what we desire.  We go great lengths to obtain, but for what purpose.  What good does it do to gain the whole world if we give up life in order to gain it.  We do not admit that the way of man is hopeless, yet we abandon the way of the Lord day after day.  Only the way of the Lord leads to true life and life eternal.

Lord, help me to see more clearly that the cleverness of the wicked one is just the same thing over and over again.  What good do the experiences I have do if they are not with You?  What good is gaining and experiencing if it means nothing?  Help me see that it is in living the life You give and in the direction You direct that will go on into forever that really matters.  Everything else is temporary.

Lord Jesus, You demonstrated to us how short life in this age is.  It eventually kills you.  Help me follow where You lead knowing that You are leading to the way of eternal life.  Guide me O Lord to walk in Your ways and to not be sidetracked by the way of the wicked.  Help me my Savior to follow on the narrow trail that You have carved that I may discover the richer mysteries of life.  Amen.

Prayers of the Church for May now online

  • March 26, 2016 - 5:37 pm
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Download Rich Text Format  (RTF) files for Prayers of the Church for Sundays in February. Thank you for your interest in these prayers. For more worship resources, please visit Sola Publishing’s SoWeR online worship resource at this link.

 

5.1.2016   5.8.2016  5.15.2016    5.22.2016 5.29.2016

Saturday, March 26, 2016 Devotion

core devo

“Upon a high and lofty mountain you have made your bed.  You also went up there to offer sacrifice.  Behind the door and the doorpost you have set up your sign; indeed, far removed from Me, you have uncovered yourself, and have gone up and made your bed wide.  And you have made an agreement for yourself with them, you have loved their bed, you have looked on their manhood.”  (Isaiah 57:7-8)

We go the direction we choose to go and ignore the way of the Lord.  We are carried away with our own lusts and seek after the ways of men.  It has been happening since the fall.  Many are they who will not listen to the Lord, but make up their own way.  There is only one way and that is the way of the Lord.  Heed the Word of the Lord and live.  Do not listen to those who go in other directions.

Lord, the world is a mess and many are they who want to go this way or that.  Help me not to be absorbed in the many directions of those around me, but to listen to the way You have established from the beginning.  Guide me in Your way which is everlasting that I would hold fast to the truth You have revealed through the salvation You purchased from the cross.

Guide me, O Lord, that I would not wander off into the many traps that are laid by the wicked one.  Help me see that there are no new temptations, only those that have been common throughout this age.  Help me see that it is not what I feel, but the truth You have revealed that is the important thing.  Then, help me walk in the narrow way of truth with You that I may live life as it should be lived.  Amen.

Friday, March 25, 2016 Devotion

core devo

“Who inflame yourselves among the oaks, under every luxuriant tree, who slaughter the children in the ravines, under the clefts of the crags?  Among the smooth stones of the ravine is your portion, they are your lot; even to them you have poured out a drink offering, you have made a grain offering.  Shall I relent concerning these things?”  (Isaiah 57:5-6)

Those who do what they do to serve themselves may be hidden in the eyes of the world, but the Lord knows those who have served themselves for their own sake.  Many are they, and perhaps, truly, each of us in our own way.  Come into the mercy of the Lord, prepared before the foundation of the world and live in the grace He gives to those who learn to love Him.  There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed.

Lord, You have granted to all who believe a pardon – not for the sake of covering up, but in order to learn to live life as You have created it to be lived.  Guide me O Lord to see that only in You is there hope and a future.  Help me live life knowing that all of the ugliness in my own life is under Your grace and that I am called to break out of the old and live into the ancient and never-ending life.

Lord Jesus, You have broken through the bondage of sin and death in order to free all who walk in you.  Guide me O Lord in Your way of truth that I would hold forever fast to Your never-changing ways that were established in the beginning.  Help me, I pray, to see more clearly each day and to leave behind the ways of this world.  Help me not cover up my sins, but freely confess them and know that in You alone is there life.  Amen.

Prayer in the Face of Tragedy

  • March 24, 2016 - 12:28 pm
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By Rev. Cathy Ammlung
In the wake of yet another tragedy instigated by the Islamist terrorists affiliated with ISIS, one common response has been to pray for all who have had their lives irreversibly shattered by violence, and to encourage others to do likewise. Another response, less common but becoming more so, is to publicly object to prayers and to any encouragement to pray. There are hashtags, front page headlines and op-ed articles, social media posts, even billboards decrying prayer as an appropriate response to disasters, especially those resulting from religiously-affiliated perpetrators of hate and destruction.
 
These objections are multi-faceted. Prayer doesn’t work. It’s mere wish fulfilment, a feel-good but ultimately futile exercise. At best, prayer, religion, belief in God, and the like are illogical, childish, foolish, ignorant, bigoted expressions of lesser minds. At worst, since religion is the cause of all the horrors that ISIS and other groups inflict on innocent lives, resorting to religious “solutions” is intrinsically bound up with perpetuating the problem rather than working towards a solution. It is therefore an active evil and should not be tolerated as any sort of appropriate action in civilized, modern society. Thus, since prayer is at best futile and at worst collaboration with evil, concerned individuals ought to donate to charities and cease their destructive blather.
Such objections, despite a few cogent exceptions, are wrong on so many levels that it is not possible to address them comprehensively in one short article.
 
I will stipulate that it is entirely possible to say, “I will pray for them,” or invite others to do so, as a cop-out, a feel-good exercise devoid of any substantive follow-through (including actually praying!). That indeed is blameworthy. Such a response is on a par with feel-good hashtags, profile photo overlays featuring Belgian flags or hearts and tears in Belgian colors, makeshift memorials with teddy bears and flowers, moments of silence, and candlelight vigils. Not one of those things actively “does anything substantial for the victims” – yet many atheists and agnostics who deny the efficacy or value of prayer willingly participate in such activities. Clearly the criterion for some of these folks is not whether or not an activity is efficacious but solely whether it involves a deity!
 
The argument that prayer is futile, however, deserves some direct response. Let us once again stipulate some unpleasant truths. First, some prayers are offered from unworthy motives, uncharitable hearts, uninformed minds, and unhallowed lips. Second, not every prayer – even the fervent, loving prayer of a sincere and humble believer – is answered immediately, clearly, fully, or positively. Third, there are sincere, loving, humble believers of many faiths whose prayers might well conflict with or contradict each other, and whose conceptions of God’s nature and will likewise are contradictory. Answering one prayer “yes” might necessarily imply answering another one “no.” Perhaps it is better to shut up and do something concretely helpful!
Without addressing some of the deep theological and moral issues that such objections and truths may touch upon, let me briefly lay out three ways in which prayer, at least such prayer as is lovingly and humbly entered into, has some important benefits and effects.
 
First: in praying for the victims of tragedy, prayer consistently reminds the pray-er that such people are not merely an amorphous blob of humanity; they are not merely anonymous members of some group making the news; they are not merely placeholders for some cause held dear by different social factions, political parties, religious organizations, and identity groups. They are not just The Victim, The Poor, The Sick, The Abused, The Unemployed, The Homeless, The Oppressed, The Immigrant, and so on. They are real live people, unique, unrepeatable images of God. To hold them in prayer is to remember them as precisely that. It is to see their tears, sorrow, pain and confusion – and actively to pray that they may receive solace and physical, tangible care. It is to pray that those who are close at hand may be strengthened, encouraged, and provided additional resources to offer such assistance. And it is to pray that broken hearts may heal and that bitterness, fear, anger and grief may in time be laid down through (as Christians would say) the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit.
 
Second: in obedience to the command of Jesus, we pray for the perpetrators of such horrors, and for their sympathizers. We are called upon to do this without excusing (much less condoning) their evil, and with a sober acknowledgment that there must be earthly judgment and consequences for their actions. But in praying for those enemies, we remind ourselves and one another that they are not “animals” or “subhuman” or “demons.” They are human beings, as fearfully and wonderfully made as are we. They are the objects of God’s desire that they, like all sinners, should repent of their evil deeds, turn to him, and live. The ultimate judgment and consequence for unrepented evil is in God’s hands. This sort of prayer is one of the most effective tools, if you will, for breaking the endless cycle of vindictiveness, retribution, hatred and violence. And that is because it directs us to the third tangible benefit of prayer.
 
That is that we pray that our own hearts may be changed; that we may readily recognize, repent of, and (so far as we are able) redress what lies hidden, unacknowledged, denied, or even excused within ourselves. For the seeds, at least, of every evil we decry in our enemies lie dormant within each of us: bigotry, suspicion, lust for punishment, overweening sense of superiority, apathy, greed, and so on. When we pray for those who have been affected grievously by evil, and for those who have committed it, we also confess our own sinful complicity in the tragedies of this broken and fallen world. And we pray for the strength, wisdom, compassion and will to actually, physically, tangibly, and helpfully do something. Not merely out of a quick spasm of generosity, a guilt-driven sense of obligation, a panic-fueled need to “do something to show I care,” or a well-intended but poorly-informed gift or action. But out of a sober, humble, realistic extension of God’s mercy.
 
The traditional Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting, and acts of charity are really an intensification of the whole Christian life. Note that it is rooted and grounded in prayer. I’ve barely touched upon why that is so. The “fasting” is, really, the self-disciplined and repentant lifestyle that results in sacrificial and life-changing, grace-filled care of the neighbor. Yes, dear atheist and agnostic friends, we give. But our giving is rooted and grounded in prayer. We invite you to join us in all of that, for the sake of the world.