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Saturday, February 25, 2017 Devotion

 

“He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and sets me upon my high places.  He trains my hands for battle, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”  (Psalm 18:33-34)

The Lord prepares the one who walks with Him for the spiritual battles that will take place upon this earth.  There are those who think the peace of God is the cessation of hostilities, but walking in a land in rebellion against the Lord means having a world that is hostile to all who are in Him.  Be prepared by the Lord for whatever may come knowing that He has already provided for your every need.

Lord, clear my mind to see that in You I must be prepared for all that will come.  Keep me from thinking that it must be what I determine it should be, but instead simply accept that You have prepared me for all that will come.  Grant me strength in You to do battle where You will have me battle that I may remain faithfully in Your care.  Guide me this day in the way You would have me go.

Lord Jesus, You were constantly assailed by those who minds were upon themselves and the ways of the world, yet with tenacity You continued on for the sake of all those who would come to the Father through You.  Continue to guide me this day that I may hold fast to Your never- failing truth that You have revealed which is a light unto the nations.  Lead me in all things Lord Jesus.  Amen.

Hermeneutic Handles for the Harried Herald: Mountains and Light

  • February 24, 2017 - 8:26 am
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Transfiguration Sunday – Mountains and Light

By Rev. Brett Jenkins

Exodus 24:8–18     2 Peter 1:16–21   Matthew 17:1–9

The most obvious image that strikes us from today’s reading is that of light.  While there have always been those without or with impeded sight, humanity’s normative way of navigating a dangerous world is via their eyes.  Consequently, light in every culture has come represent safety, possibility, the revealing of that which is hidden or obscured by the dark.  The ignorant person—to whom the meaning of the world remains obscured or hidden—is unenlightened or “in the dark” no matter how bright the physical light around them.

The disciples have been in the dark about Jesus’ true identity thus far in the Gospel.  (Indeed, despite the radiance of Jesus and the appearance of two incredibly significant Old Testament figures with Him, they will not be fully enlightened in this regard until the closing lines of this Gospel.)  In the early Church, the newly-baptized were referred to as “the newly illumined,” for they had finally perceived Jesus as not just a bringer of the light of knowledge in the same sense as so many other teachers in the ancient world, they perceive Him as the light.  They know Him as the one from which all knowledge flows and by which all supposed knowledge is judged.  For a moment in today’s Gospel, Jesus is revealed to us as He truly is and as the words of Nicene Creed truly portray Him: God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God.

The second dominant image in today’s readings is that of the mountain.  Mountains have always been places of significance for God’s saving activity.  At Sinai not only is the blood of the covenant sprinkled upon the people, but God hands down the Law that will be the very definition of the people’s identity.  Previously Abraham had been called to sacrifice his only son Isaac on a mountain that God Himself might provide all that was needed.  On mountains God provides, and today He provides confirmation of the value of His Son even as Jesus is revealed as He truly is.

“Ain’t no mountain high enough to keep me from getting to you,” sang Diana Ross a generation ago.  Mountains in Scripture, far from being an obstruction to encounter with God, are typically a place to meet Him… To boot, there is no place better to watch a sunrise, to see the light dispel the darkness.  This morning, the son rises, and the darkness is dispelled.

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Thursday, February 23, 2017 Devotion

“For by You I can run upon a troop; and by my God I can leap over a wall.  As for God, His way is blameless; the word of the Lord is tried; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.”  (Psalm 18:29-30)

There are those who fight, resist and seek their own strength to topple the One who has already determined His will.  Seek refuge in the One who saves.  For God has given to those who come to Him sure promises and His strength as their shield.  Take refuge in the Lord and know that He will lead you all the days of your life within the arms of His eternal care.  Run with the Lord.

Lord, my mind fills with doubts and I trust in what I know.  But what do I know?  A few years and a partial experience of the whole.  You who know all things have granted us the ability to come into You and be shielded from all that this world throws our way.  Guide me O Lord in Your way, for Your way is truth.  Help me in times of weakness to lean on Your ever present arms of mercy.

Lord Jesus, You are the blessed assurance of the ages.  You have come in our frail weak earthly body to lead the way into eternal peace.  Guide me today and every day that I may walk in the ways You would have me go.  Lead me according to Your kindness and help me through every doubt that assails me.  Lead me O Lord in the way of salvation that I would abide in You now and forever.  Amen.

Vengeance is Good, Because It Is God Who Does It

  • February 22, 2017 - 3:36 pm
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If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him.  -1 Corinthians 3:17

 

“Is he someone whom you would trust with your own pet?”  A local representative of the humane society wanted to know if I would give a reference for a member of my congregation.  She had to know if he had the means and inclination to protect and nurture a new dog.  “Does he have a fenced yard?”

For some dogs, a fenced yard can be pure gospel; a watchful owner is even more so.  To be perfectly frank, what good is God, as a God, if He cannot make good on His promise to defend His Church?  It may seem harsh to imagine God destroying someone who destroys the gathered body of His Son—but then, how comforting is it to imagine Him standing idly by and doing nothing?

Vengeance is not ours; “I will repay,” says the Lord (Romans 12:9).  Vengeance is good, because it is God who does it, and He does it in such a way that it heals and makes all things right.  To believe in Him is to trust in this promise, and so to restrain ourselves from taking revenge against the enemies of His Church, knowing that we, as members of the body that is risen, shall never fall—no, not even the gates of hell shall prevail against us.

LET US PRAY: O Lord and overseer of the Church: rise up and defend Your people who suffer in any land or home for the sake of Your Name.  Cast down the proud and raise up the lowly, and preserve us, spirit, soul, and body, in Your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

 

Pastor Steven K. Gjerde

Zion, Wausau

(c) 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 Devotion

“For You save an afflicted people, but haughty eyes You abase.  For You light my lamp; the Lord my God illumines my darkness.”  (Psalm 18:27-28)

The Lord rescues those who know this world is in trouble and turn to Him.  In Him there is the true direction of life and the way to live.  Those who think all is well while trouble is around them will not see that the God of creation reaches out to those who desire goodness and mercy.  He lightens the load by showing the truth of this world and all who see it come to Him.

Lord, there is darkness in this world.  Although You have shown us some things, there are many who refuse to see things as they are.  They seem to stumble in the darkness.  Guide me not to be angry with them, but have compassion on those who do not see.  Lead me to know that what You have shown me is true that I may walk in the way You would have me go.  In all things, lead me in Your way O Lord.

Christ, You have come and You are the light shining in the darkness.  Guide me ever more into the light You have revealed that I may walk in the way of light.  Lead me to see and respond according to what You show me that I would walk in Your ways.  Help me O Lord to learn from You how to be faithful.  In all things, guide me according to Your never-failing promises.  Amen.

“LORD, IT IS GOOD FOR US TO BE HERE”

  • February 21, 2017 - 10:56 am
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Devotional for Transfiguration Sunday, February 26, 2017

 “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here.”

 Matthew 17:4

Someone once said that it is obvious that Peter had never been a part of a church building program.  For if he had, his first, knee-jerk response to the transfiguration would not have been to offer to build three dwellings – one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.  The assumption here is that no one who has ever been a part of one church building program would ever want to be a part of another.

Seriously, I think what Peter was saying was, “Lord, I want to prolong this moment.  I want this experience of seeing you in all your glory to last as long as possible.” 

What are the moments – the experiences in your life – that were so good that you find yourself reliving them over and over again, and you had wanted them to last as long as possible?

I remember a men’s clergy conference held in Atlanta in February 1996.  It was so inspiring, and it was so healing.  At the end of the conference, I went up to the front of the arena.  I wanted it to last longer.

I remember my final Sunday before retiring after serving the same congregation for forty years.  I remember what it felt like after my final sermon to be surrounded by the singing of “Beautiful Savior.”  It was so powerful and so moving.  I was surrounded by love, and I was experiencing the glory of God.  I wanted it to last as long as possible.

We thank God for those mountain top experiences, when we taste the glory, love, and power of God in a mighty way.  But we also know that sooner or later, along with Jesus, Peter, James, and John, you have to come down from the mountain.  And what did Jesus run into at the foot of the mountain?  A desperate father, a demonized boy, and a group of disciples who were not able to do anything about it, as well as the beginning of his journey to Jerusalem where he would be betrayed, be mistreated, and be killed.  

I am reminded of what the apostle Paul described in 2 Corinthians 12 – being caught up to the third heaven, being caught up into Paradise, hearing things that cannot be repeated.  I am certain that that was an experience that Paul would have liked to have lasted a long, long time.  But instead what did it prepare him for?  All that he would suffer.  His thorn in the flesh not being removed.  And his learning that God’s grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).  

Having been affirmed by the Father as “My Son, the beloved, with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 17:5), and having been encouraged by Moses and Elijah, Jesus was ready to go down the mountain and face what was coming next.

We thank God for those mountain top experiences that we would like to have last for a long, long time.  But we also thank God that those mountain top experiences encourage, empower, and prepare us to face all the challenges and difficulties of life and ministry.

Dennis D. Nelson – President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE

Prayers of the Church for Sundays in Lent Now Online

  • February 21, 2017 - 6:44 am
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Download Rich Text Format  (RTF) files for Prayers of the Church for Sundays in November. Thank you for your interest in these prayers. For more worship resources, please visit Sola Publishing’s SoWeR online worship resource at this link.

These prayers were written by Rev. Ammlung, one of our regular composers of Prayers of the Church.

Lent 1, Cycle A, 03-05-17    Lent 2, Cycle A, 03-12-17    Lent 3, Cycle A, 03-19-17    Lent 4, Cycle A, 03-26-17   Lent 5, Cycle A, 04-02-17  Palm-Passion Sunday, Cycle A, 04-09-17

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 Devotion

“With the kind You show Yourself kind; with the blameless You show Yourself blameless; with the pure You show Yourself pure, and with the crooked You show Yourself astute.”  (Psalm 18:25-26)

There is a wisdom in life that is reflected in this grace which the Lord has given us.  What you give to another elicits a response of the same kind.  Show yourself, which we all do, and receive the same response.  God is love and desires that we respond and reflect with that love for Him and for others.  Do not be trapped by the crooked, but live in the light of the One who is kindness itself.

Lord, help me to have the type of personality that You have placed there from the beginning.  Guide me in your way by the fruits of the Spirit that I would reflect Your light in all I say and do.  Help me to live according to Your never- failing principles and be guided by the light of Your love.  In all things, may I reflect to others what You have given me through grace.

Holy Spirit, without Your guidance none of these things upon which I ponder would be possible.  Help me this day to grow more in the kindness and love that You have given me by grace.  Lead me to explore the reality that if I act with kindness I will eventually see around me kindness.  Keep me from the way of the crooked and set the path straight before me that I would walk the path You have revealed.  Amen.

Friday, February 24, 2017 Devotion

“For who is God, but the Lord?  And who is a rock, except our God, the God who girds me with strength and makes my way blameless?”  (Psalm 18:31-32)

Upon what is your hope based?  Is it upon the shifting sands of this world’s ways?  Is it upon the dreams you wish?  The Lord is the creator of all things and upon Him rests all that exists.  Do not trust in those things that will shift and change, but upon the One who created all things.  Know that in Him are life, liberty and the eternal future that is in Him alone.  Know the Lord and know life.

Lord, I am carried away by whatever the current trends are and place my hopes and dreams upon the fleeting ways of man.  Take me out of this cycle that trusts in things other than You that I may see truth and live the life for which I have been created.  Guide me in Your ways O Lord, for only in You is there hope beyond tomorrow.  Help me see with clarity how simple things really are.

Thank You Lord Jesus for coming in a way in which we can easily comprehend Your message.  You have asked for us to follow You, the cornerstone of existence.  You have called for all who would hear Your voice to simply come as we are and be guided by Your gentle hand to learn the way of eternity.  Lead me, O Lord, to follow You in all of Your ways that I would abide in You and You in me.  Amen.

Monday, February 20, 2017 Devotion

 

“I was also blameless with Him, and I kept myself from my iniquity.  Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in His eyes.”  (Psalm 18:23-24)

No, there is no one without sin, but this is not the same as being blameless.  In Christ, all sins have been taken away and the one who is in Christ is therefore blameless.  But one who is blameless leads a life that seeks to keep away from iniquity.  The one who does good is judged by what they are able to do in Christ.  Seek then the righteousness that comes through the Savior.

Lord, I have often thought I had to earn it all and forgot that without what the Savior has done it is impossible.  Guide me into the place where I think less of myself and simply do what it is that You have always asked me to do.  Guide me along the paths You would have me go for Your Name’s sake.  Keep me on a path that produces fruit befitting Your kingdom and leading a life that is acceptable to You.

Lord Jesus, without You it would be impossible.  Help me I pray to see in You the only hope for us all.  Then, help me to live into the life that is always choosing to not do the things of iniquity, but that which is pleasing to You.  Through all things grant that I would remain thankful for all that You have done and give my life in gratitude to You.  Through You alone I am able to walk with You now and forever.  Amen.