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Sunday, April 30, 2017 Devotion

“But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me.  My foot stands on a level place; in the congregations I shall bless the Lord.”  (Psalm 26:11-12)

Lord, the integrity You have created in me is something that will last forever.  Help me, I pray, to live according to the integrity of Your Word which You have established from the beginning.  You have leveled the ground so that all who come to You may be able to stand.  Bring Your people together that we may praise You here, now and forever.  Your Word is truth and life.

Lord, there are many and varied ways in which Your people have been scattered.  Bring them together in the one truth You have revealed for the ages.  Help all to see those in our midst who seek to lead astray, that together Your church would stand firm and hold fast to Your Word of truth.  Lead us to be the church proclaiming a bold witness to the world of Your ways.

Lord Jesus, You are the Word made flesh who has come to dwell amongst us.  Guide me according to Your way that I would forever hold fast to Your grace and walk in the integrity You have established from the beginning.  Be gracious to me and help me not to stray into un-level ground or walk in the ways of the wicked.  Guide me now and always to do what is pleasing in the sight of the Father.  Amen.

Saturday, April 29, 2017 Devotion

“Do not take my soul away along with sinners, nor my life with men of bloodshed, in whose hands is a wicked scheme, and whose right hand is full of bribes.”  (Psalm 26:9-10)

It is not just to be fearful of the Lord, but fearful of losing your soul.  The one against the Lord is against life.  Just look around and see the wickedness of evil doers.  Even amongst those you know, we see the smaller wickedness that we excuse.  All this is death.  The Lord gives life.  Give the Lord your soul and goodness will be your guide and stay.  Look to the Lord and live.

Lord, I do struggle perhaps in what I say are smaller ways, but truthfully, in the same wickedness that has seized the world.  Help me, I pray to live the way life is meant to be lived by turning to You and Your ways.  Lead me O Lord according to Your Word that I may forever hold fast to the truth You have revealed for the ages.  Save me from the wickedness of this world that I may live into the life You offer.

Lord Jesus, You came and walked among the wicked of this world in order to reach us all and lift us up out of the mess.  You do this by slaying us with You on the cross.  Take my life Lord and let me be forever dedicated to the Father and see the beauty of the order You have created for us to live.  Guide me in Your way, O Lord, and give me the ability to follow, for only in You is there life.  Amen.

Images and Evocations for Easter 3

  • April 28, 2017 - 1:05 pm
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Easter 3

Acts 2:14a, 36-41

1 Peter 1:17-25

Luke 24:13-35

 

Two companions walk along, discussing the important events of their day.  It is a common enough scene from history, perhaps the most common one.  Friendship is the most ubiquitous kind of relationship of our lives, persisting even when the inexorable tides of times have turned the affection of parents and spouses to dust and memory.  Cleopas and the other man walk along, perhaps on some errand, perhaps simply because now, the restrictions of the Sabbath over, they can walk, can get away from the emotional pressure cooker that is Jerusalem and all the sorrow and now seemingly insane stories that are circulating there.

They walk. They move. They are not content.  Unlike us, they speak with one another rather than having their thoughts molded and shaped by the monologues of pundits they will never meet.  Their thoughts are not driven by advertising dollars, corporate strategies, or the vested interests of political parties.  Instead, their reflections are driven by the conditions of their lives, the joys, needs, and cares of things that directly affect them.

They are talking about Jesus, for He has of late been the source of joys, needs, and cares. Now He is the source of their sorrow, confusion… and perhaps flickering hope.  They are talking about Jesus, and uninvited—unrecognized—He shows up.  He joins in their conversation and guides it, enlightening them and helping them over rough spots in their understanding.

“Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them,” Jesus affirms in the Gospel of Matthew.  When Jesus shows up, they are already not alone.  They are not a solitary blogger piecing together arcane clues to discover a secret “Bible code.”  They are not self-appointed experts whose chief job is to be critical of all other Christians.  They are not gurus with their own YouTube channels and late night infomercials.  They are simple inquirers after the truth about Jesus, seeking it together, seeking it humbly, as we can see from their willingness to accept correction from Jesus, even before they recognize Him as such.

Finally, practicing the hospitality that has been a distinctive characteristic of the people of God from the time of Abraham, they invite the wise stranger who joined them on the road in for a simple meal and shelter from the darkness falling the world outside, and as the bread is broken, He is revealed to them as the Founder of the meal—not the guest, but the Host.

This scene is the picture of our hope as Christians.  The path of discipleship is one that must be taken with others on the journey; a solo Christian is no Christian at all.  And our greatest hope lies in the fact that as we talk about Jesus, He Himself will show up, perhaps unrecognized, to guide and lead our reflections about Him in the Church’s preaching and feed us from His own hands at the Church’s altar.  We recite Creeds because our elder brethren in the faith gathered to discuss Jesus—earnestly—and came to these conclusions based upon the witness of the Holy Scriptures that contain the witness of those who knew Jesus first.

Our deepest hope—our only hope—is that, seen or unseen, recognized or not, Jesus is with us as we walk together on the sometimes confusing path of life.  If we walk that path together—not merely in solidarity, but in company and conversation with others who are earnestly seeking Jesus—Jesus Himself has promised that He will be with us.

 

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Friday, April 28, 2017 Devotion

“That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and declare all Your wonders.  O Lord, I love the habitation of Your house and the place where Your glory dwells.”  (Psalm 267-8)

Come to love the place of the Lord.  In your heart, learn to praise the Lord in all you do and know that His ways are right and good.  He has created us to be creatures of praise, giving our hearts to the things that move us rightly.  Be moved by the Lord and His ways and know the goodness of His created order of things.  Let His glory dwell richly in your heart and live according to His ways.

Lord, I do worship the things that move me.  Help it be Your ways that move me above all other things in my life.  Guide me according to Your never-failing love to see in You the hope of glory.  Guide me in Your ways,O Lord, that I would walk in them. Cause Your glory to shine through all I do that I may give witness both to the truth of Your presence in my life and that I know Your statutes.

Dear Jesus, You have come to lead the way.  Help me to follow You in all the ways You would have me go and not veer from them.  Bring my heart to rejoice in You, my God and Savior, willingly going where You will lead.  May my life be one of praise and thanksgiving knowing that only in You is there the hope of glory here, now and forever.  Lead me, King Jesus.  Amen.

Thursday, April 27, 2017 Devotion

“I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked.  I shall wash my hands in innocence, and I will go about Your altar, O Lord,”  (Psalm 26:5-6)

Whom do you fellowship with?  Who are the ones who influence you in your everyday life?  The Lord does not like the fellowship of those who mock His ways.  Is your fellowship good and godly?  These are important questions.  We are influenced by those with whom we associate.  Take care where you spend your time and with whom.  The Lord lifts up those who turn to Him.

Lord, You have called me to abide in Your Word and walk in Your ways.  Help me O Lord to pay attention to where I spend my time knowing that You do care about where I am and what I am doing.  Guide me according to Your Word to live in the way You would have me go.  Lead me in Your way of righteousness that I would be amongst those who love You and uplift Your ways.

Lord Jesus, You have come not only to save me from sin and death, but also to guide me through the influence of others.  Lead me to be in a place where I care about those around me and what they are doing.  Help me to be firm in my commitment to godliness without losing humility or concern for others.  Guide me in Your ways, O Lord, and lead me according to Your Word now and forever.  Amen.

Joined to Life!

  • April 26, 2017 - 11:40 am
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“Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” (John 20:27)

Our Lord Jesus Christ immersed Thomas in His resurrection.  He not only presented Thomas with the living proof, but He also invited Thomas to enter those risen wounds, touch them, and feel them out.  Immediately Thomas responds, “My Lord and my God!”  It almost seems that he didn’t need to touch Jesus; our Lord’s presence and word were proof enough.  

Baptism is immersion in the resurrection.  There the risen Lord pours His word on you—“in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”—and unites you with His living body.  “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that, just as He was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4).  In that Easter union, the Holy Spirit frees you to look on Jesus and say, “My Lord and my God!”

He is your God, this risen Man, because you may praise Him, thank Him, and call on Him in every time of trouble.  For you He won and carries those wounds, trophies of His love.  Immersed into that love through Baptism, nothing in all creation can separate you from it.

LET US PRAY: O Jesus, my Lord and my God, I thank You for the unconquerable life of Your resurrection.  Having joined me to that life in Your Name, put it to work in me, that I may bear the wounds of this life in joy and contentment and, on the Last Day, rise with You to joy everlasting; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.  Amen

 

Pastor Steven K. Gjerde

Zion-Wausau

(c) 2017

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 Devotion

“For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth.  I do not sit with deceitful men, nor will I go with pretenders.”  (Psalm 26:3-4)

Look to the Lord and you will see that His ways are good.  Set aside for a moment the law and fear of recompense and look to see that what the Lord has commanded is logical and works for everyone.  If everyone obeyed His law, the world would be perfect.  Do not fall for the deceit of men, but live in the truth of the revelation of God’s goodness for all through what He has commanded.

Lord, I too fall prey to deceit and think that I am exempt from all that You have commanded when it cramps what I would like to do.  Help me to have a change of heart so that I always walk in the truth of Your Word.  Let me not be a pretender, but live in the truth of all that You have commanded knowing that only in You is there hope and a future.  Guide me to walk with You always.

Lord Jesus, You are the only one who walked always in the truth.  People around You wanted what they wanted, but You have kept Your Word and have offered to guide us in the way of truth.  Lead me this day to see those places where I fall prey to deception that I may live and walk in the truth of Your Word always.  Thank You for the grace I need to live each day according to Your Word.  Amen.

MAY JESUS BECOME KNOWN TO YOU IN THE BREAKING OF THE BREAD

  • April 25, 2017 - 1:36 pm
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Devotional for April 30, 2017

One thing I tried to remember when I was preaching weekly in a congregation is that the people who would be attending the worship services and hearing my sermons would be in all sorts of different places emotionally and spiritually.  Some would be enduring great pain.  Some would be going through a major crisis.  Some would be really struggling with their faith relationship with God.  Others would be really struggling with the most important human relationships in their lives.  Some would have just experienced a major breakthrough.  Some would be enjoying a time of great celebration – perhaps a major anniversary, the birth of a child or a grandchild, an upcoming wedding in the family.  The people who would be hearing the Word of God from me that morning would be experiencing the whole gamut of human emotions.  How do I share a Word from God with them, so that it will speak to them wherever they may be?

Our Gospel lesson for this morning is the story from Luke 24: 13-35 of Jesus’ walking with two of His followers on the road to Emmaus.  Going through the story, I find words describing a wide range of emotions felt and experienced by Jesus’ fellow travelers.  When have you recently felt each one of these emotions?  Whom do you know that this past Easter Sunday was feeling each one of these emotions?

  • In verse 17, when Jesus first comes near them, they were looking sad.
  • In verse 21 they describe their hopes that Jesus was the one to redeem Israel.  But they say, “We had hoped.”  They no longer feel that hope.
  • In verse 22 they speak of being astounded when they hear that the tomb was empty and that some women had been told by angels that Jesus was alive.
  • Verse 31 describes their eyes being opened.
  • In verse 32 they tell of how their hearts had been burning.
  • In verses 34 and 35 they share the good news that the Lord has risen and that he appeared to them on the road.

Sad – no longer hopeful – astounded – having your eyes opened – feeling your heart burning – experiencing and sharing the joy of the resurrection.  Which word or words describe where you are today?  Which word or words describe where you were on Easter Sunday?  Whom do you know that is experiencing each one of those emotions today?

Pastor, every Sunday there will be people sitting in the pews of your sanctuary, experiencing each one of those emotions.  May God bless you and may God speak through you as you share the good news that “The Lord has risen indeed” (verse 34).  May the risen Christ be made known to your people as you share His Word and in the breaking of the bread (verse 35).

Dennis D. Nelson

President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 Devotion

“Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity, and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.  Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and my heart.”  (Psalm 26:1-2)

Have you walked with integrity?  Walk in the way of the Lord, upright, and then know that when adversity comes, you can turn to the Lord and see that He will uphold you.  When you walk in the ways of the Lord, you will be tested.  Others will rail against you, but it is the Lord who is testing You.  Greater is He who created all things than the ones who were created that try Him.

Lord, in many and various ways I am tried and tested, but I desire to come into Your presence with a clean and pure heart.  I know all things work to Your glory and ask that You would show me Your ways because I trust You, Let me understand the tests of this age and come into Your presence with integrity.  You are good and You have told me that You will shape me into the image of Christ.

Lord Jesus, You who knew no sin were continuously tried and tested in this world.  You still are with every generation that rebels against Your grace.  Help me see those things which come along that improve my walking with integrity that I may be encouraged farther along the path of walking with You.  Guide me O Lord today and every day through all that comes that I may continue to be upright in all of my ways.  Amen.

Monday, April 24, 2017 Devotion

“Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You.  Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.”  (Psalm 25:21-22)

The troubles of the world are many, but mighty is the Lord and mighty to save.  His salvation is not just a temporary patch, but the preservation of those who wait on Him forever.  The preservation of the Lord comes in being upright and living with integrity.  Walk in the ways of the Lord and live according to His purposes and know the meaning of true and everlasting life.

Lord, You have set in its course the ways of eternity.  There are many in this age who walk according to their own way.  Help me, I pray, to leave behind the ways of this world to live according to Your way and truth in order to live a life that is pleasing to You.  You are the Redeemer and the One who rescues those who turn to You.  Bring me into the fullness of the redemption You have planned for me.

Lord Jesus, Redeemer of the world, guide me today in the way You would have me go.  Remind me through Your Spirit in those times I am tempted to abandon my integrity that I may remain in the redemption You purchased with Your own blood.  Help me, I pray, to not only desire, but truly walk in an upright manner, doing what is pleasing always in the Father’s sight.  Amen.