The washing

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life.    ~ Revelation 22:14

canonIn his Civil War book, Glory Road, author Bruce Catton shows us how dirty a human being can get. He recounts an episode in which a soldier leaves a prisoner-of-war camp to rejoin his old unit. His time as a POW had left him filthy beyond description. He asks his comrades to help him get clean. They take him into a river, strip off his clothes and begin to wash and scrub. Only after this continues for a time do the man and his friends realize that he is still wearing an undershirt. The man’s body had become so encrusted that it had been impossible at first to tell the difference between a soiled piece of clothing and his own skin.

The soiling nature of sin does the same thing. From the dark thoughts we allow to fester in our minds to all the deeds of love conveniently left undone, sin does more than leave a dirty streak here and there on our souls. It makes us spiritually filthy beyond description. Left to ourselves, our hearts are so encrusted by sin that it’s impossible for us to see how lost we really are, how deep the pit really is.

That’s where Jesus comes in. We didn’t see how lost we were. But he did. We didn’t see how far we had fallen. But he did. He took us to the river of his grace. He washed us in the waters of baptism. He cleansed us in the blood he shed on Calvary’s cross. Now we stand before him in robes of white. Now, through faith in him, his forgiveness is our personal possession.

There are moments when the same old stench from the same old sinful habits can fill our nostrils with despair. When such a moment comes for you, remember who you are. Remember what Jesus has done. He has gone to the cross to wash you clean. He has risen from death to assure you that not one of your sins remains. Through his eyes your life is fresh and clean and new. Your days as a filthy prisoner are long gone.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, in those moments when I stumble and the stench of my old sinful habits fills the air, remind me of the washing I have in you. Fill me with your peace. Empower me to get back up and to walk again with you. Amen.

WhatAboutJesus.com

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Memorial Day Prayer

cemeteryDear Heavenly Father, we thank you for those who have sacrificed their lives in service to our country. Be with those who grieve over the loss of beloved parents, sons, daughters, husbands, wives, and friends who went to war and did not return. Comfort them with the knowledge that in Jesus Christ, your son, we have victory over death and the promise of a future reunion in heaven. Make us thankful for our nation’s freedoms purchased at so great a price. Amen.

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Omaha WELS Ascension Worship Service

Gethsemane Lutheran Church, 4040 N 108th ST, Omaha ( map )

Thursday, May 25, at 7:00 p. m.

ascension …he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9b-11)

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. (Hebrews 4:14)

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It’s time to grow up

Brothers, stop thinking like children. ~ 1 Corinthians 14:20

eagles1

Imagine a large eagle’s nest high on a rocky cliff. Inside are several young eagles. So far their lives have been easy. Their mother brings them food. They are safe from predators. And the lining of their nest is nice and soft with feathers and fur.

But it’s time for them to leave. It’s time for them to grow up. The problem is that, with such a comfortable nest, they don’t want to leave and grow up. They want to remain children in their soft and easy little world.

And so the mother eagle does what she always does. She stirs up the nest. She uses her powerful talons to pull out all the softness, exposing all the sharp branches, thorns and rocks that lie underneath. She makes the nest uncomfortable. In this way she gets her children to stop thinking like children. They grow up and go away from their nest.

My sinful nature loves to think like an immature child. It loves to avoid responsibility. It loves to keep pet sins. It loves to be lazy and impatient and self-absorbed. Most of all it loves to avoid painful truth. No doubt yours does, too.

Thank God for Jesus. Thank God that Jesus lived a life of perfect maturity on my behalf. And thank God that he faced the cross with courage to pay for my every childish moment.

And thank God, also, for those times when he stirs up my nest. For even the discomfort he allows into my life can be his way of getting me to realize that it’s time to mature in some way. It’s time to grow up. And with my Savior beside me, I can.

Prayer: Father, I confess to you all my moments of sinful immaturity. Thank you for sending your Son to wash me clean. Empower me by your Gospel to grow and mature in my walk with you. Amen.

WhatAboutJesus.com

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Just trust him–like a little child

“I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” ~ Mark 10:15

jump2Little children seem to have no fear. Many years ago, I was helping our youth group check hats and coats at a local bowling event. During the middle of the event, not much was happening at our table. So a little girl from church whom I had befriended climbed onto the table. I held out my arms and she jumped in. Before long she was running from one end of the table and leaping into my arms as I stood further and further away. Why? Because she trusted me; she knew that I would catch her and not let her fall.

More recently I’ve watched my grandchildren jump into my arms, even while I’m standing in the deep end of the pool. Even better, ever watch little children sleep? Most of the time, they sleep so peacefully and so long. Why? They have no worries, cares or concerns. Their parents take care of all of the details and the children let them do it.

The kingdom of God belongs to those who trust God like a little child trusts a loving parent. We don’t need to have it all figured out; that’s God’s job. Our loving God has accomplished our salvation for us. He has opened the way to heaven for us through the gift of his Son, Jesus. We don’t need to wonder if God loves us sinners and if we’re forgiven.

Our caring Good Shepherd has promised to provide for all our daily needs, so we don’t need to sweat that either. Our wise and almighty Lord has even promised to make everything work for our good. So we don’t need to question him and wonder if he knows what he is doing in our lives.

We don’t need to worry about the “what ifs” of life and the bad things that could happen. God assures us that he will not let us down. He promises us that he is always with us and nothing can separate us from him and his loving blessings, not now, not ever. Jesus, and his life and death for us, is all the proof we need.

So trust him. Jump into those big, loving, mighty arms of God. He won’t let you fall. Some people call this type of faith childish and foolish. Jesus Christ calls it childlike and essential.

Prayer: Loving Father, thank you for loving me. Instill in me a childlike faith to simply believe that I am your child and that you will never stop loving me, not this day, or any day. Amen.

WhatAboutJesus.com

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Empty

…you were redeemed from the empty way of life… ~ 1 Peter 1:18

field

To live in certain parts of Siberia means to live in some extreme conditions. Over the years, observers of people who live in those extreme conditions of Siberia have described an unsettling phenomenon. The phenomenon has come to be known as “Siberian Hysteria.”

A Japanese author has described Siberian Hysteria in this way. He says, “Try to imagine this: You’re a farmer, living all alone on the Siberian tundra. Day after day you plow your fields. As far as the eye can see, nothing. To the north, the horizon, to the east, the horizon, to the south, to the west, more of the same. Every morning, when the sun rises in the east, you go out to work in your fields. When it’s directly overhead, you take a break for lunch. When it sinks in the west, you go home to sleep. And then one day, something inside you dies. Day after day you watch the sun rise in the east, pass across the sky, then sink in the west, and something breaks inside you and dies. You toss your plow aside and, your head completely empty of thought, begin walking toward the west. Heading toward a land that lies west of the sun. Like someone, possessed, you walk on, day after day, not eating or drinking, until you collapse on the ground and die.” This is a description of Siberian Hysteria.

It is also a description of your life and mine without Jesus.

Think about that for a moment. Isn’t it true that the worst part of living as a lost soul in a broken world is just the sheer emptiness of it all? I can do things to occupy my time. I can find enough to eat. I can find a place to sleep. But if I am doing all this in a vacuum, if I am doing all this surrounded by emptiness–emptiness of meaning, emptiness of hope, emptiness of anything that matters–isn’t it true that I am just a case of Siberian Hysteria waiting to happen?

That’s why God chose to invade my emptiness. He invaded my emptiness in the Person of Jesus. Where once was the awful nothingness created by my own sin, there now is my Savior!  His perfect life and death on my behalf destroyed the chasm that had surrounded me, isolated me, made me so alone.

field sunset

Then he rose from death to assure me that my days of emptiness were over; to assure me that I would never be alone again. Ever.

And he has done the same for you.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, apart from you, my life is empty. But now you are here. My sins are forgiven. Heaven is mine. The emptiness is gone!  Thank you.   Amen.

WhatAboutJesus.com.

Posted in All posts, Devotions & Meditations, Lent and Easter

The risen Jesus cooks breakfast for his disciples

Alhjes2fterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.

When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”

None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. John 21:1-14

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A ghost does not have flesh and bones!

disciplesThey (the two disciples in Emmaus) got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” ~ Luke 24:33-49

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Quarterly Meeting & Potluck ~ April 23

Sunday, April 23, 12:00 – 1:30

crocus

This is a working lunch. We try to keep these gatherings to 90 minutes. All of our members and their families are invited.  Find out what’s going on at Living Hope!

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