You are a Child of God, right now!

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. ~ 1 John 3:1-2

freedom

Can you picture yourself enjoying heaven right now? Can you picture yourself forever free from all sadness, grief, sickness, or pain? Looking into God’s eyes and seeing your Savior face-to-face? Serving God perfectly, with no more sin ever getting in the way? And can you picture yourself as a perfect child of God, standing before your perfect Father in his perfect heaven, experiencing nothing but joy, gladness, happiness, and peace that will never end?

Maybe you can’t picture all that because right now is filled with so much that is confusing, jumbled up, and messy. Maybe you can’t because right now is clouded by turmoil, pain, fears, doubts, questions, and worries. It seems like everything you see and experience is about as far away from a perfect life, in a perfect heaven as you can possibly imagine.

In a sinful world, it is easy for children of God to feel like that, and even feel like they aren’t children of God at all. That is why the words of the apostle John are so comforting. He reminds us that our status before God doesn’t depend on how we are feeling or how things are going in life right now—good or bad. Instead, our status before God depends solely on what God has declared us to be.

So, what has God declared us to be? “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” God has declared us to be his children through the forgiving work of Jesus, his Son. Not might be, could be, or will be someday. God says, “That is what we are!”

Thanks to the saving work of Jesus, we are children of God right now. We already experience so many of the blessings that come along with being his children—the strength and desire to say “No” to sin, the peace of sins forgiven, the joy of our salvation, and the certain hope of eternal life.

All these blessings, and so many more, are already ours right now, even in the midst of turmoil, pain, fears, doubts, questions, and worries that cloud this sinful life. God’s blessings will continue to be ours right up until the day our perfect heavenly Father takes us to join him as his perfect children in his perfect heaven.

Oh, how great is the love the Father has lavished on us!

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, there is no greater status we could enjoy than to be your very own children. Thank you for making us so, through the work of your Son. Grant us the joy of living as your children until the day you bring us to be with you in heaven. Amen.

WhatAboutJesus.com

Posted in All posts, Devotions & Meditations

Pentecost ~ the promised Holy Spirit

wheat-field2

stgldove2The night Jesus was betrayed, he told his apostles:

But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.” ~ John 16:7-11

stgldove2Between Easter and Jesus’ Ascension:

He (Jesus) appeared to them (the apostles) over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” ~ Acts 1:3b-5

stgldove2Pentecost is the Greek name for the Jewish feast day called the Feast of Harvest or the Feast of Weeks.  After Jesus ascended into heaven, on the fiftieth day of that festival, God sent the promised “gift”: the Holy Spirit. We call this day “Pentecost”, which is Greek for “fifty”.

When the day of Pentecost came, they (the apostles) were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues [or languages] as the Spirit enabled them. ~ Acts 2:1-4

(Peter said to the crowd) “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.” ~ Acts 2:32-33

stgldove2stgldove2The Holy Spirit and all believers:

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory...    .. ..~ Ephesians 1:13-14

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

Where did Jesus go? Where is he now?

The disciples watch as Jesus ascends into heaven Acts 1:9Acts 1:7-11 He (Jesus) said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”   After he said this, 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 7:55-56 Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

June 2nd at 9:30 a.m.

Ascension Service at SumTur Amphitheater 

No Sunday School, Bible Study, or Worship Service at Living Hope that day.

Posted in All posts, Devotions & Meditations, FYI, Lent and Easter, Living Hope, WELS

Memorial Day Prayer

graves2Dear 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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Obedient

[Christ Jesus] humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.  ~  Philippians 2:8

crucifixion

If you have a few moments, go to YouTube and pull up the opening scene from the movie Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe. The movie is set during the days of the Roman Empire. The opening scene depicts a battle between the Roman army and enemies threatening the Roman Empire’s frontier. Watch closely. One contrast between the two sides is striking. The enemies attacking the Roman soldiers are furious and aggressive in their fighting, but they are unorganized and scattered. The Roman soldiers, on the other hand, are just as aggressive, but they maintain their discipline, they keep themselves in order, they remain obedient to their commander. And it is their character of obedience and discipline that carries the day.

The verse of God’s Word for us today is from the apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Very likely, many of the individuals who initially read this letter knew battle scenes as pictured in the movie Gladiator. The town of Philippi, you see, was a place where Roman soldiers went to live in their retirement. From their own military careers, they knew all about the discipline of putting the needs of others before their own. And they knew all about obedience.

Along comes this letter from Paul—a letter they receive with joy as he talks to them about Jesus, their new-found Savior from sin. So great is Jesus’ love for them, Paul says, that even though he was in very nature God, Jesus chose to set aside the full use of his power and to live as one of them, to live and die as their perfect Substitute.

And to do this, Jesus knew that half-measures would not do. As their Substitute, he knew he could not demonstrate obedience to his Heavenly Father only to a certain point. His perfect obedience on their behalf would have to go all the way. It would have to go all the way to death—even death on a cross. And every retired Roman soldier reading Paul’s letter knew exactly what that entailed.

In this letter, Paul’s readers began to see the bottomless depth of God’s grace. They began to see the path of obedience that their Savior was willing to walk for them.

We can too.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to see. Help me to see what you were willing to do to save me from sin and make me your own. Amen.

WhatAboutJesus.com

Posted in All posts, Devotions & Meditations

Omaha Ascension Service, June 2nd

Omaha area WELS churches will celebrate the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on June 2nd, 9:30 a.m., at the SumTur Amphitheater.

No Sunday School, Bible Study, or Worship Services will be held at Living Hope that day.

Enjoy the video from last year’s Ascension Service at the SumTur Amphitheater:

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnoUXVxtU7k)

Posted in All posts, FYI, Lent and Easter, Living Hope, WELS

Grace has been given to each one of us

stainedglasscross4I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
Be completely humble and gentle;
be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit
through the bond of peace.
There is one body and one Spirit,
just as you were called to
one hope when you were called;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.

So Christ himself gave
the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,
to equip his people for works of service,
so that the body of Christ may be built up
until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God
and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
~ Ephesians 4:1b-7, 11-13

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