WELS Synod Convention

2019 conventionWatch the 65th biennial synod convention of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod this week on Vimeo Live Stream:  https://livestream.com/mlc-streams/events/8745199

 

Posted in All posts, FYI, WELS

Do not fear… for I am your God

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
~ Isaiah 41:10

fear

There are many real things in our lives that make us afraid and cause us stress. We may sometimes hide them, downplay them, even try to forget about them, but the fear is still there and it is real. Health, finances, guilt, relationships, and security are all things that can keep any person awake at night. These are not the paranoid fears of the few but real concerns that most of us have.

In a world of real fears and real concerns, how then can God say, “Do not fear” and “Do not be dismayed”? God tells us not to fear because he has real answers to our real problems.

He reminds us, first of all, that he is with us and he is our God. This section of Scripture was originally written to God’s Old Testament people, the Israelites. God had chosen Israel as a special people for himself from all the people in the world and he was really present with them in several special ways.

God has also chosen you and promises to be with you in several special ways. He is with you when you read and hear his Word. He has made you his own in Baptism. He says that he is really present in Holy Communion. In these things, you find God’s presence with you still.

Secondly, he reminds us that he can help. God strengthened and helped his Old Testament people through mighty acts. He brought them through the Red Sea on dry land, provided food for them, and rescued them from their enemies.

God continues to strengthen and help you. He daily provides all that you need. He continues to guide all the events of this world for your eternal good. Most importantly, he sent Jesus to take away all your sin and guilt so that you have life and salvation. In all of this, God still holds you with his righteous right hand.

You may have real fears but find your confidence in a real God. He is with you and he will help you.

Prayer: God of mercy, you command us not to fear and in your love you equip us to obey that command. Remind us that you are the source of our help and are strong to save. Amen.

WhatAboutJesus.com

Posted in All posts, Devotions & Meditations, Scripture

I Come, O Savior, to Your Table

grapesandwine

I come, O Savior, to your Table, for weak and weary is my soul;
O Jesus, you alone are able to satisfy and make me whole.
Oh, grant that I in manner worthy, may now trust solely in your Word,
And, conscious of the sins before me, look only unto you, O Lord!

Your heart is filled with fervent yearning that sinners may salvation see,
Who, Lord, to you in faith are turning; so let me, Lord, come trustingly.
Weary am I and heavy laden, with sin my soul is sore oppressed;
Receive me graciously, and gladden my heart, for I am now your guest.

By faith I call your holy table the testament of your deep love;
For, by your gift I now am able to know the heart of God above.
What higher gift can we inherit? It is faith’s bond and solid base;
It is the strength of heart and spirit, the covenant of hope and grace.

This feast is manna, wealth abounding unto the poor, to weak ones power,
To angels joy, to hell confounding, and life for me in death’s dark hour.
Your body, given for me, O Savior, your blood which you for me have shed –
These are my life and strength forever, by them my hungry soul is fed.

With you, Lord, I am now united; I live in you and you in me.
No sorrow fills my soul, delighted it finds its peace on Calvary.
Though death may threaten with disaster, it cannot rob me of my cheer;
For He who is of death the Master with help and strength is aways near.

Lord, may your body and your blood be for my soul the highest good!

~ by Friedrich C. Heyder, 1677-1754

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

Be on the lookout

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  ~ 1 Peter 5:8-9

Lion

Picture the scene in your mind. A lone gazelle munches on grass on the African plain. Little does it know that a hungry lion is watching its every move, waiting . . . looking for the perfect opportunity to pounce. If only the gazelle knew what was coming!

A lion’s hunting technique is not all that complicated. It watches the herd and waits for one of the animals to be separated from the group. It looks for the very young and the very old. It waits for the sick or the injured–any animal that is vulnerable–and then, at the most opportune moment, attacks and maims and devours.

If you could yell a word of warning to that unsuspecting gazelle, what would you say? Look out for the lion! Be on guard! Run! This is what the apostle Peter is trying to tell us. You and I are the prey. The devil wants to destroy us. He wants to drag us with him to hell. If we are oblivious to the fact that we are in a life and death struggle, we will no doubt lose.

Satan wants to end your spiritual life. He will attack when you are most vulnerable. At times when you are hurting and lonely he will come after you. He will try to isolate you. He will try to make you question God’s existence, let alone his love and concern for you. Be aware of his tactics.

But you are not left alone in your struggle. You have the support of a loving God and a caring group of other “gazelles” called “the Church”. Peter writes, “You know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” Each one of us goes through ups and downs and the struggles of life, but we don’t have to do it alone. God brings people together in local congregations for support and protection against the attacks of the devil. In these churches God’s Word is taught and God’s people are equipped to resist and withstand the attacks of Satan.

The devil doesn’t want you to know that he has already been defeated. The truth is that Jesus by his sacrifice on the cross crushed the devil. He took our sin and weakness on himself. He gave his life to save ours. Three days later, when Jesus rose from the dead, the devil, that roaring lion, was defeated and put on a leash. Don’t be mistaken. The devil is still dangerous, so be on the lookout.  But with Christ’s power you can stand against him.

Prayer:  Lord, I know the devil wants to hurt me, so keep me vigilant in my life. Help me identify his tactics of trying to separate me from you. Continue to support me through the teaching and preaching of your Word as I regularly gather together with other Christians. Amen.

WhatAboutJesus.com

 

Posted in All posts, Devotions & Meditations, Scripture

Confirmation

dove window _FotorTwo young people were confirmed yesterday at Living Hope.  Please continue to keep them in your prayers.

May God the Father of our Lord,
Who called you by his holy Word,
Perfect, establish, settle you,
Keep you through faith forever true.

May God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, Three in One,
Preserve you blameless till in grace
You stand before His holy face.

~ Dorothy I. Scharlemann, b. 1912

Posted in All posts, Devotions & Meditations

Ultimate triumph

Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”
~ Jeremiah 32:17

Rembrandt_Jeremia2

A prophet named Jeremiah was an ordinary man like you and me. He didn’t call down fire from heaven or heal the sick, like Elijah. Or part waters like Moses. He spent most of his days in suffering. In fact, he was called the “weeping prophet”.

About 2600 years ago, Jeremiah was watching the Babylonian army build ramparts around the city of Jerusalem, preparing to pounce on God’s people. The likely outcome would be tragedy. And yet, in that moment, the Lord tells Jeremiah to go buy a plot of land near Jerusalem, land that would one day be Jeremiah’s farm.

At that time, it must have sounded like the worst investment in history. But to Jeremiah, it was a deposit of hope. Hope that for him and for the people of Israel the ultimate outcome would be triumph. That is why he prayed, “Nothing is too hard for you!”

Yes, Jerusalem would be destroyed. Yes, most of the people would be taken into exile. But God would protect Jeremiah and he would stay in the land. And the exiles would one day return and rebuild the temple.

Even and especially in the midst of our pain and suffering, God has made a deposit of hope. He did it when Jesus’ cold body was placed in a damp tomb, only to rise again, fully alive. Jesus’ death and resurrection paid for our rescue, but also for our place in God’s new heaven and new earth. When Jesus returns, all of life’s suffering will be transformed into eternal joy.

Knowing that your life will end in triumph doesn’t immediately take away your pain, but it will give you hope that the best is yet to come.

Prayer: Lord God, you often bless me with joy and happiness.  In times of tears, lift up my eyes to see that my life will ultimately end in triumph because of your victory through your cross and resurrection. Amen.

WhatAboutJesus.com

Posted in All posts, Devotions & Meditations

The castle

For you have heard of my previous way of life . . . how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. ~ Galatians 1:13

sandcastleChristian writer Greg Elder grew up along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. As a boy he used to spend long hours building intricate sand castles on the beach. However, one year he encountered trouble. For several days in a row, local bullies came by and used their bare feet to kick down whatever sand castle he was building.

Finally, this young boy had had enough. He decided to try an experiment. He started to build a sand castle as before, only this time he included cinder blocks and chunks of concrete as part of the base.

Once again, the local bullies showed up. Once again, they raised their bare feet to kick down his castle. This time, however, their tender feet collided with something that was not going to budge. As a result, several young men limped away in pain, they retired from the castle-kicking business, and little Greg Elder’s castle remained standing.

There are times when it seems as though Christianity is like a sand castle that all kinds of feet are trying to kick down. There’s the foot of our secular society, false doctrine, and cynics. And there’s the foot of our own sinful priorities.

Before the Apostle Paul came to faith in Jesus, kicking down the castle of Christianity was what he lived to do. As he did so, he thought he was being successful. But he soon discovered that the base of the castle was never going to budge because the base of the castle was Jesus Christ.

As you and I encounter the feet of those forces that are trying to kick down the castle of Christianity, don’t be afraid. Those tender feet are no match for the rock of our salvation. The same One who washed us clean at the cross is the One who lives and rules and will not be kicked into submission by anything. The castle of Christianity will stand.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, on you, the solid rock, I stand. When the troubles of life come, remind me that I have nothing to fear when I remain in you. Amen.

WhatAboutJesus.com

Posted in All posts, Devotions & Meditations