Awake!

Awake O sleeper, rise from death, and Christ shall give you light;  So learn His love, its length and breadth, its fullness, depth and height.

To us on earth He came to bring from sin and  fear release, to give the Spirit’s unity, the very bond of peace.

Then walk in love as Christ has loved, Who died that He might save;  with kind and gentle hearts forgive as God in Christ forgave.

For us Christ lived, for us He died, and conquered in the strife;  awake, arise, go forth in faith, and Christ shall give you life.  ~ hymn by F. B. Tucker

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.”  Ephesians 5:15-16

Lord God, as we anticipate celebrating Independence Day in America may we remember the greater freedom won for us through Jesus Christ on the Cross.  We are both citizens of heaven and earth so we thank you for the gift of freedoms allowed to us under the Constitution.  Bless all the lawmakers and lawkeepers of this land that we might live in peace.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

There Is A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything, a time for all that life may bring:  A time to plant, and time to reap, a time to laugh and time to weep, a time to heal, a time to slay, a time to build where rubble lay, a time to die, a time to mourn, a time for joy and to be born.

A time to hold, then be alone, a time to gather scattered stone, a time to break, a time to mend, a time to search and then to end, a time to keep, then throw away, a time to speak, then nothing say, a time for war till hatreds cease, a time for love, a time for peace.

Eternal Lord, Your wisdom sees and fathoms all life’s tragedies;  You know our grief, You hear our sighs–In mercy, dry our tear-stained eyes.  From evil times, You bring great good; Beneath the cross, we’ve safely stood.  Though dimly now life’s path we trace, one day we shall see face to face.

Before all time had yet begun, You, Father, planned to give Your Son; Lord Jesus Christ, with timeless grace, You have redeemed our time-bound race;  O Holy Spirit, Paraclete, Your timely work in us complete;  Blest Trinity, Your praise we sing–There is a time for everything!   ~Stephen P. Starke

O Lord, whatever this day may bring, we confidently know that it is in Your time.  Help us to use the time you’ve given us wisely for Jesus’ sake, we pray, Amen.

Let Us Ever Walk With Jesus

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Let us ever walk with Jesus, follow His example pure, through a world that would deceive us and to sin our spirits lure.  Onward in His footsteps treading, pilgrims here, our home above, full of faith and hope and love, let us do the Father’s bidding.  Faithful Lord, with me abide;  I shall follow where You guide.

Let us suffer here with Jesus and with patience bear our cross.  Joy will follow all our sadness;  where He is, there is no loss.  Though today we sow no laughter, we shall reap celestial joy;  all discomforts that annoy shall give way to mirth and hereafter.  Jesus, here I share Your woe;  help me there Your joy to know.

Let us gladly die with Jesus.  Since by His death He conquered death, He will free us from destruction, give to us immortal breath.  Let us mortify all passion that would lead us into sin;  and the grave that shuts us in shall but prove the gate to heaven.  Jesus, here with You I die, there to live with You on high.

Let us also live with Jesus.  He has risen from the dead that to life we may awaken.  Jesus You are now our head.  We are Your own living members; where You live, there we shall be in Your presence constantly, living there with You forever.  Jesus, let me faithful be, life eternal grant to me.     ~Sigismund von Birken, hymnwriter

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  Ephesians 5:1-2

Almighty God, Your Son willingly endured the agony and shame of the cross for our redemption.  Grant us courage to take up our cross daily and follow Him wherever He leads; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.   

(collect for Proper 17, Series A, LSB)

Beloved

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.   Ephesians 5:1-2

Lord God, I wake to a new day.  By your grace and mercy and power enable me to walk–to conduct my life–as Jesus, your beloved Son, walked.  He looked to You and You alone for His marching orders.  He even said that what people saw Him doing was what He saw You doing–loving, forgiving, healing, being merciful.  All that Jesus did was pleasing to You.  The greatest, most pleasing act, was His sacrificial death on the cross.  And it pleased You to raise Him from the dead.  May Your Word and Your plans dwell in me richly this day so that my life may be a pleasing aroma wafting up to You.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Saturday Spiritual Sensibilities

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:30-32

Only by the Spirit of God am I able to speak lovingly, forgive freely, and listen sincerely.   My sinful nature, by contrast, on its own can do nothing but dwell and swell with negative thoughts that eventually erupt into hurtful words that tear down rather than build up.  I need St. Paul’s reminder of who I am–I am one who has been sealed, marked, stamped with God’s Holy Name as one belonging to Christ crucified.  I often fail to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving because sin is still a part of my life, but God’s grace and mercy is endless.  He forgives me in Christ and He enables me to begin anew–loving, listening and forgiving.  Thanks be to God!

 

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”  Ephesians 4:26-27

What makes me angry?  When I see people treating each other badly; when I hear them speaking negatively and even slandering those whom we should be showing respect.  Anger in others makes me angry.

Anger is an emotion and in and of itself is not bad.  It’s what we do or do not do when we feel this emotion that is harmful to both ourselves and to others.

So let’s back up….

When the feeling of anger swells in our hearts and minds what do we do?

Seek the truth.    Ask, “what is the truth in this situation that is causing me to feel so angry?”  Am I expecting something unrealistic?  Am I demanding that things go MY way?

Sometimes we may not even truly understand the cause of our anger.

Here’s where a prayer to God who knows our hearts and minds can be mighty effective:

“Lord, I’m feeling put upon, neglected, hurt, embarrassed, and confused and that makes me feel angry and helpless.  Lord, You are in control.  Please help me.  If my anger is a result of my own sinfulness, please forgive me.  If my anger is because I feel helpless to change a situation, please intervene, give me wisdom, just don’t let me say or do anything that will make things worse.  Especially, Lord, protect me from the evil one who would love to take my insecurity and negative feelings and run with them (and me)–far away from You.  Lord, You are the Truth.  May I trust in You and not in my feelings.  Thank You Lord for hearing my prayer.  To You be the glory now and forever, Amen!

Witness

“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you as of first importance that what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me [Paul].”  1 Corinthians 15:1-8

Two years of study at the Seminary have concluded.  A year long internship awaits.  To be able to put into practice–relating to, serving, loving, and responding as Jesus would have me do–lies ahead.  And what a privilege it will be.  I believe what St. Paul told the church in Corinth;  Jesus died, but rose three days later…appeared to many…even to one who had been persecuting Him and the Church.  God’s love knows no bounds.  His mercy and forgiveness is for all.  History bears witness.  My heart and life, I pray will also bear witness!

Lord God, Heavenly Father, thank you for the great news of our salvation through Your Son Jesus Christ.  May we all be as bold as Paul to bear witness to the Truth–Jesus is alive!  Let the Easter story continue to be told on our lips today.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen.