New Beginnings

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

“Clap your hands, all peoples!  Shout to God with loud songs of joy!

For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.

He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet.

He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves.

God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.

Sing praises to God, sing praises!  Sing praises to our King,

sing praises!

For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!

God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.

The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham.  For the shields of  the earth belong to God;

he is highly exalted!

Psalm 47

Lord God, today is a new beginning for me.  A day that I start a journey of studies and preparation for work as a deaconess.  It is a day of new beginnings for others as well.  May the strong words of this psalm give courage and peace for all of us who are depending on You to see us through.  We give you thanks for the heritage of life in your Son, Jesus Christ.  May we give you honor and glory and praise this day!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Generous

image by lovefortheunderdog.org

image by lovefortheunderdog.org

“The point is this:  whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of our our righteousness.

You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”

2 Corinthians 9:6-11

* * * * *

Ellen DeGeneres is generous.

Every day on her show someone in need benefits from her generosity.

And it is usually because Ellen has learned of their generosity or selfless acts.

Recently a school boy who bakes and sells cookies to help support his mom and himself received a car from Ellen.

The audience cheered.

The mom and the boy and Ellen shared a group hug.

Each time that I see this kind of generosity I’m reminded of the greatest act of generosity ever given–that of our Heavenly Father giving His only Son to die for our sins and to give us a brand new life–and we didn’t even do a thing to deserve such a great gift!

God continues to lavish on us His gifts of grace and love and mercy–so much so that it spills over out of our lives to touch the lives of others.

The Corinthian Christians had experienced God’s healing touch and lavish grace within their troubled congregation.  Their outward response was pledging to help the needy saints in Jerusalem.  St. Paul told them God would supply them with all they would need to fulfill that pledge.  Thanksgiving would abound.

How can we be generous with God’s gifts to us this week?

Lord God, your great love for us overflows in all that you do for us.  We thank and praise you for forgiving our sins and making us whole.  May we freely share these good gifts with those around us whether with a good word, a smile, a five dollar bill or a bottle of water.  Let us love and care for others even as we are loved and cared for by you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“I will praise your  great compassion

Faithful Father, God of grace,

That with all our fallen race

In our depth of degredation

You had mercy so that we

Might be saved eternally.”

~ Johannes Olearius

A personal note:  For the last three years I’ve had the privilege of writing daily devotions on my blog “What’s the Good Word?”  Through this wonderful blogging community I’ve learned much, grown much and cherished the interactions with you. Tomorrow I begin full time studies as a graduate student at Concordia Seminary.  My time for blogging may be at a premium, and I just wanted to let you know that I will still be checking in, but perhaps not as regularly as I have in the past.  May you continue to be in God’s Word daily and let it richly dwell in you.  Let’s stay in touch!   Blessings ~ Laura

Solid in Christ

Image by Suzie Gallagher

Image by Suzie Gallagher

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Proverbs 22:6

“Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.  He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”

2 Corinthians 1:21-22

* * * * *

Comfort words of guarantee

God the Father speaks

to you and me.

Spirit breathes

new life,

renews

and keeps us close.

Even though we stray,

and sin has its way

our Savior

hears our cries,

forgives.

Such blessed assurance

and promise

for this day!

Lord God,  we give you thanks for your precious word that assures us that we are yours forever, that we stand strong and secure because of the faith you keep alive in our hearts.   Thank you for preserving us in the one true faith.  Grant that we live today in joyful service to you and to those around us, for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

Just One

Image by Marian Trinidad

Image by Marian Trinidad

“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.

There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.

There are different kinds of working, but the same God

works all of them in all men.”

1 Corinthians 12:4-6

* * * * *

Why did St. Paul need to write this to the Christian Corinthians– a Trinitarian reminder that Father, Son and Spirit gift, serve and work in various ways, but  are united–One God?

It’s because they were so divided, hung up on the differences, choosing sides, not seeing themselves as one body of believers with Christ as the Head.  They squabbled over which teacher was the best, what spiritual gift ranked highest, and scrambled for the best seat during mealtimes.  

What a pathetic image this group of Christians made–they who called themselves Christ followers.

But, ouch!

These words of St. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, have endured and reach their mark in my own heart today. They powerfully drive me to my knees where I cry, “Father, forgive me for my own participation in taking sides, pulling rank, and scrambling for status before men.”

And, thankfully, the same grace extended to the Corinthians is the same grace that God extends to me–“You are forgiven, for Jesus’ sake!”

Lord God, thank you for showing us that even as You are united–Father, Son and Holy Spirit–we believers can be united in the one true faith to serve, work, and gift others with your love and mercy.  Help us to always keep our eyes on Jesus–the author and perfecter of our faith.  In His name we pray, Amen.

Lean On Him

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

The hill was steep, but cheered along the way

By converse  sweet, I mounted on the thought

That so it might be till the height was reached;

But suddenly a narrow winding path

Appeared, and then the Master  said, “My child,

Here thou wilt safest walk with Me alone.”

* * * * *

I trembled, yet my heart’s deep trust replied,

“So be it, Lord.”  He took,

my feeble hand

In His, accepting thus my will to yield Him

All, and to find all in Him.

One long, dark moment

and no friend I saw, save Jesus only.

* * * * *

But oh! so tenderly He led me on

And up, and spoke to me such words of cheer,

Such secret whisperings of His wondrous love,

That soon I told Him all my grief and fear,

And leaned on His strong arm confidingly.

And then I found my footsteps quickened,

And light ineffable, the rugged way

Illumined, such light as only can be seen

In close companionship with God.

* * * * *

A little while, and we shall meet again

The loved and lost; but in the rapturous joy

Of greetings, such as here we cannot know,

And happy song, and heavenly embraces,

And tender recollections rushing back

Of pilgrim life, methinks one memory

More dear and sacred than the rest, shall rise

And we who gather in the golden streets,

Shall oft be stirred to speak with grateful love

Of that dark day when Jesus bade us climb

Some narrow steep, leaning on Him alone.

From Streams In the Desert

~ Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

My Eye Is On…..

Image by Lauren Boebinger

Image by Lauren Boebinger

This devotion is from Streams In The Desert by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

“I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me.”  Acts 27:25

I went to America some years ago with the captain of a steamer, who was a very devoted Christian.  When off the coast of Newfoundland he said to me, “The last time I crossed here, five weeks ago, something happened to me that revolutionized the whole of my Christian life.  We had George Mueller of Bristol on board.  I had been on the bridge twenty-four hours and never left it.  George Mueller came to me and said, “Captain, I have come to tell you that I must be in Quebec Saturday afternoon.”

“It is impossible,” I said.

“Very well, if your ship cannot take me, God will find some other way.  I have never broken an engagement for fifty-seven years.  Let us go down into the chartroom and pray.”

I looked at that man of God, and thought to myself, what lunatic asylum can that man have come from?  I never heard of such a thing as this.  “Mr. Mueller,” I said, “do you know how dense this fog is?”

“No,” he replied, “my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God, who controls every circumstance of my life.”

He knelt down and prayed one of the most simple prayers, an when he had finished I was going to pray: but he put his hand on my shoulder, and told me not to pray. “First, you do not believe He will answer, and second I BELIEVE HE HAS, and there is no need whatever for you to pray about it.”

I looked at him, and he said, “Captain, I have known my Lord for fifty-seven years, and there has never been a single day that I have failed to get an audience with the King.  Get up, Captain and open the door, and you will find the fog gone.”  I got up, and the fog was indeed gone.  On Saturday afternoon  George Mueller was in Quebec for his engagement.

If our love were but more simple,

We should take Him at His word;

And our lives would be all sunshine,

In the sweetness of our Lord.

Lord God, thank you for the faith of George Mueller who trusted you with all his heart and for the encouragement his testimony gives to Your faithfulness above all else.  Whatever is on our hearts and mind this day, Lord, may we come to you in humble faith trusting You to hear and answer our prayers for Jesus’ sake.  May your name be glorified!  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

Under The Cloud

Photo by Julie Ayers

Photo by Julie Ayers

“For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea.  They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.  They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.  Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.

* * * * *

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.  Do not be idolators, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.”  We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did–and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died.  We should not test the Lord as some of them did–and were killed by snakes.  And do not grumble, as some of them did–and were killed by the destroying angel.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.

* * * * *

So, if you think you are standing firm,

be careful that you don’t fall.  No temptation has seized you

except what is common to man.  And God is faithful.

He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.

But when you are tempted, he will also

provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Lord God, even the children of Israel who saw your miraculous provision day after day were tempted to turn away from you and to seek other sources of security and fulfillment.  And I am no different.  Temptations come.  Do I want to please my selfish nature or do I want to please you?  You know that I am mere dust.  You know that I need strength beyond my own strength to say no to ME and yes to YOU.  And you have given me cloud protection in my Savior Jesus who himself resisted all temptation and was found perfect in Your sight.  Through faith, Lord, you help me say “NO”, to turn away, to take a different path.  You even come to me when I am weak and have given into temptation and you forgive my sin, for Jesus’ sake.  Thank you for never leaving me nor forsaking me!  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.