Let Them Come!

Picture by artist, Frances Hook  “Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray.  The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”  And he laid his hands on them and went away.”

Matthew 19:13-15

Lord, you did not ignore the little ones or their parents who brought them to you.  You took time to be with them and touch them.  Your hands, that were later nailed to the Cross, connected children to you.  You continue to connect both young and old to you through the waters of Baptism where you forgive sins and give the Holy Spirit.  Thank you for reaching out to us.  Keep us in the one true faith, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

Boundless Love

Jesus, Thy boundless love to me no thought can reach, no tongue declare; Unite my thankful heart to Thee, and reign without a rival there!  Thine wholly, Thine alone I am; be Thou alone my constant flame.

O grant that nothing in my soul may dwell, but Thy pure love alone; oh, may Thy love possess me whole, my joy, my treasure and my crown!  All coldness from my heart remove;  my every act, word, thought be love.

This love unwearied I pursue and dauntlessly to Thee aspire.  Oh, may Thy love my hope renew, burn in my soul like heav’nly fire!  And day and night,  be all my care to guard this sacred treasure there.

In suff’ring be Thy love my peace, in weakness be Thy love my pow’r; and when the storms of life shall cease, O Jesus, in that final hour, be Thou my rod and staff and guide, and draw me safely to Thy side!

Hymn text by Paul Gerhardt, 1703-91

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us.”  Ephesians 1:7-8

Lord God, Heavenly Father, thank you for your boundless, endless mercy and love which you poured out upon us through your dear Son, Jesus Christ!  You never stop forgiving us.  You never stop loving us even when we are at our most unloveable.  Help us to remember the gift of grace you gave to us at our Baptism that continues to bless and benefit us each and every day.  Accept our humble thanks and praise.  In Jesus’ name, Amen

 

Without A Doubt

DSCF006519 So when it was evening on that same day, the first day of the week, though the disciples were [meeting] behind barred doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them, and said, [i]Peace to you.” 20 After He said this, He showed them His hands and His side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with great joy. 21 Then Jesus said to them again, Peace to you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you [as My representatives].” 22 And when He said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of anyone they are forgiven [because of their faith]; if you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained [and remain unforgiven because of their unbelief].”

24 But Thomas, one of the twelve [disciples], who was called Didymus (the twin), was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the marks of the nails, and put my finger into the nail prints, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later His disciples were again inside the house, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, though the doors had been barred, and stood among them and said, Peace to you.” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and put out your hand and place it in My side. Do not be unbelieving, but [stop doubting and] believe.” 28 Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, do you now believe? Blessed [happy, spiritually secure, and favored by God] are they who did not see [Me] and yet believed [in Me].”

30 There are also many other signs (attesting miracles) that Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe [with a deep, abiding trust] that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), the Son of God; and that by believing [and trusting in and relying on Him] you may have life in His name.  John 20:19-31 Amplified Bible

 

Without a doubt God gives us what we need to hear about who He is, what He’s done, and what He continues to do through the lives of those who believe in Him.

We may not be given all the answers to all the questions that we have, but we have enough.

Doubts come to us all at some point.  Like Thomas we want proof such as nail holes and a spear gash that we can touch and see.

And yet, we do have tangible signs of His presence in our lives–the Waters of Baptism, the Bread and Wine and His Word which is living and active. These all do wonderful things to us and for us in our lives of faith.

We may have our doubts, but God has us firmly in the palm of His Hand!

Thank You Lord for giving us Your Word which never fails!  Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit that gives us insight into Your truth and strengthens our faith.  Continue to draw us to You through Your precious Word, for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

Come Out!

Photo by Justin Knight

Photo by Justin Knight

Under the bed

dust bunnies and all

next to my brother, Christ,

Our Father calls

‘Dearest ones, come out!

The sin that drove you

to hide away

has been carried away by Him.

I don’t see the dirt

I don’t smell the stench

I don’t feel the grit

of your gossip, greed or lust.

I see my daughter next to My Son

clean from head to toe.

I see my seal,

the Spirit-Guarantee

marked upon your breast

when faith entered in

through Water and the Word

and your life in me began.’

  * * * * *

“So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh to live according to the flesh.  For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

The Spirit himself bears witness with our Spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

Romans 8:12-17

Thank You Abba Father for the wonder of Baptism when I was adopted as Your very own.  You gave me the gift of faith through the Water and the Word.  Thank You for Your love, for daily providing me with all that I need to live, for keeping me safe from harm and danger, for seeing the right-ness of Your dear Son, Jesus, in me.  Abba Father may I live for You today in love and gratitude and be found faithful as Your beloved child.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

One Thing I Know

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

“So for the second time they [the Pharisees] called the man who had been blind and said, “Give glory to God.  We know this man [Jesus] is a sinner.”

He answered, “Whether or not he is a sinner, I do not know.  One thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

* * * * *

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”  Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he speaking to you.”  He said, “Lord I believe,” and he worshiped him.”  John 9: 24-25, 35-39

* * * * *

One thing I know…

that I was born spiritually blind

but

through the Water and the Word

of Baptism

even as an infant

the gift of sight,

of faith in Jesus

was given to me.

Jesus touched me,

turned me to Him,

made me His own.

He preserves me

in this faith as

day by day,

year by year

He walks with me

nurtures me

feeds me His holy food.

He removes the guilt of my sin

and His light shines in my heart.

His joy floods my soul.

* * * * *

Thank you Jesus

for opening my eyes

to see You and the love and forgiveness

that comes from Your Hands.

May I live today as one who sees

and points others to You

in word and deed.

In Your name I pray,

praise,

and give thanks!

Amen.

* * * * *

It was grace in Christ that called me,

Taught my darkened heart and mind;

Else the world had yet enthralled me,

To Thy heav’nly glories blind.

Now I worship none above Thee;

For thy grace alone I thirst,

Knowing well that, if I love Thee,

Thou, O Lord, didst love me first.

(LSB 573:2)

February 11 Tired of Waiting?

Photo by Brandi Wood

Photo by Brandi Wood

Exodus 32:1-33:23;  Matthew 26:69-27:14;  Psalm 33:1-11;  Proverbs 8:33-36

“When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us.  As for this Moses, the man who brought us out of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”

Exodus 32:1

* * * * *

These people whom God had

miraculously saved,

delivered out of Egypt,

sustained in the desert

now

doubted,

grew tired of waiting,

wanted visible assurance,

something to believe in.

But a calf?

Covered in gold?

Absurd!

* * * * *

A ‘god’ according to Marin Luther

is anything that we fear, love,

and trust

more than the true God.

* * * * *

I, whom God miraculously saved

from slavery to sin

through the waters of Baptism

am guilty of

golden-calf worship:

When I trust my bank account

more than the God of limitless resources;

when I trust in myself,

my strengths, my ‘gifts’

rather than the Giver;

when I look to famous “experts”

at living

rather than to the Creator

of all the living.

I am guilty.

* * * * *

God’s anger burns against me

and my idolatry.

But I have One who interecedes

for me;

Who goes before the Almighty Father

and pleads with Him,

“Have mercy.

I died for her sins

on the cross.

My blood was shed for her.

Forgive her for my sake.”

* * * *

In repentance I confess my sins

and know that I am washed clean

by the blood of the Lamb.

* * * * *

Today is a new day.

I pray that I will wait patiently

for Him,

for His answers to my prayers;

that I will remain faithful

and not turn aside

to the golden calves of this world.

I will remember my release

from sin’s captivity

in the waters

of Baptism.

I will remember that I am free.

* * * * *

“And God spoke all these words saying,

‘I am the Lord your God,

who brought you out of Egypt.

You shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself a carved image

or any likeness of anything that is in heaven

or that is in the earth beneath

or that is in the water under the earth.

You shall not bow down to them

or serve them,

for I the Lord your God

am a jealous God.

Exodus 20:1-5

Thank you, Jesus, for delivering me, for saving me, for preserving me in the one true faith!  Amen.

January 3 The Tempter’s Threat

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Genesis 5:1-7:24;  Matthew 3:7-4:11;  Psalm 3:1-8;  Proverbs 1:10-19

“Then Jesus was led up into the desert by the Spirit in order to be tempted by the slanderer.  And after he had fasted for forty days and forty nights, at the end he was hungry.  And the tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

But he answered and said, “It stands written: A person will not live by bread alone; rather, by every word that comes out through the mouth of God.”  Matthew 4:1-4

Temptation comes to each

of us

behind the mask,

Satan asks,

“Who are you–really?

You say you follow

Jesus Christ,

believe His every word,

but do you, really?”

*******

Jesus heard the same

as Satan

called his name-

Son of God.

Jesus didn’t flinch,

He recalled His Father’s words,

“This one is my beloved Son,

in whom I am well pleased.”

*******

Jesus stood

by His Father’s Words

and had no need of bread.

His Father would sustain him,

Satan’s threat was dead.

*******

“Baptized into the name of

God the Father,

God the Son,

and

God the Holy Spirit,”

His name now becomes ours.

When Satan beckons,

tempts our souls,

questions our identity,

recall the Water and

the Word,

the tempter’s threat is dead.

Lord God, Jesus did what man could never do–resist Satan’s temptations, relying soley on You to provide all that He would ever need.  Jesus knew who He was and stood firm in His identity as Your Son when Satan tempted him with power, kingdom wealth, and protection.  Lord, may we look only to You to provide us with what we need for this life and when tempted by Satan to depend on someone or something else but you, help us to stand on the name of Jesus and Him alone!  In His name we pray, Amen.