God’s Face

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“‘“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
   the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
 the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”’

Numbers 6: 24-26

Lord God, thank You for turning Your face towards us through Your Son Jesus Christ who always kept His face turned on You.  Even on the Cross when You turned away from Him because He was covered with the filth of all our sins He turned to You and asked You to forgive us.  And You did.  We don’t deserve anything good from Your Hand, but because of Jesus You lavish upon us Your never ending goodness and mercy and love.  How great is Your love for us!  May we share Your peace with those we meet this day.  For Jesus’ sake we pray, Amen.

January 5 Empty But Full

Photo by Eric Wing

Photo by Eric Wing

Genesis 11:1-13:4;  Matthew 5:1-26;  Psalm 5:1-12;  Proverbs 1:24-28

“The poor in spirit are blessed, because the reign of heaven is theirs!

The people who are mourning are blessed, because they will be comforted!

The lowly are blessed, because they will inherit the earth!

The people who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness are blessed, because they will be satisfied!

The merciful are blessed, because they will be shown mercy!

The pure in heart are blessed, because they will see God!

The peacemakers are blessed, because they will be called sons of God!

The ones who are persecuted because of righteousness are blessed, because the reign of heaven is theirs!

You are blessed whenever people insult you and persecute you and by lying, say every kind of evil against you because of me!

Rejoice and exult, because your reward is great in heaven, for in this way they persecuted the prophets who were before you!  Matthew 5:3-12

Empty but full,

that’s what we are, we who

believe

in the Son of God.

Lord God, that’s the beauty of the Christian faith–we who are empty spiritually are filled to the brim with your blessings.  In our neediness, you came and rescued us.  We, who cannot go one minute, one hour, one day, one month, one year, one lifetime without sinning, have been saved.  And because you have saved us, we are truly blessed!  Thank you, Lord!  We are blessed today with the knowledge that one day we will be be in Heaven with you where all our hungering and thirsting will cease, where peace will reign, and we shall see you face to face.  Thank you for blessing us so richly!  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

“Then let your Word within me

Shine as the fairest star.

Your reign of love revealing

How wonderful you are.

Help me confess your truth

And with your Christendom

Here own you King and Savior

With all the world to come.”

~Martin Behm

December 15 Cajillions

Image by Sandara Lee

Image by Sandara Lee

Jonah 1:1-4:11;  Revelation 5:1-14;  Psalm 133:1-3;  Proverbs 29:26-27

“Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders, the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive

power and wealth and wisdom

and might and honor and glory

and blessing!”

And,

I heard every creature in heaven and on earth

and under the earth

and in the sea and all that is in them saying,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb,

be blessing and honor and glory and might

forever and ever!”

And,

the four living creatures said, “Amen!”

and the elders fell down

and worshiped.”

Revelation 5:11-14

Myriads of myriads!  I learned that myriads means ‘millions.’

Millions and thousands and thousands and millions–Angels, ALL in agreement, ALL in ONE voice declaring that ONLY Jesus Christ-the Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive  all that mankind covets–wealth, power, prestige, honor ,glory, wisdom.

And then we hear or see an ad on TV or in a magazine that throws out the phrase “because you’re worth it.”  Really?????  What have we done compared to Christ who gave His life for us on the Cross so that our sins might be forgiven and forever forgotten by our Heavenly Father?

Yet in God’s eyes, because of Jesus, we are worth it–Because of Jesus He’s opened the gates to Heaven to all who believe on His Name.  His love for us and what His Son has done for us makes it all so worth it.

So one day we will be among the cajillions of voices praising the Lamb in Heaven!  And even now, as we worship our voices join with theirs:

“Holy, holy, holy

Lord, God of Sabaoth,

adored;

Heav’n and earth with

full acclaim

shout the glory

of  Your name.

Sing hosanna in the highest,

sing hosanna to the Lord;

Truly blest is He who comes

in the name of the Lord! Amen.”

~Sanctus

November 25 Wherever You Are

Image by Cole Bayer

Image by Cole Bayer

Daniel 1:1-2:23;  1 Peter 3:8-4:6;  Psalm 119:65-80;  Proverbs 28:14

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another;  be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.  Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called, so that you might inherit a blessing,

For, “whoever would love life and see good days

must keep his tongue from evil

and his lips from deceitful speech.

He must turn from evil and do good;

he must seek peace and pursue it.

For the eye of the Lord is on the righteous

and His ears are attentive to their prayer,

but the face of the Lord is against those

who do evil.”  1 Peter 3:8-12

~

God calls us to peace wherever we are.

It begins first in our own hearts–

our hearts that are naturally inclined to evil,

to war against the Lord.

It starts with recalling God’s gift of peace

that was given to each of us in our Baptism,

where the Water and the Word

imparted something far greater

than our own inclinations,

where faith given by

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

took root

and grew.

God’s nature born in us

gives hope for peace–

so we pray for this instrument of peace,

of faith in the One True God,

be used to shed abroad

the answer to the world’s ills

of violence, hatred, prejudice

and oppression.

May we share the peace

won for us by Christ on the Cross

with those who are need of a good word,

a lasting word of peace.

O Lord God, have mercy on our brothers and sisters in the community of Ferguson, MO.  For those who know and love you, strengthen their faith and their witness to a peace that reigns in their hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit.  May true peace come to those who do not yet know you as Lord and Savior.  Bless us, wherever we are, to be your Ambassadors of peace, pointing to the Cross of Christ and His victory over sin, death and the devil.  For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

“May your unfailing love be my comfort,

according to your promise to your servant.

Let your compassion come to me that I may live,

for your law is my delight.”

Psalm 119:76-77

September 13 Saturday Special

Photos by Laura Jostes

Photos by Laura Jostes

Isaiah 12:1-14:32;  2 Corinthians 13:1-14;  Psalm 57:1-11;  Proverbs 23:9-11

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,

and the love of God,

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

be with you all.”

2 Corinthians 13:14

~

Paul dishes out a beautiful

ending

to his second letter

to the believers in Corinth

who were dealing with some

pretty tough stuff.

Honest and direct,

chastening and

comforting,

words to help them grow.

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Words inspired by the Holy Spirit

from the heart of God

to confront the wrong

and encourage perfection,

unity and peace.

Lord God, as we come together with other believers to receive your Word and to offer you our thanks and praise, worshiping you this weekend, may the blessing of grace, love and fellowship be ours through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  In His name we pray, Amen.

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Blessings on your weekend!

“Oh, worship the King

all glorious above.

O gratefully sing

his pow’r and his love;

Our shield and defender,

the Ancient of Days,

Pavilioned in splendor

and girded with praise!

~Robert Grant

August 14 A Blessing To Bank On

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Nehemiah 7:61-9:21;  1 Corinthians 9:1-18;  Psalm 33:12-22;  Proverbs 21:11-12

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,

the people he chose for his inheritance.

From heaven the Lords looks down and sees all mankind;

from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth–

he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.

No king is saved by the size of his army;

no warrior escapes by his great strength.

A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;

despite all its great strength it cannot save.

But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,

on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,

to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.

May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord,

even as we put our hope in you.” 

Psalm 33:12-22

~

A bank may safeguard

my cash,

but it cannot guard

my life.

Banks fail,

money supplies dwindle,

but the Source of all the living

never runs dry.

Rejoice in the Lord

who makes something

out of nothing;

who feeds thousands

with but a crumb.

He is the same yesterday, today

and forever!

He knows my needs

for food, clothing, shelter

and my deeper needs

for forgiveness, love and mercy.

He never fails.

His mercies are new every morning.

Yes, even for today!

I can bank on that.

Lord God, thank you for your goodness and mercy that never end.  In you I can place all my trust and not be afraid of running out.  Your love endures forever!  May I share your goodness and mercy with those who need to hear a Good Word today.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

June 10 Blessed Notes

Image by Justin Knight

Image by Justin Knight

1 Kings 7:1-51;  Acts 7:30-50;  Psalm 128:1-6;  Proverbs 16:31-32

“Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walk in his ways.”  Psalm 128:1

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord and who walk in his ways:  ‘ashar, Hebrew word for blessed meaning happy, blissful, full of God’s gifts.

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord and who walk in his ways:  is, not was, not will be, but right now is, today, tomorrow, forever.

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord who walk in his ways: all-inclusive, no exclusions based on race, color, intelligence, net-worth.

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord and who walk in his ways: fears, not fearful of, but trusting in God alone–Father, Son and Holy Spirit–Triune God.

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord and who walk in his ways: Lord–the Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier, the flesh and blood God incarnate in Jesus Christ, not some nilly willy belief in the “god” within us, or nature, or the stars.

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord and who walk in his ways:  walk–actively engaged in living the life of faith, having words and actions that reflect our relationship to the living God–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, mercy, forgiveness, hopefulness, humbleness…

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord and who walk in his ways: By God’s grace and mercy we live, move, and have our being in Him so that we follow Him and not the world’s or our sinful flesh’s or Satan’s ways.

Lord God, we are truly blessed because you have come to dwell in our hearts by faith.   We thank and praise you for the new life you have given us by Water and the Word and for all the blessings that this life bestows upon us.  May we, with joy, share with others the source of our blessings that they, too, may walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

“Blest the children of our God, they are bought with Christ’s own blood;

They are ransomed from the grave, life eternal they will have.

They are justified by grace, they enjoy the Savior’s peace;

All their sins are washed away, they will stand in God’s great day.

They are lights upon the earth, children of a heav’nly birth;

One with God, with Jesus one; Glory is in them begun.

With them numbered may we be here and in eternity!”

~Joseph Humphreys

April 29 Heavenly Thread

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Image by Brad Casteneda

Judges 9:22-10:18;  Luke 24:13-53;  Psalm 100:1-5;  Proverbs 14:11-12

“When he led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them.  While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.  Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.  And they stayed continually at the temple praising God.”  Luke 24:50-53

 

Blessing and praise

mingled and wove

a never-ending thread

connecting Savior

and Saved,

Ascended Lord and

earth bound disciples.

 

Temple time, worship time,

close to God time.

It was more that just

an hour or two

on Sunday.

Prayer and worship

linked them to God.

 

Down through the generations

the never ending thread

weaves it’s way through

the days of our lives.

 

Blessing and Praise

His Word–our response.

May it continue until the day

of our Lord’s return!

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever!  Amen.

“Shout for joy to the Lord,

all the earth.

Worship the Lord with gladness;

Come before him with joyful songs!”

Psalm 100: 1-2

January 22 Bring and Believe

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Photo by Colette Varanouskas

Genesis 44:1-45:28;  Matthew 14:13-36;  Psalm 18:37-50;  Proverbs 4:11-13

“Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over;  send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.”  But Jesus said, “You give them something to eat.”  They said, “we have only five loaves here and two fish.”  And he said, “Bring them to me.”  Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing.  Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.”  Matthew 14:15-19

What has God asked you to bring to the table?

You may say, “Oh, I’m not that good–that talented–that eloquent–that loving–that encouraging–that patient–that good of a teacher–that wise.”

That may be true.

But all He asks is that we simply bring what we DO have.  He will bless our offering.  He will make it ENOUGH.

Lord God, you showed your disciples that you can use “whatever” is offered up to you to be a blessing and service to those in need.  Give us willing hearts to offer up what we have to be used by you.  Bless our offerings, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

“God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies.”  ~  Hudson Taylor, Missionary

September 1 Heart Sing

Image

Vector art by Matt Gruber

Job 40:1-42:17;  2 Corinthians 5:11-21;  Psalm 45: 1-17;  Proverbs 22:14

“My heart is stirred by a noble theme…” Psalm 45:1

What makes your heart sing?

Worship today made my heart sing.  Being able to stand before Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

           confess my sins

                 hear words of absolution, “you are forgiven”

                           and words of invitation, “take, eat.  this is my body given for you.

                                         take and drink.  this is my blood shed for you.”

     offer songs of worship and praise

             join in prayer with others who believe that our God in Heaven

                      hears our prayers and answers

                                        receive teaching that encourages me to serve others

                                              and do what is pleasing in God’s sight.

       be blessed 

               to be a blessing.

 My heart is still singing!

Lord God, thank you for providing a faith family with whom I can pray, praise and give thanks to you.  Thank you for Your body and blood  shed for me which I took in through bread and wine to strengthen and keep me in the one true faith.  May my heart continue to sing your praise and my lips tell of your faithfulness, of your great love and your endless mercy.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And He (Jesus) died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised again.”  2 Corinthians 5:14-15