Come Holy Ghost

fire-dove

Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,

Ignite them with celestial fire;

Spirit of God,

You have the art

Your gifts,

the sev’nfold, to impart.

Your blest out pouring from above

Is comfort, life, and fire of love.

Illumine with perpetual light

the dullness of our blinded sight.

Anoint and cheer our much-soiled face

With abundance of your grace.

Keep far our foes;

gives peace at home;

Where you guide us,

no ill can come.

Teach us to know the Father, Son,

And you, of both, to be but one

That, as the ceaseless ages throng,

Your praise may be our endless song!

~words written by Rhabanus Maurus, 776-856 A.D.

Lord God, may the Spirit continue to move in us today animating our words and actions with the truth of Your love and grace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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Who Is Like the Lord Our God?

photo by Seminary staff

“Praise the Lord!

Praise, O servants of the Lord,

praise the name of the Lord!

Blessed be the name of the Lord

from this time forth and forevermore!

From the rising of the sun to its setting,

the name of the Lord is to be praised!

The Lord is high above all nations,

and his glory above the heavens!

Who is like the Lord our God,

who is seated on high,

who looks down

on the heavens and the earth?

He raises the poor from the dust

and lifts the needy from the ash heap,

and makes them sit with princes,

with the princes of his people.

He gives the barren woman a home,

making her the joyous mother of children.

Praise the Lord!

Last night was graduation from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.  I stood with my fellow graduates thankful for God’s faithfulness to all of us for seeing us through our seminary training–for me as a deaconess and the rest as future pastors.  We serve the Lord our God who does the impossible for the poor, the needy and the barren.   Just as we have been raised up and made to bear fruit by the power of the living God through the Holy Spirit we give thanks and praise to the Lord our God.  Who is like Him?

No one even comes close!

Lord God, thank you for the privilege of being called your servant.  Have mercy on me and grant me grace to faithfully serve and love others in Your most Holy Name.  For Jesus’ sake I pray, Amen.

 

Looking Ahead

Lauren Boebinger

Image by Lauren Boebinger

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”  Zechariah 4:6

 

Centerline New Media

Image by Centerline New Media

“Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come, and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”  Revelation 14:7

 

Zach Fonville plans

Image by Zach Fonville

 

“Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.”

At Christmas we remember You, Jesus, coming humbly in human form.  You were totally dependent on Your mother and earthly father to provide for your needs.  Your almighty power was limited to human abilities–for a time–so that You might accomplish for us our Salvation.  BUT—You are coming again in great glory and might and power and exaltation! Lord, we pray that You would keep us in the true faith until that great day.  To You be all glory and praise, now and forever!  In Your name we pray, Amen.

Thanksgiving For Christ’s Incarnation

Johann Gerhard’s prayer of thanksgiving to God for becoming a human creature like us:

“Jesus Christ, only mediator and redeemer of the human race, I give thanks to You that in the fullness of time You united Yourself personally to a true human nature and deigned to be born of a virgin (Galatians 4:4).

How great is Your love for Your human creatures that you laid hold not of angels, but of the seed of Abraham (Hebrews 2:16).

How great is the mystery of godliness that You, being true God, desired to become manifest in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16).

How great is Your mercy, that, descending from heaven for my sake, You endured being born of a virgin (Isaiah 9:6).

For me, a most worthless creature, You, the all-powerful Creator, became man.  For my sake, an abject slave, You, the glorious Lord, clothed Yourself in servile fashion with a body so with flesh You might free flesh (Philippians 2:7).

For me, You were born.  Therefore, whatever heavenly goods You bring with You in Your birth will be mine.

Because You were given to me, so also shall all things be given to me.  My nature is glorified more in You than it was disgraced in Adam through sin.  Because You assumed into the unity of Your person that which was only tarnished by Satan, You truly are flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone (Ephesians 5:30).

You are my brother.  What can you deny me, the person to whom You are most intimately joined by the same essence of flesh and by the feeling of fraternal love?  You are the bridegroom (Matthew 22:2) who, according to the good pleasure of the heavenly Father, bound the human nature to Yourself as a bride by means of a personal covenant.  With a thankful soul, I proclaim and acknowledge that I, too, am invited to the celebration of this marriage.

I am no longer amazed that heaven, earth, sea, and all that is in them were made by God for us because God Himself ordained to become a man for the sake of His human creatures.  Truly, You cannot reject me and turn me away because You  cannot deny that You Yourself are a man and therefore my brother ((2 Timothy 2:13).

You can never forget me because You have engraved me on the palms of Your hands (Isaiah 49:16).

Christ’s communion with humanity daily and continually makes You mindful of me.  You cannot forsake me because You, by the closest bond of the personal union, ordained to join the human nature to Yourself.  Therefore, no matter how much my sins hinder me from coming to You for mercy, the communion of the two natures in Christ will not allow me to be driven away.  I will depend totally on You, the one who totally assumed my humanity.”

From the devotional book, Meditations on Divine Mercy by Johann Gerhard, translated by Matthew C. Harrison.

Praise be to God for keeping His promise to send the Savior who would redeem us from our sin and restore us as His dearly beloved creatures through faith in Jesus Christ, our Brother and Lord!  Amen!

 

Advent Preparation

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”  1 Peter 2:9

Nathan Ward candle

Photo by Nathan Ward

Advent.  A time to reflect on our need for a Savior.  Do we need saving?  Indeed!  Johann Gerhard, a Lutheran theologian, wrote a collection of Meditations on Divine Mercy.   His writings are helping me this Advent season to dwell on God’s mercy towards all mankind which culminated in the birth, death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.

Pray with me Gerhard’s  prayer– “Thanksgiving for Conversion”

“O gracious God, I give thanks to You that You converted my hardened heart, which did not know how to repent, and that You removed my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).  I had the power to fall into sin and guilt.  I did not have the power to rise to repentance.  By my own power, I was able to go astray.  I was able to return to the right path ONLY by Your power.  Just as one who is born crippled cannot be restored with natural remedies but only by divine power, so my soul was born spiritually curved toward sin and earthly things.  No human power could correct it.  Only Your grace was able to restore my soul so it loved You and desired Your heavenly blessings.  I had the power to deform myself by various sins.  You alone were able to reform me.  Just as an Ethiopian cannot change his skin or the leopard his spots (Jeremiah 13:23), so I was not able to do good because I was fully devoted to doing evil.

“You, my God, converted me, and I am converted (Jeremiah 31:18)  After I was converted by You, I repented.  After I came to understand, I struck my breast (Jeremiah 31:19).  I was dead in sin, and You made me alive.  I was able to contribute as much to my conversion as a dead person is able to contribute to his resurrection (John 6:44;  John 11:43).  If You had not drawn me, I would never have come to You.  If you had not awakened me, I would never have watched for You.  If you had not enlightened me, I would never have seen You.  Sins were sweeter to me than honey and honeycomb.  That they are now pungent and bitter, I owe to You, the one who gave me my spiritual taste.  Virtuous works were more bitter to me than gall and aloe.  That they are now pleasing and delightful, I owe only to You, the one who changed my corrupt fleshly judgment by the Spirit.  I went astray as a sheep that was lost (Isaiah 53:6);  I turned to the way of iniquity.  But You, Good Shepherd, sought me and led me back to the flock of the saints.

“Only recently have I recognized You, the true light, because there were great, dark clouds before my vain eyes that prevented me from seeing the light of truth.  Recently, I have recognized You, the true light, because I was blind and loved blindness and walked through the darkness of sin toward the darkness of hell.  But You, my illuminator, sought the one who was not seeking You.  You called the one who was not calling to You.  You converted the one who was not converted to You.  With a voice full of power, You said, “Let there be light in the inner parts of this heart,” and there was light.  I saw Your light and recognized my blindness.  For this immeasurable kindness, I will praise Your name forever.   AMEN.

from Meditations on Divine Mercy:  A Classic Treasury of Devotional Prayers by Johann Gerhard.  Translated by Matthew C. Harrison.  CPH  pp. 75-76.

 

The Lord Alone

Today’s readings:  Isaiah 45:11-48:11; Ephesians 4:1-16; Psalm 68:19-35; Proverbs 24:3-4

“For this is what the Lord says–he who created the heavens, he is God;

he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it;

he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited–

he says:  “I am the Lord, and there is no other.

I have not spoken in secret, from somewhere in a land of darkness;

I, the Lord, speak the truth;  I declare what is right.”  Isaiah 45:18-19

Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word;  Curb those who by deceit or sword would wrest the kingdom from Your Son and bring to naught all He has done.

Lord Jesus Christ, Your pow’r make known, for You are Lord of lords alone;  defend Your holy Church that we may sing Your praise eternally.

O Comforter of priceless worth, send peace and unity on earth;  support us in our final strife and lead us out of death to life.   ~hymn by Martin Luther, 1483-1546

Whose words do you trust?  In whom do you trust?  In what do you place your trust?

If it is not in Jesus Christ, your trust is in vain.  He alone is Lord of Lords.

Turn our hearts to You and You alone, O Christ.  You have the Words of eternal life!  Amen.

The Voice of the Lord

REUTERS/Richard Carson

REUTERS/Richard Carson

“Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;  worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters.

The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.

May the Lord give strength to his people!  May the Lord bless his people with peace!

Psalm 29:1-4, 10-11

Hurricane Harvey and the hiddenness of God.  We ask the question “why,” but God on His throne who is beyond our understanding doesn’t give us the answer.  His voice however booms “I am with you always.  I will never leave you nor forsake you!  I will give you strength!  I will give you peace!”

God the Father gave us His Son, Jesus, who stemmed the damning flood of sin in our lives by shedding His blood for us.  And by His almighty power He raised Jesus from the dead. His powerful voice now bids us to call upon Him in the day of trouble–In the midst of deep waters, call to Him, and He will answer!

Lord God, we see the rising flood waters and are afraid.  Please turn our eyes to Jesus who sits at Your right Hand in Heaven.  Help us to trust in Him during these difficult times.  We trust in Your faithfulness to hear our prayer for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.