Be Merciful

“So Joseph said to his brothers, “come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.” Genesis 45:4-5

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103: 8-12

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:35-36

These verses are a part of the Scripture readings that we will be hearing read tomorrow in the Divine Service. There is a beautiful, comforting theme that runs through them. First Joseph forgives his brothers and draws them to himself. Then the Psalmist tells just how far God removes our sins from us. And we hear Jesus’s words to his disciples to love those who seem impossible to love–their enemies. Acts of mercy. Words of forgiveness. I know how much I deserve God’s wrath, but instead I hear him say, “Come near to me. I forgive you. Go and be merciful too.”

Lord God, you do not treat me as my sins deserve.  Your Word instructs me in your way, but I often fail in following it.  When others sin against me I fail to be as gracious and merciful as you are to me. 

 Forgive me, Lord and help me to forgive those who sin against me.  Just as Joseph did not hold his brothers in contempt, let me also let go when I am wronged.  Let your grace and mercy rule in my heart, for Jesus’s sake, I pray.  Amen.

Who do you need to forgive?

Return

“Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”  Joel 2:13

If you’ve been “away” from the Lord, too busy to listen to His Word, preoccupied with your own doubts and fears, take heart.  God’s promise remains true.  He’s like the Father of the Prodigal son who runs to meet his undeserving son and lavishes his love and acceptance upon him.  God’s shows His lavishness and great faithfulness to you on a wooden cross where His only Son was hung to die.  Advent is the prequel to Christmas when we take time to realize that we celebrate Christmas because we cannot save ourselves from God’s anger.  He who hates sin and cannot bear it really DID bear it all on the cross.  Jesus’ cross bearing was for our sake.   He was raised for our sake!  And He lives and reigns at the Father’s right hand.  One day all who confess Jesus as their Lord will also be where He is–to live eternally. 

If you have never peeked inside a Bible–open one up and read from the book of John written by one who knew Jesus very well.  You’ll see what the Advent ‘reveal’ is all about.  God bless you!

Trust

Matthew 18:2-3 

“And calling to him a child, he [Jesus] put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Simple faith.  Simple trust.  Children are born dependent.  Our Creator, God the Father, created us to be totally dependent on Him.  We are His children, born of the Spirit through Water and the Word. 

Do we ever outgrow our dependence on Him? 

Lord God, many times we think and act as if we are all “grown up” spiritually and that we can do everything on our own.  We fail to recognize that it is by your grace and mercy that we “live, move, and have our being.”  Forgive us Lord, for our childish rather than childlike attitude toward life–one of trusting in You alone above all else, calling to You when we are in need, thanking and praising You for all that You “daily and richly” provide us.   In Jesus’ name we pray and give thanks!  Amen.


“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” Jude 24-25

White As Snow

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool.”

Isaiah 1:18

Christ’s work on the cross changes everything for those who believe!  Thank you, O Lord, for your great love and mercy that covers all our sins!  Open our mouths to share this Good News.   In Jesus’ name we pray,  Amen.

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Psalm 4:8

“I thank you, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.”       ~ Luther’s Morning prayer

That’s What God Does!

“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” (Jeremiah 31:25)

He restores my soul.”   (Psalm 23:3)

Try as I might I just couldn’t pull myself out of the deepening grip of anxiety and sense of being “spent” earlier this week.  Deep breathing exercises, mindfulness suggestions, spending time walking in a park.  Didn’t work.  I mentioned this to a friend in an email.  And she ‘heard’ my struggle to upright myself.  She sensed that I was tiring of treading– to keep my head above water.  First, came a return email with several songs whose words spoke to my sore soul.  Then came a phone call to say that she would be bringing over some meals for our family later in the week.  And finally came a spoken prayer asking our Savior Jesus Christ to be my strength and my protection from the fiery arrows of doubt and hopelessness shot by our adversary, the Prince of this world, Satan.  God kept His Word to me.  He refreshed my weary and fainting soul.  He restored my weakened body and spirit using a faithful, Christian friend who provided what I needed to finish out the week.  Thanks be to God for this good neighbor who responded to the Holy Spirit’s nudge to reach out to me in a time of need.

“We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

Even If https://g.co/kgs/8e9Jjh

Faith

image by karina-lopez

“The great art and power of faith consist in seeing that which is not seen and in not seeing that which is nonetheless felt, aye, which oppresses and depresses a person; just as unbelief sees only what it feels and does not at all like to cling to that which it does not feel.

Therefore, God does not confront faith with trivial things but with such things as all the world cannot bear, like death, sin, the world and the devil.  For all the world is not able to stand up against death but flees from it, is frightened by it, and is overpowered by it.  But faith stands fast and battles with death, which devours all the world,  and gains the victory over it and devours the insatiable devourer of human life.”  ~Martin Luther

“This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.”  1 John 5:4

Lord God, to you we look when troubles come our way, not to place blame on you for causing them, but to know that you are with us in the midst of them.  You, who spared not your only Son, but watched as He bled and died on the cross and then raised Him from death to life, be our strength when we are weak and fearful.  Thank you for the gift of faith that sees  mercy in mayhem, peace in paradox, and truth in tragedy.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

 

 

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.