Let Us Ever Walk With Jesus

2013_0817Cliffcavepark0023

Let us ever walk with Jesus, follow His example pure, through a world that would deceive us and to sin our spirits lure.  Onward in His footsteps treading, pilgrims here, our home above, full of faith and hope and love, let us do the Father’s bidding.  Faithful Lord, with me abide;  I shall follow where You guide.

Let us suffer here with Jesus and with patience bear our cross.  Joy will follow all our sadness;  where He is, there is no loss.  Though today we sow no laughter, we shall reap celestial joy;  all discomforts that annoy shall give way to mirth and hereafter.  Jesus, here I share Your woe;  help me there Your joy to know.

Let us gladly die with Jesus.  Since by His death He conquered death, He will free us from destruction, give to us immortal breath.  Let us mortify all passion that would lead us into sin;  and the grave that shuts us in shall but prove the gate to heaven.  Jesus, here with You I die, there to live with You on high.

Let us also live with Jesus.  He has risen from the dead that to life we may awaken.  Jesus You are now our head.  We are Your own living members; where You live, there we shall be in Your presence constantly, living there with You forever.  Jesus, let me faithful be, life eternal grant to me.     ~Sigismund von Birken, hymnwriter

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.  And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  Ephesians 5:1-2

Almighty God, Your Son willingly endured the agony and shame of the cross for our redemption.  Grant us courage to take up our cross daily and follow Him wherever He leads; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.   

(collect for Proper 17, Series A, LSB)

Beloved

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.   Ephesians 5:1-2

Lord God, I wake to a new day.  By your grace and mercy and power enable me to walk–to conduct my life–as Jesus, your beloved Son, walked.  He looked to You and You alone for His marching orders.  He even said that what people saw Him doing was what He saw You doing–loving, forgiving, healing, being merciful.  All that Jesus did was pleasing to You.  The greatest, most pleasing act, was His sacrificial death on the cross.  And it pleased You to raise Him from the dead.  May Your Word and Your plans dwell in me richly this day so that my life may be a pleasing aroma wafting up to You.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

A Prayer

dscf0218

O God, O Lord of heaven and earth, thy living finger never wrote

That life should be an aimless mote, a deathward drift from futile birth.

Thy word meant life triumphant hurled through every cranny of Thy world.

Since light awoke and life began, Thou hast desired Thy life for man.

 

Our fatal will to equal Thee, our rebel will, wrought death and night.

We seized and used in Thy despite Thy wondrous gifts of liberty.

We housed us in this house of doom, where death had royal scope and room,

Until Thy Servant Prince of Peace breached all its walls for our release.

 

Thou camest to our hall of death, O Christ, to breathe our poisoned air,

To drink for us the dark despair that strangles man’s reluctant breath.

How beautiful the feet that trod the road that leads us back to God!

How beautiful the feet that ran to bring the great good news to man!

 

O Spirit, who didst once restore Thy Church, that it might be again

The bringer of good news to men, breathe on Thy cloven church once more,

That in these gray latter days there may be men whose life is praise,

Each life a high doxology to Father, Son and unto Thee.   Amen.

~Hymn by Martin H. Franzmann

 

This prayer-hymn speaks of the ways God works in the world that He created, redeemed, and is restoring unto Himself.  We are created by Him, redeemed through His Son Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit and now sent to share this Good News with others.

Blessings on your day!

LJ

 

 

 

Small Groups

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hi!  I wonder if I might ask you–Are you in a small group at your church or fellowship?  What do you like about being in a small group?  Has it impacted your life in some way?  Please share your thoughts and opinions.  I’m in a class at the Sem right now called Small Groups, and I’m just curious how important small groups are in people’s lives.  If you take the time to respond I want to thank you!  God bless you in your small group ministry!

~Laura

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.

Living For Christ

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good and perfect will.

* * * * *

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:  Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith that God has given you.

* * * * *

Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with God’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.

* * * * *

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.

* * * * *

Do not repay evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written:  “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

On the contrary:  “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;  if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Romans 12:1-3, 9-21

Lord God, by your divine grace and mercy we are different.  By faith we are your children and as your children you desire us to live according to your ways–not our’s, not the world’s.  Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the pen of the apostle Paul you have made known the life you would have us to live.  It is the life Christ lived when he was on the earth.  Help us, Lord, to live according to your will and forgive us when we fail.  Thank you for your love and guidance in our lives!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May 21 At Jesus’ Feet

Photo by Cindy Ford

Photo by Cindy Ford

1 Samuel 29:1-31:13;  John 11:54-12:19;  Psalm 118:1-18;  Proverbs 15:24-26

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.  So they gave him a dinner for him there.  Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table.

Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair.  The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”

John 12:1-3

* * * * *

At Jesus’ feet

her love was poured

her deep devotion spent,

What Mary valued

most of all,

to be near her Lord and God

to be near to her Lord

and God.

* * * * *

To be near to you, O Lord, in your Word, in your Body and Blood at the Lord’s Supper is priceless indeed.  The gift of your life given freely on the Cross to atone for my sins can never be repaid.  I’m in awe of your great devotion to me and to all the people of the world.  I’m in awe of your love that was truly self-less.  Lord, this day may I live in faithful devotion to you and to show my love for you by serving and loving those around me.  I pray that my home may be filled with the fragrance of pure devotion to you.  For Jesus’ name sake I pray, Amen.

May 18 I’ll Stick With My Shepherd

Photo by Tim Pirfalt

Photo by Tim Pirfalt

1 Samuel 22:1-23:29;  John 10:1-21;  Psalm 115:1-18;  Proverbs 15:18-19

“I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…I am the good shepherd.  I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.  And I have other sheep who are not of this fold.  I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.  So there will be one flock, one shepherd.  For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.”

John 10:11-17

* * * * *

Jesus, my shepherd

knows my frequent wanderings

my heightened anxiety

resulting from my “going it on my own”

or giving in to flock mentality

following the crowd

even when that crowd leads me

away from Him.

He gently calls my name,

waits until I follow

once more

in His footsteps

that lead to pastures green.

He bids me come to His

calm waters

to refresh my soul

to wash away the foulness

from my heart and mind.

Jesus–my Good Shepherd–

thank you for leading me

and giving me all that I need

for this day

and for life in eternity.

Amen.

* * * * *

“May you be blessed by the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 115:15

Did you know that in 2006 in Turkey 400 sheep plunged to their deaths after one sheep tried to cross a 15-meter deep ravine?  (Sheep 201: A Beginner’s Guide to Raising Sheep, Susan Schoenian)

April 17 A Studied Blow

Image by Pierce Brantley

Image by Pierce Brantley

Devotion taken from Streams In The Desert compiled by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

Several years ago there was found in an African mine the most magnificent diamond in the world’s history.  It was presented to the king of England to blaze in his crown of state.  The king sent it to Amsterdam to be cut.  It was put into the hands of an expert lapidary.  And what do you suppose he did with it?

He took the gem of priceless value, and cut a notch in it.  Then he struck it a hard blow with his instrument, and lo! the superb jewel lay in his hand cleft in twain.  What recklessness! what wastefulness! what criminal carelessness!

Not so.  For days and weeks that blow had been studied and planned.  Drawings and models had been made of the gem.  It’s quality, its defects, its lines of cleavage had all been studied with minutest care.  The man to whom it was committed was one of the most skillful lapidaries in the world.

Do you say that blow was a mistake?  No.  It was the climax of the lapidary’s skill.  When he struck that blow, he did the one thing which would bring that gem to its most perfect shapeliness, radiance and jewelled splendor.  That blow which seemed to ruin the superb precious stone was, in fact, its perfect redemption.  For, from those two halves were wrought the two magnificent gems which the skilled eye of the lapidary saw hidden in the rough, uncut stone as it came from the mine.

So, sometimes, God lets a stinging blow fall upon your life.  The blood spurts.  The nerves wince.  The soul cries out in agony.  The blow seems to you an appalling mistake.  but it is not, for you are the most priceless jewel in the world to God.  And He is the most skilled lapidary in the universe.

Someday you are to blaze in the diadem of the King.  As you lie in His hand now He knows just how to deal with you.  Not a blow will be permitted to fall upon your shrinking soul but that the love of God permits it, and works out from its depths, blessing and spiritual enrichment unseen, and unthought of by you.  ~ J. H. McC.

Not a single shaft can hit,

Till the God of love sees fit.

Heavenly Father, I am glad that I am in your loving hands!  Make me, mold me, shape me as you will.  For Jesus’ sake,   Amen.

March 28 Careful Hearing

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Deuteronomy 9:1-10:22;  Luke 8:4-21;  Psalm 69:19-36;  Proverbs 12:2-3

“This is the meaning of the parable:  The seed is the word of God.  Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.  Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root.   They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.  The seed that fell among the thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.  But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

* * * * *

“No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed.  Instead, he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light.  For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.  Therefore consider carefully how you listen.  Whoever has will be given more;  whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him.”

Luke8:11-18

* * * * *

I am not a very good listener.  When someone gives me directions verbally my mind goes blank and the disconnect continues as I turn down the wrong streets and become even more lost.  I do much better when I can read directions for myself and refer to them as needed.

What is Luke trying to tell us about listening to God’s word?  What kind of Word listener are you?  I need all the help I can get from the Holy Spirit to hear God’s word and put it into action on a daily basis.  I pray that I may have a noble and good heart into which the Word of God grows and bears fruit.

Lord God, bless the hearing of your Word during times of worship this weekend.  May we hear, learn and inwardly digest your Truth as we are fed with the Bread of Life.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.