Hope and Comfort

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Entrust your days and burdens to God’s most loving hand;

He cares for you while ruling the sky, the sea, the land.

For He who guides the tempests along their thunderous ways

Will find for you a pathway and guide you all your days.

Our hands and feet, Lord, strengthen; with joy our spirits bless

Until we see the ending of all our life’s distress.

And so throughout our lifetime keep us within Your care

And at our end then bring us to heav’n to praise You there. Amen

~Paul Gerhardt, hymnist

 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of this salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

1 Peter 1:3-7


We have comfort and hope in Christ Jesus!

God bless you and keep you in His care!

Prodigal Love

Art by Aaron and Alan Hicks

“In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 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, in all wisdom and insight.” Ephesians 1:5-8

Prodigal love is lavish love. It is love freely and seemingly recklessly given. Today’s gospel lesson told of the reckless, seeming wastefully spent love of a father on a son who who had squandered the inheritance he received from his father and had returned broke and broken. The father’s prodigal love cared not what looked appropriate as he ran to wrap his son in his embrace and welcome him home. Robing him in fine clothes, feeding him a feast, and serenading him with celebratory song–all fit for a prince, not a wayward son. Such was the father’s prodigal love.

Such is the love of God for me…and for you. It is the same prodigal love. God the Father did not spare His beloved Son. That is why Jesus came to earth–to give his life, freely, recklessly, without reserve. His life for ours. On the Cross He wore our sins so that we might be robed in His righteousness. He comes running to find us wherever we are and to fold us into His embrace. He tells us He has prepared a home in Heaven for all who believe in Him, who return to Him and accept His prodigal love.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

“If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened…I will give you rest.”

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will never perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

We may be prodigals, but we have an even greater Prodigal Father!

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

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.

 

 

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.

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.

Solid Faith

I know my faith is founded on Jesus Christ, my God and Lord;  and this my faith confessing, unmoved I stand on His sure Word.  Our reason cannot fathom the truth of God profound;  who trusts in human wisdom relies on shifting ground.  God’s Word is all sufficient, it makes divinely sure;  and trusting in its wisdom, my faith shall rest secure.

Increase my faith, dear Savior, for Satan seeks by night and day to rob me of this treasure and take my hope of bliss away.  But, Lord with You beside me, I shall be undismayed;  and led by Your good Spirit, I shall be unafraid.  Abide with me, O Savior, a firmer faith bestow;  then I shall bid defiance to every evil foe.

In faith, Lord, let me serve You;  though persecution, grief, and pain should seek to overwhelm me, let me a steadfast trust retain;  and then at my departure, Lord, take me home to You, Your riches to inherit as all You said holds true.  In life and death, Lord, keep me until Your heav’n I gain, where I by Your great mercy the end of faith attain.

Hymn text by Erdman Neumeister, 1671-1756

“Be gracious to me, O God, for man tramples on me;  all day long an attacker oppresses me;  my enemies trample on me all day long, for many attack me proudly.  When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust;  I shall not be afraid.  What can flesh do to me?”    Psalm 56:1-4

Lord God Heavenly Father, we may not be in danger of being pinned to a wall by a spear like David.  We may not be in danger from the perils of a sea voyage like Paul.  Yet, we do face enemies of body and soul because we still live in a fallen world.  Crime and violence surround our communities.   Godless belief systems conflict with Your good Word.  Our own sinful nature continues to threaten our peace in You.  So today, Lord, we entrust ourselves to You, to preserve us in the One true faith as we confess Jesus as our sovereign Lord and God.  Thank You for Your faithfulness to us through Jesus Christ.  In His name we pray, Amen.

Grace Life

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,

in which you formerly walked according

to the course of this world,

according to the prince of the power of the air,

of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.

Among them we too all formerly live

in the lusts of our flesh,

indulging the desires of our flesh and of the mind,

and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

But God, being rich in mercy,

because of His great love with which He loved us,

even when we were dead in our transgressions,

made us alive together with Christ

(by grace you have been saved),

and raised up with Him,

and seated with Him

in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

so that in the ages to come

He might show the surpassing riches

of His grace in kindness

toward us in Christ Jesus.

For by grace you have been saved through faith;

and that not of yourselves,

it is the gift of God.”

Ephesians 2: 1-8

Lord God, thank you for making us alive through Christ Jesus our Lord!  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