I Am Content

I am content!  My Jesus ever lives, in whom my heart is pleased.  He has fulfilled the Law of God for me, God’s wrath He has appeased.  Since He in death could perish never, I also shall not die forever.  I am content!  I am content!

I am content!  My Jesus is my head;  His member I shall be.  He bowed His head when on the cross He died with cries of agony.  Now death is brought into subjection for me by Jesus’ resurrection.  I am content!  I am content!

I am content!  My Jesus is my light, my radiant sun of grace.  His cheering rays beam blessings forth for all, sweet comfort, hope and peace.  This Easter sun has brought salvation and everlasting exultation.  I am content!  I am content!

I am content!  At length I shall be free, awakened from the dead, arising glorious evermore to be with You, my living head.  The chains that hold my body, sever;  Then shall my soul rejoice forever.  I am content!  I am content!

Hymn text by Johann J. Moller, 1600-1733

“And He [Jesus] said to them, “Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead on the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”  Luke 24:46-47

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.

Friendship

 

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“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  Ephesians 4: 29-32.

Lord God, thank you for friends.  May we cherish them, seek the best for them, and speak well of them always.  Thank you for being our friend.  For loving us when we were unloveable, forgiving us when we did not deserve it, for saving us from sin and death.  By your Holy Spirit help us this day to be a friend to the friendless and to love them even as we have been loved by you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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.

God-Affirmer

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

“Count yourself lucky,

how happy you must be–

you get a fresh start,

your slate wiped clean.

Count yourself lucky–

God holds nothing against you

and you’re holding nothing back from him.

When I kept it all inside,

my bones turned to powder,

my words became day long groans.

The pressure never let up;

all the juices of my life dried up.

Then I let it all out;

I said,

“I’ll make a clean break of my failures to God.”

Suddenly, the pressure was gone.

Everyone of us needs to pray;

when all hell breaks loose and the dam bursts

we’re on high ground, untouched.

God’s my island hideaway,

keeps danger far from the shore,

throws garlands of hosannas

around my neck.

Let me give you some good advice;

I’m looking you in the eye

and giving it to you straight:

“Don’t be ornery like a horse or mule

that needs bit and bridle to stay on track.”

God-defilers are always in trouble;

God-affirmers find themselves

loved every time they turn around.

Celebrate God.

Sing together everyone

All you hones, hearts,

raise the roof!”

Psalm 32

~Paraphrased by Eugene Peterson

in The Message

Lord God, because of the gracious work of Christ on the Cross and the gift of faith you have made me a God-affirmer.  By the power of the Holy Spirit I can acknowledge you as Lord of my life.  When my sins wear me down, I can come to you freely, confess them, and receive your unburdening forgiveness.  I can shout Hallelujah, Praise You God!  Thank you for your “island” security and your promise to never leave me alone.  I love you!  Amen.

No Place Too Far

Photo by Charl Christiani

Photo by Charl Christiani

Nehemiah’s Prayer

“O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel.  I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s house have committed against you.  We have acted very wickedly toward you.  We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.

* * * * *

“Remember the instruction you gave  your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’

* * * * *

“They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand.  O Lord, let your ear be attentive to this prayer of his servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your  name.  Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”

Nehemiah 1:5-11

Flung far from God by my own sins and prideful rebellion,

by my own willfulness and stubbornness,

my refusal to acknowledge Him

in all my ways

there is One

who humbles Himself before

His Father’s throne

and pleads on my behalf,

‘Father, forgive her.

I gave my life for her.

You raised me from the dead

so that I could intercede

for her and give her life.’

The ears of the Father tune in to His Son’s

request

and arms that are not so far off

embrace me,

enfold me

bid me come

to Him

to trust Him with all

that I have,

to clean up my mess,

and make me whole.

Lord God Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing me near to You through the sacrifice of your dear Son, Jesus Christ.  Thank You for listening to His intercessions on my behalf, for hearing His cries on the cross, ‘Father forgive them, forgive her.’  There is now nothing that can separate me from Your great love.  Lord, I pray for those today who feel that they are to far flung, to far gone, to beyond hope.  I pray that Your loving arms will reach out to them and comfort them with your words of forgiveness and hope.  For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

Even To You

Photos by Laura Jostes

Photos by Laura Jostes

“Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge…that your trust may be in the Lord; I have made them known to you today, even to you.”  Proverbs 22:17-19

* * * * *

Words. Words.

Either they give life

or they lead to death.

The power of THE WORD to make new;

to cut through the thick callouses of one’s heart

to remove the lifeless from the beating part.

The power of THE WORD

to pump new life into wastelands;

to cause rivers to flow

and flowers to blossom,

to quench the thirst

and satisfy.

The power of THE WORD,

the power of Christ our Lord

to forgive sins,

remove guilt,

impart the Holy Spirit

through Word and Sacrament

gives me hope to see beyond

to a day when loved ones share in

the joy of His Salvation

and with united voice

praise our God and King!

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* * * * *

Jesus, you are THE WORD

the great I AM

that made soldiers fall on their faces

at your arrest

at your resurrection

and will cause all men

to fall on their faces before You

when You return to judge

the living and the dead.

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* * * * *

Do you believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior?

In Him whose blood set you free to become one of His?

He is calling your name

Calling you to turn away from your sin

to give you forgiveness

and new life.

Your life will be refreshed

and living water will flow through you.

You will never be the same again!

Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

Amen.