Running the Race

Graphic by Boaz Crawford

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize?  So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things.  They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”  1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Lord, You give my spirit strength to restrain the passion of the flesh.  Whatever is good in me comes from You, the font of all good things, because in me, by nature, there is nothing but sin.  I have to acknowledge that all good works I do–which are nevertheless impure because of the corruption and imperfection of my flesh–are gifts of Your grace.  I will give You thanks forever because of Your immeasurable gift to me.  Amen      ~prayer by Lutheran Theologian,Johann Gerhard, 1582-1637.

Hope

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hope of the world, Thou Christ of great compassion;  speak to our fearful hearts by conflict rent.  Save us, Thy people, from consuming passion, Who by our own false hope and aims are spent.

Hope of the world, God’s gift from highest heaven, bringing to hungry souls the bread of life, still let thy Spirit unto us be given to heal earth’s wounds and end our bitter strife.

Hope of the world, afoot on dusty highways, showing to wand’ring souls the path of light, walk Thou beside us lest the tempting byways lure us away from Thee to endless night.

Hope of the world, who by thy cross didst save us from death and dark despair, from sin and guilt, we render back the love thy mercy gave us; take thou our lives and use them as thou wilt.

Hope of the world, O Christ, o’er death victorious, who by this sign didst conquer grief and pain, we would be faithful to thy Gospel glorious.  Thou art our Lord!  Thou dost forever reign

~ Hymn by Georia Harkness, 1891-1974

Lord God, Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us Hope through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.  In His name we pray, Amen.

 

 

March 14 God’s Care Package

photo from iambaker.net

photo from iambaker.net

Numbers 21:1-22:20;  Luke 1:26-56;  Psalm 57:1-11;  Proverbs 11:9-11

“Have mercy on me, O God, have

mercy on me,

for in you my soul takes refuge.

I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings

until the disaster has passed.

** * * *

I cry out to God Most High,

to God, who fulfills his purpose for

me.

He sends from heaven and saves me,

rebuking those who hotly pursue me;

God sends his love and his

faithfulness.

* * * * *

My heart is steadfast, O God,

my heart is steadfast;

I will sing and make music.

Awake, my soul!

Awake harp and lyre!

I will awaken the dawn.

* * * * *

I will praise you, O Lord, among the

nations;

I will sing of you among the peoples.

For great is your love, reaching to the

heavens;

your faithfulness reaches to the

skies.

* * * * *

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;

let you glory be over all the earth.”

Psalm 57, select verses

College students love to receive care packages from home.  The taste of home-made chocolate chip cookies reminds them of the love and thoughtfulness with which they were sent, to bolster them during intense times of study and testing, and assures them that they are not alone in their endeavors.

Like a care package from home, our gracious Heavenly Father sent His Son,Jesus, wrapped in human form but fully embodying the holiness and grace of God, to let us know that He had not forgotten His promise to our first parents–that He would send a Savior to put things right between us and Him.

God kept His promise.  Jesus came.  Jesus paid the price for our sins.  Jesus rose from the dead and now reigns in Heaven above.  He stays connected to us through His Word and the faith sustaining sacrament of Holy Communion. His love and faithfulness reaches to the skies!

Oh give thanks unto the Lord;

for He is good,

and His mercy endures forever!

Lord God, we thank and praise you for sending us your love through your Son, Jesus Christ; for making it possible, through faith, to be connected to You once again; for cleansing us from all of our sins and making us holy in your sight.  Lord, grant that we share this care package with others, that they may savor your grace and taste and see that You are good.  For Jesus’ sake we pray, Amen.

July 18 Lend A Hand

Photo by Aaron Watt

Photo by Aaron Watt

1 Chronicles 26:12-27:34; Romans 4:13-5:5;  Psalm 14:1-7;  Proverbs 19:17

“He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.”  Proverbs 19:17

 

Many ways of being kind,

many kinds of poor.

Lord, let me see

the ways to reach

those

who need more

love,

forgiveness,

peace,

healing,

deliverance

which you

abundantly give.

Let me lend as though

lending to You

not counting the cost

as you have freely

done for me.

You lent your blood,

your sweat,

your life

to cover all

my sin.

The Father sees

not me, but you

and bids me

enter in.

I can never repay you for this

immeasurable

gift,

but may I live my life

by faith

as a little child

to lend my hand,

my smile,

a warm embrace,

an encouraging word

in Your dear name,

Amen

July 12 Salvation’s Gift

Photo by Bob James

Photo by Bob James

1 Chronicles 12:19-14:17;  Romans 1:1-17;  Psalm 9:13-20;  Proverbs 19:4-5

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ (Habakkuk 2:4)  Romans 1:16-17

God imparts His very heart

in the life and death of Christ

His Son in whom

no guile was found.

Perfect was He

from Galilee

who loved and healed

and taught

the Way to His Father

was faith in Him.

Not faith in one’s own righteousness

or keeping of the Law

but simple faith

that He was the very

Son of God.

Our flesh cries out that

“that’s absurd–

why believe stories

millenia old?

What you see

is what you get

there’s nothing more

to be told.”

But ask the ones both young and old

whose lives bespeak of faith,

of sins forgiven, life restored

through the gift of grace.

No one is beyond the reach of God

who offers up this gift

free and undeserved.

Deliverance can be yours

today

Admit your sin and guilt

and helplessness

before the Lord.

He raises up those bowed down

and grants His Saving Grace.

You alone are Lord of Lords.

You, O Lord, grant peace.

Lord God, thank you for your amazing gift of salvation.  You call us sinners into your presence to tell us that you will no longer count our sins against us because your dear Son Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins on the Cross.  It is your gift of faith to us that enables us to believe this gospel truth.  For this gift we give you thanks and praise!  Let us never be ashamed of this gospel, but proclaim it, live it and believe it all the days of our lives.  For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

May 21 Humble Extravagance

Image

Image from Photo Bucket

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 a dinner for him there.  Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining 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

 

Holy Spirit filling

Word fulfilling

utter devotion

and love

came spilling from

Mary’s gift of self,

poured on Jesus’ feet.

 

Humbly kneeling,

self forgetting

realizing all of life

pours out of Him.

Her own life redeemed,

sin forgiven

like that of her brother,

Lazarus

not even death

could separate

from the love

of their Lord and Savior,

Friend and Brother,

Jesus Christ.

 

Not forgotten

but written,

remembered,

extravagant by man’s standards,

a gift whose fragrance

lingers

yet today

in the hearts and minds

of believers

and beckons us to show

our love for Him

no matter how costly

or foolish

to honor Him

and kneel before Lord.

Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for this story of Mary and of her humble extravagant love that pales in light of yours.  You tenderly received what she offered to you–herself and material token of her devotion to you.  She honored you and demonstrated her love for you in the sight of all.  Lord, may I do the same, that others may know how much you have done for me–that you deserve pure devotion and praise.  On my own I am unable to do this.  May your Spirit within me move me to demonstrate my love for you with the gifts you have given me-Amen.