May 12 Kings

Image by Mark Stuckey

Image by Mark Stuckey

1 Samuel 12:1-13:22; John 7:1-29;  Psalm 108:1-13;  Proverbs 15:4

“Do not be afraid,”  Samuel replied.  “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.  Do not turn away after useless idols.  They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless.  For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own.

As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you.  And I will teach you the way that is good and right.  But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.  Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away.”

1 Samuel 12:20-25

* * * * *

People clamored for a king

not content

with their Heavenly one

not content

to walk by faith

they wanted to SEE

and HEAR

and TOUCH

an earthly king

someone they could

manipulate,

one to serve them

and do their bidding.

Samuel gave them Saul

a handful of headache,

sadness and woe,

but he WAS their king.

Are we not weak like they

at times

Wanting to SEE and FEEL

and HEAR and FOLLOW

earthly leaders

rather than leaning

on the One true source

of wisdom, life and power?

God knows our weakness

He reminds us that we

are His very own.

He calls us to follow and serve

Him and Him alone.

Remember all that He has done

for you

bow your head in prayer

give thanks

to Christ our King.

Lord God, you gave the people what they wanted–a king they could see and follow into battle and fight their fights and make them great.  But an earthly king is no substitute for you.  Earthly kings fall prey to pride, lust for power, and self-serving ways.  So you sent your Son, Jesus, our perfect Prophet, Priest and King who gave up His life for us and now preserves us for His Kingdom.  Help us to always remember that great things you have done for us and for all people.  Help us to follow you and you alone!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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December 5 A Letter Ends

Image by Matt Gruber

Image by Matt Gruber

Hosea 1:1-3:5;  1 John 5:1-21;  Psalm 124: 1-8;  Proverbs 29:5-8

“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin;  the one who was born of God keeps him safe and the evil one cannot harm him.  We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.  We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true.  And we are in him who is true–even in his Son Jesus Christ.  He is the true God and eternal life.

~

“Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”

1 John 5: 18-21

***

Born of God, born of faith

no longer sinning unbelieving.

Born of God, born of faith,

we’re safe.

*

The evil one can have no

power over us

unless we let him

by forgetting who is our Father true,

whose Son’s life courses through our veins

and we cut off the flow

by bending low

to idols of this world-

idols of gold or stone or wood,

of ideas, goals, or attitudes

that exalt anything and everything

but the One True God.

*

We, who have been called by His Name,

made His own through the Water and the Word,

sustained by His Body and Blood,

are warned:

“Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”

Lord God, by your grace and mercy keep us this day from that which would tempt us to turn from you as our sole soul provider and sustainer.  Forgive us when we stray and cleanse us from all unrighteous thoughts, words and deeds.  Instead of knees bowed to empty vanities, may we humbly bow before You as the One True God.  For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

Satan, hear this proclamation:

I am baptized into Christ!

Drop your ugly accusation,

I am not so soon enticed.

Now that to the font I’ve traveled

All your might has been unraveled.

And, against your tyranny,

God, my Lord, unites with me!

~Erdmann Neumeister

1671-1756

August 2 Never Too Late

Photo by Matt Gruber

Photo by Matt Gruber


2 Chronicles 32:-33:13; Romans 15:23-16:7; Psalm 25:16-22; Proverbs 20:16-18

“Manassah was 12 years old when he became king and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty five years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out. He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had demolished; he also erected altars to the Baals…He bowed down to all the starry hosts…He sacrificed his sons in the fire…practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking him to anger. Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than all the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites. The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon. In his distress, he (Manasseh) sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.” 2 Chronicles 33:1-13

No matter how far we might stray
from the faith,
succumb to the siren
songs of false gods,
plumb the depths
of depravity
it is never too far
from the ears and heart
of God
who picks up a humbled
heart’s plea for help
and returns a repentant
one to the start,
to a forgiven beginning.

Thank you Father that even the most horrendous life is redeemable in your sight. “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” That is why you sent your Son, Jesus Christ, that we, who have been led around by the hook of sin in our noses, might be set free. May we take this message of hope to those who fear it is too late for them. May we take them your message of Grace–for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

December 5 Just Jesus

 

Image

Image by Megan Isaacson

 

 

Hosea 1:1-3:5;  1 John 5:1-21;  Psalm 124:1-8;  Proverbs 29:5-8

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true;  and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ.  He is the true God and eternal life.  Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”  1 John 5:20-21

 

“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”  1 Corinthians 10:14

 

“You shall have no other gods before me.”  Exodus 20:3

What idols sit on the shelf of my life?  What occupies the space of my devotion?  What do I spend the most of my time and money and attention on?  Would I be willing to die for these idols?

There is not room for idols and Jesus in my heart.  I cannot serve two masters.

Thanks be to God that He has freed me from my sin, from idolatry, from myself.

By the cleansing blood of his Son Jesus, God has swept away falsehood and has filled me with understanding.  I confess that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior and that there is none other by which I can be saved–

                        no other person

                        no “right” formula

                        no better philosophy

                        no special knowledge

                        –just Jesus.

Lord God, thank you for your saving Grace.  Forgive me for times I have misplaced my faith and trust in you–relying on myself or someone or something else other than you.  You are a jealous God.  And you are a compassionate and merciful God.  Anyone who comes to you, acknowledging their sin and confessing Jesus as their Lord will never be turned away.  May we be found faithful this day–loving you and others, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

July 31 Renewal

Image

Photo by Matt Gruber

 

2 Chronicles 29:1-36:  Romans 14:1-23:  Psalm 24:1-10;  Proverbs 20:12

“Hezekiah was 25 years old when he became king…he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord…he opened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them…(the Levites) went in to purify the temple as the king had ordered, following the word of the Lord.  The priests went in to the sanctuary to purify it.  They brought out everything unclean that they found…so the service of the Lord was reestablished.  Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced at what God had brought about for his people, because it was done so quickly.”  2 Chronicles 29:1,3,15-16, 35-36

By God’s grace Hezekiah put the kingdom under his rule back on the right path.  Gone was idol worship and closed temple doors.  Open was the heart of the king, the hearts of his people and the doors to the Lord’s house.  True worship was renewed.

By God’s grace I am renewed.

Open the doors to my heart, O Lord,

temple doors shut tight

by sin and wayward ways.

Remove false trappings of self importance

that cover your glory

made dingy and grimy by ego film and dust.

Cleanse me with your gift-blood

and make me pure within

that I may sing your praise.

Lord God, with you renewal is possible!  With repentance on our lips we turn away from our self-made idols and receive cleansing through the blood of the Lamb–your Son our Lord.  Thank you for cleansing us and renewing us.  May the doors of our heart be open for worship and praise this day.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.