Celebrate!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Though you have not seen Him, you love Him.  Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  1 Peter 1:3-9

Dear Heavenly Father,  There seems to be a lot of celebrating going on in the month of June–weddings, anniversaries, births, and even Heavenly Home comings.  For all of these we give you thanks and praise for the joy and celebration that takes place in these special events.  You are in our midst celebrating along with us.  As we celebrate may we be reminded of the greater joy and celebration that awaits us at your Son’s return to gather us to Himself and to escort us to Paradise.  Keep us in the one true faith even as trials come to us in this world.  Let us rejoice that “you have overcome the world!”  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

April 27 OK To Hate?

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Judges 7:1-8:17;  Luke 23:13-43;  Psalm 97:1-98:9;  Proverbs 14:7-8

“Let those who love the Lord hate evil,

for he guards the lives of his faithful ones,

and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

* * * * *

“Light is shed upon the righteous

and joy on the upright of heart.

* * * * *

“Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous,

and praise his holy name.”

Psalm 97:10-12

* * * * *

OK to hate?

Take a stand and hate:

Aborting innocent babies,

Taking a life through assisted suicide,

Acquisition of wealth while impoverishing the spiritual, social and emotional lives of one’s family,

Pornography so easily accessed

and seen by so many,

Senseless killing of children by children

by means of guns, drugs, alcohol,

Worship of “tolerance” instead

of the true God whose Word

is sharper than any two edged sword,

Easy come, easy go attitudes

towards sexuality:

cohabiting before marriage,

recreational sex,

adulterous affairs,

threesomes, mixedsomes, samesomes,

anything but one man, one woman

in a lifetime marriage,

Abuse of any kind–physical,

mental, sexual, emotional,

Consumptive greed that feeds the need

for wars and conflicts,

Indifference to the things of God:

holiness, mercy, compassion, salvation

through one means only–faith

in Jesus Christ.

Hate what God hates

and pray,

praise

and give thanks

that He has rescued you

from such evils.

Think upon Him

and His faithfulness to all

generations,

to you.

One day you will be with Him

in Heaven

where His light that shines upon

your heart now

will continue to illuminate

and cause exceedingly great

joy!

* * * * *

Oh give thanks unto the Lord for He

is good

and His mercy endures forever!

O Lord God, merciful Father thank you for saving us from the darkness of sin and for shedding abroad in our hearts the light of your salvation through your Son, Jesus Christ.  We gratefully receive your grace and mercy with joy!  Let us not grow weary or lose hope though the world around us churns with turmoil.  May we keep our eyes on Jesus–our beacon of light.  In His name we pray, Amen.

July 9 A Good Thing

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

1 Chronicles 7:1-8:40;  Acts 27:1-20;  Psalm 7:1-17;  Proverbs 18:22

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.”  Proverbs 18:22

 

“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband.”  Proverbs 12:4

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

“House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord.”  Proverbs 19:14

 

“An excellent wife who can find?  She is far more precious than jewels.  The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.  She does him good and not harm all the days of her life.”  Proverbs 31:10-12

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Lord God, by Your grace and mercy you have helped me be a “good thing” in my husband’s life.  You have enabled me through your Holy Spirit and Your Word to grow into the wife –the helpmeet–you knew my husband needed me to be.  You’ve forgiven me when I’ve done harm and not good, when I’ve been a tarnished crown, and less than sterling jewels in my husband’s life.  By your grace you’ve polished me back up.  Continue to help me be the wife  my husband can trust wholeheartedly, who reflects your favor and goodness in all that I say and do. Thank you for granting me the privilege of being a wife!  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

June 23 Wedding Words

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Genesis 2:18-24;  1 Corinthians 13:1-13;  Matthew 19:4-6;  Romans 12:9-13

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him.”  Genesis 2:18

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”  Genesis 2:24

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-8

“So they are not two but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:6

Let love be genuine.  Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.”  Romans 12:9

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Gathered together

family and friends

in a place where

God’s Word

delivered

His life affirming,

marriage sustaining

message,

our son promised

to love and to cherish his wife–

no matter what life would dish out–

until death turned

the last pages of their book.

Power in God’s Word

gives power to those who believe in Him

and thanks be to God

that Steven and Jordan

put their faith in the One

that creates and nurtures

their union.

God will provide an endless supply of grace,

mercy and the means to forgive

when hurts,

and slights,

and offenses come,

which come to us all,

the power to go on,

persevere,

thrive.

We’ll remember the beauty of the day,

the excitement, the flowers,

the smiles and music,

hugs and handshakes of many–

the love and support of those who

traveled both near and far.

And we’ll remember the Wedding Words

and the Love of the One

Who Loves us all.

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

“God My children with my blessing, never alone.  Waking, sleeping, I am with you; you are My own.  In my love’s Baptismal river, I have made you Mine forever.  Go, My children, with my blessing–You are My own.

In this union I have joined you, husband and wife.  Now, My children, live together as heirs of life:  Each the other’s gladness sharing, each the other’s burdens bearing.  Now My children, live together as heirs of life.

I the Lord will bless and keep you, and give you peace.  I the Lord will smile upon you and give you peace;  I the Lord will be your Father, Savior, Comforter, and Brother.  Go my children, I will keep you and give you peace.”  ~ Jaroslav J. Vajda

Lord God, thank you for Jordan and Steven’s marriage.  Bless and keep them.  May your wedding words be in their hearts all of their days.  For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

June 14 Biscuits and Gravy

Photo by Ravyn_Lady_Heresy

Photo by Ravyn_Lady_Heresy

1 Kings 12:20-13:34;  Acts 9:26-43;  Psalm 132:1-8;  Proverbs 17:6

Children’s children are a crown to the aged,

 and parents are the pride of their children.”

Proverbs 17:6

 

Yesterday the washer and dryer hummed away while I did the last loads of laundry for my middle son who is soon to be married.  It was a pleasure to do such tasks as I sorted and treated and folded and matched and stacked many socks, many shirts, many pants and shorts!

I thanked God for the privilege of raising this son of mine.  I remembered with joy all the times he gave me grief and brought intense pride, happiness and worry (he’s very adventuresome!) and how mothering him kept me close to my Lord whom I sought for wisdom and guidance and direction, and who never failed to nudge me in a direction that benefited my middle son.

Fixing biscuits and gravy and a blueberry/watermelon compote early this morning for his send off breakfast was as much a treat for me as it was for my son who loves good home cooked food.  And I was reminded of the sacred food God nourishes me with through His Word and Sacrament–food that will sustain me till I reach my Father’s home.

A chapter will close on mothering my middle son, but a new one begins next week with a wonderful bride at his side.  Our family will gain another female–yeah!  I’ve been outnumbered for so many years!  And Lord willing, I’ll be numbered among  the “aged” in years to come who sees her children’s children!

Thank you Heavenly Father for this family you have blessed me with.  On the eve of Father’s Day, thank you for the God-fearing, outdoorsy, nature loving Dad I have.  The one who let me tag along on hunting and fishing excursions, who helped me find rocks, and identify wildlife and plants, and to see the beauty in God’s creation.  And who, unbeknownst to him, prepared me to be the mother of three sons!

Thank you for my wonderful husband who has patiently endured my outdoor loves and enriched them with his love for all things social, political and religious.  Together, by your Grace O Lord, we’ve raised three sons for whom we give you all our thanks and praise.

And speaking of Father and sons, thank you Lord God for sending your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Savior and Redeemer so that through faith in Him we could call you Our Father.  In Your Son’s name I pray, Amen.

March 29 The Good–no–Excellent Wife

Image

Photo by Aaron Burden

Deuteronomy 11:1-12:32;  Luke 8:22-39;  Psalm 70:1-5;  Proverbs 12:4

“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones.”

Proverbs 12:4

 

King Lemuel describes the excellent wife:  “She is far more precious than jewels.  The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.  She does him good and not harm, all the days of her life.”

Proverbs 31:10-12

 

She works hard,

is resourceful,

takes care of those in her household,

takes care of those in need.

She speaks wisely

and is kind.

The excellent wife is one who fears the Lord above all else.

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”  Proverbs 31:30

A godly wife who know her Lord and Savior will seek to please Him and in doing so will live a life pleasing and beneficial to her hubby.

God, grant that we wives bring honor and glory to you above all, and in doing so, to our husbands as well.  For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

February 17 Dark Shadows

Image

Image by Will Wallace

Leviticus 4:1-5:19;  Mark 2:13-3:6;  Psalm 36:1-12;  Proverbs 10:1-2

“And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”  Mark 2:16

 

“And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”  Mark 2:24

 

“Again, he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand, and they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so they might accuse him.”  Mark 3:1-2

Everywhere Jesus went, ‘religious’ eyes watched.  Not eyes of faith or love or service, wanting to see sins forgiven, limbs made straight or sight restored.  These dark shadows followed Jesus seeking to discredit him, to make him shut up, to make him go away.

Dark shadows continue to follow closely on the heels of Christ-followers today.

Say that you don’t believe in abortion….

    Say that marriage, instituted by God, is between one woman and one man…

        Say that God is the only one to determine when life ends….

             Say that you believe God created the heavens and the earth…

Dark shadows follow and shout and demean and threaten and ridicule.

Remember Jesus…He continued to speak the Truth, to act in love and obedience, to trust His life to His Father in Heaven. Jesus triumphed over the dark shadows of sin, death and the devil.  He died and rose again so that we who believe in Him need never fear the dark shadows.

Lord God, “we fear no evil; your rod and your staff, they comfort us.”(Psalm 23)  “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.  Oh continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart!  Let not the foot of pride come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.”(Psalm 36)  Keep us ever near to You, O Lord.  For Jesus’ sake we pray, Amen

 

January 23 Pester the Lord

Image

Image by Everett Bowes

 

Genesis 46:1-47:31;  Matthew 15:1-28;  Psalm 19:1-14;  Proverbs 4:14-19

“And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon.  And behold a Caananite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David.  My daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.”  But, he answered her not a word.  And his disciples came and begged him saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.”  He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  But she came and knelt down before him saying, “Lord, help me.”  And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”  She said, “Yes Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.”  Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith!  Be it done for you as you desire.”  And her daughter was healed instantly.”  Matthew 15:21-28

Wow!  What a lesson on prayer and faith and persistence.

No we don’t deserve to have any of our prayers answered.  Nothing we say or do makes us worthy to come before the Lord of heaven and earth and ask him for anything.  

It is only by God’s pure grace and mercy that He comes to us and says, “keep praying!”

He loved us so much he sent his Son, Jesus to die for our sins–to bridge the gap between his holiness and our lowliness so that we can come to him in prayer–often, persistently, in faith–believing that he hears our cries for help.

So we can:  pester him for help in parenting, for healing, for employment, for peace in our marriage, for deliverance from abuse or addiction or loneliness.

Pester the Lord with all your heart.  Bow down before him like the Canaanite woman who believed and would not give up!

Lord God, you know our hearts and you know our needs.  Have mercy on us, Lord and hear our prayers for _________.   We trust that you will answer in your time and in your way according to your will.  Thank you for letting us pester you.  We give you all thanks and praise, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

December 28 Save The Date

Image

Image by Brendan Sceroler

Zechariah 12:1-13:9;  Revelation 19:1-21;  Psalm 147:1-20;  Proverbs 31:1-7

 

“Hallelujah!  For our Lord God Almighty reigns.

Let us rejoice and be glad

and give him glory!

For the wedding of the Lamb has come,

and His bride has made herself ready…

Then the angel said to me, Write:

‘Blessed are those who are invited  to

the wedding supper of the Lamb!’”

Revelation 19:6-9

It’s always exciting to receive a “Save the Date” card in the mail announcing the future wedding day of a couple we know and care about.  We mark the day on the calendar and begin making mental notes of travel plans, gifts, and the sheer joy of seeing people who mean so much to us.  What a blessing to know that we are going to be a part of something very special!

Jesus gave St. John a glimpse of such a special day which the apostle recorded in the Book of Revelation–the great wedding feast of the Lamb and His Bride–all those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  In our Baptism we were robed with white, courtesy of our Lord’s shed blood on the Cross.  By faith, our robes are kept pure and spotless until that glorious day when our Bridegroom returns to collect His Bride–the Church.

What excitement and joy awaits us! 

And the beauty of God’s ‘Save the Date’ announcements is that He will continue to send them out, calling all people to repentance and faith.  God desires all mankind to join in the great Marriage Feast of the Lamb!

So great and merciful and compassionate is our God!

Lord God, thank you for inviting us to the marriage feast of the Lamb, for inviting us to confess our sins before you, for granting us cleansing and new life in the waters of Baptism, for sustaining us through your Body and Blood until that glorious day of your return.  May we not grow weary of waiting, but look at each day as a day that brings us closer to that “special date”. Thank you for dressing us in white robes of righteousness and for preparing our hearts and minds to meet you.  In Jesus’ name we give you thanks and praise, Amen!

September 9 Topsy Tervy

Image

Photo by Stewart Dowdall

Isaiah 3:1-5:30;  2 Corinthians 11:1-15;  Psalm 53:1-6;  Proverbs 22:28-29

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,

who put darkness for light

and light for darkness,

who put bitter for sweet

and sweet for bitter!”   Isaiah 5:20

Satan masquerades as an “angel of light” twisting God’s truth–and many fall for his ploys:  just look at our culture’s acceptance of abortion, non-biblical definitions of marriage, the “anything goes” morality, the worship of materialism, lying, cheating. 

Isaiah wrote the above words for the religious, supposed God fearing kingdom of Israel–the people God rescued from slavery, led and preserved through the desert, then gave the fertile, rich land of Caanan as their own.  They had been faithful in the beginning, but sin led them away from God–they became self-justified, self-satisfied, self-indulgent.  They lived a topsy tervy life that displeased God. 

Isaiah was God’s mouthpiece–sent to warn Israel to repent, that disaster awaited them if they continued living as if there was no God.

Are we not so different than them?

Living as if there is no tomorrow–choosing to follow what “feels good” rather than what IS good?

God in His mercy and compassion sent His Son to end the topsy-tervy condition of our sin-filled hearts.  He bore the sins of all on the Cross.  Christ defeated sin, death and Satan.  His victory is now our victory through faith in Him!

Lord God, forgive us when we get turned around and we choose the bad rather than good, when we prefer dark than light, when we tolerate bitter instead of seeking the sweetness found in You.  Thank you for loving us, for coming into our topsy tervy world to save us, for stopping the spin of sin.  Keep us always grounded in your Word and the One true faith of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  In His name we pray, Amen.

“But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 15:54