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!

Vocation

How clear is our vocation, Lord, when once we heed Your call:

To live according to Your Word and daily learn, refreshed, restored,

That You are Lord of all and will not let us fall.

But if, forgetful, we should find Your yoke is hard to bear;

If worldly pressures fray the mind, and love itself cannot unwind

Its tangled skein of care;  our inward life repair.

We marvel how Your saints become in hindrances more sure;

Whose joyful virtues put to shame the casual way we wear Your name

And by our faults obscure Your pow’r to cleanse and cure.

In what You give us, Lord, to do, together or alone,

In old routines or ventures new, may we not cease to look to You,

The cross You hung upon– all You endeavored done.

~Fred Pratt Green, 1903-2000

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Lord, may we indeed look to You in these troubled times to see the depth of Your love for us as shown to us by the Cross. There You gave Your life for us as You bore the wrath of Your Father who turned His face from You when all He could see was mankind’s sins obscuring His beloved Son. The Holy forsaking the unholy mess that was You. And now, You come alongside us in our times of trouble and shoulder our griefs and our burdens willingly, faithfully, lovingly. Thank You, Lord Jesus. May Your strength be ours. May Your light be light in us and keep us ever faithful to You! In Your name we pray, Amen.

Imperative

O give thanks unto the LORD! For He is good; His mercy endures forever!

Give thanks!

An imperative from one who who knows in her heart

that God is Good

all the time.

He never changes.

His love endures past seasons of joy and despair

and draws me to Himself

no matter have far

I’ve wandered.

That’s grace!

Unmerited.

Undeserved.

Love even though.

Because of Jesus

who wandered our earth

far from His Father’s throne

to live and die and rise again for me.

Imperative.

Give thanks to the One who alone has the power to save,

restore,

renew.

Give thanks!

Temptation

image by Briton Revieri
"O Christ, You walked the road our wand'ring feet must go. 
You faced with us temptation's pow'r and fought our ancient foe.
No bread of earth alone can fill our hung'ring hearts.
Lord, help us seek Your living Word, the food Your grace imparts.

No blinding sign we ask, no wonder from above.
Lord, help us place our trust alone in Your unswerving love.
When lures of easy gain with promise brightly shine,
Lord, help us seek Your kingdom first;
our wills with Yours align.

O Christ, You walked the road our wandr'ing feet must go.
Stay with us through temptation's hour to fight our ancient foe."

O Lord, hear my prayer, O Lord, hear my prayer. When I call, answer me. O Lord, hear my prayer, O Lord, hear my prayer. Come and listen to me. In boldness I pray to you for you have been forever faithful and have promised to listen. You know what is on my heart and mind this night. I lift my prayer to you. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

Transfiguration

Painting by Carl Bloch

“Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”

“Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”–not knowing what he said. As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!”

“And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen.” Luke 9:28-36

It was no dream…Peter and James and John with their own eyes and ears saw and heard Moses and Elijah conversing with their Lord who shown bright on the mountaintop that day. The scene inspired Peter to declare a holiday– “Let’s camp here!” (my paraphrase) It wouldn’t be the last time that Peter would try to throw a monkey wrench into the plan meant for our Savior. Moses and Elijah and Jesus–heads together–spoke about the days ahead. The mantel of the Law and the Prophets now rested on our Lord’s shoulders. He would bear the load of sin–alone–on the cross–for you, for me. A prolonged camping trip was not on His agenda.

A swirling cloud swallowed up the men on the mountain. God declared His agenda, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!” The disciples heard those words and there was no more talk of tents. Peter didn’t say a word as they went back down the mountain. He and James and John kept the mountaintop experience to themselves. It would still be in the future that they would really HEAR/UNDERSTAND all the words from their Master’s lips–and that by the power of the Holy Spirit. They had a road trip to Jerusalem ahead of them.

Soon we will enter the season of Lent. A time of reflection. A spiritual road trip. And God tells us to listen to His Son, His Chosen One. He speaks to us in His Word and through His sacraments. We hear Him implore all who are weak and heavy laden to come to Him and to receive His rest. He promises to walk this road with us.

LORD may we listen to You and follow Your lead in word and deed. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.

“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Psalm 4:8

“I thank you, my Heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.”       ~ Luther’s Morning prayer

Prayer

“If someone wants to describe adequately the usefulness of pious, earnest prayer, he will, in my opinion, surely find a beginning more easily than a conclusion.  Pious prayer offered in faith is familiar conversation with God.  It is a salutary remedy to all the difficulties of life.

It is the key to heaven and the door to paradise.  It shows us how much we depend on God, and it is a ladder of ascension to God.  It is a shield for our defense and a faithful messenger of the ambassador.

It is the refreshment in the heat of misfortune;  it is medicine during illness.  It is a winch, drawing us to heaven, and a vessel that draws water from the font of divine kindness.

It is a sword against the devil and a defense against misfortune.  It is a wind that blows away evil and brings earthly benefits.

It is a nurse that nurtures virtues an conquers faults.  It is a great fortification for the soul and gives free access to God.  It is a spiritual feast and a heavenly delicacy…”

Johann Gerhard goes on to include even more thoughts about prayer and concludes that there are four truths on which our certainty upon prayer rests:  “God’s omnipotent kindness; God’s unfailing truthfulness; Christ’s intercession as our mediator; and the Holy Spirit’s testimony.”

“Lord, teach us to pray,”

His disciples said–

Fill our hearts,

may we be led

to trust You solely

and be fed

with Heavenly food.

Word and bread and wine,

Body, Blood and Promise sure

never ending to receive.

Amen. Lord.  Amen!

 

 

 

 

That’s What God Does!

“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” (Jeremiah 31:25)

He restores my soul.”   (Psalm 23:3)

Try as I might I just couldn’t pull myself out of the deepening grip of anxiety and sense of being “spent” earlier this week.  Deep breathing exercises, mindfulness suggestions, spending time walking in a park.  Didn’t work.  I mentioned this to a friend in an email.  And she ‘heard’ my struggle to upright myself.  She sensed that I was tiring of treading– to keep my head above water.  First, came a return email with several songs whose words spoke to my sore soul.  Then came a phone call to say that she would be bringing over some meals for our family later in the week.  And finally came a spoken prayer asking our Savior Jesus Christ to be my strength and my protection from the fiery arrows of doubt and hopelessness shot by our adversary, the Prince of this world, Satan.  God kept His Word to me.  He refreshed my weary and fainting soul.  He restored my weakened body and spirit using a faithful, Christian friend who provided what I needed to finish out the week.  Thanks be to God for this good neighbor who responded to the Holy Spirit’s nudge to reach out to me in a time of need.

“We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

Even If https://g.co/kgs/8e9Jjh

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.

 

 

Who Is Like the Lord Our God?

photo by Seminary staff

“Praise the Lord!

Praise, O servants of the Lord,

praise the name of the Lord!

Blessed be the name of the Lord

from this time forth and forevermore!

From the rising of the sun to its setting,

the name of the Lord is to be praised!

The Lord is high above all nations,

and his glory above the heavens!

Who is like the Lord our God,

who is seated on high,

who looks down

on the heavens and the earth?

He raises the poor from the dust

and lifts the needy from the ash heap,

and makes them sit with princes,

with the princes of his people.

He gives the barren woman a home,

making her the joyous mother of children.

Praise the Lord!

Last night was graduation from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis.  I stood with my fellow graduates thankful for God’s faithfulness to all of us for seeing us through our seminary training–for me as a deaconess and the rest as future pastors.  We serve the Lord our God who does the impossible for the poor, the needy and the barren.   Just as we have been raised up and made to bear fruit by the power of the living God through the Holy Spirit we give thanks and praise to the Lord our God.  Who is like Him?

No one even comes close!

Lord God, thank you for the privilege of being called your servant.  Have mercy on me and grant me grace to faithfully serve and love others in Your most Holy Name.  For Jesus’ sake I pray, Amen.