Lost and Found

Matt Dalrymple crosses

Image by Matt Dalrymple

Country lost in the red white and blue

Too many people walking in the shades of gray to notice colors bright

Beckoning eyes to see beyond hatred

And prejudice

To truly see in those around them those whom God has created.

 

Country lost in the red white and blue

Desperately seeking peace and prosperity

In the promises of mere men

Who stand before them

As answers to their empty pockets and empty souls.

 

Country lost in the red white and blue

Look to the One

Who alone provides for sparrows as well as kings.

Whose Wisdom reaches down from the Heavens

Whose love and mercy never end.

 

Country lost in the red white and blue

See the Cross where the Savior bled

And appeared abandoned by one and all.

The weak resignation

Belied the power wherein

The Son of God battled with sin and death and the evil one

And won

Freedom for the red white and blue

For all who believe that “greater is He who is within us

Than he who is in the world.”

Our God reigns

No matter the color of the flag

No matter the left or the right

No matter whether you believe or not

Our God reigns

And will keep the world spinning until

He comes again.

 

 

The Good News of God’s Promises

Concordia Seminary Campus, Photo by Laura Jostes

Concordia Seminary Campus, Photo by Laura Jostes

There’s not been much activity on this blog site for the last 10 weeks as I’ve been engrossed in deaconess studies at Concordia Seminary.  I’m coming up for air now that I’m only one paper, one project and one test away from completing the Fall Quarter.  It’s been a blessing to be in class with so many who desire to serve in a professional church work capacity. I’ve taken three courses:  Intro. to Historical Theology, Intro. to Biblical Hermeneutics and Lutheran Mind (doctrine).  I want to share with you the following entry written by our Seminary President, Dr. Dale Meyer, on his daily blog The Meyer Minute.  In it you will find a wonderful summary of my class Lutheran Mind as he talks about the promises of God.  May you hear, today, the Good news, that God forgives all your sins through his Son Jesus Christ!  God’s blessings!   ~ Laura

“I was going through my books, tossing some I don’t need. For a book lover, that’s hard. Anyway, I came across “Every Mother’s Nightmare” by Charles Bosworth. It describes a savage attack on Stacy, the teenaged daughter of Jude Govreau and on Mari Winzen’s three-year-old son Tyler. Stacy was babysitting Tyler when an intruder broke in and brutally murdered the children. This book didn’t get tossed; it was a significant moment in my life.

I met Jude when she appeared on a TV program I was hosting, “On Main Street.” The program explored the dimensions and benefits of faith in life. When I asked Jude how that indescribably horrible experience impacted her faith, she answered, “It took it away.” I can understand that.

We’ve all had experiences that weakened, maybe took away warm and fuzzy thoughts about God. In the Bible the word “faith” has two aspects. One is our feelings toward God. Nothing wrong with that. How many of us tear up when we worship on Christmas or Easter? That’s our emotions, our feelings; it’s subjective. But in the Bible there is another aspect to faith, and in fact it’s even more important than how we’re feeling about God. This aspect is objective, not subjective. It is outside of us, external, not within us, internal. This other aspect of faith wasn’t born in us, as our feelings are, but this other aspect of faith comes to us from outside, totally from outside of us. This fundamental aspect of faith is the promises of God to us in Jesus Christ. When our feelings toward God are weakened because life is hard, sometimes brutal, God’s promises to us in Jesus Christ cannot be weakened because they’re from God who never changes and is true to His word.

You can understand the Bible as a book of God’s promises, played out in the lives of ancient people and offering you instruction, correction, and encouragement. Indeed, that’s the fundamental aspect of faith, hanging onto the promises, especially when everything is pummeling our good feelings about God. “If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). More than any other book, the Bible is for keeping…and using.”

May 7 Prayer Life

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Devotion taken from Streams In The Desert compiled by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

“He spake a parable unto them…that men ought to pray,

and not to faint.”  Luke 18:1

No temptation in the life of intercession is more common than this of failure to persevere.  We begin to pray for a certain thing; we put up our petitions for a day, a week, a month; and then, receiving as yet no definite answer, straightway we faint, and cease altogether from prayer concerning it.

This is a deadly fault.  It is simply the snare of many beginnings with no completions.  It is ruinous in all spheres of life.

The man who forms the habit of beginning without finishing has simply formed the habit of failure.  The man who begins to pray about a thing and does not pray it through to a successful issue of answer has formed the same habit in prayer.

To faint is to fail; then defeat begets disheartenment, and unfaith in the reality of prayer,which is fatal to all success.

But someone says, “How long shall we pray?  Do we not come to a place where we may cease from our petitions and rest the matter in God’s hands?”

There is but one answer.  Pray until the thing you pray for as actually been grantedor you have the assurance in your heart that it will be.

Only at one of these two places dare we stay our importunity, for prayer is not only a calling upon God, but also a conflict with Satan.  And inasmuch as God is using our intercession as a mighty factor of victory in that conflict, He alone, and not we, must decide when we dare cease from our petitioning.  So we dare not stay our prayer until the answer itself has come, or until we receive the assurance that it will come.

In the first case, we stop because we see.  In the other, we stop because we believe, and the faith of our hearts is just as sure as the sight of our eyes;  for it is faith from, yes, the faith of God, within us.

More and more, as we live the prayer life, shall we come to experience and recognize this God-given assurance and know when to rest quietly in it, or when to continue our petitioning until we receive it. ~ FROM THE PRACTICE OF PRAYER

Tarry at the promise till God meets you there.

He always returns by way of His promises.

~ Selected

* * * * *

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything,

by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,

present your requests to God.

And the peace of God which transcends

all understanding, will guard your hearts

and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

Lord God, on this Day of Prayer we give you thanks for the gift of prayer;  for being able to call out to you in Heaven and know that we are heard.  We thank for you for Jesus whose death paid the penalty for our sin and whose blood now clothes us with his righteousness allowing us to come presentable in your sight.  Lord, hear the many prayers coming to you this day as believers across this nation lift hearts and hands to you on its behalf.  Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

April 28 Who’s In Charge?

Image by Kyle Wright

Image by Kyle Wright

Judges 8:18-19:21;  Luke 23:44-24:12;  Psalm 99:1-9;  Proverbs 14:9-10

“The Lord reigns,

let the nations tremble;

he sites enthroned between the cherubim,

let the earth shake.

Great is the Lord in Zion;

he is exalted over all the nations.

Let them praise your great and

awesome name–

He is holy.”

Psalm 99:1-3

* * * * *

The Lord looks down from

Heaven

and sees

the brokenness of our world,

Broken buildings,

broken cities,

broken hearts,

broken justice systems,

broken families,

broken bodies,

broken minds.

Is He aloof?

Does He not care?

And yet the Psalmist

confidently writes,

“The Lord reigns.”

He IS in charge.

“His love endures forever.”

His Son broke

on the Cross

for our broken world,

our broken promises,

our broken obedience,

our broken devotion

and by His Resurrected Life

He mends,

forgives,

restores,

makes new.

Even in the midst

of earthly disasters,

disruptions,

sorrows and pains,

He comforts us with

His love and Compassion.

* * * *

“And after you have suffered a little while,

the God of all grace,
who has called you to his

eternal glory in Christ,

will himself restore,

confirm, strengthen,

and establish you.

To Him be the dominion forever

and ever.  Amen”

1 Peter 5:10

Lord God,  we pray to you as our God who reigns and ask for mercy upon those suffering the devastating loss of life in Nepal.  We pray for those who grieve the loss of the Baltimore man who died needlessly from his arrest.  We pray for those who feel helpless, angry, and hopeless in light of these tragedies.  Please have mercy on and comfort all these people.  May they find Hope in You and strength for the day.  We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

April 21 Boundless

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Devotion taken from Streams In The Desert compiled by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

“And being absolutely certain that whatever promise He is bound by, He is able to make good.”  Romans 4:21

We are told that Abraham could look at his own body and consider it as good as dead without being discouraged, because he was not looking at himself but at the almighty One.

He did not stagger at the promise, but stood straight up unbending beneath his mighty load of blessing.  Instead of growing weak he waxed strong in the faith and grew more robust; the more difficulties became apparent, glorifying God through His very sufficiency and being “fully persuaded” (as the Greek expresses it) “that he who had promised was,” not merely able, but–as it literally means “abundantly able–munificently able, able with an infinite surplus of resources, infinitely able “to perform.”

He is the God of boundless resources.  The only limit is in us.  Our asking, our thinking, our praying are too small; our expectations are too limited.  He is trying to lift us up to a higher conception, and lure us on to a mightier expectation and appropriation.  Oh, shall we put Him in derision?  There is no limit to what we may ask and expect of our glorious El-Shaddai; and there is but one measure here given for His blessing, and that is “according to the power that worketh in us.”  ~ A.B. Simpson

Climb to the treasure house of blessing on the ladder

made of divine promises.  By a promise as by a key open the door to the riches of God’s grace and favor.

Lord God,  we come to you this day with our prayers and petitions:  prayers for healing, for patience, for forgiveness, for mercy, for blessings.  We thank and praise you that in Jesus Christ our Lord you have fulfilled the greatest promise of all–one made to Adam and Eve and threaded throughout all of history–to send us a Savior.  We thank and praise you for Jesus our Redeemer and Lord!  We know, Lord, that you will hear all of our prayers for Jesus’ sake.   Thank you for your boundless grace!  In Him, Amen!

March 24 Pointed Prayers

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Devotion taken from Streams In The Desert compiled Mrs. Charles E. Cowman

“And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which said to me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee:  Deliver me, I pray thee.”  Genesis 32:9, 11

There are many healthy symptoms in that prayer.  In some respects it may serve as a mold into which our own spirits may pour themselves, when melted in the fiery furnace of sorrow.

He began by quoting God’s promise: “Thou saidst.”  He did so twice (9 and 12).  Ah, he has got God in his power then!  God puts Himself within our reach in His promises; and when we can say to Him, “Thou saidst,” He cannot say nay.  He must do as He has said.  If Herod was so particular for his oath’s sake, what will not our God be?  Be sure in prayer, to get you feet well on a promise;  it will give you purchase enough to force open the gates of Heaven, and to take it by force.  ~ Practical Portions for the Prayer-Life.

* * * * *

Jesus desires that we shall be definite in our requests, and that we shall ask for some special thing.  “What shall I do unto you?” is the question that He asks of every one who in affliction and trial comes to Him.  Make your requests with definite earnestness if you would have definite answers.  Be definite in your petition.  Fill out your check for something definite, and it will be cashed at the bank of heaven when presented in Jesus’ name.  Dare to be definite with God. ~ Selected

* * * * *

Miss Havergal has said: “Every year, I might almost say every day, that I live, I seem to see more clearly how all the rest and gladness and power of our Christian life hinges on one thing; and that is, taking God at His Word, believing that He really means exactly what He says, and accepting the very words in which He reveals His goodness and grace, without substituting others or altering the precise modes and tenses which He has seen fit to use.”  Bring Christ’s Word–Christ’s promise, and Christ’s sacrifice–His blood, with you, and not one of Heaven’s blessings can be denied you.  ~ Adam Clarke

And Father, when we can’t find the words to say we know that Jesus our Intercessor is praying for us;  that the Holy Spirit conveys our hearts’ deepest longings in words that escape us.  We entrust all of ourselves to You, dear Lord.  Thank you for your great love and compassion!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

March 4 God Never Sleeps

Image by Kevin Rivera

Image by Kevin Rivera

“You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord you God gave you has failed.  Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.”  Joshua 23:14

Christians are wise when they accept what God has planned and persevere in believing the promises they have from Him.  His promises are dependable and lasting.  The Lord’s own pledge is permanent, as we read in the Psalms: “Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”  (Psalm 121:4)

But human reason responds, “That’s all fine and good.  It even sounds nice.  But I’m experiencing the exact opposite.  God not only sleeps; He snores!  In reality, there isn’t a God who takes care of me or watches over me.”

Jacob was certain of God’s promises.  He knew that God’s pledge was permanent.  Yet when Joseph’s brothers were angry at Joseph, God didn’t spare either Jacob or his son Joseph.  It was as if they had no protection at all from the holy angels.  Nobody resisted the anger of Joseph’s brothers (Genesis 37:12-28).  God and the angels remained dead silent.  Even today, they appear to let the devil wreak havoc on the church and believers.  Where is God in all of this?

Examples like these remind us that we must believe God’s promises and never doubt His words.  Because God can’t lie, He won’t stop constantly watching over us, especially if we believe His promise.  Because He is faithful, God can’t abandon us when we hang onto what He has promised.  God may allow us to be attacked, led to the edge of hell, or even killed.  It’s during those times that we need to remember God has promised to be our guardian–one who never slumbers of sleeps.

Devotion taken from Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional, Martin Luther

Lord God, give me grace to stand on Your promises this day.  To hold dear to my heart Your promise that You are with me always and that nothing can separate me from your love.  Thank you for being the Faithful Promise Keeper in my life on whom I can always depend.  Thank and Praise your Holy Name!  Amen.

February 2 The Desert Blues

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Exodus 15:19-17:7;  Matthew 22:1-33;  Psalm 27:1-6;  Proverbs 6:20-26

Physically free,

but spiritually not

the former slaves of Egypt

now walked the desert miles

hungering, thirsting–

and complaining.

* * * * *

God heard their cries–

their loud laments,

“if only were were back in Egypt

we’d have leeks with our meat!”

In His mercy and remembering

His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob,

His hand fed them food from heaven:

manna by day

meat by night.

God cleansed the bitter waters.

He promised them disease free days

IF

they “would carefully listen to his voice

and do what is right in his eyes,

IF

“they obeyed his commands

and kept all his decrees.

For I am the Lord, who heals you.”

Exodus 15:25-26

If only God’s people would put their trust

in Him.

If only God’s people would give thanks

for his goodness to them,

for providing for food and drink.

If only God’s people would just stop

looking at themselves

and their lack.

If only God’s people would listen

and believe

and look up.

Lord God, if I were one of the wandering Israelites I know I would have been no different (even though I’d like to think I would have had more faith).  My human flesh would have cried out and I would have complained.  I know this because I am guilty of doing the same–and I’m not even wandering in a desert!  But my heart often finds itself in the spiritual desert and I doubt you.  I fail to look to you as my Sole Savior.  Forgive me, Lord, for not trusting you with my whole heart;  for doubting the truth of your Salvation message–that because of Jesus’s death on the Cross, all of my sins are forgiven.  I’ve been set free.  Send your Holy Spirit to fill the desert places in my heart that I may praise you and give you thanks for all your gifts pertaining to life here and life forever with you in heaven.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

“One thing I ask of the Lord,

this is what I seek;

that I may dwell in the house of the Lord

all the days of my life,

to gaze upon

the beauty of the Lord

and to seek him in his temple.

For in the day of trouble

he will keep me safe in his dwelling.

He will hide me in the shelter

of his tabernacle

and set me high upon a rock.”

Psalm 27:4-5

November 5 His Promise True

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Ezekiel 12:1-14:11;  Hebrews 7:1-17;  Psalm 105:37-45;  Proverbs 27:3

“Then he brought out Israel with silver and gold, and there was none among his tribe who stumbled.  Egypt was glad when they departed, for dread of them had fallen upon it.  He spread a cloud for covering; and fire to give light by night.  They asked, and he brought quail, and gave them bread from heaven in abundance.  He opened the Rock and water gushed out; it flowed through the desert like a river.  For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham, his servant.”  Psalm 105:37-42

God delivered the children of Israel from the hands of the Egyptians just as he had promised Abraham.

It was not the first, nor the last time, God’s promise of Deliverance would be made and kept.

I know.

I’ve prayed for deliverance from the bonds of sin’s slavery.

I’ve rested on God’s promise found in his Word:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just

to forgive us our sins

and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

1 John 1:9

He has set me free

and now guides me,

provides for me,

protects me,

and continues to love me.

Praise you, Lord, for

Your promises, kept!

I trust, O Christ, in you alone;

no earthly hope avails me.

You will not see me overthrown

When Satan’s host assails me.

No human strength, no earthly power

Can see me through the evil hour,

For you alone my strength renew

I cry to you!

I trust, O Lord, your promise true.

~Konrad Hubert

November 3 Time To Remember

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Ezekiel 7:1-9:11;  Hebrews 5:1-14;  Psalm 105:1-15;  Proverbs 26:28

O, give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!  Sing to him, sing praises to him;  tell of all his wonderful works!  Glory in his holy name;  let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!  Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!  Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and judgements he uttered, O offspring of Abraham, his servant, children of Jacob his chosen ones!

Psalm 105:1-6

~

Take time to remember

all God’s done

to knit you together

and keep you as

one

who is precious in his sight.

Take time to remember

his faithfulness to you

by sending his son,

your life he has won,

the battle is done.

No longer sin reigns,

death has no power,

Satan cannot snatch you out of his arms.

Glory, glory be to thee,

dearest Jesus until thee!

Take time to remember

the times when you’ve strayed

far from your Shepherd’s side,

the times you’ve heard him call your name

reclaim you,

embrace you

tend to your wounds,

soothing you,

calming you,

restoring you.

Glory, glory be to thee

dearest Jesus unto thee!

Greet this day with confidence,

based on remembrances of him

and his great love for you.

There’s nothing today that

can change your place

in his Grace.

Glory, glory be to thee

dearest Jesus unto thee!

Lord God, your Word is full of your promises, kept;  full of history recounting all the wondrous acts you performed on our behalf.  When we are faced with trials and difficulties may we look to you first–for you have never failed!  Your word is truth that we can stand full upon and trust with our whole hearts.  Forgive us for looking to ourselves or to others to solve our problems;  for our lack of faith in your promises.  Help us to remember all that you have done for us in the past and to place ourselves- today- in your tender care.  For Jesus’ sake, Amen.