Return

“Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”  Joel 2:13

If you’ve been “away” from the Lord, too busy to listen to His Word, preoccupied with your own doubts and fears, take heart.  God’s promise remains true.  He’s like the Father of the Prodigal son who runs to meet his undeserving son and lavishes his love and acceptance upon him.  God’s shows His lavishness and great faithfulness to you on a wooden cross where His only Son was hung to die.  Advent is the prequel to Christmas when we take time to realize that we celebrate Christmas because we cannot save ourselves from God’s anger.  He who hates sin and cannot bear it really DID bear it all on the cross.  Jesus’ cross bearing was for our sake.   He was raised for our sake!  And He lives and reigns at the Father’s right hand.  One day all who confess Jesus as their Lord will also be where He is–to live eternally. 

If you have never peeked inside a Bible–open one up and read from the book of John written by one who knew Jesus very well.  You’ll see what the Advent ‘reveal’ is all about.  God bless you!

Witness

“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you as of first importance that what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me [Paul].”  1 Corinthians 15:1-8

Two years of study at the Seminary have concluded.  A year long internship awaits.  To be able to put into practice–relating to, serving, loving, and responding as Jesus would have me do–lies ahead.  And what a privilege it will be.  I believe what St. Paul told the church in Corinth;  Jesus died, but rose three days later…appeared to many…even to one who had been persecuting Him and the Church.  God’s love knows no bounds.  His mercy and forgiveness is for all.  History bears witness.  My heart and life, I pray will also bear witness!

Lord God, Heavenly Father, thank you for the great news of our salvation through Your Son Jesus Christ.  May we all be as bold as Paul to bear witness to the Truth–Jesus is alive!  Let the Easter story continue to be told on our lips today.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

On My Heart

Brad Castaneda

On my heart imprint Your image, blessed Jesus, King of grace,

That life’s riches, cares, and pleasures never may Your work erase;

Let the clear inscription be:  Jesus, crucified for me, is my life,

my hope’s foundation, and my glory and salvation!

Text by Thomas Hansen Kingo, 1634-1703

“Make me to know your ways, O Lord;  teach me your paths.  Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation;  for you I wait all the day long.”  Psalm 25:4-5

 

One

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In Adam we have all been one,

One huge rebellious man;

We all have fled that Evening Voice

That sought us as we ran.

 

We fled Thee and in losing Thee

We lost our brother too;

Each singly claimed and sought his own;

Each one his brother slew.

 

But Thy Strong love, it sought us still

And sent us Thine only Son

That we might hear His Shepherd’s voice

And, hearing Him, be one.

 

O Thou who, when we loved Thee not,

Didst love and save us all,

Thou great Good Shepherd of mankind,

O hear us when we call.

 

Send us Thy Spirit, teach us truth;

Thou Son, O set us free

From fancied wisdom, self-sought ways,

To make us one in Thee.

 

Then shall our song united rise

To Thine eternal throne,

Where with the Father evermore

And Spirit Thou art One.

Amen.

Hymn text by Martin H. Franzmann

 

What the world needs now is…to know the great love of God who sent His only Son to redeem sinful man and restore us to Himself and to one another.  Let that be our prayer today!

God bless your day!

LJ

Steady

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Psalm 40:1-5

 I waited patiently for God to help me; then he listened and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path, and steadied me as I walked along.

He has given me a new song to sing, of praises to our God. Now many will hear of the glorious things he did for me, and stand in awe before the Lord, and put their trust in him.

 Many blessings are given to those who trust the Lord and have no confidence in those who are proud or who trust in idols.

 O Lord my God, many and many a time you have done great miracles for us, and we are ever in your thoughts. Who else can do such glorious things? No one else can be compared with you. There isn’t time to tell of all your wonderful deeds.

Lord God, many are the cries for help that are rising to you this day.  Cries from Italy.  Cries from Louisiana.  Cries from hospitals.  Cries from the lonely in their homes.  Lord, have mercy.  Hear our prayers for Jesus’ sake and come to our aid that we might in turn tell of the wondrous ways that you have delivered us.  We give you praise for saving us from the deep pit of sin through your Son Jesus Christ who gave His life for us.  You have set our feet firm on the Rock of our salvation through faith.  Steady us as we go through this day.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

God’s Face

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“‘“The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
   the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
 the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.”’

Numbers 6: 24-26

Lord God, thank You for turning Your face towards us through Your Son Jesus Christ who always kept His face turned on You.  Even on the Cross when You turned away from Him because He was covered with the filth of all our sins He turned to You and asked You to forgive us.  And You did.  We don’t deserve anything good from Your Hand, but because of Jesus You lavish upon us Your never ending goodness and mercy and love.  How great is Your love for us!  May we share Your peace with those we meet this day.  For Jesus’ sake we pray, Amen.

Celebrate!

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“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!

Without A Doubt

DSCF006519 So when it was evening on that same day, the first day of the week, though the disciples were [meeting] behind barred doors for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them, and said, [i]Peace to you.” 20 After He said this, He showed them His hands and His side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with great joy. 21 Then Jesus said to them again, Peace to you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you [as My representatives].” 22 And when He said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of anyone they are forgiven [because of their faith]; if you retain the sins of anyone, they are retained [and remain unforgiven because of their unbelief].”

24 But Thomas, one of the twelve [disciples], who was called Didymus (the twin), was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the marks of the nails, and put my finger into the nail prints, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later His disciples were again inside the house, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, though the doors had been barred, and stood among them and said, Peace to you.” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and put out your hand and place it in My side. Do not be unbelieving, but [stop doubting and] believe.” 28 Thomas answered Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, do you now believe? Blessed [happy, spiritually secure, and favored by God] are they who did not see [Me] and yet believed [in Me].”

30 There are also many other signs (attesting miracles) that Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe [with a deep, abiding trust] that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), the Son of God; and that by believing [and trusting in and relying on Him] you may have life in His name.  John 20:19-31 Amplified Bible

 

Without a doubt God gives us what we need to hear about who He is, what He’s done, and what He continues to do through the lives of those who believe in Him.

We may not be given all the answers to all the questions that we have, but we have enough.

Doubts come to us all at some point.  Like Thomas we want proof such as nail holes and a spear gash that we can touch and see.

And yet, we do have tangible signs of His presence in our lives–the Waters of Baptism, the Bread and Wine and His Word which is living and active. These all do wonderful things to us and for us in our lives of faith.

We may have our doubts, but God has us firmly in the palm of His Hand!

Thank You Lord for giving us Your Word which never fails!  Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit that gives us insight into Your truth and strengthens our faith.  Continue to draw us to You through Your precious Word, for Jesus’ sake.  Amen.

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.

 

 

Even To You

Photos by Laura Jostes

Photos by Laura Jostes

“Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge…that your trust may be in the Lord; I have made them known to you today, even to you.”  Proverbs 22:17-19

* * * * *

Words. Words.

Either they give life

or they lead to death.

The power of THE WORD to make new;

to cut through the thick callouses of one’s heart

to remove the lifeless from the beating part.

The power of THE WORD

to pump new life into wastelands;

to cause rivers to flow

and flowers to blossom,

to quench the thirst

and satisfy.

The power of THE WORD,

the power of Christ our Lord

to forgive sins,

remove guilt,

impart the Holy Spirit

through Word and Sacrament

gives me hope to see beyond

to a day when loved ones share in

the joy of His Salvation

and with united voice

praise our God and King!

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* * * * *

Jesus, you are THE WORD

the great I AM

that made soldiers fall on their faces

at your arrest

at your resurrection

and will cause all men

to fall on their faces before You

when You return to judge

the living and the dead.

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* * * * *

Do you believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior?

In Him whose blood set you free to become one of His?

He is calling your name

Calling you to turn away from your sin

to give you forgiveness

and new life.

Your life will be refreshed

and living water will flow through you.

You will never be the same again!

Come, Lord Jesus, Come!

Amen.