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.

April 10 Saved By Faith and a Scarlet Cord

image courtesy of reverendmom

image courtesy of reverendmom

Deuteronomy 34:1-Joshua 2:24;  Luke 13:22-14:6;  Psalm 79:1-13;  Proverbs 12:26

“Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent out two spies from Shittim.  ” Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.”  So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.

The king of Jericho was told, “Look! Some of the Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.”  So the king of Jericho sent this message to Rahab: “Bring out the men who came to you and entered your house, because they have come to spy out the whole land.”

But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them….

* * * * *

“Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up on the roof and said to them, “I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.   We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites…how you completely destroyed them.  When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.”

Joshua 2:1-12, select verses

* * * * *

A declaration of faith

from the mouth of a harlot

shows the power of God

to change a heart,

save a soul,

save many souls

from death.

One woman

who heard the same news as her

countrymen,

who should have feared for her life

because of who and what she was

confessed before God

and the spies

“Your God is God

in heaven above and

the earth below.”

God had revealed himself to her

through the mighty deeds

He had performed

and she believed!

* * * * *

God saves all who hear His Word

and believes

and confesses

that He is Lord

of Heaven and Earth.

The scarlet cord of Jesus’ blood

shed on the Cross

marks us as saved ones

for those who believe.

Death and destruction

will pass us by.

* * * * *

Rahab got a new life

walked by faith

and is recorded in Jesus’

family tree.

* * * * *

“By faith, Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she welcomed the spies in peace.”  Hebrews 11:31

“…and to Salmon was born Boaz by Rahab; and to Boaz was born Obed by Ruth; and to Obed, Jesse; and to Jesse was born David the king.”  Matthew 1:5

Lord God, thank you for preserving the story of Rahab the prostitute, the story of her faith in You and how that faith brought her new life.  Your word is meant for all people–people just like Rahab.  Your word brings life!  Please help us to share the Good News with those who need to hear.  Thank you for taking away the scarlet sins of our lives and for making us new in Christ Jesus, our Lord whose Resurrection from the dead we continue to celebrate and rejoice!  Amen.

March 6 Trusting Now

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

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

“We trusted” (Luke 24:21).

I have always felt so sorry that in that walk to Emmaus the disciples had not said to Jesus, “We still trust”; instead of “We trusted.”  That is so sad–something that is all over.

If they had only said, “Everything is against our hope;  it looks as if our trust was in vain, but we do not give up;  we believe we shall see Him again.”  But no, they walked by His side declaring their lost faith, and He had to say to them, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe.”

Are we not in the same danger of having these words said to us?  We can afford to lose anything and everything if we do not lose our faith in the God of truth and love.

Let us never put our faith, as these disciples did, in a past tense–“We trusted.”  But let us ever say, “I am trusting.”   From CRUMBS

The soft, sweet summer was warm and glowing,

Bright were the blossoms on every bough:

I trusted Him when the roses were blooming;

I trust Him now….

* * * * *

Small were my faith should it weakly falter

Now that the roses have ceased to blow;

Frail were the trust that now should alter,

Doubting His love when storm clouds grow.

~The Song of a Bird in a Winter Storm

Lord God, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, when we are clouded with grief or fear, we too are tempted to doubt your presence.  Forgive us Lord.  Strengthen our faith through your Word of Promise that You will never leave us nor forsake us no matter what storm threatens and help us always to cling to You and You alone.  For Jesus’ sake we pray, Amen.

“I am trusting You Lord Jesus

Trusting Only You

Trusting You for full salvation

Free and true.”

~ Frances Havergal

February 14 A Story To Tell

Image by Joshua Lenon

Image by Joshua Lenon

Exodus 37:1-38:31;  Matthew 28:1-20;  Psalm 34:11-22;  Proverbs 9:9-10

“And behold there was a great earthquake for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came down and rolled back the stone and sat on it.  His appearance was like lightening and his clothing was white as snow.  And for fear of him, the guards trembled and became like dead men.

* * * * *

“But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.  Come, see the place where he lay.  Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.  See, I have told you!”

So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell the disciples.

* * * * *

“While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place.  And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and said, “Tell the people, “His disciples came by night and stole him away while you were asleep…so they took the money and did as they were directed.  And this is the story that has been spread among the Jews to this age.”

Matthew 28:2-15

* * * * *

A story of truth

a story of lies

both are told

today

but one brings joy

and life

and peace,

the other leads back

to the father of lies.

Which story do you hear?

Which story do you trust?

Which story do you tell?

* * * * *

God continues to tell His story of the

Good News of Jesus Christ

spoken by those who believe

in Him.

“Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always,

to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19-20

“Jesus lives!  The victory’s won;

Death no longer can apall me;

Jesus lives!  Death’s reign is done!

From the grave will Christ recall me.

Brighter scenes will then commence;

This shall be my confidence!”

~ Christian Gellert, 1715-1769

Lord God, thank you for being my confidence, for being the story of my life!  Grant that I freely share your story of life and salvation with those who need to hear.  For Jesus’ sake, 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

January 29 All Things Are Possible

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Exodus 7:25-9:35;  Matthew 19:13-30;  Psalm 24:1-10;  Proverbs 6:1-5

“And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.  Again, I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”  But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 19:23-26

* * * * *

Yes!

With all God all things are possible.

Like turning hearts of stone

into hearts aflame,

aglow

with the Spirit

who makes all things new.

* * * *
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

Hebrews 4:12

* * * *

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”  Romans 10:17

Lord God, thank you for piercing my heart with your living word which worked faith in a heart once dead to your goodness and grace.  I pray that the same power of your Word  work wonders in the hearts of those who are yet in darkness.  Bless the lips of those who speak Your Word and faithfully proclaim your truth.  May the ears hearing your words receive them and not turn away from your Gift of Grace in Jesus Christ who won for them the forgiveness of all their sins.  I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

sacrament

January 16 For You!

Photo by Lisa Brackbill

Photo by Lisa Brackbill

Genesis 32:13-34:31;  Matthew 11:7-30;  Psalm 14:1-7;  Proverbs 3:19-20

“By wisdom the Lord laid the foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place, by his knowledge the deeps were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.”

Proverbs 3:19-20

“the clouds let drop the dew”

for you.

* * * * *

And if He did this for us, then

surely as we face

the difficulties and challenges

before us,

we can rest in His love and care.

“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

* * * *

Our God-

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

is near.

His work of

Creation,

Redemption,

and Sanctification

goes on and on and on,

adding and building His Church

with the lives of those who

acknowledge Him as Lord and Savior,

whose sins are washed away in

the Waters of Baptism,

who receive His Body and Blood

at His table,

strengthened and renewed,

who are yoked with Him

as He walks by their side,

guiding,

guarding,

girding

and leading them to

His green pastures.

What other ‘god’ does this for his/her people?

What man or woman can do this for another?

Thank you, Jesus, my Lord and Savior, for doing this all for me–and not only me, but every single man, woman, and child that lives, that has ever lived, that ever will walk this earth.  To you be all honor and praise and glory, now and forever!  Amen.

His wisdom never plans in vain

nor falters nor mistakes.

All that his counsels may ordain

a happy ending makes.

* * * *

Upon your lips, then lay your hand,

and trust his guiding love;

Then like a rock your peace shall stand

here and in heav’n above.

~Paul Gerhardt

January 1 Let There Be

Photo by Sean Sebourin

Photo by Sean Sebourin

Genesis 1:1-2:25;  Matthew 1:1-2:12;  Psalm 1:1-6;  Proverbs 1:1-6

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

“And God said, “Let there be….”  Genesis 1:2-3

* * * * *

Let there be

in this New Year

a remembrance of

our God

by whose word

created

what we breathe,

drink,

walk upon,

our very DNA.

Let there be

worship of Him

and Him alone

whose Spirit

hovered over the

deep of our souls

and called us out

of darkness

into His marvelous

light.

Let there be

a response to His good gift

of Salvation-Life,

a reaching out

of serving,

loving,

 caring,

forgiving,

a continuation of

His Creation work.

Let there be

for all to see

a testimony of

faith

in the One who gave

His life,

whose words

“It is finished”

hovered over sin-parched

lives

and filled the heavens

with victory.

Let there be

no doubt

that He who created

the heavens and the earth

has this New Year

in His hands.

Bless this New Year, O Lord.  May your will be done and your name be praised!  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

December 27 Make A Difference

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

Zechariah 10:1-11:17;  Revelation 18:1-24;  Psalm 146:1-10;  Proverbs 30:33

“Praise the Lord, O my soul.  I will praise the Lord all my life;  I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

“Do not put your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.  When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.

“Blessed is he whose help is in the Lord his God,  the maker of heaven and earth, the seas and everything in them–the Lord, who remains faithful forever.

“He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.  The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,  the Lord loves the righteous.

“The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

“The Lord reigns forever!”

Psalm 146

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Because I believe in the One who made the heavens and the earth–I can make a difference.

Because I believe in the One who healed the sick, made the blind see, and set prisoners free–I can make a difference.

Because I believe in the One who bears the burdens of those weighed down by heavy burdens–I  can make a difference.

Because I believe He did it all for me–He bore my sins, unshackled chains of guilt and shame, set my spirit free.

I can make a difference–not because of who I am, but because of Whose I am!

And with a heart made light, there’s room to see those ‘people-hurts’ around me.

Because of Him–I can make a difference.  I can carry the Light into dark places bearing His name and His love.

He’s made all the difference in my life, and He can make the difference in yours.

To God be the glory–He’s the game changer.  He’s the One to trust.

Faith in Him makes all the difference in the world!

Lord God, you sent your Son to make a difference in this world.  His life, death and resurrection unleashed a power to change it–one heart, one life at a time.  Continue, Lord, to make a difference in this world through the faithful living of your beloved, we who call upon your name.  May our lives truly make a difference and point the way to you!  For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

To the triumph of your Cross

Summon all the living;

Summon us to live by loss,

Gaining all by giving,

Suffering all, that we may see

Triumphant in surrender;

Leaving all, that we may be

Partners in Your splendor!

~ Martin Franzmann

December 19 Zephaniah’s Double Feature

Photo by Nathan Ward

Photo by Nathan Ward

Zephaniah 1:1-3:20;  Revelation 10:1-11;  Psalm 138:1-8;  Proverbs 30:11-14

Destruction

“The great day of the Lord is near,

near and hastening fast;

The sound of the day of the Lord is bitter;

the mighty man cries aloud there.

 A day of wrath is that day

a day of distress and anguish

a day of ruin and devastation,

a day of darkness and gloom

a day of clouds and thick darkness

a day of trumpet blast and battle

cry against the fortified cities

and against the lofty battlements.

I will bring distress on mankind

so that they shall walk like the blind,

because they have sinned against the Lord,

their blood shall be poured out like dust,

and their flesh like dung.

Neither their silver nor their gold

shall be able to deliver them

on the day of the wrath of the Lord.

In the fire of his jealousy,

all the earth shall be consumed,

for a full and sudden end

he will make of all the inhabitants

of the earth.”

Zephaniah 1:14-18

Delight

“Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion

shout, O Israel!

Rejoice and exalt with all your heart,

O daughter of Jerusalem!

The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;

he has cleared away your enemies.

The King of Israel, the Lord,

is in your midst,

you shall never again fear evil.

Fear not, O Zion;

let not your hands grow weak.

The Lord your God is in your midst,

a mighty one who will save;

he will rejoice over you with gladness;

he will quiet you with his love;

he will exult over you with loud singing.”

Zephaniah 3:14-17

O Lord God, it is hard to read words of judgement and destruction.  Yet such words were and still are meant to turn unbelieving hearts back to you.  You desire that all men be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth–that ‘delight’ is your middle name and that you want to be able to sing joyously over all those who believe in you.   Thank you, Father, for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, to do battle with sin, death and the devil on the Cross–thank you for His victory!  We need fear no more evil-it has no hold on us.  Grant that during this season of Advent we may be bright, bold Truth bearers of your message of hope and salvation through the Babe of Bethlehem.  It’s in His name we pray, Amen.