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.

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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

 

A Citizen’s Prayer

 

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Photo by Laura Jostes

“Purge us, O God,

of cynical distrust,

of party passion,

of the deafness

of our rebellious bent.

Teach us, O Lord, the meekness

that would rather be deceived

than be encrusted

with perpetual distrust.

Teach the charity

that will interpret

all uncertainties

toward the side of goodness.

Create in our world

an air in which

the truth can freely breathe,

a sea on which

the ships of truth can sail,

an earth on which

the feet of truth can walk unhurt.

Your Son, our Lord,

would not speak ill of Caesar

even when Caesar’s power

nailed Him to the cross.

Give us the Spirit of Your Son.”

For Jesus’ sake we pray, Amen

~Prayer by Martin H. Franzmann, Pray For Joy

“Let love be without hypocrisy.  Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good…  Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.  Respect what is right in the sight of all men.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Romans 12:9, 17-18, 21

 

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.

Image by Marian Trinidad

Image by Marian Trinidad

“When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.  Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

Therefore, they could not believe.

 For again, the prophet said,

“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they see with their eyes and understand with their hearts, and turn, and I would heal them.”

* * * * *

Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him.  Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue;

for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

* * * * *

And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me.  And whoever sees me, sees him who sent me.  I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”  John 12:36b-46

Lord God, many folks have a hard time “seeing” you, believing that you came into this world in human form, to live like us, to die like us.  Many have a hard time believing that Jesus was raised from the dead and lives eternally even now.  Many doubt and just give up.  Lord have mercy on them.  Draw them near to you through the power of your Holy Spirit, cleanse them from their sin and unbelief and give them eyes to see.  Thank you for opening my eyes and giving me faith to believe in you.  Help me to be a bold confessor amid the scoffers.  Forgive me for times when I have remained silent rather than speak your Name.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

One Thing I Know

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

“So for the second time they [the Pharisees] called the man who had been blind and said, “Give glory to God.  We know this man [Jesus] is a sinner.”

He answered, “Whether or not he is a sinner, I do not know.  One thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

* * * * *

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”  Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he speaking to you.”  He said, “Lord I believe,” and he worshiped him.”  John 9: 24-25, 35-39

* * * * *

One thing I know…

that I was born spiritually blind

but

through the Water and the Word

of Baptism

even as an infant

the gift of sight,

of faith in Jesus

was given to me.

Jesus touched me,

turned me to Him,

made me His own.

He preserves me

in this faith as

day by day,

year by year

He walks with me

nurtures me

feeds me His holy food.

He removes the guilt of my sin

and His light shines in my heart.

His joy floods my soul.

* * * * *

Thank you Jesus

for opening my eyes

to see You and the love and forgiveness

that comes from Your Hands.

May I live today as one who sees

and points others to You

in word and deed.

In Your name I pray,

praise,

and give thanks!

Amen.

* * * * *

It was grace in Christ that called me,

Taught my darkened heart and mind;

Else the world had yet enthralled me,

To Thy heav’nly glories blind.

Now I worship none above Thee;

For thy grace alone I thirst,

Knowing well that, if I love Thee,

Thou, O Lord, didst love me first.

(LSB 573:2)

May 30 What Is Truth?

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

2 Samuel 15:23-16:23;  John 18:25-19:22; Psalm 119:113-128;  Proverbs 16:10-11

“Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.  If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews.  But now my kingdom is from another place.”

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king.  In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” Pilate asked.

John 18:36-38

* * * * *

Lord Jesus,

thank you for opening my eyes to the truth

of who you are.

Through your Holy Word

I have learned that you are 

my King

my Shepherd

my Redeemer

my Savior

the Alpha and Omega

the Beginning and the End

the Lamb that was slain

the sacrifice for my sins.

No other king has done this

for his servants.

You love me with an everlasting love.

Help me, Lord, to be faithful

to your Truth

to YOU who are TRUTH

for as long as I live.

For your name’s sake I pray,

Amen.