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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A Prayer

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O God, O Lord of heaven and earth, thy living finger never wrote

That life should be an aimless mote, a deathward drift from futile birth.

Thy word meant life triumphant hurled through every cranny of Thy world.

Since light awoke and life began, Thou hast desired Thy life for man.

 

Our fatal will to equal Thee, our rebel will, wrought death and night.

We seized and used in Thy despite Thy wondrous gifts of liberty.

We housed us in this house of doom, where death had royal scope and room,

Until Thy Servant Prince of Peace breached all its walls for our release.

 

Thou camest to our hall of death, O Christ, to breathe our poisoned air,

To drink for us the dark despair that strangles man’s reluctant breath.

How beautiful the feet that trod the road that leads us back to God!

How beautiful the feet that ran to bring the great good news to man!

 

O Spirit, who didst once restore Thy Church, that it might be again

The bringer of good news to men, breathe on Thy cloven church once more,

That in these gray latter days there may be men whose life is praise,

Each life a high doxology to Father, Son and unto Thee.   Amen.

~Hymn by Martin H. Franzmann

 

This prayer-hymn speaks of the ways God works in the world that He created, redeemed, and is restoring unto Himself.  We are created by Him, redeemed through His Son Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit and now sent to share this Good News with others.

Blessings on your day!

LJ

 

 

 

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.

Programmed To Love

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[Jesus speaking to his disciples, said:]

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, than someone lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you.  No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his Master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give to you.  These things I command you that you should love one another.”  John 15:12-17

Big Hero Six, a recent Pixar film carried the theme of love and servanthood and losing one’s life for the sake of the others.

Programmed to heal and to always do good the robot Baymax fulfilled his mission even as he propelled his human friends out of danger and he was left to oblivion.  It seemed that that was the end of the beloved Baymax.  Until it was discovered that had put his healthchip into his human patient’s possession and was saved.  The end of the movie shows another Baymax ready and willing to help his next patient.  Baymax lived on, along with his capability to nurture and heal.

Jesus, when his mission on earth was completed, left his disciples [and us] with the same mission–to love, to heal, to forgive, to lead people to the Father, that they too may have life everlasting.

After Jesus went back to Heaven He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of those who believe in Him.  The fullness of our Savior now dwells within us and informs us of the Father’s will to reconcile the world, heal the brokenhearted and set the captives free!

WillPaul McDonald

Lord God, thank you for sending us the Holy Spirit to help us live out the life of love that was demonstrated in the life of Jesus Christ.  We pray that all of your followers around the world will bear witness to you command to love even as we have been loved and saved, to be light in a dark world.  We especially pray for brothers and sisters in the faith who face persecution because they bear your name.  Keep them in the one true faith to the end of their days.  And when we should come face to face with those who hate us because of you, give us the strength to stand firm and to love even as you have loved.  For Jesus’ sake 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)

March 23 A Cemetery Or Praise?

Photo by Laura Jostes

Photo by Laura Jostes

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

“Out of the spoils won in battles did they dedicate to maintain the house of the Lord.”  1 Chronicles 26:27

Physical force is stored in the bowels of the earth, in the coal mines, which came from the fiery heat that burned up great forests in ancient ages; and so spiritual force is stored in the depths of our being, through the very pain which we cannot understand.

Someday we shall find that the spoils we have won from our trials were just preparing us to become “True Hearts” in the Pilgrim’s Progress, and to lead our fellow pilgrims triumphantly through trial to the city of the King.

But let us never forget that the source of our helping other people must be victorious suffering.  The whining, murmuring pang never does anybody any good.

Paul did not carry a cemetery with him, but a chorus of victorious praise;  and the harder the trial, the more he trusted and rejoiced, shouting from the very altar of sacrifice.  He said, “Yea, and if I be offered upon the service and sacrifice of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all.”  Lord, help me this day to draw strength from all that comes to me!  ~Days of Heaven Upon Earth.

He placed me in a little cage,

Away from gardens fair;

But I must sing the sweetest songs

because He place me there.

Not beat my wings against the cage

If it’s my Maker’s will,

But raise my voice to heaven’s gate

and sing the louder still!

* * * *

Lord God,  we can sing because You freed us from all our sin through Christ’s death on Calvary’s Cross.  Through His life in us we can bear up under the trials and pressures we face this day.  May we do so with thanksgiving on our lips and praise in our hearts for all that You have done for us.  That our songs of praise during the hardest of times bear sweet witness to those around us.  For Jesus’ sake, 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