God is with you

genesis-12_4

Genesis 12:1-4

It is true that, because of technology and transportation, our world is becoming a smaller place. People often pick up, move from one place to another and settle in new places. Yet, there are places where many families have put down roots and stayed in the land of their ancestors. Either way, as part of a mobile society or not, it is difficult to imagine God’s call to Abraham. God called Abram, instructing him to leave the land of his ancestors in order to settle and dwell in the land promised by God.

Today, God continues to call his people to leave behind their old way of life in order to follow his son Jesus Christ. God sanctifies his people through the power of the Holy Spirit given in Baptism. He forgives our sins through the body and blood of his only Son. God equips us through his Word and send us into the world to share the good news of salvation.

In a world growing smaller and smaller, the news of God’s salvation remains the best message of all. We are God’s people now, saved by the blood of God’s only begotten Son Jesus Christ. Perhaps God is calling you to a new place, or to begin a new chapter in your life. Have faith, and remember, as you go, God is with you.

Prayer: Guide me in faith, O God, and bring me at last into your kingdom. Amen.

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Why Jesus matters

Mark 2:13-17

Who is Jesus and why does he matter? The first part of this question is simple enough to answer. Jesus is God’s only begotten Son. He is our Lord and Savior. So here we have the simple answer to the question. But as a seminary professor once told me, we need to unpack this a little more. Yes, Jesus is all we said he is. The why he matters portion of this question is a bit stickier.

When saying Jesus is Lord and Savior, we must first understand that we need saving. We humans are disobedient to God’s law and desire for us. Yet, rather than strive for obedience, so many people today define their own life, follow their own laws and determine what sin is or what is not. But we can’t hide sin from Jesus. He points out the impact our anger, greed and lust have as we sin against God in thought, word and deed. Only when we take Jesus at his word can we begin to understand why he matters.

All people sin and fall short of God’s expectation. Only Christ has the power to forgive. If it were not for Jesus’s innocent suffering and death, there would be no grace. If it were not for his resurrection, there would be no life in God’s kingdom. Why does he matter? Without him, we have no hope.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are my Lord and Savior, for I am a sinner in need of your grace. Amen.

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The weight of the world

Isaiah 40:28-31

The weight of the world is a very heavy burden. But there comes a point in life that, no matter how strong our resolve, strength gives way to weariness. We have all been there. One thing is added upon another and soon, well, the weight of the world comes crashing down. Like salmon swimming against powerful rapids, we make a great leap forward, but soon the overwhelming current washes us backward. So, do you feel like giving up? Well, if you are struggling to persevere, there is hope. It is found in the Lord.

So many centuries ago, the population of ancient Judah struggled against worldly powers which robbed them of their home, their land and for some, their religion. Yet, the prophet Isaiah, during years of exile, foretold of God’s enduring strength, compassion and steadfast love. Strength and perseverance, said the prophet, comes from the Lord.

God continues to strengthen those who call upon his name. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, the fellowship of other Christians, and a life of worship and prayer, God’s people are fortified against the powers of this world. You may feel that the weight of the world is upon your shoulders but the weight of your sin, the difficulties of earthly life, and the struggle against the powers that defy God are carried upon the shoulders of Christ, who is your ever-present strength.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord God, for renewing my strength each new day. Amen.

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You can’t please everyone

Psalm 34:1-22

The old saying is alive and well, you can’t please everyone. No matter how good your intentions might be, someone at some time is going to express disappointment or concern with your effort. When this happens, it becomes so easy to allow the dark cloud of misfortune to hang over your head.

The psalmist encourages us with his words of patience and reliance upon God to deliver people from fear and shame. We have all experienced circumstances when we strive to serve our neighbor or be of assistance for others but fall short. Whether we feel surrounded by those who would become our harshest critics or we are simply swallowed up in our own failures, God is with us; he is compassionate. In all times and in all places, God will bless those who call upon his name with his peace and presence.

Truly, you are not going to please everyone. Often, you will find that you don’t always please yourself. In such instances, you have a God who will hear your prayers and comfort you with his Holy Spirit. Be encouraged in Christ. Pray for guidance, and live in the joy of knowing that through Jesus Christ, God is pleased with you.

Prayer: Be with me, O Lord, and show me your compassion. Amen.

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Your heart’s desire

Romans 10:1-13

In our world today, so many people struggle to realize their heart’s desire. For some, it is the fulfillment of a dream long held, culminating in personal happiness. For others, it is the safety and security of a beautiful home and family. Certainly, the closer we get to our heart’s desire, the more we are willing to struggle.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul spells out his heart’s desire. Paul’s heart’s desire is that his own people, those who did not believe Jesus is the Messiah, would be saved. The apostle is zealous for the gospel of Jesus Christ. His hopes for others are tied securely to his own hope in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Paul makes no apologies for his past as a persecutor of the Church. Rather, he goes to great lengths to tell others of the saving power of Christ crucified and risen.

As people saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ, our heart’s desire is to be that we also have the zeal of Paul. God’s mercy is the greatest gift we could hope to receive. To share faith in the one who saves is the best possible gift we could give. Truly, a heart filled with the love of God in Christ Jesus desires that all would come to believe his Word.

Prayer: Redeeming God, give me the words to share with others, that to may believe the truth of your Word. Amen.

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Seeking the kingdom

Matthew 6:25-34

So many of us get caught up on our hopes and dreams. When we are young, we become fixated on the future and the possibilities of what might be. Steps felt necessary are taken to make lofty goals become reality. Sometimes risk is involved as focus is placed on a single endeavor; achieving our life’s ambition. Anything short of that is failure.

The world is filled with people who worry their dreams may never materialize. The life we chase after can soon consume our every thought. The more we miss the mark, the harder we try and the more committed we become. Before long, the life we hope for, the things we desire, push everything aside, including our relationship with the one who is provider of all.

“Why are you anxious?” asks Jesus? Why worry about earthly things that can bring only fleeting pleasures? God has a beautiful life waiting for you. He will provide all you need. Look around. Even the birds of the air and flowers of the field have all they need. And you are even more precious to God than they. Seek God’s kingdom first. Live each day within the sure and certain hope of Christ. And all these things, the true blessings you desire, will be added unto you.

Prayer: Gracious God, how can I want for anything? You are all I need. Thank you. Amen.

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Encourage one another

1 Thessalonians 5:1-22

Young or old, rich or poor, we all face difficulties in life. Everyone, no matter their status or station in life, experiences days when things don’t go according to plan. Everything we do turns out wrong; everything we say falls upon offended or angry ears, and the road to ruin seems to be paved with our own good intentions. On days like these, it seems we would be better off if we simply stayed in bed.

None of these difficulties compare with that which challenged the Thessalonian church. Poverty, oppression and persecution brought with them harsh circumstances. Yet, the apostle Paul compelled them, as he compels us, to encourage one another. He exhorts us to pray for one another, always giving thanks and rejoicing in Christ our Lord. We are to give thanks in all circumstances, for even in our greatest difficulty, God can use them for the purposes of good.

This is God’s will for you, that you would realize his presence each and every day, that you would give thanks for his mercy and grace, and that in the certainty of God’s love for you, you would encourage your neighbor in the same spirit of faith. From day to day, troubles will come. But God is with you. He cares for you and loves you. Rejoice! Be glad, for you do not bear your struggles alone.

Prayer: Compassionate God, keep me near, that I may feel the power of your love. Amen.

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