Thursday, August 30, 2012
All over this land classes are beginning, from pre-school to graduate school, and many persons have many thoughts about themselves now.
How well I remember my first day at college at Concordia, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was in the first room on the first floor, the youngest of four. My parents were long gone, and I was facing my first classes the next morning. State street ran alongside the building, and one of the street car lines ran on State street. The cars ran every fifteen minutes till 12, then only every half hour. I lay in my bed, kept awake by home sicknesses and the noises of the night I was not accustomed to.
But I survived, as you all will too.
For the promises of the Lord, our God, are for exactly such moments in our lives. When we feel alone, and face what seem impossibly difficult tasks, then we Know the Lord is “an ever-present help in trouble.” as Psalm 46,1 begins.
The Psalm ends with this rich promise: “The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge.” Psalm 46,11
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” That’s Psalm 119.105, and it’s a verse many of us memorized in our confirmation class.
It tells us the Word of God lights the way and show the right path for us. Have you found it so?
A promise that Isaiah wrote comes to mind. He speaks of rain and snow watering the earth, just so My Word, says the Lord.
“So shall My Word be that goes forth from My mouth.
It shall not return unto Me empty,
But it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
And shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Is 55,11.
The word is never void of results. It always does what God intends for it to do.
Jesus spoke of the seed, and He concluded with “Other seed fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears to hear let him hear:”. Matthew 13,8
And the writer of Hebrews describes it so” “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.” Heb. 4,12-13.
It works just that way, shows us our sins, and also points out to the Savior from those sin, Jesus Christ, who made payment for our sins on the cross.
And there is the reason the Word is so important. It lights the way for us, but it also show us our rough and sinful edges, and then shows us what the Lord has done to get rid of those sins. The Word, then, comforts me and strengthens me for the walk I am on. That is God’s grace and mercy to me in action, and I am thankful.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
“Don’t mourn for me now,
Don’t mourn for me ever.
I’m going to do nothing,’
forever and ever,”
Sort of a pitiful choice, that I once read on a grave marker in a nearly forgotten little country cemetery. Some inquiry established the fact that it was the grave of one of those sort of forgotten people. Her name was Anna, and she was the oldest daughter. Never married, helped raise her brothers and sisters, always there to do dishes, scrub the floor, can the garden produce for the winter. Ready at any church affair to do the endless preparation and clean-up required, and never complaining, nor even thanked.
Strikes me the world is full of such folks. They are active behind the scenes, doing their jobs. Who saw to it that the text of your drivers license is accurate?
An example. Yesterday I had to wait several minutes to have a prescription filled. There was a clerk busy in the section with a cart, loaded with cartons. One by one he emptied those cartons to put tooth brushes, ointments, bandages, aspirins, and much other stuff on the shelf for customers to pick up. Each item had a place, and somebody had to replace items as they were purchased. His was that job.
The world is filled with such folks. And it sounds sort of depressing to realize it.
You believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior? Then know that you are precious to Him. Do you hurt, He knows, Do you worry? He said to cast your care on Him, for “He careth for you”.
And look at what Jesus said in His story of the lost sheep. ”I say to you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents.” Luke 15, 1-7.
So let’s comfort ourselves by reading again Psalm 23, which begins with these familiar words, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” And you often heard this, “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”
Nonentity? Never, precious in the eye of our dear Lord.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
“Are we all becoming Braggarts?” asks an article in the WSJ. Then it goes on to give examples of just that in every day life. The article says “we’ve become so accustomed to boasting that we don’t even realize we’re doing it, and it harms our relationship to each other.”
Julie Hanks, a licensed clinical social worker, says “We brag because we can, and a lot more people are listening.” Facebook shows this to be true. Now, what should our response be?
I suggest that we read again Galatians 5,22.23. It reads, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
Then this rendering by Peterson in MSG of 1 Cor. 13, 4ff.
“Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut.
Doesn’t have a swelled head.
Doesn’t force itself on others. Isn’t always “me first”
Doesn’t fly off the handle.’
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others.
Doesn’t revel when others grovel.
Takes pleasure in the flowering of the truth.
Puts up with anything.
Trusts God always.”
For Christ’s’ children need not brag to build themselves up. Instead, they can sing, “I leave all things to God’s direction.” and mean it. For the Psalm is their trusted guide. It reads.
“I will lift up my eyes to the hills, from whence comes my help.
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. . . .
The LORD shall preserve you from all evil.
He shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.” Psalm 1211.2.8.
So may this ever-present Lord bless your days.
Friday, August 17, 2012
It seems to happen when one least looks for it. We miss a person who had been around, and when we ask, we are told “She’s retired and they moved to Missouri to be near their family.”
So I wonder, “Where do the years go? Down what time tunnel are the days poured out? We are young, and the years stretch before us. The world lies there for us to live in. Challenges to meet and work to do, things to accomplish and other things to solve. Then suddenly the days no longer stretch so far. The words of the September Song suddenly make sense, ‘and the days grow short, when we reach September.’”
“And the autumn weather turns the leave to flame,
And I haven’t got time for the waiting game.”
But listen, it’s no time for despair, or “I wish I had”, but to turn with confidence to our God, who has given us these days.
“Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.” LSB 733,1.
Indeed, “Time like an ever-rolling stream,
Soon bears us all away,
We fly forgotten as a dream,
Dies at the opening day”. V.5
So no more looking back with longing. Enjoy the memories, and they are sweet and precious. Live the hours He grants today, and enjoy His grace and mercy under His eternal eye.
“If my days in earth He lengthen,
God my weary soul will strengthen,
All my trust in Him I place.
Earthly wealth is not abiding,
Like a stream away is gliding,
Safe I anchor in His grace.” 732,6
My wish and prayer for you and me, “Safe I anchor in His grace”.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
The evidence of things not seen” Hebrews 11,1
Phillips translates this, “Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for; it means being certain of things we cannot see.”
Peterson in his The Message translates: ”The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.”
And these early believers gave their lives to defend this truth of Jesus Christ.
The truth is they believed that Jesus Christ had really lived, suffered, died, and then rose from the dead to pay for their sins. And because that was God’s eternal plan, they were saved for ever. Recall that Jesus had said, “The work of God is this, that you believe in the One He has sent.” John 6,29.
We live in a troubled time. But then, it is probably no more troubling that any other. But I quote from an article written by Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal (8/11/12 pg A17) titled, “Nation That Believes Nothing”. She writes, “The ad’s cynicism contributes to a phenomenon that increases each year, and that is that we are becoming a nation that believes nothing. Not IN nothing, but nothing we’re told by anyone in supposed authority”.
And that attitude of unbelief is raising its ugly head in the church. Satan started that when he said to Eve, “Yea, hath God said?” It’s rampant today, this attitude of not believing what we hear, or wanting to make changes in teachings to suit our culture. The list goes on. I say this to alert us, to throw some light into this darkness, and to seek again the faith of our Fathers, that Jesus Christ is the Only Savior there is no one else, and He is the end for salvation.
St. Peter writes at the end of his second letter, “But grow in grace and knowledge of our lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory." II Peter 3,18
Saturday, August 11, 2012
This is what St. John wrote, and it is often called “The Gospel in a Nutshell”.
“For God so loved the world,
That He gave His Only-begotten Son,
That whoever believes in Him,
Shall have eternal life.
For God did not send His Son into the world
To condemn the world,
But to save the world through Him.”
That bit of the Holy Gospel of St. John reveals the plan of salvation. And the word “Whosoever” reaches to every person. It does not single any one single person, or race, by name. And that is the comfort.
The Gospel in a nutshell indeed. May it serve to strengthen your faith and bring comfort to your soul.
Friday, August 10, 2012
The short Old Testament book of Joel is a reminder that God is there in our daily lives always.
He speaks of a coming plague of locusts that will devastate the land. Why, because they had forsaken God.
But when they repent,
“Rend your hearts, and not your garments,
Return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious
And compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love,
And He relents from sending calamity.
Who knows, He may turn and have pity,
And leave behind a blessing”. Joel 2,13.14.
For afterward “I will pour out My Spirit on all people”. V.28.
“and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”v.32.
Our world is like that, forgotten God, doing what we please. We see that every day, read about the bad things that happen, the ways people seem to find to do evil things. The Bible sums the attitude up when it says:
“The Fool says in his heart,
There is no God.
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile,
There is no one that does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven
On the sons of men,
To see if there are any that understand,
Any who seek God.
All have turned aside,
They have altogether become corrupt.
There is no one that does good,
Not even one.’ Psalm 14, 1-3.
And yet hear again this wonderful word.
“For Go so loved the world that He gave
His only-begotten Son,
That whosoever believeth on Him,
Shall be saved,” John 3,16
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
How do you say ‘goodbye’?
The question has never come up?
But it is legitimate. Just what do you say when you depart either from some company, or an individual friend?
For so many of us it’s simply a casual ‘see ya’, and leave it at that. For others often a hug with a kiss. Others simply seem to disappear from any group and never seem to be missed at all. That is because we are so sure we will see one another again.
But wait, comes the psalm with this word about our life.
“Lord, what is man that Thou takes
Knowledge of him! Or the son of
Man, that Thou makest account of him?
Man is like vanity.
His days are as a shadow
That passes away.” Psalm 144,3.4.
“My days are like a shadow that declines;
I am withered like grass.” Psalm 102,11
So maybe how we leave one another has some value after all, doesn’t it? I remember family gatherings when I was a lad always ended when some uncle or other started to sing, and all joined in, “God be with you till we meet again,”
God be with you till we meet again
By His counsels guide, uphold you
With His sheep securely fold you
God be with you will we meet again.
Till we meet, till we meet
Till we meet at Jesus feet
Till we meet, till we meet
God be with you till we meet again.
And today I usually send my children off after their welcome visits with a “Drive safely, under God’
Friday, August 3, 2012
“An Idea whose time has come” said the title of the article that was talking about free libraries. It reported about a couple in Schulenburg who had taken a wooden box, painted it in bright colors with a sign saying “Free Library” and another sign saying, “Take a book – leave a book”. Then they fastened this to their front fence and put in about a dozen books they no longer wanted.
Well, the pathway in front of their house was used by many for their morning and evening walks and runs. It also had quite a bit of travel morning and night. So they placed that box and watched to see what would happen.
For the first several days it caused people to pause a bit, but the next thing some books were gone, soon to be replaced by others. In a week every title they had put out was gone, replaced by others. And that has continued. They checked the box every night. And in the first week noted nearly fifty different titles had passed through.
When they added a second shelf for paperbacks, traffic simply increased.
You know, we are quick to add canned goods to food drives at grocery stores, community centers, or perhaps at the Church we attend. This idea asks us to feed the mind.
And why not?
Think of the possibility. You pick up a mystery and find a clue stated on page 38 is the key to solve the puzzle, and you figured it out as you were reading. Stimulates the mind.
History, geography, politics, financials, all are grist for such a library. The cost is minimal, and the end result is huge.
One never knows what one may find. Euripides, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Baldacci, or even a Perry Mason.
May the idea, planted, bear some fruit, and If you do place such a Library, please share. It is just such an action that enhances the soul.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
What does that mean for you? The dictionary definition goes something like this: “It is living by a strict moral and ethical code, honest and above-board.” A statesman of a long ago age said, “A liar needs a good memory” Quintillian.
Mark Twain echoed that thought when he said, “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything”. He fleshed out this thought with, “Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”
Moses in the Bible Book of Exodus wrote: (MSG) “Don’t link up with a wicked person and give corrupt testimony.“ Don’t go along with the crowd in doing evil and don’t fudge your testimony just to please the crowd,: Exodus 23. 2.3. And added, “Don’t take bribes. Bribes blind perfectly good eyes and twist the speech of poor people.” v.8.
The summer Olympics are underway, and the authorities have standard tests to find if athletes have been using stuff to enhance their performance. Because drugs have been playing a part in many such, bike races, and in football. Players have been suspended for games because, unwittingly according to them, they used a substance disallowed by the system.
Now there is Missy Franklin, a high school senior from Colorado who has won gold, and is setting new records, and is being pursued by companies to accept their cash for her feats. So far she has said "No", because she wishes to swim in college too, and the ruling body insists on such swimmers to be amateurs.
And then there is politics. Archie B. Carroll, Professor of Management, University of Georgia, who said: “As religion and faith are being driven out of the public square, the Judea-Christian ethical foundations that have sustained our country since the beginning are being lost, replaced with a . . .self-centered, pragmatic indifference that will ensure that our moral compasses will fail to point in the right direction in the future.”
That’s a scary thought, and it is there because too often the American proverb proves true. “Don’t measure your neighbor’s honesty by your own”.
Instead, hear what God asks of us. ”Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” That truth remains ever.