Lund Lutheran Church
Thursday, November 26, 2020
Celebrating over 125 years of faith and love!

Daily Devotions

October 14th       

 

Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 

The crisis of our present day can quickly fill us with fear and trepidation. Here the prophet clearly tells us that we need not be afraid. Fear not? So, we wonder, how could God have such an unrealistic expectation of us? It’s easy for Him to say. After all, He is God. He dwells in heaven. He must not be aware of all that we’re dealing with down here. We’re faced with everything from a global pandemic, to an upcoming election which is looking to be pretty nasty, to civil unrest and white militia groups threatening to assault various governors and states. Not to mention the everyday issues of life. Who in their right mind wouldn’t be afraid? Who wouldn’t have some anxiety?

 

God’s children needn’t fear. The Lord never makes a promise He can’t keep. He commands us to neither fear nor be dismayed for two reasons: he is with us and he is our God. Because the Lord is with us, we need not fear. His presence guarantees strength to endure every trial, to bear up courageously under all suffering, persecution and affliction. God with us assures that we are never without help. The God of no limits is ever present to help when we have reached the end of our proverbial ropes.

 

Finally, God upholds us with His mighty power. When our own strength is small and low, when we fall and have no might to raise ourselves up, the loving Lord reaches down His powerful right hand and lifts us. As long as we confidently know that God is with us, we can boldly proclaim, “I am not afraid; my God is ever with me! I am anxious for nothing; the Lord is my God!”

 

Let us pray: Loving Father, I know that there are many times that fear has replaced faith in my heart, yet why should I fear when you have told me so many times to fear not? Thank you for your promise to be with me always, to strengthen me, to be with me and to uphold me with your righteous hand, for which I thank you and bless your holy name. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

 

October 13th       

 

Ephesians 4:31-32

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

 

As Paul continues the practical application of unity in the body of Christ, he brings out a few more instructive commands of how a transformed Christian will act. Christians will “put away” those things that will cause disunity in the church and in their relationships. To “put away” means to get rid of or throw out. It is the idea that these things will not be found in the life of a Christian.

 

Christians are to respond with kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness to the ones that say the wrong things and do the wrong things. True Christians should not be vengeful and bitter. True Christians should not be caustic and attacking. True Christians seek to “live peaceably with all men.” This is why Paul admonishes the Ephesians to seek to live in ways of love and compassion.

 

In our new life in Christ, we are to remember that there are changes that must take place in our relationship with each other. We must get rid of those things that are characteristics of unbelievers. It looks bad for us to be children of God and harbor resentment and ill will toward others in the same family. These things should not be named among us.

 

In turn we are to exhibit positive virtues such as kindness, compassion and forgiveness toward one another. The motivating factor behind this is that God has forgiven us through Christ. If God could forgive us, how can we not forgive one another?

  

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, forgive me for any bitterness that I have harbored in my heart against you and others. Thank you that I have been forgiven by grace through faith in Christ. Help me to live my life as unto him and help me to be slow to anger, quick to forgive and abounding in steadfast love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness and grace. To the glory of Christ in whose name I pray. Amen.

 

 

October 8th       

 

1 Chronicles 28:20

Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.

 

This novel Coronavirus and the upcoming presidential election is causing many folks uneasiness and worry. When you really think about it, in life you can easily be discouraged by tough situations or become afraid especially when you have tried everything possible and things do not go as planned. You may be tempted to think that is just how your life is going to be. You can equally be discouraged when a task ahead of you is too huge for you to comprehend or handle.

 

In 1 Chronicles 28, David encouraged Solomon his son never to be afraid. The question is why did he do that? He did so because he knew that in life, there can be seasons or times that you may feel like giving up, discouraged or become afraid. It is human to feel that way, but once you recognize the Almighty God as your source of power, direction and the controller of your life and destiny, you are certain to make it in life no matter the obstacles; this is because with Him all things are possible.

 

So, friends, stop shedding tears, stressing, and discouraging yourself and let God take control by trusting in Him because that is the only way you can have the courage to face the challenges of life and come out victorious. God bless you, never lose hope but keep your faith alive in Him always. And he will be there to strengthen you!

 

Let us pray: Loving God, with all that is going on in and around my life these days, I can’t help but feel afraid. But you have given me strength and courage to endure all things. For that I say thank you. Help me to know that I will persevere as I serve you because you are with me. I pray this in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.

 

 

October 5th          

  

Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

The novel Coronavirus has been seeping its way throughout the world and here in our own country. Thousands upon thousands of people have been infected and over 200,000 have died because of it. And now, many at the White House are becoming infected. President Donald Trump found out Friday that he and the first lady Malania have contracted the disease. And now President Trump is hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

 

This passage speaks about how people of God are to react to times like this. Not with an “I told you so.” or “He had it coming because he always downplayed it and said it would magically go away.” That’s not the response God is looking for. Instead as the Apostle Paul tells us, we shouldn’t be anxious about anything, but in prayer with thanksgiving bring all our requests to God and he will guard our hearts.

 

Praying doesn’t guarantee that we will receive all we ask exactly the way we picture it but, as we ask in thanksgiving, our hearts are prepared for whatever the outcome. Our circumstances shouldn’t stand in the way of our thanksgiving and gratitude to God, for He is sovereignly in control. Romans 8:28, offers this comfort to us, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” We are not required to thank Him for the outcome but through the outcome. And God will see us through it all. So remember to pray for our president today!

  

Let us pray; Father God, even though I may not agree with President Trump on his ways of doing things, I understand that part of my calling from you is to pray even for those we disagree with. Our president really needs our prayers right now as he is hospitalized with the virus and we send up prayers for his healing and speedy recovery. Help me to also pray for his wife and all who tested positive for the virus. Help me to understand that when I do that, you will show me peace and faith that you will always be there to guard my heart and mind. I pray this in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.

 

 

October 1st      

 

Hebrews 10:35-36

Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

 

There are some tough times that go with living. They're inescapable. That’s when our confidence in the Lord’s salvation and our relationship with him get tested! It is one thing to sing “it is well with my soul” at the end of an amazing worship service, but it is quite another to be able to sing it when you are told you have a long-term debilitating illness, or you lose a child to death. Faith can’t take a holiday when we travel through the suburbs of hell or we’ll never find our way out. Persevere! Keep putting one step in front of the other trusting that God will give you the strength for the next step. No matter how hard it is at the moment, don’t give up to despair.

 

Paul tells the Hebrew Christians that they need to persevere. They had been through so much and even endured with joy the trials and persecution of their faith. But others were starting to quit the faith and Paul told them to hold on longer. Eugene Peterson translated this as “you need to stick with it” until the end.

 

You may be facing some difficulties in your life right now but don’t give in. Families all have problems. Money can be tight. Friendships change. Health fails. But the one constant you have is that God is always there. In your Christian walk there will be troubled spots, trials, temptations and persecution. Nothing hurts more than a person you thought was a friend to challenge your faith. The unity of the body may not always be so united but don’t sling mud at the bride of Christ, stick to your faith and God. We will reap the harvest that has been promised to us if we just hang in there. The challenge for today is to stick it out and stick with God’s plan. Stay consistent, keep trusting, keep believing, and keep fighting until you see the promised completion.

 

Let us pray: Lord, I have failed you time and time again in this area. Help me today to continue along the path that you have laid out for me. Help me to stay true to my assignment even when my feelings get the best of me. Help me to keep the right heart attitude as I wait on you to bring your promises to fulfillment. Most of all, help me to continue trusting your heart towards me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

 

September 28th     

 

Psalm 55:22

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

 

We all have an invisible backpack. Inside of it are all of our burdens and problems. No matter how crowded it is, there’s always room for more. Sometimes a burden comes out, but more often than not, burdens are going in. Just about every day we sling the pack over our shoulders and tote it around, no matter how heavy it is. Yeah, we get tired but we feel obligated to carry it, so we trudge on.

 

David tells us that it is a good idea to give your burdens to the Lord, because He can manage them better than you can. He says that God’s shoulders are wide enough to carry your burdens. He’s sovereign over the universe, so He is certainly capable of working out problems and meeting needs. This is fairly strong evidence that we are not obligated to carry those invisible backpacks with all our problems after all. There is Someone who is willing and able to carry those things for us. Crazy as it may sound, we have a legitimate invitation to continuously throw our burdens on the Lord Himself.

 

Just as Jesus was willing to die on the cross as a substitute for us, so he is also willing to carry our daily burdens for us to spare us the trouble. God desires to support us through things, but He can’t help unless we share those things with him. Sustain means to strengthen, support, to hold the weight of. When we share our worries and troubles with God, imagine two big, strong arms holding up these things, and the heaviness we once felt in carrying them be taken off our shoulders. 


Let us pray: Heavenly Father, thank you that no matter what dangers and evils threaten me, and no matter what terrors and difficulties come near me, that I may cast all my burdens upon you, knowing that you will sustain and strengthen me. and knowing that in Christ I need never be shaken by terrors or threats. I praise God that greater is he that is in me, than he that is in the world. It is in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

 

September 25th          

  

1 Thessalonian 5:11

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

 

In the times we are living in we all need some ray of hope. That hope can come from love and encouragement from another. Loving others includes encouraging one another. This is what the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 12:7-8, Paul lists encouragement among the gifts of grace. You see, when people accomplish a common objective together, all are encouraged. Fellow believers encourage one another to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

The Thessalonian Christians faced struggles and an uncertain future. Paul wrote to encourage them, reminding them of their faith and love and hope in Christ, all of which prepared them to be ready for the Lord’s return. And with these assurances they could keep encouraging one another and building each other up.

 

The gift of encouragement is important in our lives. En­cour­agement is a gift in the home, the workplace, the church; wherever we find ourselves. We can come alongside others and be there for one another. We can listen, comfort, console, affirm. It’s a way of living out the command to love one another. Recall the people who’ve been encouragers in your life. They’re the ones who were there when you thought you’d never laugh again. They were the ones who listened to you; whereas others just talked. Then ask yourself, “When was the last time I encouraged someone?” It’s not difficult, and the people you encourage are so blessed by it.

 

Let us pray; Heavenly Father, what a wonderful message is contained in this beautiful passage of Scripture. Thank you that you caused Paul to teach this glorious truth so clearly and simple, to the believers in Thessalonica. Thank you that I am a member of Christ’s body, and am not appointed to wrath - because Jesus took all the punishment that I deserve upon himself - so that I might be forgiven of my sin, and not fall under your righteous judgement. I pray that as the day for Christ’s return approaches, when he will gather his saints, both living and dead, to himself that I will ready. Thank you that this day will not come on me like a thief in the night, as it does for the unbeliever - thank you for telling us the end from the beginning. Help me to share this message of comfort and hope with those that are saved and those that are lost in their sin. For your greater glory, in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

 

September 24th     

 

Psalm 147:11

But the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.

 

With all the changes and challenges of this season that we are now in, trusting in the Lord feels less like a daily practice and more of a “moment by moment” way of being. Bring your cares, your hurts, your anxiety and give to Him. Come as often as you want. Knowing that as you come to Him, He takes great delight in you.

 

God smiles upon those who continually show up at His doorstep during "office hours." He loves it when we come to Him with our questions and our problems. When He sees that we are serious about knowing Him, honoring Him and doing His will, He pours out His favor upon us. He becomes to us "our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).

 

What does it mean to fear God? It means to exalt Him to His rightful place as God, Creator, Ruler, and Savior. To put it simply, God’s pleasure in you begins when you know who He truly is. His pleasure is completed as you place your trust in His loving care. Gather around Him. Exalt Him over all things with thanksgiving. Then, as you place your trust in Him, it will be joyful for you and for Him, too!

 

Let us pray: God I thank you for the truth in this scripture and I thank you for your unfailing love for me. Please remind me of this in every part of my day. Help me to honor you with my life and live it in reverence of you. Help me today to put my hope and trust in you alone. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

September 23rd    

 

Romans 8:17

And if children, then heirs; heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

 

It seems that suffering is all around us, doesn’t it? Every night on the news we see its evidence – robbery and murder, sickness and war. And we see it in our life and the lives of people we care about. They lose their jobs. Their marriages fall apart. They lose their children both before and after they are born. There seems to be no end to suffering.

 

And it doesn’t seem to matter what a person’s faith is, Christian or not, suffering comes. But that shouldn’t be true, right? Surely when we become a Christian when we become a child of God; our suffering should cease. God should protect us from present and future suffering shouldn’t he?

 

Paul tells us that “if we are to share in his glory, we must also share his suffering.” So we know that suffering does not separate us from God’s love. This is good news because it means that even in the midst of our suffering, God is still with us. And he will still give us the strength to deal with suffering in this life – knowing that suffering can help us to identify with and understand Jesus and his suffering just a little bit more.

 

Let us pray: Loving Father thank you for the many free gifts of grace that that have been poured out over me without measure, simply because I trusted in Jesus as savior. Sometimes I feel I should do something to deserve your favor but that would not be grace – so in humility of heart I thank you for your free gift of grace to me and to all that trust Jesus as Savior and Lord, in whose name I pray. Amen.

 

 

September 22nd  

 

Zechariah 2:8

For thus said the Lord of hosts, after his glory sent me to the nations who plundered you, for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye:

 

As the Covid-19 virus continues an upward trend these days with seemingly no end in sight and maybe a contentious presidential election, we become inclined to reach out to God for comfort, peace, and strength to help us with our fears and pretentions. So, for our devotion this day we borrow a devotion from Joni & Friends entitled The Apple of His Eye.

 

Who’s the apple of your eye? Your grandchild? Your son recently promoted? Your fiance’ with those soft eyes and tender smile? Whoever is the apple of your eye, one thing’s for certain: you love that individual with a fervent and intense love. That person gives you joy indescribable. In short, you feel something for this loved one. 

 

You are the apple of God’s eye. God feels powerful emotions when it comes to you; God’s love makes him sing and rejoice over you. But why are you so special to him? Why do you hold his affections? First, when it comes to you, his joy is not merely satisfaction over something you do, as though you had him wrapped around your little finger with that winsome way of yours. God’s joy is in his own goodness and wisdom, in the beautiful character of his Son, and in the complexity and wonder of all that he has made. His is not a complacent, lazy joy, his is the rugged joy of the warrior returning home; the admiral sailing into port, flying colors of victory; and the bone-tired, soot-faced, grinning hero carrying the child to safety from the burning building. In short, God’s joy for you is connected with something wonderful he has done. 

 

God’s joy and delight over you finds its best expression at the cross: “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16). And he watched his Son’s murder because he loves you. This means his joy and deep emotion for you is rugged, hard-won, and victorious. He is the admiral flying colors of victory over you. He’s the hero who has carried you to safety from hell’s burn. He is the joy-filled warrior who has brought you home. You are the apple of his eye.

 

Let us pray: Loving Father, with all that is going on in our country and world right now it is easy for us to throw in the towel in defeat. We feel we can’t fight any longer and so we give in. But when we turn to your eternal Word we find assurance and comfort in that you will share our burdens and fill us with hope and strength and healing because we come to know that we are the apple of your eye. Thank you for that promise. I pray this in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.

 

 

September 21st         

 

Matthew 8:26

And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?”

 

Jesus has warned us that there will be storms in our lives. Storms which quickly strike fear in us. Right now in our country, many folks are being gripped by fear. Fear of the novel coronavirus, fear of losing our social security which we have put away for when we retire, fear of the upcoming presidential election and what it could mean for us going forward, fear of the unknown. And the list goes on.

 

If we are honest, we are a lot like Jesus’ disciples on the boat in the middle of the sea when the storm suddenly came up and began swamping the boat. They became panicky and screamed for Jesus to do something. The same thing happens to us when big storms strike us. We are frightened out of our wits and beating the air for something to cling to. Then Jesus says to us like he said to his disciples, “Why are you such cowards? How little faith you have! I have appointed, created, and redeemed you for just such times as these. I am always with you. Trust me and I won’t let you down.”

 

We’d all like a problem-free life, but that’s not possible. The silver lining is that trouble can strengthen our faith in the Lord. It’s one thing to read about God’s faithfulness in His Word, but we also need to experience it in our personal life. Each time we’re able to trust the Lord during a trial, we know our faith is genuine. Our Lord is always with us amid the storms that assail us.

 

Let us pray; Heavenly Father, thank you that you are my Sovereign Lord and that you are in control of every circumstance of my life, no matter how dangerous, terrifying or impossible my position seems to be. Help me to daily abide in Christ - to rest in his love, to depend upon him in every situation in which I find myself, and to give you all my concerns and worries, in the knowledge that nothing can swamp my life, in which Christ is Captain and Lord. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

September 18th                  

 

Psalm 37:5-6

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

 

We live in a world that is stressed by commitment. We are all over-committed, and there is little time left over to commit to the Lord. Today’s reading challenges us to commit our ways to God and to trust in Him. This requires our time, time to develop our relationship with God. When trials are upon us, we can turn to God, but He desires that we commit to Him daily so that when the trials hit, we will be able to trust Him based on our relationship.

 

How much do you trust the Lord? Better yet, how much of yourself have you entrusted to the Lord? We can focus on the promised blessings the Lord longs to give us. Yet in his wisdom, God has chosen to make the release of many of these blessings dependent upon our trust in him and our asking of him. As long as we grip the steering wheel of our life, it is hard to let God take us in the direction of his blessing and his will. I saw a bumper sticker recently that put it this way: “If God is your co-pilot then you had better switch seats!” Committing our way to the Lord is offering our lives to him to do his work, to receive his blessing, and to know his presence.


We like to think we are in control. The truth is that we have very little control. What we do have control over is what we focus on. If we choose to focus on the problems of this world, they will undoubtedly be magnified. Same with money, and whatever we think we are lacking, and so on. Today let’s commit our focus to the Lord so that He will be magnified. Let’s commit our trust in Him and witness to others how He, who is bigger than our biggest fears and hang ups, brought it to pass.

  

Let us pray; Holy, Righteous, and Almighty God, everything is yours except the hearts of men and women. You have chosen that these will be yours only if we choose to voluntarily and lovingly commit to you. Dear Father, I want to commit my way, my heart, my life, my future, my abilities, my wealth, my family to you. I want to be used by you for your glory. I trust that you love me and long to give me your blessing along with your grace and salvation. I love you and thank you in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

September 17th                  


James 4:10

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

 

When we stand in the presence of the Lord, we should do so with humility because by doing that we acknowledge our unworthiness to come before Him because of our many sins. To humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord means to recognize our spiritual poverty, as well as to acknowledge our desperate need of God’s help and to submit to do all His commands. Humility is the only appropriate and acceptable attitude we can have before the Lord. This truth is taught throughout Scripture. James mentions it earlier in verse 6 –  “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

  

God will never resist the humble, those who acknowledge his might and sovereignty. We are to humble ourselves before Him. We are to exalt and lift up the name of the Lord. It doesn’t mean that we should feel a sense of unworthiness towards ourselves so that God would never accept us. God loves and accepts us all as we are, and as we humble ourselves before Him, He will lift us up and make our lives significant.

 

God can’t do much through someone who has a haughty nature. If we think too highly of ourselves and our abilities, we won’t feel the need to rely on God. A humble person knows they need God’s help and gives all credit to God. So, cast off the haughty attitude and exalt the Lord with humble gratitude.

 

Let us pray; Heavenly Father, thank you that you have so clearly set out the criteria for your children to humble ourselves before your throne of grace and for the promise that when we are ready and willing to humble ourselves before You... in your grace you will lift us up and set our feet on the Rock of our salvation. Keep my heart pure before you and use me as a channel of your goodness and grace to others This I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

 

September 16th                  


Isaiah 65:24

Before they call, I will answer; while they are yet speaking, I will hear.

 

When you first read this passage, it seems somewhat strange. How can someone answer before the call comes in? It is above our understanding. But this is God we are talking about. And anything is possible with God. The human mind cannot begin to comprehend the ways of our Lord. He has no bounds; there is no limit to His understanding and knowledge! There is no place He hasn’t been or anything He hasn’t considered! He knows all . . . past, present and future. That’s an interesting thought. He knows everything past, present and future. 

 

God knows us so well. He knows our needs even before we know them. He also knows the desires of our hearts. So why do we worry? We even think He doesn’t know what is going on in our lives. We pray and totally expect the answer to be on the way. We should be waiting in expectation for the answer to come. I think sometimes we pray and maybe we don’t really do it expecting Him to answer. We need to be earnest in believing he will answer us. Earnest means sincere. We are encouraged to be earnest in believing that our prayers will be answered by the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, God.

 

So, when the Lord says, “before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” we know that He has already heard the call and seen the need before we even knew it existed. It’s true! “Your Father knows what things you have need of, even before you ask him.” 

 

Let us pray; Heavenly Father, what a comfort and joy to know that you know and understand the deepest longings of our heart. Thank you that you know the end before the beginning and hear and answer the prayers of your people before the request forms in our heart or crosses our lips. Thank you for beautifying our requests and providing the answer that is best for us. Teach me to pray into your will for my life and align my heart’s desires to your perfect will. This I ask in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

 

 

September 15th                  


Psalm 29:11

May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!

 

God knows all about us and what we will be dealing with way before we do and he is quick to come to our rescue at any time. Each of us have felt alone or abandoned when our world is shattered by bad news.   

  

In these times when darkness overshadows our circumstances and we can’t see the hope we so desperately need God comes into the center of our pain and weakness and faithfully holds us up. He comes in the way that He knows we will respond and receive. His resources are endless. God can and will use whatever method necessary to reach us. It may be a phone call or a letter or email from a friend. It may be a stranger on the street who speaks the life-giving words we need in that moment. It may be that his Holy Spirit visits us and reveals his awesome presence of love and acceptance. The times God has revealed himself to me when I was in a place of despair or fear are immeasurable.   

 

We live in a world where we need constant restoration. Our energy is zapped by the drama and chaos built into everyday life. God is never bothered by our need for him; he desires it. He is a God who rushes to our defense and loves us wholeheartedly and without condition. The strength and peace God gives refreshes and renews us. It lights up the way and helps us to hope again. Nobody knows what you need like God does, not even yourself. He is your Creator and he created you for a specific purpose.  He wants us to depend on him and trust him for our tomorrows.

 

Let us pray; Loving Father, you have never failed me in the past and I trust you in the future to be my stronghold and my peace, for you are my Lord and my God, and I love you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

 

September 14th                  


Romans 5:1

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

The first thing that a person learns as a Christian is that you are justified by faith. Before the Law was given, Abraham was justified by faith. He was declared to be acceptable to God. He was God’s friend. Abraham didn’t earn that. He was given that right at the beginning of his relationship with God, when he believed God. That is what faith means. When Abraham believed that God could and would do what he had promised, Abraham was declared the friend of God and he entered into that close relationship with God that characterized his life. That is what it means to be justified by faith. You receive this with no merit on your part, but by faith alone, by believing God’s promise, according to the work of his Son. That is justification.

 

Then, Paul says, there is a way by which you can test whether you really do believe that and have been justified by faith: Since we have been justified by faith, the sure result is that we have peace with God. As you think about your life and your relationship with God, if you really believe that God justifies the ungodly, you will have peace with God. You are in the family of God. All the conflict between you and God is ended; you are at peace with him.

 

If you do not have that sense of peace, the way to get it back is not by working on your feelings but by reviewing your justification. Go over the facts again, remind yourself of what God has declared. Then your faith is restored and you can handle these doubts and fears. If you have peace with God, you have an answer to the accusation of your own conscience when you sin. Many young Christians, in the glory and first flush of love in their relationship with the Lord, really think that they are not going to sin again. They cannot imagine going back and doing some of the things they once did. But eventually they will be back doing some of those things. Perhaps they will not go back to all that they did formerly, but they will fall back. What do you say to your accusing conscience that says to you then, Are you a Christian? Could you possibly be a Christian and act like this? That is where justification by faith comes in. You remind yourself: My standing and my acceptance by God does not depend upon me. Even my sin doesn’t cancel it out. The whole essence of this truth is that God has found a way to put aside my sin, by faith in the work of his beloved Son on my behalf. In that truth, Lord, I confess my sin, and put my trust in you.

 

Let us pray; Loving Father, how wonderful to know that I have peace with you through faith in Christ Jesus and that the wrath that should have been poured out on me because of my sin, was poured out on your only begotten Son - who willingly took the punishment that I deserved, so that I could have peace with you forever. Thank you for your grace and mercy towards me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

 

September 11th        

 

Romans 8:28

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

 

On this 9/11 we mark the remembrance of the terrorist attacks in our country. The scenes from all the areas where the planes hit were both horrifying and terrifying. Those are pictures that are etched in our memory forever. We will never forget. A question that seems to come up in discussions every once in a while “Where were you when 9/11 happened?” Maybe it’s because we all realize that, though we may not have known it at the time, almost all of us now remember vividly what we were doing the moment we found out about the horrific terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Do you?

 

We see the footage of the plans flying into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. We continue to be reminded of the many men and women firefighters and police and other people who raced putting their lives in danger’s way to save the lives of others. That footage has been seared into our minds and we can still see it. It brings chills to our bodies just thinking about it, even though we were hundreds of miles away from New York City. It always leaves us with a sense of awe and wonder at our great country’s connectedness as we meet people years after September 11, 2001 and we have talked about where we were and what went through our minds on that day. On the anniversary of this tragic day, we may know why so many of us recall 9/11 so vividly and why it has impacted us so greatly: it’s the power of a shared experience. We are reminded that even tragedies and terrible disasters, whether man made or acts of God, have great power to unite people and to dispel differences. That my friends is why America is so amazing, when something like 9/11 happens, people from Los Angeles and people from rural Montana and people from New York City and everywhere else come together. That is truly amazing. And truly beautiful.


And we can’t forget that this also applies to the Christian faith. No matter your faith journey, no matter how you came to find Jesus, no matter how windy your road, as believers, we are all sons and daughters of God and we have a shared experience that is more monumental than anything else. At some point in time we all made the same decision and we are all on the same road, with the same Savior leading us. There may be a lot of tragedy, a lot of suffering, a lot of sin in our world. We see it in obvious ways like the evil that was carried out on September 11, 2001, and we see it in more subtle ways in our own hearts, but we can rejoice because God’s Word tells us that He is greater than all of it. Christ has overcome the world and the sin that weighs it -- and us -- down.

 

Let us pray; Holy God, Creator of all people and all nations, It is with sorrow and apprehension we remember the tragic events that occurred on this day. We lift to you in prayer all those who died In the Twin Towers, at the Pentagon, and on United Airlines Flight 93 in Shankesville, Pennsylvania. We entrust them to your loving care. Console their families, friends, and all who mourn this loss in the hope that all who trust in you find peace and rest in Your Kingdom. We pray for those who courageously responded to provide aid and comfort to the afflicted. May their painful memories of that day be healed and transformed into strength and positive resolution. We also pray for ourselves as we seek your strength and guidance. We live in the aftermath of this tragedy and under the shadow of future acts of aggression; we stand in need of your assistance. Let us resolve that we never regard forgiveness as weakness, but rather as a source of strength in our lives and in our world. And, let us honor the memory of nearly 3,000 individuals who died on September 11, 2001 by resolving, with your help Almighty God, to truly live this way so you may be glorified and your love made known to others through us. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen

 

 

September 10th                 


1 Peter 1:6-7

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith -- more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire -- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

 

We live in a world where people are made fun of and sometimes beaten for standing up for their faith. Thus, it sends a feeling of fear in the heart. There are Christians who have faced and are even now confronted with trials and tribulations that we cannot even begin to imagine or be able to relate to. We can’t even process what it would feel like to be tortured relentlessly on account of our faith in Christ. It is difficult to try to put ourselves in the shoes of someone who suffers persecution and torture. However, this passage from 1 Peter speaks directly to our wandering heart and rebukes then restores our vision for the value of trials.

 

We rejoice in God’s great mercy, we rejoice in the living hope that we have in that Jesus was resurrected from the dead, we rejoice in our inheritance that is being kept in heaven for us, we rejoice that God himself is guarding and sustaining our faith till the end. It is so important for us to understand the purpose and the message of these verses in 1 Peter 1:6-7, our trials are not meaningless, fruitless, or unknown to God. In fact, the words if necessary reveal that our trials are not unknown to God but rather they are planned and allowed by him for a good reason. The reason may never be known to us while we are on earth, but what we do know is what the scripture says. Trials do two things; they test the genuineness of our faith so that our faith is either proven to be true or fictitious, and if true they make our faith valuable and honorable in the sight of God. The passage speaks of gold that is tested by fire and John Calvin said this about it, “..for if gold, a corruptible metal, is deemed of so much value that we prove it by fire, that it may become really valuable, what wonder is it that God should require a similar trial as to faith, since faith is deemed by him so excellent?”

 

It is by faith we are saved. The quality of our faith is important to God and the beautiful thing about it is that he doesn’t expect us to purify it and make it of worth on our own efforts. We are commanded to make every effort to supplement our faith with godly virtues, and there is a responsibility to persevere in this. God has granted to us all that we need to do well in following his commands.


Let us pray; Thank you Father that I have been given a new birth and a living hope through the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. As I am being prepared for the coming glories of my heavenly home, help me to rejoice in my future hope despite the distresses of life’s various trials - knowing that you have promised to keep me by your mighty power. I give you all glory and honor. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

 

September 9th                  

 

Revelation 2:10

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

 

Jesus knows his church communities completely. He knows our strengths and weaknesses. He also knows our sufferings. We are never to forget that our times are in God’s hands, and until our work on earth is done, He will keep us, no matter what difficulties and dangers prevail. We will be tested and tried, just as those saints in Smyrna were tested and tried, but those that remain faithful to the point of death have been promised a crown of life

 

In his letter to the church in Smyrna, Jesus reveals that he knew the afflictions of his followers there. He also knew that their suffering of injustices would grow worse. He composed this short letter to give hope and encouragement to their church community. Suffering even more for their faith in Jesus would not be easy. Jesus described the enemies of the church as followers of Satan, the great deceiver who wants to destroy God’s people and all of God’s creation. Some of the Christians in Smyrna would be put in prison, Jesus said, and they would suffer persecution. John himself was being punished for his faith by being exiled to Patmos. Some others, like Polycarp of Smyrna, who was taught by John, were later executed for speaking out, teaching that Jesus is the Lord and Savior of the world. Like those early Christians, we too are called to “be faithful, even to the point of death.”

 

Suffering tests the character and strength of our faith in Jesus. We may also suffer terrible illness, grief, or financial loss—and find that it challenges our faith. But Jesus says, “Do not be afraid,” because, even though our enemy, the devil, may seem to have the upper hand, God will give us life forever with him. May each of us be faithful to the point of death knowing that in the end, we have been promised the crown of life.

 

Let us pray; Thank you, Father, for the wonderful encouragement we receive from the saints in Smyrna. I pray that I may be faithful to the point of death and receive that promised, crown of life. Thank you, that no matter how weak we may be and how intense the fight we face, none of your children need fear the attacks of the enemy, for you are with us in every eventuality of life. Thank you, that I know Jesus as my Lord and Savior and have an assurance of the resurrection of the dead. I pray that I may be faithful in the trials that lay ahead and be worthy to fellowship in his suffering, for his praise and glory. Thank you, that Christ died for me and rose again, so that I may live with him eternally. In His name I pray. Amen.

 

 

September 8th                  

 

Luke 11:9-10

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

 

This passage speaks of persistence in prayer. We are to not give up because if we do not, the reward will be great. “Keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking.” There is a progression here that’s more than an invitation to continually pray. Jesus describes an intensification in our prayers: Be fervent in them; be passionate in your prayers. Pray big! Pray bold! Pray bigger! Pray bolder! Seeking is doing more than asking. Knocking is doing more than seeking.

 

The words ask, seek, and knock Jesus used in these verses indicate an ascending intensity. When we ask, we realize our need and ask God for help. It would imply being humble and maybe even somewhat low-key about it. The next word, seek, denotes asking plus action. It involves effort. Last, the word knock implies asking plus action plus persevering. It’s the idea of pounding on a closed door. We aren’t taking no for an answer. If we will pray like this, then we will see more answers in the affirmative.

     

Making these three “command-promise” couplets even more sure, Jesus adds three more statements of certainty. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” These are absolutes. There are no exceptions. Those who genuinely ask, seek, or knock can go on their way by faith, knowing that the Lord will be doing a thorough work of His Spirit in them.

 

Let us pray; Lord Jesus, I ask that these words may come with fresh and vital meaning to my heart; that there are things I need to ask for and take immediately from your hand, others that I need to seek for, still others for which I need to knock and wait, and knock again, knowing that in every case without exception your word is sure. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

 

 

September 7th                  


Matthew 11:28

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

 

Today is Labor Day in the United States. It is a day known for taking a break from work. For most Americans, it means family BBQs, swim time, beach time, shopping time or camping time. Labor Day traditionally marks the end of summer. It also typically means back to school and back to football season, all of which will be a little different this year because of the novel Coronavirus.

 

The end of another summer season is now upon us. Before we know it, Christmas will be here and 2020 will be history. How has your year measured up so far? How has your “work” for the Lord come along? Now is as good of time as any to examine how each one of us is doing – how much are we listening to God by reading His word? How many times have we shared the gospel message? How are the things we do and the choices we make reflecting God’s glory and brining Him honor?

 

Happy Labor Day. I hope you will find some time today to simply rest in the comfort of God’s word. It is refreshing and will satisfy each and every one of you.

 

Let us pray; Lord, I want to say thank you for this day of rest. Help me to turn off distractions and find true sabbath through my relationship with you. Show me how to live a life that is focused on your purpose in my work and in my rest. Work is not always easy but I know you gave it to us to honor you. God, help me to see work as your creation designed to give me purpose, fulfillment, and to be a light in the world. May my work matter not just to my business and company but to your Kingdom. Renew my strength in my workplace and help me to remember that I am to work with all my heart as for you! I pray this in Jesus’ holy name. Amen

 

 

September 3rd                 

 

Zephaniah 3:17

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 by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

 

So often in our lives it seems that we are plugging along alone. We might complain the God has abandoned us or that he is in a far-off place. As a Christian though, we should know that our Father in Heaven will, “Never leave us nor forsake us!” But sometimes we all need that slap-in-the-face-gust-of-wind-fall-on-our-bottom reminder that God has us in the palms of His hands. Literally!! He is our knight in shining armor, always armed with His grace to forgive us and His mercy to shield us from the constant accusations of the enemy.

 

Our Father in heaven delights in mending us and bringing us restored in His resplendent image. When the cruelty of life tears us apart into crumbly pieces, He comes swiftly in a frenzied haze to mend the soul suffocating and heart-wrenching pain that is too difficult for us to endure.

 

God is with us! That’s the great message of the story of Jesus. That’s the message of hope Zephaniah gives the defeated people of God. A message he gives us today. God is among us. He is mighty to save. He loves us. He delights in us. He stills the storms of our hearts with his loving touch. He sings us lullabies of joy. God longs to be close to us and invites us to draw near. What will your response be?

 

Let us pray; Loving Father, I am not worthy to be in your presence and yet you are my strength and my Savior. Thank you, Lord, that your love can quiet our hearts and minds and silence all those confusing voices and sounds of the world filled with anxiety and fear. Baptize us in your peace today! As long as we know that you love us, we’ll be safe and secure. Thank you, Father. In Jesus’ name. Amen.