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What If…?

silhouette of person sitting below cross
 

So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6)
 
It was the most contentious election in the history of the United States of America.  The issues divided the nation.  The news mocked and derided the candidates.  Lines were drawn.  If the election went one way there was sure to be more violence.  Of course, I’m talking about the election of 1864, when Abraham Lincoln faced off against George McClellan and was re-elected as president of our country.

This year’s election was no picnic.  As I write, the results are still not known.  I hear a lot of people asking “What if…?”

What if the “Green New Deal” isn’t engaged…and what if it is?  What if policies cause me to lose my job?  What if the stock market goes down?  What if my taxes go up?  What if there is violence in the streets?  What if the elected president cannot fulfill his term?  What if there are more COVID mandates?  What if this election ends up in the hands of the Supreme Court?  What if…?

“What if” can truly eat us up.  The unknown is frightening.  We like certainty.

  • What if God didn’t love me?  But He does!
  • What if God never sent His Son to save us?  But He did!
  • What if Jesus came into this world, but didn’t take my sin to the cross?  But He did!
  • What if there was nothing else, but this mortal, uncertain life?  But there is!
  • What if I didn’t have faith in Jesus?  But you do!

Because you have faith in Jesus you can weather any challenge that comes your way.  It doesn’t mean that God will make sure your plans are always carried out.  It does mean that He will use all things to bring you closer to Him in faith and closer to others in love.  You can be certain of that!
 
Prayer: King of kings, we pray for those who won their election, asking that they would be given hearts that are inclined to Your will and Your Word.  Give them courage for their duties and strength to carry them out.  Give to our nation peace and unity, that we may live out our freedoms with respect for those who serve us in office and care for our fellow citizens.  We ask this in the name of the One who certainly loves us and prepares a perfect place for us in heaven.  Amen.


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Picking Rocks

brown wooden barn on green grass field under white clouds during daytime
 
But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith. Philippians 1:24-25
 
We picked rocks for a week on our farm every spring.  It was the dullest job imaginable.  You walk all day through the field picking up rocks about the size of a softball. It took us a week to do all the fields. My mother said that if, after 10 minutes of picking rocks, there was anything about this job that either amused you or confused you, then there was something wrong with you.
 
Some jobs just don’t end, though the pleasure of the job left long ago. Service can be doing the same job, for the sake of someone else, over and over again. Paul knew about that. He was in prison when he wrote to the Philippians. He wanted to be done, to die, and be with Christ in heaven, Philippians 1:21-23.  That would be much better than remaining on earth, especially being arrested in Rome.
 
But for the sake of the Philippians and other Christians, Paul stayed. He remained for approximately five more years after this imprisonment. He traveled extensively throughout the Mediterranean, strengthening the churches before his final, martyr’s death.
 
Perhaps your service is like Paul’s and bit like picking rocks. You would be glad to be done, but you keep on for the sake of others. Others might not even know what it is you’re doing for them. That’s all right as the Father in heaven knows what you do. Also you know that the service you do now won’t go on forever. We will, like Paul, be done at some time and depart to be with Christ which is far better. For now, the work goes on. But soon enough, our last job will be done and we’ll be home.

Our heavenly Father, give us the strength and persistence to continue the work that seems to never end. Remind us that we’re doing this for others and for you. Assure us that there is an end in your sight and you will give us eternal rest when you take us to yourself.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Election Day

flag of U.S.A.
 

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
(I Timothy 2:1-4)
 
Tomorrow is a very important day in the life of our nation, our state and our communities.  “Election Day” provides us with the right to join our fellow citizens as we choose those who will lead and govern us.  Not every nation provides its citizens this privilege.

This year it seems there is more conversation concerning the election and the candidates for our nation’s highest office.  Both campaigns label this as the “most important election of our time.”  Polls have attempted to predict the outcome of the election, yet both campaigns remind us that nothing is for certain.

I can, with all certainty, tell you who will win tomorrow’s election!  A SINNER!  Yes, whoever wins the election is a sinner.  This is why St. Paul reminds Timothy and each of us to pray for all who are in high positions.  We need to pray for them because they are sinful. 

  • First of all, we will pray that our president trusts the Lord for his salvation.  Again, Paul writes, This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 
  • Second, we pray that our president will be given the wisdom to conduct the business of our nation that we may, as Paul wrote, lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 
  • Third, we pray that our president would seek the will of the Lord in all matters that will impact our life and living. 
  • Fourth, we pray that our president be given such a spirit that he will govern us with integrity and honor.

Take your faith into the voting booth.  Vote your Christian conscience.  But remember, whoever wins this contest will be your president, whether you voted for him or not.  He needs your prayers. 
 
Prayer: Lift up among us, O Lord, godly men and women to lead and govern our communities and our nation.  Give them such hearts and minds that they would always seek Your will and Your way.  Remind us to pray for these leaders, always commending them into Your precious care and keeping.  I pray this in the name of Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords.  Amen.


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Built on the Rock

cross silhouette on mountain during golden hour
 
The apostle Matthew records Jesus identifying two different foundations. Through this pandemic, the two foundations are quite visible. The first is how someone tried building a house on top of sand.  As the Scriptures mention, Jesus was a carpenter. Therefore, Jesus would understand how and where to build a house. Jesus, Himself, said “…a foolish man builds his house upon sand.” Earlier in that verse, Jesus said, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” The point of this passage is for us to see we could gather together, and call it church, but if Christ is not faithfully taught and received, then it is not Church. However, once the storms of life roar, its very foundation will crumble and rupture. The book of Isaiah states “…when the enemy shall come in like a flood.”  Satan, the enemy, is known to strike when we least expect him, as stated in 1 Peter 5:8 which reads, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” This means we must be prepared for the storms of life by grounding our faith in Jesus Christ and as Psalm 62:6 states, “He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.”  Jesus is ultimately our rock in which we should be build our life upon. Therefore, we remember what Romans 12:12 says, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Through patience, faithfulness, and a regular reading of Scriptures, the Lord defends us on the solid rock foundation which will help us when the storms of life come upon us. We habitually check-up on our earthly house, so also, we should be checking up and improving the structure of our faith life.  During these uncertain  times, we need to root ourselves in Jesus, the true, unchanging, vine, and trust the Lord above all things, instead of hoping things will lead me back to God and Finally, a crucial aspect of family is to take time focusing on the Holy Scriptures.  
 
Prayer:  Dear Heavenly Father, During these times of uncertainty, grant us wisdom and guidance. O Lord, as we read and study Your Word, help us to live our life in a way that is pleasing to you. Help ground our feet into Jesus with His innocent payment for our sins on the cross. Only through your Son, Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen. 

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Faithful Unto Death

God is Faithful signage with leaved background
 
“Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.”   Revelation 2:10 

That’s a familiar passage, maybe even your confirmation verse.  Does it comfort you, or does it frighten you?  Have you been faithful?  Will you be faithful unto death? 

The DIY (Do It Yourself) response lowers the bar and rationalizes that you haven’t cheated on your husband or your taxes or your golf game.  Well, scratch that last one at least.  But then your conscience reminds you that you’ve been more generous with yourself than people who need your help, that you’ve left a lot of witness opportunities unanswered, that your prayer life makes God more a distant uncle than a loving Father.  The more mature your faith, the more likely that your conscience bothers you about the good things you haven’t done, not just the bad things you have done.  Think about friends who no longer worship and how senior dementia seems to expose some of our worst traits, and being faithful unto death seems less certain. God’s law demands perfect faithfulness, and we aren’t close.  A young Martin Luther understood that, and he was terrified.

Reformation reminds us that Luther found the answer for his conscience in the Gospel.  Not our righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ attributed to our status with God is our comfort.  Not what we’ve failed to do, but what Jesus accomplished perfectly with his life, death and resurrection is our comfort.  Not our faithfulness, but the faithfulness of God to his nature and his promises is our comfort.  2 Timothy 2:13 reads: “If we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.”  Like the father in Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son, God never stops loving us and forgiving us.  Like the shepherd in Jesus’ parable of the Lost Sheep, he searches for his wandering children relentlessly.  HE remains faithful.

One more thing.  The Holy Spirit who brought you to faith preserves you in faith unto death, through his Word and Sacrament.  And it is simple faith in Jesus your Savior that defines real FAITHfulness.  The more time you spend in the Gospel, the more comforted you are about your death.  Thank God for his faithfulness while he and you work on your faithfulness.
 
Make me honest, Lord, with myself and with you, so that in repentance I can quit pretending to be good and can find in your goodness my comfort.  Increase my faith, Lord, so that in your grace I can lose my fears and worries.  Open my eyes, Lord, to the many ways I can express my gratitude to you with a life that faithfully reflects your love – for the sake of my Savior Jesus.  Amen.

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