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Drawn to Jesus

book on top of table and body of water
“Now is the judgment of this world; now with the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:31-32)
It’s about that time of the year when we need to get out the bug spray to keep away all the ticks, mosquitoes, flies, and other bugs which are drawn to us.  Those pesky bugs keep us from enjoying our time outside; instead of watching a beautiful sunset, we spend our time swatting away to hordes of mosquitoes.  Bugs are just drawn to us.

We are drawn to things, too.  We are drawn to good and pretty things.  We are drawn to tasty and attractive things.  Jesus makes a distinction between the things that draw us in.  There is the ruler of this world, who is trying to draw us into slavery and judgment.  Satan is working hard to enslave us to our passions, desires, and feelings.  Satan is spraying on a perfume to draw us to thinking his kind of thoughts.

But Jesus has brought judgment upon the darkness.  Jesus has cast out Satan.  Jesus has drawn all people to himself.  How?  By going to the cross.  He was lifted up on the cross, so that all the world would see.  He gave his life, so that all people could have true life.  Jesus has provided the thing we desperately need: peace.  And His peace drawn us to Him.

Who needs to know they have peace in Jesus?  Who needs to be drawn in?  Take today to pray for those in your life who need be been drawn, like a bug, to the blood of Jesus.  He will welcome them with open arms.

Father in Heaven, You gave Your Son Jesus, to draw all people to Yourself in love and grace. Draw us to You each and every day, as we live in this world, and guide us to use our lives to draw others to Jesus as well. In the name of Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we boldly pray; AMEN.


The Word of God You Never Hear

person's hand holding book page
You’ve heard the Word of God preached in church and read in a Bible app. You’ve heard the
Word of God taught in confirmation class and discussed in Bible classes. You’ve heard it sung
by choirs. You’ve heard a lot of the Word of God. Because you’re a Christian, you’ve forgiven
boring preachers and teachers and asked forgiveness for your own boredom as you listened.
Because you’re a Christian, you’ve grown in your understanding and appreciation of God’s
Word, discovering in its repetition new insights and old assurances. But have you ever thought
You never hear God speak to a meteor hurtling through space and by that word deflect it from a
collision course with planet earth. You never hear God tell the solar system to continue its
orbits, the winds to blow, the birds to return and the seeds to sprout so that winter in Wisconsin
is not a permanent condition. You know from Scripture that Jesus commanded a storm to
silence, that God stopped the earth’s rotation so that Joshua could complete his victory in the
valley of Ajalon, and that he commanded the Red Sea to part for Israel’s escape from Egypt. But
you have never heard the word of God that controls nature.
Hebrews 1:3 says of Jesus: “He upholds the universe by the word of his power.” We speak of
the “laws of nature” to describe the recurring forces and processes that sustain life and preserve
the cosmos. “Laws of nature” – that’s a rather mechanical term. Does nature make laws
governing itself? And if these are truly laws, doesn’t someone need to enforce them and – when
necessary – suspend them? You have heard the Word of God we know as moral law. You have
never heard the word of God we know as natural law. But that’s how your universe is preserved.
Jesus said that God “makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and
on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45) Jesus said that your heavenly Father feeds the birds (Matthew
6:26) and that none of them dies apart from the Father’s will (Matthew 10:29). When God no
longer speaks his preserving, sustaining word, the end of the world will come.
It’s so easy to take for granted the so-called “laws of nature,” to lose our wonder at the power,
the beauty, the intricacy of creation. Hebrews 1:3 urges us to listen for the word of God we
never hear in the sound of the wind in the trees, or thunder in the skies, or crickets in the grass.
When you know that the Father who adopted you into his family at the cost of his Son preserves
the world with his word, when you know that the Savior who died for you rose to sustain all
things in your best interest, not only will you appreciate your world more, but you will fear it
less. . . pandemics included.
PRAYER: Thank you, Lord, for speaking our world into existence at creation and
sustaining this world for our benefit each day. Thank you more for revealing yourself as
our Father and our Savior in the Word you inspired as Scripture. Comfort us with the
assurance that you govern our world; and comfort us still more with the promise that
you’ll love us forever for Jesus’ sake. Amen.


Be Still and Know

shallow focus photography of open book beside blue ceramic cup
Psalm 46:10-11  Be still and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!  The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

God has a lot of competition in this world.  There are even times when He has competition in our lives.  What is it for many?  For some, their own intellect supersedes God.  For others, their talent replaces God.  For still others, it may be their accumulation of possessions, their positions of power, their achievements and success, their own perception of indispensability. 

In Psalm 46, we are reminded that God utters His voice and the earth melts.  We are told that God makes wars cease to the ends of the earth, that He breaks the bow and shatters the spear.  He gives us these assurances not to win the competitions. He gives us these assurances out of love, and to comfort us when we realize that we have been wrong about whatever else might be God.

In the First Commandment we are told, “You shall have no other gods.”  That’s law.  God has earned the right to demand this of us because of Who He is and because of what He has done for us.  But wrapped in this commandment is a fatherly gift, given for our own good.  Why should we have no other gods?  Because they will all fail.  Intellect, talent, power, success, popularity, indispensability, all of these will fail in truly being God, in truly giving what only God can give.

In our society today and the circumstances in which we’re living, amid confusion and fear, we realize many things.  Perhaps one of the most important realizations is that we are not God, and that nothing we have is greater than God.  “Be still and know that I am God.” 

Prayer: O Lord God, we confess that in our lives we often find things to compete with you as God, and in our world, so many alternatives are found.  Comfort us with the certainty that you are God, the Lord of Hosts who is with us, the God of Jacob who is our fortress.  Amen.


Finding Peace

green ceramic mug beside book

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 5:1

Peace.  Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and think of what peace would look like in your life.  Is it hard to imagine?  No stress, no chaos.  Sleep…plenty of restful, uninterrupted sleep.  Relationships with family and friends that are healthy and whole.  A calendar that has plenty of time for relaxation and fun.  A checkbook with a cushion for life’s surprises.

Ok, back to reality!  Peace seems so elusive doesn’t it?  Anxiety – that I can picture.  Craziness _ that I can point you to in my life.  But peace?

Then again, maybe we’re looking at this the wrong way.  And maybe, just maybe, the kind of peace that we need happens in the middle of the stress and chaos, the anxiety and the craziness.

Paul want us to know that we have peace with God.  Because we’ve been justified by grace through faith, we are no longer enemies of God.  By His death and resurrection, Jesus has made us right with God!  The Creator of the Universe is on our side; the Lord of all calls us “friend.”

Does that mean the chaos and stress disappear?  Nope.  “In this world you will have trouble” says Jesus, “but behold I have overcome the world!”

Peace in the midst of chaos.  That’s what we have.  And that peace with God puts the chaos in perspective: it can separate me from God’s love.  So, at the end of the day, I can rest my head on my pillow knowing that I am good with God.   It is well with my soul.  And that is all I need.
Merciful Father, sometimes I’d like for you to take all of the chaos and stress out of my life.  And yet I know that it’s that chaos and stress that you often use to draw me closer to You.  Give me strength to endure whatever troubles I face, and in the midst of those troubles, give me the peace that passes all understanding, the peace that comes from knowing Jesus my Savior.  And in this world of trouble, point my heart always to that Place where troubles will be no more. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


God’s Love Is a Gift

Love scrabble tiles on book page

1 Peter 1:22-23. Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding Word of God.
In our society, no matter when we grew up, we have learned that if we want something, we have to work to get it. Perhaps a memory you had growing up was expressing to a parent that there was something you wanted. But instead of your parent just going out and getting it for you, they suggested that you work for it. Maybe they told you to save the money you get from doing chores, or to go mow some lawns in the neighborhood, or even get a job. After all, that’s how we get the things we want. We work for them. I teach at a college. Suppose a student came up to me and said, “I want an A in your class.” “Done,” I might reply. “You’ve got it!” No, probably not. Instead, I’d tell them to work hard, do all the assignments, study, read, and all the rest. You’ll get what you want if you work for it.
But there’s another influence in our lives as well. When it comes to the most important thing we could have, we know that it comes freely, as a gift. That you and I are destined for eternal life is not a result of how hard we work or how much good we’ve done. It comes as a result of God’s love for us, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the gift of faith that God gives. So that while we operate in one way when it comes to getting things in this world, you and I understand another way when it comes to the gifts of God.
So, why is it that we love others, serve others, do good for others? According to societal rules, it’s so that we’ll get something out of it. If I do good for someone else, then perhaps he or she will do something good back to me. But those aren’t our rules, and they weren’t Peter’s in our reading. The reason we love, serve, do good for others is not because we are earning good from them or from God. It is a natural response to God for all that He has given to us. We love, serve, do good, because we have been born again through the living and abiding Word of God. God has given, we respond with love toward Him and others.

Prayer: Gracious Lord, may we be motivated daily in our love and service toward others not by what we might gain, but by the love you have already shown. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.