Verse of the Week-Pastor David

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1/28/2023

29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. – Rom 8:29-30

Terri and I just read this as part of our morning devotions.  I have a note after it in my Bible that simply says, “Past Tense!”  Take a close look at it again.  Our conforming to the image of His Son is still in our future.  That is on the last day, at the resurrection.  But the other verbs are all past tense.  We have been predestined, justified, glorified.

This is awesome!  We know that we were predestined before time.  We know that we were justified when Christ died for us and rose again.  But glorified?!  Yes!  We have been glorified in our Baptism.  God has made us His own child in our Baptism.  We have been given our salvation and received the Holy Spirit.  We have been raised to new life in Jesus Christ!  What could be more glorious than that?!

But we must also remember that this is a “now and not yet.”  Our glory is not complete.  For our bodies have yet to be glorified.  That will come on the last day, when “we are conformed to the image of His Son.”  Then the process of our glorification will be complete – body and soul.

We pray – Dearest Lord, thank You for calling me to be Your own, for justifying me with Your death and resurrection, and for glorifying me in my baptism.  Help me to live as a glorified child of God until that day You return and glorify my body also.  In Your Holy Name we pray. – Amen 

12/6/2022

I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. – Psalm 56:12

I was struck by this verse this morning, not because I was supposed to read it, but because my devotional book skipped it.  Just this verse.  This struck me as odd.  Why did they skip just this one verse?

Well, as Lutherans, I think we are sometimes too quick to skip a verse like this.  We often don’t think about what we should do for God.  We like to talk in terms of what He is done for us – the gifts He has given us.  And this is right on!  That should be our focus!  

But those gifts should result in a response also.  When I was a child my parents tried furiously to instill a habit in me of always sending a thank you card when someone gave me a gift.  Sadly, it is one place they failed to instill good manners in me.  But giving thanks is the appropriate response.  And it is the appropriate response to God also.

Now obviously God enjoys a good thank you prayer.  But what are the “thank offerings” He wants.  Psalm 51 tells us, ” The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart…”  God wants us to understand that we need Him!  (And to act like it)

But we can also “pay it forward.”  God has put us here on this earth to care for His creation – especially one another.  In Galatians He tells us, “And let us not grow weary of doing good…”

So, in this Advent season, give thanks to God, by sharing His gifts with others.  In this way you will “perform your vows” and “render thank offerings.”

We Pray – Dearest Lord, we thank You for all of the incredible gifts You have given us – especially those given through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.  Help us to always be thankful. – Amen.

Pastor David

12/19/2022

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,  1 Peter 3:15

I pulled this verse in response not to a Biblical passage but a quote from a book I read this week.  The quote was targeting Pastors, but I think it applies to all Christians who hope to be able to “make a defense” or to represent Christ in their daily lives.  The quote is from a man named David Larson and it says, “We cannot represent God if we have not stood before God.”  He is saying that we cannot make a defense, or live in a way that represents God, if we don’t know who God is and what He thinks.  And the only place He has revealed that to us is in His Holy Word.

His Word is where we learn who God is.  His Word is where we learn what His will is.  We cannot live in His will, we cannot make a defense for our hope, unless we go to where He has revealed Himself.

But this is not a burden, it is a privilege, an honor!  Have you ever received a letter from a loved one that you read over and over again?  Is there a favorite book or movie you read/watch over and over again?  I know I have read The Lord of the Rings series at least 3 times.  But, I am very glad that I can say I have read through the Bible many more times.

Why would we not read the greatest love letter we have ever received over and over again?  Why not read the “greatest story ever told” over and over again?  Why would we not want to hear from the love of our lives, God, each and every day.

It is right there, on your shelf.  Maybe dusty, maybe not.  It is in the Portals of Prayer.  It is in the Treasury of Daily Prayer.  It is in innumerable devotional materials.  And it is at Church every Sunday where Pastor, the Elders, and I will read it to you.  Pick it up!  Go to Church longing to hear it!  God has a Word for you!  God wants to speak to you!  Jesus is speaking, preaching, praying, teaching!!!!!  He who has ears, let Him hear!  He who has eyes, let him see!  

Dearest Lord, bless us through Your grace with a longing, a yearning, to hear and read Your Word.  For You are in Your Word.  Train us through Your Word to represent You in all we do and in who we are.  In Your Holy Name we pray. - Amen

Pastor David

 

11/20/2022

so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  – Matt. 5:45

 

This verse came up in our Adult Bible Study on Wednesday and it has been on my mind since.  I guess because I recently also read Malachi 4:2 “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. “  This notion of the sun rising on all – that God’s gifts are for everyone – is what has provoked thought.  

This idea is really brought home because,  we often think about God’s greatest gift - Jesus’ death and resurrection that saves us all – as being only for Christians.  Well, it isn’t.  The Bible is very clear Christ died for all.  God wants all to be saved.

But many walk away from that salvation.  Many, released from the bondage of sin, decide they like the bondage better.  I am reminded of men and women who get out of prison who immediately commit another crime just so they can go back to prison.  It is where they are comfortable, where they feel safe.  Well, prison is not safe, and neither is a sinful life.

Christ has died to free everyone.  Let us not rest until everyone has heard this wonderful news.  And let us help those that Jesus has saved realize their life is now with him and not back in the bondage of their sin.

 

We pray – Dearest Jesus, that you for dying for us all!  Help us to show others that You have died for them also.  In Your holy Name we pray. - Amen

11/14/2022

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. – Psalm 51:17

Psalm 51 has to be one of my favorite Psalms and this passage is one of the reasons.  It is another example that tells us we don’t have to do anything to earn our salvation.  God does not demand sacrifice.  He does not demand we do anything.  All He wants is for us to realize we need Him, that we cannot survive without Him.

All of our doing – working for others, giving to charities, giving to the Church, working for the Church – should be done, not to earn any credit but, purely out of Thanksgiving for all God has done for us.  It is that joyful heart that God desires.  Yes, I know it says broken and contrite, and you are probably wondering how I got to joyful.  Well, there is only one solution to broken, and that is Jesus.  He is always right there, just waiting for you to realize how much you need Him.  And when you have Jesus, how can you be anything other than truly joyful, truly wishing to respond in thanksgiving.  Now, since we can’t give anything to God, as He already has everything, what does that response look like?  Joyfully giving to others. 

That is how the contrite heart becomes joyful.  Having realized our brokenness we respond by depending on the Lord.  He never fails to give us what we really need.  In realizing this we become joyful, thankful, and willing to serve Him by serving His creation.

We pray – Dearest Lord, we thank You that You have taught us the most important lesson – that we need You above all else, and that You have never failed us and never will. - Amen

11/7/2022

so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.  - Isaiah 55:11

I don’t know how many times I have heard or read this verse and always thought of it the same way – that God’s Word would bring those to faith who were meant to believe.  But today I read it and linked it to another part of the Bible and the Holy Spirit helped me to understand it in a new way.  No, probably not a new idea, just new for me.  The other verse is from John 1.  You know it, where John tells us that Jesus is the very Word of God.

Then it hit me…Jesus (God’s Word) did not return to Him (the Father) until after He had accomplished all that the Father had purposed for Him.  He became man, lived a perfect life, suffered and died in our place, rose from the dead to defeat sin, death, and the devil.  Only with all of this accomplished did He return to the Father.  He ascended and sat at the right hand of God the Father. 

This is really powerful.  Jesus, God’s Word, accomplished all that was purposed for Him.  All that was necessary to save you, me, and every person who ever lived.  Talk about a powerful Word.

We pray – Dearest Jesus, thank you for “going out” from the mouth of the Father to accomplish all that was purposed for You, our very salvation and life eternal.  Amen.

10/31/2022

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,  - Romans 3:23-24

Yesterday was hard for me.  I lead adult Bible Study yesterday morning and, after Bible Study was over, I felt like a complete failure.  For some reason I just wasn’t able to communicate what was in my head.  I felt I had let everyone down and worst of all, I felt I had let God down.  

You wouldn’t think that a verse like this, that tells you that you are bound to fail, would be comforting - but it is for me.  Mainly because, when I mess up like yesterday, I feel like I am the only one in the world who makes mistakes.  It seems misery loves company, and it is somehow reassuring to know that everyone makes mistakes.  

No one can please God, or even do one good thing, without the help of the Holy Spirit.  And this is the other great comfort of this passage.  For verse 24 reminds us that we don’t have to do just the right things to make God happy.  Jesus already did it.  Our redemption is through Christ – and that is awesome - because days like yesterday make me glad He’s got me and my salvation does not depend on anything I do!

We pray – Thank You dearest Lord that You did not base our salvation on what we do, for we all fall short.  Thank You for coming to save us in Your grace and mercy. – Amen.

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