Verse of the Week-Pastor David

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Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints. – Psalm 116:15, ESV

This is an awesome verse.  It makes me think of the wonderful reception I will receive when I finally die in Christ.  God will certainly greet me happily.  He will welcome me home.  My coming home to Him will be precious in His sight.

But might there be another meaning to this verse.  I notice that the verb is singular, not plural but that “saints” is plural.  What is going on here?  Well, I am reminded of Ephesians 4:5, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.”  And of Romans and Colossians which tell us we died and were buried with Christ in our baptism.

Could this be what this verse refers to?  Well, considering it was written hundreds of years before Jesus instituted Christian Baptism it is unlikely.  But oh, how it fits.  In this “one baptism” we receive all the benefits of a single death – the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.  We receive His righteousness and true faith.  And we receive the resurrection in a “now/not yet” way.  It is this singular “death of His saints,” the death of Jesus, that the LORD holds precious.  The death of His Son on a cross as atonement for all their sins.  The death we receive in our baptism.  The death that saves us and gives us life.

Therefore, for those of us who have been baptized - who have been given the gift of sharing in Christ’s death on the cross, and guaranteed a resurrection like His - we know that we are truly “precious in the sight of the LORD,” now and not yet.

We pray – Dearest Jesus, thank You for coming to die for us, for sharing Your death with us in our baptism, and for preparing a resurrection like Yours for us on the last day.  Help to live in this new life in humble obedience to Your will until we return to You or You return to us.  In Your holy Name we pray. 

- Amen


Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 18:4 ESV

You may remember that last week’s verse was about humility.  It seems to be a theme that is coming up for me regularly.  Maybe God is trying to tell me something… 😊

Anyway, this verse was part of my reading this week of Jeffrey Gibbs’ Concordia Commentary on Matthew.  In it he spoke about what true humility was in this context.  Gibbs says that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven is the one who, like a child, is, “…in a condition of powerlessness and who willingly acknowledges his own emptiness and utter inability in spiritual things.”  I really liked how he said this.  Humility is realizing that, due to sin, you are spiritually empty and unable to do anything about it.  It is realizing that you need Jesus.

Gibbs goes on at length to discuss how, whenever someone in our congregation is struggling spiritually, they are the greatest in our congregation because they are lowly and empty.  Because of this, the entire congregation should serve and aid them.  Their greatness is their need for Jesus – especially because they may be unable to even see it themselves.  Therefore, those of us who have humbled ourselves, knowing that we need Jesus, need to focus on the one with the greatest need.

So, look around your “congregation” - all those Christians God has given you to live with in this life.  Are there any who are struggling in their faith, straying away from the Church, going through an especially hard time?  Reach out.  Reflect the love of Jesus to them.  Help them with the same willingness that you would help a helpless child.

We pray – Dearest Lord, help me to always see my complete and total need for You.   Help me to recognize when those around me need more attention, more care, more love.  Lead me to serve them in Your Holy Name. – Amen.


Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will exalt you.  James 4:10

This simple verse speaks volumes as to our relationship to God and even our relationship to others.  As Lutherans we speak of our Vertical Relationship with God and our Horizontal Relationship to others.  We note that our relationship with God is completely on Him.  We contribute nothing to it.  But our relationship with others (horizontal) is reciprocal.

But if you think about it, both require humility.  Before God we must be humble enough to realize that God is God and we are but His creatures.  We must acknowledge that He is superior to ourselves in every way.  He knows best.  Our job is to listen and learn.  This is how we must “humble ourselves before the Lord.”  We must acknowledge Him AS LORD.  We must submit.  Obey.

But when we do that, we find that we must also humble ourselves before others.  For Jesus tells us to serve our neighbors.  To love one another as He has loved us.  That in order to be first we must be the servant of all.  

Therefore, a right relationship with God requires humility.  And because of this we learn that a right relationship with others involves humility also.

This is often difficult for us.  The world preaches the values of self-worth, look out for #1, and other like ideas.  But we must remember that humility is not self-deprecation.  It is not thinking poorly of yourself.  Jesus also tells us to love our neighbors AS OURSELVES.  He intends for us to love ourselves.  To think well of ourselves.  To care for ourselves.  After all, He made us!  But, in humility, not to think more of ourselves than of others.  As we love ourselves, as we look out for #1, we must do so in a way that still places the needs of others before our own needs.  And most importantly, that puts our value in proper relationship to God, recognizing that any value we have comes from Him.

We pray – Dearest Jesus, so many of your teachings are mysterious.  Help us to see that humility and loving others does not mean demeaning or denying ourselves.  Help us to love You first and ourselves second that we may then love and serve our neighbors rightly.  In Your Holy Name we pray.  Amen.


Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17, ESV

I was mowing my lawn the other day and thanking the Lord for my land and my house.  I was really enjoying the nice day.  I was thanking Him for giving me a nice piece of His creation.  Then it dawned on me.  What would happen to my piece of His creation when I died.  It would go to someone else.  I was reminded of the old hymn, “I give thee but Thine own, whate’er the gift may be.  All that I have is Thine alone, a gift, oh Lord, from Thee.”  All our material possessions will be given, by the Lord, to someone else when we die.  We are essentially borrowers.

So then I asked myself, “If all I have is a gift from God, doesn’t He expect me to use my gifts for the benefit of others?  How am I using God’s land for the benefit of others?”  Beyond sharing vegetables we grow in the garden I didn’t have a good answer for that.

Anyway, it reminded me how important it is to remember that all we have is simply on loan from God.  We can never own anything because it belongs to the One who created it.  All things are from God and all things belong to God.  Therefore, since they aren’t ours anyway, it should be easier to share our gifts with others.


We pray – Dearest Lord, remind us daily that all we have is simply a loan from You so that we may share it more readily with those in need around us.  In Jesus’ name we pray.


Mark 1:15 – (And Jesus was saying) “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (ESV)

This is how Jesus Himself proclaimed His message.  It is simple.  It is Law and Gospel.  Repent and believe.  I think most of us have a pretty good idea of what it means to believe, but what is it to repent.  Well, simply stated it means to turn around.  Change course.  In theological terms that is a turning towards God.

When most of us picture repentance we seem to see a person on their knees, sweating profusely, dark furrows of concern on their brow, horrified by all their sins, and praying to God for forgiveness.  This is, indeed, a true image of repentance.  It is the “Poor Miserable Sinner” of our confession on Sundays.  But repentance doesn’t have to be this dramatic.  It is any turn you make to bring you more in line with God.  Remember, God had to do the “Justification.”  This is the act of saving your soul, of redeeming His creation back to Himself.  This is what Jesus did on the cross for all of creation on the cross, and what He gives you in your Baptism and when He gives you the ability to believe in Him that we call faith.  

But there is something else going on in all of us Christians.  That is the act of “Sanctification.”  This act, the process of becoming more Christlike people every day, is the process in which we are allowed to cooperate with God a little bit.  Sure He still does the heavy lifting through His Holy Spirit, but we are allowed to help, to turn, to repent.  We work with the Holy Spirit to change ourselves in little ways to be more what He wants us to be. 

We can do this in dramatic ways or in simple ways.  Luther suggested that we put the old self to death and rise to a new (Christian) self each day by remembering our Baptism.  Doing this each day, making a new commitment to be more Christlike is repentance.  Every move you make towards being more Godlike is a form of turning, of repentance.

Many new things happen in August.  Kids go back to school, parents take a deep breath, vacations end.  August is one of several months that bring new beginnings each year.  Why not add a little repentance to your new beginning.  Find something you can do better.  Some little thing you can change to be more the person God wants you to be.  Turn from the old (repent) and move to the new (sanctification).  There is a meme on social media that says, “Be more the person your dog thinks you are.”  I suggest you try being, “More the person God wants you to be.”

In light of this I will be working on turning away from distraction and sloth and towards being more diligent in sharing God’s Word with you through these weekly verses.

We pray – Dearest Lord, please help us find those things we should not be doing, turn from them, and towards you.  In Your Holy Name we pray. - Amen