A Note from Pastor Kerry

June 10, 2017

Since many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, I too decided, after investigating everything carefully from the very first, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,so that you may know the truth concerning the things about which you have been instructed.” Luke 1:1-4

Three times this past week I have been asked “Why aren’t you writing daily devotions anymore?” This morning I decided that maybe I ought to post an answer.

Because I have been selfish with my time.

My morning routine has changed dramatically this year because I was convinced the time had come to make some changes in my personal life. The time I used to spend writing in the morning got taken up with reading too much about the crazy things going on in our country, then walking, eating a very specific breakfast, and watching a silly TV show that I record so I can skip the commercials.

My prayer time was my walking time. Deciding not to write devotions freed me up from a sense of obligation and the pressure to get something posted before the daily deadline.

It was fun to share the thoughts of members of our congregation during the Easter season. I appreciated reading people sharing their faith with others. I came away from that experience expecting to begin writing again. But then I realized that vacation was coming up and I would be on the road for over two weeks which makes writing hard. So I didn’t start again.

I am very hopeful that, by the time I am back from my motorcycle trip, I will have reached a personal goal that I set last year. I am confident that my new morning rituals can be tweaked to include time to read scripture and offer my thoughts/reactions to you. So my intention is to begin writing again in July.

When that time comes, I trust that God will give me something interesting to say each day. That is how it has always worked. A simple willingness on my part is met by the Holy Spirit’s nudges and insights. It is scary and I can’t always feel a connection there but something always comes out that might be useful to someone somewhere. In that I feel honored to join those through the years who have used words to share the faith with others.

And if I don’t start writing, feel free to bug me about it until I do. We are, after all, in this together.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, you are in, around, above, and below us. Wherever we go, we can’t flee from your presence…but we can forget. Thank you for those who share their faith using words and for the power of the Word to shape our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Philippians 4:10-13

May 26, 2017

Our devotions this Easter season come from members of Faith Lutheran Church. Today’s writer is Alice Tian.

“I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned for me, but had no opportunity to show it. Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:10-13

Every year, around March, eighth graders eagerly await the results of their high school applications. This year, I am one of those eighth graders.

On March 23, I found out that I was admitted to the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA). HSPVA is special in that admission is based on audition only. I auditioned for both dance and piano, and I was accepted for piano. Personally, I feel that I am stronger in dance, so this was very unexpected. Still, I’m thankful that I was able to get into HSPVA at all, because it is such a prestigious school.

In the verses from the letter written by Paul to the Phillipians, Paul states that he has learned to be content with what he has and that he can do all things through God. It’s often hard to put this kind of trust into the Lord. We want to live by our own will, do things by ourselves, but the Lord has a plan. God’s plan doesn’t always match ours, though, and that’s where trust comes in.

We need to trust that the Lord’s plan is the best plan. Life is full of unexpected moments like being accepted into HSPVA for piano instead of dance, and we just have to accept it and go down that path.

When surprises, good or bad, come into your life, trust that this is all part of God’s plan and that God will be with you through all of it, providing strength and guidance.

Let us pray: Lord, thank you for all you have provided. Help me to trust in you and your plan for me and to be content in what I already have. Amen.

Matthew 6:31-33

May 25, 2017

Our devotions this Easter season come from members of Faith Lutheran Church. Today’s writer is Charles Wilson.

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ’What will we eat?’ or ’What will we drink?’ or ’What will we wear?’ For it is Gentiles who strive for all these things’ and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:31-33

Peace to you through the one who died, that we may truly live.

It seems that in life, there are truly a multitude of worries. We are constantly bombarded and burdened with everything from what we’re going to cook for dinner or what we are wearing to a certain occasion to how to make the most of our finances and how to keep ourselves as healthy as possible.

It doesn’t matter what we do, where we go, or how much money we have, we seem to have the guarantee that we will always have something to worry about. Those worries can consume us to the point that we are just existing, rather than living in the freedom that we have through Jesus Christ. We can become battered, broken, and buried in hopelessness and despair.

Jesus has a simple message for us. As children of the Creator and Sustainer of all, we don’t have to worry. God knows just what we need, so why make ourselves crazy trying to fix our situations by ourselves?

In the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul reminds us that God will satisfy all our needs according to his riches in glory through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:13) God cares and God knows. If we, who claim to trust and believe in God, would turn our attention away from worrying about our daily needs, and instead focus on working to bring God’s kingdom to reality, we have a blessed assurance that every need will be met.

As Christians, we are called to put our trust in God, as we turn our attention from ourselves to the multitudes in need of God’s peace, love, and salvation.

Let us pray: Creator of all, help us to trust in you; turn our focus from what we need and desire to the work you assign to us every day. Help us to ignore worries, doubts, and fears, knowing that you have the power to provide for our needs. In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Philippians 1:3-6

May 24, 2017

Our devotions this Easter season come from members of Faith Lutheran Church. Today’s writer is Katie Kieke.

“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now.  I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 1:3-6

Paul occasionally ministered in Philippi where he found himself inspired by the Philippians’ faith and evangelism. While later imprisoned, Paul wrote a letter to Philippians. In the letter, Paul told the Philippians that he continued to pray with joy for them; he also told the Philippians that the task of sharing the gospel, an endeavor initiated by God, could not be done alone.

In this passage, Paul’s statement about God, who began a good work among you, reinforces the fact that God is present and actively guiding each of us in all that we do.

As followers, it is our duty to spread God’s word and love throughout the world. We must remember that we are never alone and that God is with us in all that we do. We should listen to and trust God so that we may use our talents to most effectively share the gospel in Jesus’ name, just as the Philippians did.

Together, with God in our hearts guiding us, we have the power to do great things until the day of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, you are the source of every blessing. Flood us with the light of your presence. Help us to do your will in every task we undertake. Help us to do great things in your name. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Jeremiah 29:11-14

May 23, 2017

Our devotions this Easter season come from members of Faith Lutheran Church. Today’s writer is Avier Whitfield.

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:11-14

Just THINKING about this scripture brings great JOY and HOPE to my heart. God says “For SURELY I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

Knowing that God is in control of my well-being and future makes me fervor HIM even more. He knows my destiny and I’m never forgotten.

Sometimes we think God doesn’t hear our praise and prayer, but HE does, His word is our keepsake. He says by seeking Him with all of our heart, we will find him and he will restore all of our fortune. That’s GREAT news!

We don’t have to ever worry or be fearful of what’s to come because of God’s promised word. He loves us so much that he thought of our future before we were even thought about. I thank God for where I am today and where I will be tomorrow. I will keep his word close to my heart and seek him faithfully.

Let us pray: Lord God, Almighty, I come to you in thanksgiving, giving praise and honor to your holy name. Lord, I thank you for the plans you have for my life. Plans to prosper and plans of good health. Lord, help me to seek your word faithfully with all my heart. You reign with power and I worship you just because of who you are. Thank you God. In your blessed name I pray, Amen.

Proverbs 15:15-17

May 22, 2017

Our devotions this Easter season come from members of Faith Lutheran Church. Today’s writer is Deborah Whittington.

“All the days of the poor are hard, but a cheerful heart has a continual feast. Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it. Better is a dinner of vegetables where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it.” Proverbs 15:15-17

I saw a news article on Facebook last week about the “Worlds Happiest Man.” No, he hadn’t won the Texas Mega millions. He wasn’t wealthy at all. He didn’t have great political power. He had no fame and no influential friends. What he had was enough. He was satisfied with what he had.

As I read through the verses of Proverbs, I realize that I have lived and learned the truth behind each of these wise sayings. We didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but we had each other and a sense of humor, and that went a long way towards our relationship today. My brothers and sisters and I still love to get together, eat, and laugh with each other. We’re friends with each other, and I’ve learned that not all siblings are.

I’ve learned that when everyone and everything is gone, and all you have left is the LORD, he is enough. And I’ve learned that I really don’t need meat to be healthy at all, even though now I can eat meat without getting sick. And I’ve learned that forgiving someone is the most healing and burden-lifting thing you can do for yourself- whether it heals a relationship, or not.

Finally, I have learned, like Paul in Philippians 4, that “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation… I can do everything through Christ who gives we strength.” (verses 12a-13)

Prayer: Gracious Father, we bless your Holy Name. We love you and adore you. Thank you for your unfailing love. Thank you for providing everything we truly need. Help us to be satisfied with what we have and help us to spread your love to others and bless the world. Amen.

1 Timothy 6:17-19

May 19, 2017

Our devotions this Easter season come from members of Faith Lutheran Church. Today’s writer is Chris Gohlke.

As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that is really life.” 1 Timothy 6:17-19

Of course we take pride in our successes in life. The Bible tells us that we are to take the talents we are born with and make use of them. We finish a project, win a game, show that our education and training have paid off, then cash our checks and enjoy ourselves. Hopefully we thank our teammates and those who have gotten us to this point. Hopefully we thank God. But we stand on the podium and say to ourselves, “Look what I have done.”

Paul reminds us of some connected points here that we are apt to forget as we relish in our successes. It is God who has given us the potential to do great things and obtain riches, but He does not do that simply so we can enjoy ourselves. He does so because we have the potential to be great servants. Paul reminds us that success is not the goal, it is merely a tool that we should use to do God’s work.

Spread some love around. That’s all God is asking of us. Make sure you don’t forget those around you, those who could really use a good meal, a warm home, and a friend. And we can find joy in knowing that we are working towards “the life that is really life.”

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, we realize that in our earthly pride we falter from the Your path. Help us to re-center our lives on You, to recognize the talents You have given us, and to spread Your love through our daily lives. Help us to help others. Our peace and salvation rests with our lord and savior Jesus Christ alone. Amen.

 

Proverbs 25:21-22

May 18, 2017

Our devotions this Easter season come from members of Faith Lutheran Church. Today’s writer is Elaine Gabriel.

If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat; and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink; for you will heap coals of fire on their heads, and the Lord will reward you.” Proverbs 25:21-22

I used to be good at taking other’s inventory and treating them according to their score. This took a lot of time and energy and many times became a wedge between me and others.  My friend Pasty Winn used to tell me that the devil’s favorite tool is the wedge. The wedge is the true enemy.  That is why I always try to approach others with empathy.

Still, if you consider another person as your enemy, the Bible says to feed them if they are hungry and to give them a drink if they are thirsty.  This verse failed to mention praying for your enemy. I would definitely have added prayer to the regime. This is your opportunity to give your enemy a strong dose of goodness and mercy.

By feeding your enemy, you are not strengthening them but softening them against you.  God will reward you for showing kindness to your enemy.  If that does not change their hearts, God is willing to heap coals of fire on their foreheads.  Let us hope and pray that it never must come to this point.

Let us pray:  Dear God, Give me the strength to treat others with love and kindness even if they treat me poorly.  I know that it is not my place to judge or to even the score.  Please show my enemies mercy and only punish them when all else fails. Amen.

Proverbs 28:27

May 17, 2017

Our devotions this Easter season come from members of Faith Lutheran Church. Today’s writer is Annika Becker.

Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but one who turns a blind eye will get many a curse.” Proverbs 28:27

Nothing we have in our lives truly belongs to us. The earth, our possessions, our bodies, and our talents are a few examples of the gifts that were entrusted to us by God to care for.

One of the main things that we, as people and children of God, are entrusted with, and therefore responsible for the well being of, are the people we share the earth with, our neighbors. This means that it is our obligation as the “caretakers” of our neighbors, to help those who are in need in the same way we would care for ourselves.

In contrast, those who know this and yet fail to do so are cursed in the sense that they are not living according to God’s will.

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for all the wonderful gifts that you have given us. Help us to realize that we are mere caretakers of these gifts as we look after each other. Amen.

2 Corinthians 9:10-14

May 16, 2017

Our devotions this Easter season come from members of Faith Lutheran Church. Today’s writer is Clayton Faulkner.

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you.” 2 Corinthians 9:10-14

In much the same way that a non-profit organization writes letters to their donors, Paul was writing to the church in Corinth thanking them for their charity. Paul was really complimenting the church for their generosity when he said, “About the help to God’s holy people, there is really no need for me to write to you; for I am well aware of your enthusiasm….” (2 Corinthians 9:1-2)

But Paul was not preaching a prosperity gospel. He was not telling the church that because they had been generous in giving, they in turn would reap what they sow in financial blessings. Paul did say that they would be, “enriched in every way,” but he did not say, “rich in every way.”

The richness they received came in the form of thankfulness to God. Their prosperity was observed through God being thanked and praised in an abundant outpouring.

Giving toward the needs of God’s people is not a magic talisman that results in getting rich quick. There are no “get rich quick” scenarios in the Bible. Instead, God invites us into an alternative economy based on sacrifice. God invites us to see the world not in terms of profits and losses, but in terms of hope and restoration.

In a world where the good of the corporation is held in higher importance than the good of the people or the environment, we are invited into God’s economy by measuring the surpluses of thankfulness among God’s people.

Let us pray: God, give me a generous heart, willing to sacrifice, so that all might have enough. Amen.