Archive for May, 2017

Proverbs 13:22

May 12, 2017

Our devotions this Easter season come from members of Faith Lutheran Church. Today’s writer is the Lerch family.

“The good leave an inheritance to their children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.” Proverbs 13:22

What legacy do we want to leave for the next generation? The world is full of messages reminding us about the importance of preserving financial resources for our families.

How much consideration do we give to our spiritual legacy?

God has blessed us with talents and resources to serve the heavenly kingdom in ways that have a powerful impact long after we have gone to our heavenly home.

In our jobs, we may be called to set an example with our persistence and compassion as we work with younger employees or care for youth.

In our communities, there are opportunities to volunteer at schools and mentor struggling students.

At Faith, our service in worship and on ministry teams makes it possible for the church to tell the gospel to the next generation. Finally, as the Small Catechism so beautifully reminds us, parents are responsible for instructing children in the essentials of faith and how to pray.

In all of these ways and many more, we have the opportunity to share God’s love and leave a lasting impact on those who will come after us.

Let us pray: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the ability to serve your kingdom in sharing the gospel with the next generation. Help us leave a spiritual legacy of faith, hope, and love to those whom you send into our lives. Amen.

 

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2 Timothy 3:14-17

May 11, 2017

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

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:14-17

Paul is speaking to Timothy in these verses and he reminds Timothy what he has been taught about God.  Today, we need to read and study scripture to reveal God’s person, God’s power, God’s promises, and God’s plan.

Paul writes that “all scripture is inspired by God.”  It is a guide for us for teaching our children and others about righteousness.  Studying these words make Christians “proficient and equipped for every good work.”  Through our knowledge of these “sacred writings” and our “faith in Christ Jesus” we will have the tools necessary for living a Christian life.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, during this season of Easter, thank you for reminding us of your inspired words found in scripture to guide us in our daily lives to be your light in this world.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Proverbs 29:17

May 10, 2017

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

Discipline your children, and they will give you rest; they will give delight to your heart.” Proverbs 29:17

As a mother of two sons and a grandmother of five (four boys and a girl), I read and reread the scripture as I was thinking about writing this devotional. REST? Really? Not sure that rest and children have ever been used in the same sentence. Seems like an oxymoron to me.

And then there’s the educator side of my life. Having started working with children over 40 years ago in a school setting, I have watched parents for decades deal with the everyday joys and challenges of rearing their children. The tears of joy watching their child perform in the school play or being the author of the day in their classroom often turn to tears of despair when their child makes that wrong decision in their middle school years. REST?

And then there’s that issue of discipline. I apologized to my daughter-in-laws when they married my sons. I told them we did the best that we could, but now it was their turn. It was a family joke, but as a parent who loved and cared every day, who raised our boys in our church, there is always more to be done. Why didn’t we take the time to do daily devotions when our boys were growing up? REST?

And yet my heart is bursting with love and the knowledge that George and I did the best we could. As grandparents, we delight in both our children and our grandchildren. And when we babysit and put our little ones to bed, what joy we feel when they say, “Now I lay me down to sleep…” and then the Lord’s prayer, and then they bless everyone they ever met. That is truly the delight in our hearts. Or perhaps it’s the time before each meal, when everyone “fights” over who gets to say their prayer. The love of Jesus continues.

So as we embrace every part of our life, we do feel rest and joy. The foundation has been laid.

Let us pray: Dear God, thank you for families, for parents, for teachers, for Sunday School teachers, for aunts and uncles, for friends and for all who love, care, and build the spiritual foundations for our children. May God continue to be the light that guides their lives. REST!!! It’s not easy but give us the strength and love to make Jesus the center of our lives and of our children’s lives. For when our children are centered in Jesus Christ, there is no greater delight in our hearts. Amen.

 

Proverbs 22:6

May 9, 2017

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

Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.” Proverbs 22:6

Most of you know my daughters, Charlotte and Claire. My heart and soul is poured into teaching them kindness, empathy, and a servant heart. I couldn’t help but feel prideful when we were at the local nursery, shopping for our garden, and the girls started to shout, “Hosanna, Hosanna!” when they saw a palm tree.

As a parent, I pray that their love for learning and training about Jesus continues. I pray because it’s easy to reflect on my own adolescence and some of the choices I continue to make. This passage helped me reflect on my actions, the strict Christian home that I grew up in, and where I am today. An outside perspective would identify 19-year-old Mayra as someone who had strayed based on her actions, behavior, and decisions. How could this be since the cross my father bears around his neck could challenge Liberace’s glow?

Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.” That last part sounds so absolute; “they will not stray.” Does that mean that my father did not teach me enough? If he failed to keep me from straying then will I fail my own children?

As adults, our children will have choices to make. Their decisions will have consequences. It’s their hearts that we have built, as teachers of God’s love. That is what will guide them through those decisions and consequences.

Training our children does not guarantee that they will not make mistakes; rather it guides them through their path when they make difficult choices. I am forever grateful for my parents, godparents, and friends that helped build my heart by teaching me the way of our Lord. I am even more grateful now for my community that is training and building the hearts of my very own children. The tearful moment at our local nursery when the girls started to shout, “Hosanna!” wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for their Sunday school teachers.

This passage opens up my heart to the acknowledgement that my duty is beyond the two sweet angels I call my own. As children in God’s family, we all have a duty to help create the path for all children.

Dear Lord, as we walk your path, open our hearts and our kindness to the children of the world. They are our future and the next disciples walking beside us. Amen.

 

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

May 8, 2017

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

Hear, O Israel: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9

What does it mean to love God with all your heart, soul, and might? When I think about the experience of falling in love, of building relationships with other people, it is a process of discovery. There are things I love about people upon first meeting them, but other parts of my love for them that grows steadily over time as I learn more about them. My love for God has grown in a similar way.

When I first understood God as a child, I knew there was something of interest that I could love. That spark of interest in a lovable God kept me in attendance at church, but it didn’t go much further than that.

As I’ve grown in my relationship with God, I’ve learned more about how God demonstrates love to me in my life. I’ve seen the beautifully intricate design for my life’s story that could only have come from a God that knows and loves me. As I’ve reached out to learn more about the church, the reason we worship together, the importance of prayer in our lives, and have had opportunities to speak about my faith with others, the love I feel for God intensifies.

How do we then bind these words to love God on our hands and fix them on our foreheads? How do we make our love for God so apparent it seeps into every aspect of our lives? I think we do it in the same manner we love others. We spend quality time with the people we love, we talk to them, we lean on them when we need help, we share our hopes and fears with them, and we would do anything for them. To love God with all our might looks the same.

Let us pray: God, help us continue to deepen our relationship with you. Help us find quality time to spend with you and talk to you in prayer. Help us remember to look to you in times of need and in times of admiration and joy. Help us to do your work in the lives of others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Genesis 41:46-49

May 5, 2017

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

“Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went through all the land of Egypt. During the seven plenteous years the earth produced abundantly. He gathered up all the food of the seven years when there was plenty in the land of Egypt, and stored up food in the cities; he stored up in every city the food from the fields around it. So Joseph stored up grain in such abundance — like the sand of the sea — that he stopped measuring it; it was beyond measure.” Genesis 41:46-49

These four verses are just a snippet out of the long story of Joseph found in Genesis.  The story pretty much covers Joseph’s life from the cradle to the grave.  At this time, Joseph is 30 years old and has been appointed Pharaoh’s second-in-command.  He is the chief steward of the Pharaoh’s domain.  He was specifically chosen for this job to deal with the situation that he had predicted for the next fourteen years (seven years of plenty and seven years of famine).

He turns out to be an excellent steward, and did a fantastic job. He was able to gather and store more food than even he had anticipated.  The stored food was a life saver in the seven years of famine.  And, was instrumental in bringing his entire family to Egypt.

The duties of a steward are to manage the financial and business affairs of his boss.  Therefore, it was not Joseph’s food that was being gathered and stored, it was the Pharaoh’s. Even though it wasn’t his food and grain, he performed his duties faithfully.

The Bible, in several places (I found 84), urges us be good stewards of the resources that God has entrusted to us.  Often, this is simply interpreted to mean we should give an offering (maybe even a tithe) to our church so that it can keep the lights on, pay the preacher, and maybe do some mission work.  But, good stewardship means much more than that.

In the Lord’s Prayer our resources are referred to as our “Daily Bread.”  In a recent sermon, Pastor Kerry pointed out that Luther, in his explanation of the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, said that “Daily Bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like.”

Or, as Pastor Kerry said “Everything that we are and everything that we have is a gift from God and we are to be good stewards of it.” Amen.

Hymn: “We Give Thee But Thine Own” by William W. How, 1823-1897

We give Thee but Thine own,

Whate’er the gift may be;

All that we have is Thine alone,

A trust, O Lord, from Thee.

Prayer: Create in us a clean heart, O God. And renew a right spirit within us. And help us to be faithful stewards of your gifts. Amen.

Proverbs 29:18

May 4, 2017

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

“Where there is no prophecy, the people cast off restraint, but happy are those who keep the law.” Proverbs 29:18

What if we had no preaching, or teaching, no Learning Groups, or no Faith Lutheran Church?

How could we work on our relationships with God and our neighbors?  We are told that good relationships don’t just happen. They need to be worked on. What is one of the first things Jesus did when he started his ministry: he gathered a few of his friends together. Pastor Nelson has been telling us for years that Christianity is “team sport.” The Learning Groups offered at Faith Lutheran would be a good starting point for us.

Learning Groups – 9:45 AM on Sunday Mornings

Basic Christianity – Led by Pastor Tan

Blessed Community – Led by Dave Gohlke and Mary Browne

Circle of friends – Led by Sara Karow

Parenting Beyond Your Capacity – Led by Betty Becker and Staci DeKunder

The Good News Class – Led by Cliff Condit

The Word and the World – Led by Pastor Nelson

Women of Faith – Led by Kate Faulkner

Young Families – Led by Eric and Courtney Lerch

Just a quick check of the Ten Commandments shows us God’s emphasis on our relationship with our neighbors. The first three are concerned with our relationship with God and seven, count them, seven have to do with our relationships with our neighbors.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, you have shown us that relationships are important. We know that anything of any worth is not easy to obtain, so, please give us the willingness to work on them. Amen.

Proverbs 21:20

May 3, 2017

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

Precious treasure remains in the house of the wise, but the fool devours it.” Proverbs 21:20

Proverbs 21 describes the attributes and behaviors of a wise king.  While we are not rulers of kingdoms ourselves, this set of proverbs applies likewise to us as well, as we oversee our own individual households according to God’s will.

Verse 20 particularly addresses the management of “precious treasure” – our earnings, our homes, and our material possessions. And like a king of old, most of us are considered rich by global standards, regardless of our current tax bracket.

With all of the temptations in front of us, we could easily devour our treasure, becoming like the foolish prodigal son, squandering our riches on all the world has to offer until our pockets are empty and we are left with nothing after the fleeting moments of pleasure have passed.  But we are called upon to allocate our resources wisely and live modestly. Not saving every penny in a miserly fashion, but by being good stewards of all that we have, avoiding extravagant spending of our wealth and taking proper care of our homes and belongings so they can be used as God intends.

Think about the ways in which you could become a better steward of your riches.  What kind of lifestyle changes might that mean for you and your family – a smaller home, a cheaper cell phone plan, fewer nights out or expensive vacations? What would the saving you gain enable you to do to the glory of God?

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, you are the true owner of all that we have.  We ask that you help us keep this in our hearts in this Easter season and teach us to use our riches wisely, not for our own pleasure, but for your will.  Amen.

Proverbs 19:21

May 2, 2017

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

You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.” Proverbs 19:21

I like having a plan. It helps me daily in the profession God has called me to do. Making a prosthesis that fits and works well requires a good plan.

I knew God assigned me this exact passage to make me think about myself and what this proverb means. But I really did not know where to begin.

So, I asked my daughter Tessa, what I should write about. She said, “Dad, just talk about me.” I was confused as to what she meant. But, then she explained, she did not pursue her new job at the church, as Director of Youth and Family Ministries. She is a full time student working on her Master’s degree in Social Work, and overall a hard worker in the odd jobs that she has been doing for some extra money. But, the one Sunday she came to church in probably over two months was the Sunday that Pastor Kerry announced that Jason was leaving. She was in service and immediately knew that message was for her (so did I).

I assume Pastor Kerry was in on the plan as he asked her about the job soon thereafter. Tessa was able to listen to the Lord’s plan even though it did not match up with what she thought her plans were going to be. She has taken this job in stride and is truly excited for the ministry she is able to do with it. Nancy and I are happy because we get to sit in church with her every Sunday again. But, the point is you can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.

Prayer:  Thank you, God, for making your purpose known to us. We ask for your help and guidance in putting your plans into action. May we ever be mindful of your glory. Amen.

Proverbs 16:1-3

May 1, 2017

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

“The plans of the mind belong to mortals, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All one’s ways may be pure in one’s own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:1-3

The Bible reminds us many times that sometimes we think we are doing things in the right way and we think we are innocent. However, we can’t be so proud of ourselves because God knows and weighs our heart. To use one’s own standard to value things, that self-confidence is a dangerous trap. Even if we can lie to ourselves, we can’t deceive God. Like Adam blamed it on Eve, Eve blamed it on the snake. They might have claimed that they’re innocent, but God knows their heart, knows their sin, and knows that they didn’t obey the order.

Similarly, “All deeds are right in the sight of the doer, but the Lord weighs the heart.” (Proverbs 21:2) and “…for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7). These verses keep on reminding us that God gave us free will, and we need to take responsibility for our behaviors.

God gave human beings free will to make plans, but God has the right answers and authority.

This reminds me of an old Chinese saying “moú shì zaì rén , chéng shì zaì tiān” which Google translated as, “Man Proposes, God Disposes” (Yes, it‘s exactly like Proverbs 19:21 as well—“The human mind may devise many plans, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established.”)

Also, God reveals over and over again that God wants us to trust, commit our works, and lift our burdens. Even though sometimes our plans are not God’s plans, and our time is not God’s time, God still listens to our prayers and fulfills our prayers when the time comes, or in God’s way.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, please lead us and guide us to learn how to lift up our burdens and worries to you, and have stronger faith in you, truly, madly, deeply, to trust you and love you with all our heart, all our soul, all our strength, and all our minds. In Jesus’ name. Amen.