No Other Choice

August 30, 2010

Jesus went on to say, “I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” – John 6:65-69

“To whom shall we go?” As the disciple who never lacked for boldness, Peter blurted out his answer. But, it was not without due consideration or evidence. He had witnessed Jesus’ miracle of feeding over 5,000 people. He had listened to Jesus’ discourse on being the Bread of Life. He had watched as others grumbled and complained about the difficulty of Jesus’ teaching. None of this diminished Peter’s confession.  Not even Jesus’ piercing question dissuaded him: “You do not want to leave too, do you?”

In spite of many challenges, Peter grasped the truth. Faith not only drew him to the truth concerning Jesus, it also revealed that there was no other choice. Without hesitation Peter followed Jesus, because Jesus had the words of eternal life.

I can relate to Peter’s struggle. There are many competing “truths” through which I have to sort. There are instances when uncertainty gets the better of me. There are just too many choices. So, do I follow Jesus? Do I put my confidence in the truth he provides? Or, do I look for another path to eternal life?

The devil and the world would have me believe all choices are the same. I could choose to follow my good intentions. I could choose to follow a spirituality of my own making. I could even choose to do nothing. However, I need to understand that life in heaven is not based on what the world offers, or what the devil suggests, or even what I think. It is all about what God has established.

Jesus was very clear: “No one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” Consequently, if I choose to rely on something other than Jesus, I have made a worthless choice. Jesus is the only one who offers the truth that leads to heaven. It was his sinless life. It was his death as my substitute. It was his perfect obedience to his Father’s will. It was his victorious resurrection from the dead. This is where eternal life is found.

Peter came to realize there was no other choice regarding the way to heaven. I need to realize there is no other choice for me either. Only Jesus has and offers the words of eternal life.

Prayer: Oh blessed Savior, send me your Spirit, so that I can confess you as my Lord and Savior. Equip me so that I can make God-pleasing decisions. Strengthen me so that I can follow you through this life to eternal life. Amen.


Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

August 29, 2010

Divine Service II, Page 158, Lutheran Worship

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Fan into Flame Update

August 24, 2010

We give thanks to God for the more than 1,400 congregations in almost every district of our Synod that have participated in this campaign. However, there is still much work to be done. If you haven’t had the opportunity to participate, please consider joining in this remarkable initiative to bring the Gospel message to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth.

Thanks for all you are doing “vigorously to make known the love of Christ by word and deed within our churches, communities, and the world.” For more information on participating in Fan into Flame, please contact your district office, the national campaign office at 800-977-2017, or visit the campaign website.

In Christ,

Rev. William R. Diekelman, Campaign Spokesman

Imitate God’s Love

August 23, 2010

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. – Ephesians 4:32-5:2

When actors need to imitate someone in a skit or movie, they spend many hours preparing for their role by watching videotape of the person they are going to imitate. This ingrains the subject’s mannerisms and speech patterns into the actor’s mind. When show time comes, the actor can then imitate the subject quite naturally.

God wants us to imitate him. It is a tall order to say the least. It is actually impossible for sinful humans like us. Fortunately, Jesus did what we cannot do. He perfectly imitated God because Jesus is God. His perfect life is why we have been forgiven by God for our sins.

Although we will not be able to do what Jesus did, we still strive to imitate God every day as a way of thanking him for forgiving us. Just like an actor preparing for a part, we imitate God best by watching Jesus. Hour after hour, day after day we read about Jesus in the Bible. This ingrains God’s mannerisms and ways of speaking into our minds. It leads us to be kind and compassionate, to forgive each other, and to live a life of love. Keep watching Jesus and become a better and better imitator of God.

Prayer: Thank you Jesus, for doing what I could not do.  Help me to do what you have done.  Help me to imitate God today.  Amen.

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

August 22, 2010

Divine Service I, Page 136, Lutheran Worship

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More Than Enough

August 16, 2010

When the great crowd had all had enough to eat, Jesus said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over.  Let nothing be wasted.”  So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. – John 6:13

George and Sue panicked. They had planned a dinner for thirty and requested an RSVP. They had only heard from ten, so they made their plans accordingly. On the evening of the dinner, the twenty who didn’t respond appeared. What complicated the situation even more was that some of the guests also brought along friends. The hosts didn’t know what they would do. There was no way they were going to have enough.

This was Andrew’s response in view of the need to feed thousands of people with a few meager provisions (John 6:8,9). Even though Andrew and the rest of the disciples were at a loss, Jesus knew what he was going to do (John 6:6). With his power as the Son of God, Jesus provided more than enough. Everyone ate their fill, and there was much more food left over than was available at the start.

As I consider Jesus’ response to this need, it leads me to trust him with my needs. Jesus not only has the power to respond, he is also moved by his amazing love. When I open my eyes, it’s clear to see how he has provided more than enough for me. His power and compassion doesn’t stop with my physical needs either.

Daily I realize my disobedience. I am selfish, hurtful, apathetic, and arrogant. When I look at the wake of my life, I see nothing good. I also see how I have put myself under God’s just judgment for my disobedience. I am in desperate need of help.

I may attempt to resolve my situation by myself, but will this be enough? I could compare myself to others. I could try harder. I could even promise to be better. None of these are sufficient. All fall short of God’s demand for a complete and perfect life (Matthew 5:48). There is only one answer.

In his power as God and in his undeserved love as my Savior, Jesus provides the answer. His life of perfect obedience replaces my disobedience (Romans 8:1-4). His shed blood and innocent death purifies me from every sin (1 John 1:7). His resurrection is the guarantee everything he did is more than enough (1 Peter 1:3-7).

It is this powerful compassion that gives me every reason to depend on Jesus for everything. Nothing escapes his attention. Nothing remains unanswered. Nothing is left but to love and trust him, because his love is more than enough.

I am trusting Thee for power;
Thine can never fail.
Words which Thou Thyself shalt give me
Must prevail.

I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus;
Never let me fall.
I am trusting Thee forever
And for all. Amen.

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

August 15, 2010

Divine Service II, Page 158, Lutheran Worship

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