I Hurt! Why Must I Suffer?

May 30, 2016

We share in Jesus’  sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. – Romans 8:17

A man once came across the cocoon of an Emperor Moth. He took it home. In time he began to see movement inside. The moth was getting ready to emerge.

But there seemed to be a problem. The moth struggled and struggled, but it appeared that the moth was having great trouble breaking through the cocoon. The struggle continued, and still the moth could not break through. Finally, the man had an idea. “I’ll save this moth a lot of trouble,” he thought.

He took a scissors. And with the scissors he carefully snipped the bottom of the cocoon so that the moth could get out. As soon as he did, the moth slipped out easily.

But then, the man noticed something. He noticed that the moth had a large, swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The man thought, “No problem. In a few hours the fluid will go from the body into the wings and the moth will be fine.”

But the moth was not fine. Because the man had cut short the time of struggle inside the cocoon, the wings never got a chance to get strong. The wings remained withered. The moth never flew.

When the Lord gives us a time of suffering in which to struggle, he does it for a reason. One of his purposes is to keep us close to him, his Word, his love and forgiveness. For when we do, his Holy Spirit strengthens us. He seasons our faith. He reinforces our bond with Christ. And when that happens, our Christian lives can take flight. We can touch the lives of others with the gospel. We can do the wonderful things the Lord intends for us to do.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, when sufferings come, bless my struggle. By your gospel, fill me with your Holy Spirit. Strengthen the wings of my Christian life. Amen.


Second Sunday after Pentecost

May 29, 2016

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A Good Confession

May 23, 2016

The LORD replied, “When the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, the Amalekites and the Maonites oppressed you and you cried to me for help, did I not save you from their hands? But you have forsaken me and served other gods, so I will no longer save you. Go and cry out to the gods you have chosen. Let them save you when you are in trouble!” But the Israelites said to the LORD, “We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.” Then they got rid of the foreign gods among them and served the LORD. And he could bear Israel’s misery no longer. – Judges 10:11-16

The Israelites had forsaken the LORD. So he permitted enemy nations to oppress them. Finally, his people returned to the LORD and confessed their sin. God reminded his people that he delivered them in the past from their enemies. But then they forsook him for false gods, so God challenged them to pray to those gods that they had chosen.

This challenge from the Lord led them to a prayer of confession. “We have sinned. Do with us whatever you think best, but please rescue us now.” Then the Israelites discarded the false gods they had accumulated, and they served the LORD. The actions of the Israelites show the sincerity of their prayer of confession.

Sometimes it is easy to say “I am sorry” or “I was wrong” only so that we might get out of trouble or get our way. However, what’s in our hearts really matters. Saying the words “Do with me whatever you think is best” reveals hearts that have been truly humbled. Making a change in our way of life shows hearts committed to true repentance.

When we sin, we can say a prayer of confession similar to that of the Israelites. We can ask God to do with us whatever he thinks best because we know that while we may face consequences for our sin, because of Jesus the final word from God is always “Your sin is forgiven.”

Prayer (Psalm 130):
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. Amen.

The Holy Trinity

May 22, 2016

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Dry Bones Get New Life

May 16, 2016

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’ “So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’ “So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet–a vast army. Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’ ” Ezekiel 37:1-14

God communicates great truths of comfort through this vision that he gave to the prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel sees a valley of very dry bones. God commands him to prophesy (speak God’s Word) to the bones and they came to life. God explains that his people think they have no hope, but the Lord will bring them back from the grave and give them hope and a future in their own land.

The basic truth God communicates? The Lord can bring life from death and give a future to people without hope. The Lord gave his Old Testament people a future and hope. They were hostages in a foreign country. His people had no armies or allies to rescue them. They had no hope. Yet, the Lord rescued them against all odds and brought them back to their motherland.

The Lord still gives his people a future and hope. Some days, though, we feel hopeless. Troubles tear apart our relationships. The doctor tells us the tumor is aggressive cancer. The car breaks down and we have no money to fix it. A flood (or drought) has wiped out all our crops. We have no true friends, no one really likes us. We have no hope.

The Lord can bring life from death and give a future to people without hope. God deals with the foundation of our hopelessness. We have violated God’s holy laws with our thoughts and our words.  Our sins separated us from God, the only source of true love and real hope. Our sins left our soul as dead as dried bones.

The Lord sent his Son to create life in the midst of death. Jesus suffered total separation from God because of our sins. God took out all of his holy anger on Jesus. There is no sin left for God to hold against us. God promises us his love and forgiveness. He promises he holds nothing against us. He promises to be our friend and our Father.

These promises bring life to our spiritually dead soul. They fill us with God’s love and God’s hope that we will live forever in heaven. We have a Friend in heaven. We have a future in heaven. We have a Father who will take care of us here and now by giving us strength and the blessings we need.

Ezekiel’s vision communicates the Lord’s promise to give us life and the sure hope of future glory in heaven – no matter how hopeless our life seems now.

Prayer: Lord, when I feel life is hopeless, remind me of your love and your forgiveness. Remind me of the promises you made to give me eternal life for the sake of Jesus. Amen.


May 15, 2016

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Happy Mother’s Day!

May 9, 2016

Yet You are He who took me from the womb; You made me trust You at my mother’s breasts. On You was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb You have been my God. Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. – Psalm 22:9-11

Superheroes are supposed to wear a cape.

The superheroes I’m talking about today are pretty well disguised. True, they may seem to be like everyone else.

They’re not.

The superhero we call “mom,” using only two eyes, manages to see all the things that escape the rest of us. Sitting at the kitchen table, helping her second-grader with his homework, she can see in the living room her three-year-old, trying to stuff a peanut butter and jelly sandwich into the DVD player.

Like the rest of us, these mothers have two lips, but those lips, when pressed to the forehead of an ill child, can accurately record a temperature to within a tenth of a degree. They can heal any wound that doesn’t call for stitches. They can, with a smile, brighten up the darkest day, and bring down heaven’s wrath upon the tot who is bent on misbehaving. The mother we’re talking about has only two ears, but she can hear the silence that says something is not right in her baby’s bedroom. They can pick up the first whimper of a child who is coming down with a cold. Like a patriot missile, they can zone in on a bad word that was spoken a half mile away.

Mom’s brain is different, too. She can hear your thoughts and knows when you’re giving her lip, even when your lips aren’t moving. They know when you haven’t scrubbed your face, even when you wet the washrag. They know who started the argument, and who pushed whom, first. Moms know. I don’t know how they know, but they know.

The only shortcoming moms seem to have is they lie a lot. They can be up all night changing the bed sheets and pajamas of two children who have the flu, but still say they “slept just fine.” When there are six members in the family and only five ice cream bars, they say that, in recent months, they’ve developed an allergy to dairy products. Moms, liars that they are, say they don’t mind their birthday being forgotten or getting a new waffle iron for a 25th anniversary.

Moms have a whole list of excuses why their children are too busy to call them on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. “After all, my children are very busy, and they do have lives of their own.” That’s a hard lie for them to pull off, but moms say it with that tone that says you’d better not challenge them.

Mothers are special. No one can argue it; no one can deny it, or debate it. But as special as mothers are, I would like to spend a few moments talking to you about an exceptional subspecies of the maternal: I want to talk about the Christian mother.

Christian mothers are unique. They are exceptional – not because of any personal quality they naturally possess, or because of any extraordinary gene they’ve inherited. Christian mothers are unique because they know Jesus. Knowing Jesus means that Christian mothers see the world differently; they react differently; they behave differently; they hope differently. Every aspect of their lives is changed because they know Jesus and they believe His holy Word.

Christian moms are special because they want their children to know the Savior, just as they do. And that is cause for thanksgiving.

Prayer: Dear Lord, for a superhero Christian mom, I give thanks. For children who have no such mom, I pray You will intervene. In the Name of the Savior who loves me with a greater love than mom, I pray it. Amen.