Even in Agony, I Will Shout for Joy

June 26, 2017
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. – Psalm 100:1-3

What would make you “shout for joy?” Is it knowing that you’re the only one with the correct answer which enables you to win the grand prize?

Maybe you’re not in a “shout for joy” mood. War, natural disasters and dreadful diseases destroy lives. Local crime robs us of peace and security. Squabbles and fights in our own homes, sometimes caused by us, make us feel like shouting, but not with a shout of joy.

What makes this Psalm, this Word of God, so special is that it not only tells us to “shout for joy,” it tells the whole world to “shout for joy,” whether we feel like it or not. Why?

This Psalm gives us the answer to the most important question ever: Who is God? The answer: “Know that the LORD is God.” Note that very special name: the LORD. It was the LORD who rescued his people over and over again in the Old Testament. (Read Exodus 1-17 as an example.)

That same loving LORD also rescued you and me. He personally came to this earth for us on that first Christmas. Remember the words of the Christmas angel? “Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). After living a holy life on our behalf, he died bearing the punishment we deserved for our sin. All our sins are forgiven! Then, on that first Easter, he rose from the dead to prove that through him we, too, will conquer death and gain heaven, the grandest prize of all. The Lord Jesus is the one and only God who can save us. He is the one and only way to everlasting life and joy, to the eternal security and peace of heaven.

And do you know what else is so awesome? Even though the whole world is invited to “shout for joy,” most will not and cannot. They don’t know the LORD, but you do. You know him personally. That loving and faithful LORD revealed himself to us in the Bible. He speaks to us on the pages of Scripture. He is Jesus Christ. He made you. “Through him all things were made” (John 1:3). He purchased you with his blood. “It was not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were redeemed . . . but with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18-19). That makes you one of the precious sheep of his flock. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15).

That’s why you and I can always “shout for joy!” Please join me right now. Don’t be afraid. “Shout for joy to the LORD!”

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I know that you are the LORD, that you are my way to heaven. I know that you made me, and that I belong to you. I am one of your sheep. You purchased me, yes, even a sinner like me. In faith help me always to “shout for joy to the LORD!” Amen.

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Third Sunday after Pentecost

June 25, 2017

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God is Speaking to You!

June 19, 2017
The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: ” ‘ “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” ‘ “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” – Numbers 6:22-26

Imagine that you’re in the throne room of your king. There are many other people there with you. The king says, “Blessings to you.” How would you feel?

You would probably feel fairly good about it. I would too.

But what if the king pulled you aside, so that it was just you and the king, and the king said to you personally, “Blessings to you!”? How would you feel about that?

Undoubtedly, you would be absolutely thrilled!

That’s what God is saying to you in this blessing! He’s speaking personally to you, saying that he is blessing you, yes you, personally, individually. He’s not just throwing a blessing out and saying, “If you get lucky, grab a piece.” No.

Rather, it’s God speaking to you individually, personally, saying, “The LORD bless you, with your particular hopes, joys, hurts, dreams, goals.” Yes, it’s God speaking individually to you, promising to pour out his blessings upon you personally, individually. How do you know that?

Because the original Hebrew word translated “you” is singular. Yes, God is speaking to individuals, speaking to you!

The ultimate King – your God – pouring out his blessing … upon you!

Prayer: Oh Almighty King, thank you for your blessings! Continue to pour them out upon me! In Jesus’ name I pray it. Amen.


Father’s Day

June 18, 2017

Second Sunday after Pentecost

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Well, I Just Don’t Get It

June 12, 2017
When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. – John 15:26-7

Have you ever tried to figure out God? Don’t. It’ll blow your mind. One God yet three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is that immense.

But God doesn’t expect you or even want you to figure him out. He just wants you to know who he is. And when you know who he is, he wants you to tell others so that they know who God is too. God is that important.

It starts with the Holy Spirit whom Jesus sends from the Father. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Counselor and the Spirit of truth, which is really appropriate because otherwise none of us would know the truth of God, especially of Jesus.

Without the Holy Spirit, we’d only know the guilt and shame we carry because of our sin. And we’d only know that, as hard as we try, there’s nothing we can do to take our guilt and shame away. We can never do enough for a holy God. That’s the greatest frustration and predicament in life.

But it is enough when a holy God sends his only Son from heaven and that Son becomes one of us. It is enough when that Son lives the holy life God expects us to live because we have failed so miserably living it. It is enough when that Son sacrifices himself on a cross as payment and punishment for our sin. It is enough when God exchanges his Son’s holy life for our sinful life, giving his holy life to us and dumping our sinful life on him. It is enough when God accepts this exchange and raises his Son from the dead as proof.

This is the true God who goes to such lengths to save mankind. And that’s what the Holy Spirit makes clear to you.

Now comes your witness to others. They need to know what you know. God is that important.

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for revealing to me the truth of who you are. Thank you for being my Savior. May others know the same. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


The Holy Trinity

June 11, 2017

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A Promise That Will Not Be Broken

June 5, 2017
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. – Jeremiah 17:7-8

Jesus has ascended and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. We are here on earth, awaiting his return on Judgment Day. What are we supposed to do while we wait?

The prophet Jeremiah makes a case that the most important thing for us to do is trust the Lord’s promises. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love and faithfulness. He forgives wickedness, rebellion, and sin. He calls us to repentance and faith, and says that we can be confident in his ability and his willingness to forgive us because of everything that Jesus has done.

Jeremiah says that the life of a person who trusts the Lord’s promises looks like the life of a tree with a reliable water source. No matter what the season or the weather, such a tree continues its life cycle and bears fruit. Our reliable water source is the promises of God.

The context of Jeremiah’s encouragement is to trust those promises more than the promises of human beings, and even more than the promises of our own hearts. While we wait for Jesus to return, people will disappoint us, and things we are completely convinced of will prove to be untrue. But the promises of God will never disappoint us, and his Word will always prove to be true.

Do not fear. Do not worry. God can handle whatever comes into your life. He promises that through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer: Lord God, teach me to put my trust in you and fill me with confidence that your promises will not fail. In the fearful experiences and worrisome circumstances of life, bless me with a calm trust in your faithful love through Jesus. Amen.