Devotion for Thursday, May 31, 2018

“Hear us, Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock, you who sit above the cherubim, shine out. Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up your might! Come to save us!” (Psalm 80:1-2)

It is said there are no atheists in the fox hole. When things are beyond our ability to control, out of hand and we fear, then we finally begin to comprehend that we are in another’s hands. See through this and at all times, turn to the One in whose hands you are. Know that only the One who created you is able to save not only you but all people from the adversity of death.

Lord, You know the times when I have gone on in life as if I were in control. I have learned and know that all things are not in my control. Let Your might be ever before me that I would trust You above all things knowing that in You is hope and an eternal future. Lead me away from the ways of doing as I please into the way of everlasting life that You have put before me.

Lord Jesus, You have all authority and power and You came to us humbly with the purpose of joining us with You to prepare us for being with You in Trinity forever. Guide me, O Lord, to walk in the way You have established knowing that no matter what comes I am always in Your hands. Guide me in the way of truth knowing that nothing will come my way that does not serve the Father’s purpose. Amen. 

Holy, Not Goody

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.”  (Isaiah 6:3)

Holy, and not Goody or Happy or Nicey, and not even Mighty or Smarty—God is holy.  He is different from all other things, and in that way, He is incomprehensible to us.  The medieval theologian, Thomas Aquinas, described God as truly simple, singular in a way that we cannot imagine.

Yet as the angels also declared to Isaiah, this Holy God is happily available to the earth that He has made—“the whole earth is full of His glory.”  God spoke out of His perfect, undisturbed satisfaction and created a whole world to be loved by Him.  Again, He is holy and therefore different from us.  We, finding ourselves perfectly satisfied, might be inclined not to seek anything more, but God, in His satisfaction, sought the creation of many more, that they too might be satisfied.

Here is the God who would set aside His personal joy to seek the lost.  Here is the Father who would give up His Son to death, that the dead might be saved; here is the Son, who would suffer the absence of His Father to comfort the orphaned; here is the Comforter, who would gladly give all glory to the Son and His Father that a whole world of sinners might believe.

He is holy, not nicey and not goody.  He is different from us, and thank God He is.

LET US PRAY: Holy Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: send Your Holy Spirit of love upon all the earth, and enrapture every creature with the glory of Your Son; in His name, the holy name of Jesus.  Amen

Pastor Steven K. Gjerde

Zion, Wausau

Devotion for Wednesday, May 30, 2018

“And He built His sanctuary like the heights, like the earth which He has founded forever. He also chose David His servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from the care of the ewes with suckling lambs He brought him to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them with his skillful hands.” (Psalm 78:69-72)

The Lord chose to reveal His plan for the ages in the way He did. Others have mocked the Lord and sought to pervert the truth of His revelation, but His Word will stand forever. You may go where you will, but where is truth to be found? Is it not the One who created all things and in whom all things hold their being? Come then to the One who is more than able to do all He has promised.

Lord, I do listen to those who mock You and hear all kinds of things. They rattle in my brain and I become confused. Guide my mind and heart to see clearly that You, who are the maker of all things, hold in Your hands all that is true. Lead me away from the rebellion of the heart to simply and humbly come to You and know that I, along with all of creation, am in Your eternal hands.

Lord Jesus, You have come both to demonstrate the godly life, but also to lead the way for as many as would follow You. Lead me, O Lord, today in the truth You have revealed once for all. Help me now and always to see in You the hope of glory and the truth of the great love You have for all people. May I willingly follow wherever You lead, knowing that all things are in Your hands. Amen.

Devotion for June 3, 2018

Devotional for June 3, 2018 based upon 2 Corinthians 4: 5-12

“We do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus. We are afflicted, but not crushed. Struck down, but not destroyed. Always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.”

This coming Sunday, June 3, I will be preaching at a Lutheran church in southern California. Whenever I hear or read the above words from the apostle Paul, I think of the pastor of that congregation.

This pastor is very solid in his theology, very bold in his witness, and very strong in his holding to the authority of Scripture, the historic Christian faith, and traditional Biblical views on human sexuality and marriage. The congregation had been a very liberal Anglo congregation for many years, but then called this pastor after their community became increasingly Asian. Through the hard work of this pastor and the blessings of God, this congregation has experienced a major turnaround from liberal Anglo to increasingly orthodox Chinese.

After this pastor took a very strong stand for traditional views of marriage and human sexuality, a few members of the congregation complained to the bishop of their ELCA synod. The bishop used their complaint as an opportunity to intervene in the life of the congregation. That intervention resulted in that pastor being told that he would need to serve under the supervision of another pastor in order to learn how to be less divisive in his ministry.

The congregation council responded by informing the synod that the group of members who filed the complaint were acting on their own and did not represent the council or the congregation. The synod backed off and told the pastor that he would receive a letter stating that there were no charges against him. That letter has never been received.

In the meantime a couple seminarians from that congregation were told that they would need to leave that congregation or their ordination candidacy process would be cancelled. They refused to leave the congregation. Their ordination candidacy process was cancelled, so they are now pursuing ordination through another Lutheran church body.

The pastor continued to be very strong in his ministry, but through the process suffered a debilitating stroke. He is doing much better now, after more than two years of therapy, but he is still carrying in his body the marks of death because of his bold witness for Jesus Christ.

He is only one example of people who have paid a great price because of their bold witness. Not all have suffered major health setbacks, but many have endured major financial setbacks. Others have experienced severely broken relationships, major conflict and divisions in their congregations, bullying from their synod, and horrible accusations.

These words of the apostle Paul are an encouragement to all who have been faithful during this time of major upheaval within the Lutheran community. If that includes you, may you experience the blessings and love of God as you proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ. You may have been afflicted, but you do not need to be crushed. You may have been struck down, but you do not need to be destroyed. As we carry in our bodies and in our spirits the death of Jesus, may the life of Jesus be made visible in our bodies and through our ministries.

Dennis D. Nelson
President of the Board and Director of Lutheran CORE

Devotion for Tuesday, May 29, 2018

“He drove His adversaries backward; he put on them an everlasting reproach. He also rejected the tent of Joseph, and did not choose the tribe of Ephraim, but chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion which He loved.” (Psalm 78:66-68)

The Lord chooses whom He chooses. It is the Lord who calls us, for without His call, we wander in the desert of life. He knows those who are His and what needs to happen in order for His will to be accomplished. We think we know all we need to know and go about our business, but only the Lord knows where it will all lead. Heed His call that you may be chosen, for He wants none to perish.

Lord, I arrogantly walk the way I walk and do as I do without thinking that I do not know as You know. You do what You do and this world cries unfair. Unfair is that You died for us. Unfair is that Christ was murdered. It is not about fairness, but what You will accomplish in this creation of Yours. Help me to humbly submit to You knowing that You alone are the One who gives life.

Lord Jesus, I need what You alone are able to give. Guide me, O Lord, in the way You would have me go and then help me to walk humbly alongside You now and always. Lead me along Your paths of righteousness, for there are no others that avail, knowing that You have called me to walk with You and learn from You. Thank You for doing what You have for all who believe. Amen.

Devotion for Monday, May 28, 2018

“His priests fell by the sword, and His widows could not weep. Then the Lord awoke as if from sleep, like a warrior overcome by wine.” (Psalm 78:64-65)

What does it take to rouse the Lord? He sees all, so He knows. There is a time when the people look to Him and then they realize He is there. Why do we test and try the Lord? Why do we not humbly come to Him that we may know that it is He who made the heavens and the earth? The Lord is Sovereign and He seeks those who will humbly come and know that He is the One who saves.

Lord, awaken me to see clearly that You have always been there and all things are in Your view. Awaken my heart to seek those things which are pleasing to You that I may abide in Your presence forever. Lead me away from the deadness of this world that I may know the goodness of Your Sovereignty. Lead me, O Lord, into Your ways forever that I may abide in You now and always.

Lord Jesus, You have taught us that You are the way of everlasting life. You have called for us to follow You and go where You lead. Grant me a new heart that would follow in the life You give, going the way You lead in the truth You have revealed. Lead me, O Lord, into the life for which You died that I may abide in You as You abide in me. Guide me now and always, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Devotion for Sunday, May 27, 2018

“He also delivered His people to the sword, and was filled with wrath at His inheritance. Fire devoured His young men, and His virgins had no wedding songs.” (Psalm 78:62-63).

The people rebel and the Lord withholds His hand of mercy and those who have wanted wickedness receive it. Why is it the Lord is blamed when He does not do what others want? It is not that He causes the wickedness, but that rebellious hearts are drawn toward the wickedness of this age. Come out from the way of the world to see that only in the Lord is there true peace and mercy.

Lord, there are times when I receive what was caused by others. There are times when I have been exempt from others’ wickedness. Guide me, O Lord, in the way You would have me go that no matter what comes, I would see Your hand of grace and mercy upon my life. In all things, may I look humbly and simply to You as the source of all goodness and kindness knowing that these things are not in the world except by Your hand.

Lord Jesus, You are the incarnation of grace and mercy. Lift me up in Your grace that I would now and always live in the truth You have revealed. Help me see the truth of Your grace and live it fully in every moment of my days. Guide me to hold fast to the truth You have delivered once for all that in You alone is the hope of all ages. We need to be saved from ourselves, Jesus. Amen.

Devotion for Saturday, May 26, 2018

“For they provoked Him with their high places and aroused His jealousy with their graven images. When God heard, He was filled with wrath and greatly abhorred Israel; so that He abandoned the dwelling place at Shiloh, the tent which He had pitched among men, and gave up His strength to captivity and His glory into the hand of the adversary.” (Psalm 78:58-61)

People will do what they want to do. In spite of all that the Lord has said, they will continue in the rebellion of their ancestors. The way of the Lord is to come to Him and live in peace with Him. For those who ignore Him, He will hand them over to the many who maim, steal and destroy, for such are the fruits of rebellion. Come then to the Lord of all and leave behind the false idols.

Lord, why do I rebel so much? How is it I can in one moment speak of You and the love You have for all and in the next act as thought You are not there? You have shown in Your word the pattern that humans have lived time and time again. I am not exempt. Lead me, O Lord, in the way You would have me go that I may learn from You how to be faithful at all times and in all situations.

Lord Jesus, amidst the idolatry of the ages, You have led those who humbly submitted and followed You. Guide me, O Lord, in the way of truth and teach me not to stray, whether or not adversity comes, teach me to look to You always that by Your grace I would forever hold fast to the truth You have come to reveal. Now and always, may Your Holy Spirit lead me in every moment. Amen.

Devotion for Friday, May 25, 2018

“Yet they tempted and rebelled against the Most High God and did not keep His testimonies, but turned back and acted treacherously like their fathers; they turned aside like a treacherous bow.” (Psalm 78:56-57)

No matter what the Lord does, there are those who will turn their back upon the Lord and go the way they choose. When things do not turn out the way they would like, they rebel and blame the Lord for the disaster. It has been this way from the beginning. But what of You?  Will you go the way of those who have rebelled, or walk with the Lord in whose hands we all rest?

Lord, You know the state of my heart. You know that there is the desire to do what is pleasing in Your sight along with that rebellious nature that wants things the way I want them. Guide me, O Lord, to walk now and always in Your ways alone, for You created everything that exists. Grant me a new and clean heart that turns to You no matter the circumstances and trusts in Your provision or lack thereof.

Lord Jesus, You know the fickle nature of people in this world. You have created us to join in Your love but many go their own way wanting what they want. Help me, O Lord, to come into Your presence and simply walk humbly with You wherever You lead. Guide me according to the will of the father to live a humble life that simply seeks to obey all that You have commanded. Amen.

THE PRAYERS,  4th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 6, Cycle B (June 17, 2018)


4th Sunday after Pentecost, Proper 6, Cycle B (June 17, 2018)


Let us pray to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ on behalf of the Church, the world, and one another.

A brief silence

Most merciful Lord, clothe your Church with the beauty, holiness and righteousness of Christ. Nurture it with the living water of your Word and Sacraments, so that it may become the lovely dwelling-place for people of every nation, race, and tribe. Grant that its words and deeds may bear the fruit which you desire, and which last unto eternity.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 We lift before you the plight of Christians around the world who are persecuted and reviled for your Name’s sake. Grant that their suffering may bear a rich harvest of faith, endurance, and forgiveness, until every knee should bow to adore you. Shield and defend your missionaries, especially when they are met with hostility and rejection.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Plant this congregation firmly in Christ, our living water; so that we may abide in his love, share his forgiveness, teach his commandments, and share in his righteousness.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

Heavenly Father, in you all good and faithful earthly fatherhood finds its source, its guide, and its consummation. Bless all fathers, and all who act with a father’s love, not just this day but always. Fill them with holy wisdom, gentle strength, steadfast care, and patient hope; and grant that in their care, all children may find protection, guidance and love.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Teach our earthly rulers to walk not in the counsel of the ungodly; nor to stand in the way of sinners; nor to sit in the seat of scoffers. Teach them rather to delight on your Law; to meditate on it day and night; and to establish it as the source of justice, truth, and well-being among all people.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 Keep in your special care all who take up arms in defense of life and liberty. Teach them your commandments; fill their minds with wisdom, their hearts with integrity, and their arms with courage and strength. Bless their loved ones, and grant them a swift and joyful homecoming.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Give to all who suffer in mind, body, or spirit, the refreshing waters of your compassion and healing; and grant that they may dwell in the safety of your care even in the midst of all that troubles them. Especially we remember before you: {List}.  Bless those who care for them; help us all to speak words of encouragement and offer deeds of kindness to them; and bring us all into the unending joy of your Kingdom.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Thank you for gathering into the spacious branches of your heavenly Kingdom all the redeemed who have gone before us, especially those we love and miss the most. Grant that we may always find refreshment in your Word, blessing in your Sacraments, guidance in your Spirit, and forgiveness in your Son, so that, with all your people, we may be gathered into the welcoming shelter of your embrace and may abide there in joy forever.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

 Hear and graciously answer our prayers, dear Lord, as it is best for us and most glorifies your holy name. Amen.