Devotion for Monday, July 31, 2023

“And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne, and great authority” (Revelation 13:2).

Throughout history, there have been despots who arise and demand obedience.  The devil gives them their power which is merely deception.  They have come and gone and will come again.  Look to the One who is forever, for He holds all power and authority.  The rulers of the earth rule for a time; the Ruler of the universe created time.  Do not be afraid for the Lord of hosts is with you always and will never leave you.

 Lord, I do not understand why you allow despots to come and rule.  Yet, there are many things that I do not understand.  Help me to look to You, seeking faith, grace, and mercy.  Guide me in such a way that no matter the circumstance, I know that all things are in Your hands and that You have a reason for everything.  Lead me, Lord, and let me see through the temporary nature of this world and its folly.

Lord Jesus, You came to save all who would turn to You.  This is not just a momentary thing, but a reality of life forever. You have told us that he who endures to the end will be saved.  Guide me, dear Lord, to know that in You alone can I live without fear even when times are fearful.  Help me to live by faith.  Help me to live through whatever this world brings, knowing that You will work all things together for our ultimate good because You love us.  Thank You, Lord Jesus.  Amen.


Devotion for Sunday, July 30, 2023

“And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore.  Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten crowns, and on his heads were blasphemous names” (Revelation 13:1).

If at first you don’t succeed, try something else.  The devil loses at every turn, but he won’t give up.  So deep is his hatred that he turns this way and that.  He will do the same with you.  But, the Lord’s love is so great that it never wavers and will not change.  The devil will be allowed to raise up blasphemous leaders who will lead the nations astray, but the Lord is still Sovereign.

Lord, I have been blessed, and forget about the faithful who had to live in times of great persecution.  Lead me to know that You not only know about these times and situations, but that Your promise has accounted for all these things, and You shield Your faithful.  Wicked rulers may arise, but You are always greater still and provide in every season for those who love You.  Lead me into Your love.

Lord Jesus, You came into the world in one of those times where a despot ruled.  There was blasphemy upon blasphemy and You grew up, lived, and ministered to us in such a time.  Guide me in the goodness of Your grace and mercy to walk humbly with You no matter what.  According to Your purposes, help me to live in every situation in the hope You give knowing that because You live, I too shall live.  Amen.   

Devotion for Saturday, July 29, 2023

“So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 12:17).

The wicked one is always enraged.  He is a loser.  He will never prevail against the Lord.  He cannot prevail against you if the Lord is with you.  But he will make war.  He will make life as uncomfortable as possible.  So what?  What are a few days of discomfort compared to eternity with the Lord?  Keep the Lord’s commandments, looking to the Lord and knowing that He will fulfill all of His promises.

I see the anger and hatred of this world, Lord.  So many are tossed about by the lies of the wicked one.  Help me to not fall prey to the wiles of the devil, but to hold fast during this time of wrath.  Keep me in the bond of Your love, the grace You purchased, the gift of redemption You have given, so that I may grow to be more like You every day.  You know what is needed and the times at which it needs to be given.

Lord Jesus, there are many times when I do not understand why the world is so crazy.  But I do see and understand that wickedness has been unleashed.  Help face my fears and build up my faith so that in every circumstance I know that You are the author and finisher of all creation.  Guide me to trust in Your word, believing in the hope that all shall be as You have promised.  Keep my eyes upon You, Jesus, in every time and place.  Amen.

Devotion for Friday, July 28, 2023

“But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth” (Revelation 12:15).

The devil seeks to destroy, and the Lord knows that.  Everything the Lord wills shall come to pass.  He will keep things as they should be.  Knowing this, having your hope in the Lord, what kind of person should you be?  Will you fear the world or follow the Lord?  The wicked one wants to destroy you, but the Lord has given His life to redeem you.  You are in His hands.  Abide with Him no matter what.

In the craziness of this world, especially when things seem to be catastrophic, I am chased by this world’s disorder.  Help me, dear Lord, to not fall because of troublesome circumstances.  You will take care of every commotion that would destroy my faith in You.  Even though I die yet shall I live.  Help me so that my faith is not in circumstances, but in the sure hope You give through faith that by grace I shall be with You forever.

Dear Lord Jesus, You know what it is like to have the floods of wickedness poured out against You.  You went to the cross for me.  Guide me, dear Lord, in the faith You have given me so that I may humbly walk with You, Savior of my body and soul.  Lead me according to Your word to follow what You direct amidst every trouble.  Keep my eyes upon You so that I may follow You through every difficulty.  Amen.


Devotion for Thursday, July 27, 2023

“And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood” (Revelation).

The wicked one wants to drown out Jesus.  It doesn’t matter what you think or believe so long as it is not the truth.  The “floods” of this age come, distracting, diverting, and seeking to lead us astray.  Do not be carried away by the venting of the wicked one in this age.  The Lord has told us these things must come to pass.  Instead, look to the Lord, the giver of life, and live in the hope He gives you through faith by grace.  Do not be guided by your circumstances, but by the Lord of all.

Lord, You know how I am tossed about by the winds of this age.  Help me to focus upon what is right and good.  Teach me to love You and my neighbor, fulfilling the commandments You have given me.  Turn my heart to seek after You everyday.  Open my ears to hear what You would have me hear.  Move my hands and feet to be obedient to what You command.  Through all things, help me to learn what it means to be faithful.

Lord Jesus, these are great thoughts, but You know how my heart wanders and becomes distracted from the task at hand.  Guide me, dear Lord, in the way of truth.  Confront my heart when it is wandering, and through all things, help me to learn from You how to be a dutiful child of the Heavenly Father.  Through all that comes, lead me, dear Lord, so that I may learn from You how to live a faithful life.  Amen.

Devotion for Wednesday, July 26, 2023

“But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent” (Revelation 12:14).

The Lord gives reprieves.  The wicked one may attack, but the Lord is Sovereign.  Do you worry about wicked times?  Do you worry about the outcome?  The Lord will prevail.  This is His world, and He created all things.  Do not be frightened by the stupidity of evil, but marvel at the goodness of the Lord.  All the wickedness of this age is but for a season.  He will shelter you under the shadow of His wings.

Lord, travesty comes, and I wonder why.  Tribulation comes and I do not understand.  Help me to know that Your holy angels  protect and guard those who are in You.  Lead me according to Your goodness to know that in You alone is all hope.  Time is your creation and it is in your hands.  Lead me toward You no matter who or what pursues me.  Guide me to love You and others according to Your will.

Lord Jesus, daily, I need to be saved from the fear and doubts that are in me.  But You told us to “fear not.” Lead me according to Your goodness so that I may hold fast to the hope and promises You give that are mine in You.  Lead me each day to do what You would have me do.  Let me not be distracted by the insanity of the wickedness in this world, but instead live according to the Word You have given me.  Amen.

Summer 2023 Giving Appeal We Need Rest

We Need Rest

Dear Friends –

A few Sundays ago the Gospel reading included the words of Jesus in Matthew 11: 28 –
“Come to Me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

I retired in 2014, but if I were still an ELCA pastor serving a congregation, I would have come to the recent ELCA Rostered Ministers Gathering weary, carrying many heavy burdens, and needing and looking for rest. Post-COVID is a tough time to be a pastor. Many pastors are seeking to rebuild or at least encourage an older and diminishing congregation. They need – and they deserve – renewal and rest. But what was the predominant message that they received at the recent ELCA Rostered Ministers Gathering? That if they are good and faithful ELCA rostered ministers they will make their top priority working to dismantle the structures that have enabled systemic racism ever since the colonial period. They will put their best efforts into working to dismantle white supremacy and male dominance.

I do appreciate the fact that there was one keynote speaker who did express concern for how we are doing personally. He did say that prior to the gathering he had been praying for us and that he wanted to make sure that we know that God loves us. But his was not the dominant voice. One of the keynote Bible studies was on Mark’s account of the baptism of Jesus, where it says that Jesus saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. But that dove was not a gentle presence but a Spirit that then immediately drove Him out into the wilderness where He was with the wild beasts. The Bible study leader then said that being in the wilderness with wild beasts sounds like life in the congregation. What I understood that Bible study leader to be saying is that if you do not fully embrace and pursue all the top ELCA values and priorities you are denying or even working against the fact that God has torn the heavens apart, and if you do pursue all ELCA priorities, you will be like Jesus. You will allow yourself to be driven into a wild-beast-infested wilderness (in other words, the typical, change-resistant congregation).

During lunch one day I was talking with an ELCA pastor whom I had never met before. He was telling me that his congregation had recently voted to become Reconciled in Christ (RIC). I asked him what was happening now. He said, “Nothing.” The leaders who had been working so hard on getting the vote to become RIC “across the finish line” (his words) were so exhausted that they were not ready to do anything else. I asked him (without revealing that I am with Lutheran CORE) how he felt about those who believe that if in 2025 the ELCA Churchwide Assembly votes to eliminate bound conscience (which says that traditional views on human sexuality have a place within the ELCA and those who hold them will be treated with honor and respect) then would not the ELCA, which is very critical of the U. S. government for breaking its promises to Native Americans, be breaking its promises to those who hold traditional views? And would not the ELCA, which claims to want to be inclusive and welcoming, be saying to those with traditional views, “You are not welcome here”? His response was very interesting. He said that he was too tired to think about ELCA issues.

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. My yoke is easy; it will fit you perfectly.” The ELCA says, “Take my agenda upon you, whether it fits you or not.” I believe the ELCA Rostered Ministers Gathering was planned not to serve the needs of the rostered ministers, but to advance the agenda of the ELCA.

We have promised that we would keep you posted on the work of the ELCA’s Commission for a Renewed Lutheran Church. That thirty-five-member commission held their first meeting immediately preceding the Rostered Ministers Gathering. I attended a workshop led by one of the co-chairs of the commission. Her previous work experience included being a DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) and cultural competency trainer. Whom the commission chose as co-chair certainly shows the priorities of the commission. She shared that during 2023 the commission would be listening broadly, and then those attending the workshop shared whom they felt the commission should be listening to. The person whom I feel was least listened to was an older white male (the only one other than me) who said it was tough going to all these meetings and basically being told that he and people like him are the cause of everything that is wrong. The response of the co-chair was interesting. She said that she could hear his pain, which I suspect is her typical response. She heard and acknowledged his pain, but she did not validate his point. I doubt that he felt really listened to.

We will keep you posted as the work of the commission continues. Many people have expressed deep concern and even alarm over the recent accounts we have given of a congregation that was taken over and closed by the synod and a former ALC congregation that is not being allowed to keep its property as it leaves the ELCA. I will be following up on contacting other congregations that I have been told about that have experienced similar treatments from their synods. We are concerned whether the ELCA – anticipating the votes on the reconstituted Lutheran church and bound conscience in 2025 – is working now to make it more difficult for congregations to leave and former ALC congregations to leave with their property.

As you read this letter, I am certain you understand why as executive director of Lutheran CORE I have such a huge sense of the importance and value of what we do, and why I am so grateful for the encouraging words, prayers, and generous financial support of so many people. Because of your generous giving we are able to continue our work of being a Voice for Biblical Truth and a Network for Confessing Lutherans. We are able to provide financial assistance for four seminarians at the North American Lutheran Seminary. We were again able to be one of the sponsors of the NEXUS program for high schoolers at Grand View University. And we were able to become a sponsor of the interdenominational and intergenerational mission projects of River’s Edge Ministries, an NALC-LCMC congregation in Maryland, where a member of our board serves as pastor. Articles in recent issues of our newsletter CORE Voice have told about these mission trips to inner city Baltimore as well as to help victims of Hurricane Ian in Florida. We are praying that God will show us how we will be able to continue our Spanish language and bi-lingual ministries Encuentros, now that the ELCA’s Metro Chicago Synod has taken over and closed the congregation where it was being held.

Thank you for your prayers and generous, faithful support, which makes it possible for us to do our work. This appeal letter is being sent out by email rather than through the post office. If you would like to write a check payable to Lutheran CORE, you could mail it to our address found below. An optional Response Form may be printed by clicking the “Response Form” button below. Or, if you would like to make an electronic donation from your credit card or bank account, please click the “Donate Now” button below.

In thanksgiving to Jesus for you and for His invitation to come to Him and find rest,

Dennis D, Nelson
Executive Director of Lutheran CORE
P.O. Box 1741
Wausau WI 54402-1741

Devotion for Tuesday, July 25, 2023

“And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child” (Revelation 12:13).

The devil and those who follow him lead, are vengeful.  Why let things be when you can pursue and make others miserable?  The world hates the things of the Lord.  The world does not want to be reminded that its time is short.  The world is temporary.  What then?  Where do you place your hope?  Where is your future? Will you be vengeful, or seek after the Lord regardless of the circumstance?

Lord, I am often a mixed bundle of nerves.  I do not do the things You would have me do.  I do follow the way of the wicked one and act and react according to how I feel and not according to what is right.  Lead me to humbly walk steadfastly in the goodness of Your grace and mercy.  Guide me so that I do not lash out when I do not like something but live in harmony with You and others. Let the words of my mouth be acceptable to You, O Lord.

Lord Jesus, You know us better than we know ourselves.  Some are very good at masking what they are feeling.  But too many times, I react according to how I feel.  Lead me, Lord, so that whether I am persecuted or left alone, I look to You alone for help.  When given the opportunity, place in me the desire to love my neighbor even if they persecute me.  In all things, help me to look to You.  Amen.

Devotion for Monday, July 24, 2023

“For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time” (Revelation 12:12).

It is only a short time that the devil has.  Whether you count your seventy years plus or minus, or the whole of this age, what is that compared to eternity?  The Lord has called you through the calamities of this world to live in His presence.  Come then and live into the life He gives.  Be guided by His goodness and mercy to know that in Him is life and liberty.  Woe to the wicked but rejoice, you who are in the Lord’s grace.

Lord, this sounds so simple, but living amidst the attacks of the devil is hard.  You know what it is to be tempted.  Only You were able to perfectly resist the temptation of the devil.  I often fail.  You need to lead me out of the terror of the wicked one so that my eyes can remain focused upon You.  Guide me, dear Lord, in the way of everlasting life so that I may join with You in eternity.

Lord Jesus, You know all that is needed.  You know where I have failed.  You understand the difficulty of living in this age.  You have promised to walk with me all the days of my life.  Even if I do not feel Your presence, guide me Lord so that I turn to You in all circumstances.  Lead me according to Your grace to know that my hope is in You and not in the circumstances of this age.  Amen.

Devotion for Sunday, July 23, 2023

“And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death” (Revelation 12:11).

The world hates the Lord.  He is the Creator and He made everything, but the world has rejected its Creator.  But those who have received grace love the Lord and know that even though they will die, yet will they live because of the promise of the Lord.  How then will you live?  Will you live in the temporary way of the world, or will you come with the Lord to reside with Him forever?  Love the Lord with all your heart and rely not on your own understanding.

Lord, You know I go back and forth and that I am often confused.  Lead me, O Lord, by having a heart that is for You always.  Guide me in Your goodness to know that in You alone is all hope.  Help me get through all that I feel to come to the place where what is true guides me, and help me to be not led by the feelings I have.  Let me not fear death, but rather, love the life that You give by grace.

Lord Jesus, I will die, perhaps even with suffering as You did.  But You rose from the dead.  Guide me Lord Jesus in the hope of everlasting life so that I may not fear death but know that You have given me eternal life.  Help me work through all the temptations that come my way so that I may live in the hope of the resurrection.  Thank You, Jesus for providing all that I need.  Amen.