Daily Devotions with Pastor 04/29/2020

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! I hope you are enjoying this beautiful day, our Lord has made.  Our text today is from Psalm 73:21-22a, “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant.” 

How difficult it is to be unemployed.  You want to work, to earn a living, to pay your bills, to support your family … but you have lost your job through these unforeseen circumstances that have hit our country like a freight train.  You are trying so hard to find something, anything, but no one seems willing to hire you in the midst of a pandemic.  Even if you are fortunate enough to still have your job, perhaps you have seen your hours cut or know people who have lost their job or had their hours cut or are working from home.  For all of us, life is different. 

So what do you do when your life is turned upside down?  Where do you go?  Well, some people turn inward, to self-pity and loathing. Others take this a step further and turn to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate, trying desperately to relieve the emptiness inside.  The psalmist recognizes his own self-pity and bitter attitudes when he cries out,   “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant.” 

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Daily Devotions with Pastor 04/28/2020

Good morning to all of you.  Christ is risen.  He is risen, indeed!  Alleluia! Today we reflect on the impact of the young church in Acts 2:42-47. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common.  They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Luke reminds us of some of the qualities of that early group of believers.  Four qualities are listed. The first two had to do with the apostles’ teaching and fellowship. In this season of social distancing we miss physical connection and proximity.  We pray that our church would be devoted to the study of God’s Word whether we are in person or online and that we continue to fellowship by whatever means possible.

“They devoted themselves to the breaking of the bread and prayer” (v42). The breaking of the bread, of course, refers to the Lord’s Supper.   How we hunger and thirst after the Supper, for the forgiveness that is offered and the fellowship that is extended in this meal.  And then Luke talks about prayer.  Whenever believers met together in churches or in homes for a meal, they would also spend time in prayer. We ask that a culture of prayer would permeate our church and that our Lord would make us a people who delight in coming together to pray.  

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Daily Devotions with Pastor 04/27/2020

Good morning to all of you.  Christ is Risen!  He is risen, indeed!  Alleluia! Our text today is from Proverbs 11:24.  “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.”

All we have comes from God, and he expects us to share with others what has been entrusted to us. We are to give generously and sacrificially to the Lord and those in need.  And God blesses our giving, not because we have earned it but simply because He loves us. 

So, we can live generously … or we can choose a life-style of hoarding.  “Another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.”  We started hoarding when as children, in the sandbox, we kept our toys to ourselves and didn’t let others play with them.  We see that same hoarding spirit in adults, when in our day, people hoard supplies like toilet paper, hand sanitizer and cleaning products.  Hoarding needs to be labeled for what it is–sin! Though we withhold to gain riches, the proverb is correct in that hoarding leads to poverty.  We have all seen stories, now, where those who have hoarded supplies have tried to return them and store after store says, “I’m sorry we can’t take that back.” 

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Daily Devotions with Pastor 04/24/2020

In this post-resurrection season, we are reminded that believing in Jesus always comes with a cost.  In Philippians 1:29 Paul says, “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for his sake.”

Given our support of missionaries at PHLC, we have all, no doubt, heard stories from missionaries about their work and the conversion of people they were sent to serve.  Take, for example, the story of a young woman who converted from Islam to Christianity. She was instructed in Dr. Martin Luther’s Small Catechism and the day after her Baptism she was asked a question, “How are you doing now as you face difficult times as a Christian among many Muslims?”  Her response was curt and to the point.  She said, “I am preparing for persecution.” Wow!  Her response really drives home the Bible text for today, doesn’t it?

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Daily Devotions with Pastor 04/23/2020

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!  I will never tire of this greeting in this the church’s most Holy Season. Easter has twin enemies: doubt and fear.  As we heard on Sunday, if you tuned into our livestreaming, Thomas missed the Easter appearance of Jesus.  He hears from the disciples that Jesus has risen from the dead and appeared to them.  But he declares, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”  Thomas doubts…and where there is doubt there can be no Easter joy. 

Doubt can destroy Easter for us.  Satan raised doubts already in the Garden of Eden.  Our modern age questions God, the Bible, the physical resurrection of Jesus and when life itself begins among a whole host of other things.  The twin enemies of Easter show their common birth.  Fear traces to the root sin of unbelief and so does doubt.  “Unless … I will not believe it.”  We want concrete proof or we will not believe.

The good news for Thomas and us is that Jesus conquers doubt as easily as fear.  A week later he appeared again in the upper room and he says to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put it into my side. “Stop doubting” … or as I said on Sunday, “Be not unbelieving but believing.” At this very moment Thomas joyfully confesses, “My Lord and my God!”

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