Devotion and Readings for January 28, 29, 30, and 31, 2021

footprints

Bible Readings and Devotion for January 24, 25, 26, 27, 2021

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible.

January 28

Matthew 9:9-13

Malachi 1:9-14

Psalms 71, 73

Genesis 28

January 29

Matthew 9:14-17

Malachi 2:1-9

Psalms 74-77

Genesis 29

January 30

Matthew 9:18-26

Malachi 2:10-17 

Genesis 30

Psalms 75, 76, 79, 82

January 31

Matthew 9:27-38

Hebrews 12:1-11*

Psalm 78:1-40

Genesis 31

Devotion for January 28, 29, 30, 31, 2021

By Pastor David Tinker

There is the famous poem often entitled, “Footprints in the Sand.” It has been shared numerous times in the past several decades.  Here is that poem:

“One night I had a dream…

I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord, and
Across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; One belonged to me, and the other to the Lord. When the last scene of my life flashed before us, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that many times along the path of my life, There was only one set of footprints.

I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest
and saddest times in my life
This really bothered me, and I questioned the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
You would walk with me all the way;
But I have noticed that during the
most troublesome times in my life,
There is only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why in times when I
needed you the most, you should leave me.

The Lord replied, “My precious, precious
child. I love you, and I would never,
never leave you during your times of
trial and suffering.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

This is a wonderful poem, but it does not tell the whole story of the support we have in our faith.  Our reading today from Hebrews 12:1-3. We read, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Essentially, as we go through life’s ups and downs, we have two powerful faith resources.  We have Jesus, such as the poem asserts.  We also have what Hebrews refers to as the, “great cloud of witnesses.”  We have one another.  We have the broad support of Christians of every time and place who are with us in support and prayer.

Looking back at the Footprints poem. It could be that, instead of just 1 set or 2 sets of footprints, that we see a beach full of footprints during tough times.  We have many of the faithful who are with us when life gets tough.  Yes, we always have God.  We also get to have one another in the body of Christ.

When we are united to Jesus, we are never truly abandoned nor alone.  God is with us.  All those joined to Jesus are with us.

Prayer

Draw your church together, O God, into one great company of disciples, together following our teacher Jesus Christ into every walk of life, together serving in Christ’s mission to the world, and together witnessing to your love wherever you will send us; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2021 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Devotion and Readings for January 24, 25, 26, 27

MLLC Church Sketch drawing copy

Bible Readings and Devotion for January 24, 25, 26, 27, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible.

January 24

Matthew 8:5-13

Hebrews 10:1-10

Psalms 40, 61, 62, 65, 67

Genesis 24

January 25

Matthew 8:14-22

Hebrews 10:11-25*

Psalm 68

Genesis 25

January 26

Matthew 8:23-34

Hebrews 10:26-39

Psalm 69   

Genesis 26

January 27

Matthew 9:1-8   

Malachi 1:1-8

Psalm 66, 70, 72

Genesis 27

Devotion for January 24, 25, 26, 27, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Being a follower of Jesus is a team sport.  We do life together. Scripture teaches us that we are one body of believers. We worship together.  We pray together.  We have communion with God and one another.  We are baptized into a community of faith, not just a, “Jesus and me,” relationship. We strive together side by side to love our neighbors as ourselves.  We are lovingly commanded by Jesus to love one another.  We support one another throughout the highs and lows of life.  We gather around those in grief for continued support. As we sing and commune, we are united to the eternal throne room of God and to the body of Christ in every time and place.  We bring our unique gifts, contexts, and experiences into the workings of our life together.  We are the team of the people of Jesus. 

The biggest reason a person of faith in Christ is not gathering with others is due to getting out of the habit.  That is what our reading from Hebrews 10:24-25 is talking about.  The author notes, “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  Over time, some people had gotten out of the habit of gathering. 

A habit takes just a short time to form or to fade.  About three weeks is all that is needed.  Missing a week of worship can be painful.  Missing two in a row is hard, but not so hard as the first.  At three weeks a person may start feeling that not attending worship is normal.  The opposite is true for making the positive habit.  Striving to be at worship on three or more successive weeks will make the habit.

I know full well that the COVID19 pandemic has thrown so much of this faithful discipline out the window for so many.  My hope and prayer for all of us is that in the months to come, however many that is, our situation will improve enough for us to return to meeting as would be beneficial to all of us.  Life will get better, and being able to have all generations of our congregation at worship will be one of those better things.

 

Prayer

God of grace, you have given us minds to know you, hearts to love you, and voices to sing your praise. Fill us with your Spirit, that we may celebrate your glory and worship you in spirit and truth, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2021 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Devotion and Readings for January 21, 22, and 23

Bible Readings and Devotion for January 21, 22, and 23, 2021

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible.

January 21

Matthew 7:13-20

Hebrews 9:23-28

Psalms 52-55

Genesis 21

January 22

Matthew 7:21-29

Hebrews 11:17-29

Psalms 56-58, 60

Genesis 22

January 23

Matthew 8:1-4

Hebrews 11:30-40

Psalms 59, 63-64 

Genesis 23

Devotion for January 21, 22, and 23, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

I have heard a statement such as this hundreds of times in my life.  When discussing the ministry of Jesus and a connection with time, a person will say something such as, “In months after Jesus died,” or, “About 20 years after Jesus died.”  These statements always bother me. I will tell you why these do.

It may seem a small issue, maybe a pet peeve of sorts.  For me, these statements miss a major and central point to everything that we do as followers of Jesus.  When we just say, “When Jesus died,” we are skipping over the event which make everything which Jesus did matter.  We are missing that Jesus was raised from the dead.  We are missing the Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.  We are missing that he is still alive.  I prefer to make note of this event in time by stating something such as, “When Jesus died and was raised again,” or, “(so many days/weeks/years) after the resurrection of Jesus.”

When we note only, “When Jesus died on the cross,” we are potentially leaving him in the tomb.  We could be going through life with the assumption that he is still dead.  We could be reinforcing the misunderstanding about what happened after Jesus died and rose again.  Sometimes I get the impression from people, even some professing Christians, that they live and believe in a way that pretty much assumes Jesus is still dead.

Central to our faith is that the Jesus who died on the cross and was placed in the tomb is now alive again, never to die again.  On that third day he was raised to life again.  Then on the 40th day following that, Jesus ascended out of our sight.  He did not die again when he ascended.  We understand that he is alive and present for us in the throne room of God as well as through the various spiritual connections we have with him in life.

Our reading from Hebrews works from the faith assumption that Jesus continues to live for all eternity.  We read in Hebrews 7:15-17, “(referring to Jesus) It is even more obvious when another priest arises, resembling Melchizedek, one who has become a priest, not through a legal requirement concerning physical descent, but through the power of an indestructible life. For it is attested of him, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.””

The risen Jesus is the one with the indestructible life.  Jesus is the one who is priest forever.  It is not just some warm feeling or vague memory.  Jesus is truly alive, and we can know him, serve him, delight in him, and follow him both now and forever.

Prayer

Almighty God, by our baptism into the death and resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ, you turn us from the old life of sin. Grant that we who are reborn to new life in him may live in righteousness and holiness all our days, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2021 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Devotion and Readings for January 13

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Bible Readings and Devotion for January 13, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible.

Matthew 5:13-20

Hebrews 6:1-12

Psalms 34-35

Genesis 13

Devotion for January 13, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

One of my favorite passages of scripture is Ephesians 2:8-10, which read, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”

This passage reminds us of the proper role of good works in our lives of faith. Being good and doing good and right things is not to bring about our salvation from the power of sin, death and evil.  There is nothing we can do to overcome sin on our own.  Instead, we rely upon the grace of God brought to us by the work of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit.  We do not and cannot look to our own power, for it is both insufficient and it is not how God works things for our life and hope and salvation.  We simply rely upon what God has done for us in Jesus.

Verse 10 of that passage from Ephesians does tell us to do good things.  These are good works and right actions are the holy and good results of God’s work for us.  Restoring us to fellowship with God and a life of good works is the plan and purpose for what Jesus has done.  Good works are good, but these do not save us.  Good works are the fruit of God’s work to save us.

Here are two good reasons for doing good in response to God’s grace.

Martin Luther is said to have noted something like this:  “God does not need our good works, but our neighbors do.”  In other words, we are saved by God’s power. The good things we do are to build up and benefit the lives of the people we encounter in this life.

The second reason is noted in our reading today.  In Matthew 5:16 we read the words of Jesus:  “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”  Jesus teaches us to serve and love our neighbors so they will see God’s love for them.  As they see God’s love, they will respond by giving glory and praise to God.

There are two responses to God’s love.  One is to glorify and worship the Lord.  The second is to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Prayer

Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you; and then use us, we pray, as you will, but always to your glory and the welfare of your people, through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Devotion and Readings for January 12

David M Tinker grave

The grave stone for the great uncle of Pastor David Tinker.  This is located in Norwich Bridge Cemetery in Huntington, Massachusetts.

Bible Readings and Devotion for January 12, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible.

Matthew 5:1-12

Hebrews 5:1-14

Psalms 29-30, 33

Genesis 12

Devotion for January 12, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

As I have gone through decades of being an adult, I have had increased exposure to the death of loved ones and friends.  When someone close to our heart dies it is often more painful than we expect.

Our reading from Matthew today is one of the most familiar passages of God’s Word for many people.  It is what is often referred to as the, “Beatitudes.”  A beatitude is an announcement of supreme blessedness from God.  Our Lord Jesus is announcing a blessing or a special gifting to his followers in the various situations noted.  In times of loss we have greater comfort from the words of Jesus here.  He says in verse 4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”  He is saying that he blesses us with mourning and with comfort.

The blessing of mourning makes sense to me in this way.  To mourn the death of a person one usually needs to have had a loving connection with the now deceased.  With no connection, we would not have much reason to grieve.  God loves us, and this enabled us to love and connect with others.  We are blessed with the ability to love one another, and therefore, we experience grief when one of our circle of care dies.

The deeper meaning of the word comfort is often misunderstood in modern culture.  We often associate it with a soft, easy chair.  Historically it is about being strengthened and supported.  God’s blessing to us is that he will support us as we experience grief.  God’s promise is that we are not alone without support in seasons of grief.  The Holy Spirit is always present for us.  Our prayers can always cast the burden of grief on our Lord who cares for us.  The community of faith and the love of God give us strength in times of loss.

We are blessed with love, with morning, and with God’s help when we mourn.

Prayer

Eternal God, your love is stronger than death, and your passion more fierce than the grave. We rejoice in the lives of those whom you have drawn into your eternal embrace. Keep us in joyful communion with them until we join the saints of every people and nation gathered before your throne in your ceaseless praise, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Putting Away Christmas Decorations

Christmas Tree 2014 set up branches

Christmas Decorations to be Taken Down and Stored

We invite volunteers to gather in the MLLC Sanctuary on Tuesday, January 12, to help with this annual project.  The crew will work on removing the Chrismon ornaments and the Christmas lights from the tree.  They will also disassemble the tree.  All items will be put in the storage room for use in Advent and Christmas 2021.

The crew leaders for this project will be present and working from 10 a.m. until approximately 12 noon on Tuesday, January 12.  Additional volunteers to work on this project are greatly appreciated.

Thank you to all who worked to set up the tree and other decorations for this Advent and Christmas 2020-2021.

Advent 3 – December 13, 2020

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Readings, Devotion, and Prayers for the Third Sunday in Advent, December 13, 2020, for both MLLC and Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church

We continue to offer in-person and Facebook Live services following the normal Sunday schedule for both MLLC and Waldeck.  The Facebook Live services will be offered on Sundays at 8:00 a.m. from Waldeck, and at 10:00 a.m. from MLLC.  The Saturday 6:00 p.m. service at MLLC is in-person only.

Below are the readings, prayers, and Sunday sermon.

Remember Your Regular Offerings

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For both of our congregations, Waldeck and MLLC, please remember that our expenses continue even when we are unable to meet as usual.  Please make a point to give your offerings as you would on a typical week.  Here are some ideas of what to do:

For Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ledbetter:

– send your offering by mail to the church office  – Waldeck Evangelical Lutheran Church; 6915 Waldeck Church Lane; Ledbetter, TX 78946

– set aside your offerings each week, and then bring these to church when you can be at worship again.

For MLLC in Carmine:

– send your offering by mail to the church office  – MLLC, P O BOX 362, Carmine, TX 78932-0362

– set aside your offerings each week, and then bring these to church when you can be at worship again.

– give offerings through the church web site:  mllccarmine.com/online-giving  This page has a link to our secure giving page.  Offerings can be made by bank draft, debit card, or credit card through this special web site.

The Third Sunday in Advent

December 13, 2020

First Reading: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

The first reading is from the 61st chapter of Isaiah.

Though the people had returned to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon, they continued to face hardship and oppression. In the language of the jubilee year described in Leviticus 25, the prophet, moved by the spirit of the Lord, announces deliverance for those who are oppressed and comfort for those who mourn.

And now the reading.

1The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
4They shall build up the ancient ruins,
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.

8For I the Lord love justice,
I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
10I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.

Here ends the reading.

Psalm: Psalm 126

Psalm 126 prayed responsively.

1When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
then were we like those who dream.
2Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.
Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
3The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are glad indeed.
4Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses of the Negeb.
5Those who sowed with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,
will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.

Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

The second reading is from the 5th chapter of First Thessalonians.

Paul concludes his letter to the Thessalonians by encouraging them to live lives of continual joy, prayer, and thanksgiving. The closing blessing is grounded in the hope of Christ’s coming.

And now the reading.

16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise the words of prophets, 21but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22abstain from every form of evil.
23May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

Here ends the reading.

Gospel: John 1:6-8, 19-28

P:  The Holy Gospel reading is from the 1st chapter of John.

John’s gospel describes Jesus as the “light of the world.” John the Baptist is presented as a witness to Jesus, one who directs attention away from himself to Christ, the true light.

And now the reading.

6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

19This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” 21And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.” 22Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23He said,
“I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ ”
as the prophet Isaiah said.
24Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. 25They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?” 26John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, 27the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” 28This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

Here ends the readings.

“Post Script for Life”

By Pastor David Tinker

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is something I don’t see as much anymore.  It is a, “P.S.” at the end of a note or letter.  P.S. is the abbreviation for, “Post Script.”  This is something you remember to write at the end of the main body of a message or letter.  It started long before computers and typewriters.  When all letters were handwritten it was a way to add that late thought or message without altering what was already there.

With the various new forms of communication, do we us the Post Script – P S – much any more?  There are so few letters written by hand these days.  I see it occasionally in emails.  In text messages it is less frequent. I found about 4-5 text messages which used a P.S. among my hundreds of saved messages.

At the end of St. Paul’s letters, we get the impression that they’re all kinds of little things he wants to say.  It seems he did not find place or occasion to note these in the main body of the letter. To get these short messages across, Paul uses postscripts. They’re almost like the mother giving instruction to her young daughter before going to camp: brush your teeth, wash her hair, use your manners, and so forth. For Paul, it is little notes inserted at the end in PS fashion: “Rejoice, pray, give thanks.’

In our reading today we have the PS from Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica. Paul spent the letter assuring the people that Christ promised to return.  Now he gives the people a final note on life in the meantime. He gives a short list of God’s will for his people while they wait for his return.

Verses 16 through 18 offer the core of this message: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” This is the core message of Paul’s final instructions to this church before the letter ends. Each of these give instructions which would give the people strengthen times of struggle.

The first is rejoice always. This is a call to Christian joy throughout life. Joy springs from the assurance of God’s action in our lives.  Joy springs from knowing that God has great love for us. It is knowing that God sent his son Jesus into the world to teach us, to love us, and eventually to die for us. Joy springs for the fact that God offers us the forgiveness of our sins which we have done against God and others. Jesus came to receive the eternal consequences of our offenses.  He destroyed the same consequences through his being raised from the dead just a few days after his death on the cross. Death was ended, and joy springs from God’s victory.

Our joy is founded in the hope we have in Jesus.  As followers of Jesus, we can have joy in the midst of death.  It does not mean that we take the death of loved ones lightly.  Rather, we can rejoice in the midst of hard things because we look back in thanksgiving for what God has done, and we look forward to the fulfillment of promises.

Earlier in the 4th chapter of 1st Thessalonians, Paul notes, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.”

So, when we face grief regarding the death of a fellow child of God, we have a mix of loss and joy.  Loss, because we had a strong connection with the person.  Joy, because we know what the Lord has done and will be doing for that fellow believer.

Paul’s second instruction is to pray without ceasing. This is hyperbole and that we are not instructed to shut down our lives to pray. Rather we are to have our lives filled with prayer. Our prayer lives get to move beyond a mealtime or bedtime prayers. Throughout our days we get to come to God with our celebrations, concerns, and prayers for the well-being of others.

Paul’s third instruction is to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  It is easy to get thanks when everything is wonderful, our children our whole, our food shelves are full, our bodies are healthy, and our jobs are secure. But does Paul really mean for us to give thanks in all circumstances?  I believe the answer is yes.

Matthew Henry, the old Bible scholar, was mugged one day. His wallet was stolen. That night in his journal, he wrote these words: “Lord, I am thankful first because I was never robbed before. Second, I’m thankful that although they took my wallet, they did not take my life. Third, I am thankful it was I who is robbed, not I who was robbing. “

What a beautiful example of Paul’s call for thankfulness in all circumstances.

I believe that Paul gave the church instruction on these matters because the people needed to have a deeper relationship with God in order to be strong with all that they would face in their lives. We all need a deeper relationship with the Lord to face all which comes our way in our lives, our church, and our society. God provides us with instruction so that we can be strong until Christ returns, whether it be in our lifetimes or beyond. Our blessed help is from the Lord.  He is the one who carries us through the struggles of life. For this we can rejoice.

As a Post Script, a P. S.:  remember the teaching of Paul:  Rejoice, Pray, and Give Thanks.

Let us pray – Loving God, help us to seek you first in all we say and do.  Guide us to lives which are a fulfillment of your teaching to rejoice, give thanks, and pray.  We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Prayers for December 13, 2020

A      Let us pray for the whole people of God in Christ Jesus, and for all people according to their needs.

A brief silence.

Most High God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you grant us all we need for life and faith.  During this Advent Season prepare us to receive Jesus more fully in our lives.          Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

By your Spirit direct our lives toward following your most excellent way. Help us to strive to rejoice, give thanks, and pray.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Enliven us as we care for others.  We pray for all who face difficulty, illness, or troubles of any kind, including… and also those whom we name aloud or in quiet prayer…     Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Other petitions may be added here.

Guide us into lives of mercy for our neighbors.  As we encounter others throughout our days, enliven our care and compassion for people in need.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We pray for the music and worship leadership ministry of this congregation.  Guide all who lead us in prayer and song.  By your Holy Spirit draw us closer to you.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

 

We lift in prayer those who struggle with grief at this time (especially the family and friends of…).  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

 

P       Into your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

C      Amen

Lord’s Prayer

Devotion and Readings for December 11, 12, 13, and 14

Peter Icon

Bible Readings and Devotion for December 11, 12, 13, and 14, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible.

The primary reading for this devotion is Luke 22:47-71.  At least read this passage to get the foundation for the devotion.

.

December 11

Luke 22:47-53

Revelation 14:14-20

Psalm 105

Isaiah 46

December 12

Luke 22:54-62   

Revelation 15:1-8

Psalm 106

Isaiah 47

December 13

Luke 22:63-71

Revelation 16:1-11

Psalm 107

Isaiah 48

December 14

Luke 23:1-12

Revelation 16:12-21

Psalm 108-110

Isaiah 49

Devotion for December 11, 12, 13, and 14, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

In our daily readings we have been working through the Passion account from the Gospel of Luke.  In the section for the days which we have in this devotion we see the betrayal by Judas Iscariot, arrest, mocking, denial by Simon Peter, and trail of Jesus.  I want to make special note of the denial by Simon Peter.

Earlier in the Passion account Jesus predicts that Peter will deny knowing Jesus.  Peter fiercely rejected this idea.  He and the others assured Jesus that they would remain loyal unto death.   This prediction by Jesus came true just as predicted.  We read in verse 59-62, “Then about an hour later still another kept insisting, “Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about!” At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.”

There is good news about this situation, even though most any person would be ashamed to have done this.  The good news is that God the Son, Jesus Christ seeks us out and forgives us, even when we falter in our faith.  We look to the account of a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus with his Apostles.  We look to John 21:1-19, and especially verses 15-19.  Jesus has met with some of the Apostles on the beach.  They had breakfast together and then they talk.  Three times Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me?”  Peter replies three times that he does love Jesus.  Then Jesus three times calls upon Peter to live out his mission to, “Feed my (Jesus’) sheep.”   Here, the Lord has restored Peter to his role in the company of Apostles.  By God’s grace, Peter is one of us again.

So, when we stray from God’s way in life, remember, God keeps seeking us out.   The Lord wants us to be his faithful people now and forever more.

Prayer

O God of mercy and might, in the mystery of the passion of your Son you offer your infinite life to the world. Gather us around the cross of Christ, and preserve us until the resurrection, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Devotion and Readings for December 10

Bible with bookmark

Bible Readings and Devotion for December 10, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible.

Luke 22:39-46

Revelation 14:1-13

Psalms 103-104

Isaiah 45

Devotion for December 10, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Oftentimes, but not universally, numbers have significance in the Bible.  Our reading from Revelation chapter 14 tells of a special saving work for 144,000 people.  Often the use of numbers points to something about God or about our relationship with God.  Sometimes the use of numbers tells of something being sinful or less than good. It is helpful to gain some understanding of the use of numbers in the Bible to then gain understanding of the message of various parts of scripture.

Here are some key numbers and combinations of numbers which point to truths about God and our connection with God.

3 – the number of things of God.  For example, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

4 – the number of things of the earth.  For example, the compass directions

3 + 4 = 7 – something joining heaven and earth.  For example, God and people forgiving 7 and 70 times.

3 x 4 = 12 – something joining heaven and earth.  For example, the 12 Apostles of Jesus.

Multiplying 12 or 7 by itself – 49, 144, serving to intensify the connection

Multiplying 12 or 7 or 49 or 144 by 10, 100, or more – serving to intensify the connection

Repetition of any Biblical number – intensifying.  77, 70 times 7

40 Days or 40 Years – A long time on earth.  40 days is more than a month.  40 years is a generation or so.

6 – something less than the perfection of 7 – something not good or something sinful.  The use of 666 in Revelation was to note it being extra bad.  Some interpret this to be the number of the Roman Emperor Nero.  He was a cruel persecutor of Christians in the 60s AD.  St. Peter and St. Paul were martyred under his actions of persecution of Christians.

13 – something imperfect compared to the perfection of 12 – something not good or something sinful.  11 could possibly be used this way.  This may be why there was a new 12th Apostle appointed in Acts chapter 1 following the death of Judas Iscariot.  Interestingly, there were no more Apostles appointed after this, even though they all eventually died.  In part, the qualifications of an Apostle required that the man be one who was with Jesus and the others from the beginning.  After a while there would be nobody left.  St. Paul was an apostle in the sense that he was a missionary and proclaimer of the Gospel.  Since he was not a follower of Jesus since the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Paul would not qualify to be part of the 12 Apostles.

The most important use of numbers in the Bible and in our study of the Bible is that we are drawn into a closer relationship with Jesus Christ and that we grow to love God and neighbor more.  If we use numbers to put down others, to get obsessed with odd theories, or generally get distracted from our core calling as Christians, then this is a misuse of the numbers.

Prayer

Blessed Lord God, you have caused the holy scriptures to be written for the nourishment of your people. Grant that we may hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that, comforted by your promises, we may embrace and forever hold fast to the hope of eternal life, which you have given us in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

Devotion and Readings for December 9

Trinity Symbol

Bible Readings and Devotion for December 9, 2020

Here are the references for the readings.  Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible.

Luke 22:35-38  

Revelation 13:11-18

Psalms 99-102

Isaiah 44

Devotion for December 9, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Remember, a god is the one or the thing in which we place ultimate trust.  As followers of Jesus we look to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as witnessed to in Holy Scripture, as our greatest good.  We understand that there is nothing and no one above or greater in all the universe than our God. We believe and teach that there is no true god except this one God.

Throughout time people have placed their trust in many and various things besides the one true God.  This could include a specific other god as worshipped in their culture.  Other people put their trust in things, wealth, and power.  Others trust their own personal philosophy of life, even a godless philosophy.  Our minds and spiritual hearts put all sorts of things in the place of the one true God which are not worthy of ultimate trust.

In our reading today from Isaiah 44 we hear about one of the problems with false idols.  Inspired by the Lord, the prophet presented a reflection about the absurdity of the idols which people of his day were creating.  We see this presented in verses 9-20 of chapter 44.  His argument is that it is ridiculous that people are carving a god out of the same tree wood which they would use as firewood for cooking a meal.

The problem of false idols and how these idols lead one astray is noted by St. Paul in Romans 1:22-25.  Of special note is verse 25, “…they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”  Over time, people have chosen to worship created, living things.  They have even sometimes worshipped themselves in a sense.  They put their ideas ahead of God’s ideas.  They push the Lord out of their decision-making process, and thus trust in themselves rather than the one true God.

Ponder this: What are some ways you have looked to something other than God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as that in which you place your greatest trust?  What are some things, animals, or philosophies which have become idols for you? Today, with God’s help, we can reset our lives and put our ultimate trust in our God who created all that is and who loves us beyond measure.

Prayer

A Prayer of Martin Luther

Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled. My Lord, fill it. I am weak in the faith; strengthen me. I am cold in love; warm me and make me fervent, that my love may go out to my neighbor. I do not have a strong and firm faith; at times I doubt and am unable to trust you altogether. O Lord, help me. Strengthen my faith and trust in you. In you I have sealed the treasure of all I have. I am poor; you are rich and came to be merciful to the poor. I am a sinner; you are upright. With me, there is an abundance of sin; in you is the fullness of righteousness. Therefore I will remain with you, of whom I can receive, but to whom I may not give. Amen.

Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.