Devotion and Readings for September 13

Paul Icon

Bible Readings and Devotion for September 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:

Luke 7:18-23  

2 Corinthians 1:8-14

Psalms 32, 36, 38

Job 20

Devotion for September 13, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

We have just begun reading through Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth.  As we begin this set of readings from Paul I thought it would be helpful to provide a general overview of the structure of his letters.  This is an adaptation I arranged based mostly on the outline presented by Fred B. Craddock in his commentary on the book of Philippians.   To see more about this book click this link to the Amazon page about it.

Outline of a Letter of Paul

Although not all letters of Paul follow this outline in precise detail, this outline does give a general idea of the format and purpose of Paul’s letters.  He followed a standard format for letters of his time period:  First Century AD in the Mediterranean (Greco-Roman) part of the world.

Salutation

This contains the identification of the sender or senders, who is being addressed, and a greeting.

This section can often tell the mood of the letter as well.

Thanksgiving

This section occurs in all of Paul’s letters, except Galatians.  Instead of a direct thanks to the people, which was common in Paul’s day, Paul gives thanks to God for the relationship he has with the people, and for the good things God has done.  Often Paul will give hints to the content of his letter.

Body of Letter

This section contains three major elements:

  • Theological, church and practical matters which have led to Paul writing this letter.
  • Stories and messages from Paul’s own life which help the readers and hearers of the letter better understand the faith.
  • Travel plans for Paul which would relate to the recipients of the letter. Often, he will note that another Christian leader will be traveling to visit on Paul’s behalf.

Moral and Ethical Instruction

This section is where Paul teaches how we are to live in response to the message of Jesus.  This often includes messages about how to know what is right and what is wrong, but can also include encouragements about the friendship between Paul and the church receiving the letter.

Closing

This section includes a closing message and, often, a series of greetings to various people in the church.  There will often be a statement of blessing and a doxology (a statement giving glory to God).

So, as you read through 2 Corinthians and other letters of Paul, use this outline to understand better the message of these notable sections of Holy Scripture.

Prayer

We thank you, O God, for all your servants and witnesses of times past: for Abraham and Sarah, Moses and Miriam, Deborah and Gideon, Samuel and Hannah; for Isaiah and the prophets; for Mary, mother of our Lord; for Mary Magdalene, Peter, Paul, and for all the apostles, for Stephen and Phoebe, and for all the martyrs and saints in every time and in every land. In your mercy, give us, as you gave them, the hope of salvation and the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen

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

Devotion and Readings for September 12

Joseph of Arimathea Icon cross

Bible Readings and Devotion for September 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:

Luke 7:11-17

2 Corinthians 1:1-7

Psalms 34-35

Job 19

Devotion for September 12, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Grief is a hard thing. Most, if not all, of us have experience grief.  Grief is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as, “Intense sorrow, especially caused by someone’s death.”  We most often connect the idea of grief with death, but that is not the complete picture.  Grief can be experienced in many parts of our lives.  We can have grief due to a loss of a relationship, the loss of a job, the changes of life, empty nest situation, loss of a home due to sale or a move, and so much more.

At funerals in our tradition there is a Bible verse which is read as part of the beginning liturgy.  The liturgy from Lutheran Book of Worship 1978 (LBW) notes, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the source of all mercy and the God of all consolation.  He comforts us in all our sorrows so that we can comfort others in their sorrows with the consolation we ourselves have received from God,” to which the congregation replies, “Thanks be to God.”

This is a paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, which read, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.”

For the context of grief and loss, this takes the general principal of, “Blessed to be a blessing.”  Just as the Patriarch Abraham was given much, and was called upon to use that to be a benefit to others, we, too, are comforted in our sorrow by God so that we can also be a comfort to others.  We get to use our experience with God’s work with us in grief to help others in their times of life.

Our benefit to others can take many forms.  One part of this is when we listen to those who are grieving.  We can listen without trying to solve their problems nor showing condemnation. The second benefit to others is when we share our stories of grief.  By telling our stories we can help others know some important truths.  Among those are that they are not alone in their grief, for now they know that others have gone through such experiences.  We can also help them see that grief is not the end.  There are many things through which they will go, but, with God’s help and the help of others, we can live through grief and live beyond the most difficult moments.

Our care for those who experiencing grief is a godly calling, founded in the Word of God.  All of us can help others.  All of us can be agents of God’s sure and strong comfort for others in their times of great loss.

 

 

Prayer

Almighty God, your love never fails, and you can turn the shadow of death into daybreak. Help us to receive your word with believing hearts, so that, confident in your promises, we may have hope and be lifted out of sorrow into the joy and peace of your presence; through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Amen

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

Devotion and Readings for September 11

Eternity

Bible Readings and Devotion for September 11, 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 7:1-10

Job 18:1-21

Psalm 29, 30, 33

2 Kings 25

Devotion for September 11, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

So often our perspective is very short.  We look at what is happening maybe for a hour, a day, a week, a month, or maybe a little more.  Sometimes we get thinking about bigger goals in life and look into several years into the future.  But, most of the time, our perspective is usually pretty short.

This is not necessarily wrong, for so much of life just about trying to get through the day at work, the medical appointments, concern for one’s children, and so much more.  It is a beautiful blessing from God when we can see beyond the moment or the day. 

Our reading from Psalm 30 reminds us of this opportunity we have from God to have a longer perspective on life.  We read is Psalm 30:12b, “O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.”  This follows a series of prayers of thanks explaining how God has helped the psalm writer to have a renewed perspective on life.  We read a portion of this in verses 11 and 12, “You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent.”

God has done, and continues to do, so much for us.  In another psalm we read a statement about the length of the list of good things God has done.  Psalm  40:5 notes, “You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted.”  This is another way of saying, “O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.”

Since we have so many things for which we can be thankful, we look toward the future.  We can celebrate what God has done, is doing, continues to do, and will be doing for us.  As we do this, we can grow more to understand that there is so much more to knowing, following, serving and celebrating our God.  We can understand that he is with us now, and he is leading us into the beautiful future we have with him.

Prayer

Almighty God, your love never fails, and you can turn the shadow of death into daybreak. Help us to receive your word with believing hearts, so that, confident in your promises, we may have hope and be lifted out of sorrow into the joy and peace of your presence; through Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Amen

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

Devotion and Readings for September 10

Dore Jesus protecting woman John 8

Bible Readings and Devotion for September 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 6:43-49

Job 17:1-16

Psalms 26, 28, 31

2 Kings 24

Devotion for September 10, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

Life can be simply overwhelming at times.  During this time of the COVID19 Pandemic often our feelings are amplified.  This seems especially common with more negative, sad, or fearful feelings. I have heard from many people in various context that life in this time is just too much as they work through these amplified and challenging feelings.

At the same time, we are given powerful reassurance of God’s goodness for us in such times.  We are not alone.  We are not forsaken in these times.  We are not left out in the cold and away from our Lord.  In our reading from Psalm 31 we have one such assurance.  We read from Psalm 31:21, “Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was beset as a city under siege.”

These times have felt like we are under siege.  The world has always put pressure on the people of God.  When there is added stress from any cause, the sense of siege on our lives increases.  Into this, our Lord comes alongside us to carry us through.  By the Word and Spirit we are given assurance that this too shall pass.  No matter how long or what happens, the steadfast love of God is there for us.  We are assured daily from the book of Romans 8:38-39, where St. Paul notes, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The presence of the Lord assures us in our darkest, loneliest, and most painful times that we have God’s support.  It reminds us that can rely upon the Lord for strength to carry on.  It reminds us that, as St. Peter reminds us, “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7).  When life seems to be simply overwhelming at times, we can prayerfully release our burdensome and anxious feelings into God’s strong shoulders.

We do not have to navigate the struggles of life today on our own.  With God’s steadfast love, the comfort of the Word of God, and the continued support of the Holy Spirit, we will live with God through this time.

Prayer

Eternal God, amid all the turmoil and changes of the world your love is steadfast and your strength never fails. In this time of danger and trouble, be to us a sure guardian and rock of defense. Guide the leaders of our nation with your wisdom, comfort those in distress, and grant us courage and hope to face the future; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen

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

Devotion and Readings for September 9

church.lady_

Dana Carvey portraying, “The Church Lady,” on Saturday Night Live in the 1980s and 1990s.

Bible Readings and Devotion for September 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 6:37-42

Job 16:1-22

Psalm 25, 27

2 Kings 23

 

Devotion for September 9, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

About 30 years ago on Saturday Night Live there was a recurring skit character called The Church Lady.  This character, portrayed by comedian Dana Carvey, presented a negative stereotype of hypercritical Christians. Carvey’s character would criticize people, whether present or not.  The Church Lady would regularly accuse people of being or working for Satan.  All of this was for comedy and satire.  With satire there is always the possibility that some of what is being said is very close to the truth.

One thing which has been a struggle for Christians for millennia is that we have fallen into the trap of pointing out the sin of others.  In this, we often totally avoid addressing our own sinfulness.  You see, it is much more comfortable to tell the world what is wrong with another person than to acknowledge one’s own sin. 

In today’s reading from Luke 6, our Lord addresses this very issue.  When teaching about casting judgment against other, Jesus states, “Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.”

The speck is the minor sin of another person.  The log or plank is the significant sin in the life of the person casting judgment against the other.  Our Lord wants us to work on what is wrong with our own lives, and to get back on track with God’s ways.  This is what the scriptures call, “repentance.”  Repentance is the first call of God for our lives. 

Jesus points out this truth later in Luke 13:1-5, “At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.””  Jesus reminds people to deal with their own sinfulness first, and to get back on track with the Lord.  To complain or accuse or worry about the sin of others is merely a distraction from responding to the gracious call of God.

The account of the woman caught in the act of adultery in John 7:53 – 8:11 is another way Jesus addressed this same issue. 

The fictional and satirical Church Lady is very much counter to God’s will for our lives.  Instead, we are daily to do what Jesus said in his first sermon in Mark 1:15, where he said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”  It is not about the sin of others, it is about how we address our own sin before our God.  Remember, he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.

 

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 © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Devotion and Readings for September 7 & 8

Bible Readings and Devotion for September 7 & 8, 2020

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

September 7

Luke 6:20-26

Job 14:1-22

Psalms 19-21

2 Kings 21

 

September 8

Luke 6:27-36

Job 15:1-35

Psalms 22-24

2 Kings 22

 

Devotion for September 7 & 8, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

 

This summer has been filled with contentious misery across our land.  There has been an amplification of some of the difficult patterns of human sin.  From various causes and sources here has been an intensification of hate, division, devaluation of human life.  We have witnessed the spread of misinformation and lies.  We have seen longtime friends break with one another.  We have seen an intensification of political and social division.  We have seen an increase of violence, intimidation, and vigilantism. 

There are many causes of these, but that is not what I am here to debate.  I am not going to point fingers, for the guilty parties are more than I can count on my fingers, and this is not about accusing one party or another. 

Our readings from Luke have Jesus teaching us about how we are to respond to hatred and division among people.  His statements counter much of what we, in our sin, would want to do when times get difficult.  Often, we want to respond with greater anger and even violence to the bad behavior of others.

Jesus presents a different pattern for response.  Here is what our Savior teaches, “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.  Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

We are so often drawn to the emotionally intense and sometimes loud or violent response to difficulty, conflict, and opposition.  Sometimes we may even want to, “hit them back twice as hard and twice as many times,” as I have heard some say over my years.  If God were to have taken that approach, then we would all have been dead long ago. 

Taking the Jesus way in such matters is very much not easy.  There is one thing which we can do which will surely help us.  We can pray for the Holy Spirit of God to produce fruit in our lives.  Remember the, “Fruit of the Spirit,” in Galatians 5:22-26.  Here is what St. Paul teaches us, “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

He goes on to say, “There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.”

When we face the angst and division of our current day, we are reminded to remember that Jesus has died for the forgiveness of these things.  He has brought with him to the cross the fleshly passions and desires which stir us to respond to this world with increased hatred and division which depersonalize our perceived enemies.  The Holy Spirit and the teachings of Jesus turn our lives toward peace and reconciliation.  Initially it is a harder way, but it is the way of Jesus.

 

Prayer

Gracious God, your Son called on you to forgive his enemies while he was suffering shame and death. Lead our enemies and us from prejudice to truth; deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen

 

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

The 14th Sunday after Pentecost

SEPTEMBER 6, 2020

FOURTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

First Reading: Ezekiel 33:7-11

R:  A reading from Ezekiel, the 33rd chapter.

God appointed Ezekiel as a sentinel for the house of Israel. Ezekiel must faithfully convey God’s warnings to the people. Remarkably, God—who is about to attack Jerusalem—gives a warning with the hope that repentance will make the attack unnecessary.

7So you, mortal, I have made a sentinel for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 8If I say to the wicked, “O wicked ones, you shall surely die,” and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand. 9But if you warn the wicked to turn from their ways, and they do not turn from their ways, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but you will have saved your life.
10Now you, mortal, say to the house of Israel, Thus you have said: “Our transgressions and our sins weigh upon us, and we waste away because of them; how then can we live?” 11Say to them, As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways; for why will you die, O house of Israel?

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Psalm: Psalm 119:33-40

R:  Psalm 119, read responsively by verse.

33Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes,
  and I shall keep it to the end.
34Give me understanding, and I shall keep your teaching;
  I shall keep it with all my heart.
35Lead me in the path of your commandments,
  for that is my desire.
36Incline my heart to your decrees
  and not to unjust gain. 
37Turn my eyes from beholding falsehood;
  give me life in your way.
38Fulfill your promise to your servant,
  which is for those who fear you.
39Turn away the reproach that I dread,
  because your judgments are good.
40Behold, I long for your commandments;
  by your righteousness enliven me. 

Second Reading: Romans 13:8-14

R:  A reading from Romans, the 13th chapter.

The obligation of Christians is to love one another and so fulfill the heart and goal of the law. Clothes make the person as we “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” and live today in light of the future God has in store for us.

8Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.
11Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

*Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20

P:  The holy gospel according to St. Matthew, the 18th chapter.

Glory to you, O Lord.

Jesus offers practical advice to his disciples on how individuals—and the church as a whole—should go about restoring relationships when one member has sinned against another.

[Jesus said to the disciples:] 15“If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.

16But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

The gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, O Christ.

Devotion

“Clothes Shopping”

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

         In the past month many families have gone clothes shopping.  It is an annual ritual of sorts for the time of back to school.  This is done for at least two reasons.

1 – to make sure the student has sufficient and proper fitting clothes.

2 – to help the student begin the year with a fresh attitude of self-respect and readiness for getting down to work.  The outer garb helps with the inner attitude.

         There is that old proverb:  The Clothes Make the Man.  This generally means that what a person wears helps to define who they are and what their attitude will be.  Sloppy or dirty clothes can affect the attitude of a person. Neat, clean and well-ordered clothes can be part of a generally together and positive attitude for a person.  Also, the way one dresses affects how the person is perceived or understood by others.

         Clothes used as a uniform help identify the role, actions, or associations of a person.  Police officers, fire fighters, restaurant workers, soldiers, pastors, medical staff, and many others wear uniforms for identification by others.

         In today’s reading from Romans we read about a new kind of clothing or uniform for God’s people.  This clothing can not be seen on the body, but it can be seen in how the believer lives.  Paul writes in verse 14 of our reading, “Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for he flesh, to gratify its desires.”  The Apostle Paul also refers to this as the “armor of light” in verse 12.  The basic message is that through the forgiveness of sin and the loving goodness of God, believers in Jesus have the opportunity to become someone different.  For us to have believed in Jesus and received him through baptism and faith, we are called to become the person God has made us to be.  Our lives are changed for the better by entering into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.  When we put on or receive Jesus Christ in our lives we get to see how the Holy Spirit transforms our lives.  Our new set of clothes, our new uniform is Jesus.  We become what God has dressed us to be.  In a very real sense, by the grace of God, the Clothes make the Christian.

         With God’s abundant goodness and mercy we are invited to put on the new clothes of faith.  These new spiritual garments replace the old.  This replacement takes place first on the cross of Jesus.  Our old way of living, filled with broken lives, sin, death, self-deception, evil and destruction, has only brought us death.  Paul reminds us earlier in the book of Romans that, “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23).  Our rejection of God and his will had become our way of living.  Humanity had put on the dirty rags of sin, death and evil. 

         God, through the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, has offered to us a new set of clothes.  He first takes upon himself our dirty rags of sin and death.  These he wore spiritually when he died on the cross for the forgiveness of all we had done to disregard his ways.  Just days after Jesus was lain in the tomb and left for dead he surprised the world by fulfilling his promise to rise from the dead.  In that he offers to humanity a new set of clothes.  As we are joined spiritually to his death and rising from the tomb we are granted the new garments of salvation from eternal death and the power of sin and evil.  Through baptism and the gift of faith we are clothed with Jesus’ perfection, love and goodness.  Paul reminds us of this truth in Galatians, chapter 3, verse 27, where he writes, “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ”  We give thanks that God gives to us life and hope and the garments of salvation, and we are empower and gifted to live God’s most excellent way. 

         Along the way we discover and implement all that this “Putting on Christ” means for our lives.  One of the most powerful passages describing this is in Ephesians, chapter 6, verses eleven through seventeen.  Paul writes, “11 Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15 As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16 With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

         God’s blessing of being clothed with Christ changes who we are and what we do.  Through the mercy of our Lord we can put on the whole armor of God and we can be ready for all that God calls us to do.  I invite you to ponder the words of this passage about the Whole Armor of God.  Start with giving thanks to God for his mercy and grace.  Then prayerfully consider how you might utilized the gifts of God for the encouragement of your faith, for being a blessing to others, and to give praise and thanks to our loving God.  And remember, by the grace and goodness of God, the Clothes make the Christian.

Let us pray – Gracious Lord, your mercy is greater than we can ever imagine.  By your Holy Spirit help us to receive you in faith and to grow into the people you have redeemed us to be.  We pray this in Jesus’ holy name.  Amen

*Prayers of Intercession

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

A brief silence.

Loving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, you are the one true God.  Turn our spiritual hearts toward you so that we may respond to you with joyful worship and abundant praise.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We give you thanks for the blessings of work in our daily lives.  Help us to use our gifts and resources in a manner which builds up life for the community.  Lord, in your mercy,  hear our prayer.

Enable each of us to show compassion and charity for our neighbors each day.  Guide us to love and care for one another in your Church, the Body of Christ.  Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

We lift in prayer those who have suffered in any way due to recent disasters. Help us work with others to bring relief and encouragement to these neighbors in need.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We pray that all who mourn will receive the comfort of the Holy Spirit.  Guide us to care for those who struggle following the loss of a loved one.  (We especially remember…)   Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Good and Gracious Lord, bring healing, strength and hope to those who struggle in mind, body, or spirit, especially . . .  and also those whom we name aloud or in quiet prayer…  May your comforting Spirit strengthen all for whom we pray.   Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

We lift in prayer Texas Lutheran University and the Lutheran Seminary Program of the Southwest.  Guide the leaders, students, staff and faculty at these schools as they train leaders for the church and society.  Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Other petitions may be added here.

You grant us what we truly need in this life.  We pray that you would be powerfully present with each of us.  Stir your Holy Spirit in us to bring out the spiritual fruit of generosity and goodness in our lives.  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.

Amen

LORD’S PRAYER 

Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #27061.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Waldeck Lutheran Church BBQ Sunday, September 27. 10:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m.  Drive thru only.  Whole Chicken $10/each; Sausage Links $7/each.  Homemade BBQ sauce also available.  Pre-order by calling 979-249-6551 or 979-966-8872.  Tell your friends.  This is their main, special fundraiser for 2020.  Thank you for your support.

Devotion and Readings for September 5 & 6

Bible Readings and Devotion for September 5 & 6, 2020

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

September 5

 

Luke 6:12-16 

Job 12:1-25

Psalm 12-14, 17

2 Kings 19

September 6

Luke 6:17-19

Job 13:1-28

Psalm 18

2 Kings 20

Devotion for September 6, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

When teaching about the various Books of the Bible I have sometimes tossed in an odd name.  It is Hezekiah.  I know that Hezekiah is not the name of any book of the Bible.  His name sounds like a prophet or something like that.  I throw this name out there to get people thinking.  I mention him because our reading from 2 Kings 20 shares part of his story.

My ultimate goal when teaching the names of the books is this: I hope that people will learn the names of the books of the Bible, in order, and as to whether it is Old Testament or New Testament.  The purpose of this is so that people will be able to use their Bible well.  When given a reference I want to help them to find the book quickly.  Then they can move along to find the specific chapter and verse.   When they know where a certain book it, then they can also gain understanding of what is around it and how it relates to the themes and broad story of God’s Holy Word to us.

One of the tools I use for teaching is what follows in this devotion.  It is a document I created more than a decade ago.  It presents the names of the books of the Bible in order and divided by Old and New Testaments.  I also read through the book and found a short theme of each book.  

Here is a link to a PDF of this document.  Feel free to use it.  It will print out better than printing this web page. 

Books of the Bible – Themes of Each Book               THE OLD TESTAMENT

1.         Genesis                       A Book of Beginnings

2.         Exodus                       Freedom for God’s people

3.         Leviticus                    A Holy People Worship a Holy God

4.         Numbers                    Preparing for the Promised Land

5.         Deuteronomy             The Second Giving of the Law

6.         Joshua                        Entering the Promised Land

7.         Judges                        Heroes for Israel

8.         Ruth                           Family is Important

9.         1 Samuel                    The people ask for Kings

10.       2 Samuel                    David’s Success and Sin

11.       1 Kings                       Divided Strength in Israel

12.       2 Kings                       Deeper Trouble for God’s People

13.       I Chronicles               Retelling of History

14.       2 Chronicles               Idol Worship brings them down

15.       Ezra                            Return to Jerusalem

16.       Nehemiah                   Rebuilding the Walls

17.       Esther                         A Queen Saves the Day

18.       Job                              Life is Tough, God is Faithful

19.       Psalms                        The People Sing

20.       Proverbs                    Wise Ideas for all time

21.       Ecclesiastes                Life is Meaningless without God

22.       Song of Solomon       God’s Love Song

23.       Isaiah                          Afflict the Comfortable, Comfort the Afflicted

24.       Jeremiah                    The Need to Return to God

25.       Lamentations             Hope in the midst of tears

26.       Ezekiel                        Doom leads to hope

27.       Daniel                         Standing Firm under Pressure

28.       Hosea                          God’s unfaithful people

29.       Joel                             The Promise of God’s Holy Spirit

30.       Amos                          Let Justice Roll Down like waters

31.       Obadiah                     Don’t Mess with God’s people

32.       Jonah                          God loves all people

33.       Micah                         Perverting Faith or Pleasing God

34.       Nahum                       God Judges, God Rules

35.       Habakkuk                  God is in Control

36.       Zephaniah                 Seek the Lord

37.       Haggai                        The Call to Rebuild the Temple

38.       Zechariah                  Visions of Hope

39.       Malachi                      The Faithful will remain

 

 

Books of the Bible – Themes of Each Book     THE NEW TESTAMENT

1.         Matthew                     Jesus Teaches Us

2.         Mark                          Prepare the Way of the Lord

3.         Luke                           The Babe who Loves us

4.         John                            God so loves the world

5.         Acts                            The growing church

6.         Romans                      Textbook of the Good News

7.         1 Corinthians             Love – the More Excellent Way

8.         2 Corinthians             We are a New Creation

9.         Galatians                    Freedom in Christ

10.       Ephesians                   One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism

11.       Philippians                 Joy in Following Jesus

12.       Colossians                  Jesus is Supreme

13.       1 Thessalonians         Be Faithful in the Long Term

14.       2 Thessalonians         Waiting for Jesus

15.       1 Timothy                  Encouragement for a young leader

16.       2 Timothy                  Strength in Service

17.       Titus                           Instructions for Leaders

18.       Philemon                    A plea for true brotherhood

19.       Hebrews                     Christ is the Greatest

20.       James                         Be a Doer of the Word

21.       1 Peter                        Strength in Suffering

22.       2 Peter                        Diligence in Growth

23.       1 John                         Let us love one another

24.       2 John                         Walking in the Truth

25.       3 John                         Imitating Good

26.       Jude                            Watch for False Teachers

27.       Revelation                  Hope for Heaven

My hope and prayer for each of you is that you will actively seek to read, study and understand God’s Word.  It is a message from our loving God of faith, hope, and love for the whole human race, including Hezekiah.

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 September 4

Augsburg Confession Johanniskirche_2_001_retuschiert
A painting depicting the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession on June 25, 1530. 

Bible Readings and Devotion for September 4, 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 6:1-11

Job 11:1-20

Psalms 8, 11, 15, 16

2 Kings 18

Devotion for September 4, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

The central document of the Lutheran teachings is the Augsburg Confession.  This was presented to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V, on June 25, 1530.  From this we continue to highlight the 4th and 6th articles or points of the Augsburg Confession as central to our connection with God.  You can read the entire document in translation at this link:  Click Link

Here are those two articles:

Article IV. Concerning Justification.

Likewise, they (the Lutheran Reformation Leaders) teach that human beings cannot be justified before God by their own powers, merits, or works. But they are justified as a gift on account of Christ through faith when they believe that they are received into grace and that their sins are forgiven on account of Christ, who by his death made satisfaction for our sins. God reckons this faith as righteousness (Romans 3:21-26 and 4:5).

 

Article VI. Concerning the New Obedience

Likewise, they teach that this faith is bound to yield good fruits and that it ought to do good works commanded by God on account of God’s will and not so that we may trust in these works to merit justification before God. For forgiveness of sins and justification are taken hold of by faith, as the saying of Christ also testifies Luke 17:10: “When you have done all [things] . . . say, ‘We are worthless slaves.’” The authors of the ancient church teach the same. For Ambrose says: “It is established by God that whoever believes in Christ shall be saved without work, by faith alone, receiving the forgiveness of sins as a gift.”

 

We highlight these because these reminds us that our relationship with God is first and foremost about what God has done for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is about God’s abundant grace which restores us to an eternal relationship with the Lord. 

The role of good works and doing the right thing is not about trying to gain favor with God.  Works are our God guided response to what he has first done for us.  Our works are how we share God’s loving care with others. 

Just as our works are a faithful response to God’s action for us, we must also realize another truth:  we do not follow the commands of God simply for the sake of doing the action. In other words, our faith is not about following the rules.  Rather, our faith is about being reconnected with Jesus.  By being in a restored relationship with Jesus, we are given the ability to live according to God’s most excellent way.

I mention this because our reading from Luke 6 points to the greater purpose of observing the Sabbath.  This, and other teachings of Jesus, teach us that the purpose of the Law of God is to bring us life.  We don’t just do things for the sake of following rules.  Faith in Jesus is not about following the rules.  Faith in Jesus is not about trying to earn favor with God by, “doing the right thing.” It is about being reconciled to God through the saving work of Jesus.  It is about being stirred to follow the way of Jesus in how we love, serve, worship, teach, and live.  The commands of God are there to guide our response to what God has first done for us.  As St. John teaches us in 1 John 4:19, “We love because he first loved us.”

 

Prayer

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.

 

 

Devotion and Readings for September 3

 

Jesus fasted, and was then tempted in the wilderness, woodcut by Gustave Doré

 

Bible Readings and Devotion for September 3, 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 5:33-39

Job 10:1-22

Psalms 9-10

2 Kings 17

Devotion for September 3, 2020

By Pastor David Tinker

In today’s reading from Luke 5 Jesus mentions fasting.  He also notes that his followers do not need to fast when he is among them, as in walking the earth during his ministry.  Back at the beginning of Lent this year I prepared a series on the, “Disciplines of Lent.” One of the disciplines of Lent includes the Biblical practice of fasting.  I am including that message on fasting from Ash Wednesday, 2020.  Most of the readers of this devotion have not likely read or heard this message. 

 

Teachings from Ash Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Today is the beginning of Lent.  It is also the beginning of our Lent Series on the Disciplines of Lent. I will be presenting teachings on the core disciplines of Lent.  These are outlined in the Invitation to Lent which is shared as part of the Ash Wednesday service each year.

Here is the relevant portion of that invitation:  “I invite you, therefore, to the discipline of Lent—self-examination and repentance, prayer and fasting, sacrificial giving and works of love—strengthened by the gifts of word and sacrament.”

Each Wednesday in Lent we will share about 1 of these 6 ways of spiritual discipline.  On Ash Wednesday the Gospel Reading from Matthew highlights 2 of these quite boldly. 

 

What is fasting?

Fasting is voluntarily going without food — or any other regularly enjoyed, good gift from God — for the sake of some spiritual purpose. It is markedly counter-cultural in our consumerist society.  It is for the purpose of setting our lives toward God, and to resist the urge to succumb to the desires of the body for food or certain kinds of food.

Fasting is a response to what God has first done for us.  It helps us refocus our lives on the Lord.

Fasting is a way of responding to God’s grace, and to show God – not others – that we are responding with repentance.

Biblical basis

Jesus and the Apostles fasted.  It is strongly rooted in the Old Testament and in the Jewish religious culture.  The 40 Day time of fasting in Lent is founded in the 40 days following the Baptism of Jesus.  During that time Jesus fasted from food and was tempted by the devil.  He was resistant to the temptations.  This was a period of preparation for his 3 years of ministry. 

The fasting by the early church leaders was generally after the Ascension of Jesus.  St. Paul fasted as a major part of his spiritual disciplines. 

The Faithful People in Scripture fasted and prayed for repentance and forgiveness. They fasted for victory in battle. They fasted for discernment. They prayed for deliverance. They fasted for strength.

We have lost the spiritual discipline of fasting that Jesus took for granted. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “When you fast…” Not if.  I have fasted at various points in my life. I have friends and family members who are regularly participate in fasting from some or all food.  They see it as a calling from God, and a way of faithfully following the way of Jesus.

 

Luther and Fasting

 “He who starts with works, turns everything around and gains nothing. In the same way St. Paul after he had taught faith to the Romans, undertakes to teach them many good works saying that they should offer their body as a holy, living, agreeable sacrifice in the service of God. This takes place when one chastises the body with fasting, staying awake, getting dressed, and working. This is what Anna does. All the saints of old did the same. ‘Fasting’ refers to all chastisement and discipline of the body which, although the soul is justified and holy through faith, is still not entirely free of sin and evil inclinations. Thus it is necessary that the body become subdued and chastised and subservient to the soul, as St. Paul says of himself: ‘I chastise my body and bring it under control, so that I, who am teaching others, am not myself disqualified’ [I Cor. 9:27]. St. Peter, too, teaches the same thing in I Peter 2[:5]: ‘You are to offer spiritual sacrifices,’ not sheep and calves, as in the law of Moses, but your own body and yourselves through putting sin to death in the flesh and through the chastisement of the body. Nobody does this unless faith is there previously.

For this reason I have said frequently that the works that come after faith should have the sole purpose and intention of chastising the body and serving one’s neighbor; they are not intended for earning a lot of merit or for making someone pious, for that must be present prior to the works. This is the real service of God in the works, if these works come about quite freely, to honor God. Otherwise what use does he have for your fasting, unless you quell thereby the sin and the flesh which he wants quelled? St. Paul also teaches about fasting of this sort in II Corinthians 6:5, stating among other things that in many fastings we should show ourselves as servants of God.” (Candlemas Sermon on Luke 2:33-40, LW 52:137-139)

 

Guidelines for Fasting

Christian fasting includes various forms of partial fasts to complete fasting of all food.  These fasts can last for a day, a week, a month or, in some cases, all of Lent.

It is unwise and very dangerous to abstain from drinking water during a fast.

Jesus teaches us that we are to go along with life as normal during a fast.  Do regular grooming and self-care.  We read about this when Jesus said, “17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face,  18so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

I have provided this link to a simple guide for fasting.  This also includes an article by our bishop about fasting.

Fasting is a Biblical and faithful Christian discipline.  It is founded in God’s Word, affirmed by Jesus, the Apostles, Martin Luther, and millions upon millions of Christians over time and all over the world.”

Prayer

Gracious God, out of your love and mercy you breathed into dust the breath of life, creating us to serve you and our neighbors. Call forth our prayers and acts of kindness, and strengthen us to face our mortality with confidence in the mercy of your Son, 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.