Author Archives: Michael Schottey
Devotion Text: Psalm 24
Are you ready for Judgement Day? More importantly, are you waiting?
In a recent devotion on 1st Thessalonians 3, we talked about how the Lord gets us ready on our trip Heavenward–how we could not do it ourselves and how we depend on the strength God gives us and the fellow believers he blesses us with along the way.
How anxious are you to get there, though?
I remember by grandmother dying like it was yesterday. Still just a boy, I sat on the windowsill of the hospital room as I stood face-to-face with what death looks like. As we sang “I am Jesus’ Little Lamb,” with my entire family crowding the room, the words comforted us as much as her. When the song was over, my dad looked up and had someone go get a doctor. Her battle was over, she was in Heaven now.
Talking to my dad afterward, I remarked how glad I was that my grandma was finally in Heaven, because she had talked often about wanting to be there. She always seemed ill in some way or having other kinds of troubles in her old age. She couldn’t really see, hear or taste any more.
My father’s response surprised me and I will never forget it. “Son, your grandma has wanted to go home for the last 20 years.”
Years later, as my dad lay in his hospital bed, I got another look at what longing for heaven looked like. Cancer had ravaged his body and he could no longer care for himself. He, too, wanted to go home in a way that I hope I will one day understand. Right now, with an amazing family, great friends and a job I enjoy, my prayer is too often: “Come quickly, Lord Jesus, but not just yet…”
David reminds us in this Psalm that the Lord, who has gotten you prepared with “clean hands and a pure heart,” is coming. He is not far off. Lift up your heads and await his coming with thanksgiving and joy. The spoils this King of Glory brings are far more wonderful than any earthly joys. This king, Christ our King, is coming to take you to be with him forever.
Be ready, and be waiting.
Prayer: King of Glory, come quickly, Lord! Do not come on my time or on the world’s time. Let your kingdom come when you will it Lord, in your good time. I can not be ready on my own, dearest Jesus, nor could I turn from the fleeting joys of this world and faithfully wait for you. Prepare my heart and my hands, O Lord, and keep me in your grace until that time comes. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Devotion Text: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
As a parent of young children, I’ve begun to learn exactly what I put my parents through on all those cross-country trips as a kid. Sure, it was different in those days. Now instead of packing up the eight-seat conversion van like my dad did, I drive my two sons only as far as the airport and let the good people of Delta or AirTran take us the rest of the way. But, whether flying or driving, plenty goes into planning for a trip–especially with children. Luckily, I have my wonderful wife to
help me do all the work herself, otherwise I’d be lost.
When it comes to our life’s greatest journey–our journey home to be with our Heavenly Father forever–preparation is just as important. In his letter to the church in Thessolonica, Paul writes about how earnestly he wants the Thessalonians to prepare, how he prays for their preparation and how he longs to be there that he may help them prepare.
In very much the same way I would be lost trying to take a cross-country trip alone with my two sons, Paul knows that no human could get through this life alone. Our walk Heavenward is too difficult to do alone, so (miles away) he writes to help those people prepare. Thousands of years away, his words still hold true for us.
We still need the prayers of our fellow believes to strengthen us for the way. So too, we pray for others. We still need “God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us” just as Paul did. We still need the love and fellowship of one another to make our journey pleasant and bearable.
It is with this help, this strength, this love–from God and from our fellow Christians–that we enter the Advent season. We focus not only on preparing our hearts and minds for Christmas, but also for Christ’s coming again. May God be with you as you journey home.
Prayer: Father in heaven, be with me day by day as I do your work here on Earth and continually guide me on the paths you would have me take. Be with more, Lord, as I walk Heavenward hand-in-hand with the Christian brothers and sisters you have blessed me with in my church, in my home and elsewhere in my life. Strengthen me, constantly, that I would not stray and keep me in your loving care here in time and forever in eternity. Amen.
Devotion Text: Revelation 14:6-7
A lot of people make a lot of money on trying to interpret the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Actually, a lot of those people make a lot of money convincing people they have some sort of secret to interpreting the book. In reality, while there are many crazy images and tons of vivid language in the Bible’s last book, the story is the same as the 65 previous–Christ is victorious and we will be victorious with him.
This is also the message of the Lutheran reformation. At that time, the Roman Catholic church had shuttered the Word of God from the people of God. By not allowing the Bible to be written in the native language of the people (all Bibles were in Latin the official language of the church), by not teaching what worship is (services were in, you guessed it, Latin), and by withholding forgiveness as something only a priest could do, the people were lost.
The message of the Reformation was that the Word of God and the forgiveness of God were for all people. The knowledge between the covers of the Bible should not be foreign and the blessings of God are not for sale–they are freely given to every “nation, tribe, language and people.”
So we, children of God and heirs of the Reformation, proclaim that message today. The end is near, brothers and sisters, and the time to work is short. So, with the angel depicted in Revelation and with the earnestness of Luther we “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come…who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” We spread that message of glory to others and we boldly confess the good news of the Gospel.
Prayer: You came to us in darkest night to make us children of the light; to make us in the realms divine, like your own angels, who around around you shine. Hallelujah! All this for us your love hath done; by this to you our love is won. For this our joyful songs we raise and shout our thanks in ceaseless praise. Hallelujah! –Martin Luther
Devotion Text: Ephesians 5:21-6:4
“But mom! She was touching my stuff!”
Anyone who has ever been around multiple children knows this fact: territory and privacy comes at a premium. Whether it’s the dastardly little brother who always seems to find his sister’s diary or the children who bristle at their parents’ intrusion, the more people that share a house the more trouble there seems to be.
So, our admonition today–along with the many great admonitions in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians–is: stop reading each other’s mail!
How many husbands wish their wives were more submissive, yet fail to love them as Christ loved the church. How many wives beg for their husbands to be more self-sacrificing, but take the leadership role that is reserved for men? How many fathers would get the obedience they desired if they worked harder on “not exasperating” their children. How many children bring the exasperation upon themselves by consistently disobeying and failing to honor their parents.
Here’s a hint, it’s all of them.
We live in a world dripping with sin and seeped in selfish ambition. These words in Ephesians are not meant to be held up to others, they are meant to be held up to ourselves! We have so little room to quibble with how the other members of our family have failed to live up to the expectations here when we have so terribly failed ourselves.
Instead, we love each other. We don’t love because the objects of our love have merit. Neither are we loved because of any merit in us. We love, selflessly, to mirror the love shown to us by Christ. Only Christ’s selfless love gives us the motivation to love one another and only Christ’s love gives us the model.
Prayer: Forgive me Lord, for all of the times I have failed to love my family in the ways which you have commanded. Let my heart be filled with forgiveness for them as well Lord, for the times I have not felt their love. Gracious Lord, come quickly to take us to be with you where our love will be made perfect along with all things. In your name, Amen.
Devotion Text: Philippians 1:12-18
Sometimes jealousy isn’t just envy and covetousness about what material blessings someone else has. Sometimes, jealousy is about the life God has blessed another person with compared to the trials and temptations God has blessed you with.
The apostle Paul had every reason to be jealous of other people, other believers.
For him, the Lord had a special plan. Paul would be the first Christian missionary to the Gentiles. He would travel from city to city–far from home–and under constant danger. He would be jailed and he would eventually be killed–all for the sake of the Gospel. Other apostles, even those who were martyred enjoyed the relative peace of their homes and a large Christian population in Jerusalem. Many had families and were blessed with long lives with much less trouble than Paul.
Still, Paul did not begrudge his chains or his fellow Christians, he considered himself blessed.
Jealousy at its core, is the enemy of love and it is the opposite of contentment. Paul notes that some at his time were even preaching out of jealousy and envy–may God protect us from this! But, perhaps, Paul’s conclusion is even more apt to the overall point.
In the end, even those who preached to advance themselves, still preached Christ. While we would not laud them as great examples, God still worked through them (and hopefully eventually in them) to advance the Gospel! The Gospel is the cure for these symptoms because it attacks the underlying illness–sin.
With our sins forgiven and the freedom to live a new life, we have the ability to cast off our jealousy and accept our trials along with our blessings as God reveals his greater plans for our lives. All this as we trek onward to the ultimate plan for our lives, an eternal life in heaven.
Prayer: Let me be content, Lord. Let me be content with your plan for my life. Let me be content, Lord, not only for all the blessings you’ve given me, but that you have blessed me at all when I have not earned anything from you. Let me be content, Lord, with the ways in which you have blessed others. Let me rejoice with them and never be envious. Instead, let me always be content, Lord, with your times and your plans. Let me be content, Lord, as I await the much fuller joys you have planned for me in heaven. Amen.