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Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel? . . . and Luther? . . . and Me?

Reformation Sunday

Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel? . . . and Luther? . . . and Me?

Text:  Daniel 6:10-12, 16-23

538 B.C.  A man is alone in his upper room.  He’s kneeling.  Humbly he implores his God to give him strength and courage.  Dutifully he thanks his God for countless blessings.  The man’s name is Daniel.  Daniel is a Jew living in exile in the land of Persia (formerly Babylon).  Daniel is so distinguished among his peers though that Persian king Darius planned to make him second in command over the entire Persian Empire.  This didn’t sit well with the Persian leaders.

So they concocted a plan to schmooze king Darius and convince him to make it a law that no one in the land could pray to any god or man except him.  Unwittingly, Darius signed the dotted line.  Now Daniel knelt in his upper room praying as he always did, yet this time he did so with his future in doubt and his life on the line.

2,059 years later.  1521 A.D.  Another man is alone in his upper room.  He’s kneeling.  Humbly he implores his God to give him strength and courage.  Dutifully he thanks his God for countless blessings.  The man’s name is Martin—Martin Luther.  Martin Luther is a German living in Germany which was part of the Holy Roman Empire—the empire ruled by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.  Luther was also living in the midst of the equally powerful empire of the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Leo X. Read the rest of this entry

Are You Suffering Right Now?

17th Sunday after Pentecost

Are You Suffering Right Now?

1. Expect it
2. Embrace it
3. Endure it

Text:  1 Peter 4:12-19

Intro

“Why is this happening to me?  Why do I have to suffer so much?  Why do I have to go through this when I just went through that?”  Doesn’t it seem like it never ends?  One problem after another with no room to breathe and no end in sight.

Think about the prophet Jeremiah.  His life was in the pits.  Literally.  You heard a few minutes ago how he was detained and tossed into a big cistern-pit in the ground.  He must have been stuck down there with a lot of questions running through his mind.  “Why am I doing this?  Why am I here?  Is this what my life has come to?  Is doing the work of the Lord really worth it?”

Think about Peter in the second lesson this morning.  He wrote this first letter in the early 60s A.D.  Persecutions were heating up.  Many were being detained or put to death.  His fellow apostle Paul had been in prison many times over.  So had Peter.  And as he wrote this letter likely from the city of Rome, he was just a few years away from being crucified and martyred.  Was this what his life had come to?  Was it really worth following Jesus for three years as a disciple and being a missionary for these 30-some years after? Read the rest of this entry

Daily Devotion on Acts 12:1-18

Text: Acts 12:1-18

Our God is a very capable God. Read the story from Acts for today, God can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Peter was in need of help, he was going to die, so God simply stepped in and fixed the problem.

This story begs a question that has been asked by people all over the globe. If God is so able to help, why doesn’t he just fix all our problems like he did for Peter? I’m not asking all that much. He is the all powerful God; it won’t take too much effort to throw a few extra dollars into my bank account. He is the all powerful God, all he would have to do is say the word and all our troubles would disappear; the cancer would be gone, that nagging back pain would vanish, those aches and pains of old age would just cease to exist.

This question comes from a good place. God wants us to turn to him with all of our troubles. God is the only one who is able to and does offer aid and help faithfully because all good things come from him.

This question, while coming from a good place also displays a lack of perspective, patience and trust. From our perspective the only loving thing a loving God could do would be to give us what we want when we want it. From our perspective, we know what is best for us and so when God does not give us what we want then he must not be looking out for our best interests.

God does not promise to give us what we want, in fact God actually promises that he will allow hard times to come into our lives. Peter may have been saved from death by Herod’s hands, but this was not the last time he would face death. Church history informs us that Peter died on a cross, just like his Savior.

God’s plans are bigger than ours. They always have been, the always will be. From the very first moment that sin entered the world God has been orchestrating all of history so that you would end up in heaven with him for all eternity. God know what it will take to get you and me into heaven. Remember, he is the all powerful God, capable of doing whatever is best for us… and he will. You can trust him, he will never let you down.

Prayer:

Be still my soul; The Lord is on your side;

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;

Leave to your God to order and provide;

In every change he faithful will remain

Be still my soul; your best, your heavenly friend

Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end. Amen

Daily Devotion on Acts 4:8-12

Text:  Acts 4:8-12

Now it was real.

Before, Jesus had taught his disciples about what would happen to them because of him and his name. He told them that they would be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. He told them that they would be hated because of him.  He told them that they would be handed over to rulers and authorities–and much worse–because of him.

Now Peter and John were under arrest of the Sanhedrin, perhaps eerily familiar to what happened to their beloved Teacher not too long before. They were experiencing exactly what Jesus had foretold.

But Peter and John did not back down. How could they refuse to talk about Jesus? How could they obey men rather than God? They couldn’t and they wouldn’t.

Why? Why be so resilient? Why ignore the threat of prison, torture, or death? Why?

Peter gives us the only reason that matters:  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.

Peter and John had their lives changed because they came to know salvation through Jesus. They also knew that other people had to know about this too, for there is no other way of salvation except through Jesus alone!

So today, we Christians also are persecuted. Perhaps not in America at the same level as the early disciples were, or even as other Christians around the globe are persecuted.

But regardless of how much we are persecuted now or in the future, we will not back down!

God has worked in our hearts faith to know and believe salvation through Jesus. That faith is so empowering that we also can’t help but share what we have seen and heard. Other people need to know about Jesus to.

So dear Christian, Preach! Preach Christ crucified and risen! For we must obey God rather than men!

Prayer:  Lord Jesus Christ, Lord of the Church, fill me with your Holy Spirit and embolden me to profess your saving name now and always. I pray in your name. Amen.

Why Do the Nations Conspire and the Peoples Plot in Vain?

3rd Wednesday in Lent

Text:  Psalm 2

Unless your head has been buried in Entertainment or US Weekly, or your eyes glued to ESPN for March madness coverage, you have probably heard about the latest controversy with President Obama and the United States Department of Health and Human Services.  These and other leaders of our government are pushing to pass into law that all insurance companies, even those of religious institutions, include coverage for contraceptives, medical procedures, and abortive drugs that are contrary to our beliefs and Scripture.  This would mean that even if no one in our church or church body makes use of them, the money we pay in for insurance would make such drugs or procedures possible for others.

Clearly this is something we are against for many reasons.  Christians around the country have been rallying to prevent this from passing.  Even Missouri Synod president Pastor Matt Harrison was asked to speak before Congress about the topic.  Christians are feeling the pressure on their faith, their beliefs, and their daily practices.

Recently, things may have gotten worse.  The latest consideration is that religious institutions may opt out of this potential law, but they will be fined $100 per insured employee per day.  If that were the case, our Wisconsin Synod Lutheran Church Body would be fined around a quarter million dollars per day if it held fast to the truth of Scripture.  When asked by a local pastor what he thought about the situation in the last few days, WELS President Mark Schroeder quipped, “I hope they have air conditioning in my cell.”

We don’t need to become all flustered and frazzled quite yet.  We still don’t know exactly where this is going.  This might be really, really bad for us.  Or, this might just blow over as other things have.  Read the rest of this entry