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Lie Down and Sleep in Peace

Compline: Prayer at the Close of Day

Lie Down and Sleep in Peace

Text: Psalm 4

It sure is frustrating when your children make bad decisions.  It almost hurts worse than when you make bad choices yourself.  You spend so much time and effort teaching your children.  You try to raise them right.  You try to help them make good choices and be successful in life.  You try to train them in the ways of the Lord.  When they do something wrong, it hurts.

How could they cheat on that assignment?  Why would they say that to somebody else?  Where did they get that kind of language from?  I didn’t teach them that.

As they get older the potential sins get more ugly and the potential pains get more hurtful.  Why won’t they listen to me anymore?  How could they act like I’m unimportant, like they don’t care about me?  This isn’t the way I raised my child!  These are just more troubles in a life filled with pain.

Imagine this, though.  Imagine your child doing more than making a few bad choices.  Imagine your child doing more than mixing it up with the wrong crowd.  Imagine your child completely hating you.  He wants to disown you.  He tells people lies about you.  He works against you, trying to disrupt and discard everything you’ve ever worked for.  He steals your livelihood.  He overtakes your home.  He kicks you out out on the streets.  He even dishonors your marriage bed in disgusting ways and is not at all discreet about it.  You think your kid cheating on a test or breaking curfew is bad?  That would be a nightmare!

Yet that is a nightmare that became a reality for king David.  All of those things happened to him with his son Absalom.  Absalom stirred up the kingdom.  He told lies about his father.  He rallied a rebellion against him.  Eventually he kicked him out of his palace, took over the throne, and even had his way with his father’s women in plain sight of everyone on the palace roof.   Read the rest of this entry

Back to School

Vespers: Evening Prayer

Back to School

Text: Psalm 34

Intro

We made it.  The first day of school.  Done and over.  Phew!  The first day back to school is always interesting.  There were smiles and happy faces.  There were crying children.  There were crying parents.  Teachers were excited to get going again and to work with the new students.  Parents were excited to get the kids out of the house and off their hands.  Students, at least for one day, were excited to be back at school and learning.

You might call it the Back to School Syndrome.  Homework and tests haven’t piled up yet.  Students aren’t sick of each other yet.  Teachers aren’t sick of students yet.  For a time, everyone is truly focused on learning.  Check back in mid-October and see if the Back to School Effect has worn off yet!

That Back to School Syndrome shows up in our Christian lives quite a bit.  Sometimes we can be very fired up for reading and studying God’s Word.  Maybe it was the excitement of CTK Bible Study Week.  Maybe it was a topic that was particularly interesting to us.  Maybe it was that we finally overcame our laziness and got our noses into the Bible.

But that Back to School Syndrome wares off in our Christian lives too.  Suddenly we find ourselves too busy.  We get tired of finding extra time to read the Bible.  We get sick of taking extra time out of our day.  We get lazy again.  Like mid-October in a school year, we are downright tired of learning.

What better opportunity than on the first day of school to rededicate our Christian lives to learning?  This evening you and I can get Back to School and do some learning of our own from Psalm 34. Read the rest of this entry

Pray for Strength

Vespers

Pray for Strength

Text: Psalm 141

“Daaadyyy,” the young child forcefully whispers.  “Daaadyyy,” echoes down the hallway again, this time a bit louder.  Finally, an outright shout:  “Daaadyy!  Are you there?  Can you hear me?  Come quickly!  Help, Daddy!”

The father rushes in to find his child buried under a fortress of blankets and pillows.  “There’s a monster under my bed.  I think there’s one in my closet too.”  Daddy flips on the lights.  He checks under the bed.  He checks in the closet.  Then he wraps his child in a warm, firm embrace.  “Don’t worry.  I love you.  I’m here.  You’re safe.”

But what if daddy didn’t listen?  What if daddy didn’t come?  What if daddy didn’t give the support and strength the child needed?

We are surrounded.  All around us there is a mass of monsters lurking in the dark shadows.  Not Freddy Krueger or the Boogey Man.  Far worse.  It’s Satan and all his evil forces.  As he claws to claim us in his clutches forever, he uses an army of monsters.  He uses temptations to lure us into his sinful traps.  He uses our own arrogance and bravado to lead us blindly into deeper darkness.  He uses enemies of God who love doing evil and who want us to join them in their wicked ways.

We need help.  We need strength.  We need our Father. Read the rest of this entry

Daily Devotion on Psalm 24

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.

Daily Devotion on Jeremiah 11:18-20

Text:  Jeremiah 11:18-20

It seems almost anti-Christian, doesn’t it? Asking God to take vengeance upon your enemies? What happened to turning the other cheek? What happened to forgiving and forgiving and then forgiving some more? Yet today we see Jeremiah calling upon the Lord to do just that–take vengeance upon his enemies that threaten him.

So was that right for Jeremiah to do?

Yes. We call these kinds of prayers–or psalms in the book of Psalms–imprecatory prayers. They are prayers that essentially ask for God to crush his enemies. Remembering that Scripture says that vengeance belongs to God and not us, imprecatory prayers ask that God continues to execute his will over and above all enemies.

So while we humbly show love to all, even to our enemies, we at the same time pray that God’s enemies be overcome and defeated. After all, God’s enemies restrict us and persecute us. They oppose the preaching of God’s Word. They work to stop the growth of God’s Church. Their defeat means more opportunities for God’s people and God’s Word to grow.

Finally, these words of Jeremiah remind us of our Savior Jesus. Just as Jeremiah was led like a lamb to the slaughter, so also the great Lamb of God was. Jesus suffered at the hands of his enemies and was finally killed. Yet in this suffering and death Jesus won the ultimate victory over all our enemies–Sin, Death, and the Devil.

Thanks be to God for his victory! Thanks be to God for his power over our enemies!

Entrust to him all your cares and concerns about our enemies of faith. Give to him all glory.

Prayer:  All glory be to you alone, Lord God Almighty. Watch over me with your great power and might. Keep me safe from all enemies. Crush them with your mighty power, that all may see you as King of kings and Lord of lords alone. Amen.