In the Flock of the Good Shepherd
Prophet Isaiah depicted the kingdom of God as a sheepfold whose shepherd is the Lord who feeds His flock (Isa. 40:11). It is a familiar picture in the Bible. Jesus himself used the same illustration: “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine” (John 10:14).Read More
How Has This Year’s Journey Gone?
Hitherto hath the Lord helped us. – 1 Sam. 7:12 Another year is passing. In a sense, the turn of the year is no more momentous than any other moment in time; time always ticks its course forward and on. Yet the new year, the increase by one numeral at the end of four digits feels like a change, the end of something old, the start of something new. We take stock of the year that is ending. A look back can help inspire hopes, goals and dreams for what is to come. Meanwhile, we ask ourselves, how has this year’s journey gone?Read More
Unity of the Spirit
In the world today we hear many calls for unity – from educators, politicians and leaders of all sorts. Unity and agreement are needed to accomplish goals and mutual efforts. In God’s kingdom we speak of unity of the Spirit. The Third Article of the Creed clarifies what the Holy Spirit affects. One result of the Holy Spirit’s work is God’s congregation here on earth, which the Holy Spirit has called, gathered and sanctified and which it protects in mutual faith. A palpable effect of the Holy Spirit’s work is the connection we share, the fellowship of saints, i.e. believers. We are not saintly or holy through our own goodness or innocence or a life well lived, but because our sins are forgiven; the Holy Spirit makes us holy, as Luther reminds us in the Large Catechism.Read More
The Peace of Christmas
The announcement of Jesus’ birth came with the angelic proclamation of “good tidings of great joy” for all people. Genuine peace and joy of Christmas starts in one’s own heart and his or her relationship to God. It is the foundation of all interpersonal relationships. Peace is rare in the world but abundant in the kingdom of the Prince of Peace.Read More
Sincere Questions Are Posed to Seek Understanding
Faith-related questions can come either from those seeking answers about the way we believe or from those already of our faith. Sincere questions are to be encouraged. Childlike questions from a believing heart often teach all of us. The Scripture, however, also warns us to avoid questions which cause strife (2 Tim. 2:23; Tit. 3:9).Read More
God, Increase My Joy of Salvation!
There is great joy in believing all doubts and sins forgiven in Jesus’ name and blood. One is acceptable to God and has a living hope of eternal life in heaven. The congregation of God is seen as a golden candlestick. Jesus reminds us that in God’s kingdom, “the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached” (Luke 7:22).Read More
Let Us Make Peace and Edify
As escorts, let us take on the responsibility to seek that which makes peace with and confirms another in faith (Rom. 14:19). What does it mean? How does it take place?Read More
The Home Zion
Both “home” and “Zion” are familiar and comforting words to believers. This has always been evident in God’s kingdom. Millennia ago Joshua said of his home and family, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15). In this way Joshua made the same connection to home and Zion as God’s children do today. Initially, the Holy Spirit kindles faith in an individual through the living gospel. Jesus says, “The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things” (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit guides life in the Christian home, where the gospel of the forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name and blood blesses and carries faulty yet pardoned sinners in mutual grace, love and truth.Read More
Peace is a central part of Christmas and its message. We may feel moments of peace when we gather at Christmas services or visit loved ones in a festively decorated home. Perhaps peace settles over us when we listen to Christmas music and read the Christmas in Zion. Or at a Christmas Program, when a child’s voice begins reading, “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus…” These special, holy moments help us pause during the darkest days of the year to remember.Read More
Thine Is the Kingdom
The Lord’s Prayer is familiar and often recited by believers. Both Matthew and Luke recorded how Jesus taught this prayer. According to Matthew, Jesus concluded the prayer with the words, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” (Matt. 6:13). It is not only a fitting ending to the prayer, but also a very comforting one. We acknowledge that the kingdom in which God’s children dwell is God’s, that God is almighty and that all glory belongs to Him. Kingdoms built by men will crumble and fall, but God’s kingdom will never fall.Read More
While the Bible does not speak directly of private confession, it is firmly founded in Scripture. In the Old Testament, Solomon wrote: “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Prov. 28:13). The apostle John in his day confirmed: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).Read More
The Gospel in Song
God’s Word and the endeavor of faith have inspired songwriters throughout time. Hymns of praise and petition have been a great blessing through which God’s children sing the feelings of their heart to the Heavenly Father, both personally and in congregation worship. We are thankful for the gifts God has given to write and compose.Read More
Love Your Neighbor
God created us. All of us humans are part of God’s creation work. God gives each of us a time and a place to live. We can’t choose our time of birth, where we’re born, our culture, our country, our family. We build our lives upon the blessings God gives and trust in His guidance.Read More
In my living room, the Christmas tree spreads its familiar light. The tree lights are faint, like a distant inkling of those that already shine in that land of eternal joy. Their light brings to mind that light that shone from the manger. In my living room, a star-shaped lamp shines in the window. On that first Christmas night, the starlight was bright. The star of Christmas shone above the stable. Its light shone into the manger, lighting the baby’s face. But brighter still shone the light from the manger. Jesus brought light into the world’s darkness. In my mind, I hear Mary sing a lullaby. On the hay he sleeps, an innocent baby. What would I have brought him as a gift? I am too poor to bring anything but my heart. You will sprinkle grace on my pathway, I marvel. Do I hear the whisper of angel wings in the stable? Angels watch over the child of heaven with gentle love. They worship with joy. Mary picks up her baby, holds him to her chest. She has a tear in her eye. A faraway cross casts a shadow on mother and child. They will build him a cross, she thinks. Little one, are you too cold? This world is so cold. But that boy loves the world so warmly. He sleeps on, cuddled in his mother’s embrace. The Son of God sleeps. I, too, feel the warmth from the stable. My heart-frost melts.Read More
Ponder the Path of Our Savior
The way doth lead to perfect bliss, but a way of pain it is – refrain from SHZ 77. We are living the time of Lent. Lent is a time of preparing for Good Friday and Easter, just as Advent is a time of preparation for Christmas. Before Easter comes, we live the holy week, when we observe Christ’s suffering and the path He trod as He bore His cross to Golgotha. Easter begins on the morning of Easter Sunday, when we celebrate Christ’s victory over death. Our Christian faith is based on Jesus’ redemptive work and resurrection. Easter, the celebration of that resurrection, is Christianity’s oldest and most important holy day.Read More
God Will Never Forsake Us!
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a sobering effect on the entire world. During this pandemic, as in all times, we can say, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1). We turn to God in prayer for ourselves and our communities. We pray for local authorities, national leaders and medical professionals. We don’t comprehend the challenges they face, but through their efforts we receive blessing and protection. They are ministers of God for our good (Rom. 13:4).Read More
Tender Care and Commitment
Marriages don’t survive on their own; even long marriages require care, tending and commitment. We cannot place love into another person’s heart, but we can tend to the love that we hold for one another.Read More
Who Is My Neighbor?
We are all familiar with the Great Commandment. Even if we don’t know it by name, we likely remember how on one occasion Jesus taught His listeners, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself” (Luke 10:27). This is a core teaching of the Bible, hence the aforementioned label.Read More