Devotions by Pastor Joseph

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July 29, 2018-PSALM 23: 2 He maketh me to lie down

PSALM 23: 2 “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters.”

Sheep have a couple of bad tendencies. They will graze and eat grass right down to the ground, killing off the grass in the process and they will drink the watering hole dry. The other tendency is that they will not go off and search for other food and water sources. They will remain in one spot to the point of either dying of starvation or dehydration. The sheep need someone to lead them to new green pastures and watering holes before they perish. Through Word and Sacrament he feeds us. He fills us spiritually. The problem is too often we get so stubborn we won’t go to where the spiritual food and water are being offered. We deny ourselves the Word and the Sacraments, we cut ourselves off from the care of the shepherd and we don’t understand what’s missing in our lives. The good shepherd gives us Word and Sacrament to nourish our starving spirits. Amen. 

July 22, 2018 - PSALM 23: 1 “…I shall not want.”

PSALM 23: 1 “…I shall not want.”

In January of 1941 President Franklin Roosevelt gave his famous “Four Freedoms Speech.” Those four which were to be guaranteed to all people were: Freedom of speech, freedom to worship, freedom from fear and freedom from want. No one, according to the president, should ever be in want for the basic necessities of life: food, clothing, and shelter. The sheep of biblical times were in want. They needed constant supervision, food, water, medical care, and protection. It was the shepherd’s calling to make sure that the sheep of the flock were never in “want.” The shepherd would supply all those needs. God blesses us with food, clothing, shelter, good health, and with each other. But chiefly God protects us from our real enemies, sin and eternal death. God fends off those enemies through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through him all of our spiritual wants are met. Amen.  

July 15, 2018 -PSALM 23: 1 The Lord is my shepherd

PSALM 23: 1 The Lord is my shepherd.. .

The Shepherd is to Israel, what the cowboy is to America. A folk hero. Rugged, loyal, courageous, hard working, fair, and compassionate are just a few of the words that describe the shepherd of Israel in biblical times. They watched over and cared not only for their own sheep, but also the sheep of others as well. Being a shepherd is not a job, it is a calling. As the shepherd you were to supply the sheep with food and drink, with medical attention, and to protect the flock from predators both four and two legged to the point of laying down your life in defense of the flock. As one modern sheep rancher put it; sheep are among the dumbest, most stubborn, most defenseless of all the animals on the face of the earth. The sheep need constant care and protection. Perhaps now you can see why Jesus and God were both referred to as shepherds. Amen.  

July 8, 2018 - John 15: 1

John 15: 1 “I AM the true vine.” Cut a branch off a tree, or a vine and in a few days that that severed branch changes. For the first couple of days the leaves on the severed branch remain green, but then a change begins. The leaves begin to curl and turn brown. The branch becomes brittle and dry. Soon all the life is cut off from the branch and it is fit for nothing other than to be fuel for the fire. That’s what happens to those who cut themselves off from Christ. They become dry, brittle, and lifeless. They lose the real meaning of their lives. Now instead of living, they are merely existing and when the end comes they are totally hopeless. It is easy to let work, golf, fishing, athletic events, etc. to cut us off from the grace of God. When our priority in life is no longer a relationship with God, soon we curl and dry up. Stay connected to the true vine and live. Amen.

July 1, 2018 - John 14:6

John 14:6 “I AM the way, the truth and the life.” Years ago I was paying my bill at the gas station when a lady came in and asked the attendant for directions. He began to explain to her but the directions he gave were not the most concise. I looked at her, introduced myself, and said, “I am going right by there on my way home. If you want to follow me, I will take you right there.” She followed me and she was at her destination in about ten minutes. I did not tell her the way, I became the way for her. That is what Jesus did. He became the way for us. He lived this earthly life. He went through everything everyone of us goes through and he never lost faith or trust in God, Jesus is our “way.” He didn’t just tell us how to live a life of faith. He lived it. And by living it he became the WAY. Amen.

June 24, 2018 - John 11: 25

John 11: 25 “I AM the resurrection and the life.” Three of Jesus’ earthly friends were Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. When Lazarus became deathly ill the sisters sent word to Jesus that he should come quickly for Lazarus was near death. By the time Jesus God there, Lazarus had died four days earlier. Martha, in her grief and frustration confronted Jesus and said, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus replied, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said, “I know we will rise on the last day.” Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” What Jesus was telling her and us, is what Paul said in Romans some twenty years later, “If you die with Christ, you will rise with Christ.” Because Jesus was raised from the dead for paying for our sins, all of us who believe that Jesus is our Lord and Savior will also be raised to new life. In living lives of faith we can be confident that our RESURRECTION IS COMING! Amen.

June 17, 2018 - John 10: 11

John 10: 11 “I AM the good shepherd.” Being a shepherd was indeed a calling. It was hard work. You tended the flock and provided them with grazing area, water, medical attention when wounded, and protection from lions, wolves, and bears. There have been many incidents reported where people have found the flock intact, with the lifeless body of a shepherd who had died while protecting the flock from predators. To those who discovered the deceased shepherd it was no surprise, for that is what a shepherd were expected to do. The shepherd would be tender and gentle when taking care of the flock, but ruthless when facing an enemy. When Jesus said, “I AM the good shepherd,” he was telling His sheep, you and me, that he would love and care for us, while at the same time he was willing die in defending the flock from sin, death, and the Evil One. On the cross Jesus proved that he is the Good Shepherd. Amen

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