Devotions by Pastor Joseph

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Sept 23, 2018 - EXODUS 24: 4

EXODUS 24: 4. “You shall not make for yourself an idol.”

At the time his was written people were making idols out of stone, wood, and clay. They believed with their heart of hearts that these man made images, these idols were really the god (s) they worshipped. When Jacob sneaks off into the night to get away from his father-in-law, he takes all the man made idols off the mantle so that his father-n-law will have no gods to pray to or to bless him. If God can be put into some form fashioned out of wood, clay, or stone, he must not be much of a God. To think God can be limited to some kind of man made icon is to place limits on God. It also means that if I leave my God sitting on the mantle I can do anything I want out of his presence. The reality is that God is not limited by time, space, or matter. God is I AM, he is everywhere. Amen. 

Sept 16, 2018 - EXODUS 20: 3

EXODUS 20: 3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”

Martin Luther said, “A god is that to which we look for our highest good.” Some look to money, or work, or athletic events, or power as their god. The truth is those things give us temporary enjoyment, but what do they do for the long haul. November 2, 2016 was an amazing day for me. I got to celebrate with my wife and sons the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series for the first time in one hundred-eight years. I was walking on air for the next few days. But what good will that do me when I finally “shuffle off this mortal coil?” What good will that do me when I face the big problems in life? The answer is none. While the gods of the 2016 Chicago Cubs gave me some pleasure it is the one, true God that will sustain me when I face the problems in life. He will be there to greet me when I move on. So, I don’t worry about death or where I will spend eternity, because God is the God who freed me from my slavery to sin and death and has given me new life. Amen.

Sept 9, 2018-EXODUS 20: 1–2 I AM the Lord your God

EXODUS 20: 1 – 2 “I AM the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of slavery;”

What is a covenant? A covenant is a sacred promise between two people with each vowing to keep the covenant they have made. Marriage is a covenant. Two people vow to love, honor, and cherish each other no mater what they face. Baptism is a covenant. God promises to forgive, save, and give eternal life to the child. The parents promise to worship with the child, teach the child the faith, and raise the child up in a Godly home. What we call the Ten Commandments is really a covenant. A marriage if you will between God and his people. God reminds Israel of what he has done and what he will do. Israel is called upon vowing to do certain things in return. God informs us how he expects us to live in return for all that he has done for us. Amen.

Sept 2, 2018-PSALM 23: 6 Surely goodness and mercy

PSALM 23: 6 “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Nothing worse than walking down a dark, lonely street at night. You hear noises. Are they footsteps? Is the one making those noises walking faster to catch up with me? Don’t look, just walk faster. We fear for our wellbeing. There is poem called, “The Hound of Heaven.” It is about a man who is fleeing a hound who follows him everywhere. The man fears for his life. Surely the dog will destroy him. He runs, he dodges here and there but finally the hound traps him in a dead end alley. No way out! He is positive he is doomed for sure. But when he turns to face the hound he discovers it is God. God has been chasing him, not to kill him but to fill his life with goodness and mercy. If we would just quit running from God, we would experience his grace and live eternally in his Kingdom. Amen.

Aug 26, 2018 - PSALM 23: 5 “Thou preparest a table

PSALM 23: 5 “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies, thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

In Jesus time you only ate with your family or your closest friends. A meal was something special, sacred. I think of the upper room. In the midst of the Passover remembrance Jesus took some bread, blessed it, and gave to his friends saying, “This is my body.” Taking a cup he gave it to them saying, “This is my blood.” When Christ hosts the Sacrament he is saying, “You are my family I want to dine with you.” In some way we can never understand, the host

becomes the meal. We are filled with Christ and in so doing our “cup runneth over.” We are filled to over flowing with God’s Grace. Forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life. Christ prepares a table and we are filled with every spiritual blessing imaginable. Amen.  

Aug 19, 2018 - PSALM 23: 4 “Yea, though I walk..

PSALM 23: 4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou are with me; they rod and they staff they comfort me.”

Someone once said, “No one gets out alive.” We do everything we can to prolong the inevitable. We go to great lengths to prolong life, but the reality is that “no one gets out alive.” The Psalmist talks about death but there is a word that makes all the difference. That word is “shadow.” A shadow is an image that is cast when light is blocked. A shadow may look like a tree, a person, or any number of things but it is not reality. The Psalmist is saying that if we walk with God, death is not permanent. Just as the shadow disappears when the object casting the shadow is removed, so death has been transformed by God, through Christ. One thousand years later Paul writes, “If we die with Christ we will rise with him.” Because of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ death is merely a shadow of its former self. Amen.  

Aug 12, 2018 - PSALM 23: 3 …he leadeth me

PSALM 23: 3 “…he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

Years ago while out playing paintball in Oklahoma I got separated from the rest of my team. I followed a path until I came to a fork. One path lead North, the other West. Which should I take? As I stood there pondering which direction I should go, from around the bend came one of my team. He came to find me, to lead me down the right path. To be righteous does not mean to be sinless. It means to be what God intended you to be. To do what God called you to do. To follow God wherever he might lead you. The path can be level ground, it’s easy going. But sometimes you have to ford a creed, or climb a hill, or walk on a narrow ledge. As the old saying goes, “God will not lead you where is grace cannot keep you.” Follow the Way, and you will never get lost. Amen.