Devotions by Pastor Joseph

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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.   

Aug 5, 2018 - PSALM 23: 3 “He restoreth my soul…

PSALM 23: 3 “He restoreth my soul…”

Have you ever done something so bad to someone, betrayed a loved one, said something so mean about someone you care about that you wonder if they will ever forgive you? We are afraid that even if we apologize for what we have done or said, we will never be forgiven. We can’t sleep, have no

appetite, are lost and forlorn. We wonder if that person will ever have anything to do with us again. We feel emotionally “gutted,” empty, and forlorn. Then comes that moment when we meet that person. We pause for a moment and look at each other. Then with trembling and fear we sincerely apologize for what we have done. We wait for what seems like forever and then our friend says, “I forgive you.” The weight is lifted and the relationship restored. That’s how we feel when we hear the words, “Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace.” Amen. 

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.