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Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 30

1 Peter 4:12-16 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.
As we have seen again and again in Peter’s letter, suffering should come as no surprise to the Christian. It was a part of everyday life for the first Christians. Even Martin Luther says in the Large Catechism, “where God’s Word is preached, accepted, or believed, and bears fruit, there the holy and precious cross will also not be far behind.” This is hard to hear, after all, who wants to suffer a fiery trial?

Yet, Peter calls us to rejoice! He reminds us of what Jesus taught in the great Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12). Following Christ will come with a cross, but rejoice, for your reward is in heaven. No matter how awful it is here, it will be infinitely better when Christ returns and raises you to a new life!

The good guys always have enemies. The bad guys are against you because you belong to Jesus, the only Good Guy. He has loved you and made you His own, though you are born sinful and unclean, that is, as one of the bad guys. But, He has saved you from that place of darkness. Rejoice! The attacks you receive are not from God, but His enemies. He is for you, for you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s (I Corinthians 3:23)!

+PRAYER+
Father, despite my sin, you have made me your own. This means the world despises and disowns me, just as they did your Son. So, I pray for you to strengthen me with the promise that you will raise me like you raised Him. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *

Pastor Bob

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Friday, May 30, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 29

1 Peter 4:7-11 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies- in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
We can view our lives in one of two ways. Either we can view our lives as our possession or we can view our lives as a gift from God. If we view our lives in the first way, we will live our lives focused on our own well-being. Our jobs, family members, friends, even God will be viewed as a means to an end: my happiness. If I am not happy, then I will need to manipulate or remove those people who stand in my way. The irony here is that seeking such happiness makes us miserable.

But things change if we view our lives as a gift from God. The reality is that we don’t exist for our own sakes. Your very existence in this world is an act of God’s grace! All we have and are come from God purely out of “fatherly, divine mercy and goodness” (The Small Catechism). The people He has surrounded you with are not a means to your happiness, but God’s children you are to love. God gives you work, not merely to make money, but so you can help sustain His creation. He has given you talents and abilities, not to show off and gain fame for yourself, but to bless others and glorify His name.

Because you belong to Jesus, the Father is pleased with what you do in this life. As you live as stewards of His varied grace, His smiles are upon you for Christ’s sake! Serving God and others with our lives may not always bring mere happiness, but there will we find true joy!

+PRAYER+
Father, help me to use the gifts and talents you have given me for your glory and for the sake of my neighbors. Forgive my selfish pursuits. Thank you for creating me and giving me all things. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *

Pastor Bob

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 28

1 Peter 4:4-6 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.
Receiving freedom in the gospel changes you. Jesus’ death for your sins removed God’s wrath from you. The judgment your sins deserved was placed on Jesus. God has no condemnation left for you (Romans 8:1). You are free! Sin does not condemn you any longer, it is forgiven. Nothing in the world can separate you from God’s love in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:38-39). The devil cannot accuse you of being too sinful for God; because the sins he accuses you of have been paid-in-full by Christ’s shed blood. You are free.

But freedom is scary! We wonder: How free am I? Am I free to sin? Can I just go, deny God, and swim in a flood of grace-denying debauchery? Such is the questioning of the old Adam who is not convinced God is truly gracious. Perhaps we can answer the questions with a question: Do you want to do that? After being set free from sin, death, the devil, and judgment, do you really want to return to those old slave drivers? Do you really want to spit in God’s face and abuse His love for you? This is like being told you don’t have to stand in line at Disneyland and saying, “Can’t I just stand waiting all day?” Are you kidding? You’re free from the lines! Jump on the ride!

Now, the world won’t be comfortable with your freedom. They will malign you and slander you. They’ll call you self-righteous and all sorts of other names. They’ll try to force you into the line. God will call them to account for their slander. Pay no attention to them because, good news, you are free!

+PRAYER+
Father, through your Son’s death you have set me free to be your child. Teach me to live in my freedom. Forgive me when I abuse my freedom. Help me to show others the joy of your salvation. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *

Pastor Bob

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 27

1 Peter 4:1-3 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. The time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.
Yesterday we learned that God put our old, sinful nature to death when He baptized us. Baptism is a one-time event where we are crucified with Christ and raised to a new life (Romans 6:1-11). And, as Peter said, it really does save us (I Peter 4:20). But, what does this actually mean in everyday life? Does this mean I’ll never sin again? Does this mean all of my temptations will go away?

The answer, of course, is “no!” In fact, temptation and sin will be a part of our lives until we die. So, though baptism is a one-time event, it is one we must return to daily in our war with our sinful nature, the world’s temptations, and the attacks of the devil. As the Small Catechism says, “[Baptism] indicates that the Old Adam in us should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all sins and evil desires, and that a new man should daily arise to live before God in righteousness and purity.”

Though we will still sin, be tempted, and suffer attacks, we do so now from a different position. Before we were baptized into Christ, these things stood over us. But now we are in Christ, and thus, these things are beneath us. They can attack us, but they cannot overcome us! The time for indulging worldly passions is past. Christ, your Savior, is now beside you so that you stand over and against your foes. And when it seems they have the upper hand, return to your baptism and cling to the promises of Jesus for you!

+PRAYER+
Father, I confess that I continue to struggle with the same old sins even though I believe they are conquered by your Son. Teach me to die daily to my sinful nature and daily raise me up to do your will. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *

Pastor Bob

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 26

1 Peter 3:21-22 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.
God loves to use water. As we saw yesterday, though He saved Noah and his family, He used water to drown the sinful creation. God also rescued the Israelites through the Red Sea, and drown their Egyptian pursuers (Exodus 14:1-31). It was at His baptism in the waters of the Jordan where God announced that Jesus was His beloved Son (Mark 1:9-11). And, now, it is through the waters of baptism that Jesus saves you!

As we saw yesterday, children’s books make too light a story of Noah and his Ark. It is a story both of God’s wrath and of God’s mercy. We run into the same trouble with baptism. It is no cute, innocent ceremony where children are dedicated to God for the sake of the grandparents. No, baptism is an all out assault on sinners! In baptism, God doesn’t mean to give us a ceremony where we show how much we love him. No. He means to drown our sinful nature and leave it in the grave. He means raise us to a new life. He means to kill us and make us alive with Christ!

This is why Peter says today baptism is an appeal to God for a good conscience. We cannot come to God and say, “See, we did our part in the ceremony, so we’re covered, right?” No. Our consciences are clean because, in baptism, God united us to Christ in His death and raised us with Him in His resurrection (Romans 6:1-11, Colossians 2:12). It’s no mere bath, but an act of God where He drowns our sinful nature and raises a new person from the dead. So, Peter can promise you today, baptism saves you... through the resurrection of Jesus Christ!

+PRAYER+
Father, I praise you that I am baptized into your Son Jesus Christ. Help me to daily return to my baptism by drowning my sinful nature. Raise me to live as your child, day by day. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *

Pastor Bob

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Monday, May 26, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 25

1 Peter 3:18-20 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.

Every children’s book gets the Noah story wrong. The Ark is turned into a cute zoo where a Santa Clause-looking old man smiles and waves at the young readers. It’s a story full of rainbows and zoo animals. Perhaps more troubling is the description of Noah himself. Not the Santa persona, but rather, to the idea that God saved Noah because he was a good person, or at least, a better person than everyone else. He was not. Noah was a sinner (Genesis 9:20-21).

To be sure, Genesis tells us that Noah was a righteous man (Gen. 6:9). But we must remember, a person is righteous before God, not by being a good person, but because they believe God (Romans 3:28). To say that Noah was righteous means nothing other than God was gracious to Noah (Gen. 6:8), and Noah trusted God to be gracious (Hebrews 11:7). What set Noah apart was faith in the promises of God, not sweet, holy Noah! His faith in God saved Him from God’s watery wrath.

Today Peter reminds us that being righteous is a matter of faith. You and I and Noah are the unrighteous for whom Christ, the Righteous One, died. We can stand before God only because He brings us. In Christ, we are saved from God’s wrath. God sent Jesus to die once for sins so that we would be reconciled to Him without fear of His wrath. Just as God promised Noah that He would save him in the Ark, in order to save us He has promised to shelter us in the blood of Christ. Jesus is the Ark that saves us from the wrath of God. Faith in Jesus alone grants us righteousness.

+PRAYER+
Father, I thank you for sending your Son Jesus to die for me. Forgive me for trusting myself. Teach me to trust in Him alone for my salvation. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *

Pastor Bob

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 24


1 Peter 3:13-17 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.
There is great joy that comes from having Christ as our Lord. We have the full assurance of our forgiven sins and the promise of eternal life. God is our Father who smiles upon us and is gracious to us! We want others to know this joy! We want others to worship Christ with us.

There is no harm in zealously proclaiming the mercies of our Lord. However, as we have read again and again, the world does not always get caught up in our zeal. In fact, there will often be resistance. At such times, Peter tells us to be prepared to answer when arguments and accusations are thrown our way. We have joy, but we must be ready to defend that joy before the world.

Peter reminds us of two important things when it comes to being ready: a) you need to prepare yourself for pushback from others and b) there is a right way to be ready. Yes, we must be prepared to explain our faith, but what is more, we must not try to pick a fight! But, we are to talk about Christ with gentleness and respect so that it is the Gospel message itself that gives offense, and not the Christian. After all, it is the Gospel message that saves, and not the Christian.

+PRAYER+
Father, make me bold to proclaim your Word. Give me the words to say so others may know the joy and salvation you have given to me. Forgive me if I have ever been combative with my faith. Like John the Baptist, I pray you would cause me to decrease so that you would increase. AMEN

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *
Pastor Bob

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Friday, May 23, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 23


1 Peter 3:8-12 Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For "Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
We live our lives in constant pursuit. We pursue victory and success at all costs! And, if my perfect life comes at the expense of others suffering, so be it. The game of life is one we intend to win! So what if I step on the losers as I cross the finish line, they should have trained harder. Anyone who gets in our way must be removed.

This is how the world teaches us to pursue success: win at all costs. Honestly, we such a pursuit just might help us win in life. Living like this just may help us achieve our goals. The problem is, we’ll miss Jesus, because He is spending all His time with the losers.

Jesus is not worried about pursuing glory and success. He is interested in pursuing sinners, forgiving their sins, uniting them in faith, and putting His word of mercy in their ears and mouths. All other pursuits are selfish and lead towards evil and reviling. But Christ calls us, not to overpower the competition, but to bless. We are to repent of our selfish pursuits and pursue peace. You may not win in the world, in fact, such pursuits will lead to losing. But take heart, Jesus seeks, pursues, and saves losers. He pursues the cross for you. His cross puts your pursuits to an end, but there gives you real victory.

+PRAYER+
Father, forgive me for idolizing success. Teach me to love my brothers and sisters and to pursue peace instead of vain glory. I thank you for sending your Son to pursue me and give me His salvation. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *

Pastor Bob

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 22


1 Peter 3:7 Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
After teaching wives how to show honor to their husbands, Peter turns his attention towards the men (but wives, you pay attention too!).

There is Eve in the Garden of Eden. She is suddenly confronted by a snake who begins to entice her to eat fruit from God’s forbidden tree. She enters into conversation with the snake, who deceives her into sinning. Where is Adam this whole time? Is he fighting off the serpent? Is he protecting his wife? Is he faithfully tending to the garden God has given him charge of? No. He is standing there watching and silent. Eve went to the tree “took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate” (Genesis 3:6). Later, when God came to pronounce judgment, as much as Adam tried to pass the buck, God held him responsible (Genesis 3:9).

Men, God has called you to be leaders in your home. You are called to provide for your families, to protect your marriage, to fight for your wife. Our culture encourages men to be overgrown, irresponsible boys who want their wives to mother them. For this, we need to repent. Unlike Adam we are to fight for our marriages, sacrificially love our wives, and take responsibility for our families. We are to follow Jesus, who has done this for us. He has driven off the devil and now feeds us with the fruit of his cross in the sacrament. His protection and provision save His bride the church. In the same way, husbands, you ought to love your wives (Ephesians 5:33).

+PRAYER+
Father, forgive us for buying into the lie that men are nothing but lazy slobs. Raise up men in your church to lead their families and communities with confidence and grace. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *


Pastor Bob

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 21


1 Peter 3:1-6 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives- when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external- the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing- but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.
Peter has taught us how we are to show honor and respect to our governing authorities and employers thus far. Today, he turns our attention towards the family. He gives instructions to wives and husbands in how they are to love and honor each other. Today, Peter’s words are directed at wives (but husbands, listen up!).

It is no longer popular to talk about wives submitting to their husbands. Many wedding ceremonies no longer use the biblical language in the vows. Too many men have abused their responsibility as leaders in the home, thus giving “submission” a bad name.

Perhaps we need to be reminded of what it is God is calling wives to submit to. Read Ephesians 5:25-33. God has called men to be the leaders in their homes, but to lead as Christ has led the church. That is, He is to lay down his life for his wife. He is to protect and provide for his wife and family. He is to live and die for his bride, so that she is beautifully adorned and unconditionally loved.

Wives, you are called by God to make this a joy for your husband. Honor him, thank him, build him up so that he knows you appreciate him. Forgive him when he fails. Even if he is not a Christian, he is still your husband whom God has called you to love. Do this all, yes, out of love for your husband, but even more, to the glory of God, knowing that this is how His Son Jesus has loved you.

+PRAYER+
Father, forgive me for caring more about my rights than my spouse. Teach me to love and honor my spouse. Teach us all to celebrate your marvelous gift of marriage. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *

Pastor Bob

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 20


1 Peter 2:21-25 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Yesterday, Peter had some very difficult advice for how we are to endure hardships: We are to patiently suffer through it! Who does that? Who patiently suffers? Shouldn’t we get lawyers involved? Shouldn’t we hit back? Eye for an eye is the only way to deal with those who hurt us, isn’t it?

Praise God for our sakes that it is not the way God has dealt with us! In fact, when Jesus came down to earth, you and I and every sinner committed the greatest act of treason in the history of the world, we treated our kind and loving Lord like an unjust slave-driver and nailed Him to a tree. Now, He had every right and ability to take that sin and deal with it according to His justice. He could crush us in our sin. Instead, He graciously took those sins into himself, bore them on the tree, and died for them. He didn’t fight back. He did something far more powerful, He forgave you. His mercy triumphed over justice for you (James 2:13).

As sheep of this Shepherd, we learn how to endure injustice in this world. We may suffer, but we do so praying for our enemies and forgiving their sins. After all, we know that no matter how harshly they treat us, we have received and will receive far greater glory from our Father in Heaven. For, we belong to Jesus, and He has overcome this world for us.

+PRAYER+
Father, I thank you that you have shown me mercy despite my sins against you. Grant me the strength to do the same for those who sin against me. I confess that I cannot do it alone. Grant me your Spirit to be gracious. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *

Pastor Bob

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Monday, May 19, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 19


1 Peter 2:18-20 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.
Though we are sojourners in this world (I Peter 2:11), we are still called by God to work as His agents for the good of His creation (Matt. 5:12-16). Each relationship we have is a calling given to us by God to show His love and mercy to our fellow creatures. In our reading today, Peter speaks about the relationship we have with our employers.

In those days, you were either a master or a servant. It would be the modern day equivalent to a boss and an employee. Peter is teaching us today to be subject to our employers, superiors, or bosses out of respect for them and in order to bring honor to God’s name. God gives you your daily bread through your employer, and because God works through that person, you are to show them honor.

But this is not always easy, is it? Especially when we work for some pretty sinful people. Do we still need to show respect of those who don’t deserve it? Yes, but for the sake of God, not theirs. Are we just to be doormats that get walked all over? No, Peter says, but you who are free in Christ need not seek retaliation. Leave justice to God, for He will not allow your patient suffering to go unnoticed (Matt. 5:11-12). In fact, the promise of the resurrection is that God will one day make all injustice right. Your injustices have been forgiven by Christ. Pray your harsh boss’s will be too. But stand firm, and may your patient endurance drive others to praise your Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).

+PRAYER+
Father, grant me patience to endure injustice. Grant me confidence to defend those who suffer unjustly. And grant me faith to trust you to make things right through your Son Jesus Christ. AMEN

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *

Pastor Bob

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 18

I Peter 2:13-17 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
In this world, God has established what we call two “realms” within which he operates. The church is the first realm, and the government is the second. Both are instituted by God himself. But both have very different purposes. The church exists to proclaim the forgiveness of sins for Christ’s sake. It calls sinners to repentance and announces their redemption by the grace of God. This is what God is doing in the church.

But, because we live in a world of sin where people live in constant denial of God’s authority, God has established the government as well. It is there, not to grant forgiveness to sinners, but to keep sinners in check. It exists to threaten punishments to lawbreakers and to bestow rewards on those who are just and upstanding citizens (Romans 13:1-7).

Martin Luther described the work God does in the church as His right hand at work, and the work He does through the state as His left hand. But, it is the same God who is over both. Thus, as Christians, we can find great joy living in both realms! As we rejoice for our life in the church where God ceaselessly forgives our sins with His Word and sacraments, we freely go out into the world to love our neighbors by working for a better society. You might say we do all this in God’s hands.

+PRAYER+
Father, you have ordered this society with great wisdom and direction. Forgive me for not appreciating the place you have called me to live. I thank you for your provision over our nation. Bless our president and all our leaders. Teach them your will, O Lord. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *


Pastor Bob

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Friday, May 16, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 17

I Peter 2:11-12 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Yesterday we read that God has graciously made us members of His kingdom. As sinners, apart from Christ, we dwelt in darkness. We couldn’t see God’s will for us clearly. We were blind. But, Christ has come and by His Word of forgiveness, has opened our eyes to the truth of our sin and God’s mercy. No longer dwelling in darkness, we look to Christ for guidance as we make our way to our homeland.

Now, the residents in the land of darkness do not take too kindly to the news that we are moving out. So they constantly tempt us to fall back into the darkness, to close our eyes to God’s will, and return to the slavery of our sin. When that doesn’t work because the Spirit causes us to stand firm, the world will begin to curse us, call us names, and seek to accuse us of all kinds of wrongdoing. This world wants our destruction.

They wanted the same for Jesus. But, He stood firm. Remember how hard it was for Pilate to find Jesus guilty? He had lived such a life that the accusations of his prosecutors couldn’t stand up in court. Nonetheless, they crucified Him.

As Jesus’ followers, we should not be surprised when we are treated like Christ by the world. But, rest assured, that though the world will seek to kill us, the Father in heaven will see our good deeds in the light of Christ’s death for us and raise us with Jesus saying “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21). The world may treat us like Jesus, but on the day of the resurrection, so will the Father!

+PRAYER+
Father, I praise you for those times when the world has looked down on me for my faith. For I know when that happens, you look down on me in my faith and promise that you Son has overcome the world. Teach me to cling to you in the midst of trials and raise me on the last day so I may see your Son. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *


Pastor Bob

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 16


I Peter: 7-9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Identity theft is a perennial threat these days. We have to be constantly monitoring our credit cards, bank accounts, and internet activity lest someone steal our information and begin to make purchases (or worse!) in our name. We must always be on our guard to protect our identity.

The devil is an identity thief. At least, he pretends to be. He is constantly in our heads, trying to tell us we are hopeless sinners with no chance of being loved by God. He loves to define us by our sins and failures. He is always seeking to remove our identity in Christ: “Look how sinful you are,” he snarls. “You cannot possibly think that you are part of the people of God! Your sins flow from the darkness, you don’t belong in God’s light. Give up! You’re hopeless!”

But, no matter how convincing his attacks may be, the devil does not give us our identity. That is Christ’s work. To be sure, we are sinners. But Christ dwells only with sinners. In fact, he calls them (us!) friends (John 15:15)! Peter teaches us that, because Jesus shed His blood for you, you are identified as person who is chosen by God, a priest in his kingdom, part of a nation set apart for His blessing, God’s prized possession, one who sings God’s praises, you bask in the light of His glory, for you have received mercy. By virtue of Jesus’ blood and your baptism, that is who you are! And the devil can’t take that away from you!

+PRAYER+
Father, teach me to find my identity in your Son Jesus. Protect me from the lies and attacks of the devil. Keep my ears full of your Word. Thank you for choosing to send your Son for me. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *

Pastor Bob

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 15


I Peter 2:6-8 For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”and, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
We recently put pavers in our backyard. The corner block had to be in the right place. Everything else was based on its placement in our yard. If the other pavers hadn’t lined up with the corner block, they would have either ruined the rest of the yard or they would have needed adjustment, along with every other brick they messed up.

Jesus is the cornerstone in the house of God. Peter tells us that those who believe in Christ, those who are in line with His Word and will, will never be put to shame. They trust in Christ. Thus, everything they do is based off of His teachings, sacrifice, and resurrection. Because the Holy Spirit has lined them up with Christ by giving them faith, they will have a place firmly set in the household of God.

However, many stumble over the cornerstone. There are those who do not line up with Jesus. They refuse to lay their bricks in line with the cornerstone, and in their pride, nearly bring destruction to the household of God. For them, the cornerstone is a cause of stumbling and destruction.

Verses like these ought to drive us to our knees in prayer. We need to repent for the thoughts, words, and deeds in our lives that are out of line with God’s will. The good news is that such prayers are answered by God’s promise of forgiveness which brings us back in line with Christ!

+PRAYER+
Father, forgive me for stumbling over Christ by trying to line up apart from your will. Teach me to repent and trust the Stone rejected by the builders is my Savior. AMEN

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *
Pastor Bob

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 14


I Peter 2:4-5 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Where does one go to find God? For Israel in the Old Testament, God made His dwelling place the temple in Jerusalem. They knew He was their God and they were His people because of His presence in that building. It was there that the priests would offer up sacrifices for the sins of the people. If God was going to be among sinners, sacrifices for those sinners had to be made.

But that temple has been made obsolete in the coming of Jesus. Peter tells us that we have come, not to worship in a structure made by bricks, but to a living Stone! That is, we have come to Jesus, who is Immanuel, God with us. Though He was rejected by humans, God dwelt among us in Him. If you want to find God, look to Jesus.

But, as you know, He does not walk around on the streets anymore. He is not some guru we can go find meditating on a mountain. Now He dwells among us in His Word and in His sacraments. There He shows up to give us the forgiveness and life He won for us by His sacrifice on the cross. Because He dwells there, when we gather as His Christians to hear His Word and receive His gifts, we too become living stones. We are the living temple where Christ is found. We gather and offer up our sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, and because Jesus shed his blood for our sins, the Father is well pleased with our sacrifices.

+PRAYER+
Father, we thank you that your Son put on flesh to dwell among us. We thank you that He dwells with all the faithful. Teach us to offer up acceptable spiritual sacrifices through your Son, the Lamb who bled for us. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *
Pastor Bob

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Monday, May 12, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 13


I Peter 2:1-3 So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation-if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
It was a common practice among “hucksters” in the first century to sell diluted milk and wine. They found their product would go further if they just added water or some other sort of additive to their product. The customer would think they were getting pure milk, but instead, it was a corrupted product. Obviously, this was a deceitful and malicious practice that was not in the best interest of the customer.

As Christians, we have been born again and are in need of nourishment. We are constantly growing up in this new life. The “pure milk” of God’s word makes us healthy and strong. Like the old commercial said, “Milk: it does your body good.” The pure spiritual milk of God’s will and promises does your body and soul good!

As one commentator puts it, we must be addicted to God’s Word. Just as a newborn baby grows strong from their mother’s milk, so the child of God is strengthened by God’s Word. Such a connection helps us as we are sold so many other diluted messages that bring about malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. These are like chemical additives that harm your body. Like newborn babies, rush to God’s Word for a strong and resilient faith!

+PRAYER+
Father, I thank you that you provide me with your pure Word. May I long for it more and more and be strengthened by its truth. Protect me from false teachers who would dilute your Word and forgive me for listening to them. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *
Pastor Bob

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 12


I Peter 1:24-25 - For, “All people are like grass,
    and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word that was preached to you.

Sometimes the Bible gives the impression that it is talking out of both sides of its mouth. Today’s verse is a fine example. There is no bleaker picture of humanity’s fate than what is found in verse 24: You and I, and all people, will wither and die like grass. Thanks of the uplifting and encouraging view of life Peter. What about remaining positive?

But, the Bible is not interested in positive and encouraging platitudes. It is interested in reality; and the reality is that our lives are fleeting. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Our sinfulness produces death in our lives. It has also caused the undoing of creation (Genesis 3:17-18; Romans 8:20). Thus, like our own lives, the creation faces death and destruction. Grass, flowers, and people all will die. The news cannot get any worse than that.

But, the Bible never ends with bad news. God has something to say from the other side of His mouth. Yes, with all people, we will die. But, there is yet hope! For the Word of the Lord endures forever! We might ask, “How is this good news? Doesn’t the fact that God’s Word remains only accentuate my fleeting life?” It might, if that Word was only a word of condemnation. But, it is not!

Peter says that the Word that remains is the Word that was “preached to you.” This is the way the apostle says that the Word is a gift from God that was spoken into your ears. It is no mere word of information, but the declared promise of Jesus that He died for you! You, dear reader, are forgiven. You, dear reader, are free from death! You, dear reader, have a God who put on flesh, suffered for your sins, and rose again so that death is not the end! This preached Word is a promise from God to you. And it is a Word that raises you from death and gives you Jesus, who is the Word made flesh and the Word preached for you! The news cannot get any better than that!

+PRAYER+
Gracious Father, with your Word of Law you destroy proud sinners. With your Word of Gospel you raise the dead sinner to life. Forgive me for my sin which has deserved death and your wrath. I cannot contain the joy inside knowing that you have forgiven me and granted me life by your grace and with your Son’s blood. Give me ears to hear, faith to believe, and the will to obey your Word. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *
Pastor Bob

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Friday, May 9, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 11


I Peter 1:22-23 - Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

Zombies aren’t real…right? I have a dear friend who runs a youth group. At a recent meeting for a mission trip, she made a joke about preparing for the zombie apocalypse. One of the students, who may be spending too much time with the TV, was scared that this might be a real possibility. It took 20-plus minutes to convince the student that zombies would not be a real threat.

Zombies are all the rage these days. Of course, actual zombies aren’t real. However, if you will indulge me for a moment, spiritually speaking, we are born like zombies. In Ephesians 2:1, St. Paul says that we were “dead in the trespasses and the sins in which we once walked.” We were the sinful, walking dead (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Think about it. What do zombies do? Zombies do nothing but destroy things and harm their neighbors. As born sinners, we are by nature incapable of fearing, loving, and trusting in God. This means that we cannot, from a pure heart, love our neighbors. We have zombie hearts which produce zombie actions!

Zombies destroy living things. But our God, in his mercy, takes that which is dead and gives it new life (Romans 4:17)! Peter reminds us today that we have been rescued from sin and death by the new birth. Sin destroys things, it brings about death. But God, in his mercy, has destroyed sin on the cross of Jesus, and through His resurrection given us new life. We have been given a second birth! We are given a new life in Christ in which we no longer are bound to sin against God and our neighbor, but free to love them sincerely and deeply from the new heart we have been given. We are no longer the walking dead bound to perish in our sin, but the born-again children of God, born of the imperishable word of life!

+PRAYER+
Heavenly Father, I thank you that you have crucified my old nature in baptism and raised me to a new life. Grant me the grace I need to die daily to my sins and rise to a life filled with faith towards you and love towards my neighbors. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *
Pastor Bob

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 10


I Peter 1:20-21 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

At the end of the television phenomenon, Breaking Bad (yes, there will be spoilers in this devotion), there is a poignant scene between the two of the main characters: Walter and his wife Skylar. In the first season, Walter discovers he has cancer and fears that, if he dies, his family will suffer financially. To solve the problem, he begins to cook meth (a logical decision, I’m sure). As the show progresses, his lust for power takes over and he refuses to leave the business, even after he is cured. He justifies it to his wife saying, “I’m doing this for the family.” It is obvious this is not true and she begins to lose trust in him. Well, in the last season, they are face to face, and she says, “If you tell me you are doing this for the family one more time, I will…” and Walter cuts her off, “I did it for me. I liked it. And I was good at it. I did it all for me.” His self-serving greed ruined his family and his life.

Our God operates in exactly the opposite way. When the Father chose to send Jesus before the foundation of the world, when Jesus was born of a virgin, suffered, died, and rose again on the third day, when He ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit into the mouth of the church to proclaim our salvation; when He gathers His church to forgives her sins, and when He promises a resurrection on the last day, it is all for your sake, and for mine! God is a God of love, not of self-service. To be sure, He gets all the glory for such acts of mercy, but God is most glorified in giving His gifts! Giving His gifts, I should say, to you!

He has revealed all of this to us in His Son Jesus Christ. Because of His great mercy and love, because of His work for our sakes, we can trust in him. Skylar could never trust Walter, he was too self-interested. But God is interested in saving you, loving you, forgiving you, and raising you up on the last day. He alone can be trusted. He proved that to us by giving Christ for us and for our salvation!

+PRAYER+
Heavenly Father, through the resurrection of your Son you have proven yourself worthy of our faith. Through the preaching of your Word, your Holy Spirit has put faith in my heart. Forgive me for my doubts. Continue to give me Jesus so that my faith in you is strengthened. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *
Pastor Bob

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 9


I Peter 1:17-19 - Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

According to the Bible, sin is slavery. Jesus said, “everyone who sins is a slave of sin” (John 8:34). Unlike much of the slavery we hear about in our day, this is a slavery we have imposed on ourselves. It is appropriate, then, for us to be judged and condemned by God because of our sin. Sin brings judgment.

In the book of Exodus, we read about how the Israelites lived as slaves to the evil Pharaoh in Egypt. But, God chose to save the Israelites from Pharaoh by sending ten plagues upon Egypt and forcing the wicked slave-driver to let His people go. The last plague was the worst of all: the death of the firstborn son for all in Egypt. The Israelites were spared this judgment by sacrificing a lamb and wiping its blood on the doorframes of their homes. The angel of death would see the blood of the lamb and pass over. After that night, where God’s wrath was poured out on the firstborn sons and the lamb’s blood protected the Israelites, Pharaoh let God’s people go.

Now, it would be madness to for the Israelites to say, “Hey, we should go back to slavery. We should return to our wicked overlord and live under his power.” Such thinking would show no fear of God whatsoever!

We are exiles like the Israelites, wandering through this world of sin having been set free from our guilt and bondage by the spotless blood of our Lamb, Jesus Christ! Jesus chose to stand in as the firstborn son and take God’s wrath upon himself, though we deserved it. His blood graciously washes our sins clean and protects us from God’s wrath. We are free from the slavery of sin!

So, it would be madness to look upon the cross of Jesus and to eat his broken body and drink his precious blood while thinking, “Now, I can go back to the slavery of my sin with no worries about God,” wouldn’t it?

+PRAYER+
Gracious and just Father, forgive me for using my freedom to sin. Teach me to fear, love, and trust in you above all else and to flee from the slavery of sin. I thank you that you have freed me by Christ’s blood. Teach me to live as a faithful exile in this world. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *
Pastor Bob

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 8


I Peter 1:13-16 - Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

There seems to be a common complaint among some Christians that there can be too much teaching about grace. If we focus too much on what Jesus has done for us, it is suggested, we will never learn how to live the Christian life. Preachers of grace are blamed for excusing sinful behavior. Too much grace is called “cheap” grace because it does not drive us to talk about what it looks like to lay down your life for Jesus. Sure, the Gospel of Jesus is great, we all love it! But, what we really need is guidance and direction. We really need the laws and rules of God to show us how to live! So, maybe we need to hear about God’s grace a little less.

I had a professor in college who told our class that if such comments were ever made to a pastor, he was on the right track! Too often, preaching about the death and resurrection for sinners (aka the Gospel, grace) seems to get in the way of what we are really interested in: ourselves. In which case, we need to hear of our sin and God’s mercy all the more!

Peter is a preacher of grace. Today in our reading he calls us to holy living and obedience. But, he doesn’t do so by saying, “Enough on God’s grace. You all understand Jesus just fine. Now we need to get down to the real business of your holiness!” No, to drive them to holiness and obedience, Peter puts the bloody cross and empty tomb right in their faces! “Therefore (because of all the grace we’ve been talking about)…set your hope on…grace!” Look to Jesus for your hope. By fixing your eyes on Him, by tuning your ears to His gospel, you will be set apart from this world so full of evil desires and ignorance. You are holy, for you are sprinkled with the blood of Christ (1 Peter. 1:2). So, be holy! Obey God! And do so by turning your gaze from your holiness and obedience and setting your hope on the grace of Jesus for you! His grace is not cheap at all. In fact, it’s free!

+PRAYER+
Father, forgive me for not taking your gospel seriously enough. Forgive me for being more concerned about my holiness than Jesus. Forgive me for not seeking my holiness in the wounds of your Son. And I thank you, that in spite of all of this, you forgive me again. I thank you that you’ll do it tomorrow, too. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *
Pastor Bob

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Monday, May 5, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 7

I Peter 1: 10-12 - Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
God is not silent. Ours is a God who communicates with us. In the Old Testament, He spoke by the prophets. In our time, the time of the New Testament, He speaks to us through His Son, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2). This does not mean that Jesus shows up and speaks to us face to face. Rather, God communicates with us through His Word in its written (the Bible), proclaimed (preaching), and sacramental (Baptism, the Lord’s Supper) forms. And He has one topic He is particularly chatty about: Christ’s work for your salvation!

As soon as Adam and Eve were deceived into rebelling against God, He began talking about the coming of Jesus, telling the serpent that the Messiah would crush His head (Genesis 3:15). He promised Abraham a descendant who would be a blessing to the nations (Genesis 12:3). Moses promised a prophet greater than himself who would speak God’s Word (Deuteronomy 18:15-20). King David wrote Psalms describing the sacrificial death of our Lord in great detail (for example: Psalm 22). The prophets, like Isaiah, predicted the sufferings and glories of our Lord roughly 700 years before Jesus was born of Mary (Isaiah 52:13-53:12). So accurate were Isaiah’s prophesies that they read like eyewitness accounts.

All of this, Peter tells us, was about Jesus. Also, it was all in service to you! In the Old Testament, God is like a father who could not bear keeping a marvelous surprise a secret from His children. So, He kept dropping hints and giving signs of the coming salvation. You and I are the children who have received the gift of Jesus whom God the Holy Spirit has been talking about all along! Sounds like a great topic of conversation for you to have with a friend!

+PRAYER+
Father, I praise you that you have not been silent about your Son, whom you sent for my salvation. You have spoken forgiveness and faith into my heart through your Word. Forgive me for not attending to what you have to say more faithfully. Teach me to listen with ears of faith. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *

Pastor Bob

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Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 6

I Peter 1:8-9 - Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Have you ever witnessed a miracle? We hear that there are miracles every day, but we do not usually witness them ourselves. We read about Jesus walking on water or raising the dead, but we wouldn’t dare try and stand on a lake in a graveyard yelling at the tombs. We like to say sentimental things like “Every sunrise is a miracle.” But, we know it is not. It is simply a beautiful part of God’s created order. Truth be told, we do not think we see a whole lot of miracles in our lifetimes.

But let me ask you this: do you believe that Jesus is risen from the dead? Do you believe He is your savior? Do you trust that His blood was shed for you and that He has won salvation for you? If you answered “yes” to these questions, then I have some good news for you: the Holy Spirit has worked a miracle in your life!

Yesterday we heard how faith is a miraculous gift given to us by the Holy Spirit. It comes by hearing, not by seeing. (Romans 10:17, I Corinthians 5:7) In a day and age where we can’t even believe what we see on TV, we have trained ourselves to be skeptics. We are a part of a doubting culture. We say, “I have to see it to believe it,” and even then, we doubt.

It is no wonder that Peter is so amazed at those who read his letter. You believe without seeing! You love him without ever looking at Him! It took touching the wounds of the risen Jesus before Peter’s buddy Thomas believed. But you believe and are filled with joy only after hearing! How is this possible? Well, it’s a miracle, that’s how!

+PRAYER+
Father, your Son Jesus performed great miracles as He carried out His earthly ministry. But, even after seeing those, many did not believe. I thank you that you have given me faith apart from sight, but that you have spoken it into my heart. Forgive me for demanding signs and wonders from you. Teach me to be ever attentive to your Word and sustain me in my faith. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *

Pastor Bob

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Friday, May 2, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 5

I Peter 1:6-7 - In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Faith is a miracle. It is a gift the Holy Spirit plants in our hearts when Jesus is preached into our ears (Romans 10:17). With faith comes Jesus and all His gifts of life, forgiveness, and salvation. Faith is not my work that God rewards, but a Holy Spirit-made trust that believes the promises of God are for me! It is beyond value in this world. It is “of greater worth than gold,” Peter says.

This is not to say that gold is not valuable. In this world, fewer things have more value. But, gold is not always pure. In order to make it so, one must subject gold to tremendous amounts of heat so it melts down into a liquid form. As that happens, the impurities rise to the top and are able to be skimmed off. Gold must go through a refining process.

Well, if that is how one of the world’s most precious metals must be treated in order to remove impurities, what then should we expect with our faith? Faith brings Jesus and all his benefits, but it also brings trials which melt us down to remove our impurities. The Christian life is not one of constant happiness and victory. Rather, it is full of purifying fires which drive us to our knees in prayer, purge our sinful nature, and teach us to cling to Jesus.

There are many things that we cling to besides Jesus in this world. We trust in them to help and save us. But, those things are idols and are powerless. Our grip on them is tight, so letting go can be painful. But the Spirit uses such trials to break our hold. And He does it for our good. He teaches us to repent and believe, to trust and to hope, to pray and to pray some more. Though it may hurt at the time, the end result is a faith more precious than gold that reflects the glory of Jesus and will result in praise, glory, and honor at His return.

+PRAYER+
Father in heaven, in your mercy you even use my trials to strengthen my faith. Forgive me for wanting to give up and cling to my idols. I thank you for giving me faith and for your Word that teaches me to cling to your Son in my struggles. Teach me to let go of my idols and purify me for the sake of Jesus. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *

Pastor Bob

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 4

I Peter 1:3-5 - Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
They could see it right in front of their eyes. Forty years in the dessert they had toiled and suffered. But now, there it was, the Promised Land, ripe for the taking! God had rescued these Israelites from Egypt with the promise of a marvelous inheritance: a land flowing with milk and honey! All they had to do was go in, drive out the old tenants who had lived so wickedly in the land, and it was theirs forever! Well, “forever” so long as they faithfully obeyed all of God’s laws and regulations, didn’t worship false gods, and didn’t mistreat their neighbors. “All this we will do!” they said. (see Joshua 24:24)

But, they disobeyed God’s commands, they began to worship false gods, and they treated one another in wicked and selfish ways. They blew the inheritance. So, God removed them from the land by sending mighty nations to punish them. When later, God graciously allowed many of these exiles to return to Jerusalem, they wept for the inheritance has perished, spoiled, and faded. (Ezra 3:12)

This is what happens when our life with God depends on our obedience to His Law. Our sin corrupts and corrodes God’s good gifts, and we stand guilty, deserving punishment. But, today, Peter tells us of a greater inheritance, not based on our obedience to God’s Law, but based on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead! This inheritance is ours, not by our obedience, but by God’s grace alone! In fact, Jesus himself is our inheritance, the one towards whom we travel during our exile. He is your inheritance that will never spoil, perish, nor fade for He is risen from the dead, never to die again. His death has paid for your sins and stopped the reign of the devil in your life. With His Holy Spirit, the Father will shield you from anyone who tries to remove this inheritance from you! It is all grace for you. The inheritance is yours because Jesus said, “All this I have done for you!”

+PRAYER+
Father, your Law is too high a standard for me to obey and your salvation is too good for me to deserve. Yet your Son has fulfilled the Law on my behalf and given me your kingdom by His grace. I thank you for sending Him to me. Please teach me to believe his promises and sustain me until the end. AMEN!

*The symbol on the top of this devotional stands for “Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.” It is a Latin phrase which means “The Word of the Lord endures forever.” This phrase, based on I Peter 1:24-25, served as the battle cry of the Lutheran reformers as it reminded them that God’s Word alone was sufficient to teach them God’s will. The symbol was on flags, banners, uniforms, and even swords as a sign of unity among those who suffered for confessing their faith in Christ alone. *


Pastor Bob

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Faith Lutheran Church • 123 Park Lane • Moorpark, CA 93021 • (805) 532 1049 • Send Email