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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Summer Reading List - June 2014

Well, it is that time of year again! Time for summer! And, time for Pastor Bob's recommended reading list! These are books I hope will challenge you and help you grow in your faith.

Books on Evangelism
Looking to brush up on sharing your faith. These books will help you build confidence and clarify your message.
  • Timothy Keller, The Reason for God
  • CS Lewis, Mere Christianity
  • Korey Maas and Adam Francisco, Making the Case for Christianity
  • Craig A. Parton, The Defense Never Rests
  • Charles St-Onge, 5 Things You Can Do to Appreciate Science and Love the Bible
  • Dallas Willard (editor), A Place for Truth
Books on Faith/the Christian Life
Want to study what you believe more deeply and discuss why you believe it? Check out these dandies!
  • Gerhard Forde, On Being a Theologian of the Cross, and Where God Meets Man
  • John W. Kleinig, Grace Upon Grace: Spirituality for Today
  • Robert Kolb, The Christian Faith: A Lutheran Exposition
  • John T. Pless, Handling the Word of Truth
  • Tullian Tchvidjian, One Way Love
Fiction
Perhaps you just want a good novel to make you think with a Gospel overtone. These are stories with a meaning!
  • Bo Giertz, The Hammer of God
  • CS Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia series
  • JRR Tolkein, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
And, of course, read your Bible! In fact, make it a point this summer to read from your Bible every day! I'd love to hear what you think of these books or if you are reading something fantastic, let me know, I am always looking for a good read! Happy reading!

Pastor Bob

The Word Remains Forever: Day 36

1 Peter 5:12-14 By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son. Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
Peter had help in writing this letter that has engaged us these past few weeks. The authority Peter had as an apostle in the church was a marvelous gift from Christ, but he was not alone in giving us these words. After all, we in the church are never alone. It is likely that Peter dictated the letter while Silvanus wrote the words. The church in Rome (“she who is at Babylon….”) sent greetings to remind Peter’s readers that they are a part of a larger body which battles and prays alongside of them. Finally, Peter’s dear friend Mark (the author of the Gospel?) sent his love.

Peter was not alone in writing this letter. But, He had one more companion (if He can be called that) who breathed these words out through Silvanus’ pen. That is the Lord Himself! This Lord who was with Peter and his companions in writing this letter, is with His church even today. He does not leave us alone!

Consider how He makes Himself present with us: Peter has exhorted and declared to us God’s Word in this letter, which means that God is speaking to His church through it. He who suffered for the sake of the church comes to her in her trials. He who offered Himself as a bloody sacrifice for our sins comes to give us His body and blood for our forgiveness in the Sacrament. He who is risen from the dead comes to promise us resurrection in our baptisms. He who lives and reigns to show us mercy speaks His Word into our ears and hearts whenever we hear it proclaimed. He is with us. He will never forsake us. Such comfort leads Peter to close his letter by saying, “Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” AMEN!

+PRAYER+
Father, you never forsake your church. Thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to unite us to Christ and your church. By the work of your Spirit and Son in the Word and sacraments, keep us faithful to 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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Friday, June 6, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 35

1 Peter 5:10-11 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Read John 20:1-17. Imagine for a moment that you are Mary Magdalene. It is Easter morning and you are walking out of the empty tomb. You are devastated. Not only have you witnessed the greatest injustice in the history of humanity, the brutal crucifixion of your friend Jesus, but now someone has stolen His body. At this moment you have lost all hope. Thoughts of agonizing crosses and wicked grave robbers fill your thoughts. There is nothing right in the world.

But then a kindly and, somehow, familiar gardener walks over to offer consolation. You mumble something about returning the body if he has taken it, and feel almost sorry for insulting him. But, just as you are about to apologize, He speaks your name, “Mary!” And you can’t contain yourself because the grave couldn’t contain Him! It is Jesus! It is the Lord! He is risen! Alleluia!

In that moment, everything changed for Mary. All the evil and the injustice were gone from her mind. All that was so terribly wrong was made right again. There in that graveyard, death was being reversed. She was with the ever-living Jesus.

Today in these verses, the Lord promises to make us a part of that story. We too will see the risen Jesus and all will be made right. When Christ returns, all the injustices, tragedies, sorrows, diseases, corruptions, and deceptions will be undone. Christ will raise up His church in His eternal glory! So, while we may feel like Mary just before she saw Jesus, Easter is at hand! “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). So, we pray, “Come Lord Jesus!”

+PRAYER+
Father, we praise you for raising Christ from the dead. We wait with great anticipation to sing and rejoice with Mary when we see Him at the resurrection. Let Him return soon, we pray. 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, June 5, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 34

1 Peter 5:7-9 ...casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
Christians throughout the world are suffering for their faith. We praise God that we do not face violent persecution in our country. But, we must recognize that the devil has raised all kinds of evil against our brothers and sisters throughout the world. Our fellow citizens in the kingdom of God suffer for their faith. Because of this, we suffer as a church together. “If one member suffers, all suffer together” (I Corinthians 12:26).

What can we do for our fellow members of Christ’s body while they suffer so far away? The devil would have us think that we are incapable of helping. The devil would have us think that God will not help. The devil would have us give up. But, God would have us pray. The devil wants to devour us by removing our hope. But, God cares for us and calls for our prayers for the sake of the church. He promises to answer.

We may feel that we can do nothing for our brothers and sisters who suffer. But, God can. He has promised to hear our prayers and to answer them. Thus, prayer is no small way of helping. In fact, though supporting missionaries and going on trips to aid those who hurt is of inestimable value, prayer accomplishes more than we can hope or imagine. God will ultimately grant relief and resurrection to those who suffer. He will make all things right.

So, when others suffer, we pray. If the Lord sees fit to allow us to suffer with our brothers and sisters, we pray. In the midst of our sufferings, they will pray for us. Most importantly, God listens to all of it and answers for us.

+PRAYER+
Father, grant your Holy Spirit to those who suffer for the sake of your Son Jesus. Strengthen their faith through their trials and raise them with Christ forever. If we are to face such trials, keep us ever faithful in your Son, who suffered 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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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 33

1 Peter 5:5-6 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
Recently, a number of high profile speakers, after agreeing to give commencement speeches at college graduations, later refused to speak. The problem? The students at these universities demanded that these speakers make apologies for stances they had made in the past. The sheer pride of these students drove away the wisdom of some very intelligent people.

Now, we can sit here all day and bemoan the entitlement of today’s youth. But, we must remember that these are the kids of the generation that sang with the Who, “I hope I die before I get old.” Our entire culture puts being young on such a pedestal that we should not be surprised with the youth begin to think they ought to be in charge.

The exaltation of youth produces a lack of humility that is destructive to a culture. According to the Bible, it is the children who are to honor their fathers and mothers, not the other way around. The church, it seems, must lead the way in recovering the truth that with age comes wisdom.

One of the great honors of growing older is to be the vessel through which God hands wisdom on to the next generation. “Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight” (Proverbs 4:1). It is through our elders that we learn about the dangers of breaking God’s laws and the marvel of receiving His mercy. What a shame it would be if an entire generation was too proud to hear that and if an entire generation was too proud to pass it on.
+PRAYER+
Father, forgive us for glorifying youth. Teach us, rather, to love the youth. And, teach the youth to honor and respect their elders. May we gain great wisdom from those whom you have granted it to. 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, June 3, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 32

1 Peter 5:1-4 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Read John 10:1-30. Jesus is our chief Shepherd, and we are His sheep. He has laid down His life for His sheep. To be a sheep of the Good Shepherd, one need only hear His voice and follow it. Many will come and try to sound like the Shepherd in an effort to steal the sheep away for slaughter. But, the good Shepherd guards His sheep, He will not lose them.
When our Good Shepherd ascended into heaven to begin His reign, He gave His flock under-shepherds to tend His flock (Ephesians 4:7-16). In the stead and by the command of the chief Shepherd, these men (called “elders” by Peter, we call them pastors) are to shepherd Christ’s flock by speaking His Word to them. They do not come on their own, seeking gain, and looking to make a name for themselves. They are to simply proclaim God’s Word. When the sheep stray into sin, they are to call them to repentance. When the sheep are lost and scared, they are to comfort give out God’s mercy. When wolves come to draw the sheep away, they are to stand firm, proclaiming the Word of the chief Shepherd all the more boldly. These under-shepherds should have no agenda of their own. They are simply come in the stead of Jesus to do what He has commanded.

Be warned of pastors with personal agendas, these may be wolves. Pray for your pastor to faithfully carry out the duties Christ has called him to. Finally, listen for the voice of your dear Shepherd, and pray for someone to proclaim it faithfully.

+PRAYER+
Father, we thank you for giving us your Son to shepherd us. We pray that our pastor would be a faithful servant who boldly proclaims Christ’s Word to us. Help us to faithfully listen. 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, June 2, 2014

The Word Remains Forever: Day 31

1 Peter 4:17-19 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And "If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
Wait a second! What is Peter getting at today? Judgment on the household of God? But haven’t my sins already been judged on the cross? Didn’t Jesus take those away? Weren’t they washed away in my baptism? What is there for me to be judged for? I thought I was free from that! What gives?

We don’t like being judged. And yet, in some sense we need it. Though Jesus has paid for all of our sins and has been judged for them, and though the promise of eternal life is ours because of His cross, we still sin. We are free from the dominion of sin, but we still sin daily in thought, word, and deed. Our sin is still judged sinful even after we are saved. This drives us to our knees in repentance and prepares our hearts, once again, to hear and cling to God’s mighty absolution.

To receive this kind of judgment by God’s Word, though at times painful, is a marvelous gift. We learn to trust God as He continues to judge as sinful all that keeps us from Him. Our sin is suffocating us, and God’s Word exposes the problem and His absolving Word breathes new life into us!

Though it is a problem for Christians to sin, we know the forgiveness that is promised, and are set free to repent. The real danger lies with those who see no need for absolution; who do not “obey the gospel of God.” For those who deny God’s judgment on their sin, there is no hope of absolution. Thus, let us pray that we would ever do good, repenting of our sins and loving our neighbors.

+PRAYER+
Father, teach me to deny myself and trust your judgments on my sin as true. Kill my sinful nature and raise me to a new life every day. Thank you for your Son’s absolving blood, shed 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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