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01/18/18

Permalink 03:09:00 pm, by Pastor Plagenz Email , 286 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Devotions

Lord, Keep Me on the Path

Written by Grant Manke, WLA class of 2018

The New Year and the month of January are here, bringing cold temperatures, ice, and snow.  Although winter is a jolly time of year, we still have to travel and deal with questionable, icy, snow-covered Wisconsin roads.  Being tough Wisconsinites, we may think that we have winter roads figured out and feel under control.  There's always that one low shoulder full of slush or that sheet of black ice that can send us spinning completely out of control.

Living in this world is like driving in a blizzard on an icy, snow-covered road.  We can only see what's right in front of us.  Just when we feeel under control, our lives can be sent spinning out of control.  We try to correct the situation on our own, but trusting ourselves we most often over-steer and end up in the ditch.  Our God makes His Word so easy to access.  It is the one thing that will keep us on the straight and narrow.  Yet our Bibles are sitting on our shelves covered in dust.  We look to ourselves for guidance and neglect what has been put right in front of us.

Thankfully, God doesn't leave us to die in the ditch.  He brings us back to His Word and graciously shines the light on our Savior who rescues us.  He lifts us out of the ditch of our sinful pride and sets us back on the path to heaven with His free forgiveness.  And the sweetness of it all is God's  promise of the warm, cozy mansion awaiting us after we have finished this long, cold, uncertain drive.  This is a drive we certainly couldn't make without our Lord.

01/11/18

Permalink 04:09:00 pm, by Pastor Plagenz Email , 373 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Devotions

Baptism

The following devotion was written by Pastor Phil Janke, Winnebago Lutheran Academy

"In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free.  The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid” (Psalm 118:5, 6a).

Jesus’ baptism is one of my favorite accounts of Jesus’ life.  Why?  Because that was one of our Savior’s ways of showing, “I’m here with you.  I’m here for you.”  You see, Jesus didn’t need to be baptized…at least not for the reasons you and I needed to be baptized.  He didn’t inherit his mother’s sin because he was miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit.  He also never committed any sin.  He is perfect!  I, on the other hand, have receive my parents’ sin.  Now it’s my own, and I’ve done more than enough to prove it.  So, I needed to be baptized.  I needed to have my sin and guilt washed away.  I needed to have faith created in my heart that trusts God’s promises.  Jesus didn’t need baptism to do that.  I did.  So did you.  But since we needed that, Jesus said, “I’ll be baptized, too.”  By being baptized, he would fulfill what needed to be done.  He took up my cause and yours.  He saw our sad condition and said by his baptism, “I’m here with them.  I’m here for them.”

Did Jesus know that that meant he would suffer and die?  Did he know that because he identified with sinful human beings (although he himself was sinless) that he would suffer for it?  Did he know that taking up our cause would lead to his death?  Yes.  In fact, that is who was crying out to the LORD for help in Psalm 118.  When his enemies were pursuing him and causing his suffering which culminated on the cross, he cried to the Lord for help.

The LORD helped him.  The LORD rescued him.  The LORD was with him.  And because Jesus was victorious over sin and Satan and the grave, so is everyone who trusts in him.

Because of that good news, the lonely person no longer needs to feel lonely.  The struggling person can have renewed strength.  The person with a guilty conscience can find peace.  So you, too.

12/20/17

Permalink 12:20:00 am, by Pastor Plagenz Email , 409 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Devotions

Peace

This devotion was written by Pastor Phil Janke from Winnebago Lutheran Academy.

“Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.”  (Isaiah 9:5-6)

You could probably file that verse under “Things you will NOT find on a Christmas card to Grandma.” It could also be linked to other files, such as “Things NOT to write your wife to show her your love,” and “Things you will NOT hear a Kindergartener say at your local Christmas Eve Children’s Service.”

But actually, those are Christmas words. In fact, they are the words immediately preceding this famous Christmas promise: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

“How in the world are those two verses related?” you ask.

I’m glad you did. The answer is in one word: Peace.

We might better understand it in these terms: “Every terrorists vehicle, every IED, and every ISIS flag will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders…”

For ancient Israel, the promise that their enemy Assyria would be destroyed meant the world. But even greater than rescue from that enemy was the promise of rescue from their more dangerous spiritual enemies of Satan, sin and guilt. God promised his people from long ago peace from all those enemies.

And he promises you peace, too. Yes, one day we will not have to fear any terrorist. That ultimately will be in heaven. (We will probably have to deal with terrorists until then). But even today, we have a greater peace. God gives it to us. It’s a peace with him that happens when he promises he will not hold our sin and guilt against us. He held it against his Son Jesus in our stead. That’s why Jesus was born: to destroy the power of sin, death, and the devil. He was born to bring us peace from our spiritual enemies.

So I guess you could include battle boots and blood soaked garments in your Christmas cards. Just make sure you explain that the peace between nations pales in comparison to the peace that the baby in the manger came to bring.

12/14/17

Permalink 01:57:00 am, by Pastor Plagenz Email , 355 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Devotions

Prepare for the Lord's Coming

A voice of one calling out in the wilderness, “Prepare the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight.”  John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  (Mark 1:3-4, Evangelical Heritage Version)

(The following is a devotion by Pastor Phil Janke of Winnebago Lutheran Academy.)

I’ve always wrestled with what it really means to be prepared for the Lord’s coming.  Make paths straight?  Level the mountains, fill the valleys?  I’m always fighting my pride and just as soon my despair.  Is that what it is?  Will I ever feel really ready?

In commenting on Psalm 118:17, Martin Luther helped me understand.  And even though he is commenting on a different verse than what is quoted above, it is talking about the same thing.  Both John the Baptist and Martin Luther address the life of repentance for a believer—a humbling of the soul through the law and a lifting up in the forgiveness Jesus provides.  Perhaps what helped me will help you.

“In that conflict [against the devil and death] nothing is better and more vital for victory than learning to sing this little song of the saints, that is, to look away from self and to cling to the hand of God.  Thus the devil is defrauded and made to miss the boat.  It works like this: I am nothing.  The Lord is all my strength, as stated above.  I am stripped of everything, of myself and all that is mine.  I can say: ‘Devil, what are you fighting?  If you try to denounce my good works and my holiness before God, why, I have none.  My strength is not my own; the Lord is my Strength.  You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip!  If you try to prosecute my sins, I have none of those either [because Jesus took them away].  Here is God’s strength—prosecute it if you have had enough.  I know absolutely nothing about either sins or holiness in me.  I know nothing whatever except God’s power in me.” (Luther’s Works, Vol. 14, pg. 85)

May the Lord keep you and your loved ones ready for his Coming again!

11/23/17

Permalink 01:29:00 am, by Pastor Plagenz Email , 381 words   English (US) latin1
Categories: Devotions

Happy Thanksgiving - We Rejoice in God's Daily Mercies

Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb! (Revelation 19:9)

 Today is a day for feasting. Strictly speaking, this national day is not a spiritual holiday. Any nebulous giving of thanks to no one and nothing in particular is not worthy of Christians.

 However, since Satan has so often purloined the holidays (Christmas, Easter) that belong to the saints who rejoice in the blood of the Lamb, why can’t we “steal” one of his back? Indeed, it is hard to imagine that we gather with family around our own version of “the groaning board” without remembering that every gift comes “down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).

 Our flesh may deem some Thanksgivings less worthy of thanks—someone in the family is dying, finances are failing, the nation is under attack, etc. However, God trains the saints on earth to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Or, at the very least, we pray for the spiritual strength of faith to follow that standard set by the apostle Paul. The world can only be thankful when things are going well—when the turkey is fat and juicy, when the family is fat and sassy, and when “our” team wins the Turkey Day game. By grace, the saints know better.

 We know that in good times and bad, our God remains good. His mercy endures not just for a moment; it lasts forever. If someone is nearing death in your Christian family on this day, rejoice that he or she is approaching death with confidence in our Savior. Repent of the shallow thanks that recognizes only peace, health, and prosperity. Remember that we will enjoy an eternal feast in heaven. With such a hope, we can toast our family with a glass of wine, carve the turkey with a godly smile, and pass the mashed potatoes (to the left or the right?) with the joy of those who know that God loves us just as dearly when he chooses to afflict us as he does on this day of feasting.

 Through the cleansing blood of his dear Son, God’s forgiveness and love are also ours when his chastising hand of discipline reckons that tears will serve us better than laughter.

 

(This devotion comes to us from Northwestern Publishing House)

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