A WORD for the Week | Archives 14
326. Lord, You Know by Erica Koester
I coached a women’s’ cross country team at a Christian college. They told me about a long-standing team tradition. When a race started to get tough mentally and physically, they would simply pray, “Lord, you know.” This prayer is taken from Psalm 139(1-4, 23-24):
“You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. …Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
This portion of Scripture strikes such a balance of comfort and conviction. I cannot help but be convicted as I consider all of my anxious thoughts and offensive ways. Those sinful thoughts and actions, which are a result of a tight grip on earthly desires and the tight grip that sin has on my life – the Lord knows them. However, it is so comforting to be reminded that God knows something else. He knows our hearts and knows every word before we even speak it. He knows our worries and our fears. But he doesn’t just know us in our weakness, he does something about us. He leads us to know him, and He leads us to His everlasting love.
Next time you are overwhelmed, pray those three words. Your Heavenly Father fully knows you, and fully loves you.
327. Do we have to die? By Talia Steinhauer
Science Talk Question: Why can’t our bodies live forever? In other words, do we have to die?
I challenge you to discuss this with someone in the next few days. Try talking about it with a Christian and then again with a non-Christian.
We were asked to discuss this in a science class one time in college. I said to my table “Yeah that’s super interesting, especially because people used to live much longer- like Adam for over 900 years.” Everyone at my table stared at me like I just said something insane like there being a God above all gods who sent his perfect son to the earth to die for my and their misdeeds. THEN, set us right with that holy God in one fell swoop so we will live forever if we believe him!
Oh wait, it’s true! “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” John 11:25-26
So now with that real happening in mind, how can we discuss this question with unbelievers? Continue to point them to God’s word, and how that has worked wonders in our lives. Give a reason for the hope you carry for admiring and appreciating a God who brings us back to Life!
328. The only name to remember by Karen Spiegelberg
I’m going to take a wild guess and say that anyone reading this has been to an event where you check in and you’re given a tag that reads HELLO, my name is ______. You scribble your name and go about the function. You may hope that people will remember your name or at least pronounce it correctly. And trust me, my last name is often butchered in pronunciation!
Psychologists say that a person’s name and getting it right is important to individuals. Why? The only possible reason is human ego. Recently, as I was listening to “Only Jesus” (by Casting Crowns), the message grabbed me. The lyrics tell of how this world tempts us to think that we need to make a name for ourselves, one that will be remembered. The refrain then says, “But Jesus is the only name to remember… I don’t care if they remember me, only Jesus.”
King David in Psalm 113 knew that of our God and Savior. “Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised. The LORD is exalted over all the nations, his glory above the heavens.”
This world will indeed entice us to make our own name important. But, remember what happens to your name tag when you leave an event. You peel it off and throw it away. That’s where our own name belongs—in the garbage. Jesus is the only name to remember. Let his name and his name only be praised and revered forever!
329. “Do you now believe?” by Christine Wentzel
“A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home.” John 16:32a
This Eastertide of 2020 is the first of its kind in American history. A plague that started in China near the end of 2019, swept across the globe and landed in the United States around the beginning of March which also coincided with the Christian observance of the Lenten season (a 40-day time of reflection, repentance, and rejoicing for Jesus’ work of our salvation which concludes on Easter Sunday.) There was an announcement that the country (and the world) was shutting down—this included the closing of all public places to worship. These tidings of great sadness held the echo of thousands of doors being slammed in our faces at once.
Before we could wrap our heads around this unprecedented event, a period of temptation was upon all bible-believing Christians. At the order for the world to stop in its tracks indefinitely, our enemy, the devil, began speaking his infectious lies. At the time of this writing, for good or bad, we all wait for the invisible virus to pass over us in our sequestration.
Here comes the incredible part for the Christian, we can’t help but to see the parallel between this Holy Week and the first one. Let’s draw our attention to the last Passover supper with Jesus and his disciples. Jesus spoke that his time of revelation has arrived. At this, the apostles in training had their “aha” moment. They were in a congratulatory mood, resting in their unswerving solidarity for their king of the Jewish nation. But Christ, the sacrificial Lamb of God, looked at each of them and asked. “Do you now believe?” (John 16:31) The emphasis was on the word “now” as if he meant, “Oh now you understand what I am saying? You’re so sure about that, but I’m warning you, the hour of my suffering and your temptation is coming, in fact, it’s here.”
Jesus knew that within a few short hours, these same confident soldiers of faith would scatter faster than one can shout, “Covid19!” Yet, before they headed over to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus would be arrested that very night, he left them with this sad fact and one of our favorite promises today, “You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not going to be alone, because the Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that you may have peace in me. In this world you are going to have trouble. But be courageous! I have overcome the world.” John 16:32b-33 (EHV)
In the trauma of knowing their leader was crucified and dead, the disciples hunkered down in confusion and disappointment. The bottom fell out of their expectations—will the same fate come to them? After three days of confusion, their women excitedly ran in the room and announced that GOD is here? What?!
Because of God’s inspired word through these witnesses and many others, we know the rest of the story. Every word spoken by Jesus about his Father’s plan to rescue all people from eternal death and give them eternal life with him came true. While they were huddled together in fear and wondering, our triumphant Savior ended the finality of death. While they were praying in desperation, our Lord of Lords, alive and well, walked a victory lap through hell and bound the hands of Satan to destroy his effectiveness. While the women came to the tomb to give their teacher a proper burial, Jesus, the son of God, stood before them and told them to “go tell.” When the risen Christ appeared out of nowhere and in the flesh to his disciples, the word of life after death was out, and it swept away the believers’ hopelessness for the rest of time.
Now here we are some 2000 years later in the exact same week. We carry the exact same Good News that offers up a eternal life, and a new purpose found only in the risen Savior. For the first time, the noise of the daily grind is quieted. With the world’s attention on alert for a plan to put itself back together, the rescue message of Easter will be clear and loud. The Holy Spirit will prick or enliven deadened hearts, strengthen the weak, and encourage the strong. In picking up the broken pieces of our lives, let us never lose sight of the ultimate victory our Lord won for all of us. Stay close in God’s Word and his people. Be a help to those in need. The storm will pass over. GOD is here!
330. Grandma Got It by Julie Luetke
My grandma was born in 1898. At the age of 20, the love of her life died of the influenza at the end of WWI. Years later, she was widowed a second time when my grandpa died.
When I was growing up back in the 1960’s, my twice-widowed grandma would come and stay a few days at a time, 3-4 times a year. At one visit something was happening that I thought she should be upset about. She stood at the kitchen sink and told me she wasn’t afraid and had no need to be. She explained that Jesus was with her if she lived or died, if life was easy or hard. My grandma was tightly wrapped in the blanket of Peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
Peace and quiet are two things many of us have a fresh experience with during COVID 19’s stay-at-home time. Peace and quiet for the soul is the kind of peace my grandma was showing me. I didn’t fully get it as a 10-year-old, but I get it now. Jesus has already won in the COVID 19 war. He may still let it play out a bit longer, but the victory is won for us. When Jesus won the victory over death and sin by His death and resurrection, He won over COVID 19 too.
His truth will be your shield and armor.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the plague that prowls in the darkness… Psalm 91:4b-6
These things cannot harm us - not really. Not unless the LORD permits it. And we cannot evade their harm - unless God blesses our efforts. God may permit us or someone we love to get the virus, and even to die, but that cannot separate us from God eternally. When we are sick God will make us better or make us perfect in heaven with Him. That should not fill us with fear, but peace.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 2 Timothy 4:18
Through patient endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we have hope.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)
Jesus is not anxious about us and we shouldn’t be either. He’s got this.
331. Wake Up Call…Call to Action by April Cooper
Do you remember your parents waking you up as a kid when you almost overslept for school?
Or maybe that has happened recently as an adult. Your spouse woke you up just in time to get your morning on track? Or, what about at a hotel? Have you ever had the front desk ring your room so you wouldn't be late?
What do they all have in common? They are all wake up calls! And with every wake up call, immediate action must take place in order to get things running smoothly.
It is highly possible that at this exact moment, the entire world has just received a wakeup call. With COVID-19, the everyday pace of life has slowed down for most people, and daily routines have completely changed. Every person in almost every region of this country and within other countries across the world has been forced to stop and rethink how they do everything. From grocery shopping and eating inside restaurants to matters of the heart like visiting family and friends, to church attendance...every little (and big) thing has now changed.
That, my friend, is a wakeup call.
A wakeup call to weigh the priorities we've held high, or not. A call for restructuring what matters most today, and tomorrow. And, a call to outright determine what your heart and mind has given attention towards most. How much have you had to change with the onset of this 2020 pandemic? Your response to that question may indicate your call to action.
As the body of Christ, our call to action is the same as it has always been. To name a few at the top of the list: love the Lord, love our neighbor, study the word, pray constantly, rely on the Holy Spirit, and make disciples of men. Are these action steps you take regularly?
Scripture says "So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:13-16 NLT)
Today is a great day to create your action plan. And, help someone else create their action plan… and introduce them to the kind of peace that surpasses all understanding.
332. One A Day by Christine Wentzel
When your heart is not in it, read one bible passage a day. When it’s the last thing you want to do, read one bible passage a day. Trust me; any and every step towards Jesus, especially in times of mental distress, will never go to waste. In fact, start here:
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10
When I was first conscious I had a “mental problem”, life as I knew it was over. Confident I spent weeks growing more and more scared over sudden attacks of fetal-positioning fear. I just managed to keep my public mask on, but not with God. I quit personal bible reading since I couldn’t focus on it anyway. I made no effort of faking it with him. I think I didn’t care or I was giving him the silent treatment in anger, or both. One day pulling out of particularly bad attack, I grabbed the good book and let it fall open. Not out of anything superstitious. I look back in my mind’s eye and see a crying child yelling “Okay! I’ll do it!” Whatever, my churning mind was in vertigo. I read the first thing I could focus on then shut it closed (“there!”). But I came back the next day and read one more passage even though nothing seemed to sink in. I was beyond worrying about that. I figured if God can’t handle little ole me reading without comprehension then he’s not big enough to take this panic away.
“For the word of God is alive and active.” Hebrews 4:12
Day after day I read one…passage…at…a…time. Soon, I found myself reading beyond the one passage. One day I followed the footnotes. One day I wrote down a passage with meaning (!). In those times of reading, my body stilled, my breathing slowed; I read more and wrote down more. Before I knew it the internal buzzing subsided, I realized Jesus had his hands in mine the entire time. With my head still cowered down, he lifted my chin and opened my eyes to humility. I had to ask others for help. I needed a team in his name to make this peace last: God first, his family, my family and friends, and doctors.
For many years now, I live in open mental-health recovery. I bear scars that from time to time (Bizarro World times) the devil likes to tap on with his horny finger so I don’t forget. Silly imp, it does make me remember—I am loved enough to be saved. I hold the memories of rescue and the proof of it in my life today. Go ahead and tap. That’s the best you can do on me because of King Jesus.
I know I’m talking to YOU out there. You know who you are. Please open your bible right now. Read the first passage you see. Stop if you want for now, but come back every day and read one more. Don’t give up. I promise you, GOD is here.
333. Quarantined by Karen Maio
Quarantined...stay at home order...social distancing...face masks...Covid-19 pandemic...these are crazy times!
During this time, when I am tempted to complain, I remind myself of all of God’s blessings. He is with us throughout this difficult time. He has kept everyone I know and love safe and healthy. Even if we were to get sick, we know that would be part of his loving plan for us. He continues to meet our needs for food and clothing and even toilet paper. Greater than our physical needs are our spiritual needs - forgiveness of sins and the sure hope of heaven - which have all been met through Jesus’s death on the cross. His encouraging and faith-strengthening words are readily available in our bibles, and we have ample time on our hands to read them! The wonders of technology even bring our pastor and the Word into our living room every Sunday morning.
But, I have to tell you, I will be SO glad when I can go back to church! I long to hear the words of the Gospel, in person—to taste again the precious body and blood of our Savior, and to see my brothers and sisters in Christ once again. I imagine you may feel the same way, so say it with me: “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” Psalm 122:1
May we never again take meeting for worship for granted or give in to a sinful urge to not go to church. Rather, let us joyfully sing (hopefully in the near future):
To Your temple I draw near; Lord, I love to worship here.
Here are sacrament and Word; Here believers meet their Lord.
(Christian Worship, Hymn 226)
334. That’s no cliché by Karen Spiegelberg
What do you think of when someone says, “That’s so cliché”? According to Oxford Dictionary, a cliché is: A phrase that is overused and shows no original thought.
Would you ever think that a Bible passage could fit the category of cliché? What about John 3:16, Philippians 4:13, or Romans 8:28, three of the top passages that are quick to be recited or used? Of course not, you think! And yet, recently I heard an author that I respect refer to those passages as cliché. (Insert sad face emoji here.) Sigh. They might be used often but no part of God’s Word can be classified as overused or not showing original thought.
Every bit of the Word, the Bible, is equally valuable no matter how often it may or may not be applied. There are plenty of examples to prove it. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) Did you catch that? All Scripture, not some. Let’s go to Romans 15:4: “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” Everything that was written. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus himself tells us, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Every word from the mouth of God.
And so, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” (1 Colossians 3:16). Another well-used passage but, that’s no cliché!