We remember – September 11, 2021

We remember – September 11, 2021


“Remember my chains.”
Colossians 4:18




Military Devotion – September 11, 2021

Devotion based on Colossians 4:18

See series: Military Devotions

In a famous poem, Rudyard Kipling repeated the warning to his British countrymen, “Lest we forget—lest we forget.”

On the anniversary of a day when terror struck, it would be well for Americans to heed that warning.

It may be disturbing to learn there are some who do not remember the day when planes full of passengers were used as weapons to target buildings full of people.

But we remember.

It may be startling to realize that we are now living among millions of Americans who were not yet born when Osama bin Laden masterminded the plan to bring America to her knees.

But we were here, and we remember.

It may be discouraging to recognize that some Americans have forgotten the many battles fought and the lives sacrificed to keep America as the Land of the Free.

But we remember.

Many seem to be unaware of the meaning behind the Gold Star showing up in a window.

But we remember—and those who live in that house are yet pained by the memory.

There are those who wonder why “In God We Trust” is on our dollar bills.

We remember why.

Some have forgotten that America’s strength and wealth are not the result of her own efforts.

We remember the words of our forefathers: “God shed his grace on thee.”

Some are discouraged to learn that dark days come even to those who call to the Lord for help.

We remember that our heavenly Father has never promised heaven on earth.

We remember the war that was fought in heaven and the peace on earth that was bought with holy blood.

We remember that the Almighty God never forsakes his people.

We remember that Christians before us often endured the pain to gain the prize.

We remember, “Our help is in the name of the Lord.”

We will remember to pray for his blessing upon our nation.

Indeed, we can tell the apostle Paul, “We remember your chains!” “We remember that the Savior God never forgets his people.”

We will teach this to the next generation that they may know.

We will remind them lest they forget.

We will remind ourselves and one another.

“Lest we forget—lest we forget.”



Prayer:
O God, forsake us not, though we have often left you out of our life.
O God, forsake us not, though we have often used your blessings as if we have earned them.
O God, forsake us not, though we sometimes forget “from whom all blessings flow.”
Forgive us when we forget. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Praying for Sodom – September 5, 2021

Praying for Sodom – September 5, 2021


Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?”
Genesis 18:23,24




Military Devotion – September 5, 2021

Devotion based on Genesis 18:23,24

See series: Military Devotions

When we think of days that brought death and destruction, 9/11 and New York City might come to mind. So might Pearl Harbor on a December 7.

Yet neither compares to the death and destruction that rained down upon the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We have seen the pictures. Survivors have told their stories of the horror. We pray such bombs will never fall from the sky again.

But the story of their destruction doesn’t compare to what happened to two cities in the Middle East: Sodom and Gomorrah.

We can only imagine what it was like to have burning sulfur fall from the sky. Buildings burned. So did human flesh.

There was no rebuilding of these cities. They are forever gone. They had rejected God’s laws. Now they faced his judgment. They learned the depth of the saying, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

The sin was sexual perversion. So depraved were the inhabitants that they wanted to rape angels—though they did not know they were not human.

The remarkable backdrop to the story is the visit the Lord God and two angels made with Abraham and Sarah just before that fatal day. The Lord announced to the elderly couple they would have a son. The news was shocking. More shocking news followed.

As the angels headed toward Sodom, the Lord told Abraham what he was about to do. This horrified Abraham. He immediately began to plead that the cities be spared. He asked the Lord, “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” Perhaps he was thinking of his nephew, Lot, and his family, who lived in Sodom.

He asked, “What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?”

He voiced his concern. “Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

Was he really willing to argue with God? Was he really suggesting that God would not do the right thing?

It was not an argument. It was not criticism. It was a plea for mercy.

The result? “The LORD said, ‘If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.’”

But Abraham wasn’t finished. “What about forty-five?” Then “What about forty?” Then “What if thirty are found?” Then “Only twenty?” Then “What if only ten are there who are not guilty of this horrendous defiance of the Holy One?”

Finally, he stopped pleading. The Lord had said, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

But there were not ten. Yet, the Lord did not punish the innocent along with the guilty. Lot, his wife, and his two daughters were allowed to escape. The daughters’ fiancés were offered a chance to go with the survivors—but they chose to stay behind. Lot’s wife turned back to look while already on the path to safety. She was turned to a pillar of salt.

Lot and his two daughters survived. No one else did. Then Abraham “looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.” It was like Hiroshima—but worse.

The lessons are many. The tragic result of defying God is one of them. But there is another. The Bible reminds us: “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

Might we be one of those righteous ones? Remember what was said about Abraham? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3).

Since we believe God, we are declared righteous, are we not? Then our prayers must be as powerful and effective as Abraham’s. Are they not?

They are.

It is good to remember that.



Prayer: God of power and mercy, you have declared us holy because of the payment Jesus made for our sins. You have created saving faith within us. You have given us the privilege of powerful and effective prayer. Teach us to use that gift often. Lead us to pray, like Abraham, for the benefit of others. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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The enemy of my enemy – August 29, 2021

The enemy of my enemy – August 29, 2021


And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
Revelation 12:7-9




Military Devotion – August 29, 2021

Devotion based on Revelation 12:7-9

See series: Military Devotions

As much as peace is to be sought for and war to be avoided, we cannot avoid the reality that war dominates the landscape of human existence.

We would like to mark the highlights of good times and progress as we view history. We prefer to point to incidents like the discovery of electricity or the development of the Salk vaccine that prevents polio.

Instead, we find ourselves noting the Battle of Gettysburg or the invasion on D-Day as the chapter headings of American history.

Readers of the Bible are not surprised by this. It reveals that human nature is prone to conflict. It warns that wars and rumors of war will continue to the end of time.

It informs us that the very first war was waged in heaven. It reports that, as a result, humans have been in a permanent state of war ever since. The threat of an enemy is always before our eyes.

We are either fighting against the holy God or against the enemy of the holy God. There is no third option. There is no room for neutrality.

A saying that came out of the Middle East declares: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

The flip side tells us: “The friend of my enemy is my enemy.”

There is more truth to this than we might at first realize. Jesus put it another way, “He who is not with me is against me…” (Matthew 12:30).

It is difficult for us who are still tied to earth to visualize holy angels fighting against angels that have followed Satan in going over to the dark side.

We ask, “How did they fight? What were their weapons?” We don’t know.

We ask, “Can an angel, even one turned rebel, be killed?” The answer is: “Yes.”

Not like a human whose spirit can separate from his body. The decree is: “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23). This death is a separation from God and his goodness.

This is the destiny of the demons thrown out of heaven to end up in hell. Jesus described that as being in a fiery furnace, “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42).

This warns us to be careful. God says, “The friend of my enemy is my enemy.”

But the opposite is also true: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Saint Peter IDs our prime enemy: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

The forces of darkness have no greater enemy than their Creator, the Lord Almighty. He deploys legions of angels to join battle on the side of his people.

He is our friend.

The famous hymn reminds us: “With might of ours can naught be done; soon were our loss effected. But for us fights the valiant one whom God himself elected.”

We know the name of that “valiant one.” We celebrate his partnership in our life when we sing, “What a friend we have in Jesus.”

To be able to call the Holy Eternal One our friend is beyond amazing.

“But wait! There’s more!”

“And the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,’ and he was called God’s friend” (James 2:3).

He calls us, “Friend.”

No greater honor could we have.

“The enemy of our enemy is our friend.”

Thank God.



Prayer: Friend of sinners, continue to fight for us until our battles are over. Deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Down in the dumps – August 22, 2021

Down in the dumps – August 22, 2021


“There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1 Kings 19:9




Military Devotion – August 22, 2021

Devotion based on 1 Kings 19:9

See series: Military Devotions

He was hiding. He was giving up. He was feeling sorry for himself.

From the heights to the depths! Sometimes, that’s how our lives go.

Just a short time earlier, Elijah was riding the crest of success. He had challenged the priests of Baal and overcome them. The people had shouted, “The Lord, he is God! The Lord, he is God!” Elijah was a hero. It was an exhilarating feeling. But it didn’t last.

Those emotional highs never do. Not this side of heaven.

When King Ahab told his wife what had happened at Mount Carmel, when he reported the slaughter of the priests of Baal, Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah with the threat, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like one of them.”

Elijah panicked. He ran south to Judah, out of her grasp—and he gave up. He wanted to die. “I have had enough, Lord, take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

Despite his best efforts, despite some signs of success, it was now clear that he never would gain total victory over his enemies. When he overcame one threat, another took its place. Life seemed to be telling him: “You cannot win.”

At times, we may know how he felt. Sometimes, we also ask, “What’s the use?” Sometimes, just like Elijah, we may want to give up on trying to soldier on.

We, too, may feel down in the dumps.

Those who have fought battles and lost friends in distant lands without seeing total victory might sometimes feel that way.

So might the family struggling to get ahead on bills, only to be hit by another one, and still another.

People who have been fighting against a disease may feel this way. So may those who are trying to adjust to the new normal after a crippling wound—be it with the loss of the use of a limb or the invasion of PTSD.

It makes us wonder, who could blame Elijah for feeling down in the dumps?

The answer is: God.

When the Lord asked him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” he replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

His mission was obviously hopeless, wasn’t it? In the end, he was a failure, wasn’t he?

No. The final victory did not depend upon him, but upon the Lord, his God. Elijah needed to learn what that meant. So, the Lord showed him.

The Lord told him, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” A powerful wind that shattered rocks came by. But the Lord wasn’t in the wind. Then came an earthquake followed by a fierce fire. But the Lord was not in them, either. Then came a gentle whisper.

The Lord was in the whisper.

Sometimes the Almighty works, not with explosive drama, but with quiet gentleness.

Elijah’s tour of duty wasn’t over. He received new orders: “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu.”

Elijah had done his part of God’s plan. These people would now continue it.

All was not lost. The Lord revealed: “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”

The lesson has been taught: Don’t let feelings rule your life! Don’t judge only by what you can see! The Lord, he is God. Let him be the judge of your life. He is, in fact, Lord of life and death.

When the Lord knew that Elijah’s mission on earth was finally over, he sent a chariot of fire pulled by horses of fire inside a tornado to carry him to the home he had longed for when he was down in the dumps.



We remember the words of the hymn:
“If you but trust in God to guide you and place your confidence in him,
He’ll give you strength and stand beside you when days are dreary, dark and dim.
For those who trust his changeless love build on the rock that does not move.” Amen.
(Christian Worship 444:1)



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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She brought a blanket – August 15, 2021

She brought a blanket – August 15, 2021


“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
Mark 10:14




Military Devotion – August 15, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 10:14

See series: Military Devotions

She brought a blanket to the cemetery. It was a pink one. It was a baby blanket.

She did not smile, but she did not cry. She had that faraway look that combat veterans sometimes get. She had come to complete a task. She had come to bury her daughter.

There had been no funeral. There was no crowd of mourners. Only the parents, the pastor, and a man from the mortuary were present to stand next to the hole in the ground and gaze at a tiny casket. A fellow with a baseball cap was sitting at a distance in his pickup truck, with a shovel leaning against the tailgate.

This is not what the new parents had planned. The father was a Marine scheduled to be discharged about the time the baby would be born. As soon as it was safe for the baby to travel, the three would head back to waiting family and friends in the Midwest.

They had bought only a few baby things in advance because there would be a baby shower when they got home—and Christmas was just around the corner. Piles of presents were waiting for the new member of the family. Now, she wondered if those presents could be returned. She hoped she would not need to look at them.

They had been so excited about the upcoming birth. They had no hint of a problem until the doctor came into the room to say something was wrong with the newborn—something very wrong. He did not expect the baby to survive.

It did not.

She knew it might seem foolish, but she felt she could not allow her daughter to lie uncovered in the cold North Carolina soil. She would feel better if she could just one-time tuck her baby into bed. So, she brought a blanket.

Unnoticed, there were some others watching this sad scene. Jesus reminds us: “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).

He who notes the sparrow falling from the sky watched as the blanket was placed over the coffin.

There was simply no chance this little one would feel the cold. Before her nurse rushed to answer the code blue alarm, before the parents knew what had happened, the baby was already wrapped in the warm, everlasting arms of her Savior God.

She was safe. She had been rescued from death’s grip. The North Carolina soil will not be able to hold her body. It never did hold her soul.

She had lived on this earth for only a few hours—but that was enough. During that brief time, she had been born a second time. She had been baptized. She was cleared to live in heaven.

She didn’t need the blanket bought at Kmart. She was already wrapped in a heavenly blanket. It had been bought for her by Jesus.

The Lord God explains: “As many of you as were baptized in Christ have been clothed with Christ” (Galatians 3:27 EHV).

Her mom had seen to it that her baby was wrapped in the loving robe of righteousness given by Jesus before the little one left this earth.

She knew the words of the Savior, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

She would have told her daughter all about Jesus. She would have taught her how to pray. She would have held her on her lap in church. But Jesus intervened. He had a better plan.

This baby will never get sick, will never be heartbroken, will never be tempted to sin—will never, ever die.

She now lives in joy and bliss. One day she will get to greet her mother in heaven. We wonder what she will say. Maybe it will be: “Hi, Mom! Thanks for the blanket!”

Maybe she will say that. We hope she will.

God grant it.



Prayer: Lord of life and death, Guardian of our souls, we thank you for the new life in Christ. We thank you for those who brought us to Jesus. We thank you that we can announce: “God’s own child, I gladly say it. I was baptized into Christ.” Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Sleeping gods – August 8, 2021

Sleeping gods – August 8, 2021


At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.”
1 Kings 18:27




Military Devotion – August 8, 2021

Devotion based on 1 Kings 18:27

See series: Military Devotions

He showed no mercy. He was not polite. He made fun of their faith. He ridiculed their “higher power.”

He taunted them.

It might make us wonder if Elijah went too far. Perhaps his zeal for the Lord God caused him to cross the line of what was acceptable and God-pleasing.

After all, did not the Lord God love these people? Was the Savior of the world not going to die for these people?

He did love them. He would die for them. In fact, these were some of his chosen people.

They were children of Israel.

And that made the situation much worse.

These were the descendants of Abraham, the heirs of the covenant, relatives of the heroes of faith. How did they end up as fanatic followers of the idol, Baal?

After the death of Solomon, the nation of Israel split in two. The northern ten tribes kept the name “Israel.” The southern two tribes called themselves, “Judah.” Jerusalem, with the temple, was in Judah.

To keep the nations apart, the leaders of the northern kingdom set up an alternate temple, an alternate priesthood—essentially an alternate religion. By the time of the prophet Elijah, the worship of idols dominated their religious scene. Under the rule of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, the worship of Baal was the state religion of Israel.

Worshipers of the true God were threatened. Elijah, spokesman of Jehovah, was branded as a traitor and sentenced to death—if ever he could be found. He was in hiding.

At the Lord’s direction, Elijah finally showed himself to Ahab to demand a showdown. He invited the people to gather at Mount Carmel as he confronted the 450 prophets of Baal.

To the people of Israel, he posed the question: “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

But the people said nothing. They were waiting to see the outcome of the test.

Slaughtered bulls were placed upon two altars with wood underneath. Elijah told the priests of Baal, “Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”

The prophets of Baal went first. “O Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.” That’s when Elijah began to taunt them. “So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed.”

Still no answer. No fire. Because Baal was no God.

Elijah needed to demonstrate the frailty, the emptiness, and the sinfulness of idolatry. So, he acted boldly.

Idolatry was the work of Satan. Elijah’s taunting was a rejection of the devil and all of his works and all of his ways.

As the day came to an end, they poured water again and again over the altar before Elijah. Following a prayer to the LORD, fire streaked from heaven to burn up the sacrifice, the wood, and even the surrounding stones.

“When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!’” (1 Kings 18:39)

Those prophets of Baal? This was their judgment day. By Elijah’s command, they were brought into the Kishon Valley and slaughtered. All of them.

Surely, this is a warning never to place faith into anything other but the true and living God.

Surely, this is a reminder of the grace of God for sinners that he would send his Son to die for people like us—people who by nature are idolaters, those who tend to fear, love, and trust in things other than God.

Surely, our entire life should be an offering of thanksgiving, service, and praise to the only true Savior God.

Surely, the LORD our God never does sleep. There is never a need to wake him. Never.



Prayer:Almighty God, Lord of creation, and God of mercy, we look back with fretful eyes into the valley of Kishon and the fate of those idolaters. We remember your saying that “The wages of sin is death.” But you have given us life, instead. You have given us Jesus. We need not fear a valley of Kishon. We fear no evil in the valley of the shadow of death. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Ichabod – August 1, 2021

Ichabod – August 1, 2021


As her death approached, the women who stood by her said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for you have given birth to a son.” But she did not respond or pay attention. She named the boy Ichabod and said, “The glory has departed from Israel.”
1 Samuel 4:20,21 EHV




Military Devotion – August 1, 2021

Devotion based on 1 Samuel 4:20,21 EHV

See series: Military Devotions

This sad story comes from among other sad stories at a sad time in the history of God’s Old Testament people.

A mother died in childbirth. On the same day, the child’s father died. On that same day, its grandfather died.

Yet, the dying words of the mother lamented not the loss of these people, or even of her own life. Something worse had happened. She knew something so dreadful that she wanted to burn the news of the tragedy into the memory of everyone who would come to know her orphan son.

She did it with one word: Ichabod.

The Hebrew word means: “Glory has departed.” Every time someone would call the boy’s name, the lamentation would be repeated: “The glory has departed from Israel.”

The story begins with an Old Testament priest whose sons were priests under him. The younger priests were scoundrels. Abusing their positions, they took the choice offerings for themselves and slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. The Tent of Meeting is also known as the tabernacle, which served as the house of God before the temple was built.

Eli knew of this. He warned them. Yet, when they did not listen, he did nothing more to stop them.

The Lord God also knew. He asked Eli, “Why do you honor your sons more than me?”

The day of reckoning came when the Philistines attacked and overran Israel’s army. Confused and panicked, the leaders of Israel came up with a desperate solution: “Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord here from Shiloh, so that it may come into our midst and save us from the hand of our enemies.”

The ark of the covenant was that special box overlaid with gold that symbolized the covenant, the sacred promise by the holy God that he would accept Israel as his special people. This consecrated object was kept in the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle, and afterwards, in the temple. Only one person, the high priest, was permitted to enter this holy place on only one day of the year—the great Day of Atonement.

It symbolized the atonement that the Son of God would one day make upon a cross for the sins of the whole world.

Now, sadly, Israel was going to try to use this consecrated item as a magical weapon.

After the two sons of Eli brought the ark of the covenant into the camp of Israel’s army amidst great celebration, they carried it into battle, confident of victory.

The victory, however, went to the enemy. 30,000 Israeli soldiers died in that fight. Lying among them were the two sons of Eli.

The Philistines took the ark of the covenant as a prize of war and placed it into the temple of their idol, Dagon.

When Eli heard that news, he fell from where he was sitting and broke his neck.

When his pregnant daughter-in-law heard the news, she went into labor—and Ichabod was born.

The Lord God later returned the ark of the covenant to Israel by a series of amazing events. But that box never was the glory of Israel.

The Lord God was. Always was. The greatest showing forth of his glory took place when he made the great atonement for sin.

Saint John wrote, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

The sad story of Ichabod is outshone by the happy story of Jesus.

His glory never departs.



Prayer:Heavenly Father, as we look into the pages of Scripture we see again and again how we humans misunderstand your ways as we seek our own solutions to fear and pain. Keep pointing us to Jesus. Show us the glory of our true Light and Salvation. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Just words – July 25, 2021

Just words – July 25, 2021


Father, forgive them.
Luke 23:34




Military Devotion – July 25, 2021

Devotion based on Luke 23:34

See series: Military Devotions

We were taught the words when we were very young. Grownups asked, “What do you say?” We replied, “Please.” Again, they asked, “What do you say?” Then, we answered, “Thank you.” They were teaching us. We also learned when to say, “I’m sorry.”

They were like magic words. “Please,” “Thank you,” and “I’m sorry” opened the doors to approval and acceptance. Say those words, and life goes smoother.

After a while, we discovered that we did not necessarily need to mean the words. We just had to say them the right way. Not through gritted teeth. Not as a sneer. Not in anger.

But with politeness, as if we were speaking from our hearts, even though they came only from our mouth.

As we grew older, we found this empty-hearted method also worked with the serious words, such as, “I forgive you.” or “I love you.”

At times we meant those powerful words. But sometimes, they became counterfeit words, empty words, lying words. There was no truth behind those words.

They were just words.

Such words are not God-words.

His words may have come from his mouth, but they have always sprung from his heart.

God’s words are not always polite. They may expose our emptiness and selfishness. They may call us “Liar!” or “Hypocrite!” They may hurt our feelings. But they always accurately express his feelings.

His words are always true. His words are backed up with actions.

Of the forbidden tree in Eden, he said, “when you eat of it, you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). To murderous Cain, he said, “Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand” (Genesis 4:11). To an overconfident Peter he said, “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times” (Mark 14:30).

Which of these words did he not mean? Which warning was not carried out?

They were not just words.

To the Israeli slaves in Egypt, he said, “I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob” (Exodus 6:8). To fisherman Peter and his brother, Andrew, he said, “Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). To the hostile crowd, he said, “After three days I will rise again” (Matthew 27:63).

Which of these words did he not mean? Which promise was not carried out?

They were not just words, were they?

They never are.

When the Savior God tells us, “I forgive you,” there is truth behind those words because there is blood behind those words.

Blood was dripping from his hands and feet when he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

The prayer fits every member of the human race. The ones who were carrying out his execution, those who said, “His blood be upon us and our children,” they had no idea of the depth of the crime against heaven they were committing. So little do we know of the seriousness of our sin—any sin.

“Father, forgive them!” is his continuing prayer for us.

Those words have meaning. They have power. They give forgiveness.

They are more than just words.



Prayer: Lord God, your Bible contains the most important words for our life. In its pages, we learn of the judgment against us. In its pages, we learn of the judgment for us. Lead us to listen to your words. They show us our sin. Then they show us our Savior. They offer salvation. For this, we thank you. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Jesus wasn’t worried – July 18, 2021

Jesus wasn’t worried – July 18, 2021


A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
Mark 4:37,38




Military Devotion – July 18, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 4:37,38

See series: Military Devotions

It was a traumatic event. Lives were in peril on the sea—on the Sea of Galilee.

Some in the boat were experienced seamen. They knew when it was time to be afraid. They felt, “That time is now!”

It was a squall, a furious squall. It wasn’t a hurricane. But for the occupants of that boat, it might just as well have been. They were facing death.

Probably, some were straining at oars to keep the prow into the wind. Others were, no doubt, frantically bailing to keep the boat from sinking. It was an “All hands on deck!” time.

But not everyone aboard was fighting to survive. One was sleeping. They woke him up with the rebuke. “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

Of course, he did. He was in the same boat with them. But there was a major difference.

Jesus wasn’t worried.

That’s the difference between the Lord of life and those who look to him for help.

Jesus never worries.

That doesn’t mean he is never troubled. As a true human, he shared our emotions. As true God, he could see dangers hidden from us. He could read hearts. What he saw there is what often troubled him.

He was troubled when he saw Mary weeping over the death of her brother, Lazarus. (John 11:33)

He was troubled when he told his disciples, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me” (John 13:21).

He was troubled when he poured out his heart to his heavenly Father while in the Garden of Gethsemane.

But he wasn’t worried.

We hear him say, “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour” (John 12:27).

He was troubled by seeing the damage that sin was causing his creation—especially the pain that was searing human hearts.

A furious squall was not troubling. Weather posed no threat—not to the son of God.

But what about those in that boat who did not have divine powers? Were they not at the mercy of the storm?

No.

They were at the mercy of God.

Just as we always are.

Like those disciples, usually, we don’t see Jesus doing anything to protect us. We don’t see the angel squads he deploys. We don’t see how often he blocks demonic attacks. We don’t see the holy blood that covers our sins.

We do not see this because we cannot yet see beyond the boundaries of time and space.

Would that storm have stopped if Jesus had remained asleep? It surely could have. His human side might have been sleeping, but he remained the constant Ruler of all things great and small.

The command, “Quiet! Be still!” was for the benefit of the disciples—and us. He showed forth his glory to address human weakness of faith.

Jesus wasn’t worried.

Nor should we be.

Ever.



Prayer:
Be still, my soul; the waves and wind still know
His voice who ruled them while he lived below. Amen.
(from Christian Worship 415:2)



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Skipping thanksgiving – July 11, 2021

Skipping thanksgiving – July 11, 2021


Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?”
Luke 17:17




Military Devotion – July 11, 2021

Devotion based on Luke 17:17

See series: Military Devotions

It appears that America is going to skip thanksgiving.

No, not that day in November which is spelled with a capital “T” and celebrated with turkey and pumpkin pie. But the giving of thanks to the one who has presented a gift.

The gift in question is the rather rapid discovery of vaccines that are effective against Covid-19.

The giver of the gift is God.

Indeed, there have been expressions of appreciation for those who worked on the vaccines. Parades are planned to honor those who risked their health by tending to people who were afflicted.

That is only proper.

But the Ruler of the universe should not be forgotten. He can both bring disease, and he can end it. He once told his people: “I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you” (Exodus15:26).

Infectious diseases have plagued humans for eons. Old Testament Law decreed that a person who broke out with leprosy must leave his family and quarantine himself with other lepers. As the disease progressed, parts of the body, such as fingers and toes, began to drop off. There was no cure. There was only the prospect of a miserable, painful, and lonely life.

One day, as Jesus was walking to a village, a group of lepers called out from a safe distance: “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

They must have heard the reports of Jesus performing miraculous healings. They begged for his help.

They did not expect his response. He simply told them, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”

By Law, that is what a person was to do if the symptoms of leprosy went away. If the priest saw no longer any sign of the disease, he was to pronounce the person free to return to normal life. The quarantine restriction would be lifted.

But these lepers were sent to the priest before they were cured. Their leprosy was still evident as they headed off. They needed to trust that they would be healed before they reached the point of inspection.

They were. We hear: “As they went, they were cleansed.”

We can imagine their joy. We can envision their eagerness to get back to family and friends and a normal life.

In their excitement and relief, we can also understand how some of them neglected to thank the one who had healed them. We understand because we easily do the same.

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?”

Those words might make us wince. Sadly, sometimes we are among the “other nine.”

Like them, it isn’t that we don’t trust Jesus. We will go on record to declare that he is our Lord and Savior. We have saving faith.

But sometimes, it is also a forgetful faith, a self-centered faith. Sometimes we act as if we are entitled to special blessings from the Lord God. Sometimes we pout when we don’t get them and become ungrateful when we do.

This is more than a weakness and more serious than a mistake. To forget about thanking him is wrong. That makes it a sin.

Fortunately, he has the remedy for our sin. He has forgiveness.

The warrior king, David, knew this. He invites us to join him in saying, “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:2,3).

No, we will not skip thanksgiving.



Prayer: Good and gracious are you, O Lord! You have offered us healing. You have shown your mighty hand by enabling not just one vaccine for the virus that has isolated us from others but many of them. Protect us from variants that will survive vaccines. Protect our souls as well as our bodies. Thank you for all your benefits! Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Proper pride – July 4, 2021

Proper pride – July 4, 2021


Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.
Proverbs 14:34




Military Devotion – July 4, 2021

Devotion based on Proverbs 14:34

See series: Military Devotions

The 4th of July has often led people to feel, if not to say out loud, “I’m proud to be an American.”

We recognize that many see the day only as an excuse to eat watermelon and watch fireworks. However, those who have worn the uniform, especially those who have worn it in distant and dangerous places, they tend to celebrate Independence Day on a different level. They are more likely to celebrate with pride.

There are people today who question if it is proper to have such pride. They point to the many failures of our nation—both real and imagined. Some seem ashamed of America. Some view its history as a disgrace.

The people of God know that the only accurate picture of America is the one seen through the eyes of God. After all, America is God’s gift to the people who dwell within its borders. The question is, how are Americans using his gift?

The answer is: “It is a mixed report. What is praiseworthy is counter-balanced by the disgraceful.”

King Solomon recognized that to be true for the nation of Israel in his day. His message to us is clear.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”

That would seem too obvious to need mentioning. Yet, many don’t see it that way. Instead, some view sin as a reason for bragging—as something to be proud of.

This is not something new. About those flaunting their sinful lifestyle in his day, Jeremiah asked: “Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct?”

He answered his own question: “No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush” (Jeremiah 6:15).

But sin is shameful. Pride over sin is simply sinful pride.

America needs to be ashamed of sin. To the extent it is not, it is disgraceful.

Since it is easy to point to sins that stain America’s fabric, one might wonder if there is anything we can be proud of.

Of course, there is! When we point to sin, we focus on what Satan has sponsored. But there is more to the American story. We can focus upon what God has accomplished.

There was a reason why German soldiers tried to reach the western edges of Berlin during the last days of WWII. They wanted to surrender to the Americans, not the Russians. Americans were the good guys. Few POWs survived Russian captivity.

America has done many things right. It has stood on the side of righteousness again and again. History is filled with such reports. It is right to be proud of that.

But we would be mistaken if we decided to be proud of ourselves. When we talk about doing what is right, standing for righteousness, we always are pointing to what God has accomplished.

America may have been his instrument, but the glory belongs to him alone.

To the Christian, this is no surprise. Accomplishing righteousness for sinners is the way God rescued us from slavery to Satan. That’s a freedom we celebrate every day.

On this Independence Day we can declare: “Anything great about America, anything good about America, is reason for us to thank the Lord God and glorify his name. We are proud of what he has done for us and through us.”

This is proper pride.



Prayer: Heavenly Father, you have kept your protecting arm over our nation for almost 250 years. You have blessed America by making her a blessing to many. Use us in this work. Continue to give us the privilege of serving you by serving our nation. We are proud to be your servants. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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No luck – June 27, 2021

No luck – June 27, 2021


I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.
Isaiah 42:8




Military Devotion – June 27, 2021

Devotion based on Isaiah 42:8

See series: Military Devotions

The old song says, “If it weren’t for bad luck, I would have no luck at all.”

Hard-faced reality says, “Actually, you do have no luck at all. Never did. Never will. There is no such thing as ‘luck.'”

To put faith in luck is to put faith in an idol.

But before we go around leveling idolatry charges against people, we need to clarify the possible meanings of the word “luck.”

After a hole-in-one, we might say, “That was a lucky shot.” What we mean is, “That was unexpected and not likely to be repeated.” After a fishing trip, a person might ask, “Have any luck?” He probably means, “Have any success?”

But sometimes, luck is being counted on or hoped for as a means to achieve success or prevent bad things from happening.

Trusting in luck is putting faith in a fake god.

It happens easy enough and often enough to make this a common spiritual crime.

We may have fallen into that habit. We surely have seen it happen with people around us.

We could probably come up with a long list of items that have been used as lucky charms. They can range from a rabbit’s foot to a certain coin, to a special rubber band.

It isn’t that we doubt the care and protection of the holy God; it’s just that it makes us feel better to have that “lucky” thing with us.

But when we boil it down to basics, we are telling ourselves that it is not enough to have the power of the Almighty and his angels watching out for us. We need extra protection.

The heathen people who lived around the Old Testament and early Christian believers would have understood this. In fact, that’s what they wanted from the believers. That’s the way they accepted the presence of God.

They trusted in the gods of rivers and trees, the gods of the clouds and the stars. If believers wanted to worship Jehovah as god, they had no problem with that. They would join them.

But to worship Jehovah as God, as the only God—that they would challenge. If there is only one God, that would mean their faith in their idols is wrong, is worthless.

In this, they were correct.

Even idols made of gold and jewels cannot see, cannot speak, and cannot save.

What can a golden calf or a lucky coin do about the guilt of sin? What can any earthly item do to appease the anger of the Holy God? What does luck have to do with escaping from the decree, “The wages of sin is death”?

The holy Lord God does not need a helper to protect us. He accepts no one and no thing to stand next to him in power and glory.

In his Son Jesus, who conquered sin, death, and the devil, there you have the answer. No one else! Nothing else. The Bible declares, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts:4:12).

He who can save us from the wages of sin can save us from the sniper—if that is his will. It comes down to a matter of trusting that he knows what is best for us and will bring that about.

It takes faith to mean it when we say, “Thy will be done.”

The order from on high is: “Fear, love, and trust in God above all things.”

There is no need for luck. No place for it in our lives.



Prayer: Lord God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you alone have the power to rescue me from any danger to body or soul. Empower me to boldly believe that as I place my life into your hands. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Only a breath – June 20, 2021

Only a breath – June 20, 2021


Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath.
Job 7:7




Military Devotion – June 20, 2021

Devotion based on Job 7:7

See series: Military Devotions

One would think that we are made of stronger stuff; that our existence is more secure. We are born small and weak. But we grow and become strong. Good food and exercise produce results.

We are more than physical bodies. We have built up our minds. We sat through classes and read books. We have certificates to prove it.

In addition, we have built up relationships. We have family and friends who stand by to support us and pick us up when we fall. We can count on them. They have our back.

On top of all of this, we may have built up some financial strength. Maybe we have some savings. If nothing else, we have those credit cards. They can help in a pinch.

It’s a good feeling to have some certainty in life. We can say, “Life is good!” “Things are finally going my way!”

Until they are not.

Job from the Old Testament can teach us about such things. He was not foolish enough to think his wealth and his family were the results of his own doing. He knew these were blessings from the holy God. He taught this to his children. He would have gladly sung the hymn, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”

His stockpile of blessings was great. Then it wasn’t. In a flash, he lost his crops, lost his herds, lost his wealth—and lost his children. Then, he lost his health.

The question is, “Would he lose his faith?”

Satan was counting on that. He had picked Job as a special target. He placed him in the crosshairs.

The apostle Peter reminds us that we are not much different from Job. We might compare Satan to an enemy sniper. We don’t see him. But he is out there, and he is deadly.

Instead of a sniper, Peter uses a picture that people of all times can relate to: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

It may be easy to pray and hope and believe when things are going well. When life turns against us, we tend to turn against the One who has final control over our life. We are tempted to turn against God.

Job was close to doing that when he called out in pain. He went on to say, “Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul” (Job 7:11).

His words, “Remember, O God…” were tinged with the shadow of a rebuke.

Rebuke God? Dare to correct the Holy One? That would make Satan smile. That would put Job into Satan’s kill zone.

Happily, Job pulled back. He told his accusing friends, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him…” (Job 13:15).

Trust in the Almighty was still alive. Doubt might have attacked, but faith fought back. He could go on to declare: “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25).

Job was the loving child of God, pouring out his heart to his Creator and Redeemer. He did not hide his confusion or his questions. He came with trust, though in weakness.

He might have used the words we sometimes sing, “Just as I am, though tossed about with many a conflict, many a doubt, fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.” (Christian Worship 397:3)

We understand Job. We agree with Job.



Prayer: Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Changes – June 13, 2021

Changes – June 13, 2021


Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8




Military Devotion – June 13, 2021

Devotion based on Hebrews 13:8

See series: Military Devotions

The year was 1970. The place was Norfolk, VA. He was a sailor with a young family. His face brightened as he talked about his plans for retirement.

He would use the training the Navy had given him and return to his hometown to open a TV repair shop.

Years later, the day after his retirement ceremony, he went right back through the same gate he had used for years, to basically the same job as before. But now, as a civilian contractor.

He never did leave Norfolk.

What happened? What about that dream to return to the small town in Wisconsin?

He discovered the hometown had changed. Many friends and family were gone. No one was having TV sets repaired any longer. They just replaced them.

The world had changed. His dream changed with it.

What could he do but shrug his shoulders and say, “That’s the way it goes”?

It does go that way in our lives. Changes are a part of life—and that’s not all bad.

Already at creation, the Lord God built changes into human lives. Days changed to nights. One season followed another. Changes make life interesting. We welcome such changes.

But some changes are not welcome. We want to stay healthy, not become sick. We don’t want to move to a place we dislike. We don’t want accident or disease to radically change our life.

We want to be able to hold onto the good times and the good things. We want those near and dear to us always to stay near—to always stay dear.

But changes come. We move on. We move away. We lose dear ones. Sometimes people we treasured are still near, but sadly, they are no longer dear to us.

They have changed. Or maybe we have changed. Surely, our world has changed.

The words of the hymn come to mind, “Change and decay in all around I see.”

The older we grow, the more unwanted changes we tend to see.

If there is going to be stability in our life, if we are going to make plans for the critical times of our life, we will need to know what will not change.

We need solid ground to stand upon when everything seems to be swirling around us.

We need the Lord God. We need the Rock of our salvation.

We don’t know what will happen by the time we wake up tomorrow. We don’t know if war will break out or if another plague will strike our planet.

But Jesus does.

Better yet, we know that we can count upon him just as the disciples did.

We can count on him to remain the same teacher and protector that he always was. He will always be our friend.

He will always be our Savior. His death guarantees that payment for our sin is completed.

When our years of service here on earth are finished, he will lead us to our heavenly retirement home.

What a retirement!

It’s not too early to plan for that. Not too early to already start thanking him for that.



Prayer: Lord Jesus; we have sung the words, “On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” Keep, then, our faith and our life always centered on you. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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D-Days – June 6, 2021

D-Days – June 6, 2021


This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24




Military Devotion – June 6, 2021

Devotion based on Psalm 118:24

See series: Military Devotions

June 6 always brings to memory the Allied invasion upon the shores of Normandy in 1944. But there were many D-days in WWII. It was a common designation for a major planned attack—and there were many such attacks.

But the attack on that French coast was of special importance, and we should not diminish its value. It did not end the war, but it signaled the beginning of the end.

Sadly, the day also marked the end of many human lives.

A song that became popular after WWI carried the title, “Happy Days Are Here Again.” But those same people walked into the Great Depression and another World War. It makes the phrase “happy days” seem a bit empty for them.

Sometimes, it may also seem that way to us when we consider the words, “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

When do these words apply? At graduations? At weddings? On days of promotions and awards? Maybe at the birth of a child. Perhaps returning from deployment.

Probably so. The Lord has made that day for us. He led us to that day. We thank him for such a day.

But has he not also made the day on which everything went wrong? The day on which we failed to get what we had desperately hoped for? Did not the Lord God make the worst day of our life? Will he not make the day of our death?

“This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Do those bad and sad days make a mockery of the invitation to “be glad in it”?

Or does the reminder that the Lord has made such days make enduring them possible?

We think of the soldier who looked down at Utah Beach as the sun was setting on that June day. What might he have thought about that day? What might he have felt?

He certainly would have been thankful that he survived, grateful that the landing was a success. But he knew the cost of the success. Medics and corpsmen were still hard at work. Bodies were still floating on the water. The war was not over. Tomorrow would bring more fighting.

Could he agree with the psalmist, “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it”? Would he join in with those words?

Only if he trusted in the Lord with all his heart, all his soul, and all his mind.

One need not have been in a bloody battle to have emotions twisted and torn at times. One need not have endured the worst day to become irritated when someone else says “Cheer up!”

The last thing we need when in misery is for someone to tell us that things aren’t that bad.

“Easy to say!” we think, “But you don’t know what you are talking about!”

But the One talking to us in this psalm does know. This is the Lord God! We cannot imagine the pain and misery he has gone through. Yet he knows exactly what we are going through.

And he has promised to carry us through.

The apostle Paul makes the bold statement: “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings…” (Romans 5:3).

The only way that could be is if we knew for certain that everything will turn out well in the end—our D-days will lead to total victory.

They will, of course, because of the victory won on Golgotha. Good Friday was the very greatest D-Day of all time.

And we know how that ended.

Jesus tells us, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).



Prayer: Lord Jesus, we know you have overcome the world. We know that you have given us the victory. Be with us in our days of struggles. Keep us from despair. Remind us that you are the Commander of each day that you lead us into. Lead us, we pray, through the worst of them—just as you promised. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Remembering loss – May 31, 2021

Remembering loss – May 31, 2021


Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the LORD your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm.
Deuteronomy 11:2




Military Devotion – May 31, 2021

Devotion based on Deuteronomy 11:2

See series: Military Devotions

It is not a day to celebrate—the one they call Memorial Day.

It is a day for remembering.

It is a day for remembering loss.

Picnics and parks do not fit as well into the day as do gravestones and flags.

It is a day for remembering loss.

The young do not understand the day. We must teach them.

Those who have never trained for war, those who have never fought in war, they do not understand war. Do not understand the cost.

Those who have paid the price of freedom must instruct those who have only enjoyed the pleasure of freedom.

Otherwise, freedom may be lost.

Those who have sweated and fought and killed on foreign shores to protect those who lived in comfort with home-cooked meals need not be reminded to remember loss.

They live with those memories.

Many of them wonder why their body does not lie in a grave marked by an American flag on this Memorial Day.

Some feel guilty that it does not.

The Christian warrior understands the reason for being spared. That warrior knows that survival is not due to superior skill or weapons.

Life and death lie in the hands of God Almighty.

It is something to remember on Memorial Day.

Deliverance came from the good God not from good luck.

That is a sobering thought. It is a somber truth.

It is something to remember. It is something to be shared.

Life itself, much less a life lived in freedom, is not our inalienable right.

It is an undeserved gift from the gracious God.

This is something to remember. Something to teach others.

Ancient Israel was to remember to teach this to its children.

The march to the Promised Land took over forty years to complete. People who were children when crossing the Red Sea became the parents or grandparents of those born in the land of Israel.

Those who survived the plagues and the poisonous snakes, they had experienced the discipline of the Lord. Those who stood at the foot of Mount Sinai, they saw his majesty. Those who first ate the manna, who saw enemy attacks fail, they saw him deliver with his mighty hand, his outstretched arm.”

They remembered how the Lord delivered Israel. They were to teach the next generation.

Those who remember how the Lord delivered America are to teach the next generation.

We do remember loss on this day. But mostly, we remember what America has gained and the final deliverance already won.

To God alone the glory!



Prayer: Lord of the nations and God of our salvation, it pains us to think of those who lost lives and loved ones in defense of our nation. Memorial Day reminds us of the cost of our national freedom. But it also underscores that it is your mighty hand that has been the power behind our human efforts. We beg for your continued presence in our midst and thank you for the victory you have already given us over sin, death, and the devil. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Breakout – May 23, 2021

Breakout – May 23, 2021


“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”
Joel 2:28




Military Devotion – May 23, 2021

Devotion based on Joel 2:28

See series: Military Devotions

The day must come when an isolated, embattled, surrounded group of warriors must execute a breakout. It will not survive if it does not.

A breakout requires careful planning, solid leadership, good timing, and sufficient firepower to be successful.

The band of believers that made up the early Christian church had all of these.

The breakout occurred shortly after Jesus transferred to heaven. His followers felt isolated.

They were embattled. Jewish and Roman authorities had killed their leader. The leaders of the Christians fled to hide behind locked doors. They saw enemies in every direction.

Yet, the breakout of the believers had been planned far in advance. Centuries before Jesus appeared on the scene, the prophet Joel foretold how it would happen.

Jesus had trained leaders for some three years. Twelve of them were ready to step forward. Simon Peter took point.

And firepower? There was no equal.

The timing was perfect. The chosen day was a holiday familiar to God’s people. Moses called it Pentecost. From now on, that name would take on a super-charged new meaning.

“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:2-4).

The breakout came with a violent wind. Fire seemed to spread into a flame over each disciple’s head. The barrier of foreign languages was breached. Everyone from everywhere could understand them.

The firepower of God the Holy Spirit blew through the barriers to saving faith.

There had never been a firefight like this. The old guard of traditional Judaism, which had discarded the living energy of the living God in favor of dead formalism, could not stand up to the attack.

The feeble framework of the old Roman paganism built over the grave of Greek mythology melted before the firestorm of the Lord of armies—the Rescuer of the human race.

The point of the spear was aimed at the heart of the enemy’s stronghold position: rejection of Jesus of Nazareth as a fraud and a failure.

The opening salvo carried the charge: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

The missile hit its mark: “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (v.37)

The follow-up came quickly: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…” (v.38)

Peace was offered, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (v.39).

Victory was won: “about three thousand were added to their number that day” (v.41).

On that Pentecost Day, peace with God broke out. It marches on even to this day.



Prayer: Holy Spirit, you came with power and blessing upon the early Christian church. You overpowered the enemies of faith and hope. You allow us to be part of the victory march. We thank you. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Eyewitnesses – May 16, 2021

Eyewitnesses – May 16, 2021


After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
Acts 1:9




Military Devotion – May 16, 2021

Devotion based on Acts 1:9

See series: Military Devotions

The One who holds the stars in space and watches over fish in the deep does nothing without a purpose.

Sometimes, we wonder why he does some of the things in certain ways. Sometimes, we don’t even notice what he is doing.

Questions come to our mind about the appearances of Jesus after Easter. We might wonder why he did not suddenly appear before the Jewish leaders who had denounced him.

Would it not have been a shock for Pilate to see Jesus appear before him to say, “Why didn’t you listen to your wife?” We wonder how the policies of the Roman government might have changed if their own governor reported that Jesus of Nazareth was able to overcome death?

We do learn that Jesus did appear to many following his resurrection. But he did so only to those who had already believed he had come from God as the Messiah.

We wonder why.

We learn that he had not come to earth merely to impress humans, surely not to entertain them. He was careful where and how he worked his miracles. There was a purpose behind his every action.

The apostle John tells us, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

“We have seen his glory…”

The apostle Peter makes the same claim. “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Peter 1:16).

“We were eyewitnesses…”

The very early followers of Jesus did not have the New Testament to refer to. The news of life in Jesus spread by word of mouth.

But some mouths carried false rumors. Purposely misleading stories began when the soldiers were bribed to say that someone had stolen the body of Jesus. He did not rise from the dead.

If Jesus was not there to correct them, enemies could lie about what Jesus said and did.

Eyewitnesses, however, changed things.

These were people who had heard the angels and seen the empty grave. Two others had talked and walked with him on the way to Emmaus. His disciples had watched him eat and drink. They observed Thomas placing his finger into holes in the hands and side of the resurrected Jesus.

They were eyewitnesses of his victory over death.

Then, they watched him as he ascended.

To the question, “Whatever happened to Jesus of Nazareth?” they could answer: “We saw him leave for heaven.”

Jesus did not need to spend time to travel over the distance from the earth to heaven. In a flash, he would be back home.

But he didn’t leave the earth in a blink of an eye. He slowly lifted off from this planet so that everyone present could see him do that with their own eyes. Had a satellite been circling the earth at that time, it could have recorded his ascension until the moment when he shifted into something far greater than warp drive.

He had told them, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

They promptly began to spread the word. Some of them were inspired by Holy Spirit to write down what they saw. Even now, we can read their words in the book we call the Bible.

Eyewitnesses saw the life, death, resurrection, and the ascension of Jesus.

By the work of the Holy Spirit, we can now see what they saw then.

We do so in great wonder.



Prayer: Ascended Savior, through the inspired words of the disciples Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Saint John, we can see you show forth your glory upon the earth. The sight of your ascension lifts our eyes and our thoughts beyond the edge of this universe. Keep us in your sight until we can see you with our own eyes. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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A mother’s pain – May 9, 2021

A mother’s pain – May 9, 2021


Through the window peered Sisera’s mother; behind the lattice she cried out, “Why is his chariot so long in coming? Why is the clatter of his chariots delayed?”
Judges 5:28




Military Devotion – May 9, 2021

Devotion based on Judges 5:28

See series: Military Devotions

“Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living” (Genesis 2:30). It was a special name for a special person.

Without her, the human race would have consisted of a grand total of one. She was essential to God’s perfect plan of creation.

God knew what he was doing when he made women the bearers of children. He bestowed a special blessing upon the human race when he established a role that set women apart from men.

A father cannot replace a mother, so matter how hard he tries—no matter how much modern thinking tries to blur the lines between the two.

Changes in technology may have changed the opportunities for women to have a productive life outside of the home. But they can never change the special place women have in the home.

A mother sees her children with more than her eyes. She watches with her heart.

Sometimes, that heart breaks with pain.

Some might say that Sisera was a person only his mother could love. We surely would not look upon him favorably, nor did the Israelites of his day.

Sisera was a Canaanite army commander. His 900 iron chariots struck terror into the hearts of God’s people. It was at a time marked by confusion and dismay. The refrain in the book of Judges is: “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6). No wonder there was confusion and dismay.

It was left to a woman to be the military leader of Israel. Her name was Deborah. She and another woman by the name of Jael caused the pain in the heart of Sisera’s mother.

As thousands of mothers before her must have done, and thousands upon thousands of mothers have done since then, she was anxiously waiting for her son to return from war.

She waited in vain.

The writer of the book of Judges pictures the scene for us as she waited. She looks through the window—but does not see him. She waits to hear the clatter of his returning chariot—but does not hear it.

She never will.

Her son lies lifeless among the enemy. His army was being defeated. He ran for his life. He found a woman who offered to hide him in safety.

Then, she drove a peg through his temple while he was sleeping (Judges 4:17ff).

His mother must have felt the peg was driven through her heart.

The Lord God told rebellious Eve that one consequence of sin would be the pain of childbirth. It remains to this day.

The Lord God told faithful Mary that her son would be the Savior of the world. It was a message of joy that stands to this day.

There has never been a child that did not bring pain to its mother.

There is no person, except Jesus, who does not need to regret a mother’s pain.

There is no person, except Jesus, who does not need to request forgiveness for causing her pain.

There is no person, because of Jesus, the Son of a woman, who does not have those sins paid for.

That should fill any mother’s heart with joy.

Mother’s Day is a prime time to thank our God for mothers—especially our own.

Is it not?



Prayer: Creator of all and Rescuer of mankind, remind me of the blessings you have given to me through my mother. Lead me to honor you by honoring her. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Yesterday’s Shadow – May 2, 2021

Yesterday’s Shadow – May 2, 2021


Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.
Isaiah 2:5




Military Devotion – May 2, 2021

Devotion based on Isaiah 2:5

See series: Military Devotions

Too often, I find myself walking in yesterday’s shadow.

“God is light,” we are told, “and in him there is no darkness at all.”

Why, then, do I so often find myself living in a shadow?

I know what causes the shadow. The darkness comes when I step off from God’s path. Doubt, dread, and shame dim the brightness that comes from the Holy One.

So does fear.

Sometimes, I find fear when I find myself walking near the valley of the shadow of death. I should fear no evil. But I do.

I find I cannot leave yesterday behind. Its shadow follows me into the night. It is there when I awake to the new day.

I cannot just forget the past and move on. I feel I must fix the past. But I cannot undo what has been done. I cannot go back in time and make things right. I cannot turn darkness into day.

The new day may not dawn as dark as the old. But if even a shadow of it remains, my soul feels the weight.

King David knew what that was like, and he knew who was applying the pressure. He wrote: “For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:4).

So, God had applied pressure upon David. Is God the one who causes the darkness? Is he the one who removes my joy? Is this how he punishes me?

No.

He comes to scatter the darkness. He comes to heal, not to hurt.

But healing can be painful.

King David had lived for a long time in a misery of his own making. Adultery and murder had cast long shadows. No matter if his people did not know of his crimes, he knew, and he staggered under the weight of the guilt.

Each yesterday handed off the guilt to the next day. Like the darkness at noon on Good Friday, the sunshine of God’s favor was being blotted out.

Until…

Until he admitted his guilt and turned to God for forgiveness. He wrote, “I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD“—and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5).

He added this prayer: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:12).

With guilt gone, there is no barrier to joy.

The psalmist declares: “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1)

The answer is, No one! Nothing!

The shadow of doubt and fear must fade in the light of God’s presence.

The path of the child of God is clear now. It is written, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Yesterday’s shadows must always give way to the light of the Lord.



Prayer: Heavenly Father, show us the path of light and life. Call us back when we stumble off of your path. Let us live in the light of your presence. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Why the rage? – April 25, 2021

Why the rage? – April 25, 2021


Why do the nations rage? Why do the peoples grumble in vain? The kings of the earth take a stand, and the rulers join together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. “Let us tear off their chains and throw their ropes from us.” The one who is seated in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them.
Psalm 2:1-4




Military Devotion – April 25, 2021

Devotion based on Psalm 2:1-4

See series: Military Devotions

Clenched fists. Broken windows. Screams of defiance. There is much anger in this world. Some would say there is much to protest against in this world since there is much wrong in this world.

The Christian has to agree that there is much wrong in the world because God has already said that. In fact, his report on the world’s condition is worse than ours. He sees and hears everything. His detection of evil is much more sensitive than ours.

We humans sometimes miss that beneath the anger we so easily express is a deeper irritation over what we consider to be the cause of our anger.

We might gripe against a certain authority in our life and stress over something going wrong in our life, but when we peel away the layers, God is found to be at the bottom of the pile. If he is the ultimate authority, if he has the power to do anything, then he must be the cause of whatever is wrong.

So we might think.

It insults the human ego to be told that the fault is actually with us. God even dares to say that we must obey him. He forbids the worship of other, so-called gods: “You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me” (Exodus 20:5).

Harsh words. Ultimately, the punishment would be eternal death.

It strikes us as strange that when their Creator offers life in glory to people dead in sin and destined for destruction, those people not only reject being rescued but become enraged at the Rescuer.

This is so obvious in the account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth upon this earth. He did not cheat anyone. He did not steal from anyone, He never did or said anything wrong to anyone.

So, how do we explain the vicious attacks against him? Wasn’t it enough that they were having him tortured and killed? Why did they feel the need to mock him as he was dying?

Why the rage against the Lord God and the Savior of sinners?

The answer was given already in the Garden of Eden when the holy God issued his judgment against the prince of evil: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

A state of war was declared on that day between the forces of good and the forces of evil. The battle rages to this day. Enmity is the cause of the rage.

There is nothing that evil can do to prevent God from gaining the victory. In reality, the battle has already been won.

The Son of God lived on earth. He died on earth. And he overcame sin, death, and the devil before he returned to heaven.

All the satanic forces can do is vent their anger against him and attempt to foil his plan to bring more people into his kingdom.

In the end, rage is the only response left. If not before, old age and death will bring the end of all hope in the battle against God.

The poet said it clearly:

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

To live with rage and to die with rage is a sad life.

God laughs at the threat of puny humans shaking their fists at him.

Yet, God was willing to sacrifice his Son for the sake of such humans.

Instead of asking, “Why the rage?” we may well ask, “Why the love?”

Why would God love such people? Why would he love us?

It surely is love undeserved.

It is grace.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive our sinful reactions to your offer of grace. Heavenly Father, forget our failures, which are covered by the blood of your Son. Fill us with your love. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Babylon is fallen – April 18, 2021

Babylon is fallen – April 18, 2021


And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen…
Revelation 14:8 KJV




Military Devotion – April 18, 2021

Devotion based on Revelation 14:8 KJV

See series: Military Devotions

There is such a thing as an evil empire. History has shown us that despicable kingdoms can exist, that vicious and heartless powers can rule.

Examples quickly come to mind—those who systematically rounded up Jews for extermination qualify for our list of evil. Then we think of the purges in Russia and China that brought death to so many thousands.

We have seen a sinister type of evil that uses its position to torture others. American POWs have been on the receiving end of that.

We don’t forget that.

Neither could the Jews in the first century forget that the Babylonians had once smashed through their defenses, destroyed the Lord’s temple, slaughtered innocent people—and dragged many off to live out their lives as captives in a foreign land.

We hear the bitterness of those captives in their psalm of lament:
“O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us—
he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks” (Psalm 137:8,9).

The bitterness seared Israeli hearts.

Babylon was a world power, seemingly invincible, with its capital a little north of Baghdad. For Israel of old, it represented the embodiment of evil.

Yet, far in advance of its downfall, the prophet, Isaiah, announced, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen!”

It was not a false claim. It was merely given before it absolutely would happen. Babylon fell overnight. The new Persian king freed the captives and let them go home if they wanted to.

It’s no wonder that centuries later, “Babylon” came to symbolize all the enemies of God’s people for all time, with Satan as its head.

No surprise then that the great evil empire’s destruction is announced in advance—just as ancient Babylon’s fall was.

The holy, powerful God has spoken. The angel in the book of Revelation can announce: “Babylon is fallen, is fallen!” The kingdom of evil is fallen. Thus, the Lord God has decreed.

But we don’t see that when we look out through our window on the world. The kingdom of evil seems to show itself alive and well—and growing.

Families are falling apart. Children are being raised without a moral compass. Modern technology has speeded up the spread of falsehood and filth.

The number of people that say there is no God or that God is not relevant is increasing.

Murder is on the rise. Rejection of Christian values is mounting.

God is openly disrespected—even in the land that declares, “In God We Trust.”

Each year it only seems to be getting worse.

Thus, we need to hear the true state of affairs. The announcement from heaven is: “Babylon is fallen, is fallen.”

The death knell of evil was sounded when the Son of God called out, “It is finished!”

When Jesus descended into hell after coming back to life, it was not to endure suffering. It was his victory lap in the arena of the damned. The war had been won. Only mopping up remains.

Warriors know about the dangers during mopping-up actions. The defeated can still kill. Likewise, Christians need to watch out lest they be laid low by Satan’s spiritual IEDs and snipers that aim to kill saving faith.

We have not yet left the battlefield. We have not been told to “Stand down!” Not yet. OPSEC must be maintained. We must stay alert.

But there is no doubt about Babylon, that kingdom of evil.

“Babylon is fallen, is fallen.”

It is fallen indeed!



Prayer: Lord of glory and Savior of mankind, the power of the forces of evil sometimes seems overwhelming. Remind us of the true state of affairs. Point out to us that you have already gained the victory for us, and evil will finally fail. Keep us safe until then. Keep us faithful. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Tidings of joy – April 11, 2021

Tidings of joy – April 11, 2021


While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!
Luke 24:4,5




Military Devotion – April 11, 2021

Devotion based on Luke 24:4,5

See series: Military Devotions

In the excitement of Easter, we must not forget about Mary, the one who was engaged to Joseph and became the mother of Jesus.

Words from an angel startled her with the message that she would have a son, “…and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:31-32). She pondered those words.

She again heard of words from angels when she gave birth to that Son. Shepherds reported what they had heard from an angel over the fields of Bethlehem: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10,11).

We sing of Bethlehem on that night, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

Hopes and fears marked the life of the young woman who told the angel, “I am the Lord’s servant.”

She surely hoped that her son would be great. But fear invaded her life when Herod gave orders to hunt her son down and kill him. Fear again arose when she heard that it was not safe to return to Bethlehem even after Herod died.

Hope must have blossomed as she saw her son grow “…in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52).

Hope must have filled her heart as she saw him ride into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

Then, fear struck with the news that he had been arrested. Confusion and dread flooded in with the word that he would be executed.

She must have wondered, “How can this be?” “How can he die now?”

But it happened. She saw him being crucified with her own eyes. She stood at the foot of the cross with the other women who had come from Galilee until Jesus told John to take care of her as if she was his own mother.

She walked away from the cross to face a dark night of sorrow. Women from Galilee stayed to the end. Then, from a distance, they watched as strangers took down the body and carried it into a tomb.

The dawn of the Sabbath brought no relief.

At the dawn of the next day, the third day, some of those women from Galilee returned to the tomb to finish anointing the body for burial.

They were startled to have an angel tell them, “He is not here; he has risen!”

The words came to Mary as if the floodgates of joy had opened up. Fear was replaced by hope—by hope fulfilled.

“Tidings of joy” are what the Christmas angels announced.

“Tidings of joy” are what the Easter angels announced.

Along with Mary of old, those tidings fill us with joy yet today.

We can call to one another, “The Lord has risen. He is risen indeed!!”



Prayer: God of the living, who brought life to mankind by the resurrection of your Son from the dead, remind us that your promises are always true, and your love never fails. Let our hearts not be overcome by fear. Plant into us an everlasting hope. Let us taste again the Easter joy. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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But I shall live – April 4, 2021

But I shall live – April 4, 2021


I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done.
Psalm 118:17




Military Devotion – April 4, 2021

Devotion based on Psalm 118:17

See series: Military Devotions

For me, Easter is very personal. For me, it is a matter of life or death.

I realize that millions of people celebrate that day, and over time, there have been billions of them that did so. I admit that I do not personally know any of the people who have a role in the Easter story. Surely, none of the angels.

But I do know the one who rose from the dead on that day.

Frankly, I’m glad I was not there on Easter morning. For the followers of Jesus, the day dawned dreadful. They had spent the last two days in shock and confusion. A week ago, they were filled with excitement and hope. But then, the unthinkable, the seemingly impossible, happened.

Jesus was arrested. Jesus was sentenced. Jesus was dead.

What now? Where did that leave them?

They had placed their hopes upon him as the Messiah, the Savior of Israel. They trusted him. They believed in him. What now?

They had been moved by his words. “No man has spoken like this!” they said. But history has recorded powerful words of others who now lie in their graves.

He did work miracles, did he not? Or were they fake? Or were the Pharisees right? Did he work miracles by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of the devils?

Was this all a fraud? Were his promises empty? He had said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” But he did not stay alive. He died in weakness, just as billions of people before him.

The famous apostle put it plainly: “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost” (1 Corinthians 15:17).

For me, Easter is a matter of life or death.

I’m glad I was not in Jerusalem on that day. I fear I would have been distraught. I might have been tempted to think maybe Judas had the right idea. Why live if hope has been dashed? If faith has been lost?

But I have an advantage over the disciples and the others. I have the whole story before me. It begins with earth formless and empty, with the Spirit of God hovering over the waters.

It ends with the Spirit of God quoting Jesus, the risen Son of God, telling us, “Behold! I am coming soon!”

He rose from the dead, and he will return to take his people home with him.

The Easter sun evaporated doubt and confusion as the day progressed. More reports came from the empty tomb. Angels have been seen. Witnesses repeated their words to others: “He is not here! He is risen!”

He began to appear to some people: a weeping Mary Magdalene and a confused Peter. Towards evening, two disciples returned from Emmaus excitedly reporting that Jesus had walked with them on the road.

Then suddenly, there he was in the room with them, though the doors were locked.

So, it is true! He does live. He has conquered death. Job was right when he had declared, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25).

So was the psalmist right who looked forward in time to see the meaning of Easter: “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done.”

So am I when I tell you, “I may die, but I shall live!”

But I shall live.

And you can, too.



Prayer: Risen Savior, you offered your life to pay for our crimes against everything holy. With your resurrection, your Father marked our debt, “Paid in full!” Because you live, we shall live. We shall live with you forever. Don’t let us forget that. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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If I should die – April 2, 2021

If I should die – April 2, 2021


Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
Luke 23:46




Military Devotion – April 2, 2021

Devotion based on Luke 23:46

See series: Military Devotions

My mother taught me that prayer when I was small. I learned it by listening as she stood by my bed to tuck me in at night. At first, she asked me to repeat each line after her. Then, we began saying it together. It wasn’t long before I could say it all by myself.

I wonder what she thought when she heard me say, “If I should die before I wake.”

I don’t think she expected that would happen. But she had already buried two of her children. She surely gave the phrase more thought than I did. To me, those words touched my reality no more than the saying, “Once upon a time…”

I did not know anyone who had died. My greatest loss was a puppy that was run over by a car. Death was not in my field of vision when I was a young child.

Now, it is.

Death has now invaded my life. I find I cannot keep it out. I cannot drive it out. The words, “Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return” have sealed my fate.

I cannot keep myself alive forever. I cannot keep my loved ones alive.
I no longer think in terms of, “If I die.” Now, it is “When I die.”

The question has become, “How will I die?”

My answer is: “Just like Jesus.”

Not by crucifixion! I hope not by crucifixion. But whenever and however it happens, I want to return my soul to the One who gave it to me—just like Jesus did.

“If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

Maybe Jesus will return on clouds of glory before I leave this earth. Yet, I am not counting on that. I expect my soul will one day leave this body—just like the soul of Jesus left his.

I want to place my soul into the hands of my heavenly Father—just like Jesus did.

I want to rise from the dead—just like Jesus did.

I want to die safe and happy—just like Jesus did.

That’s more than a wish. It’s more certain than a hope. It stands on a promise bought and paid for on a cross.

John, the fisherman, was the only one of the 12 disciples not to be killed for following Jesus. He finished out his years isolated on an island. He had grieved as the other disciples left this earth one by one. The first one to go was his brother, James. What pain that must have caused him!

By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote five books of the Bible. This one, The Revelation of Saint John, was unlike any other. Jesus appeared to him from heaven. He commanded John to write down what he was about to reveal. John did.

About halfway through the revelation, John reports: “Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on'” (Revelation 14:13 EHV).

Another word for “blessed” is “happy.”

The death of Jesus bought happiness for those who believe in him.

With my soul in the loving hands of my Savior God, I can die happy.

So, can you.

I can still pray, “If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

So, can you.



With an eye toward Golgotha, we ask Jesus:

Be Thou my consolation, my shield when I must die;
Remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfolds Thee. Who dieth thus dies well. Amen.
(The Lutheran Hymnal 172:10)



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Behold Your King – March 28, 2021

Behold Your King – March 28, 2021


Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Zechariah 9:9




Military Devotion – March 28, 2021

Devotion based on Zechariah 9:9

See series: Military Devotions

The Roman troops deployed to Jerusalem in the province of Judea did not know that this day would be called Palm Sunday.

They were, however, very aware that the festival of the Passover was approaching. They could expect big crowds to jam city streets. Jews from near and far would come to celebrate the time when Israel broke free from Egypt. Overnight, they went from slavery to freedom.

The story was told that the firstborn in every Egyptian household was found dead in the middle of that night. Soon afterward, its mighty army perished in the Red Sea. It was whispered that the people of Israel were protected by a mysterious force. Their history was filled with amazing stories of divine intervention.

But that was all in the past. The Assyrians had decimated these same people, and those in Judea had been taken as captives of war to Babylon. Since they returned, they had no standing army and no king.

Yet, the soldiers knew that violence could break out at any time—especially at a time like this. There was a group called the Zealots that vowed to kill as many Roman soldiers as possible. They were a standing threat.

Now, a new threat put them on high alert. Among the crowd expected to pour into Jerusalem was a rabbi known as Jesus of Nazareth. He had drawn crowds numbering into the thousands at times. Reports of his miracles had spread. It was said that he even raised the dead. Some even claimed he called himself the Son of God.

More disturbing was the rumor that he was the Jewish Messiah. Some expected the coming Messiah to set himself up as a king. He would drive the hated Romans out of the Promised Land.

To the deployed soldiers, that seemed an empty threat. But any insurrection could turn ugly and dangerous—and arouse the displeasure of those in power back in Rome. Careers could be ruined. Blame could easily be thrown around. The consequences could be painful.

Rebellion was not tolerated by Rome. Those who failed to quickly suppress it were not tolerated either. The troops were on edge.

Word spread quickly when Jesus began to make his entrance into Jerusalem ahead of the Passover. Reports came in that huge crowds were cheering him. Worse, he was arriving the way the old Jewish kings had traveled. He was on a young donkey—just as the ancient writing had predicted the king would come.

The crowds called out “Hosanna!” which was high praise. They were laying down cloaks and branches in his path. They were calling him the “Son of David.”

David had been a famous Jewish king. Were they saying that this Jesus had now come to rule as an heir to his throne?

A prophet had written long ago that the day would come when Jerusalem would break out in celebration. That would be the day on which her powerful king rode into the city.

Roman soldiers were inclined to write the prophecy off as foolish. “Behold your king?” What a joke! If the one riding the donkey claimed to be the king of the Jews, they would easily overpower him. They would make him a laughingstock before his own people.

They did do that. But it wasn’t so easy. In fact, it became a bit frightening. The sun stopped shining at noon on the day of his execution. The words he spoke while dying were strange. He was heard calling out to his Father. He asked his Father to forgive those who were killing him. He wasn’t as much killed as he died by giving up his life into his Father’s hands. Hard to forget!

The centurion in charge of the execution detail was heard to cry out, “Surely, this was the Son of God!”

And then, this Jesus came back from the dead! Soldiers had been there when it happened. They were bribed to keep quiet and tell a lie. But the word spread.

“Behold your king!” The ancient message wasn’t just meant for the Jews.

It also meant, “Roman soldier, behold your King!” For he was.

It also means, “American soldier, behold your King!” For he is.

It’s the voice of God calling out, calling out still: “World, behold you King!” For he surely is.



Prayer: Surely he is the Son of God—my King and my Savior. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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No! – March 21, 2021

No! – March 22, 2021


O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.
Matthew 23:37




Military Devotion – March 21, 2021

Devotion based on Matthew 23:37

See series: Military Devotions

Some parents say the first word their sweet child offered to them was “No!”

It might even have been a determined “No!” made with a vigorous shaking of the head. It mattered little if mom used soothing words to encourage the baby to take just one bite of smashed carrots. It made no difference at all if she first tasted it and said, “Yummy!”

The little one did not care if she said it was good for him. The tyke didn’t even understand what she meant by “good.” He did not know if he did not eat, he would not live.

He just knew that he did not want it. He didn’t like the taste. He was not willing to accept it.

His answer was: “No!”

It reminds us of what Jesus had to say about the people to whom he had come to offer life.

Elsewhere, the Bible’s picture of soaring above our troubles “as on eagles’ wings” offers encouragement. Here, Jesus points to a chicken.

“As a hen gathers her chicks under her wings,” Jesus said. It’s a striking picture.

A hen is not as strong as an eagle. There is a reason why a person not willing to take a risk is called “chicken.” But if the hen senses that her chicks are in danger, she calls out the alarm. Her chicks come running. She lifts her wings. The chicks tuck in underneath. She lowers her wings like shields. She becomes brave.

The attacker must go through her to get at her chicks.

In humans, we call that “self-sacrifice.” We consider it a demonstration of great love.

The best example of that is Jesus. Saint John wrote, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Jesus, himself, said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10).

And what is the typical, the natural, response to his offer?

“No!”

The holy Lord God’s will is that every descendant of Adam and Eve spend eternity safely with him in the new paradise.

Why would anyone not be willing to accept this?

The answer lies deep in the human soul. Ever since becoming infected with sin in Eden, humans see God as the enemy. They are instinctively opposed to him and his ways because they belong to God’s enemy, Satan.

Jesus spelled it out to those rejecting him: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

Satan told Eve that knowing evil would be something good.

He lied.

Satan tells the world that God is not needed, that happiness can be found without him.

He lies.

Satan announces to the disheartened, “This is all there is. There is no hereafter. There is no judgment. There is no God. There is no hope.”

He lies.

Jesus says to those that will listen to him: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

The truth is, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Haven’t we heard that before?

Don’t we know that to be true?

Isn’t God our Father? Isn’t Jesus our Savior?

Isn’t that why we should run to him in every time of need?

The answer is “Yes!”

Never “No!”



Prayer: Jesus, open your arms to embrace us. Open our hearts to trust you. Draw us to your side. Deliver us from evil. May your will be done. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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And look at this – March 14, 2021

And look at this – March 14, 2021


The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.
Numbers 21:8,9




Military Devotion – March 14, 2021

Devotion based on Numbers 21:8,9

See series: Military Devotions

If you want to get people’s attention, throw a batch of poisonous snakes among them.

It surely caught the attention of the Israelites. They were marching from Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan. They had seen the Lord work miracle after miracle to protect them. But they were growing tired. They were growing impatient. They were fed up with God and his ways.

We hear: “…they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

The “miserable food” they spoke of could more rightly be called “miraculous food.” Maybe 1.5 million of them were passing through wilderness areas. How could they feed themselves? They couldn’t. They didn’t. Instead, God provided bread (they called it manna) that appeared on the ground in the morning, and he sent in quail in the evening.

It’s a sad story of not appreciating what God has done. It’s a familiar story. And sometimes, it is our story.

It seems it is only human nature to want something different from what God provides. It is sinful human nature to gripe and complain, to feel we deserve more. Even if God is waiting on us, literally hand and foot, we complain about the service. We surely are not ready to leave him a tip or even a thank you.

Do humans think that God is deaf? Do they expect he will just shrug his shoulders, grin and bear it? If so, they do not know God. People living today need to learn from the past. The history of the nation of Israel presents us with vivid lessons.

We hear: “Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.”

The wages of sin is death.

The lesson was learned: “The people came to Moses and said, ‘We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people.”

The prayer was answered, but not in a manner expected.

Moses was told: “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”

That didn’t make sense to human minds. What was needed was antivenom. What good would a look do? What good would the figure of a snake lifted up on a pole do?

The answer? “Only believe, and thou shalt see…”

Over a thousand years later, the Son of God would say, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14,15).

That’s as foolish as thinking that the metal snake on a pole would keep people from dying from snakebite. Isn’t it?

Or is it? What about, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)?

Those who believed while in the wilderness, they lived, did they not?

Those who believe in the Son of Man, they will live, will they not?

Indeed! They will live forever.



Prayer:
Christ, the Life of all the living, Christ, the Death of death, our foe,
Who, thyself for me once giving To the darkest depths of woe—
Through thy sufferings, death and merit, I eternal life inherit.
Thousand, thousand thanks shall be, Dearest Jesus, unto thee. Amen.
(Christian Worship 114:1)



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Look at this – March 7, 2021

Look at this – March 7, 2021


And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:8




Military Devotion – March 7, 2021

Devotion based on Philippians 2:8

See series: Military Devotions

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. But words can paint pictures, too.

Maybe that’s why the Bible uses so many word pictures. Jesus used parables to explain mysteries of the kingdom of God. The gospel writers painted vivid scenes of the life and death of him as the Savior of the nations. Both Old and New Testament writers were led by the Holy Spirit to pen words that show details of the plan of salvation.

The apostle Paul was not at the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus. At that time, he was still called Saul. He became a fierce enemy of those who followed the prophet from Nazareth—until he became a follower and a fierce defender of the faith.

In his letter to the Christians at Philippi, he paints a humble Jesus walking the path to Golgotha where the empty cross waits.

“Look at this!” he tells them, even as he tells us. It’s a picture not to be forgotten.

We have repeatedly looked at the pictures the Bible paints of the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus. This picture shows details that lie in the background.

We see the significance of Christmas. Jesus looked like a man, talked like a man, and acted like a man because he was a man. When he looked at himself in a mirror, he could see his human form.

But all the while, he was the eternal, omnipotent Son of God. His holy power and glory would naturally show through as it did at the burning bush of Moses—as it did on the Mount of Transfiguration.

He took steps to prevent that. He forbad demons to announce who he was. He was careful with his miracles. He allowed them to give only a glimpse of his glory.

He usually walked through doors, not walls. He grew hungry. He grew tired. He slept.

He was the Lord of glory. But he humbled himself.

Otherwise, the ropes would not have held him, and the nails would not have pierced him. He was God.

So, he humbled himself.

He needed to be able to die.

The apostle writes, “he became obedient to death.”

It was not an easy death. He bled. He suffered.

He obeyed the rules of death. He surrendered his life.

“Look at this!” the apostle shouts to us. “Don’t you see what he did for your sake? Don’t you see he did this willingly?”

“Don’t you see that he loves you?”

“Don’t you see what this means? Don’t you see that your sin is paid for? Don’t you see that the greatest honor in life is to be called someone who follows him? Belongs to him? Will spend eternity with him?”

“Look at this!”

“Don’t you see?”

We do.

Don’t we?



Prayer: Lord Jesus, keep the picture of your willing sacrifice always before us, lest we forget. Lest Satan repaint the picture. Lest we become distracted by the cares and pleasures of this world. Lest we join those who live in darkness. Lest we lose sight of you. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Wages of sin – February 28, 2021

Wages of sin – February 28, 2021


Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them, and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.
Leviticus 10:1,2




Military Devotion – February 28, 2021

Devotion based on Leviticus 10:1,2

See series: Military Devotions

The day would never be forgotten by any of them. It began with high excitement and ended with shocking sorrow.

It could have been the best day of Aaron’s life. Instead, it was the day that he saw two of his sons killed.

Killed by God.

We know that the Bible says the wages of sin is death. But death does not usually come so quickly after sin—and not so dramatically.

Aaron had been chosen to be the high priest by the Lord himself. Four of his sons were selected to share the honor of officiating at the worship services of Israel.

On this first day of ministry, Aaron had just slaughtered an ox and ram. He sprinkled their blood against the sides of the altar. He placed pieces of the animals onto the altar. The fat was then burned off. He offered the sacrifice for sins exactly as the Lord God had commanded.

Then, the Almighty himself appeared there in the form of the glory of the Lord. They had seen this pillar of fire leading them across the wilderness. It had been a reassuring sight.

Now, fire shot out from it and burned up the offering still on the altar. We hear, “And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown” (Leviticus 9:24).

They had reason to rejoice. The fire, which might have appeared as lightning, showed that the holy Lord God was with them. He had accepted their sin offering. They could sing, “The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge.” They need fear nothing in life or death.

They needed to fear nothing else—except God, himself.

This lesson was taught in a most fearful way.

On that grand and glorious day, fire from the Lord killed Nadab and Abihu.

Their bodies were dragged out while still in their priestly clothes and buried outside of the camp.

Moses then explained to his brother, “This is what the LORD spoke of when he said: ‘Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.'”

And the shocked father? “Aaron remained silent” (Leviticus 10:3).

It wasn’t just the shock of seeing his sons killed that silenced him. He was under orders. The rest of the nation could mourn the death of his boys. But not Aaron, nor his two remaining sons.

“Do not let your hair become unkempt, and do not tear your clothes, or you will die and the LORD will be angry with the whole community” (Leviticus 10:6).

No form of grieving was allowed him. No hint of disagreement with God’s actions was to be shown.

The Lord God is a just God. On this day, justice was served.

But what was the crime? “They offered unauthorized fire before the LORD.” We don’t even know what that was—except it was “contrary to his command.”

They sinned.

It’s enough to frighten us—and frightened we should be. But frightened away from sin, not from God!

It reminds us of another time when a Father kept silent as his Son was being killed. It also was a time when justice was served. On that dark Friday, the greatest sacrifice of all was made—for us.

We were sentenced to live, not die. We can live because he died.

The way we live is to demonstrate that we fear, love, and trust in him above all things.

It’s true: “The wages of sin is death.” But this is also true: “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

The hymn reminds us:

If you think of sin but lightly Nor suppose the evil great,
Here you see its nature rightly, Here its guilt may estimate,
Mark the sacrifice appointed, See who bears the awful load—
‘Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed, Son of Man and Son of God.
(Christian Worship 127:3)

We do remember.





Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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