Shame on parade – August 12, 2018

Shame on parade – August 12, 2018


The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves.
Isaiah 3:9




Military Devotion – August 12, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 3:9

See series: Military Devotions

A cloud hovers over America today. Years ago, we saw only some wisps of fog. Now, a dark thunderhead threatens to break over our heads. It is a cloud of shame.

It gives little comfort to know that much of the earth is covered by this cloud. Perhaps we knew it was coming here. But it is still startling to look out of the windows of our life to see this cloud growing over the country that we love.

Sexual perversion is not a new sin. It grew out of the rebellion that began in heaven and spread to the Garden of Eden. It is the spawn of demons.

This does not mean that lying or cursing or stealing or murder are smaller sins. All are deadly.

This does not mean that only the worst or weakest of people are inclined toward such sin. Everyone is born with lying and cursing and killing and sexual perversion in his heart. The lesbian who says, “I was born this way!” has a point. We all were born that way. But that is no excuse. And God is not to blame.

Jesus points to the source of evil: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:19).

God makes it clear that homosexuality is not just an alternate lifestyle. From the billowing fire and smoke on Mount Sinai he issued the order: “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable” (Leviticus 18:22).

He had already shown that he was serious about this: “Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens” (Genesis 19:24). Only three people survived—people who had not approved of this lifestyle.

Often people are ashamed of sin. Their conscience condemns them. They try to hide it. But when insurrection against the Holy One has been stoked with the flames of hell, pretense is discarded, and the fist of defiance is thrust into the air.

It’s not out of ignorance. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse (Romans 1:20).

No excuse, but there is an explanation: “Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:28).

“So God gave them over to a depraved mind…” Some of the saddest words ever written. They explain so much. “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32).

Isaiah wrote, “The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! They have brought disaster upon themselves.”

Is there no hope for such people? Have they no choice but to parade their sin down to the grave and then through the gates of hell?

Where there is life, there may be hope. Sin is an equal-opportunity destroyer. But the Son of God paid for the very last sin of the very last sinner.

The Apostle writes: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16).

God offers salvation! We believe it. We live it. We offer it to others.

Shame is not something to boast of. It’s time to put faith on parade.



Prayer: God of infinite glory, we rejoice that you are also the God of grace. Hear our plea for those who rebel against you, as we once did. Send the Holy Spirit to convert hearts and minds. Send him to bolster our faith. Send him to empower us to speak the truth in love. Preserve our nation. Amen.

 



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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Neither/nor – August 5, 2018

Neither/nor – August 5, 2018


For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38,39




Military Devotion – August 5, 2018

Devotion based on Romans 8:38,39

See series: Military Devotions

We live our life dodging threats. Disease threatens our heart. Rumors threaten our reputation. An IED can threaten our very life. It seems we live in the spiderweb of either/or. Either one bad thing will happen to us, or another will.

So, it should bring a flood of relief to learn that, when it comes to the most critical part of our life, God declares the threat possibilities to be neither/nor.

Threats poise to separate us from something good—maybe even something essential to life. Our ability to avoid or overcome threats is limited. Our approach to survival may be expressed in the saying, “Improvise, adapt, and overcome!”

That’s good guidance. But sometimes we cannot improvise or adapt.

Sometimes we cannot overcome.

Sometimes we find ourselves at the mercy of forces over which we have no control. That’s when we want to turn to the all-powerful God for help.

That, too, is good guidance. But he may know that it is not best for us to be spared a certain pain or failure.

At times he allows us to be separated from things that we like, or love, or think we need.

That’s difficult to accept. We may then be tempted to doubt his wisdom or love. Yet, such temptation flows from fear rather than fact. The reality is that God’s wisdom and power are perfect—and so is his love for us.

The rock-solid truth relayed by the holy Rock of ages is that he will not allow any force, no matter what its power, to separate us from his love. It is a case of neither/nor.

“Neither death nor life. Neither angels nor demons. Neither the present nor the future. Nor any powers. Neither height nor depth—nor anything else in all creation…”

That’s quite a string of possible threats that he has ruled out. But notice that he is not saying he will separate us from painful happenings. Those possibilities remain. What he does promise is that he will never withdraw his love.

When the soldiers at Combat Outpost Restrepo voiced their dismay in words of black paint on a wall in their pod, they showed they felt they had been separated from his love. Under daily attack, separated from large support forces, they let stand the message: “God hates us all forever!”

They may have felt that way, but it was not true. Nor is it true when we feel that God has turned against us.

Satan may point to the accusations of our conscience and declare: “You don’t deserve God’s love! You know that deep in your heart. Your sin condemns you. God hates you.”

God answers, “That is not true! The proof can be seen in the blood-payment my Son made. ‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’” (Romans 8:1).

His judgment stands.

Not any power on earth, nor any power in heaven, nor any power in hell can separate us from his love.

It’s always a case of neither/nor.



We join in the words of the old hymn:
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood. Amen.

 



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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For what? – July 29, 2018

For what? – July 29, 2018


He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”
I Kings 19:4




Military Devotion – July 29, 2018

Devotion based on I Kings 19:4

See series: Military Devotions

The prophet Elijah was no wimp. He championed the message of God to a people who had turned against him. He challenged 400 priests of Baal to a showdown about who truly is God—and then he killed them. He confronted an evil king and queen that vowed to take his life.

Elijah had served his God and his nation with faith and fury. Now the conviction and passion are gone. Now we see him disgusted, discouraged, and depressed.

“I have had enough, LORD!”

Why feel defeated after so much success? The answer lies in something we can relate to. Disheartened Elijah was asking himself, “For what?”

The same question has been asked by troops returning from places where they worked feverishly to carry out their missions, risked their very lives, and saw comrades fall. Coming home, it seemed America didn’t care. And the people they had protected were still at risk.

Wasn’t it Jesus who said that wars and rumors of wars will take place until the end of time? So, what’s the use of confronting enemies? Why risk one’s life when there will be no end of war?

For that matter, will any of our efforts accomplish something that will last? Won’t we, and most everything else, turn to dust? All of our hard work and planning: “For what?”

The Lord God shocked Elijah out of his misery by asking: “What are you doing here Elijah?”

No self-pity allowed! No attempt to convince him that he had accomplished much good. In the same way that a sergeant may straighten out the complaining private, so God informs Elijah, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself! You have a mission to accomplish. Get going!”

He commanded Elijah: “Go back the way you came…” “Anoint Hazael king over Aram.” “Anoint Jehu king over Israel.” “Anoint Elisha to succeed you as prophet.”

And then, because Elijah had said he was the only one left being faithful to the Lord, he was told: “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him” (I Kings 19:18).

The Savior God is still in control. His will certainly will be done. His kingdom will come. We are not God. We have no way of knowing what all is taking place. Our vision is limited. Our judgment is flawed.

His strength overruns our weakness. His victory wipes out our failures.

Faithful service is never for nothing.

If we find we are still stationed on earth, we have a purpose here and work to do before we PCS to heaven.

We know what we are living for. We live for the Lord God.



Prayer: Because we are weak and sometimes weary; because our vision is limited; because our faith sometimes falters; sometimes we grow discouraged and even depressed. Reach down to help us, heavenly Father. As you did for Elijah, so remind us of your presence and our purpose in life.  Open our eyes to see your glory and open our hearts to accept your love. Use us in service to your kingdom. Amen.

 



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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Lesson not learned – July 22, 2018

Lesson not learned – July 22, 2018


After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
I Kings 12:28




Military Devotion – July 22, 2018

Devotion based on I Kings 12:28

See series: Military Devotions

Of all the stupid things to do! This must be near the top of the list. We remember clearly what happened the last time the Israelites decided to worship a golden calf. They had barely left Egypt. Moses was away, receiving God’s law on Mount Sinai. And 3,000 Israelites died because of this idol. Worse yet, the Lord told Moses, “Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them…” (Exodus 32:9). Good thing God relented!

Many years later King Jeroboam decided that setting up some new golden calves was now a great idea. It was not. He should have known better. He listened to bad advice.

The lesson from Sinai was not learned.

With the death of King Solomon, the Nation of Israel broke in two. Only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained with the line of David under his grandson, Rehoboam. The ten northern tribes instead followed Jeroboam, a former treacherous official under Solomon.

The new king in the north decided to revise his religion to gain a political advantage. He was more afraid of losing his kingship than he was of defying the holy God.

We understand his fear. Jerusalem was in the southern kingdom. The temple was in Jerusalem. Israelites would want to go to Jerusalem to worship regularly. He might lose control of his people.

We have watched others act this way. Right now, we are watching the ruler of North Korea trying to keep his hold on power by keeping his subjects from contact with the South. Kim Jong Un has much to lose.

So do we. At times, like Jeroboam, we are tempted to set aside God’s will in order to not lose something we treasure. We know what he expects of us. But we sometimes don’t want to pay the price that faithfulness demands. Instead, we look for ways to get around his expectations. We offer alternative answers. We listen to humans instead of to the Lord of angels.

Often, we are inclined to set up our own golden calves.

We may be tempted to make friends, or money, or career, or simply having fun, as substitutes for God. We won’t stop being religious. We will just modify our religion to fit our wishes better.

And if God does not like what we do? Well, he won’t strike us dead, will he? Later on, maybe we can get back into his good graces.

That didn’t work for Jeroboam, and it won’t work for us. The only ones who will give a nod of approval to disobedience are the dishonorably discharged angels assigned to the pits of hell.

The lesson of faithfulness needs to be learned.

Only the Creator is the source of life. Only the Redeemer makes things right. Only the Holy Spirit can bring us real joy. There is no substitute for the Triune God.

The entire history of ancient Israel is a lesson in the justice and mercy of God. Judgment came when mercy was spurned. Listen to his words: “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11)

The same message comes to us: Turn from evil to the Savior God. Forgiveness is full and free. Jesus saw to that. Hope lies alone in the true God of Israel. No substitute can take his place.

Let it be for us a lesson learned.



Prayer: God of grace and glory, too often we stray from your will and way. Too easily we set up rival gods in our lives. Cleanse our minds and desires. Crush our false gods. Forgive our sin. Renew our faith. Teach us, again and again, the lesson of your holy love. Amen.

 



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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About killing – July 15, 2018

About killing – July 15, 2018


For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
Romans 13:4




Military Devotion – July 15, 2018

Devotion based on Romans 13:4

See series: Military Devotions

“Honestly, chaplain, what does God think about someone like me—someone who kills people from ambush in the dark?”

He was an Army sniper. His commendations showed what the Army thought about him. He felt good about that. But it was not the Army that he would have to answer to when he died. Thus, the question, “What does God think?”

It’s a question that requires an honest answer.

Some other occupations may also require a person to take the life of another. Law enforcement quickly comes to mind. But the military operates on a different plane. Military command plans in detail how best to kill as many of the enemy as possible. Then, it trains and motivates its members to do just that.

The warrior is trained to kill without hesitation. Hesitancy may cost lives. The warrior is trained to kill without regret. Regret may make him hesitate next time.

Depersonalizing the enemy makes it easier to kill him. Thus, we strip him of personhood. We use demeaning names: “Kraut,” “Nip,” “Charlie,” or “Haji”. Atrocities committed by the enemy make it even easier to kill him. Watching a buddy bleed out while under attack, can remove any lingering hesitation.

But the question, “What does God think?” may still pop up in the Christian’s mind, maybe years after he packed away his uniform.

The best and only acceptable answer comes from God himself. With the Fifth Commandment, the Lord directly addresses the matter of taking a human life. His message is: Life is precious to me. It needs to be priceless to you. I demand that you protect it.

“Do not murder!” is quite clear—and a much more accurate translation than, “Thou shalt not kill!” What is often missed is that there are two sides to the commandment—positive actions are expected as well as the forbidding of the negative action.

Both Old and New Testaments reveal God’s fervent desire that human lives be protected. One way to do that is not to harm others. Another way is to keep someone else from harming them.

While that applies to individual lives, it also pertains in larger settings. We think especially of the nation.

Sometimes, to keep the Fifth Commandment a person needs to take a life.

The one threatening to take the life of a hostage is potentially sacrificing his own life. To safeguard the life of the hostage, the protector may need to kill the hostage-taker.

The same applies to a person who is threatening our country.

God has given the responsibility for protecting its citizens to the ruling powers—in our case, government. As Saint Paul reports: “he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant…”

Those in law enforcement and those in the military serve as God’s agents. When they must kill to carry out their duties, they do so not just with his permission, but with his blessing.

When it comes to killing, God knows all about it.



Prayer: Holy God, Lord of nations and protector of people, we pray that you would keep us safe as we strive to serve you faithfully. We take our role of protector seriously. We ask that you allow us to serve you without taking the life of another. But if we must kill, give us clarity of mind and peace of conscience. Amen.

 



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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Facing fear – July 8, 2018

Facing fear – July 8, 2018


Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
Isaiah 43:1,2




Military Devotion – July 8, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 43:1,2

See series: Military Devotions

Fear is simply a fact of life. Since the fall into sin, we cannot escape it. It does no good to deny it. It may be dangerous to ignore it.

Pity the person with no fear. Not afraid to put his hand onto a hot stove; willing to reach down to pet a rattlesnake, he is a danger to himself and others.

In love, our Creator has built into us the ability to be afraid. It’s an alarm system. It triggers defensive reactions before danger strikes. In severe circumstances it will automatically activate one of three responses: fight, flee, or freeze.

Some fear is good for us. But fear can become debilitating, gut-wrenching, and life-ruling. Fear for the future can destroy any joy and hope we might have at the present. Fear can become a weapon of the devil.

We come to recognize that there are different types of fear. There is baseless fear. There is faithless fear. And then, there is a fear that flows from the mercy of God.

A child’s fear of a department Santa Claus is baseless. An adult’s fear that life is controlled by luck is faithless. Fear of God flows from the mercy of God. He plants a conscience within us to alert us to danger spiritual. He provides an alarm system to warn of danger physical. He wants to protect body and soul.

By facing fear, we are able to identify its type and respond accordingly.

To the question, “Of what should I be afraid?” the first answer is: the holy God. Listen to Jesus: “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” (Luke 12:5).

The First Commandment directs us to fear, love, and trust in him above all things.

This is the key to facing fear. We are not at the mercy of threats from tornadoes, car wrecks, diseases, bank failures, and people with weapons. The one who clothes the flowers of the fields and feeds the birds of the air reminds us that he is Lord of all.

He will tell us when to be afraid and when not to. When he tells us, “Fear not!” about something, we should obey in love and trust.

David the warrior king asked, “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom should I fear?” (Psalm 27:1)

The answer was: no one, no thing, not ever—not if the God of grace and glory was at his side.

Through the prophet Isaiah, God’s people are reminded that they are more than specks on a planet. The Son of God has paid for their life with his blood. Their Savior God knows them by name. He will not forsake them in times of danger.

The words make us think of Israel crossing the Red Sea on dry ground. We remember Daniel in the lions’ den and his friends in the fiery furnace. We know that he can work miracles if that is best for us. We know that, miracles or not, he always will make things work out for our good.

We know that the death of Jesus was not a mistake, not a sign of weakness, and not failure of his mission. It is our passport to glory.

We need not fear fear.

Facing fear is the way we victors live—until fear fades away at eternity’s dawn.



Prayer: Our forefathers sang out their faith in the words of a hymn that carried God’s promise:

Fear not, I am with you oh be not dismayed, for I am your God and will still give you aid;
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand, upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call you to go, the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow,
For I will be with you your troubles to bless and sanctify to you your deepest distress.
(CW 416:3,4)

We remember his promises. We will fear, love, and trust in him above all things. Amen.

 



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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Any price – July 4, 2018

Any price – July 4, 2018


They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel…
Matthew 27:9




Military Devotion – July 4, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 27:9

See series: Military Devotions

He had been in the Navy, been wounded in battle, and now was speaking his first words to the nation as its president.

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

He no doubt meant them. He did not know that his nation would shortly decide it was not willing to pay any price or bear any burden.

JFK did not realize that the price he would pay for the presidency would be his own life.

He had no way of foreseeing that after paying 58,200 lives in support of a South Asian friend, the government of his nation would say: We will pay no more.

The famous quote from President Kennedy would have been more accurate if he had said, “We shall pay almost any price, bear almost any burden.

There was a limit to what America was willing to do to assure the survival and success of liberty.

The 4th of July raises again the question of, “How much?” How much of a price is this generation willing to pay for its own freedom? How much of a burden is it willing to bear in support of others?

Opinions vary. Estimates are no more than guesses. But the fear among many veterans is that the answer may end up being, “Not much.”

Realism reports that there are limits to everything. Even if the spirit is willing, the means may not be there.

Good thing there is God! Good thing he has no limits! Good thing he was willing to pay any price for our freedom! Good thing that he has not yet withdrawn his hand of blessing from our nation.

Our mind staggers at the price our nation has paid to gain, and then maintain, its liberty. The price in lives runs into the millions—in essential goods, into the billions.

But for all of that, our freedom remains partial. We cannot control the economy. We cannot control the weather. We cannot vanquish disease.

By ourselves, we were absolutely powerless before the dreaded enemies of sin, Satan, and death.

Rescue had to come from outside of us—and it would not be cheap.

Would the holy God pay any price, bear any burden to assure the success and survival of our liberty?

Or, do we need to add the word almost to that statement?

Those who know Jesus as their Savior know the answer to that question.

No price was too high to pay. Not even the death of the Son of God.

No burden was too great to bear. Not even the sins of the world.



Prayer: Eternal Father, strong to save, you have carried our country through days of sunshine and the darkness of nights. Many were the times when it seemed our enemies would overwhelm us. Many were the enemies striving to pull us down. That we can still celebrate an Independence Day testifies to your abundant grace. We thank you for those who were willing to sacrifice their lives to keep our nation free. We thank you more for your willingness to sacrifice your Son to free us from sin, Satan, and death. We bow our heads at the recognition that you were willing to pay any price to rescue us. Amen.

Provided by Lutheran Military Support Group
lutheranmilitary.org



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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Star-Spangled – July 1, 2018

Star-Spangled – July 1, 2018


The heavens declare the glory of God…
Psalm 19:1




Military Devotion – July 1, 2018

Devotion based on Psalm 19:1

See series: Military Devotions

If the words star-spangled appear, the word banner is bound to follow. We might not be able to quickly define spangle as a small sparking object, but our mind’s eye can clearly see those stars upon the field of blue in our flag. We know what the Star-Spangled Banner is, and we know what it stands for.

There is a reason why we salute our flag, and why our enemies burn it. It is more than a piece of colored cloth. It is a symbol of America. It is a declaration of America’s values and a reminder of America’s might. It stands for what America has done in the past, and a promise for the future.

There is a reason why our flag is called Old Glory. There is a reason why people stream to our shores. There is a reason why the flag is draped over the casket of those who defended it. The bumper sticker says, Freedom is not free. It is bought with blood.

For the Christian American, there is more to the story.

The Christian believes the words, “God shed his grace on thee…” The Christian understands that the strength of America lies not in its arsenal of weapons, but in the mercy of its God. The Christian recognizes that the bounty of America flows only from the goodwill of God. The liberty that Americans cherish begins with the freedom that the holy God has bought with the blood of his Son. It definitely was not free.

As we celebrate Independence Day, we surely do not want to declare freedom from our only source of life and blessing.

We want to remember who the Lord is, what he has done, and what his promise is for the future. We want to catch a glimpse of his greatness and glory. We want to be assured that our future is secure, and no enemy that threatens our eternal life can overcome us.

We want to lift up our eyes to God’s own star-spangled banner.

It is there for us. It is easy to see. It appears even more clear in darkness. The psalmist points us to it with the words, “The heavens declare the glory of God.”

Just as the American flag in distant and dangerous places can lift our spirits, so can the sparkling lights of the sky wipe away gloom and doubt as they testify to the faithfulness of the Savior God and his promise for the future.

Old Glory may be spit on and burned. It may be lowered to half-mast. Maybe one day it may no longer wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave. We pray this will never happen. We fight to prevent it. But we acknowledge that other great nations have fallen among the wrecks of time. We have no promise from heaven that our country will remain strong and free.

But here are the promises that do stand forever: the strength that flows from the Lord God will never falter. The freedom from sin, death, and the devil will never fail. The glory of the redeemed will never fade.

We thank God for America as we see the stars and stripes fluttering in the wind. We thank God for salvation as we see the stars in the sky.

Both of these star-spangled banners lift up our hearts.



Prayer:  Lord of the nations and only hope for humankind, our flag reminds us of the abundant blessings with which you have showered our nation. We pray that you keep it strong and guide its path. The celestial bodies that fill the sky and lighten the night remind us that your power is unlimited and your mercy unending. We pray that you keep us strong and guide our path. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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Happy now – June 24, 2018

Happy now – June 24, 2018


Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God.
Psalm 146:5




Military Devotion – June 24, 2018

Devotion based on Psalm 146:5

See series: Military Devotions

We want to be happy. America’s Declaration of Independence claims that, along with life and liberty, we have the God-endowed right to pursue this thing called happiness.

And pursue it we do.

We humans will work hard. We will pay big money. We will cheat and steal. We will poison our minds and ruin our health in the hunt for happiness. We will break laws and relationships to gain the prize. We will defy the commands of our Creator if we think it will make us happy.

If we cannot find happiness in our job, we will try a different one. If we cannot find happiness in our marriage, we think about leaving it. A new car, a new house, a new set of clothes? If we think it will make us happy, we want it.

And sometimes we get it.

But to our dismay, true and lasting happiness is not included in the package. It breaks, it wears out, it disappoints us. We grow tired of it. People die. We are not happy.

The days may come when we are not only not happy with the things in life—we are not happy with life itself. Hopeless and helpless is a distressing state to be in.

The question, “Happy now?” is usually a rebuke. It comes after a person has rejected guidance and is now living with a mess.

It is a question that God can ask the human race every day. It is a question that we must ask ourselves.

And our answer must be honest.

If we look for happiness anywhere but in our Creator and Savior God, we will be gravely disappointed. “Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob.” This is the God of a free and faithful promise. “He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them—he remains faithful forever.” So the psalmist writes in the next verse.

This One will never forget. He will never change. He will never fail. He is our only hope.

He can make us happy. He can give us gifts that bring happiness. He can use the things and the people in this world to give us a foretaste of everlasting happiness.

The birth of a child? The love of a loved one? A battle won, a prize gained, a challenge overcome? The Creator can use any of these to bring us some happiness.

He has never promised that our life will always go the way we want it to. He has warned about sorrow and disappointment. He will not always keep us from sickness. We must expect plans to fail, bodies to grow feeble.

And death. We must expect to die.

But that does not cause our happiness to evaporate. Our hope is solid. It is built upon a Rock—not sand. Death has been conquered. Angels watch over us. Everything must turn out for our good.

We win.

We can be happy now.



Prayer:  Lord Jesus, your apostle assures us with words from the Holy Spirit: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Allow our hope and happiness to always rest upon that love. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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Dads – June 17, 2018

Dads – June 17, 2018


Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes.
Genesis 4:20




Military Devotion – June 17, 2018

Devotion based on Genesis 4:20

See series: Military Devotions

The prayer is not, “Our Mother, who art in heaven…” This person of the Trinity is addressed as “Father.”

This is not a putdown of human mothers. It is a notice given to dads. If the almighty God chooses to use the title father for a person of the Godhead, we had better be certain about what he expects a human father to be.

Living in our modern world, we are struck by the repeated biblical phrases that declare that a person lived so-and-so-many years, and then became the father of so-and-so. We ask, what about the mothers?

They are not forgotten. Adah’s name has been read by millions over thousands of years as the mother of Jabal. We can quickly name other noted women in the Bible. But fathers still receive special notice—because fathers have a special load of responsibility.

Fathers and mothers stand equal in the sight of God. They are to love one another and care for their children. God entrusts little ones into their hands. It is an awesome responsibility. Jesus issues the strong warning: “See that you do not despise 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).

Heaven is watching!

Yet, fathers and mothers have also been assigned distinct and different roles in life. Not only are their biological roles different, so are their responsibilities: Mothers and fathers are responsible for the care of their children. Fathers are responsible for the entire family.

It is as if God points his finger at fathers and says, “The buck stops here!”

Sad, if the father is not there. Sad, if the father refuses to take responsibility. Blessed is the mother who then steps up to take charge. But no one else can truly take the place of the father. The best we can offer is a substitute.

Responsibilities may be properly delegated. Maybe the mother is better at handling the finances. Maybe the father will be deployed for months on end. That is not a rejection of a father’s role. That may be love and care in action.

So, from Jabal came people of the flocks and tents. From his brother, Jubal, came musicians. Adah was mother to both, and grandmother to their children.

This was God’s plan. This was God’s way. This is how God brought blessings to those families. This is how God brings blessings to the people of earth.

We look in with reverent eyes as we see the Son of God asking his Father for help. Jesus used the word, Abba. It’s like us saying, Dad.

“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). By “cup” he meant suffering and death to rescue us.

We know how the Father answered. The reply was, No!

God the Father did not hate the Son. He loved him beyond all measure. But he also loved us. He loved us so much that he did not spare his own Son.

To define the role of a father, we cannot omit the word, love.

Fathers carry a heavy load of responsibility. But it is also one of the greatest of honors.

It is a gift from heaven to be called, Dad.



Prayer:  Father in heaven, those who bear that title on earth can never measure up to your standards. You have given fathers their children. You have placed great weight upon their shoulders. Be, then, the source of their strength. Enable them to be a blessing. Let them know the joy of being a faithful, loving dad. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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Cheering crowds – June 10, 2018

Cheering crowds – June 10, 2018


The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Matthew 21:9




Military Devotion – June 10, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 21:9

See series: Military Devotions

Crowds enjoy seeing troops marching. They are quick to cheer. Usually, that is good. But sometimes it causes resentment.

Consider these words, written by a British soldier in WWI:

“You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.” (Siegfried Sassoon)

The cheering people would have been shocked and confused by these words. They thought they were doing something good; something that would show encouragement.

Why, then, did the soldier write, “You smug-faced crowds…”? Why the anger?

Those who lined the roads to cheer had no idea of what the troops were marching into. No idea of the desperation of those who had already been on the front lines. No idea of how much they did not want to go where the march would end.

Come to think of it, neither did the Palm Sunday crowds.

Those who watched Jesus heading to Jerusalem had no clue that Jesus was riding to torture and execution. No understanding of what really was taking place.

By Friday, the crowds would again gather. This time they would include women weeping and wailing at the sight of the bloody, stumbling Jesus. They would wonder at his words, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.” (Luke 23:28).

Again, they did not understand.

His later words were: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

A response far different from, “You smug-faced crowds…”

Those who are willing to step into harm’s way to defend a nation will regularly encounter people who do not understand. If that step brings one into the theater of war, the lack of understanding will escalate. Misconceptions will abound. Feelings will be hurt. Anger may arise.

Don’t let it.

The only way someone else could clearly know what the warrior went through is if that person had been there. Would we want our spouse, or parents, or neighbors to have done that?

It’s understandable that they do not understand.

If we are tempted to think that this is unfair, the example of Jesus will set us straight. We can say, “Jesus loves me.” We can know, “Jesus saved me.” We can sing: “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.” But we can never fully understand what Jesus went through to rescue us.

That much we do understand.

We will not stand smug-faced as we review the march of Jesus to his death. We will smile, however. We already know that this ends not with the grave or hell. Jesus was heading for heaven—and there, we will join him.

We will stand with his cheering crowds.



Prayer:  Jesus, Son of God and Savior, we look on in wonder as the story of your life is brought before our eyes in the sacred Scriptures. We cannot begin to imagine your pain and sacrifice. We cannot envision the depth of your love. You are beyond our understanding. But the Holy Spirit has worked in us a saving faith. Accept our words of praise. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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Wings of the dawn – June 3, 2018

Wings of the dawn – June 3, 2018


If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139:9,10




Military Devotion – June 6, 2018

Devotion based on Psalm 139:9,10

See series: Military Devotions

The old recruitment slogan read: “Join the Navy and see the world.” Many a young American did just that. Some still do.

Another slogan announced: “It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure!” That one was also successful.

Behind both of the slogans is the message that to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces will enable a person to see places and do things unusual and exciting. What is not mentioned is that the recruits will have little to say about where they will go or what they will do. In the lingo of the Marines, “The head shed decides all of that.”

The phrase, “the wings of the dawn,” points one to the east, where the sunrise spreads itself on the horizon as if it had wings. For the Israelite, “the far side of the sea” was to the west, where the sun sets. The psalmist is saying: “Wherever I go…”

Many who have worn the uniform have seen sunrises and sunsets in far off places. Sometimes they were on an adventure. At other times, they certainly would have not called it that. At all times, there was an element of risk. It came with the job. The job is to protect America, even if it means going to distant and dangerous places.

The writer of this psalm, King David, understood the risk of being a warrior. He spent most of his life at war. His career started with taking down of Goliath. He carried his weapons even into old age. He was a hero.

But he was not self-reliant. He was not cocky. He knew that his life was but a breath that could fade in less than a minute. He understood that the Lord God was king over him, and the source of his strength. Of the Lord, David said, “You shield my head in the day of battle” (Psalm 140:7).

The question every warrior asks as he heads into danger is, “Will my support be there when I need it? Will someone have my back? Will someone cover me when I move into danger?”

David had brave and tested troops under him. He depended upon them. But most of all, he depended upon the Lord his God. The Lord would be there no matter where he went. He would be there to guide him. He would be there to support him. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” David will write in the 23rd Psalm. “I will fear no evil” he will say. “For thou art with me…” he will explain.

“Wherever I go…” he said. East or west, or anyplace in between—his God will be there.

“Wherever I go…” On mountain tops or in valleys—his God will be there.

“Wherever I go…” In life or in death—his God will be there.

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” This is the promise of the one who defeated death and gave us life everlasting.

This God is our God. This promise is to us. Our God will be there to guide and support.

Even when we rise on the wings of the dawn.



Prayer: Almighty Father, strong to save. Be with us wherever we go. Guide and support us. Forgive our sins for Jesus’ sake and send the Holy Spirit to keep us from harm to body or soul. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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Remembrance – May 27, 2018

Remembrance – May 27, 2018


There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.
Ecclesiastes 1:11




Military Devotion – May 27, 2018

Devotion based on Ecclesiastes 1:11

See series: Military Devotions

“The end of war is in remembrance.”

This old saying may surprise us. Few who have survived the trauma of war are anxious to relive those days in memory. The pain of the disorder from post-traumatic stress is often caused by the mental replaying of those traumatic events. Thus, the natural inclination is to avoid the memories of war, and many veterans have become quite good at doing that.

That is not necessarily good. Avoiding memories can prevent healing.

Memorial Day is a good time for us to remember war with its casualties of bodies and minds. King Solomon of old would encourage us to do this.

For all of his wealth, wisdom, and power, Solomon had much to lament. In the God-inspired Book of Ecclesiastes, he groans out his misery in life. He opens the book with the words: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”

He soon moves to his complaint about remembrance. He says there is none. Thus, there is no meaning to what people have done.

As flags are lowered and wreaths are laid on tombstones at this time of year, the phrase that may come to our ears is, “They have not died in vain.”

This declares that the death of those who have fallen in service to our nation was not meaningless.

Not everyone agrees. Not everyone follows the parade to the burial ground. Not everyone acknowledges the flag at half-mast. Not everyone stands still at the sound of taps.

Not everyone appreciates the sacrifices of those who lost their life to preserve our freedoms.

But those who, like Solomon, lament the lack of remembrance of what was accomplished by those who came before, they will see the meaning of Memorial Day.

The Christian will see the day through God’s eyes. The Christian will remember that our nation does not deserve the blessings of freedom that float down upon it. The Christian will remember how close our nation has come to losing these freedoms at times. The Christian will remember that those who stepped forward to defend our nation were gifts provided by the hand of God.

It is a time to acknowledge the gifts we have received through the wars that have been waged and the sacrifices that others have made.

It is a time to consider the cost that the loved ones of the fallen have paid.

Remembrance allows us to see the larger picture, to weigh the fuller cost, and to appreciate the greater value of what has been handed down.

We will remember God’s promise that the day will come when, “Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore” (Micah 4:3).

Until that time comes, on Memorial Day we will repeat the prayer of those who have gone before us.



Prayer: “Lord God of hosts, be with us yet. Lest we forget. Lest we forget.” Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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Pure trash – May 20, 2018

Pure trash – May 20, 2018


What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.
Philippians 3:8




Military Devotion – May 20, 2018

Devotion based on Philippians 3:8

See series: Military Devotions

The higher the hope, the greater the disappointment when the hope falls.

The young Marine was to be commended. Every other Sunday he drove some 200 miles to attend a WELS worship service. Sometimes he brought buddies with him. He probably came from a good Christian home. More recently, he had come from Vietnam. It was the early ‘70s.

His car broke down on a trip back to Lejeune, so he visited one of the typical used car lots that are sprinkled around military installations. The next time he showed up, he had big smile on his face. “God was with me!” he gushed. He had found a peach of a car at a bargain price.

Two weeks later, he returned with his “new” car. This time the words, “Pure Trash” were spray-painted on the front plate.

One’s heart had to go out to the hapless Marine. The car was a clunker. But he didn’t have enough money to simply buy another one—and the dealer surely wouldn’t take it back. So, he had to limp along from one repair bill to another for a while.

The peach had turned into a lemon.

The apostle Paul never did buy an automobile, but like this 20th century Christian, he had learned the value of everything apart from his Savior God. He used the word, garbage. He probably would have given a thumb’s up at this car being labeled, pure trash.

In fact, even if it was a brand-new Corvette that the young man found himself in, the apostle would still list it as, no better.

This is not to say that a new car is not an improvement over the clunker. The point is, nothing in this world is everlasting, truly precious, or worth trading one ounce of salvation for. Better to lose everything on earth than to lose the inheritance in heaven.

The nice house cannot be used as collateral against the debt we owe God. Those new clothes will not serve to get us out on bail when we face divine judgment. Nor will friends be able to influence the Judge.

In the court of God, the only thing that counts is the blood of Jesus.

No wonder the apostle treasured “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Without knowing Jesus as his Lord and Savior, he had nothing—though he was earthly rich.

With the certain knowledge that the Son of God paid his debt to God, he was rich beyond all measure—though he had nothing else.

He knew with absolute certainty: those who place their hope on Jesus are never disappointed.

We agree.



Thus we declare in the words of the hymn:
My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, and blood support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way, He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the Solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand. Amen.
(Christian Worship 382:1,3)



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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Moms – May 13, 2018

Moms – May 13, 2018


For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Psalm 139:13




Military Devotion – May 13, 2018

Devotion based on Psalm 139:13

See series: Military Devotions

We did not pick our mothers, nor did they pick us. Someone else was in charge of the selections.

If we wonder why we were not born in Bangladesh or in the year 1496, the answer lies not in our genes, but with our God. Without his direct action, we would not be. Before our mother was born, we were already chosen to be her child. It was foreordained.

But that does not mean that we are the product of some mechanical formula worked out eons before our birth. We are the result of individual, careful, and loving decisions by the same one who formed the stars and calls them out by name.

Our heart and lungs, our brain and nervous system were custom made. Our fingerprints were designed just for us.

As one knits a blanket to a certain size and with a certain pattern, so the Creator fashioned us. The psalmist calls out in the next verse, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

But the pattern we were made from was not completely new. Pieces of us match pieces of our parents and relatives before them. Maybe it is said that we have our father’s ears or our mother’s smile. Someone may have pointed out that we have our grandfather’s eyes. Maybe when we look at old pictures we notice that, as a child, we looked much like one of our great-grandparents when they were young.

We are not an accident. We are not merely the product of a biological process. We are the handiwork of God. We are wonderfully made.

He could have decided to call us into being out of nothing, as he did the sun and moon. Instead, he chose to form us inside of a woman. He picked out our extended family. He set the time and place for us to draw our first breath.

He selected our mother.

Our father was also of his choosing. A dad’s role is different, however. But both deserve special treatment. “Honor your father and mother!” is an order from our Creator.

That command stands no matter how good of parents we think they are. By honoring them, we honor God.

But mothers stand out as extra special. It was a female that was chosen as the one to serve mankind in a very special way. It was a woman who gave birth to the incarnate Son of God.

Jesus of Nazareth called Mary, “Mama.” He was both her son and her Savior. He brought her pain. He gave her heaven. It’s the same gift he offers us.

We were fashioned according to God’s pattern for God’s purpose. We were designed to live forever. Mary’s Son has made this possible.

For that, we thank our Savior God and acknowledge the wonder of his greatness. He has blessed us in many wondrous ways.

As one of his wonders, he has given us our moms.



Prayer: God of mercy and might, as we consider how wonderfully we are made, we are compelled to declare, “How great thou art!” We thank you for giving us life. We ask you to use us for the purposes you have chosen for us. We thank you for our moms. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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Watch your step – May 6, 2018

Watch your step – May 6, 2018


Yet as surely as the LORD lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.
1 Samuel 20:3




Military Devotion – May 6, 2018

Devotion based on 1 Samuel 20:3

See series: Military Devotions

The warning, “Watch your step!” takes on extra weight for those who do foot patrols where IEDs are likely to be placed. When King David said there was only a step between him and death, he may have been speaking figuratively. In modern warfare this is often a reality.

Actually, it is always a reality.

The transition back from a combat zone is seldom easy. Hypervigilant is the term sometimes used to describe the person having difficulty doing this. Reckless is another. So is unpredictable. Warzone thoughts and feelings do not fit well in the back-home peace zone. Adjustments need to be made.

Over time, most make the switch back to normal, or at least to the new normal. But few forget what it was like to live one step away from death.

That’s not necessarily bad. The remembrance pays dividends as life goes on. It reminds us that no matter where we are or how old we are, there is only one step to death’s door.

That honest realization should not terrify us, but it should make us careful. After spending time in distant and dangerous places, we may be tempted to think that if we made it through that, we can make it through anything. We abandon caution.

Or maybe, we are tempted to renew that emotional rush brought on by living on the edge. Defying death with speed down a roadway or with speed in our system can be exhilarating—but surely not wise. Those are deathtraps, and to be avoided.

Tiptoeing through life in fear or racing through life in bravado is not a good way to live a life. It is not God’s way. God’s way involves confident caution.

A troubled Job once asked about his Creator and Lord, “Does he not see my ways and count my every step?” (Job 31:4) The expected answer was: “Yes! Yes, he does!”

Yes, he does see my ways. I am never off his radar screen. He sees what is done in secret. He sees the plans I am making. Camouflage doesn’t fool him. The future doesn’t surprise him.

He counts every step. He knows how tired I become. He knows how many steps away I am from danger or disaster. He watches over my soul as well as my body. He sees the dangers that threaten either of them or both of them.

Some newer cars come equipped with sensors that detect when the vehicle crosses into a different lane without the turn signal activated. It’s there to prevent unintentional drifting into danger. A signal shows up on the dashboard. A vibration is felt in the driver’s seat. The steering wheel is nudged back to the original lane. It can be a lifesaver.

God does this even better. The Creator-God has given us an alerting conscience. His Word points us to the safe path and warns against the dangerous dead ends. As the Savior-God, he has given us forgiveness and redemption. As the Sanctifying-God, he empowers us to follow the road to heaven. We can joyfully live a life of cautious confidence.

After all, it is God who watches our steps.



Prayer: Lord of the nations and Savior of our souls, we live our lives—one step after another—without knowing what that next stride will bring. When we look back over our path, we can now see how close to tragedy we have come at times. When we look ahead, we wonder how we will avoid disaster. But you know. In you we put our trust. Keep watching our steps. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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Living free – April 29, 2018

Living free – April 29, 2018


Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.
1 Peter 2:16




Military Devotion – April 29, 2018

Devotion based on 1 Peter 2:16

See series: Military Devotions

The ancient Greek warriors had a motto: “To Rule and to be Ruled”. Perhaps that will help us more easily understand these words of the Apostle Peter. At first glance, the commands to live as free people and to live as slaves seem to present a contradiction.

Isn’t it one or the other? How can we be free and slaves at the same time? Isn’t the first order countermanded by the second? Which order should we obey?

Both. One order declares our freedom. The other order defines our freedom. Those in service to defend our country are free Americans. But they are not free from authority. If confused before, the recruit quickly learns this to be true.

In all of life, the chain-of-command goes all the way to the top—way above the national commander-in-chief. Above every dictator, president, and king is the King of kings. His word is absolute. He owns us.

Saint Paul has written, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19,20). That’s true! Christians live not for themselves, but for him. We submit our wishes to his will. He is our master. We are slaves of the holy God—and glad of it!

We are not ground-into-the-dirt slaves. Listen to how the apostle Peter describes us: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession…” (1 Peter 2:9).

We are people of powerful privilege. We enjoy the freedom of the redeemed. Jesus has declared, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31,32). He drives home the meaning of this with these words: “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

But not free to sin! Not free to ignore the master’s will. Not free to use freedom as a cover-up for evil. Instead, we are free from the death-grip of evil. Satan, sin, and death rule us no more. We need not bow before them.

But that does not mean we obey no one. From the vault of heaven comes the standing order to the heirs of glory: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors…” (1 Peter 2:13).

To every human authority? Even those who issue foolish orders? Even those who do not acknowledge that God lives and rules?

Yes.

Except—except when they give an order that countermands one of God’s orders. This same Saint Peter once told Jewish authorities who they demanded that he stop preaching about Jesus: “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:29)

We must obey God. Love for him makes us want to do this. Jesus set the example. As the Son of God, he was free to do whatever he wanted. Yet, he conformed his will to what his Father wanted, even when this brought him pain and death.

We want to do the same. When we freely follow the orders of our Savior God, we make that motto of the long-ago warriors our very own.

“To rule and to be ruled.” That’s living free.



We pray in the spirit of Jesus: Our Father who art in heaven…thy will be done. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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Neither slumbers nor sleeps – April 22, 2018

Neither slumbers nor sleeps – April 22, 2018


Indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
Psalm 121:4




Military Devotion – April 22, 2018

Devotion based on Psalm 121:4

See series: Military Devotions

Sometimes it does not seem that way. Sometimes we aren’t so sure that he is watching over us.

Sometimes we want to join the sons of Korah who shouted: “Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever” (Psalm 44:23).

These were not the words of unbelief. The sons of Korah wrote the psalm that begins, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46). The famous hymn, “A Mighty Fortress” is based upon their words.

These words flowed from confusion and stress—and a bit of doubt.

Their forefathers had flourished under the hand of God. Enemies had been pushed back. Victories had been gained.

“But now” they lament, “you have rejected and humbled us; you no longer go out with our armies.” The result? “You made us retreat before the enemy, and our adversaries have plundered us.” “I live in disgrace all day long…” (Psalm 44:10,15).

We might pass over this lament as just old words from the Old Testament, but the Apostle Paul repeats the thought for New Testament Christians. He writes: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

For many New Testament Christians, the meaning was literal. Many were killed because of their faith in the true and living God. Others faced hard-times, rejection, disappointment, and failure. Many wondered, “Why?”

So might we.

Those who have seen horrible sights in wars; those who have been unfairly judged and punished; those who have seen hopes die and evil triumph—those are the ones who sometimes wonder if God has fallen asleep.

It’s not as if we were expecting only good things in life. We know better. But we tend to set a limit to how much bad the good Lord will allow to come into the lives of his people. When bad gushes in like a flood over a dam, we fear all is lost.

We wonder if God is angry at us. We wonder if he is too busy, too careless, or just too tired to step in to help.

In short, we begin to view God as if he were only human.

He is not.

He is the Creator. He is the Judge who rules all things for our benefit. He is our Savior Lord. He does not lie. He does not treat us as we deserve. Again, and again he tells his sheep, “Fear not!” He has bought us with holy blood. Our doubts are foolish.

The sons of Korah knew that. That’s why they ended their lament with the confident plea: “Rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love” (Psalm 44:26).

That’s our petition, too. In a hymn we sing: “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” His love will never fail.

He who sent his Son to bleed for us—he is the One who neither slumbers nor sleeps.



Prayer: Heavenly Father, dangers, sorrows, and fears wash over our faith at times. We don’t often see what you are doing to protect us. We read the worst into the cause of trouble in life. We easily doubt your love and your care. Send the Holy Spirit into our lives that faith may replace doubt; courage replace fear; and joy replace worry. Watch over us always and everywhere. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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 new normal – April 15, 2018

The new normal – April 15, 2018


Jesus went on to say, “In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.”
John 16:16




Military Devotion – April 15, 2018

Devotion based on John 16:16

See series: Military Devotions

With hand raised and back straight, the recruit begins to: “solemnly swear I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies…”

That step not only granted the former civilian some new clothes to wear, it ushered in an entirely new way of life. Gone were the carefree days of high school—living under the roof of parents and wondering what fun thing to do next. Suddenly life was filled with shouts of commands, strange living arrangements, and wondering what stressful demand would come next.

What used to be normal was no more. The first blasting strains of reveille woke the person up to a new normal. The message was, “Get used to it!”

The wife who comes back from the ER with only her husband’s wallet; the child who is told, “Daddy went to heaven;” and the victim of post-traumatic stress whose mind keeps replaying a dreadful tape—these too will learn that life will never go back to normal.

They are facing a new normal—and they need to get used to it. But it will not be easy.

The post-Easter disciples suddenly found themselves in a new, spinning world with little to grab onto. For some three years they had lived alongside of Jesus. They had been taught by him, warned by him, and comforted by him. They had seen miracles. They could see his face most every day.

Now they could not. After he returned to heaven, they could see him no more.

They needed to get used to it. That would not be easy.

To prepare them for the new normal Jesus had told them what to expect. “In a little while you will see me no more…”

His death was not a failure, it was according to plan. So was his resurrection. They would see him later.

So will we.

Imagine waking up to pure beauty and glory. Envision what life would be like with nothing going wrong. Picture us joining those first disciples in visiting with Jesus.

Imagine living in heaven.

What a change! What an experience! What a joy!

“…and then after a little while you will see me.”

That is the new normal we are waiting for.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, our eyes have not seen you face-to-face as did your early disciples. Our eyes of faith look at you through their eyes as they tell us what they saw and heard. We look forward to seeing you as we join them with you in glory. Until then, keep us safe. Keep us faithful. Bring us home. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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 ghost – April 8, 2018

No ghost – April 8, 2018


They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.
Luke 24:37




Military Devotion – April 8, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 24:37

See series: Military Devotions

Sometimes God frightens us with his presence. Sometimes we mistake him for something bad. We would run from him if we could.

Sometimes we make the same mistake his early disciples made.

This wasn’t the first time they mistook Jesus for something frightening. Once they were caught in a fierce storm in a small boat. They feared they would drown. They panicked when Jesus came to them by walking on the water. This they did not expect. They cried out in terror at what they thought was a ghost.

When Jesus showed himself transfigured in the brightness of glory, Peter stammered out some senseless words about building shelters. In the gospel of Mark, we are told: “He did not know what to say, they were so frightened” (Mark 9:6).

And now we are looking in at the disciples on Easter evening. They knew the grave of Jesus was empty. Angels had told them he was risen. They should have been excited and happy to see the one they called Master. Instead, they were startled and frightened.

We shouldn’t be too hard on those disciples. We are tempted to act in the same way in times of alarm and stress.

Jesus may not appear to us in bodily form, as he did back then. But he did promise that he will always be with us. We know that he comes to us in Word and sacrament. He also enters into our time and space with his loving care. Many times, we aren’t aware of his presence. Sometimes we mistake him for something bad.

Like those disciples, we have expectations of how and when he will show himself in our lives. We look for things like days of joy and success, or recovery from illness, things that lift up hope. We sense the hand of our Savior in such things—and we welcome them.

When dark days dawn, when pain strikes, when a dreadful future suddenly looms—we don’t like what we see. These look like nightmares. We think, “This cannot be God at work.” We become frightened.

Jesus knows that. That’s why he has told us in advance that scary things can happen to his people. His words are: “Fear not!” He is still our Savior God.

To the disciples huddled in fright he said: “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet” (Luke 24:38,39).

We may be a long way from Jerusalem on the first Easter, but we can still do what he says. We can look at his pierced hands and feet. In his Word he shows them to us.

Already in prophecy he had called out, “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet” (Psalm 22:16).

So they did. In the New Testament we receive the details of his anguish at Golgotha. Roman hands drove the nails. Jewish voices called for it.

By means of the Scriptures the Holy Spirit allows us to see this, too.

If Jesus did this for us; if he loved us this much; then we need not be frightened if he startles us by acting in a manner we do not expect or understand.

This is Jesus. He is not some scary ghost.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, our eyesight is dim and our understanding of what is happening to us is often limited and flawed. Teach us to never be afraid of your presence in our lives. With eyes of faith we have seen the nails piercing your flesh. Remind us that this is proof positive that you are on our side. Stay there! Abide with us as we walk the path of life. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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 fooling – April 1, 2018

No fooling – April 1, 2018


And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.
Job 19:26




Military Devotion – April 1, 2018

Devotion based on Job 19:26

See series: Military Devotions

There are those who believe that the idea of rising from the dead to live with God in glory is an April Fool’s joke.

The same ones may also believe that God is a joke.

They may believe that only seeing is believing—and who has ever seen a person rise from the dead? Don’t all the graves covered with undisturbed grass testify that the dead stay dead?

Does that mean that Easter is a joke? Is a handful of jelly beans the best that the day offers?

Job knew better than that. So do we.

Easter announces that graves will be emptied. Easter tells us: “You will see God!”

Wonderful news for us! Frightening news for those who have been fooled.

The biggest joke played upon the human race is the fake news that the dead stay dead. This is often prefaced by the lie: “God is dead!”

Sad.

We must feel sad for those who believe Satan’s lies. We must feel sorry for those who think God is a joke and death has no end. We cannot wish them, “Happy Easter!” Easter will never be a happy day for them. Unless…

Unless a miracle occurs. Unless the living God brings the dead soul to life, even as he brought life to the dead body of Jesus.

Can he do that? He did that to us, did he not? How else can we explain that we who were dead in trespasses and sins now live in faith and forgiveness?

How else can we declare with Job: “I know that my Redeemer lives!”? How would we know proof-positive that we will live with him; that our soul will never die; that our lifeless body will return to us perfect and glorified? How else could we say without a doubt: “Yet in my flesh I will see God”?

Easter does not beg us to believe the message of the empty grave. Easter debunks unbelief. Easter shouts out to the believer, “Because he lives, you will live also!”

Some had spread the rumor that his disciples had stolen the body of Jesus from the grave. Angels were sent to set the record straight. “He is not here. He is risen. Come, see the place where he lay.”

By the working of the Holy Spirit our eyes of faith have done that. We accepted the invitation of the angels. We have seen the evidence. We know death cannot hold us.

We walk away from Easter happy.

No fooling!



We declare:
I know that my Redeemer lives; What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead; He lives my ever-living Head!

He lives and grants me daily breath; He lives, and I shall conquer death.
He lives my mansion to prepare; He lives to bring me safely there. Amen.
Christian Worship 152:1,7



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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Hope to die – March 25, 2018

Hope to die – March 25, 2018


Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
2 Corinthians 3:12




Military Devotion – March 25, 2018

Devotion based on 2 Corinthians 3:12

See series: Military Devotions

To convince his friend that he is telling the truth, the youngster declared, “Cross my heart, and hope to die!”

But he would not really hope to die. The words carried no weight. They were just decoration.

Far different are the words written by a German soldier fighting in the bloody snow around Stalingrad in the Second World War: “They were forever telling us at training camp how to service and use our weapons in order to kill our enemies, and we were trained, and proud to fight for Führer, Volk, and Vaterland, and if necessary, die. But no one told us what you might have to go through before you got killed. Nor that death might not be instantaneous—there are many forms.”

In the bloodbath at Stalingrad almost two million people were being killed. This soldier now wanted to be one of them. He was not the first warrior that hoped to die. He was not the last.

There was reason for his despair. German troops were under-equipped and ill-prepared to take on the Russians. The frozen bodies were piling up. But worse were the pitiful cries of the wounded. Snipers made it almost impossible to pull them to safety.

The soldier wanted the misery to stop. The ancient words were true, “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” He wanted to be among them.

The Apostle Paul was also in desperate straits as he wrote his second letter to the Corinthians. He had been beaten, robbed, shipwrecked, and imprisoned. Soon he would face the executioner.

Danger and pain were there. But so was hope. He wrote: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).

His boldness rested upon the powerful mercy of God. He confessed that he looked forward to death. But for as long as he was alive he would carry out his mission on earth. He could not lose. He wrote: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

We wonder if the soldier hoping to die at Stalingrad might have said the same. He had grown up in the Land of the Reformation. Had he been taught that salvation was a free gift of God? Had he sung the words, “A mighty fortress is our God, a trusty shield and weapon”?

Could he recite from memory the hymn that declared his Savior was always by his side? “And do what they will—hate steal, hurt, or kill—though all may be gone, our victory is won. The kingdom’s ours forever.”

Did he believe those words? We hope so.

If so, then when he hoped to die it was because he knew he would live where perfect peace reigns forever.

Then, we can expect to see him there.



We pray the words of the hymn:
Lord, be my consolation, My shield when I must die;
Remind me of your passion When my last hour draws nigh.
My eyes will then behold you, Upon your cross will dwell;
My heart will then enfold you—
Who dies in faith dies well! Amen.
Christian Worship 105:7



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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Blood red – March 18, 2018

Blood red – March 18, 2018


When they got up early in the morning, the sun was shining on the water. To the Moabites across the way, the water looked red—like blood.
2 Kings 3:22




Military Devotion – March 18, 2018

Devotion based on 2 Kings 3:22

See series: Military Devotions

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is our God. The Savior God of Israel is our Savior. From the record of how he dealt with his people in the Old Testament we learn what we can expect from him today.

We can expect that he will control all things for our good. We should not be surprised if he does this in ways unexpected. The battle against Moab in the days of Elisha is a case in point.

Not surprisingly, tensions had erupted among Middle Eastern countries. Moab refused to pay tribute to the king of Israel’s Northern Tribes. In a rare display of solidarity, the king of Israel’s Southern Tribes (Judah) agreed to join in the effort to bring Moab back into line.

In an even more rare occurrence, the king of Edom joined the two Israelite kings in a march across the Desert of Edom to launch an allied attack.

It did not go well. After seven days in the desert, the allies ran out of water. Men and animals were about to perish. They began to wonder, “Is God against us?” They turned to the prophet Elisha for the answer. What they heard astounded them.
The Lord said, “You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink.” But that’s not all: “This is an easy thing in the eyes of the LORD; he will also deliver Moab into your hands.”

Almost unbelievable! But there is more. Every young and old Moabite who could bear arms was called up and stationed at the border. Blood was going to flow. But not as expected.

As promised, water began pouring in from an unknown source. But there is more. As the sun shone on the water it looked red to the Moabites. “That’s blood!” they said. “Those kings must have fought and slaughtered each other. Now to the plunder, Moab!”

What a mistake! The Moabite army rushed in to be decimated. Even the sacrifice of the king’s son in the name of an idol was for nothing. All for nothing!

We remember the words: “If God be for us, who can be against us?”

“If God be for us…”

But is he for us? Ancient Israel did not deserve to have him on its side. We don’t deserve that either. But listen: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31,32)

That’s right! God is for us. We have better proof than that he has allowed us to have some success in life—even some victories over some enemies.

This King sacrificed his Son for us! Along with that, he will give us everything we truly need.

All this undeserved! All this paid for by blood.

The receipt for our salvation is colored blood red.



Prayer: Almighty and eternal God, whose ways are beyond our understanding and whose love is beyond our grasp, we come before you in humble admission that we deserve none of your goodness in our lives. We further admit that we often fail to recognize or thank you for your blessings and protection. But now we see more clearly. We see the blood-red stain that marks our ticket to heaven. We know you are for us, not against us. Thank you! Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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God Bless America – March 11, 2018

God Bless America – March 11, 2018


For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the LORD Almighty, though their land is full of guilt before the Holy One of Israel.
Jeremiah 51:5




Military Devotion – March 11, 2018

Devotion based on Jeremiah 51:5

See series: Military Devotions

It isn’t a wish! A least it should not be. It surely is not a command. Who are we to give orders to the holy God? The words are not merely a request for God to pile heaps of good things upon the nation called America. They are something else. They are something more.

“God Bless America” is a prayer. At least it should be. It needs to be a prayer for mercy.

America needs the overflowing, undeserved mercy of God.

If we could look in at America through the eyes of angels, we might wonder why it still stands. Forget a booming economy. Pay no attention to how many ships and planes and warheads we might have. The finger of God could toss all this away as easily as we might flick a piece of lint off of our jacket.

Jeremiah had been describing what was in store for the ancient nation of Babylon. Babylon had impressed the world with its wealth, its culture, and its military might. It walked into the stronghold of Jerusalem, swept away its defenses, destroyed its magnificent temple, and carried home the best of its treasures and people. Babylon was impressive.

God had blessed these people. They took the blessings but rejected the Giver. Consequences would come. Babylon would be cursed.

Located in present-day Iraq, only the hot sand is left of that empire. Babylon was damned. Like a piece of lint, it was flicked off the world stage.

Israel survived. With the fall of Babylon, the survivors were free to return home. Jerusalem was restored. The temple was rebuilt. Some 700 years later Jesus walked within its magnificent walls.

The Holy One of Israel did not abandon these people, though they deserved to be. Only after Israel as a nation rejected and murdered the Son of God was it turned over to its enemies. Roman legions left nothing standing.

And America? The land of pornography and perversion? The place where God is laughed at and his kingdom attacked? Where money is worshiped, and law is dismissed? The land with enemies shouting out: “God damn America!”?

How long will we stand? What hope do we have? Where can we turn for help?

We can beg the Lord God to deal with our nation as he dealt with Israel in the days of Jeremiah. We can ask him to forgive our sin; save our nation.

We can point back to words he once spoke to his people of old: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

This is the blessing we seek.

We will pray for our country.



We will pray: God bless America! Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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Sweet evil – March 4, 2018

Sweet evil – March 4, 2018


Though evil is sweet in his mouth and he hides it under his tongue…
Job 20:12




Military Devotion – March 4, 2018

Devotion based on Job 20:12

See series: Military Devotions

The problem with sin is that we instinctively like it. Our sinful nature loves it. As if it were mouth-watering candy, we want to savor the flavor.

The Savior God tells us, “Spit it out!”

Ever try telling a three-year-old to “Look, but don’t touch!” the chocolate bunny in an Easter basket? If the tyke obeys that command, what are the chances he will continue to do so as soon as we leave the room?

Does the little one love his mommy and daddy? Yes! Does that guarantee he will not pop that morsel into his mouth, even hide it under his tongue, and shake his head “No!” when we return to ask him about the half-empty basket saying, “Did you eat that candy?”

The smear of chocolate on the face gives the honest answer. Busted!

The friend of Job was describing a godless person. He pointed out, “The mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment.” Then, as if thinking of our little candy eater, he states that though he cannot bear to let the evil go, he will end up with a bellyache—or worse!

“Yet, his food will turn sour in his stomach; it will become the venom of serpents within him (Job 20:14).

From the flavor of sweet candy to the vile venom of a snake—that’s quite a change! When that stage is reached, the person will not just spit out the bad, he will vomit it out.

That’s a scary picture! That should be reason enough for a person to refuse evil. That should tell the person living in denial of God, “Wake up! Stop kidding yourself! Sin is poisonous.”

So, what’s the alternative to sin? Are we supposed to live a life of denial, a life without pleasure? Where’s the joy in that? Are the only words from God: “No! No! No!”?

Is there never a “Yes!”? Do we ever have permission to eat the candy in life?

Satan would say, “No!” He maintains that, just as he reported to Adam and Eve, God doesn’t tell the whole truth. “Sin isn’t so bad!” he asserts. “Taste it and see how good it is!”

But he lies. He always lies. His words carry the venom of a snake.

The child of God learns that apart from God there is nothing good—no joy that lasts. The words of warning flow from love. They point towards words of blessing. That is good!

We know that. In our worship of the holy, loving God we sing: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed are they who take refuge in him.”

And we mean it.

We agree with the psalmist who wrote: “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103)

We will reach for the sweetness in life that the Savior God offers to us. We will hold it in our mouth. We will hide it under our tongue. We will savor it for time and eternity.

We will never spit it out.



Prayer: God in heaven, you alone are the source of true and lasting joy. Continue to warn us against the poison of sin. Create in us an appetite for your sweet words. Fill us with your goodness. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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