The dictator – February 23, 2020

The dictator – February 23, 2020


So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
Genesis 11:8,9




Military Devotion – February 23, 2020

Devotion based on Genesis 11:8,9

See series: Military Devotions

Some people feel that the Lord God is a dictator. They say he dictates how humans are to live; he sets limits to what people can do, and he was not elected to his position. There is no court of appeal for his decisions. He overpowers any attempt to challenge his authority.

They feel the incident at a place called Babel gives evidence of his dictatorial ways.

Following a devastating flood by which he ended the lives of probably millions of people and changed the landscape of the entire planet, he commanded the descendants of the survivors to spread out to repopulate the earth.

They had their own plan. They decided they should stick together. They started to build a tower high enough to serve as a landmark that could be seen from far off. By staying in sight of the tower, they would stay close to one another. What could God do about it?

He could do whatever he wanted to do. He could dictate what would happen.

He could have sent a hurricane-force wind to blow that tower over. But they probably would have rebuilt it.

He could have wiped these people out with a Noah-type flood. But he had promised never to do that again.

Instead, he chose a plan that kept everyone alive, yet carried out his will. There would be no regrouping, no resurgence, no rebellion. The tower would just never be finished.

He would scatter them by turning their language into gibberish.

Sometimes deployed troops learn what that is like. In a marketplace, or even in a meeting, when people are speaking a language we cannot understand, it sounds like nonsense. Body motions may help us find a direction or show that we are hungry, but little else. We would need an interpreter.

No interpreter was at Babel. It was mass confusion. So, there could be no joint effort. The tower had to be abandoned. The Lord God forced them to carry out his plan. Was this being a dictator?

The label doesn’t seem to fit. His power is never used in disregard of his subjects.

He stopped the building of the tower for the good of the human race. It was a case of tough love.

That unlimited power of his brings his people confidence and joy. Blessings flow from that power. He can control weather. He can control disease. He can control the Powers of Darkness. He has power over death and hell. Under his control, we are protected.

On the Pentecost following the ascension of Jesus to heaven, the confusion at Babel was reversed. Everyone there heard the good news of salvation in their native language.

And now, we have heard it in our native language.

Has he dictated that those who believe in him will live with him in glory? We love him for that.

Let others call their Creator a dictator. We won’t.

We call him Father.



Prayer: Good and gracious God, you have given the human race the gift of language. We praise and thank you that you have used your powerful gift to tell us of your undying love for us. Enable us to use clear language to tell others of this love. Instead of that tower of old, allow us to “Lift high the cross” that others may gather with us to scatter your Word far and wide. Amen.



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

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


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So easy – February 16, 2020

So easy – February 16, 2020


“Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all.
Mark 2:9-12a




Military Devotion – February 16, 2020

Devotion based on Mark 2:9-12a

See series: Military Devotions

One visit to a Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) is enough to show that rehabilitation for the wounded is not easy. Sweating brows, quivering muscles, and strained faces reveal the degree of effort being made. It pains us to see this. Yet, there are worse sights.

Some cases never make it to the WTU. The label over their names would be: “Permanently Paralyzed.” When a loved one asks the doctor, “Will my brother ever walk again?” the sad answer comes back: “Impossible.”

It was this sad realization that caused four friends to bring a paralyzed man to Jesus. When they couldn’t get into the house because of the crowd, they opened a hole in the roof and lowered him in with ropes tied to his mat.

What impressed Jesus was the faith that these friends had in him. What grieved Jesus was the burden of sin the paralyzed man carried. He promptly lifted that burden by announcing to him, “Your sins are forgiven!”

Some people in the house challenged these words. “Impossible!” they thought. “Only God can forgive sins.” If Jesus could forgive sins, he would have to be God. In their minds, this was impossible.

Human eyes cannot detect the burden of sin being lifted from a heart. But they can see paralyzed muscles become strong. No therapy, no conditioning: those muscles simply grew strong as soon as the words of Jesus were out of his mouth. The man got up. He picked up his mat. And he walked home!

Unbelievable? No one in that house could deny it. We hear: “This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’” (Mark 2:12b)

The greatest miracle remained unseen. Humans had to take Jesus’ word for it: the man walked home without his sin! Strong legs are a great blessing, but only in this life. A soul absolved of sin is a blessing for all eternity—no matter how physically weak a person might be here on earth.

Good health is a blessing God grants to some of us. A clean soul is what God demands from all of us. Jesus showed the people in Capernaum that he could grant what God demands. He was, and is, the Son of God.

We tend to determine need by what we see and feel. We tend to think, “seeing is believing.” Sometimes we feel hopeless and think our situation impossible.

It never is. With God all things are possible. We know that. How could we forget that?

Jesus shows that he can provide what we really need—and that for him, the impossible is so easy.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, at your command, sin and frailty depart from us. We don’t realize how many times you have kept disease and harm from our bodies. We don’t know how close we have come to being permanently paralyzed. We thank you for sparing us from what we have not had to face, and we ask you to help us face the burdens and pains that you have allowed to come into our lives. But, like the man lowered to you from the roof, continue to forgive our sins, and enable our lives to show reason for others to praise God. Amen.



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

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


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The upside of down – February 9, 2020

The upside of down – February 9, 2020


Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
Psalm 130:1,2




Military Devotion – February 9, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 130:1,2

See series: Military Devotions

Through his Word, the Holy Spirit confronts us, corrects us, sometimes confuses us—and comforts us.

He tends to turn our way of thinking upside down. Jesus points to a small child as a great one. Saint Paul tells us when he is weak, then he is strong. We even are told that those who mourn are blessed.

Psalm 130 is a lament. We might say the person was down in the dumps. He said he was in the depths.

Perhaps it will help us to think of an empty well or cistern. A person who falls into such a thing has no way to climb out. He’s stuck there. All he can see are the walls that hold him in and an opening above that is empty. All he can do is call out for help.

He will call and call—and then call louder.

That’s what the psalmist was doing.

But the call was not going out to friends or family. The only one who could see the depth of his need, the only one able to rescue him was the Lord his God.

He was not in physical danger. Sin had trapped him. Guilt was smothering him.

He laments, “If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?”

He knew the answer, and so do we: No one!

Many are the things in life that can get us down. Failure and frustration seem to be part of life.

Many are the things in life that present us with peril. Nothing, however, matches the risk of facing the Holy One who sees every sin and delivers crushing justice.

The pit of hell is deep. No human ever has, or ever will escape from it. The day will come when demons will not be able to leave.

The thought of that can lead to despair. The demonic whispers from those depths say: “This is what you deserve.” It claims, “There is no way out. Your sin damns you, just as it did us.”

“O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.”

Mercy is our only hope. We have no other ground to stand on. Everything else lands us in the depths.

But there was the sound of hope in the voice of the one writing this psalm. He continued, “But with you there is forgiveness; therefore, you are feared” (verse 4).

This fear was one of respect and confidence. “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope” (verse 5). He adds, “My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning” (verse 6).

We pay attention to these words. We will remember them the next time we are down in the dumps. If the Lord can pull us from the deathtrap of hell, what other danger would he not be able to deliver us from?

One last word of encouragement: “Put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love” (verse 7).

Sometimes we need to be in the depths before we remember to look up. When we do, we find God’s unfailing love.

That’s the upside of being down.



Prayer: Heavenly Father, please listen when we call for help. We have sung the words, “When all things seem against us to drive us to despair, we know one gate is open, one ear will hear our prayer.” Lead us to believe those words and call out our prayers in faith and hope. Amen.



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

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


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If only – February 2, 2020

If only – February 2, 2020


If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
1 Corinthians 15:19




Military Devotion – February 2, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 91:11

See series: Military Devotions

Sometimes, the words “if only” express regret, as in “If only I had not done that!” Sometimes they reflect hope, as in, “If only I get that promotion.” This time, the apostle used them to issue a warning reminder.

It’s a reminder we need.

Otherwise, we might spend too much time thinking about things here and now and too little about there and then.

We forget that our stay on earth is only a short blip on the screen of life. Life after this life goes on and on and on forever.

There are benefits to being a Christian in this life. It’s a relief to know we have been redeemed by the blood of Christ. It’s reassuring to know we are being watched over.

But, in the end, we must expect to die.

Then what?

As strange as it seems, there have been people who claimed to be followers of Jesus who did not believe that there is life after death. Some lived in Corinth at the time of Saint Paul. Some live in America today.

It’s not just the “Eat, drink, and be merry” crowd that dismisses the idea of an afterlife. Some very serious and respected people have come to the conclusion that upon dying, we simply become molecules in soil or water—just like dead leaves.

Then, what role would Jesus serve in life? They answer, “He is an example of how we might live. He teaches us compassion. He reflects love and kindness.”

Then, they add: “But he died. And he stayed dead. And so will we.”

How sad! How hopeless! How wrong!

“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”

How true. What a pity!

Good thing we can have hope for life after this one! Good thing it will be a good life—the best one ever!

The apostle points out: “But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20).

The first grapes on a vine mean more are coming. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead means that his followers will rise.

Good to know!

It is good to know our end game. It allows us to make better use of our time here and to enjoy it more fully.

We are not on death row. We are waiting for orders to stand down so we can go home.

If only we will remember that.



Prayer:
Jesus, lead us on
Till our rest is won;
And although the way be cheerless,
We will follow, calm and fearless.
Guide us by your hand
To our fatherland. Amen.
(Christian Worship 422:1)



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

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


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Angels abiding – January 26, 2020

Angels abiding – January 26, 2020


For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
Psalm 42:5




Military Devotion – January 26, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 91:11

See series: Military Devotions

Some say that those missiles sent in the night to attack installations where American troops were dwelling show the improved precision of Iranian technology.

Some say that the Iranians—and thus the Americans—were just lucky.

Another possibility should not be overlooked:

Angels abiding.

On a famous night years ago, some shepherds were abiding in fields in the Middle East keeping watch over their flocks. When the sky lit up, they became afraid. Sore afraid.

But it wasn’t an attack. It was a squad of angels. They, too, were keeping watch. They also were abiding over those fields.

Never doubt that angels were abiding over the fields of Iraq when missiles recently lit up that sky. Angels are also able to guide missiles.

We normally react to what we see, feel, or hear. That works well for many phases of our life. But there is another plane of existence that is not detected by our senses. Most often, we call it the spiritual.

A part of us is aware that there is something more than what we see or hear. Sometimes it is described as a feeling that something is out there. That something is often feared.

Religion is based upon a belief that something humans cannot see is able to affect lives. This implies power beyond human ability. It grows from the natural knowledge of God. Power, wisdom, and wonder are reflected in what God created. Guilt comes from a conscience that calls out warnings that the unseen power is not pleased.

Thus, the instinctive reaction to the spiritual world is one of fear. This is followed by a desire to get that unseen power to be on our side.

Idolatry grows from fear of the unknown. It is shaped by human minds to reflect what humans imagine that power to be like: what it demands and what help it can offer.

Idolatry, in every form, is manufactured by mankind. But each form follows a pattern drawn up in the spirit world by powers of darkness. It is a demonic pattern. It is built upon lies.

But truth also comes from the spiritual world. The source is the Holy One who does not lie. Perfect wisdom, absolute power, and judgment are part of his being.

He is to be feared.

But he also is to be trusted—and loved.

At times, he has given miraculous signs of his presence. Yet, the greatest evidence came when he took on human flesh and lived among us. We know him as Jesus of Nazareth. He came as the fulfillment of the promise of rescue from powers of darkness.

His arrival was announced by spirits under his command. Those spirits are called angels.

Humans have seldom caught a glimpse of these heavenly beings, though they constantly watch over those who put their trust in the Holy One.

Most times, we only have the Lord’s word that those angels guard and keep us. Sometimes we question that because things do not work out the way we wish.

Sometimes his people are hurt. Sometimes they are killed.

This is not failure. This is according to plan—God’s plan—a perfect plan, always for our good. One day we will understand why spirit-warriors were sometimes used in ways we would not choose. Until then, we thank our God for his shield of protection.

May there always be with us, angels abiding!



Prayer: I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, your dear Son, that you have graciously kept me this day; and I pray you to forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let your holy angel be with me, that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.



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

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


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A place for hope – January 19, 2020

A place for hope – January 19, 2020


Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:5




Military Devotion – January 19, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 42:5

See series: Military Devotions

Hope misplaced is hope lost.

Hope cannot stand alone. It does not float on air. Hope must be placed in something. That something must be the right thing.

Otherwise, hope is lost.

A soul that has lost hope is a sad and troubled soul. It looks for answers it cannot find, for joy that always fades. It finds fears that it cannot face.

To lose hope is to have a miserable existence.

We might think of medical patients to whom doctors say, “There is nothing more we can do.” We might remember the American prisoners on the Bataan Death March when the Philippines fell to the Japanese.

Hope is more than an emotion. It rests alongside faith and love. It is at the center of our soul. It has been placed there by our God. Better to lose an arm or an eye than to lose hope.

The hope the psalmist speaks of is different from a child hoping for a toy or a person hoping it doesn’t rain on a picnic. Disappointment comes when such incidental hopes are lost.

Disaster follows the loss of essential hope. The meaning of our lives, the reason to keep living, and the joy of life is bundled with the hope planted into our souls by our Creator.

We want things to turn out well. We work toward that end. We pray for it. No matter how difficult or long the path, we want to find joy and success at the end.

We hope for the good.

We are born with hope in our hearts. Disappointments can whittle away at it. Tragedies can kick it in the face. Failures can cause us to lose sight of it.

Despair crushes it.

How can we protect it? How can we keep hope alive and well?

We need to put it in a safe place.

Hope in our skills will fail. Hope in our friends will fade. Hope placed in our money or job won’t keep it safe. Only one place is safe. The psalmist names it.

Put your hope in God!

That’s the essential message the Lord God gives to the human race. When we are told to “Fear, love, and trust in God above all things…” we are pointed to the place for our hope.

The triune God never changes, never fails, and always cares. Better than gold in a bank vault is hope resting in the everlasting arms of the Almighty.

Can he take care of our needs? Ask the birds of the air who feeds them.

Can he protect us from danger? Ask the wind and the waves who commands them?

Can he rescue us from death? Ask Moses and Elijah, who appeared on earth thousands of years after their earthly life ended.

Can he deliver us from evil? He did. Look at Golgotha. Look at Easter’s empty tomb. Then declare with the apostle Paul, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

The next time our soul begins to worry, relay the order from on high: “Place your hope in God!”

And all will be well.



Prayer: Since all power is in your hands, O Lord, and since you watch over your servants with loving eyes, lead us along the path of life. Lead us to victory and glory everlasting. In you alone, we place our hope. Amen.



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

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


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Benighted – January 12, 2020

Benighted – January 12, 2020


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
John 1:1-5




Military Devotion – January 12, 2020

Devotion based on John 1:1-5

See series: Military Devotions

A famous hymn asks: “Can we to souls benighted the lamp of life deny?”

We don’t hear the word “benighted” very often. It does, however, seem to capture the picture of Saint John’s words. Although the life that Jesus brought now shines into the world that had been shuttered in spiritual darkness, “the darkness has not understood it.” Those people remain in the dark.

They are benighted.

It pains us to say this includes Americans. We see many groping for answers and stumbling over truth.

That hymn reminds us, “In vain with lavish kindness, the gifts of God are strown.”

We look at the blessings that have been scattered upon our homeland, and we admit God has lavished us with kindness. Often in vain.

Sadly, many of the benighted are our neighbors.

But some troops sent to faraway places have seen an even darker picture.

What are we to think when we see large masses of people gather to worship a god who cannot help them because he does not exist?

What does it mean when we see truck drivers stop on the side of the road, pull out their mats, and prostrate themselves in answer to the call to prayer sounded from a nearby tower?

Would we stop our travel to pray in public to the LORD Almighty? Where does their boldness of faith come from?

What is the source of their zeal? What makes so many of them so serious about their religion? Is this not the Prince of Darkness flexing his muscle?

Why are we so often so shy about our faith? How can we be timid about showing that we serve the living Creator and the only source of Life?

The question remains, “Can we to souls benighted the lamp of life deny?”

It isn’t as if there is any doubt that Jesus is the Son of God and promised Savior of the world. The apostle Peter points out: “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).

That word demands our attention. It tells us, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you” (Isaiah 60:1).

Perhaps we once sang the words, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.” Maybe we overlooked the meaning of those words.

Our God hasn’t. It cost the life of his Son to make it possible for us to be lights in the world.

The apostle Paul makes it clear to us: “You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:5).

We do not belong to the darkness. We walk in the light of heavenly glory. We reflect that light.

We should not; we dare not; we will not deny that light to souls benighted.

So help us God!



Prayer: Lord of glory and light of the world, we marvel at the wonders of your plan pf salvation. We know we would still be part of the darkness if the Holy Spirit had not brought the light of the gospel into our hearts. Keep us from the powers of spiritual darkness. Use us as lights in the darkened and dying world. Amen.



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

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


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Leaning – January 5, 2020

Leaning – January 5, 2020


Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5




Military Devotion – January 5, 2020

Devotion based on Proverbs 3:5

See series: Military Devotions

We do a lot of leaning. We lean into a grocery cart to get it moving. We lean back against an easy chair to relax. A mother leans close to comfort a child. And sometimes, we lean against something for support.

Think of a wounded warrior leaning on his cane. Think of what happens if that cane breaks. The lesson is: if we are going to lean on something for support, that something better be strong.

Our Savior God tells us: “Your understanding is not strong enough to carry you through life.”

That may surprise us.

Our ability to reason solves many a problem. Our mind remembers things. It learns new things. It tells us not only that two plus two is four, but also how to start a car. It even figures out how to stop a bullet.

We are not like a tree or a mule. We can think. We can figure things out. We are smart.

But not smart enough.

Our brain is too small to understand things beyond our level of existence. We cannot comprehend the infinite. We cannot process the concepts of eternity, or omniscience, or omnipotence.

In the field of complete understanding, we stand in one little corner looking into the fog of mystery.

When God tells us something, our complaint, “It doesn’t make sense!” dare not be the judgment, “Therefore it cannot be!” Rather, it’s an admission that our understanding is weak.

When asked, “Why does God permit wars?” or “Why are innocent people killed?” or “How can this setback be for my good?” our reason doesn’t know.

But that doesn’t keep it from telling us what it thinks. With satanic prompting, it is quick to say, “God doesn’t care! God doesn’t keep his promises!” Or even, “There is no God.”

Our ability to reason things out is a precious and powerful gift from our Creator. We should use it with thanksgiving.

But we dare not lean our entire weight upon it.

We need something more solid, more certain—something that is indestructible.

We need God. He, alone, is worthy of our complete trust.

We have been told, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). The beginning of this universe would be only a guess, except: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible (Hebrews 11:3).

Does the creation of all things from no things make sense to us? Of course not.

Does one God, but three Persons make sense? Does the Son of God becoming a human make sense? Do we understand how his death makes up for our sin? Do we understand how he came back from the dead, or how he ascended to heaven?

Do we understand God?

Not now. Not totally. Not yet. But we will. He promised that to us. He kept every promise in the past. He will keep every promise in the future. We can trust in him.

We can lean upon him for support in every need. We must.

We will.



Prayer: Lord of time and space, Ruler of eternity, and God of our salvation, we thank you for our ability to reason things out. We thank you more for who you are and what you do that is beyond our understanding. We trust you. Amen.



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

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


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Really – December 29, 2019

Really – December 29, 2019


The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
Romans 16:20




Military Devotion – December 29, 2019

Devotion based on Romans 16:20

See series: Military Devotions

With thoughts of Christmas trimmings soon coming down, the question is, “What lies ahead?”

Since we cannot see into the future, we might assume the answer must be, “We don’t know.”

That assumption is wrong. It forgets that our God does know. It overlooks the fact that he has revealed some future events to us.

We can walk across the threshold of a new year with the knowledge that God will crush Satan under our feet.

Really?

We might not expect that. We may even doubt that. We could more easily believe that he will be with us in the new year. Though difficult at times, we can even expect that he will make everything work out for our good.

But crush Satan under our feet?

It reminds us of the way God spoke to Satan when the devil was in the form of a snake in the Garden of Eden. “He will crush your head” was the prophecy. The Promised One effectively did that when he defeated the devil and paid the price for our crimes against heaven.

The death-grip of the evil one has been broken. But he still is dangerous. We have learned that a rattlesnake can still bite after its head has been cut off. Satan is still deadly, even though he has been conquered.

We have learned that by sad experience.

Too often, he has bested us in the match of wills. So easily, he has tricked us. We have seen how he has coiled around the souls of some who once were free of his grip. Martin Luther was right when he wrote, “The old evil foe now means deadly woe….”
That was most certainly true in the 1500s. It is just as true today.

When Luther wrote, “On earth is not his equal….” he was warning us not to try to take him down by ourselves.

“But for us fights the valiant one whom God himself elected.”

Notice that the Bible passage does not say, “You will soon crush Satan….” We cannot do that.

The God of peace can.

The war for our souls will still rage in the coming year. We will remain in harm’s way. We will need to fight against powers that strive to drag us into the pit of hell.

But we will not be alone. With the Son of God fighting for us, there is no doubt about the outcome.

“From victory unto victory, his army shall he lead….” That’s a certain truth.

Those who follow him share in his victories. Battle after battle, time after time, the Lord of glory smashes those who oppose him. Time after time, we overcome.

Until the time when time will stop for us. Until the day dawns that will last forever.

Until then, the promise will be kept.

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under our feet.

Really!



Prayer: Lord of time and space, we try to peer into the future, but see only a reflection of the past looking back at us. We can guess and hope. You can declare with absolute certainty. With respect and deference, and invited by Jesus, we boldly ask, “Be our battle buddy in the coming year.” Amen.



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

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


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Home for Christmas – December 22, 2019

Home for Christmas – December 22, 2019


Then man goes to his eternal home and mourners go about the streets.
Ecclesiastes 12:5




Military Devotion – December 22, 2019

Devotion based on Ecclesiastes 12:5

See series: Military Devotions

We’ve heard the song. Bing Crosby first sang it in 1943. The airwaves of America have carried it every year since then.

“I’ll be home for Christmas” he assured the listeners. But he wasn’t speaking for himself. His was the voice of thousands of Americans in distant and dangerous places scattered from the snows of Europe to the sands of Pacific Islands.

For most, it was only wishful thinking. That explains the phrase, “If only in my dreams.”

War does not fit well into the picture of Christmas. Snow, mistletoe, and presents under the tree—that’s what is expected. That’s what many long for. Not blood on Christmas snow. Not medics scrambling to pick up wounded.

Misery does not make for a merry Christmas. The quiet of the dead is not what we think of when we sing “Silent Night.”

There is something very wrong with this world when the celebration of the “good tidings of great joy” is dampened by tears and crowded out by the sound of exploding shells. We do not believe Christmas is the time for mourners to go about the streets.

But it happened. It happens. It will happen again.

What should we do about this? What else but to glorify the Child of Christmas? What better than to cling closer to him? Does not war and bloodshed drive home the value of Christmas?

Another old song announces,

“Hark now hear the angels sing
A new king born today
And man will live forevermore
Because of Christmas Day.”

We will not live forevermore here on earth. Here we are only TDY. Our forever home has a different address. There the streets are described as if paved with gold. We sing, “There are the good and blest. Those I love most and best. And there I, too, shall rest. Heaven is my home.”

We need to finally get home.

We want to be filled with Christmas joy in the here and now. We want to receive goodwill. But our soul longs for never-ending perfect peace. That’s not going to be found here.

Wise Solomon may not have been thinking about Christmas when he talked about people going to their eternal home. But he surely knew that for the children of God, where their Savior dwelt, there was their forever home.

We pray that war will cease. We ask our Father in heaven to so rule world events that none of those who defend our nation will bleed and die. We beseech him to bring them back to loving homes.

We want them to have a merry Christmas.

But we understand well that earthly joy, like all of earthly life, is only transitory. Even the best of times quickly pass.

Thus, we fix our Christmas eyes on that which is eternal. We think of loved ones who now live in their forever home.

We may miss them. But we do not want them recalled to the battle line. Let them have their forever celebration. It adds to our joy to know their war is over.

They are home for Christmas.



Prayer: God of mercy, God of grace, look down in pity on the human race. Guard and guide the souls at risk. Bless and keep those who look to you for help. Allow us to again know the joy of our salvation. Comfort us in our troubles. Bring us home for Christmas. Amen.



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

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


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Peace in the valley – December 15, 2019

Peace in the valley – December 15, 2019


The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.
Isaiah 11:6




Military Devotion – December 15, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 11:6

See series: Military Devotions

Only in our dreams, we would think, only in dreams will we see a wolf living peacefully with a lamb. And a leopard lying down with a goat? Or a calf with a lion? And a small child in the middle of all this?

Only in our dreams!

Except. Except—might this not have been possible in the Garden of Eden? Could it not be this way today if sin and death had not invaded this creation? Is this not a picture of peace on earth?

It is.

King David spoke of the valley of the shadow of death. We know that valley. We have seen the tombstones. We have gone to the funerals. There is death in this valley.

Isaiah shows us the same valley. But something has changed. The Prince of peace now rules it.

He shows us peace in the valley.

We know what wolves will do to lambs. We can picture lions and leopards ripping apart their prey. Blood splatter marks those scenes.

Panic would grip our hearts at seeing a little child there. There is no hope for that lamb or goat or calf. There would be no hope for a child.

The point is, there is no hope for a creation ravaged by the powers of darkness. Even worse is the aftermath of war waged against the Creator of creation.

No wonder peace does not blanket the earth! Those who are at war with God can never find peace. Never can they escape death. The Holy Spirit explains it this way: “Now, the way the sinful flesh thinks results in death, but the way the spirit thinks results in life and peace” (Romans 8:6 EHV).

Angels issued a declaration of peace over fields of Bethlehem. They pointed to a little child as the basis of this reconciliation.

They were right.

Centuries earlier, with pointed words of prophecy Isaiah declared: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

The Prince of peace brought peace to the valley. It came, however, at a price. The Lord of life needed to walk through the valley of death in place of those who deserved it.

He did. It cost his life, but he won peace. Then, he gave it to us.

Listen to his words: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

There we have it! Nothing here to fear.

There is peace in the valley—for you and for me.



Prayer: Son of God, Savior of the world, and Prince of peace, as we begin to ponder your birth into this world of sin and death, we thank you for coming. We thank you for peace in the valley. It makes us want to celebrate. Amen.



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

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


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Nearer my God – December 8, 2019

Nearer my God – December 8, 2019


And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Romans 13:11,12




Military Devotion – December 8, 2019

Devotion based on Romans 13:11-12

See series: Military Devotions

She was a mighty ship, a 1st class vessel. The proud product of modern shipbuilding. “Not even God can sink this ship!” was the boast. But sink she did. She was the Titanic. And many of the 1,550 who drowned slipped under the water to the strains of, “Nearer, My God, to Thee.”

When it became obvious that all was lost, a group of musicians assembled on deck to play the hymn known to most of them.

“Nearer, My God, to Thee” was written in response to the biblical account of Jacob’s Ladder in Genesis 28. It is a prayer of faith. It is a prayer to be nearer to God.

It’s the flip side of the call of the apostle Paul to the Roman Christians. He tells them: God is near to you. Nearer than you think. It’s his “Wake up!” call.

That call comes yet to us.

Those who walked up the ramp to the Titanic had no idea how close many of them were to meeting God. Had they known; most would have probably stayed at home. The survivors probably felt, “This was too close for comfort!”

That’s only natural. We probably would feel the same way. But the fact is, as the hymn reminds us, to be near to God is a good thing for a child of God. To become nearer to God is even better.

The Roman Christians were to know that they needed to wake up to the reality that the end could come at any time—if not the end of the world, it would be the end of their lives.

This was not to scare them. It was to encourage them.

The time was short and becoming shorter. The night of living apart from their heavenly home was almost over. As we have used “D-Day” as a marker for something major to happen, the Bible uses “The Day.” It is the Day of our receiving the crown of life and entering into the wonder of the life of joy and peace Jesus has prepared for us.

We can hold out, can’t we? Surely, after having resisted the satanic pressure to cave in to doubt and fear to this point in time, we can make it the rest of the way home.

What use do we have, anyway, for the works and ways of the kingdom of darkness? We don’t belong in that world. We have the warning of a Judas. We know that even those who were once close to the Savior can desert to the enemy. We have seen how even a strong Peter could retreat when challenged. Many a saint has crossed over to the not-make-believe Dark Side.

Let that not be us.

We fight on the side of the holy angels. We wear the armor of the kingdom of light.

The Advent season is all about God’s coming to us. Once, he came to Israel in the fire and smoke of Mount Sinai. That was frightful.

In Bethlehem of Judea, he came as a baby. That was wonderful.

He comes to us now in Word and sacrament. That is comforting.

Just wait until he comes to take us to glory. That will be glorious.

No wonder we pray, “Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel!”



Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have taken away the fear of facing God. Though our conscience may accuse us, we know that you have taken our guilt upon yourself. We invite you into our homes and lives because you are the God who is near to us in love. Amen.



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

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


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For he is good – December 1, 2019

For he is good – December 1, 2019


O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endures forever.
Psalm 107:1




Military Devotion – December 1, 2019

Devotion based on Psalm 107:1

See series: Military Devotions

Doesn’t everyone know that God is good? They should. Yet, some refuse to believe it. Sometimes even we might be tempted to doubt it.

How can that be? How could a child of God be tempted to doubt the goodness of God?

Easily!

Satan is very powerful. Sinful flesh is very weak. And we were born as enemies of the Lord God.

Some might ask how God can be good if he allows unborn babies to be killed by the hundreds of thousands. How can he let thousands of people starve to death?

Isn’t all of that bad?

A Special Forces captain wrote a book called “God is not here!” to vent his confusion and frustration over a tour in Iraq.

Sometimes God might seem to be M.I.A. in the battle against what is bad. Sometimes he seems to be a deserter.

That is not good.

It raises questions. It makes us wonder: “Maybe he never is there. Never was there! Maybe he’s nothing more than a Santa Claus figure.”

Maybe, Satan is spinning out disinformation!

The problem is not with the Creator and Redeemer. It is with us humans. We like to pretend we are God. We prefer to determine good and bad the same way we like to decide upon right and wrong. We tend to decide according to what makes sense to us—and what is to our advantage. We want to make the final call.

Our attempts to play God are dismal and deadly failures.

We are not all-knowing. We are not all-powerful. We are not holy. We are not good.

He is.

Better than that: “his mercy endures forever.”

Without his mercy, we would have to face the consequences of the bad we do. Without his mercy, we would never have any good thing happen in our life.

The enemy wants to blind us to this.

Without the mercy of God, humans would have no life, no food, no shelter—and surely, no fun.

We tend to forget that. Instead, we view these gifts as entitlements—even as inalienable rights.

We are so wrong.

We do not deserve any good thing. We deserve only the bad. The very bad.

We have rebelled against him. We deserve what the rebellious angels got. We deserve abandonment by God. We deserve the dungeons of hell.

Demons must admit in anguish, “No, God definitely is not here!”

The apostle Paul wrote: “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit…” (Titus 3:5).

He promised a Savior. He came. He brought us to faith.

God is merciful to us.

God is good.



We pray the words we have sung before:
Now thank we all our God With hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, In whom his world rejoices,
Who from our mother’s arms Has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love And still is ours today. Amen.
(Christian Worship 610:1)



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

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


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The last jump – November 24, 2019

The last jump – November 24, 2019


In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
John 14:2,3




Military Devotion – November 24, 2019

Devotion based on John 14:2,3

See series: Military Devotions

“The Lord willing and Jesus tarries, I hope to see you all at the next reunion. If not, I’ll see you at the last jump. I know you will not freeze at the door.”

These are the words of Sgt. Skinny Sisk, veteran of Easy Company, to his Band of Brothers. Years after WWII, the thoughts of these warriors sometimes went back to parachuting into danger. But as their numbers decreased, they thought more about what they called, The Last Jump.

We understand why they would use that phrase to describe dying. Like jumping out of an airplane into the dark night, those at the door of death cannot see what is out there. The leap from earthly life can be frightening. If it were an option, many would refuse. It isn’t.

The old rule was, “Put your hands outside the doorframe before you jump!” A frightened soldier bracing himself against the inside of the doorframe was not easily removed. With hands outside, only a nudge would send him on his way.

A paratrooper’s refusal to jump brought shame and often dismissal. The Band of Brothers shouted encouragement to one another before each jump. Sgt. Sisk was now doing it before their “last jump.”

We understand why. After the war, he went through a hard transition to civilian life. He told his former commanding officer that his new career became an attempt to drink away the truckload of the enemy that he killed in Holland.

The drinking did not succeed. But his little niece did. “She told me Jesus loved me and she loved me. God would forgive me for all the men I kept trying to kill all over again.”

Four years after the war, the soldier became an ordained minister. His new career was to offer to others the forgiveness that Jesus paid for; and to remove the fear of that last jump.

By faith in Jesus as his Savior, this member of the Band of Brothers became our brother. His words, “I’ll see you at the last jump. I know you will not freeze at the door” mean something to us.

We expect to see him in heaven. We know we need not fear death.

Our departure from this life is not a jump into the dark unknown. Jesus has already described the landing zone. Peace, safety, and joy—all of that is waiting for us.

Sorrow, pain, and fear—none of that will be there.

“I am going there to prepare a place for you.” he announced before he left this earth. Who better to prepare an LZ?

We note that when Jesus left this earth he did not jump down and out but was lifted up and away. So will we. From earth to glory!

Yet, the thought of that jump may still frighten. Much remains unknown. We might wonder how we will react.

Let the fear be gone! Jesus is not just going to command us to jump. He is not telling us, “I’ll see you on the other side.” He says, “I will come back to take you with me…”

When the door opens for us to leave this life, we will see the smiling face of Jesus—our Brother. And we will smile.

“I know that you will not freeze at the door.”

Thanks for your encouragement, Sgt. Sisk.



Prayer: Jesus, the idea of dying tends to frighten us. We have been trained in your Word and disciplined in life. But we must admit that at times we wish we did not need to leave the universe we have become familiar with. Keep reminding us that heaven is our home. Keep inviting us to follow you. Keep assuring us that you will always be with us—especially at the door of death. Amen.



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

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


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Feet of clay – November 17, 2019

Feet of clay – November 17, 2019


“You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay.”
Daniel 2:31-33




Military Devotion – November 17, 2019

Devotion based on Daniel 2:31-33

See series: Military Devotions

Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that made his spiritual advisors quiver in fear. He demanded they interpret it. But first, they needed to tell him what the dream was about.

“Impossible!” they said.

He said: “If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble.”

Since it would be a Babylonian king that would throw a Daniel into a lions’ den and his friends into a fiery furnace, the threat of this Babylonian monarch was not empty.

The advisors relaxed when young Daniel stepped forward to say he could give the answers. The Lord, the God of Israel, had revealed this to him.

He described the statue in the dream: enormous, dazzling, and awesome. The head was of gold; below that was silver; below that, bronze; legs of iron; and then, feet: “partly of iron and partly of baked clay.”

It had feet of clay.

Daniel explained what it meant. These were the kingdoms that would follow the Babylonians—each one a little less impressive than its predecessor. The clay in its feet could crumble and cause the entire structure to collapse. But it was not erosion that would take down these kingdoms. It would be a rock.

The dream went on: “Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were broken to pieces at the same time and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:44).

What kingdom is this? What kingdom would be so powerful that it could smash the power structures of the Babylonians and Persians and Greeks and Romans? What kingdom would spread out over the whole world?

The answer is: “Our kingdom! The one we are members of.”

Daniel was in this kingdom. So were Jacob and David and Peter. This is the kingdom of God. Today we can call it the Christian Church.

Often under attack, often dismissed as insignificant, it still stands. It has gathered people from all nations. It challenges every form of evil. It conquers, not with a sword, but a Word.

It overthrows the claims of Satan and death. It rescues souls from their hands.

Its king is the Son of God and the kingdom is built upon his sacrifice on Golgotha. It will stand beyond the end of time into all eternity.

“My kingdom is not of this world.” Jesus reported to a representative of the mighty Roman empire. But his kingdom made an impact upon this world. It held ultimate control of this world.

It still does. It always will.

The kingdom of God does not have feet of clay.



We sing:
The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
She is his new creation by water and the Word.
From heaven he came and sought her to be his holy bride.
With his own blood he bought her, and for her life he died.

The Church shall never perish, her dear Lord, to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish, is with her to the end.
Though there be those that hate her and strive to see her fail
Against both foe and traitor she ever will prevail.” Amen.
Christian Worship 538:1,3



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

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


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Homecoming – November 10, 2019

Homecoming – November 10, 2019


But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
2 Peter 3:13




Military Devotion – November 10, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Peter 3:13

See series: Military Devotions

The mental picture of homecoming has changed over the years. There was a time when the word triggered memories of fallen leaves, crisp air, and football. The phrase was: “Celebrate Homecoming.”

“Homecoming” changed to “Coming home!” as a promise to parents who kept asking about Thanksgiving plans.

Then there was the, “Going home….” Home to bury a mother amid fallen leaves and crisp air.

Different pictures, but each one a homecoming.

No matter the changes in life and the mix-up of emotions, home was always the place to come to. It provided a base. A place to leave from and a place to go back to.

We might have called many places home as we moved around. But most likely, there is one place and time that stands out as best. When we picture “home” in our mind, this is it. We would always like to be able to come home there.

The apostle Peter reminds us that not all homecomings are in the past. He points us to a new place to come home to—one that’s better than all the rest.

He calls it “a new heaven and a new earth.” We have always lived on this planet and in this universe. It’s hard to imagine anything else. But the new home will be something else.

It’s going to be wonderfully different. It’s called “The home of righteousness.”

We’ve never lived in a place like that. Sin has always found a place to stay in some corner of our earthly home. Sometimes it took over the place. Then, joy, peace, and contentment were swept out as if garbage. Sin is a homewrecker.

Not in this new home!

“Looking forward to it!” Peter said. But first, he warned, we will need to continue on in our old dwelling until the date set by our heavenly Father.

He tells us the day will come when the old creation, the first home of all humans, will come to an end. “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare” (2 Peter 3:10).

Hard to imagine what that will be like! It seems frightening.

It need not be. When troops see their own artillery rounds destroying enemy positions, they don’t cringe in fear. They celebrate.

So will the Christians who will be watching the end of this sin-stained creation. Jesus tells us, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).

But the apostle Peter will not be standing on earth to see this happen. Neither will all of the other people of God who have already moved on to heaven.

Maybe we will already be there too.

But we all will celebrate.

It will be like cheering at a homecoming game victory.

Can’t beat that!



Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you for the creation we live in. You made it beautiful. You made it perfect. We can still see the beauty. But we also see how it has been ruined by sin. Enable us to see the danger that lurks around us. Keep us safe until we can celebrate our heavenly homecoming with you. Amen.



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

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


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Terrible terror – November 3, 2019

Terrible terror – November 3, 2019


We hoped for peace but no good has come, for a time of healing but there was only terror.
Jeremiah 8:15




Military Devotion – November 3, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 8:15

See series: Military Devotions

The Great Generation did not hear the word “terrorist” very often. They did, however, become acquainted with terror. Every generation has.

Even during the times when a nation was at peace, such as Israel during the reign of Solomon, individual people still faced terror.

Terror has many faces. It can show itself in many places. It may threaten with a bomb or a cancer cell. However, when we use the word “terrorist” today, we are most likely thinking of a person who intends to do grave harm to others. Whatever form terror takes, living with it is terrible.

But no terror is as terrible as the terror that the omnipotent God brings upon a people.

Jeremiah is labeled “The Weeping Prophet.” A book of the Bible is called “The Lamentations of Jeremiah.” He had much to lament. The Lord revealed to him the terrible times he would bring to his people, Israel.

The Lord warned many would fall before an invading enemy: “They will not be gathered up or buried, but will be like refuse lying on the ground.” There would be survivors, but many would be taken as prisoners to a foreign land: “Wherever I banish them, all the survivors of this evil nation will prefer death to life, declares the LORD Almighty” (Jeremiah 8:2).

When people wish they were dead, their lives are terrible.

Thus, the lament: “We hoped for peace but no good has come, for a time of healing but there was only terror.”

No hope for peace. No time to heal. Only terror. A terrible time.

We need to understand why this happened. We need to ask if this could happen to our nation, to us. It could.

Let’s look in at ancient Israel. The Lord had showered his blessings upon those people. With abundance of crops and strength in defense, other nations looked upon Israel with envy. The greatest blessing was the presence of the Word of God in its midst.

His Law mirrored his will. His promises brightened their future. The history of Israel was a record of his powerful faithfulness. They were living in the land “flowing with milk and honey.”

What went wrong?

The people. The people went wrong.

They turned away from his paths; discarded his Word; and came up with their own answers for the meaning of life, and their own sources of joy in life.

They rejected the Lord—and then, he rejected them.

Terrible!

But there was hope. Through the same prophet, Jeremiah, the Lord God told them, “‘I am with you and will save you,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 30:11).

Then he added: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).

Almost unbelievable, isn’t it? Did he really do this for Israel of old? He did.

Would he make such forgiveness possible for us? Jesus did.

The Lord God—the answer to all that is terrible.



Prayer: Holy and merciful God, you are our guard and our friend. We know the times are perilous. We admit our failures, our sin. But with Israel of old, we look to you for forgiveness. Keep us from all things terrible. Deliver us from evil. Amen.



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

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


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The good that I would – October 27, 2019

The good that I would – October 27, 2019


For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Romans 7:19




Military Devotion – October 27, 2019

Devotion based on Romans 7:19

See series: Military Devotions

An old saying declares, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” That might infer that following through on those good intentions could lead a person to heaven. In 1517, it surely did mean that to most people.

The idea that someone could earn the way to heaven by doing good works was firmly entrenched in the minds of most people at that time. It is the natural religion of mankind.

The Reformation brought back the good news that salvation is a free gift from God, paid for with the blood of Jesus. That’s what the apostle Paul had preached and believed. But that did not mean he was not bothered by good intentions gone astray.

Sin is obvious to the person who compares his life to what God expects. The child of God laments the black marks against his record. He knows the sin is paid for, but he is also aware that it is dangerous. It can lead him away from his Savior. And sin is shameful. To be a follower of the Savior is to reject the works of Satan.

Sin is something to fight against.

But the battle is not only against the powers of darkness and the pressure of a sinful world. The enemy is not just out there; it is in here—inside the perimeter of our personal life.

The enemy is inside the wire!

No wonder the apostle Paul was concerned.

He was disgusted with himself. He knew what the right thing, the good thing, was. He wanted to do it. But time and again, he had to admit, “The good that I would (do), I don’t do.”

That’s only half of the sad story. Not only was good left undone, but evil was carried out: “The evil I don’t want to do is what I end up doing.”

In anguish, he called out, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)

Wretched, indeed!

How else does one describe the person who knows that his loving God paid such a high price to free him from slavery to sin—and yet he keeps going back to it?

Does he not know the danger? Does he not appreciate the rescue? Does he not want to remain a child of the heavenly Father?

He does know. He does appreciate. He does love his Savior God. But the enemy inside the wire is smart and strong.
“Who can deliver me?” the apostle asked. Then he went on to say: “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25)

There’s the answer! Jesus is the answer! Satan may tempt. Sin may control. But only for a while. And not in the end.
Looking at the final verdict, Saint Paul could say: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1).

We join him. We, too, confess: “The good that I would, I do not…” But there is more to say.

“The good that I would but did not—that, Jesus did for me.”

The road to hell is closed to those following Jesus.

The road to heaven is paved with the perfection of the Savior God—and that is the road upon which we are walking.



Prayer: Jesus; you did it all for us. You continue to lead the way to heaven. We know we are weak. We admit we stumble and fall. Give us the courage and strength we need to continue our spiritual fight. Lead us by the hand on the road of life. Amen.



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

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


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Help of the hopeless – October 20, 2019

Help of the hopeless – October 20, 2019


“Do not let Hezekiah mislead you when he says, ‘The LORD will deliver us.’ Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the LORD deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”
Isaiah 36:18-20




Military Devotion – October 20, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 36:18-20

See series: Military Devotions

Sometimes it seems there is no hope because it seems there is no help.

It might be a violent storm. It might be a vicious disease. Or, as it once was for Israel, it could be an overpowering enemy. Whatever form it may take, desperate situations call for desperate help.

It is then terrifying to realize the help may not be there.

The list of seemingly unstoppable armies that appear on the pages of history is a long one. Napoleon led one of those. So did a fellow by the name of Hannibal, with his elephants. Likewise a Rommel, with his tanks. But the name that struck terror into the hearts of Israelites at the time of King Hezekiah was an Assyrian named Sennacherib.

A later poet described his style of waging war with the words, “The Assyrian came down like a wolf on a fold.” They came down from modern Syria and overran everything. Destruction, pain, and death followed. “Unstoppable” was the word that seemed to fit best.

When they came to the edge of Jerusalem, Sennacherib sent a field commander to demand that the city surrender. He pointed out the situation was hopeless because the Israelites were helpless—just like many cities before them.

It was not an empty boast. City after city had already fallen before this superpower. Jerusalem knew this. The ten northern tribes of Israel had been overpowered, with many casualties. Survivors had been rounded up and marched into captivity. So thorough was the defeat that those ten tribes vanished without a trace. They became the famous lost tribes of Israel.

Only Judah and little Benjamin were left.

Sennacherib knew the Israelites well enough to realize they would not be counting on an ally to deliver them, nor would they boast of the strength of their army. Israel’s final answer would be, “Our help is in the name of the Lord!” It was a matter of faith in their God.

So, he attacked their God.

Karl Marx, the father of Communism, once famously remarked, “Religion is the opium of the people.” He meant it offered people a false sense of security and well-being. Sadly, it can be true.

The religions of the people of Arpad and Hamath offered empty promises. Their destruction was the proof. Would it not be the same for those who placed their hope in the Lord?

Hezekiah did not believe that. History does not reveal that. Instead, we learn: “Then the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew” (Isaiah 37:36).

The situation of Israel was not hopeless because she was not helpless. She sang out, “Our help is in the name of the Lord.” And it was.

So is ours.



Prayer: Eternal Father, strong to save, one of our greatest enemies is doubt. Although we know about you and your promises, we sometimes find ourselves not trusting you. Our eyes look for proof, and our hearts long for evidence. Grab hold of our faith so that it might stand up to attack and overcome unbelief. Without you, we are both helpless and hopeless. Remind us of who you are and what you have done. Point us to Jesus, the help of the hopeless. Amen.



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

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


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Today Haji dies – October 13, 2019

Today Haji dies – October 13, 2019


Do not go out to the fields or walk on the roads, for the enemy has a sword, and there is terror on every side.
Jeremiah 6:25




Military Devotion – October 13, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 6:25

See series: Military Devotions

Sometimes it is dangerous to go out.

He said he wasn’t afraid, though I had not asked if he was. He was young. But he was a soldier. He was determined. But his eyes showed worry. He was rolling out to be part of a convoy heading “up north.” He was just a stone’s throw from Iraq. But he said he wasn’t afraid. With a wave and a smile, he shouted:

“Today, Haji dies!”

That same Monday morning there were mothers sending little ones off to school, and commuters fighting traffic backups. They had tasks to perform and expectations to meet. They probably hoped the day would go well.

They did not expect that on this day, they might need to take the life of another person. He did.

If someone was to die on that day, the young soldier was determined it would not be him.

He knew he needed to be able to kill without hesitation. Hesitation could get himself and others killed. So, he dehumanized the enemy. “Today, Haji dies!”

Dehumanizing names for enemy combatants have been used before. In other wars, they used Hun, or Kraut, or Gook, or Charlie. Haji was chosen as the name for the enemy in the Middle East. There are others.

For the every-day citizens to ask others to kill for them is asking a lot. Yet, it’s often done without much thought. Most civilians simply expect that someone will step forward to defend their country. Few recognize the burden that this places onto the warrior’s shoulders. Losing a battle is not the same as losing a football game. Lives may be lost if lives are not taken.

The thrill of triumph over enemies killed may turn into regret in later life. The question that comes to the mind of the Christian warrior is, “What does God think about all of this?”

Fortunately, God tells us what he thinks. He commands us to protect lives. He entrusts governing authorities with the responsibility of using force, even lethal weapons, to deal with those who would do harm. To such ones, he says, “Be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing” (Romans 13:4).

Few stateside Americans know what it is like to live at a time such as Jeremiah writes about. Most have only heard about terror. We are not afraid to walk in a field lest we be ambushed. We do not fear that IEDs are planted on our roadways. We pray those days never come.

We do, however, know that terror exists. Some is homegrown. Some thrive in foreign fields. It seems no matter how often it is rooted out, back it grows again. For the seed of terror is evil—and that sprouts everywhere.

In a hymn, we sing, “I walk in danger all the way…” We have little idea of how true that is.

There is an enemy behind every enemy we face. His name is not Haji. It is Satan. He once took on the Son of Righteousness—and lost. It’s important that we remember that: he lost!

There is a saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This is true. The enemy of all that would do me harm is my friend Jesus. With a King David, I will say to him, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”

With him, I can go out into danger without fear.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, sometimes we forget how dangerous the world is that we live in. And sometimes we know very well that we are walking into danger. Be with us so that we need not ever fear. Not even death can defeat us. We will live with you forever. Amen.



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

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


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Peace and quiet – October 6, 2019

Peace and quiet – October 6, 2019


But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign.
1 Chronicles 22:9




Military Devotion – October 6, 2019

Devotion based on 1 Chronicles 22:9

See series: Military Devotions

Peace and quiet! That’s what a busy mom looks forward to when those little ones finally are in bed. That’s what her husband enjoys when he sits in his boat with a line in the water.

There’s a time for excitement and action—but not all the time. A person needs a break from stress and uncertainty. So does a nation.

Beginning with its first king, the nation of Israel moved from one crisis to another. David, the second king, fought so many battles that God said he had too much blood on his hands to be the builder of the great temple.

King David usually didn’t look for trouble. It did often find him, however. He spent hours deep into the night pondering how to face them. He must have longed for sleep on some of those nights. Sometimes, however, even in sleep, there is no rest.

An officer in the Mighty 8th, which took such a pounding when making raids against Axis targets in WWII, made this report: “The men lived the battles in their sleep, with considerable mental disturbances. The other night the men went into the barracks and found Captain Fenton flying an apparently tough mission. Apparently, his ship was hit, and he exclaimed: ‘Co-pilot, feather number four!’ The lieutenant, sound asleep answered him. Both of them, sound asleep, piloted the severely damaged Fort back home…”

Sleep doesn’t always bring peace. Some dreams refight battles of years long ago. Some of those sleepers yell out or strike out. They may find little rest.

And nations? What candidate for President would be so foolish as to promise that if he were elected, the country would never go to war? Some things are out of our control.

Not so for the Lord of the nations.

Solomon was not elected to be the leader of Israel. The Lord placed him into that position of power and responsibility. He then decreed that this king and his nation would have peace and quiet during Solomon’s lifetime.

Those who might have said: “I have to see it first!” saw it. History records it.

In war zones, it is not uncommon for a group planning a mission to hear the warning, “Remember, the enemy has a vote.”

The best of plans might need to be adjusted because the enemy does something unexpected. We cannot change his plans. We can only try to improvise, adapt, and overcome.

The Lord God does not need to resort to that approach. He can control the plans and actions of nations and their leaders as easily as he controls storm clouds. War is a consequence of sin. Wars and rumors of wars, according to Jesus, will continue to the end of time. But the Lord of glory will determine how often, how long, and where he will permit wars to take place.

The same is true of any consequence of sin that can threaten the welfare of his people.

We remember that Jesus descended from the line of David and Solomon. He is called the Prince of Peace. Of him, it is said, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).

We trust in him! He is the Savior God who fought to overcome the power of the Evil One.

We can set aside every fear and worry when we walk with him.

Midst a loud and sometimes chaotic world, he offers our soul peace and quiet.



Prayer: Heavenly Father, we place ourselves into your hands. You guide us. You keep us. You give us times of peace. And quiet. Amen.



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

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


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The joy robber – September 29, 2019

The joy robber – September 29, 2019


And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
Luke 2:10




Military Devotion – September 29, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 2:10

See series: Military Devotions

A rich inheritance of joy has been transferred into my spiritual account. I have seen the paperwork. It has been verified by the highest authority. Yet, fairly often, when I go to draw from that account, I find little there. Why not? Have I been robbed?

Maybe I need to track down the joy robber.

It may help to look closely at the circumstances surrounding a loss. I recall a time when some people complimented me on a job well done. Instead of walking away happy, I went off discouraged because someone mentioned that in one area, I might have done a little better.

Joy wiped out.

Another time, the smile in my heart faded when I learned the new gadget I was so happy to have was just replaced by a newer model.

Joy gone.

The times when I expected a new assignment, a new house, or cancer in remission would make me forever happy?

They did not.

What memories come in the middle of the night? The many happy days? No, the regrets!

I plod along in life, hoping for the best but often expecting the worst. If I remember the song, Home on the Range, I might doubt the words, “Where never is heard a discouraging word.”

What happened to the joy? What robbed me of it?

There are suspects. Envy seems to do it. Rather than being happy for someone else’s happiness, envy is irritated.

Materialism could be a culprit. It tends to look for joy in all the wrong places.

Fear must not be forgotten. Instead of enjoying the pile of blessings in life, it frets that someday I might lose some of them.

Thus, worry must be added to the list of suspects.

Can’t forget rank foolishness, either!

I know enough not to run up a credit card bill if I won’t have the funds to pay it off. Yet, I am tempted to try to buy joy on credit. Satan is always happy to lend me some. He says my record of sinning qualifies me for the loan. But the interest rate is very high, and at the end, the payment due will be horrendous. I dare not be that foolish.

The question remains, which suspect robbed me of my joy? I don’t have a clue.

But my heavenly Bookkeeper does. He pulls up the tape in my memory to show the culprit in action. It reveals the person behind the envy and materialism and worry and fear and foolishness. I see it now.

I am the robber of my joy.

There is no one else; there is nothing else to blame. In fact, it is a fake robbery. The stockpile of joy is still there, waiting for me to use.

The joy has been bought and paid for with holy blood. It is still mine.

The angel was right. The tidings of great joy are for all people. That joy was given to me.

And to you.

Let’s not rob ourselves of it.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, at Christmas we sing, “Oh, where can joy be found? Where but on heavenly ground?” We know that is true. We believe the angel’s words about the good tidings of great joy. Please restore unto us the joy of our salvation. Give us Christmas joy each day of our life. Amen.



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

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


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Breath of life – September 22, 2019

Breath of life – September 22, 2019


Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Genesis 2:7




Military Devotion – September 22, 2019

Devotion based on Genesis 2:7

See series: Military Devotions

It is called the human spirit. But the same Old Testament word is also translated as soul. The first time it is used in Scripture it is called, the breath of life.

It’s different from our body. It has been said, “The soul is the bearer of all that is life in man.” It is more than the ability to produce abstract thought, but that is part of it.

It was added to Adam’s lifeless body. God breathed this into him. When it leaves, the body is dead. But it is not. The soul, the breath of life, will never die.

But it can be lost.

A lost soul is one that has been separated from its Creator. The Bible calls that spiritual death. If its body dies while in this condition, body and soul will be separated from its God forever. That is the essence of hell, the place prepared for the devil and his angels.

Thus, there are two types of death: separation of the soul from the body; and separation of both the soul and body from God.

There are two types of life: the union of the soul with the body; and the one where the soul and body are united with God.

Jesus has this warning: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

Those who put on a uniform to defend a country must realize that they may be killed as a result. History records that WWII claimed 27,600 lives every day. The tombstones litter the battlegrounds where they fell. Others were carried back home in caskets by the trainload.

The breath of life is no longer in them. The soul has separated from the body. We count them among the dead. We lower flags in their memory. We call their deaths tragic.

But then we ask, where are the people who survived that war? How many still breathe the air? And twenty years from now, how many then? Would the answer not be, “None”?

That could depress us—unless we remember that many of these actually still live. And we can live with them!

There is something called fatalism. It is the belief that everything is predetermined in life, and since everything dies or decays, the future is bleak.

But that was not the Creator’s plan for humans, and it is not the way it must be. He breathed life into Adam’s body so that Adam and his descendants might share with him the wonders of his glory.

That plan still stands. That life is still possible. Though forfeited, it has been reoffered as a gift.

Jesus came to earth to declare, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). To do that, he needed to give up his own life. And he did.

He finished his mission on earth with the words, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” We are told, “When he had said this, he breathed his last” (Luke 23:46).

So what if someday our soul will leave its body? What difference does it make if our bones someday rest under a tombstone?

We stand with Job who announced that he knew that his Redeemer lives, and therefore, “After my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God…” (Job 19:26)

We have been given the breath of life—for time and eternity.



Prayer: Holy God, you have made us different from everything else on earth. You gave us the breath of life. You created a living soul. Preserve us, body and soul, as we continue our walk through life. When this earthly life is over, “take us to heaven to be with you there.” Amen.



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

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


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Hold on – September 15, 2019

Hold on – September 15, 2019


I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
Revelation 3:11




Military Devotion – September 15, 2019

Devotion based on Revelation 3:11

See series: Military Devotions

On old saying tells us, “You don’t appreciate what you have until you lose it.” There’s some truth in that.

Our health seems to fall into that category. So do friendships and jobs, along with love and hope. Surprisingly, Jesus bypasses these valuables to draw our attention to something else: our crown.

What crown? Since when do we have a crown?

Ever since Jesus won it for us. Saint James, the brother of Jesus, had this in mind when he wrote: “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

This is not just some figure of speech. It’s a real crown. It’s spoken of often in Scripture. It is called, “a crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:25) and “a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:8).

The apostle Peter tells Christians, “you are a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9) Crowns are common among royalty.

Royalty? Is that what we are? Don’t we confess that we are by nature sinful and deserve only punishment? How, then, can the holy God place us among the royals? How can we have a crown that is the symbol of righteousness? How can we be seen as holders of a position of glory and power that lasts forever?

The answer is found in another crown. A bloody crown. A crown of thorns.

A king once wore that crown. It was a symbol of disgrace, of weakness, and failure. But that was only to sinful eyes. The sign above his head read, “Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews.”

The words Pilate wrote were true. He had heard Jesus say that he was, indeed, a king whose kingdom was not of this world. He had heard Jesus say that the reason he was born was to testify to the truth.

Pilate’s scornful reply “What is truth?” has become famous. It has also become common.

In our age of fake news and deceptive advertising, at a time when we are told via the internet that we have a million dollars waiting to be picked up, we have become a skeptical people. We want to see it before we will believe it. We repeat Pilate’s question, “What is truth?”

Jesus answers that question for us with the words: “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

Simply put, Jesus does not lie. Never did; never will.

We might say, “Seeing is believing.” Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

Jesus promises: “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

By the power of the Holy Spirit, we will remain faithful to him, won’t we?

We will hold on.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, your words remind us of what you have won for us. It cost your lifeblood to gain for us the crown of life. Keep us from trading away our inheritance for junk. Give us the strength to hold on. We cannot see you now, but in boldness of faith we can already tell you, “See you in glory, Jesus!” Amen.



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

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


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Everything new – September 8, 2019

Everything new – September 8, 2019


He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Revelation 21:5




Military Devotion – September 8, 2019

Devotion based on Revelation 21:5

See series: Military Devotions

A past best-seller carries the title, All Quiet on the Western Front. It tells of a group of young German Soldiers at the start of WWI. The English title gives the impression that this was a time of safety, maybe relaxation. It was not.

The German title uses the words for, “Nothing New” instead of “All Quiet.” It better fits the story of the seemingly never-ending terror and carnage these young troops endured. For them, day after day brought nothing new. The bayonet attacks, the stench, the rats in the trenches, and the killing continued on. It would do so for four more years.

The word, “new,” resonates with us. That’s why advertisers use the word. It fits well into the phrase, “new and improved.” We expect what is new will always be better than what is old. This is especially true if the old is worn out or faulty. It can be true of a set of clothes, or a computer—or life in general.

We live in a world that idolizes what is new. Sometimes new replaces old at such speed that it almost makes us dizzy. Yet, with all the changes, we learn that improved is not necessarily tied to new. Sometimes it seems, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

The reason for this is that all change is incidental, not essential, unless God makes the change.

His creation of the world—that was an essential change of nothing into something. His curse upon the world after the fall of humans into sin—that surely made an essential difference.

All of our attempts to improve the world affect only the externals. We can counter some diseases; we can improve communications; and we can eliminate some of the threats to our nation. But we cannot change the world into a safe haven for all its inhabitants.

Something basic must first happen. And it must first happen in us if we are going to be part of the change.

We think of the time when God wiped the planet clean with a flood. We might imagine that Noah stepped out of the ark into a brand-new world. It wasn’t.

Weeds sprang up again, mosquitoes bit again, and humans resumed lives of depravity. Fear did not disappear, nor did theft, neither did war.

It was the same old world with the same old problems because it was contaminated by the same old sin—and under the same old curse. A drastic, essential change needed to take place.

That change happened on the day we call Good Friday.

The death of the Son of God sparked new life for the human race. The curse was removed because the sin was removed. That’s an essential change.

The sin of humans was replaced by the holiness of God. New life was given. News of this was to be shared with the whole world.

When the apostle Peter was arrested for doing this, an angel broke him out of jail and said: “Go, stand in the temple courts and tell the people all about this new life” (Acts 5:20).

Now we have been told. This new life is ours. True, we still live in this old world, but that’s going to change too. We hear Jesus say from heaven, “I’m going to make everything new.”

Hard to imagine what that will be like, isn’t it?



Prayer: Lord Jesus, you broke the curse of sin so that we might have a new life with you. Help us now as we still struggle with sin and its consequences. Keep pointing us to the time and place when and where everything will be new. Amen.



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

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


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