Military Devotions

Go to sleep now – April 21, 2019

Go to sleep now – April 21, 2019


Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.
1 Thessalonians 4:13




Military Devotion – April 21, 2019

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13

See series: Military Devotions

Most every night, after tucking her children into bed, she would leave them with the words, “Go to sleep now.”

Maybe it was just a habit. She knew often they would talk and giggle after she left. More than once she had to return to say, “Go to sleep” and emphasize the word, “now!”

She wasn’t angry when she said it. She just knew that they would need that encouragement.

They needed to sleep. It was good for them to sleep.

But this night was different. Her child was restless. A fever was raging. Little could be done to help. The doctor had warned that nothing more could be done to save that small life.

Enough nights had been spent in hospital rooms with noise in the halls and equipment beeping. The doctors finally agreed that the best place for the little one to die was at home in his own bed.

So, now he lay there. His stuffed bunny rabbit was under the sheet with him. It was hard to look at him without crying, but they couldn’t do that. That would frighten him.

Mother and father decided they would not lie to him. They would not tell him that soon he would be better. Instead, they spoke the truth in love. They told him he would be away from them for a little while—only a little while. He was going to heaven. They would meet him there.

They told him why.

They reminded him of Jesus. They told again about the first Christmas. They described his miracles and his love. They explained to him that one time Jesus had left his mother and friends for a little while, also.

“Jesus died,” they explained, “and those who loved him were sad.” “But on Easter morning Jesus woke up and later went to heaven. And so will all those who have Jesus as a friend.”

“Heaven is a beautiful place,” they said, “a happy place.” “Grandpa is already there. He will be so happy to see you. You will be so happy to see him.”

“No one is sick in heaven. There are no hospitals. No one needs painful treatments.

Heaven is a happy place for all of God’s children, and they will live happily ever after.”

They could tell the pain was growing worse. The medicine was no longer as effective. So they began to sing him a song. “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” He began to join them with the words, “Little ones to him belong, they are weak, but he is strong…”

He made it as far as, “Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!” before his voice faltered, and his breathing grew faint.

It was a painful time for the parents. Grief flowed out from them along with their tears.

But it was not terrible. They knew this was not the end, just an interlude. For a little while they would not see their son. And, again in a little while, they would see him—whole, healthy, and happy.

Easter is proof of that.

So, one last time the mother could tell her child, “Go to sleep now” and then added the words, “See you in heaven.”

Because of Easter, she could say that. Because of Easter, we can say that.

And we do.

“See you in heaven!”



Prayer: Lord Jesus, you will wipe away the tears from the eyes of all who gather around you. We marvel at the meaning of Easter. Because you rose, we, too shall rise from our graves. Allow your people who still dwell this side of glory to face death without fear. We pick up the words of the trusting mother. We say, “See you in heaven, Jesus! See you in heaven.” Amen.



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

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


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Parades – April 14, 2019

Parades – April 14, 2019


A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!”
Matthew 21:8,9

As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him.
Luke 23:26,27




Military Devotion – April 14, 2019

Devotion based on Matthew 21:8,9; Luke 23:26,27

See series: Military Devotions

It seems that everyone likes a parade. People stand to see flags waving and troops marching. People cheer.

But people will also stand to see a line of cars with lights on being led by a hearse. No one cheers then. Some might weep.

The account of the last week before the crucifixion of Jesus highlights two parades. Some bystanders saw both of them. Cheers arose at the first one. Pitiful wailing marked the next one. It was the difference between a Sunday and a Friday.

It was a matter of expectations.

On Palm Sunday, the crowds were expecting the fulfillment of hopes for a life free of Roman rule—a life of riches, power and glory. They thought Jesus would bring them heaven on earth.

On Good Friday, those hopes crumbled. They wept not just for the condemned Jesus, but also for the death of their fond hopes.

When we think of Good Friday, our thoughts may quickly run to the crowds shouting “Crucify him!” But there was another group of people there. These people had pinned their hopes upon Jesus of Nazareth being the Messiah. In the words of downcast Cleopas walking to Emmaus on the evening of Easter, “But we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21).

We remember the crowd that came down with Jesus from Galilee. We consider the shell-shocked disciples. We give thought to all the people in Jerusalem who expected Jesus to be their Savior.

For them, the parade to Golgotha was worse than a funeral procession. Death had not yet struck. More torture, and then dying, was yet to happen.

Where do we fit into this? We watch from a great distance in time as well as in miles. We can look in at both parades at once. We know where each of them ends.

On a Sunday, we join in the songs of “Hosanna!” The next Friday, we sing, “Lord Jesus, you are going forth for me your life to offer.”

It seems we can’t watch one of the parades without thinking of the other. And we shouldn’t.

We need to see people cheering Jesus on his way to win our salvation. We need to see people weeping for Jesus as he battles for our salvation. One parade flows into the other.

But what about a third one? Surely, the empty tomb must have caused a commotion. Would not a crowd greater than on Palm Sunday have rushed to cheer the victorious, resurrected Jesus marching through the streets of Jerusalem? Would that not be the best parade of all?

It did not happen. There was no Easter parade. There was no public victory march. After he conquered death as the King of kings and Lord of lords, he showed himself only to his believers.

One day, however, that third parade will take place. Again, some will cheer, and some will wail. But it will be a most glorious procession. We know the name of the day when this will happen. We just don’t know when that day will come. We call it the Last Day. It’s the day when the saints come marching in.

That’s a parade we don’t want to miss.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, it pains us to consider the sight of you dragging your cross to your execution. We join those who sorrow over that. It thrills us to hear that the crowds shouted your praises as you entered Jerusalem riding over palm branches. We look forward to joining with you in the final parade to glory. Amen.



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

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


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Season of sorrows – April 7, 2019

Season of sorrows – April 7, 2019


Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
Isaiah 53:4




Military Devotion – April 7, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 53:4

See series: Military Devotions

The season of Lent is known for its sadness. Much of its traditional music was written in the minor key. It creates a melancholy sound. It is fitting for a season of sorrows.

Some wonder why we subject ourselves to such a sentiment. Why has the liturgical Christian Church chosen to spend 40 days pondering that which causes grief? Think of the days before Christmas, when we already begin to celebrate the coming of the good tidings of great joy.

Should not the days before Easter be filled with the anticipated happiness over the words, “He is risen!”?

The Bible does not dictate how we should approach any holiday. But Christians from of old have chosen to spend the days before Easter looking through the lens of Good Friday.

Our Christian forefathers designated this time as a season of sorrows. We may follow them, knowing the sorrow of Lent does not dilute the joy of the empty grave. It enhances it.

To understand the victory over sin, death, and the devil, we must consider the battle that was fought to achieve it. The young teenager may give little thought, with less appreciation, for what American Forces did at Iwo Jima or Fallujah. However, those who were there, and those who look in closely at what happened there, come away with amazed and grateful hearts.

Those who look in at what happened in a garden called Gethsemane and a hill called Golgotha do the same. But they must bow their heads in sorrow before they can lift them in joy.

As a gift from the Holy Spirit, Isaiah was able to look in at those scenes some 700 years before Jesus sweat blood in prayer and dripped blood in pain. He set forth the reason for the sorrows of this season: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”

This is personal. This talks about us. These were our griefs. They were our sorrows. What happened to Jesus was because of us.

How can we not feel sorry about that?

He was struck with a whip, stuck with thorns, pierced with nails—and then a spear. He was, indeed, stricken.

He was hit with rods, with spit, and then, with a death sentence. He was, indeed, smitten.

He endured torture of body and anguish of heart. He suffered the hellish pangs of abandonment by his Father. He was, indeed, afflicted.

That has to affect us. The prophet tells more of what he saw: “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief….”

But worse than what we see through these words, is what we did: “And we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isaiah 53:3).

There we have it. Though he suffered all this for us, there have been times—many times—when we ignored him. When others laughed at him, despised him, we—too often—stayed silent.

Sometimes we actually became ashamed of him.

For that, we are now ashamed. We feel sorry for what Jesus had to go through. We feel sorry for what we have done.

It is the season of sorrows.

But Easter is coming!



Prayer: We pray for forgiveness, Lord! We pray for mercy. But most of all, we pray that we may never forget what you did for us. You are the one who changes all our sorrows into joy. Amen.



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

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


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Confidence – March 31, 2019

Confidence – March 31, 2019


I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13




Military Devotion – March 31, 2019

Devotion based on Philippians 4:13

See series: Military Devotions

American overconfidence was mowed down by machine guns in France’s Belleau Wood.

The year was 1918. It was the first time American troops fired in anger in a war that had engulfed Europe for four years. It was America’s first taste of mechanized warfare. It was a shock to our system.

In August of 1914, troops on both sides were sent off to war with flags waving, crowds cheering—with the assurance, “ You will be home before the leaves fall.”

They weren’t. Except for those who came back in ambulances and caskets.

Americans watched the overseas carnage with apprehension that turned to determination. We grew confident that we could break that stalemate in the bloody and putrid trenches. With a popular song we announced to our allies over there, “The Yanks are coming! The Yanks are coming! And we won’t come back till it’s over over there.”

Many Yanks are still over there. Some lie in Flanders’ fields under crosses row on row. Some graves are marked with only, “Known but to God.”

In the first day of the first battle at Belleau Wood there were 1,000 American casualties. By the end of the battle, some 10,000.

American Marines and soldiers may have gained a victory there. But they also lost something: their overconfidence.

Confidence is a good thing. Training in the U.S. Armed Forces builds confidence. Experience in the field sharpens it. Pity the warrior who has no confidence in his leaders, or weapons, or his fighting ability. Pity more the one who is overconfident. For him, ruin awaits.

The apostle Paul was a bloodied warrior in battles physical and spiritual. He points to his combat ribbons:

“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked”(2 Corinthians 11:24-27).

After all that, who would blame him for being cautious—maybe a bit hesitant to engage the enemy? Waging war against enemies physical or spiritual comes at a cost. Wouldn’t Saint Paul be excused if he said he had paid enough? Since he had received so many setbacks, wouldn’t he have lost confidence?

How can he still say, “I can do everything?” Is this not foolish overconfidence?

It is not.

The weary warrior did not base his confidence upon himself, but on his God.

It was God Almighty who worked through him. He was merely a tool in the Master’s hands.

Makes us think, doesn’t it?

Are we not the same?



Prayer: Eternal Father, strong to save, without you we can do nothing. Even our next breath would be impossible without your power. But with you, nothing is impossible. We thank you for the victories in life that you have given us. Give us more of them. Remind us that anything we do that is good is worked through us by the same power that gave us life instead of death. Build up our confidence in you. Amen.



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

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


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Short – March 24, 2019

Short – March 24, 2019


If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.
Matthew 24:22




Military Devotion – March 24, 2019

Devotion based on Matthew 24:22

See series: Military Devotions

Being short causes mixed emotions. Not being short of stature, but having only a short time before being rotated from a dangerous place back to the States.

Often, such people feel pulled in two directions: excited to think about going home, but worried that something bad might happen before then. Many become superstitious, not willing to even talk about it lest they jinx themselves. They tend to spend those last days worried about what might happen—because they know bad things can happen.

They wish their time in the distant and dangerous place would be cut short.

When we stop to think about it, the Bible tells us that the life of a Christian on this planet is similar. We are away from our heavenly home. We are in enemy territory. This is a dangerous place. We can spot some of the threats, but the deadliest of our enemies are invisible.

The danger is not just that we might lose our earthly life with its disappointments and dangers, but our eternal life with its joys and glory.

The fellow had just retired. He was looking forward to those golden years. Then, one day he walked out of a doctor’s office with the news he had only months to live. His expected time on earth had been cut short.

While he was a Christian, and knew that he would be transitioning to the ideal PCS (permanent change of station), he was not filled with excitement. In fact, there was a fair amount of dread in his heart. He had difficulty wrapping his head around the fact that he was now short.

If we ask, “Who decided this?”, all the evidence points back to the Lord. This child of God would not live one second beyond the time his Creator has chosen, nor die one spilt-second before the time his Redeemer had planned for him.

We can either blame God for determining our lifespan, or we can thank him.

Better to thank him.

The Bible informs us that not only does the Lord God know how long our deployment on planet earth will last, he also knows how long earth will last—because he controls it.

Jesus told his disciples that the date for the destruction of this universe (we might call it, D-Day) has been moved up. Everything and everyone this side of heaven, is now short.

This is not punishment. This was done, not in anger, but in love. When God cuts short the lifetime of one who loves him, or the existence of the entire universe, he acts out of mercy.

He has told us what those last days will be like: “wars and rumors of wars; famines and earthquakes; people of God hated by all nations; false prophets deceiving many; love of most growing cold; and the gospel preached in the whole world” (cf. Mark 13).

Someone might argue that life on this planet has been this way for a long, long time. That’s true. Christians were warned many centuries ago that the signs of the end could be seen—and it did not happen then.

But the condition of the world has only grown worse. It will become so bad that God will need to step in to stop it.

It’s a wonderful thing that the Maker and Redeemer of the world has the power to shorten time!

It takes the worry out of being short.



Prayer: Lord of our life and God of our salvation, it is good to be reminded that time is in your hands. Guide and guard us as we walk the pathways of our lifetime. Uphold and uplift us as our short time on this planet grows shorter still. Amen.



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

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


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Tremble – March 17, 2019

Tremble – March 17, 2019


These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.
Isaiah 66:2




Military Devotion – March 17, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 66:2

See series: Military Devotions

“Sometimes it causes me to tremble…” thus the Old Plantation hymn declares in answer to the question, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”

Pondering the crucifixion of Jesus can have that effect. It stands written, “The wages of sin is death.” Here, we see this is true.

There was something dreadful about the execution of Jesus apart from the horror of a body hanging from nails driven into the wood. The Romans had carried out many such executions, but none quite like this.

Darkness over the land for three hours in midday? An earthquake splitting rocks when the prisoner died? Tombs breaking open and bodies of the dead coming to life? No wonder the centurion on guard duty cried out, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

Surely he was…

It was enough to cause hardened soldiers to tremble.

The hymnist wrote, “You who think of sin but lightly, nor suppose the evil great—here may view its nature rightly, here its guilt may estimate.”

We have looked in at the events of Good Friday. We watch them again throughout the season of Lent. We cannot forget the images of pain, and blood, and death.

But that’s not the whole picture. We have reason to tremble before the cross, not in fear, but amazement. We are prompted to sing, “What wondrous love is this, O my soul!”

We wonder at the Father’s love for us, willing to make such a sacrifice. We stand in awe at the Son’s love for us, willing to be sacrificed. We marvel at the love the Holy Spirit shows as he gently leads us to stand in spirit before the cross and hear the words to the condemned criminal, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43).

He tells us one day Jesus will speak those words to us, too.

There are those who call the Christmas story a myth and the crucifixion only a legend. We know better. Jesus said, “The words I have spoken to you—they are full of Spirit and life” (John 6:63).

We believe him.

After all, he is God. We know that. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We know that. He died so that we might live with him in glory. That we know, too.

We admit that we tend to question him when his plans contradict ours. It’s true that sometimes we strike off on our own path rather than following in his footsteps.

But in kindness, he draws us back to his Word where he shows us once again the anguish of evil and the wonder of his love.

Far be it from us to think we know better than God! Foolish it would be to believe that the path we might choose is better than the one he leads us on.

Humble? We must declare about him, “How great Thou art!”

Contrite? “Father, I have sinned.”

Blessed? “These are the ones I look on with favor…”

In Lent, in life, we are honored to be among those who tremble at his Word.



Prayer: Lord of glory you have bought us with your lifeblood as its price. Send now the Holy Spirit to keep us from throwing our inheritance away. Keep us humble. Keep us contrite. Look upon us always with your favor. And give us peace. Amen.



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

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


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Those firstborns – March 10, 2019

Those firstborns – March 10, 2019


You must give me the firstborn of your sons.
Exodus 22:29




Military Devotion – March 10, 2019

Devotion based on Exodus 22:29

See series: Military Devotions

The child born first to parents is always special. Others who follow may be just as much loved, but none can take the place of the firstborn. Historically, this was the designated heir. In some families, it meant the child would inherit a throne.

The firstborn was prized. Its death was a special loss. Thus, it catches our attention when God points his finger at those firstborns and makes a demand that may startle us: “You must give me the firstborn of your sons.”

The Old Testament Law abounds with God’s demands of offerings—not from leftovers, but of the best. It’s not that he needed them. He reminds us, “For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 5:10).

The need is ours. Humans need ways to show that they fear, love, and trust in the Lord above all things. Freely giving up something valuable is a way to show faithfulness and appreciation. It’s an act of worship.

Demands for wheat or a goat or lamb are one thing. God could provide more of these. But what about this? “You must give me the firstborn of your sons.”

Some foreign idols were said to demand human sacrifices. Was the God of Israel like them? Did he thirst for human blood? He did not. He does not.

Yet, there are life and death consequences to how we react to his demands. Through Moses, he once told a defiant Pharaoh: “This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, ‘Let my son go, so he may worship me. But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son’ ” (Exodus 4:22-23).

“I will kill your firstborn son…” That should have made Pharaoh tremble. He did not. He brushed it off until the night of the Passover. Then, “Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead (Exodus 12:30).

God spared the firstborns of Israel that night—not because they were better, but because they were redeemed.

Consider the command: “The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock. Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem all your firstborn sons” (Exodus 34:19,20).

Even a firstborn donkey needed to be redeemed—otherwise its neck was to be broken. Redemption is serious business.

To redeem means to gain something in exchange for payment.

Israel was not to forget this. Throughout Old Testament times, a substitute sacrifice could be made. But in the end, a payment in human blood would be required to redeem humans. Not just firstborn sons were on that death list, but everyone who had descended from the first guilty parents back at Eden. Our own names showed up there. We needed to be redeemed.

Golgotha shows the payment being made.

Mary’s firstborn son was killed on that center cross. Yet, that would not be payment enough were he not also God’s Son. He was. Speaking of Jesus, God the Father had announced, “This is my Son, whom I love…”

“This is my Son…,” and he sacrificed him.

When we are told, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15), we begin to better understand the significance of the firstborn.

God the Father sacrificed his only Son, the firstborn over all creation.

Thus he redeemed us.



Prayer: Lord God of mercy and might, your ways are beyond our understanding and your love beyond even imagination. We know that every one of us, and everyone that we love, would stand condemned to death in the court of your divine justice. But you allow us to live. You spare us because we have been redeemed. You paid for our lives with the life of your Son. For this, we thank you always and forever. Amen.



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

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


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Broken arms – March 3, 2019

Broken arms – March 3, 2019


The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken.
Job 38:15




Military Devotion – March 3, 2019

Devotion based on Job 38:15

See series: Military Devotions

We can see the picture in our mind’s eye: a clenched fist above a raised arm. It’s a show of defiance.

Admirable, if in protesting injustice. Despicable, when raised in defiance of the Sovereign Lord.

At one time, Job of Old Testament times felt that God had exposed him to some of that injustice. Was it right that all of his children died in one storm? Was it fair that he lost his crops and flocks? Did he really deserve to be afflicted with painful sores from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head?

Wasn’t God acting like a child who pulls the wings off of a fly just to watch it suffer?

Job isn’t alone in asking such questions. Many have wondered “Why do bad things happen to me when I am not at fault?” We might add, why do babies get murdered? Why do gifted athletes grow feeble? Why must everyone die?

Though we cannot change these things, we want to raise our protest. Many agree with words the poet wrote about dying: “Do not go gentle into that good night…Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Bitter anger, fierce rage, this is the natural human reaction to unwanted events that are outside of our control.

Even if we acknowledge that no person apart from Jesus is actually good, in that all have sinned, it still bothers us to see that people who love their Savior God sometimes end up with the greatest disappointment and suffering in life.

At one point, Job said that he would like to drag God into court to have him give answer for his actions. To his surprise, God did answer. “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?” he asked out of a storm cloud.

This was the beginning of a long series of questions aimed at Job. It starts, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” (Job 38:4)

Question after question pounded in the message that Almighty God operates on a level far above human knowledge or ability. He is the creator of the stars and controller of the seas. At his command lightning strikes. Under his watch, lions are fed, and mountain goats give birth. He gives the war horse its strength and orders the eagle to fly—and much more.

Eventually, the challenge came: “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” (Job 40:2)

Not surprisingly, Job backed down: “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more” (Job 40:4).

Maybe Job had nothing more to say, but God did. The Lord continued, “Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me” (Job 41:11). The interrogation continued.

Finally, Job admitted, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:3). He added: “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6).

There is only one recourse for those who raise their clenched fist toward heaven: Repentance.

When tempted to challenge the God of grace and glory, it is best to repeat the words of Job: “I put my hand over my mouth.”

We close our mouth and listen to God. From God’s mouth comes truth and forgiveness.



Prayer: Eternal Father, strong to save, too quickly we find fault with you. Too easily we seek to justify ourselves. Too often we raise our puny fist in protest. Forgive our rebellious thoughts. Delete our empty threats. Deflate our bulging egos. Override the foolishness of our arrogance with the mercy of your holy love. Amen.



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

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


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Sowing the wind – February 24, 2019

Sowing the wind – February 24, 2019


They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.
Hosea 8:7




Military Devotion – February 24, 2019

Devotion based on Hosea 8:7

See series: Military Devotions

A law of physics states: “For every action there will be an equal and opposite reaction.” Today, we might call that “blowback.”

Instead, the prophet Hosea used an illustration that people of all centuries could relate to. If you sow some seeds, you should expect a harvest. One seed of wheat into the ground—maybe fifty will grow out of it. However, one seed of a weed will give the same rate of return.

One must be careful about what one is sowing.

The prophet talks about sowing wind. If we use the picture of a dust up, we are on the right track. When one sows the wind, he is creating a disturbance. He is making trouble. We might say, he is asking for it. The words, reap the whirlwind, means he will get it.

A wind may be gentle or strong. A whirlwind is a tornado. Who wants that in return?

To illustrate the point with history, we might look at the land of the Lutheran Reformation, Germany. Two times during the last century it sowed militant winds. It invaded neighboring countries.

Two times within that century it reaped a whirlwind. It came out of WWI defeated and in debt. WWII blasted it with utter destruction.

Sow the wind. Reap the whirlwind.

There’s always a risk for a nation to go to war against another. The blowback might be brutal. To go to war against God guarantees return fire. It’s worse than getting hit with a tornado.

Just ask the angels who picked a fight with him.

Yet, this is what humans consistently try to do. It’s like taking on a nuclear power with a slingshot. Why do we even try?

Because that is human nature. We were born into this world as vowed enemies of the holy Creator and Judge. We instinctively reject his claim to rule over us. We want independence. And though we have seen how person after person, generation after generation, has gone down to the grave in defeat, we still scorn his offer of peace and vow to continue our fight.

The human race that sows the wind of rejecting God reaps the whirlwind of his rejection landing on their heads.

The talk of a whirlwind reminds us of another mighty wind. Saint Luke tells us about it with these words: “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:1).

This wind was not to destroy, but to bring life to many people—including us. This “wind from heaven” was the Holy Spirit who came to turn hatred and rebellion into love and faithfulness in the hearts of humans.

Many tried to stop him. Armies marched against the spread of his gospel. They were left in the dust of history.

You and I no longer wage war against the Lord God. The Holy Spirit has changed our hearts. We now answer the call to duty in service to the Lord of lords.

We no longer sow the wind. There will be no blowback with a whirlwind.

In the words of sailors, we instead have, fair winds and following seas.



Prayer: Eternal God and Commander of all, we hear your warning against waging war against you. We see from history the futility of this. We pour out our hearts in appreciation for giving us a new heart of faith that we might live in the gentle breezes of heaven. Amen.



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

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


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Nearer my God – February 17, 2019

Nearer my God – February 17, 2019


The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up and the Lord said to him, “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish.”
Exodus 19:20,21




Military Devotion – February 17, 2019

Devotion based on Exodus 19:20,21

See series: Military Devotions

We call it rubbernecking. It irritates us to be in a backup caused, not by an accident, but by people slowing up to look at a wreck on the other side of the median. Yet, when we get there, we find ourselves staring at the same sight.

It’s as if a voice inside of us is begging, “Lemme see!” We can’t seem to help ourselves.

It was the same for the mass of people immigrating from Egypt to the Land of Canaan. But no car wreck could match what they encountered. God, himself, was going to descend from heaven to present himself on a mountain they were passing by. They knew this because he called out for Moses to come up to him.

Talk about an attraction! Here was a chance to actually take a look at the Lord of glory—the creator and ruler of the universe. What would he look like? They wanted to see.

But they dared not. The penalty for even catching a glimpse of him was death.

We are not accustomed to considering the Lord our God in that light. He is this abstract person we read about in the Bible. Some view him as a grandfather smiling at the humans who gather around him.

Moses knew better. So did the Israelites when they heard the command: “Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death.”

The warning was clear: “Do not come near to God!”

That sounds strange to New Testament ears. Are we not invited to come near to him with the words, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)?

Is this the same God who met Israel in the wilderness? Has he changed since then?

He is, and he has not.

From eternity to eternity, he remains the same. His fierce anger still burns against sin and death still awaits the sinner. We dare never become complacent about this.

From eternity to eternity, he remains the same. His free and faithful love still offers forgiveness and life. It should never stop amazing us.

He may be the Savior God, but he remains the holy God.

The only reason we can approach him without perishing is that the blood of his Son has covered our sin. Jesus was not allowed to draw near to his Father on Golgotha when he won for us a free pass into his presence. He took our place on the death list.

So, the Holy One of Israel invites us to draw near in love, faith, and worship.

The best spot in all of earth and heaven is found nearer to God.



We pray with the words of the old hymn:
Nearer my God, to Thee, Nearer to Thee.
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
Still all my song shall be, Nearer my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God to Thee, Nearer to Thee. Amen.



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

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


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My Brother – February 10, 2019

My Brother – February 10, 2019


Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.
Genesis 45:3




Military Devotion – February 10, 2019

Devotion based on Genesis 45:3

See series: Military Devotions

They were afraid of him when they thought him to be a stranger, terrified when they learned he was their brother. They knew that at his word, thousands bowed and obeyed. Now they were foreigners in his land and helpless before his power. He had kept their older brother as hostage when they faced him before. He demanded they bring him their youngest brother if they ever came back.

And, they had to come back. There was a famine, and their families would starve without his help. They had no choice but to do what he said and hope he would treat them with kindness.

But they were already afraid of him—this strange ruler in a strange land.

The words, “I am Joseph!” scared them speechless.

They expected he was dead. They had sold him into slavery when he was hardly more than a boy. They watched him being led away in bonds. That sight was burned into their memory. They had told their father a wild animal had killed him. They would never forget their dad’s cry of anguish. They would never outlive their guilt and regret.

Now they were face to face with him again. The tables had turned. They were at his mercy—no wonder they were terrified.

But it was good news that he was Joseph. He loved them in spite of their crime. He forgave them. And he would use his power to protect them.

In that foreign land, they would be able to point to the one with such great power and say: “That’s my brother!”

Would that we had a brother like that! Think of how good that would be! Think of what a blessing it would be to have someone like that watching out for us.

Good thing we already have someone like that! Jesus is greater than any pharaoh, any king—greater than anyone. And, he is indeed our brother.

We learn it had been planned this way already from eternity. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29).

We have a brother who is the all-powerful Son of God. That can be a scary thought.

Like those Judean brothers, we have treated our blood-relative rather shabbily. At times, we have turned our back on him; put our envy and greed above his desires; and with words and actions showed we cared little for him. We were willing to leave him behind if it was to our advantage. When challenged to acknowledge our relationship to him, at times we joined a Peter in saying, “I know not the man!”

We should be ashamed. He should be ashamed of us. But like Joseph of old, he forgives. He offers the hand of fellowship and brotherhood. Listen to the words: “Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers” (Hebrews 2:11).

Like Isaac and Rueben and the rest, we sometimes are afraid of our brother. We fear he will treat us the way we deserve. We worry about that. We worry in the end he will turn on us.

Think of the times when the disciples were filled with terror at the glimpse of the power of Jesus. When he calmed the raging storm, or drove out demons, or raised the dead, or shone forth in his glory, they asked themselves, “Who is this?”
But they need not have feared when they were struck by their failure and his power. Nor should we.

With them, we can say, “This is Jesus.”

This is my brother.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, King of glory and righteous Judge of all the living, like Joseph’s brothers, we too carry guilty consciences and memories of betrayal. We, too, deserve only rejection and punishment. But you who are greater than a Joseph, you have not only forgiven us, you have given your holiness to cover our crimes against you. You were rejected, you were despised, you were killed that we might live with you as children of the heavenly Father. For this, we thank you always and forever. Amen.



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

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


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Burned into memory – February 3, 2019

Burned into memory – February 3, 2019


There at Riblah the king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes and also killed all the nobles of Judah. Then he put out Zedekiah’s eyes and bound him with bronze shackles to take him to Babylon.
Jeremiah 39:6,7




Military Devotion – February 3, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 39:6,7

See series: Military Devotions

Some scenes cannot be unseen. Those who have seen the horrible often cannot get that sight out of their minds. It is burned into their memory.

For some, the unforgettable happened with a car crash, or a fire, or maybe, war. For King Zedekiah, it occurred as he was stripped of his power by the Babylonians. The last thing his eyes saw was the slaughter of his sons. His enemy could have killed him, too. But worse than death was making him live on with that memory.

We shudder at the thought. But much of the record of the descendants of Abraham causes us to shudder. Reading through that history is like watching a horror film. As one scene after another unfolds, we know that something awful is coming. The Assyrians are going to decimate the ten northern tribes. The Babylonians will invade the remaining two. Jerusalem will fall. The temple will be demolished. Then, untold thousands will be carried off to modern-day Iraq as captives—including the traumatized and now-blind King Zedekiah.

Horrible to look at, yet those are the very scenes that should be burned into memory. They teach a lesson: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

We dare never forget it.

Another picture teaches another lesson: It is a fearful thing for the living God to fall into the hands of sinners.

The Scripture screen shows a picture of ultimate horror. A bloodied man is being executed by torture. The weight of his body pulls at the nails driven through the hands. Blood trickles down from thorns pressed into the scalp. Witnesses mock. Hours pass. A mouth screams: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

This scene must be burned into memory.

If the slaughter of Zedekiah’s sons was horrible, the slaughter of God’s Son is beyond horror.

This is the cold killing that we cannot explain without admitting that we are in the picture. We are the cause. We are to blame. It teaches a lesson we dare never forget:

“You who think of sin but lightly nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly, here its guilt may estimate.”

Then, we learn that this is actually a picture of mercy! After all, we are not the ones withering under the fierce anger of justice. The bloodied One is our substitute. He was found guilty of our crimes. He was punished. We are set free.

It teaches a lesson:

“What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!”

We dare never forget it.

On its center screen Holy Writ then projects the breath-taking picture of an empty tomb with an angel saying, “He is not here, he is risen.” He is:

“Christ, the Life of all the living, Christ the Death of death, our foe.”

It teaches a lesson: We will survive death. How could we forget it?

Let that picture of Easter morning be forever burned into our memory!

The Bible paints many such pictures of our salvation’s story. Some even show the future: “Look!” we are told, “ God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’” (Revelation 21:3,4).

There, the eyes of Zedekiah can see again. There, his sons can stand alive and well. There, the captive is free, and the dead live. So do we.

Burn that vision into memory!



We pray to the Lord of life:
“Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes,
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me!” Amen.
(Christian Worship 588:7)



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

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


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Authority – January 27, 2019

Authority – January 27, 2019


“For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
Luke 7:8




Military Devotion – January 27, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 7:8

See series: Military Devotions

First, it is drilled into them. Then, it becomes part of everyday life. Within the ranks of the military, authority counts!

It makes no difference if the command is issued by someone two feet away or two thousand miles. Legitimate authority produces results. That’s true in the U.S. Armed Forces of today, and it was true in the Roman legions two millennia ago.

Jesus was a witness to it.

The soldier was a centurion. He commanded about 100 troops. That he was a Roman centurion, tells us he was part of an effective and polished military power. That he was in the land of Jesus, means he was deployed to one of the troubled backwaters of the Roman Empire.

Here he would pay a warrior’s tribute to his Superior Officer. Here, he showed the world what it means that Jesus of Nazareth is Lord.

His servant was on the verge of death. He sent local religious leaders to beg help from the well-known Jewish miracle worker in his AO, area of operations. Yet, when Jesus set off to provide that help, the centurion stopped him with the surprising words, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself….”

It’s not that he changed his mind. It’s not that he doubted Jesus could help. Actually, this soldier was so convinced that Jesus did have authority over life and death, that he knew Jesus would not have to be physically present to save the servant’s life.

His message was: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself…for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.” He explained how authority worked when he told a soldier, “Go” or “Come” or “Do this.”

Astonishing!

There must be more to the story, and there is. The people the centurion had sent to Jesus told him: “This man deserves to have you do this….” They explained why: “…because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.”

Amazing! He was a Gentile, not a Jew. At this time in history, Romans worshiped heathen gods—if they recognized any god at all. Moreover, Roman troops generally had little regard for the people who lived under their military fist.

This soldier was different!

This soldier loved these people and built a synagogue for them.

He knew about Jesus! He addressed him with the respectful title, “Lord.”

Since Jesus was using Capernaum as his home base after the citizens of Nazareth tried to kill him, it does not surprise us that this Roman officer knew about the one who stirred the crowds with his teaching and miracles. What does surprise us is what Jesus said about him: “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.”

This soldier had placed his faith in Jesus. It was proven valid. We hear, “Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well” (Luke 7:9,10).

The prophets had said that even Gentiles would come to bow down before the Messiah. What was often scoffed at was fulfilled, not only by the Wise Men, but by this soldier.

Not only by this soldier, but by us.

We believe him when he tells us our salvation is completed with the words from the cross, “It is finished.” We do not need to see him do it to believe it.

His words have the authority to make it so.



Prayer: Savior Jesus, too often we doubt your power and your love. Too often we want to see you act with our own eyes. We easily forget the words you spoke to doubting Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Holy Spirit, give us the faith of that Roman soldier. Amen.



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

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


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Faulty faith – January 20, 2019

Faulty faith – January 20, 2019


I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
1 John 5:13




Military Devotion – January 20, 2019

Devotion based on 1 John 5:13

See series: Military Devotions

“I’ve lost my faith in religion.” the Navy wife said. With her two children, she had been living in Florida and now moved back to her hometown. She added that she did not think she would let her children go to Sunday School. “Why bring them up to believe in something I no longer believe myself?”

She used to have faith in religion. She used to have a wonderful life. Then her wonderful husband became a KIA (killed in action). That’s when her world fell apart. So, she thought, did her faith.

Our hearts must go out to such a person. Only those who have suffered such loss can appreciate the agony this mother was going through. The situation called for a response with compassion, tact—and the truth.

The truth is that she had been making a grave mistake by placing her faith in religion.

Not that religion is a bad thing, especially if the religion is tied to the Word of God. But religion is only a system of beliefs. Never do we want to say, “I believe in Christianity”, or, “I believe in Lutheranism.” That would be a faulty faith. Religion, itself, dare never become the object of faith. Only the Savior God can hold that position.

The new widow felt that religion had betrayed her. She was saying, “What good is religion if it cannot keep you safe?”

She needed to understand that religion is not a way of getting God on your side so that you can escape the heartaches of life.

Jesus has laid out what his followers should expect: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). The lives of some of his famous followers illustrate this. These are the words the Apostle Paul used to describe his life: “Frequently imprisoned; severely flogged; beaten with stones and left for dead; shipwrecked; knowing hunger and thirst” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). Finally, he was executed.

So, what good did his religion do for him? Everything good!

His religion consisted in placing his faith in the Savior God who sent his Son to rescue him. That faith placed him into heaven’s royal family. He became the adopted child of the holy, eternal God. The Good Shepherd counted him as one of his own.

The Son of God included him in the announcement: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

Thus, the apostle could say: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” He rejected the idea that hardship or suffering is a sign that God has failed his people.

“No,” he wrote, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:28,37).

Faith in Jesus as the Savior is not a good-luck charm. It is the laying hold of the victory won on Golgotha. It is the receiving of power and protection from on high. It is the expecting that life in this world will be turbulent and painful at times.

It is the firm conviction that the Lord of earth and heaven is on our side; he will never leave us; he will carry us through the storms of life. He will land us on heaven’s shore.

If that faith is ours, we know we have eternal life.

Such faith is never faulty.



We pray the prayer of the hymnist:
Oh, for a faith that will not shrink though pressed by many a foe,
That will not tremble on the brink of poverty or woe,
That will not murmur nor complain beneath the chast’ning rod,
But in the hour of grief or pain can lean upon its God. Amen.
(Christian Worship 405:1,2)



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

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


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Remembering Tet – January 13, 2019

Remembering Tet – January 13, 2019


Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
Isaiah 53:1




Military Devotion – January 13, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 53:1

See series: Military Devotions

In January of 1968, more than a quarter million North Vietnamese soldiers and 100,000 Viet Cong irregulars launched a massive attack on South Vietnam.

It was a sneak attack that came under the deception of a truce of peace during the celebration of the Vietnamese New Year. Hanoi expected it would trigger a popular uprising leading to the collapse of the South Vietnamese government. It did not.

After the initial shock, and the capture of a number of cities, the attack was beaten back. It became a major military defeat for North Vietnam.

But that’s not what many Americans believed. In the minds of some, including influential newscaster Walter Cronkite, this was proof that America was losing the war.

In the aftermath, many a person has asked, “Why was the report of an American victory not believed?

Perhaps it is because the typical human is inclined to believe what he wants to believe—regardless of the facts.

The significance of the Tet Offensive and America’s role in that war continues to be debated. But the refusal to accept an accurate report because of a bias goes back far before that attack.

The prophet Isaiah addressed that same question in 700 B.C. Saint John repeated it when he wrote about the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (John 12:38). And Saint Paul repeated it again when he wrote to the Christians in Rome (Romans 10:16).

The Christian Church of today raises the same question: “Who has believed our message?”

Isaiah had told the people of Israel that the coming Messiah would be accepted as King by Gentile nations:

“The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God” (Isaiah 52:10).

“Just as there were many who were appalled at him…so he will sprinkle many nations and kings will shut their mouths because of him (Isaiah 52:14,15).

There are the facts! History has confirmed them. We are living proof. Most of the people who accept the Messiah as their Lord, Savior, and King are Gentiles—not the physical descendants of Abraham or the people to whom God first revealed this message.

Sadly, a bias still appears in our day when the glory of the Messiah and his victory over sin, death and the devil is announced.

Once again, “Who believes our message?”

We do. To Isaiah’s question, “To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” we answer, “To us!” “To me!”

By the work of the Holy Spirit we have seen the glory of Jesus, the Messiah. We have witnessed his power through his Word. With our own eyes we have seen people of all races come to love him as their Savior.

To that question of Isaiah, “Who believes our message?” we joyfully and gratefully answer: “By the grace of God—I do!”



Prayer: Jesus, King of glory, and only Savior of mankind, it is purely by your power and mercy that we are not among the crowds that do not believe the report of the victory over sin and death that you won for us. Keep us safely within your grasp so that the sinful world, our sinful flesh, and princes of hell do not mislead us into unbelief. Help us point you out to the rest of the world with the words of the prophet: “Arise, shine, for your light has come!” Amen.



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

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


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Motivation – January 6, 2019

Motivation – January 6, 2019


Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Romans 12:1




Military Devotion – January 6, 2019

Devotion based on Romans 12:1

See series: Military Devotions

Fear can be a great motivator. Fear of failure, fear of disease, or the fear of a drill instructor can inspire a person to do things never before attempted.

Some people even use fear as motivation to serve God. That’s understandable, but sad.

Fear does, indeed, enter into our relationship with the Lord of life and death. Our conscience quickly tells us that we have violated his laws—and there will be consequences.

His Word tells us that our violations are greater than we imagined, and the penalties are so severe that they go beyond our imagination.

So, who is not going to be driven by fear to try to do that which God commands?

The child of God.

A small child may help put away some groceries lest his mother becomes angry. The mature child will help put them away out of love for her. The Christian is that loving child.

As the new year begins, we give thought to what we want to do in the days ahead. We will be considering how we want to live the rest of our life. Maybe we want to make some lifestyle changes: lose weight, exercise more, pay all of our bills on time.

All this might be good, but it is not as important as deciding how we want to live our lives in relation to God’s expectations.

The apostle Paul told those Christians in the capital city of the Roman Empire: “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice.”

Whoa!

This goes beyond deciding to curse less, go to church more, and be kind to others. This involves giving up our lives. The word is, “sacrifice.”

We know what it means to sacrifice a life for our nation. Are we also supposed to sacrifice our life for our God? Isn’t that a bit extreme?

But didn’t the Son of God sacrifice his life for us? Isn’t every good thing we have in life a gift from him?

What enables us to keep breathing? Who provides the food and air that we cannot live without? If he would withdraw his support, we would be like a brain deprived of oxygen. We could only whimper and die.

So, why did the holy God give us life and salvation? We recall the famous words, “God so loved the world….”

Why should we freely want to live our life—not for ourselves, but for him?

Because, “God so loved the world….”

We love him because he first loved us.

We enter the new year thus motivated.



In the Second Article of the famous Apostles’ Creed we admit that we believe, “in Jesus Christ.” We acknowledge that he is our Lord who bought us with his “holy, precious blood….” Then, we make our commitment: “That I should be his own, and live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.” We reaffirm that loving commitment for yet another year with the words: “This is most certainly true.” Amen.



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

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


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A thousand years – December 30, 2018

A thousand years – December 30, 2018


A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.
Psalm 90:4




Military Devotion – December 30, 2018

Devotion based on Psalm 90:4

See series: Military Devotions

1,000 years ago Sweyn Forkbeard was crowned King of England. He didn’t last long. Few remember him now.

1,000 years ago the Holy Roman Empire was the superpower. Not many care about that now.

1,000 years ago it was believed that if a ship sailed too far west, it would drop off the edge of the world. Does anyone believe that now?

To us, 1,000 years is a long, long time. To the Lord God it’s like yesterday, or last night.

That helps us keep things in perspective as we turn the calendar to a new year. To some, the last 12 months might have sped by; to others, they may have dragged. It all depends upon what was happening in life. Happy days go fast. Hard days don’t.

We wonder what the next 12 months will bring. We hope it will be a happy new year. It’s hard for us to imagine what our life will be like 10 years from now. We give no thought to what it will be like on earth in 1,000 years. Who cares?

God does. He knows exactly what life on planet earth will be like every day in the future—and the exact day and minute it will end.

We set our clocks and turn our calendars, but we do not control our time. Thank God, he does!

We may wonder with worry. He doesn’t. Neither should we.

Moses wrote the words of Psalm 90 some 1,500 years before Jesus was born. They were true then, they are true now, 2,000 years after that birth.

Moses pleaded, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (v.14).

The only way that prayer could be granted is if the eternal God would send his Son into the realm of time and space to rescue prisoners held captive by the Prince of Darkness and doomed to forever death.

When the message of his coming went out, those who clung to the hope waited and waited. The years appeared to drag on. Finally, the day for the Desire of nations to appear arrived—and the new calendar, labeled, “In the year of our Lord”, turned its first page.

In heaven, the time between the birth of Moses and the birth of Jesus was like a watch in the night. The time between the return of Jesus to heaven and the crowning of King Forkbeard—like a watch in the night.

Between this New Year’s Eve and the end of the world will be to him like a watch in the night—or like yesterday when it is passed.

The Lord is greater than time. He is the creator and controller of time.

The new year is in good hands. So are we.



Prayer: Eternal God, we come before you with limited understanding and often limited faith. We know that our life on this earth is also limited, but you entered into the dominion of time so that we might spend a timeless life with you in glory. For the blessings of the past year, we thank you.  For your blessing upon us in the new year, we pray with confidence in the name of Jesus, the ever-newborn King.  Amen.



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

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


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Hopes and fears – December 23, 2018

Hopes and fears – December 23, 2018


Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14




Military Devotion – December 23, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 7:14

See series: Military Devotions

The speck of a planet called earth experienced a series of breakthroughs on the night we call Christmas Eve.

A squad of angels broke through the atmosphere to reveal their presence with blinding light and an earth-shaking message: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

The eternal God broke through the barrier of the wall between the human and the divine—to become the God-man.

The salvation of mankind broke through the curse of the law.

But not everyone celebrated. The great King Herod shuddered at the news that a king had been born. He responded with a death sentence for babies.

Demons were terrified. At the sight of him, one cried out: “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:24).

And the people he came to rescue? After Jesus drove the money-makers out of the Temple, we are told: “The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching” (Mark 11:18).

Those refusing to celebrate the coming of the Savior held one emotion in common: fear!

The writer of the hymn, O Little Town of Bethlehem, pictured the situation with his words, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

Hopes and fears…

A strange combination, but an accurate report. The decree delivered to Satan told of one who would free the human race from his death grip: “He will crush your head…” The added thought: “and you will strike his heel” told of that special one only being wounded, not defeated.

From the time of the rebellion in heaven, a state of war existed between the holy Creator God and those who fought against him. From the time humans first joined that rebellion, the descendants of Adam and Eve came into this world to champion sin and revile all that is holy.

The battle lines had been drawn. Yet the outcome never was in doubt. The pits of hell awaited those who defied God.

The breakthrough came with Christmas. Demons had been rejected without mercy. But humans—for some reason—the humans were pardoned. God became man in order to win their freedom. Humans received mercy—at the cost of the life of the Holy One.

It should not surprise us to learn that demons fear Jesus of Nazareth. They know what’s coming to them.

But humans? How do we explain humans rejecting the mercy of God and joining with demons in spitting out defiance and choosing to stay condemned?

We come to better understand the power of sin and the blindness of unbelief. We come to better heed the warning against all that is evil.

This Christmas we will see once again the evidence of the breakthrough of God’s love for us.

We can live in a sure and certain hope. We have no reason to fear.



Prayer: To earth you came, Jesus, to be our brother. We do not know how that was possible, so we call it a miracle. Now, allow the miracle of Christmas to fill our hearts and minds with hope—and banish fear from our lives. Amen.



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

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


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Counting down – December 16, 2018

Counting down – December 16, 2018


But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
Galatians 4:4




Military Devotion – December 16, 2018

Devotion based on Galatians 4:4

See series: Military Devotions

We are in the season of counting down to Christmas. Merchants are counting down the shopping days. Youngsters are counting down until presents are opened. And some troops are counting down to when holiday leave begins.

Advent is an entire season of counting down. It reminds us that the first Christmas was waited for with great anticipation by those who longed for the coming of their Savior. It tells us that we are now counting down the days for him to come again.

This can be a disturbing thought. We are talking about our death, here. Or, we are speaking of the end of the world. The words of Moses might come to mind: “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10).

An old song speaks of a clock that was bought on the day a baby was born and stayed with him throughout life. With the tick-tock, tick-tock of the clock in mind, the song goes on to state: “his life seconds numbering.”

It makes us wonder if our timepieces might be counting down the days, minutes, and seconds left in our life. They are!

This can be a frightening thought. A pilot watches his fuel gauges carefully because when fuel runs out, the flight will come to a disturbing end. Is it not the same when time runs out on a life?

Not for the Christian! Not for the one who was created to live forever, has been redeemed with holy blood, and has been promised a forever of bliss.

Those Old Testament believers were not counting down to a day of dread when the Messiah would appear. Neither should we.

Their eyes were not watching for the occasion when hope and joy drained down to empty. They looked for the time when their lives would overflow with joy. So should we.

God calls it, the fullness of time.

Many events needed to take place before it was the perfect time for the Son of God to arrive as a human. The plan began to unroll already in the Garden of Eden. An Abraham and a Joseph, a Moses and a Daniel had to appear to fulfill their roles. The captives needed to come back from the land of the Tigris and Euphrates. The temple needed to be rebuilt. Rome needed to come to power and deploy its troops in Jerusalem. Pontius Pilate needed to be installed as governor. Herod the Great needed to be established on his throne.

And a common language needed to be understood by people of many nations.

When all of this—and much more—was accomplished, the world was set to receive the King of kings, and his gospel was ready to reach to the ends of the earth.

Like a cup filled to the brim, the fullness of time had come.

So will it be when the Babe of Bethlehem returns. He will come on clouds of glory in the sight of everyone—when the time is perfect.

Before then, he will come to individual believers to take them to heaven—when the time is perfect.

We continue to count down till that perfect time for the return of Jesus. Not in dread! Rather, much the same way that little ones eagerly count down to Christmas.

We look for a sequel. We are waiting for Christmas II.



Prayer: Holy Spirit, eternal God, you brought us to life when you called us to become children of the heavenly Father. You allowed us to see Jesus as the Son of God who paid for our way into heaven. Stay with us now as we walk our path in life. Remind us of eternal truths, guide us with your loving hand. Lift up our eyes so that we might catch a glimpse of the wonders waiting for us when Jesus returns at the fullness of time. Amen.



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

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


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I swear – December 9, 2018

I swear – December 9, 2018


Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.
Deuteronomy 6:13




Military Devotion – December 9, 2018

Devotion based on Deuteronomy 6:13

See series: Military Devotions

Their words showed their distress. Articles written by faculty members of the WELS seminary warned pastors about the disturbing development. They had received word that Lutheran pastors in Germany would not be allowed to continue their ministry unless they took a new oath.

The oath began: “Ich schwöre bei Gott…” In English, it read: “I swear by God the Almighty and Omniscient I will be loyal and obedient to the Führer of the German Reich and nation, Adolf Hitler, observe the laws and faithfully perform my official duties, so help me God.”

Lutheran pastors in Saxony, the home of Martin Luther, accepted that oath on April 20, 1938, the anniversary of Hitler’s birthday.

Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary was near Milwaukee, far away from Nazi Germany. We might wonder why the professors were so disturbed at this news. But most of the members of our church body had relatives in Germany at that time. Many of our pastors and professors had come from there. They were concerned about the Christians now in the hands of the Nazis.

The question was, “Could the day come when such an oath be demanded of the pastors in America?”

This was not a pledge of allegiance to a nation. It was a surrender of the Christian Church to the whims of a man, and partnership with those who would kill millions of innocents. It was an attempt by the Nazis to highjack the Christian faith by having pastors swear loyalty to their leader with God as a witness. Faithfulness to Hitler was to be tied to faithfulness to God.

As WWII progressed, the threat looked more real. The Wehrmacht rolled up victory after victory. With the entire British army cornered at Dunkirk, it looked like Hitler would rule Europe and England. Germany and Japan were planning for the United States to be the next victim.

Today we look back on those years in the comfort of knowing how the war turned out. Germany was defeated. Hitler killed himself. Atomic bombs brought Japan to its knees. The threat to American pastors evaporated.

But it could have easily ended differently. The victory of the Allies over Germany and Japan was often in doubt. History shows that if just a few things had taken a different turn, we might be speaking German today—and our pastors might be forced to take an oath of loyalty to a modern Nazi leader.

Many of those developing the atomic bomb came from Germany. What if they had been loyal to the Führer? Other new weapons—rockets, jet engines—were coming into German production. What if they had arrived earlier? Numerous battles in Europe, Africa, and the Pacific ended up being Allied victories by apparent flukes.

Codes were cracked without the enemies realizing it. A pilot spotted the Japanese fleet heading toward Midway only minutes before he had to turn back or run out of fuel and ditch in the ocean. A storm ended just in time for the D-Day landing. Clouds cleared just in time for airpower to turn the tide in the Battle of the Bulge. More examples could be listed. How lucky could we get?

But it was not luck. Nor was it superior planning, equipment, or manpower that won the war for the Allies. It was the grace of God at work. And he worked through sinful, frail, mistake-prone humans.

“Let him who boasts boast in the Lord” (I Corinthians 1:31). Good to remember that. We might add, “Let him who would serve his country loyally, first serve his Lord faithfully.”

May our pastors continue to swear faithfulness to the Good Shepherd alone.

“So help me God!”



Prayer: Eternal Father, strong to save, we praise, thank and glorify you for preserving our nation from those who would have taken away our freedom to worship you in spirit and in truth. We know that such enemies still threaten. We know that efforts without your help will fail. Thank you for the veterans of the past and provide us with warriors and leaders who will serve faithfully in the future. To you alone the glory! Amen.



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

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


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Deadly shepherd – December 2, 2018

Deadly shepherd – December 2, 2018


They are like sheep and are destined to die; death will be their shepherd.
Psalm 49:14




Military Devotion – December 2, 2018

Devotion based on Psalm 49:14

See series: Military Devotions

When we think about the word shepherd in the Bible, our thoughts might quickly go to the phrase, the Lord is my shepherd. Those words have comforted God’s people ever since the shepherd-boy David wrote them some thousand years before Jesus proclaimed himself as the Good Shepherd.

How strange then, to hear death called a shepherd! We must look at this more closely.

The psalm calls out a warning to those who boast of their riches and trust in their wealth. Those who think themselves so smart that they do not need God, need to learn the lesson of their frailty: “No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him—the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—that he should live on forever and not see decay” (Psalm 49:7,8).

What makes a person think that wisdom or wealth is insurance against death? Yet, how common it is to trust these things and strive to get these things as if life or death depended upon them!

Something leads such people. They surely follow something in the hope for happiness. They cannot see that they are being led to destruction in the same way that sheep follow a shepherd. They are being led by Death to death.

At this time of year, thoughts return to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1944, and the destruction and death that followed on some islands in the Pacific. War is always horrible, but seldom has the world seen the willingness of soldiers to die by the thousands instead of surrendering.

Some 18,000 Japanese soldiers fought in the battle for Iwo Jima. Only 216 survived. The rest fought till they were killed or died by their own hand. On island after island, U.S. forces had to kill their enemy until almost none were left. Swarms of kamikaze pilots flung themselves against American ships.

What can account for this? They were like sheep being led to the slaughter. They were willing to die for their Emperor and the ambitions of their military leaders.

Their bravery is without question. Their fanaticism, however, is without merit. Death was their shepherd.

The bloody battles in the Pacific taught a lesson: Honor, zeal, and faithfulness become deadly when attached to lethal leadership.

Japanese leaders began the campaign of conquests to acquire land, power, and wealth. The Japanese people followed.

That thought makes us ask what we are following after in life?

We know that pursuing crime leads to a bad end. What about chasing after success, or popularity, or just plain fun?

The world is filled with candidates for leadership. Many are the ideas that want to lead us. Some potential leaders are feelings. Some are people. And some are deadly.

But not the Good Shepherd. Listen to Jesus: “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:10,11).

There’s our answer!

When following Jesus, it is not death, but Life is our shepherd.



Prayer: Lord of Glory, who has bought us with your lifeblood as the price, we hear the warning against following after that which is deadly. Teach us your ways. Show us your will. Keep us in your fold. Amen.



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

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


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Horrid days – November 25, 2018

Horrid days – November 25, 2018


Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Romans 12:15




Military Devotion – November 25, 2018

Devotion based on Romans 12:15

See series: Military Devotions

We call them holidays. They span from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. We look forward to them. We celebrate them.

But not all of us.

For some, the holidays are actually horrid days. Troops deployed in distant and dangerous places can feel that way. So can those can those who are struggling with something like PTSD. The holiday season can be a miserable time.

Perhaps it is easier to understand why a Memorial Day may cause a person to be troubled, but why feel down and disturbed at a time of so many incentives to feel love, peace, and joy?

Those incentives are precisely the problem! The happy sights and sounds only underscore the pain and loss of the suffering one. We have seen that it is not uncommon for a person who is grieving the loss of a loved one to have a hard time with the holidays. Instead of a source of joy, the days remind such people that someone special is missing.

PTSD patients may grieve the loss of their former life. If we are not aware of this, if we urge the victim to join in the celebrations, we are increasing their pain. It is like encouraging the one with the broken leg to join in on a dance.

The person far from home during a holiday may feel more misery than joy. Some volunteer for extra duty during those days. Some do whatever they can to keep themselves from thinking about what they are missing.

Ken Gire sums it up in his book, The North Face of God: “There are times in our lives when it is hard being a Christian. Christmases when it’s hard to be joyful. Thanksgivings when it’s hard to be grateful. New Year’s when it’s hard to be hopeful. Times when we feel disappointed with life, maybe even despairing of life. Times when we feel abandoned by God.”

When everyone else is celebrating, the one downcast and miserable doesn’t fit in. He feels he does not belong.

What a shame! He is believing a lie. He is a member of the family of God. Everyone in that family is precious. Each one is special. Each one is the beloved of God and guarded by angels.

Strangely enough, the miserable one may know this to be true—but that does not change how he feels.

King Solomon wrote: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…” “A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4).

Saint Paul wrote that we should take note of what our brother or sister is going through—and share in their feelings. We will find that their sorrow does not lessen our joy, but their joy can surely diminish our sorrow. “I know how you feel!” become words of truth.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

If this holiday season does not fill you with the emotions of joy, know that you are not alone.

If you see another one struggling with the holidays, do not let that one be alone.

Feelings are often beyond our control. Our mind is blown back and forth by the winds of many thoughts. Our soul is different. It rests on a Rock.

Our soul knows, even if our feelings don’t: the holidays are actually holy days. They exist, not to make us happy, but to focus our attention beyond ourselves, to the very heights of heaven.

We find that when we look toward the face of God, we can see that we live under the benediction of the source of all joy and comfort.

For the Christian, every day is a holiday.



We live our lives in the sunlight of these words:

The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look on you with favor and give you peace. Amen.



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

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


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Then came thanksgiving – November 18, 2018

Then came thanksgiving – November 18, 2018


O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endures forever.
1 Chronicles 16:34




Military Devotion – November 18, 2018

Devotion based on 1 Chronicles 16:34

See series: Military Devotions

He was tired of it. Tired of the sand, tired of the smell—tired of the whole mess.

He was sick of it. Sick of the heat, sick of the people, sick of looking at sick-looking houses and wondering if someone inside was waiting to kill him.

It reminded him of the movie Groundhog Day. This deployment was hours of boredom, broken ever-so-often by moments of terror. Life had become one miserable day after another.

Then came Thanksgiving.

At first the thought depressed him. He thought of Thanksgivings past. He remembered the food, the fun, and football games watched with family.

None of that now. He didn’t want to think of Thanksgiving. It only made him think of what he was missing.

Then the phrase struck him: “What he was missing!”

It reminded him of what his grandmother had said years ago: “Don’t just be thankful for what you have, be also thankful for what you don’t have—for what is missing from your life.”

The words confused him then, but now he began to understand. He started to look at his life with fresh eyes. What was he missing?

Well, cancer, for one thing! He had no cancer. That’s what had taken his grandma away. He missed her, but was that something to be thankful for? Maybe he could give thanks that she did not have to suffer and now was in the glory of heaven.

What else was he missing? The list began to grow as he looked around. He was missing desolation and hunger. He was missing a life lived in the stench and poverty that these people had to endure. His life was lived without worry that a death squad would break into his family’s house.

He lived without the fear that Allah would punish him if he did not bow toward Mecca.

He remembered learning about the “Four Freedoms” speech that President Roosevelt gave when America was on the trailing edge of the Depression and moving toward the brink of war:

Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Freedom from want. Freedom from fear.

Loss of these freedoms was missing from his life.

Thank God for that!

But he knew his grandmother would be sure to point out other things missing from his life:

Fear of hopelessness. Fear of godlessness. Fear of meaninglessness. Fear of death.

Thank God for grandma! Thank God for all those who loved him; taught him; and prayed for him! Thank God for Jesus, for forgiveness, and salvation!

Life looked different now. The irritations remained, but so did the faith that God was with him.

He had been miserable, forgetful, and unthankful.

Then came thanksgiving—not just the day, but the words of thanksgiving flowing from his heart: O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endures forever.



We join in the words of the Thanksgiving hymn of our forefathers:

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.

Oh, may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever-joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us
And keep us in his grace and guide us when perplexed
And free us from all ills in this world and the next. Amen.
(Christian Worship 610:1-2)



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

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


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Remember – November 11, 2018

Remember – November 11, 2018


Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.
Deuteronomy 32:7




Military Devotion – November 11, 2018

Devotion based on Deuteronomy 32:7

See series: Military Devotions

It might be argued that we no longer know how to properly observe Veterans Day because we have forgotten Armistice Day.

There may be something to that. The generation that stopped in silence as church bells rang for two minutes each year at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month—that generation has faded away. The armistice went into effect exactly 100 years ago.

We might find some of their names etched into old gravestones. We might recall the words of their poem, “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row…” In a history book we might read that on one day, July 1, 1916, British forces suffered 57,470 casualties—including 19,240 fatalities (in one day!)—and gained three miles of blood-soaked soil.

Armistice Day was always observed, never celebrated. It was much too painful of a memory marker. Total World War I fatalities were over 20 million, with 21 million wounded. Over 116,000 American troops died in that war. Nothing to celebrate.

We don’t feel that pain. Our generation has been spared that anguish.

60 million lost their lives in World War Two. Over 400,00 were Americans. Add 34,000 Americans in Korea; over 58,000 in Vietnam; include the Gulf Wars, and the numbers become painful.

But many Americans don’t feel that pain. Some are too young. Some don’t care.

We do. We should. The name may now be Veterans Day, but the cause of the observance remains the same: We need to remember. There are lessons to be learned. Appreciations to be offered.

“Thank you for your service!” has replaced the “Baby killers!” that some Vietnam veterans heard. We thank God for that.

We thank him for those in the past who left behind factory jobs and college classrooms; those who left behind carpenter tools and horse-drawn plows; those who left behind high school sweethearts, weeping mothers, and moist-eyed fathers—because their country called.

We remember them.

We remember those who never fired a shot in anger, whose job was to load trucks; fill out forms; or prepare food. We needed them.

We remember those who had to make decisions that others would receive as orders. We remember those who tended to the wounded; and those who prayed with the dying.

We remember them all.

We remember them as gifts provided to our nation by a gracious God.

We remember him most of all. Without him, all valiant efforts would fail.

Without him, there would be no heaven for any of the fallen.

We remember that it was no armistice that his Bethlehem angels announced. Heaven’s declaration of peace between the Holy One and mankind stands through the end of time into forever.

We will not forget that.



We pray words from a generation long past:

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget! Amen.



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

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


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None missing – November 4, 2018

None missing – November 4, 2018


Then the officers who were over the units of the army—the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—went to Moses and said to him, “Your servants have counted the soldiers under our command, and not one is missing.
Numbers 31:48




Military Devotion – November 4, 2018

Devotion based on Numbers 31:48

See series: Military Devotions

The Missing Man flyover never fails to lift eyes to the skies. It prompts sobering thoughts. Reminders of missing warriors often do that.

The historian reports: “Even in World War I the lesson was learned that any unit could endure severe losses if the vacant seats in the mess were occupied by the following morning. This was the “full-breakfast-table” policy, and it was one that the Royal Air Force pursued with religious intensity. But the American stations did not fill up so quickly. The VIII Bomber Command in those days simply didn’t have the men to bring in.”

Empty seats can disturb us. It was a major concern for America’s Mighty 8th that flew daylight bombing runs over Germany in WWII. In August of 1943, that command lost 88 heavy bombers and 900 men over a three-day period.

Then came Black Thursday, on which 60 planes and 600 men failed to return.

They had been attacking ball-bearing factories. Though seemingly insignificant, the German military depended upon ball-bearings for almost all of its war machinery. The attacks on places like Schweinfurt were critical. The question was, were they worth the cost?

The empty seats at the breakfast tables and the empty cots in the barracks were blows to the morale of the airmen who would take to the skies next. Bomber Command was not able to send replacements fast enough to eliminate the disturbing signs of losses.

But empty spots are the price of any war. They make us count the cost in human lives.

Reminders of the missing bring pain to those who fought alongside them. Civilians may wonder how it can be that the loss of someone the warrior knew for only a relatively short time can hurt so much. To grieve over a family member is understandable. But to mourn the death of someone known only briefly—and still do so 30 years later—is mystifying to them.

To feel sad over the death of someone the warrior never met, whose only connection was the uniform both wore—that’s even more puzzling!

But those who have donned the uniform to protect a nation know that the bond between warriors may be different from that of family members—but it may be even stronger.

Reminders of the missing—be that by names on a wall, pictures in an album, or the flash of memories old—reopen wounds. The sunlight of happiness dims. In come the dark clouds of loss.

Defenders of ancient Israel also knew how it felt to see signs of missing warriors. But in the last days of Moses, they were reminded that the Lord their God was in complete control of the body count. If it was his will, a major battle could be fought without the loss of even one of their lives.

The Midianites had been a threat to Israel ever since the march to the Promised Land. When the showdown came, the Lord called up 1,000 from each tribe of Israel—12,000 in all—to take on this dangerous enemy of impressive size.

The victory by Israel was more impressive, as was the plunder. But most impressive was this: not one Israelite soldier was missing afterward.

The Lord God had loved each of them. Each one would be ransomed by his Son. The mighty God would win the war against sin and death for each of them—and for all of us.

All those who trust in him will find themselves celebrating the victory in heaven.

And, as it was following Midian’s defeat, not one of his own—not even one—will be missing.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have said that you would always be with us, be with us as we think of those special to us but who are now missing from earth. Let the thought of the missing man formation remind us that you once ascended into those skies to return to heaven. Comfort us with the assurance that none who put their faith in you here will there be missing there. Amen.



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

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


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