Military Devotions

DEFCON 1 – February 19, 2017

DEFCON 1 – February 19, 2017


Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.
Revelation 12:12




Military Devotion – February 19, 2017

Devotion based on Revelation 12:12

See series: Military Devotions

America’s DEFCON system reflects the likelihood of a nuclear war. DEFCON 1 means that an attack is imminent. All defenses should be activated.

If we apply that terminology to spiritual threats, we are surely at DEFCON 1.

Satan and all his demonic forces have been thrown out of heaven. The attacks that he made against the Son of God on earth failed miserably. The human race has been rescued from the bondage to sin and death. Thus, one might expect that we are out of danger.

Not so! Filled with fury, Satan is desperate to lead as many people as possible to the pits of hell prepared for him and his evil angels. He cannot accomplish this by force. His weapon is temptation.

And why would anyone be tempted to choose Satan over God, and death over life? Because it is our nature to do this—our sinful nature.

Rebellion against the Holy God appeals to our sinful nature. Satan uses this to his advantage. During the Cold War some Americans gave up their freedoms to live under Communism. Today some Americans want to align themselves with ISIS.

This doesn’t make sense to us. We shake our heads at their foolishness. We wonder what attracts them enough to cause them to give up so much. They must expect something good.

The spiritual landscape is similar. Satan promises rewards for his recruits. Rejecting God means freedom, he says. Sin offers everything your heart desires, he says. You will be safe with me, he says.

But, of course, he lies. He doesn’t care about humans. He doesn’t plan for their welfare or provide them with safety. He is out to destroy us. He is angry at God and wants to take it out on us.

He has only so many days before the world will end and he will be locked in forever hell. He knows that. The knowledge drives him on. He searches for more victims who will believe his lies.

Those who are on the side of God can rejoice in knowing that their rescue has been accomplished and their future is glorious.

But we still live in dangerous times. The enemy is still deadly. He is inside the wire.

When it comes to the level of danger from our Old Evil Foe, we are at DEFCON 1.



Prayer: God of power and life, we rejoice that Jesus has conquered sin, death, and the devil. We pray that we may be kept on the alert against all the threats of Satan, and that, remaining faithful to our God, we may share in the blessings of your Kingdom, now 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.




Bloodshed – February 12, 2017

Bloodshed – February 12, 2017


Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.
Genesis 9:6




Military Devotion – February 12, 2017

Devotion based on Genesis 9:6

See series: Military Devotions

There are those who say that it is wrong for a person to serve in the Armed Forces, and that to take a life in combat is murder.

We might dismiss that as being simply silly, but the Christian needs to know for certain if it is true. After all, murder is something that God is serious about.

God’s attitude toward human lives is very clear: they are to be protected. Unlike plants or animals, humans were created in God’s image. This does not mean that they looked like God, but that they were like God in a critical way—they were created holy, and with the knowledge of God’s holy will. They were special creatures made to rule over everything God had created.

Humans lost this likeness by rebelling against him. But we remained special. In fact, we regain his image, when the Holy Spirit creates faith in our hearts and restores us to friendship with God. The holiness of Christ is applied to us, and we live to serve him.

With sin forgiven, we look to God to learn what he wants us to do. We find out, that among other things, he wants us to protect human lives. We are also to be his agents of justice.

“Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed.” He could use lightning strikes to protect potential victims and to punish those who murder. Instead, he assigns that responsibility to us.

The application of this truth is clear for those in law enforcement or the court system. But it also directly applies to those who are charged with protecting a nation.

God has no time for those who use power to satisfy their desire to gain wealth or the control of others. Warriors who use their weapons to hurt or kill those who are no threat to them or their nation, will meet the fierce face of God.

But those who act to carry out their God-given duty to defend, do so by his authority and with his blessing. They are God’s gifts to a nation.

We regularly pray in our worship services, “Where there are wars, let there be peace.”

But when and where there is no peace, then we need people to provide protection.

Our war with God is over. The Prince of Peace has established peace between us and heaven.

But until we get to heaven, we will pray for people who will step forward to protect a nation from those who would shed the blood of the innocent—and we thank God for them.



Prayer: Holy God, we regret that we have lost the reflection of your holiness by being among those who rebelled against you. We praise you for restoring this through Jesus. We thank you for regarding human life as precious. We know that it is only during a person’s lifetime that one can come to faith and become a member of your family. Preserve our lives as we serve you, and use us to defend the lives of others. 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.




The name is Ishmael – February 5, 2017

The name is Ishmael – February 5, 2017


You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery.
Genesis 16:11




Military Devotion – February 5, 2017

Devotion based on Genesis 16:11

See series: Military Devotions

He was jealous of his baby brother. Maybe not so unlike other older children who thought the new one was grabbing the center of attention. But the ramifications of this rivalry would be unlike any other.

The little brother was the promised one from whose line would come the Jews—and the Savior. He was called Isaac. From the line of the older brother would come, among other people, the Arabs. He was called Ishmael.

Both were named by God. Both names were meaningful. When the birth of Isaac was promised, Abraham laughed in joy. His wife, Sarah, laughed as a skeptic. “Isaac” means laughter.

Ishmael’s name was born out of misery. His mother was a slave girl in his father’s household. His birth came about when Abraham and Sarah came up with their own way for Abraham to have a child in his old age. It was not God’s way, and misery followed.

When the slave, Hagar, became pregnant, she began to gloat over the fact and started to despise Sarah. Sarah retaliated by mistreating her. So she ran away. An angel of the Lord found Hagar in the desert and ordered her to return. Then the angel gave a promise: “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”

We see the evidence that this promise has been kept as we look at the Arab population. But there was more about Ishmael: “He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers” (Genesis 16:12). This, too, has come to pass.

Hagar was an Egyptian. She was a slave. She was insolent. She had willingly taken part in a scheme that led to adultery. She was finally thrown out of the household with her teenage son.

But she was not rejected by the Lord God. Salvation might come through the line of Isaac, thus of the Jews, but the offer of God’s kindness and mercy was for all people.

He knew of her pain. He knew of her misery. He heard her cry for help.

That’s why she was told to name her child, Ishmael. It means, “God hears.”

God hears. That’s something to remember when everything seems to be against us, when our heart calls out in misery. God hears! He always does. Just as he heard Hagar.

It’s good for us to remember the name: Ishmael!



Prayer: Heavenly Father, you hear! You see us on the days of our misery even if no one else can, or cares. You do not just walk by on the other side of the road, even though we may deserve that. You come to us in your Word. You reassure us that we are loved by you. You tell us of your mercy and your promises. You remind us that your plan is to prosper us and not to harm us. You point us to the sacrifice of your Son, as proof. We need nothing more. 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.




Peace on Earth – January 29, 2017

Peace on Earth – January 29, 2017


When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth.
Genesis 8:11




Military Devotion – January 29, 2017

Devotion based on Genesis 8:11

See series: Military Devotions

The waters raged against earth. Powerful streams gushed from below the surface. Torrents poured from the sky. The planet was in turmoil. From space, it probably looked as if it was in the throes of death.

Water lapped over mountain tops. Debris churned in the waves. Fish still swam underneath, but on top, only the dead floated. Except for one small craft, there was no life above the waters. No other hope glimmered. The Creator had stepped in to stop the madness of human rebellion. There was no sign of peace on the surface of planet earth.

Finally, the flooding waters crested and began to recede. But this, too, brought turmoil. Like a giant bathtub, the waters began to swirl and drain from the heights. Valleys were cut between mountains. Rushing waters tore loose rocks and trees as they headed downhill. Foliage and carcasses collected in piles. Some would turn into oil, and some into tar pits that future tourists would stare at.

Devastation and despair hovered over the drying planet. The aftermath was not pretty. Earth was still not at peace.

But hope had floated in the boat that Noah made. He had spent an entire year tossed by the raging waters and clinging to the divine promise. He and those with him would be the restart of life on planet earth.

It was not a brand new life on a new earth. The first humans had walked sinless in a paradise. Noah and his family dragged their sin with them from the ark like dirt onto a cleaned carpet. Thorns grew up in the washed soil. Soon the earth would again sprout graves.

But the promise of peace between God and man held as certain as the promise that the flood waters would go down and the plants would once again grow.

After the ark settled on the ground and the tops of mountains came into view, Noah checked to see if it was safe to leave. First he released a raven, but it returned because it found no place to land. Then a dove flew from the ark, but it too found only water.

Seven days later the dove was sent again. This time it came back with proof of life and safety. In its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf.

It was the sign of a state of peace on the planet. The disaster was over. Never again would there be a flood like this. That was God’s promise.

That green leaf was also a symbol of another promise by the Creator and Ruler of the universe. The Son of God would one day walk on Noah’s planet. Angels would announce his arrival. They would sing of peace.

The Promised One would offer the world the olive branch of peace everlasting.



Prayer: Holy Spirit, who once hovered over the waters of the unformed earth, we thank you for creating and sustaining the faith of people like Noah. You were there when the waters covered mountain tops. At your command, they fled the heights. You guided the dove to the olive branch. You assured Noah of peace. You have done the same with us through your olive branch of Word and sacraments. Drown our doubts. Refresh our souls. Let us live in the new world of peace eternal. 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.




Demonic doubt – January 22, 2017

Demonic doubt – January 22, 2017


The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”
Luke 4:3,4




Military Devotion – January 22, 2017

Devotion based on Luke 4:3,4

See series: Military Devotions

Satan is a master of strategy. It’s unnerving to recognize that the objective of his clever planning is our spiritual death. He disguises his moves. He sets up ambushes.

The temptation of Jesus early in his ministry is a case in point. At his baptism, the other two persons of the Trinity revealed their presence and support. From the Father’s lips came the pronouncement, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11).

We know that many people would never believe that Jesus was the beloved Son of God. The Devil’s goal was to make Jesus also doubt that.

Not Satan, but the Holy Spirit had led Jesus into a wilderness without food. Forty days later, the son of Mary was hungry. The question was, was he also faithful?

If he was the beloved of the Father, why had he been dragged into this desert without provisions? Had he been forgotten? Was he being punished? Had he been abandoned?

We understand the temptation that came to the human nature of Jesus. Doubts like that easily come to our mind when we are stressed.

We see a need. We feel a need. We look to heaven for relief, but none comes. We call to heaven for help and hear only silence.

Except—except for the whisper of Satan saying, “See! God doesn’t care. God doesn’t love. God cannot be counted on. You better forget about help from heaven and start taking steps to look out for yourself. Face it; you are on your own!

Of course Jesus could have turned stones into bread! But to do so under these circumstances would have been to betray his trust in his Father’s will—which included dying for the human race.

Jesus countered the temptation with Scripture. He pointed back to when Israel was led to a place without food in another wilderness. He repeated the lesson Israel had been taught when the people were fed by a miracle.

Moses had explained, “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:3).

It’s not protein and carbohydrates that keep us alive. We could be well-fed and still die.

The will of our heavenly Father sustains our life. He neither forgets nor forsakes those who love him. We can count on that.

There is no room in our lives for demonic doubt.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, we thank you for taking our place and standing up to the threats that Satan brings by means of the doubts he wants to place into us. Remind us of your example. Teach us again to go to Scripture as the weapon to use against the forces of darkness. Replace our shameful doubt with heaven-sent faith in our Savior God. 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.




The destroying angel – January 15, 2017

The destroying angel – January 15, 2017


Then the LORD spoke to the angel, and he put his sword back into its sheath.
I Chronicles 21:27




Military Devotion – January 15, 2017

Devotion based on I Chronicles 21:27

See series: Military Devotions

When Americans think of angels, some quickly picture those cute red cherubs seen on cards around Valentine’s Day. Those are fake. The next thought might be of guardian angels. Those are real. Yet, we seldom think of another type of angel—the destroying angel.

The scene shown us in I Chronicles 21 is a most unusual one. It’s worth reading the entire chapter. Evidently out of a sense of pride, King David calls for a count of his fighting men. He learns it is 1,100,000. That could make any commander happy. His Commander-in-chief was not. Sin is involved.

There will be consequences: either three years of famine; or three months of being swept away by an enemy; or “three days of the sword of the LORD—days of plague in the land, with the angel of the LORD ravaging every part of Israel.”

David chose the last one, saying, “Let me fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into human hands.”

So it was. Though God’s is mercy is great, the punishment was not light. “So the LORD sent a plague on Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell dead.”

When some 2,000 Americans were struck dead, our country went into shock. Cries for vengeance arose. Surely there was no less shock or sorrow in Israel when 70,000 died. And vengeance? There could be none. This was the hand of the holy God.

But this was only the opening action. We are told, “And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem.”

Horrible! Dreadful! The citizens of Jerusalem were helpless.

We tend to think lightly about sin. God does not. It is only because of his mercy that all of us have not been consumed. It was mercy that spared Jerusalem on that day. To the destroying angel the Lord said: “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The order was obeyed.

American warriors are not heavenly angels. But many have seen first-hand the destruction that the holy God sometimes allows. Their eyes have seen the misery and death that descends upon the helpless when the sword of war is drawn.

When lives are spared, when death and destruction have ceased, the cause is always the same: the mercy of God.

Jerusalem was spared. We are spared. We will live forever because of his mercy.

We live today because, the LORD spoke to the angel, and he put his sword back into its sheath.



Prayer: Holy God, who judges with the fist of righteousness and spares with the hand of mercy, your Word reminds us of what we deserve, and of what we have been spared. We are prepared to be agents of destruction upon the enemies of our country. We take that responsibility seriously. But we pray that we might not be needed. Change minds. Change hearts. Frustrate plans, so that we may guard peace instead of waging war. Show mercy on helpless people. We beg you, tell your angel to put his sword back into its sheath. 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.




Telling time – January 8, 2017

Telling time – January 8, 2017


And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years…”
Genesis 1:14




Military Devotion – January 8, 2017

Devotion based on Genesis 1:14

See series: Military Devotions

The stars keep perfect time. We humans do not.

We might have digital wristwatches and alarm clocks controlled from space. But we just cannot figure out how to make our calendars correct.

We thought we had the answer when we decided that there were 365 days in a year. But that was not quite right. At the end of 365 days there is some time left over. So, we decided to add a day to our calendar every four years. We put that extra day into February. We call that a leap year.

A true year, a solar year—the actual time it takes the earth to complete its orbit around the sun—lasts for 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds. That means that just adding a leap year every four years does not solve the problem. In time, we would have an extra 25 days (so summer would start in July, not June).

To fix this, the designers of the calendar decided to omit leap years every 400 years.

That helped. But it is still not exact. After 3,300 years, we will still be a full day off.

What does this tell us?

For all our knowledge, and in spite of all of the advances in technology, we still cannot correctly tell time.

That’s humbling news. It should remind us of the great difference between us and the Creator/Savior God. He is perfect, we are not. He is all-wise. We are just beginning to learn.

Time is a gift from our God. At just the right time he sent his Son to rescue us. At some point in time he will end this universe and all clocks will stop because time will stop.

Today we may be counting the time until we return from deployment. We may be counting how many birthdays we have celebrated. We may be counting down the days until we ship out. Some are counting the days until they are released from medical care.

That is only natural. Calendars and watches help us plan and prepare. They are gifts from God.

But we are not the slaves of the timekeepers. Time neither shapes our lives nor controls our destiny. Time is not a power. It is only a measurement.

Beyond time and space is God. He has chosen to have us spend our lifespan not in Abraham’s day, nor at the time of our great-great grandparents—but in the here and now so that we might serve him now. That’s all we need to know.

This is the first month of a new year. It’s a good month to remember that time is in our Lord’s hands. We cannot control it.

We cannot even correctly tell the time.



Prayer: God of might and mercy, in your loving wisdom you have placed us into this time of earth’s history. We are glad to live at a time of modern medicine and modern conveniences. We realize, however, that we face physical and spiritual dangers greater than those who have lived before us. Shield us with your care and strengthen us with your power so that we may spend our time serving you faithfully and serving others joyfully. 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.




With a hope and a prayer – January 1, 2017

With a hope and a prayer – January 1, 2017


For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11




Military Devotion – January 1, 2017

Devotion based on Jeremiah 29:11

See series: Military Devotions

We step into a new year with a hope and a prayer. We are wise enough to know that the future is unknown to us. We are bold enough to expect that the new year will be good to us.

The greeting, “Happy New Year!” is a wish. Our hope stands on something more solid. We call it a sure hope because it rests in a future that is certain. It is God-guaranteed.

“I know the plans I have for you…” The One who speaks those words is not wishing good things for us, he is preparing them.

“Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” Harm is what we fear. Prosper is what we pray for.

However, to prosper does not mean that we become rich or famous—not in God’s book. The word Jeremiah used for prosper is the same as the word for peace. The warrior understands the value of peace better than most people.

Peace among nations reduces potential harm. Peace among comrades is a blessing. Peace within families is a treasure. Peace of mind is beyond value.

But all this pales in comparison to peace with God.

The echo of the voices of the Christmas angels still sounds in our ears. If there is peace between us and God, then everything is all right. Then everything is good. Then we have nothing to fear.

Dangers may arise and doubts may beckon. Our plans may come to nothing. God’s plans are always certain.

Who can oppose him? Can enemies or accidents or disease or frailty stop what he has in mind for us?

Name the threat that the new year might bring. Match that threat against the eternal, all-powerful One. Which is going to win? Which is going to fade like the fog?

The Christ of Christmas still rules heaven and earth. If he leads us through the dark valleys of life, he will be there to carry us to the bright peaks of life.

Our prayer for the new year is a big prayer. We skip over the little things that may bother us, but pass in time. We don’t want to just survive. We want victory.

That means, we want God.

That is our prayer.



We pray words from the Christmas hymn we once sang with child-like faith:
Be near me Lord Jesus; I ask you to stay
Close by me forever and love me, I pray.
Bless all the dear children in your tender care,
And take us to heaven to live with you there. Amen.
Christian Worship 68:3



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

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




Incoming angels – December 25, 2016

Incoming angels – December 25, 2016


An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
Luke 2:9




Military Devotion – December 25, 2016

Devotion based on Luke 2:9

See series: Military Devotions

They were caught in the open on unprotected fields. The guards they had posted were watching for threats on the ground. They had given little thought to the terror that would descend from the skies. They were unprepared for incoming angels.

We look back on that field outside of Bethlehem that night with pleasant thoughts. We dress up our children up as shepherds for Christmas programs. We sing of joy and peace.

We forget about the terror.

The baby in the manger was no doubt cute. Though he was Lord of all, he appeared helpless. The one deployed to announce his arrival was neither cute nor helpless. His appearance left those shepherds shell-shocked. It lit up the sky in a blaze of glory.

“The glory of the Lord” has distinctive characteristics that cause shock and awe. Blazing fire is part of it. Moses saw it in a bush that did not burn up. Israelites saw it on Mount Sinai amidst lightening and smoke. They saw it in a fiery cloud that led them through the wilderness.

It was a manifestation of the presence of the holy eternal God—and the sight was always fearful to those infested with sin. It was more frightening than an incoming mortar round would be. It contained more power than an atomic bomb would ever have.

But it was designed to protect, not to destroy. Every time the Bible reports its appearance, it is tied to a rescue mission from heaven. The holy God comes with overwhelming force against his enemies.

So it was on that Christmas Eve. Accompanying the squadron of angels was a display of the glorious firepower of the Lord. It would consume his enemies without harming his own. Not one person would fall victim to friendly fire.

Many who have seen combat have seen fire in the night sky that heralded incoming weapons of death. They remember the feeling of terror.

Far different to see these angels coming in! They posed no danger! They were friendlies. They came to announce that the war between God and mankind was over.

The report of incoming angels warms our Christmas hearts. Their good news is meant for us. We remember their words. We echo their song:

“To God on high be glory! And peace on earth to men.”

We wish we could have seen those angels and heard their songs.

One day we will.



Prayer: Lord of glory and Savior of mankind, the holiness of your presence can terrify us. The sight of your angels can shock us. But you remind us that holy angels are commissioned to help and befriend us. Angels have brought the good news that shall be to all people. They were the first to announce the Savior’s birth. They will be the first to greet us as we leave this earth forever. We wait for incoming angels. We celebrate Christmas with their song. 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.




Midnight clear – December 18, 2016

Midnight clear – December 18, 2016


And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”
Luke 2:10,11




Military Devotion – December 18, 2016

Devotion based on Luke 2:10,11

See series: Military Devotions

We sing, “It came upon a midnight clear…” without knowing if there was cloud cover over Bethlehem that night or not. But then, clear skies were not the most important element. A clear sight and a clear sound—that was critical.

We are introduced to the Creator God by means of written words. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). God gave those words to Moses as the Holy Spirit moved him to write them down.

We are introduced to the event of Christmas by means of written words. “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed” (Luke 2:1).

But the heart and meaning of Christmas were relayed by a living messengers, who would communicate it directly to representatives of the human race. It was an extraordinary message. It required extraordinary steps.

An angelic force was dispatched from heaven. It was imperative that the humans would see and hear them clearly. The shepherds were not to be left wondering if they had been dreaming. There was to be no doubt about the exact message.

“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid” (Luke 2:9).

They knew what they saw. These were angels.

They knew what they heard. In Bethlehem, Christ the Lord had been born to rescue them.

They went to see it with their own eyes. Then they told others what they had seen and heard.

By the work of the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Luke, they have also told us.

In stressful situations, many a message has become garbled and misunderstood. Confusion has resulted, and sometimes people perished.

Not this time. Not this message. Not the most important news a desperate people needed to hear. It has been relayed to us loud and clear: Fear not! Good tidings of great joy! To all people!

Our response?

Roger that!



Prayer: As we approach our annual celebration of your birth into the world, Lord Jesus, we are delighted to review the message once delivered to us by angels. No doubt can remain about your willingness to rescue us. No question lingers in our minds. You were born as promised. We have been rescued. Now we await the return of a squad of angels to provide our airlift home. Amen.



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

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




Training cancelled – December 11, 2016

Training cancelled – December 11, 2016


Nor will they train for war anymore.
Isaiah 2:4




Military Devotion – December 11, 2016

Devotion based on Isaiah 2:4

See series: Military Devotions

When the angels announced to Bethlehem shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men,” they were declaring a state of peace and good will between the Creator God and the human race. They were not announcing a state of peace among humans.

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, warned his people, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars…” (Matthew 24:6). The state of warfare among humans will last until Jesus returns in glory.

If it were not so, no nation would need armed forces. America would need no Department of Defense. Troops would not need to train for war. We could cancel basic training—and all the training that follows. In the words of a ‘60s song, “And peace will rule the planets.”

But the history of the world since the Garden of Eden can be traced by going from one war to another, and that includes the history of our country.

That makes some people question the validity of Bible passages that talk about nations at peace, of swords being turned into plowshares, and nations no longer threatening other nations. Since preparation for war is one of the greatest deterrents against war, it is difficult to envision nations not even training for war. Is this the same kind of wishful thinking that marked a Hippie generation?

God does not speculate with wishful thinking. He does not promise something that he will not deliver. There will be a time of perfect peace among nations. Peoples of different cultures and languages, people who once fought against each other, are already now living in peace. Peace may not rule the planets, but it shows itself in Christ’s Church and it does reign in heaven.

Within the Holy Christian Church, made up of people of God in heaven and on earth, stands a peace that neither laws nor armies can make; that neither cultures nor customs can break.

This does not mean that sin does not appear in the lives of these people, or that they never quarrel or fight. It does mean that they are forgiven. It leads them to proclaim together, “In the peace of forgiveness, let us praise the Lord.” Inner peace with God spreads toward outward peace with others.

Evil still exists in this world, and evil must be opposed—with force, if need be—otherwise it will spread. We are still in the Church Militant.

But most in the Holy Christian Church have already been transferred to the Church Triumphant. For them, perfect peace reigns. Right now, Arabs and Jews are united in joyful faith in heaven. Alongside of them are Germans and Russians, Africans and Italians, Japanese, Chinese, and Americans.

Before God’s throne of glory gather those who have placed their faith in the Christ of Christmas as the only Lord, and Savior, and King.

There is no war in heaven. There is no need to train for it.



We pray the words of the hymn:

Savior, again to thy dear name we raise
With one accord our parting hymn of praise.
Once more we bless thee ere our worship cease,
Then, lowly bending, wait thy word of peace.

Grant us thy peace throughout our earthly life,
Our balm in sorrow and our stay in strife.
Then, when thy voice shall bid our conflict cease,
Call us, O Lord, to thine eternal peace. Amen.

Christian Worship 321



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.




Set aside time – December 4, 2016

Set aside time – December 4, 2016


But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the adoption to sonship.
Galatians 4:4




Military Devotion – December 4, 2016

Devotion based on Galatians 4:4

See series: Military Devotions

He set aside time for us! We no more deserved his attention and care than the angels who had rebelled against him. He later called those angels demons. He abandoned them to death and darkness. Yet for us he took the time and made the effort to give us Christmas.

It was a very expensive Christmas. It took much planning and intensive preparation.

Centuries were spent in paving the way for the Son of God to enter the world as a human child. It’s not that God needed the time, it was the world that needed to be prepared.

Step by step the pieces of the plan were put into place. The nation of Israel, the People of God, needed to be developed. Heathen nations and godless rulers needed to carry out their roles. A common language needed to be developed—it turned out to be Greek. A time of peace among nations needed to be established so that the news of a Savior might be carried far and wide—that happened during the reign of the Roman ruler, Caesar Augustus, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

He set aside time for us! He built our welfare into his busy schedule of controlling the universe. We were important to him.

We know about busy schedules. This is the holiday season. There are houses to decorate, and gifts to buy, parties to go to, regular work to be done—and there is so little time to do it in.

Unless—unless we are deployed to some far-off place or on a ship bobbing on an ocean. Then our time is not our own. Then tasks and missions and schedules clutter our lives far from home. Then it may seem like this year we will need to skip Christmas. Not!

If we are deployed: there will be time; we can find time; we will make time to ponder the Christmas event and rejoice that our Savior has been born.

If we are stateside: could it turn out that this year we will be too busy with preparing to celebrate Christmas that we will end up not setting aside time for the Christ of Christmas?

Might it be that we spend so much money trying to provide a merry Christmas that we forget how much Christmas cost the Savior God?

Have we forgotten that it cost Jesus his life to be with us on Christmas?

Would we trade in the joy of salvation for a present in a box?

Surely not.

Surely we will set aside time for him this Christmas as he visits us in his Word.

Surely we have enough time for that.



Prayer: O almighty and everlasting God, you took the time to consider our needs. You laid the plans for our rescue to take place. You were willing to pay an unbelievable price to ransom us. You gave us peace with yourself, hope in every circumstance, and an inheritance in glory. Enable and empower us to refresh our souls as we ponder the entrance of the Son of God into this world as our brother. Accept our thanks for giving us Christmas. 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.




Skipping Thanksgiving – November 24, 2016

Skipping Thanksgiving – November 24, 2016


Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.
Psalm 103:2




Military Devotion – November 24, 2016

Devotion based on Psalm 103:2

See series: Military Devotions

Many reasons can be found for skipping Thanksgiving. At the head of the list are the labels Entitlement and Rejection.

We are not prone to thank someone for what we believe we are entitled to anyway. We are not inclined to thank someone for something we do not want.

We are not talking about the cop, or the soldier, or the nurse who must work an extra shift on that national holiday. They may say, “I didn’t get a chance to celebrate Thanksgiving this year.” That does not necessarily mean they spend their lives skipping the giving of thanks.

Entitlement is a big issue for those who for so long have received so much. We begin to feel that we have a right to certain blessings because we have always had them.

Freedom is a good example. Most Americans have never lived a day under the control of a foreign force. Ask any POW about that. The loss of a blessing sharpens our value of it. Returning POWs have not kissed American soil just for show.

We are not entitled to any blessing. Each one is a gift undeserved. Good food, good family, good friends, good health, good education—all gifts of a good God.

“…and forget not all his benefits.”

Rejection happens more often than we might think. Some blessings we do not want. We tend to value something according to how it makes us feel. If it makes us feel happy and safe, it must be to our benefit. If it causes pain or fear—well, that’s not a good thing.

Years ago, a pastor wrote a book titled, Thank God for my Breakdown! He explained that despite the anguish it brought into his life, his mental breakdown ended up being one of the best things that could have happened to him. It made him re-evaluate his life. It drove him to his knees in prayer. It caused him to understand the depth of the words he had often spoken in worship, “My help is in the name of the Lord.”

He ended up being much more able to minister to people who were in mental stress.

“…and forget not all his benefits.”

No matter what circumstances we may find ourselves in this Thanksgiving; no matter if we can gather with family over roasted turkey, or must huddle with comrades over cold MREs; no matter if we still have all our arms and legs—or not; we are blessed beyond measure. We cannot deny that.

Surely we would not forget the peace we have with God because of the sacrifice his Son made for us. Surely we would forget how he has guided and guarded us through life. Surely we would not forget the inheritance in glory that is waiting for us.

Surely, we will not skip Thanksgiving.



Prayer: O almighty and everlasting God, who has given us what we needed year after year, and has crowned our time on life with your goodness, give us grateful hearts that we might thank you with all sincerity for all your loving-kindness—and magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. 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.




Not my King – November 20, 2016

Not my King? – November 20, 2016


I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.
Psalm 2:6




Military Devotion – November 20, 2016

Devotion based on Psalm 2:6

See series: Military Devotions

Americans tend to not like kings. We got rid of the last one in 1776, and haven’t gone looking for another.

We like to have a say in how we are going to be ruled. A ruling power that is, “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” is our government of choice.

But even that doesn’t completely satisfy us. We want those who rule over us to do so in a way that we agree with, otherwise we might object and protest. What it comes down to is that we want things to go our way. We want to be our own king over our own lives. We tend to rebel if that is not happening.

We have rebelled at times against parents and teachers. We rebel inwardly against superiors who give orders we consider foolish. Some rebel against a newly elected President. But worst of all is the human rebellion against the holy God. If there is a choice, sinful human nature will pick a disastrous ruler over the loving God every time.

Chilling words of Israelites still echo in our minds. When asked about the role of Jesus of Nazareth in their life, they shouted back to Pontius Pilate, “We have no king but Caesar.”

What a shame! When Pilate had asked if he were a king, Jesus replied: “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 18:37).

Rejection of Jesus as King does not remove him from power. It does not relieve him of command. It does not free us from his control. What it does accomplish is the loss of his saving grace. We end up as his enemies instead of his friends—rebels instead of faithful.

Many is the number of people who have chosen to reject him as Lord, Savior, and King. Many are the powerful and popular among that number. It makes no difference. The psalmist reports, “The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them” (Psalm 2:4).

The total force of the outrage of the human race against the almighty God is less of a threat to him than an angry ant would be to us. The psalmist continues: “Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, ‘I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.’”

Those are words that cause his followers to cheer. Their hope is certain. Their future is secure. They know what this means for their individual lives. The Kingdom of the Son of God lasts forever and ever. It is not an elected office. It is as eternal as the Godhead itself is.

He takes care of his own. He elevates them to positions of power and glory. “Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psalm 2:12).

No wonder we delight to point to him as “My Lord and my God!” and to tell the world, “He is the King of glory.”

“He is my King!”



We pray in the words of the hymn:

O Jesus, King of glory, Both David’s Lord and son!
Your rule endures forever; In heaven is your throne.
Help that in earth’s dominions, From pole to farthest pole,
Your reign may spread salvation to each benighted soul. Amen.
Christian Worship 94



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.




These days – November 13, 2016

These days – November 13, 2016


And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?
Esther 4:14




Military Devotion – November 13, 2016

Devotion based on Esther 4:14

See series: Military Devotions

What are we to make of these days? Did you ever expect to live through times such as our news is reporting? What would our great-grandparents think of our times?

Surely people of a few generations back would never have guessed we would be getting driving directions from space. Imagine their surprise to see a group of people sitting together at a restaurant—all staring at separate cell phones!

Much would amaze them. But also much would disturb them—even as we find some things to be disturbing.
Early in the last century the saying was, “Every day in every way the world is getting better and better.” Who says that today?

How much more likely are we to hear someone say that they are giving up on this world. Some think that moving to a different country would solve their problems. Others realize that there is no place anywhere in the world that is problem-free.

Where does this leave us? Exactly where God wants us to be.

He could have had us born at the time that Jesus walked this earth, or when our nation agreed that, “In God We Trust.” But he chose us to live during these days, just as he once chose a Jewish girl to live among a godless people as a queen.

Her name was Esther. She became queen by winning a beauty contest after the former queen was dumped by her husband. That already shows something about the morals and the politics of the country she was living in.

Then things got worse. The government decided to eliminate the Jews. It was an early version of Hitler’s final solution. This would be a holocaust. But Esther would be safe. They did not know she was a Jew—unless she told them.

It was her uncle that asked if maybe this was why God had led her to the position she was in. She knew it was true. She knew what she had to do. She risked her life, revealed her identity, and used her influence to have the death-decree reversed.

For a time such as this… It makes us think, doesn’t it? It makes us wonder why we have been placed here at this time?

There are those who say that our nation is at a time of crisis. Maybe it is. But it is not left adrift in a sea of change. There is a guiding hand. There are boundaries in place. We may not see that. But we are part of that. We have a role in this.

Like an Esther, we live in a hostile world. Sometimes we open ourselves to attack and danger if we do the right thing. Sometimes we seem out of place by calling out to the world that there is a God in the heavens—and his way, and his will is going to prevail.

At a time and confusion and fear, we can point people to reality and hope.

We can point them to the Savior God.



Prayer: We realize that you, heavenly Father, are Lord of all. We willingly place our lives into your hands because we know of your love for us and your power to rule over the world. We remember that your Son came to a time and place so that our salvation could be won for us. We ask that we follow his example of using the times and places you provide for doing your work by following your will. Grant this for His sake. 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.




Honor – November 6, 2016

Honor – November 6, 2016


Give to everyone what you owe them: … if honor, then honor.
Romans 13:6b




Military Devotion – November 6, 2016

Devotion based on Romans 13:6b

See series: Military Devotions

It began with a haircut unlike any they had ever received. It continued with a set of clothes that almost fit. It led to something called “basic training” and the thought: I hope I make it through this.

That was not the only time the fear of surviving arose. There were more tests, more training, and more chances of failing.

But for some, the question of making it through this took on a more serious edge. Some went on to wonder about making it through the landing on Guadalcanal. Some worried about the beaches at Normandy, and some wondered if they would survive the Frozen Choson of Korea.

Later warriors wondered if they would make it through a year in Southeast Asia. Then came those who worried about Scud attacks and poisonous gas. Still others reported from the Korengal Valley: “God is not here!”

The words, I hope I make it through this! came many times to many minds.

Then came the day when it didn’t matter what the haircut was like, and daily clothes were a matter of choice. Uniforms were packed away with memories. They are now U.S. Military Veterans.

And many found themselves saying: I hope I can make it through this—being a civilian.

What are we to think of these people, these veterans? Of what use are they now? Do they really think they can return to be the civilian they were before that first military haircut?

They cannot. They will always be different. They will look at life differently from the person who was never taught to kill. What they have seen cannot be unseen. What they have done cannot be undone. It is part of them. They are veterans.

It makes no difference what our view might have been about the policy of the government when these were young people in uniform. It matters little what the general attitude is about veterans. What counts is what God says.

God says: “Give to everyone what you owe them: …if honor, then honor.”

We owe our veterans honor. The command is not unlike when our Lord tells us to honor our father and mother. Veterans are God’s gift to the nation they have defended. Like an elderly parent, not all of them are as spry as they once were, not all could leap to our defense any longer.

But they were young once. And for as long as the Lord of the Nations called them to duty, they served as his instrument for our defense.

By honoring our veterans, we are honoring our God.



Prayer: Lord of the nations and Savior of mankind, we thank you for the gift that you have given to America in the form of persons who have spent time in defense of our nation. Some of them were drafted. Some volunteered. But all served. Enable us to see more clearly your heavenly hand in the protection of our nation, and lead us to honor you by honoring those who have served our country honorably. Give America more like them. 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.




Shield me from alarm – October 30, 2016

Shield me from alarm – October 30, 2016


His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
Psalm 91:4




Military Devotion – October 30, 2016

Devotion based on Psalm 91:4

See series: Military Devotions

There is much in this world that can alarm us. Those who would defend a nation spend considerable time preparing for alarming situations. But chest pain or wrong-way traffic can set off an alarm as easily as weapons of war.

We live in a dangerous world. Not only the terrorist brings terror. Not only are bodies subject to attack. PTSD reminds us of the horror that can threaten the mind. God reminds us of the terror that can strike the soul.

Alarmed by the threat of physical pain and death is a terrifying situation. To be alarmed by the threat of eternal pain and death defies description.

We want protection from both. We want to be on guard against both. But we do not always see danger coming. We do not always have the ability to escape it.

We need a shield from the enemy. We need to storm against that enemy. A rampart gives a position to launch an attack from. Both must be strong. They must always be in place.

Where can we find such things? Even the best trained and equipped military in the world cannot guarantee something like this against earthly threats, how much less can it protect against forces from the pit of hell.

We point to the answer in one of our hymns. We sing: “A mighty fortress is our God, a trusty shield and weapon.” We admit: “With might of ours can naught be done; soon were our loss effected.” We explain why: “The old evil foe now means deadly woe; deep guile and great might are his dread arms in fight; on earth is not his equal.”

The words, Desert Shield and Desert Storm have become part of American vocabulary. Those two campaigns responded to an alarming situation. Students of military strategy will study the details of those effective responses for years to come.

The writer of the 91st Psalm knew nothing about scud missiles or armored tanks. But he did understand the importance of protection and counterattack. He realized that the old evil foe laughs at the feeble efforts of humans to defend themselves against supernatural forces.

When the conscience cries out in alarm, when terror spreads through the soul, then a Super Power must step in. Then heavenly forces must be deployed.

Thank God, that has happened. We can sing: “We tremble not, we fear no ill; they shall not overpower us.” And why the confidence? “But for us fights the valiant one whom God himself elected. You ask, ‘Who is this?’ Jesus Christ it is, the almighty Lord. And there’s no other God; he holds the field forever.”

“And shield me from alarm” is a prayer that is part of an evening hymn that mothers taught, and sometimes sang, to little children being tucked into bed.

It is a good prayer for people of any age, in any circumstance—day or night.

It is a good prayer for us today.



Prayer:
“Lord Jesus, who dost love me,
Oh, spread Thy wings above me, and shield me from alarm!
Though evil would assail me,
Thy mercy will not fail me:
I rest in Thy protecting arm.” 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.




Cloud cover – October 23, 2016

Cloud cover – October 23, 2016


You have covered yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can get through.
Lamentations 3:44




Military Devotion – October 23, 2016

Devotion based on Lamentations 3:44

See series: Military Devotions

They were “socked in.” The cloud cover was so heavy that aircraft could not get through to drop supplies or attack the enemy. They were at the mercy of weather they had neither the clothing nor the equipment to overcome. They were caught in the Battle of the Bulge. It was December, 1944.

Their commander, Lt. General George Patton decided to go far up the chain-of-command for help. He ordered one of his chaplains to write a prayer. The prayer began, “Almighty and most merciful Father, we beseech Thee…to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle…”

History shows that shortly after the prayer was offered, the skies cleared. It seems God heard that prayer and stepped in to help the Allies.

This has become part of American legend. But it makes us wonder what would have happened if the skies had not cleared? Would that be a sign that God was against us? Would it mean that God did not care who won the Battle of the Bulge? Would Patton have thought that his prayer had not gotten through?

That’s the conclusion Jeremiah reached at one time in his life. It may well be that we have decided the same at some time or other in our life—maybe even right now.

It happens when the situation seems serious—maybe desperate. We bombard heaven with calls for help. But nothing happens. Surely it cannot be that God is too busy to answer. It certainly cannot be that God doesn’t like us, and so ignores our calls. Jesus testifies to the opposite.

So maybe it is like what Jeremiah thought. Maybe at times God is so hidden with mysterious, holy, cloud cover that no prayer can get through.

But that’s foolish talk. And Jeremiah knows it. These are thoughts that grow out of desperation, and not from faith. A little earlier the prophet had written: “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail” (Lamentations 3:21,22).

His compassions never fail. God is not governed by our timetable, but he understands our anguish. He is not limited to the options that we can see. He operates in a field of unlimited visibility. He does not need to ask for help. He is the Help of the helpless.

We live our life in the fog of war. We see only a small piece of what is happening around us. We understand even less.

We forget that prayer offered in faith is like a guided missile: it flies straight to its locked-in target. It knows the way to faith’s home. It flies to the heart of God.

The cloud cover over Germany in December of ’44 did not stop angels from getting through to support the souls of desperate troops.

Neither did it stop Patton’s prayer from getting through to Headquarters.

Nor will any cloud cover, natural, mental, or supernatural, ever stop ours.



Prayer: Almighty God and most merciful Father, we beseech Thee to restrain these immoderate fears and doubts with which we have had to contend. In our struggle against evil, grant us fair weather for battle. 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.




Summer has ended – October 16, 2016

Summer has ended – October 16, 2016


The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved.
Jeremiah 8:20




Military Devotion – October 16, 2016

Devotion based on Jeremiah 8:20

See series: Military Devotions

“Autumn leaves are now falling, red and yellow and brown. Autumn leaves are now falling, see them tumbling down.” School children in Wisconsin used to sing this song about this time of year. The change of seasons cannot be missed in that part of the country. The falling leaves are a sure sign that summer has ended.

Those who cried out the words that Jeremiah here records had also seen the sure signs of the end of summer—and it frightened them.

They weren’t worrying about the coming of freezing temperatures and drifting snow. Their dread centered on the judgment of the Lord God.

They had thought they did not need him. They had grown confident in their own ability to face what life would throw at them. Besides, they had strong allies. But now destruction was rolling toward them on horseback. Vicious enemies had overrun their cities. Now those people call out: “Why are we sitting here? Gather together! Let us flee to the fortified cities and perish there! For the LORD our God has doomed us to perish…” (Jeremiah 8:14)

More than one person and more than one nation has decided that the Holy One in heaven can be relegated to the sidelines. His warnings go unheeded. His invitations go unanswered. He is ignored. It will not be left that way. Those people will be doomed.

Punishment inflicted by a fierce enemy has often been the response that the Lord chooses. Destruction, decimation, and death surge over those who reject him.

So it was with ancient Israel. It was painful to watch. We read the cry from the lips of Jeremiah, “Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people” (Jeremiah 9:1).

But what good does that do? Tears for the fallen come too late. Hope applies only to the living. Thank God, some did survive. It is they who lament, “The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved.” The cry of desperation begs for an answer. They have learned one lesson. They are helpless and hopeless without the Lord God.

Another lesson must be taught them. The God of Israel is the hope of the hopeless. He will not reject those who call to him for help.

All mankind needs to learn these lessons. The entire human race is facing the swift march of time. An entire lifetime may seem to pass as quickly as a child’s summer vacation. Tragic are those who look back at the summer of their life and must lament, “and we are not saved.”

Jeremiah learned the lessons. He calls out: “Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise” (Jeremiah 17:14).

It is a lesson we all need to learn—before our summer ends.



Prayer: Holy, Triune God, the swift passing of the seasons testify to us that our days are numbered and our time is short. We have no time to look for another Savior because there is only one. You have shown him to us. His name is Jesus. In his name we call to you for healing of spirit and rescue of life. Amen.



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

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




Laughable – October 9, 2016

Laughable – October 9, 2016


They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead.
Luke 8:53




Military Devotion – October 9, 2016

Devotion based on Luke 8:53

See series: Military Devotions

Many people find Jesus laughable. What he says seems ridiculous. What he claims about himself seems outlandish. Who can take him seriously?

His followers can. His disciples do. He makes no promise—and no threat—that he does not back up with action.

It was not a humorous situation. A 12-year-old girl was dying. Her father came to Jesus, begging for help.

Instead of making a bee-line to the girl, Jesus stopped to treat a woman who had been suffering from a disease for 12 years. The next thing we hear is, “While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher anymore.”

What a shame! What a tragedy! Didn’t Jesus know this was an emergency? Could he not have told the woman to wait until he tended to the dying girl? If she had been dealing with her condition for 12 years, couldn’t she wait just a little while longer?

What was Jesus thinking?

Jesus was thinking that he was the Lord of life and death and that all power was in his hands. Jesus was thinking that he would answer both prayers for help in the way that he knew would be best. He would show forth his glory as the Son of God.

He went to the house that death had entered. It was filled with chaos and tears. With three of his disciples and the parents of the girl, he waded into the crowd of the grief-stricken. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”
That’s when they laughed at him.

They thought they knew better. They were sure there was no hope for the girl. They knew that no one wakes up from death.

But they did not know Jesus. They did not know he was the Son of God. They may have heard that he was a prophet from Nazareth. Perhaps they had heard of some wondrous things he had done, and people that he had healed.

But this was different. This was death. To hear from Jesus that death is but a sleep was laughable.

But it was true. It is still true.

Laughter is part of the life of a follower of Jesus. That person can laugh at things others tremble at. It comes with the confidence of knowing that all things will work together for the good of those who love God. Jesus has said this, and it is as true as when he said of the girl, “She is not dead but asleep.” Because of Jesus, we will wake from our sleep of death.

Because of Jesus, our death is laughable.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have conquered death by dying in our place. You are Lord over all. Blessed are they who take refuge in you. Send the Holy Spirit in greater measure into our hearts so that our trust in you may grow strong. Take us back to your Word so that we can see your love and power in action. Enable us to laugh in the face of death, knowing that life with you awaits us. 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.




Run to glory – October 2, 2016

Run to glory – October 2, 2016


But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses…
I Timothy 6:11,12




Military Devotion – October 2, 2016

Devotion based on I Timothy 6:11,12

See series: Military Devotions

We live life on the run. We are constantly on the move. We are always leaving something behind; even if it is only yesterday. We are always heading towards something new; even it is only tomorrow. Apart from time, we are regularly running from something, and running toward something else. The question is, from what and to what?

When the Apostle Paul wrote to young Timothy, he pointed out: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (vs.10). This is what Timothy was to run from.

Righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness—this is what he was to run to.

But that would not be a natural instinct. Human nature expects that wealth will bring about the good life, the easy life, and fun. It does not expect that it may bring grief. It will fight that idea.

It isn’t money that’s the problem. It’s the love of money. It is the turning of money into the altar of an idol. When money comes first in life, God does not come in at a close second. He is eliminated from the field. If the Lord is not God in our life, he is only a god. We might think about him, even worry about him—but not fear, love, and trust in him above all things.

Run from the idolatry of money! It causes people to wander from saving faith. That brings grief, not joy. The altar of money spits out worthless checks and fake medals.

Run, instead, to glory! Run after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. The glory God offers is golden, and so is the life that comes with it.

If the average American moves a lot, the warrior American can expect to move more. A PCS is not permanent. The next move may be across an ocean or onto an ocean. Moving is one of the few certainties the military offers.

But no matter how the geography may change, the final destination does not. The Christian warrior knows that he is in the fight of his life against forces of evil that would have him turn traitor against his Commander, and give up citizenship in his heavenly Kingdom. The love of money is a weapon in Satan’s hands.

But that is not an ultimate weapon. We have seen it misfire with our own eyes. This IED blows to bits the soul that clings to it. This is not our weapon. This is not our destiny.

We run from Satan—with all his works and all his ways. We run to our Father in heaven.

We are running to glory.



Prayer: God of grace and glory, we admit that we are tempted to run after the things that money can buy. It is easy for us to count on money to solve our problems, forgetting that this is only a tool that you can use to help us in life. It is easy for us to forget that the most precious things in life are things that money cannot buy. Remind us of the treasure of eternal life that you have already bought for us. Help us run 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.




Count the cost – September 25, 2016

Count the cost – September 25, 2016


Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
Luke 14:31-33




Military Devotion – September 25, 2016

Devotion based on Luke 14:31-33

See series: Military Devotions

Jesus does not try to sell discipleship the way some try to sell used cars. He doesn’t want that step to be based upon emotion. He doesn’t picture his disciples as living in ease and luxury. He wants us to be sure of what we are getting into.

He says it is going to be a fight. He warns it is going to cost. We might expect that since it seems anything of value costs something. But we may not be prepared for the price he names: Everything!

This may be confusing. Isn’t salvation given to us free of charge? So why does Jesus talk about a cost?

He did buy forgiveness for us. Salvation is free. But to live the life of a redeemed child of God demands commitment and sacrifice. Nothing can be more important in our life than Jesus. Nothing dare hold us back from following him. We may need to give up some things to be a disciple. We need to be ready to give up everything.

Those who wear the uniform of the Armed Forces perhaps understand this better than most. Doesn’t the mission come first? Might not a comfortable home and a loving family be left behind when duty calls? Aren’t we willing to sacrifice even our life in defense of our country?

Magnify all of these things to capture the image of a disciple of Jesus. To be a Christian does not always mean we must give up our friends—but it may. To be a Christian does not always mean we must give up our possessions—but it may. To be a Christian does not necessarily mean that we must give up our life—but it certainly may.

Some followers of Jesus in the past have had to give up all of these to remain his disciples. Some may be doing that today. So might we. Face it!

A few years ago a young soldier in Iraq told me, “Chaplain, you must realize that I expect to die here.” He wasn’t being melodramatic or pessimistic. He had simply faced the fact that to be a faithful soldier he needed to be ready to lose everything. He was willing to do that. He was not alone.

Count the cost! Those words are not to deter us, they are to inspire us. They are to remind us that nothing in our life compares to faithfully serving our God. They are to warn us that to value anything at all more than Jesus disqualifies us from being his disciple.

A disciple by the name of Peter, once told him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”

Jesus had an answer for him: “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life” (Luke 18:28,29).

Wow! “Many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.”

“Count the cost!” That’s good advice. “It’s worth the cost!” That’s our reply.



Prayer: Jesus, there is nothing that compares to you. Nothing is as important. Nothing is as precious. To be your faithful disciple is the highest level we could ever reach. Keep us from throwing that away in order to hold on to something that will never last. Keep us as your own. 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.




Looking up – September 18, 2016

Looking up – September 18, 2016


Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:11




Military Devotion – September 18, 2016

Devotion based on Psalm 42:11

See series: Military Devotions

There is a saying: Regret looks back. Fear looks around. Worry looks ahead. Faith looks up! It seems like a wise saying.

Some assume that if a person is a Christian, if a person has faith—especially strong faith—then that person’s life is usually free of worry and fear, of doubts and dread. But usually, that is not the case.

Troubles don’t come because of weak faith. Trouble is a natural product of the world we live in. If this were a perfect world, we would have no troubles. We would never be discouraged. Our soul would never be downcast, never disturbed. We would never need to look for help.

But that’s not the world we live in. Job lamented, “Yet a man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). Job knew what he was talking about. He lost his crops. He lost his flocks. He lost his children. Then he lost his health. That’s a world of trouble!

We don’t know why the writer of this psalm was downcast and disturbed. We don’t need to. We only need to know how he wanted to respond to it. Put your hope in God!

When troubles start to fade, we say, “Things are looking up!” That’s putting it backwards. It’s not the things that are looking up. We are the ones looking up instead of walking around with downcast hearts.

But trouble fading away does not mean that trouble has been solved. What counts is what is used to fix the problem. How long will the solution last? If I solve a money problem by piling more costs onto my credit card, the trouble will not stay away for very long.

Old Testament Job is right about the certainty of trouble coming into our lives. One problem fixed leaves room for the next problem to come in.

Put your hope in God! To do that we need to trust him. We may have fixed ideas of what the picture of our life should look like. We may think that anything less than picture-perfect is failure—and more reason to be discouraged.

Our ideas may be good, but God’s plans are better. Our hopes may bring disaster if they were put into motion. God’s plans are good for us. God’s plans are perfect for us. He never guesses, and he never makes a mistake.

How can we be sure of that? Where’s the proof that he can be trusted? The evidence lies on a hill far away. A bloody cross and rusty nails testify to his faithfulness. An empty grave calls out the testimony to his power to deliver us from any peril.

Look up when you are down! It’s an old Christian saying. But it is as new as today because it points us to our Savior and our God.



We claim as our own the words of Christians who lived before us:

My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare to make no other claim But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand. Amen.
(Christian Worship 382:1)



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.




Prayer for a sick land – September 11, 2016

Prayer for a sick land – September 11, 2016


If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14




Military Devotion – September 11, 2016

Devotion based on 2 Chronicles 7:14

See series: Military Devotions

The land that we love is sick. The disease is not new and the sickness is not unexpected. But that does not mean her condition is not critical. Untreated, it can become fatal.

Nations rise and nations fall. Sometimes an enemy destroys. Sometimes nations self-destruct. But always the hand of the Lord is involved.

He once warned his people, “I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own” (Habakkuk 1:6). Israel may not have believed it was possible—until led away captive by those Babylonians.

When Job declared, “He makes nations great, and destroys them; he enlarges nations, and disperses them” (Job 12:23), he was speaking the truth.

9/11 has entered America’s vocabulary alongside of December 7th. Both refer to days of infamy when enemies attacked without warning. Both were wake-up calls. Both led to war.

Both wars brought victory, but neither brought the end to war or the healing of the land.

As long as sin reigns in a land, the nation is at risk. As long as wickedness is exalted, the heart of a nation is suffering. As long as healing from the holy God is refused, the nation will remain sick.

But there is hope for the land we love. The hope lies not in a strong economy or a blistering military, but with those who call themselves the People of God. Politicians and policies will not provide answers for problems between a nation and the Lord of Nations. The hope of a nation lies in the hands of those who can “take it to the Lord in prayer.”

“If my people…” The finger of God is pointed at us. His words do not praise us. They do not pat us on the back for living a life so much better than the godless people around us. They call us to account for our weakness, for our carelessness, for our wickedness.

Who of us can object? Which of us can claim innocence? We are part of America’s problem.

God did not bless America so that its citizens could become rich and other countries had to fear its power. God always works in ways that benefit his Church and the proclamation of his grace and glory.

It once was said that America was a Christian nation. Few make that claim today. But some Christians still claim America as their homeland, and some are still willing to fight to keep her citizens free.

Let those people remember that their greatest weapon is prayer. Let those people humble themselves, seek his face, turn from their wicked ways, and seek his forgiveness.

Let them pray for America’s sick soul, and thank him for his blessings.



This Sunday some of our congregations and pastors will pray the following prayer. We join them:

PRAYER OF REMEMBRANCE FOR 9/11/01 “Keep Us Safe”

M:  God of Grace and Glory, our remembrance of the attacks of September 11th years ago cause us to see again how weak and vulnerable we are.

C:  We have learned that steel and concrete are no defense against forces of evil.

M:  We thank you for offering protection that can withstand all the assaults of those that seek to harm your people.

C: Remind us that you are our refuge in days of trouble and danger.  Remind us that you have warned us of coming death and destruction.  Remind us that you will control all things for the good of your people.

M:  We know that it is not our vigilance alone that has kept more terrorist attacks from striking our homeland.

C: We thank you for shielding us with your faithfulness.

M:  Be with our nation in the days ahead.  Keep enemies far from our shores.  Keep safe those who serve in our Armed Forces.  You, O Lord, are our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

C:  Let your Word shine like a beacon in this dark storm-tossed world.  Let the news of salvation through Jesus the Savior penetrate all barriers, and bring joy and peace to hearts everywhere.  Use us to bring this about.

M:   To you, O Lord, we bring our thanks and our requests.

C:  Hear our prayers for Jesus’ sake.  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.




Trash talk – September 4, 2016

Trash talk – September 4, 2016


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




Military Devotion – September 4, 2016

Devotion based on Proverbs 14:34

See series: Military Devotions

What if our grandmother walked into our Marine barracks? Or joined us at our Army DEFAC? Or walked up behind us as we were shooting the breeze with our buddies aboard ship, or while we were doing maintenance on our aircraft?

Proud that her grandson or granddaughter was serving her country, impressed by the sharp uniforms and the respectful salutes—how would she feel about the talk?

Would we need to apologize for what she might hear from those around us? Would we be ashamed over what came out of our mouth when we did not realize she was near?

Trash talk in the NFL and NBA has become somewhat common. But even that is on a higher level than the trash that comes out of the mouth of many in uniform.

“Swear like a Sailor and cuss like a Marine!” Trash talk can identify us as if it were our uniform.

But would the talk be much different in a college dormitory or on a construction crew? Probably not.

That’s sad, and that’s serious.

When sin becomes a badge of honor, when vulgarity becomes the bond between brothers, then evil has invaded the realm of righteousness. And evil never brings good.

Christian warriors, like Christian children and Christian grandparents, live in a world influenced by, and often promoting spiritual garbage. Evil is a constant threat and sin is a constant temptation. It is an old, ongoing struggle.

The Apostle Paul tells us of his battle against sin: “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18,19).

The fight against ISIS and the Taliban and every other earthly enemy may be fierce and difficult, but nothing compares to the fight for our soul against the Powers of Darkness.

So how did the Apostle Paul overthrow this enemy? He tells us. But he makes sure we understand that he did not do it alone. He knew when he was outmatched and overpowered. He exclaims: “But thanks be to God. He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 15:57).

Real righteousness comes from God alone. The righteousness that belongs to the Son of God covers all of our unrighteousness. His holiness covers our sin. The decree of the Almighty echoes across the barriers of time to reach our ears: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1)

That’s the kind of talk we want to hear; need to hear; need to remember; and need to live.

Saint Paul put it this way to his fellow Christians: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20).

That’s God’s kind of trash talk.



We remember the words of the famous hymn:

A mighty fortress is our God, A trusty shield and weapon;
He helps us free from every need That has us now o’ertaken.
The old evil foe Now means deadly woe; Deep guile and great might
Are his dread arms in fight. On earth is not his equal.

With might of ours can naught be done; Soon were our loss effected.
But for us fights the valiant one Whom God himself elected.
You ask, “Who is this?” Jesus Christ it is, The almighty Lord
And there’s no other God; He holds the field forever. (Christian Worship: 200:1,2)

And then we live as if the words were absolutely true.

Because they are.



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.