Military Devotions

A place for hope – January 19, 2020

A place for hope – January 19, 2020


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




Military Devotion – January 19, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 42:5

See series: Military Devotions

Hope misplaced is hope lost.

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

Otherwise, hope is lost.

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

To lose hope is to have a miserable existence.

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

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

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

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

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

We hope for the good.

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

Despair crushes it.

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

We need to put it in a safe place.

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

Put your hope in God!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And all will be well.



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



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

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


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Benighted – January 12, 2020

Benighted – January 12, 2020


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




Military Devotion – January 12, 2020

Devotion based on John 1:1-5

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

They are benighted.

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

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

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

Sadly, many of the benighted are our neighbors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So help us God!



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



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

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


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Leaning – January 5, 2020

Leaning – January 5, 2020


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




Military Devotion – January 5, 2020

Devotion based on Proverbs 3:5

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

That may surprise us.

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

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

But not smart enough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But we dare not lean our entire weight upon it.

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

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

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

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

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

Do we understand God?

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

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

We will.



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



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

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


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Really – December 29, 2019

Really – December 29, 2019


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




Military Devotion – December 29, 2019

Devotion based on Romans 16:20

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

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

Really?

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

But crush Satan under our feet?

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

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

We have learned that by sad experience.

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

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

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

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

The God of peace can.

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

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

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

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

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

Until then, the promise will be kept.

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

Really!



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



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

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


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Home for Christmas – December 22, 2019

Home for Christmas – December 22, 2019


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




Military Devotion – December 22, 2019

Devotion based on Ecclesiastes 12:5

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another old song announces,

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

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

We need to finally get home.

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

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

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

We want them to have a merry Christmas.

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

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

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

They are home for Christmas.



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



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

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


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Peace in the valley – December 15, 2019

Peace in the valley – December 15, 2019


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




Military Devotion – December 15, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 11:6

See series: Military Devotions

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

Only in our dreams!

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

It is.

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

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

He shows us peace in the valley.

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

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

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

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

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

They were right.

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

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

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

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

There we have it! Nothing here to fear.

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



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



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

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


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Nearer my God – December 8, 2019

Nearer my God – December 8, 2019


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




Military Devotion – December 8, 2019

Devotion based on Romans 13:11-12

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

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

That call comes yet to us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let that not be us.

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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


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For he is good – December 1, 2019

For he is good – December 1, 2019


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




Military Devotion – December 1, 2019

Devotion based on Psalm 107:1

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

Easily!

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

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

Isn’t all of that bad?

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

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

That is not good.

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

Maybe, Satan is spinning out disinformation!

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

Our attempts to play God are dismal and deadly failures.

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

He is.

Better than that: “his mercy endures forever.”

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

The enemy wants to blind us to this.

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

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

We are so wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

God is merciful to us.

God is good.



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



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

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


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The last jump – November 24, 2019

The last jump – November 24, 2019


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




Military Devotion – November 24, 2019

Devotion based on John 14:2,3

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for your encouragement, Sgt. Sisk.



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



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

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


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Feet of clay – November 17, 2019

Feet of clay – November 17, 2019


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




Military Devotion – November 17, 2019

Devotion based on Daniel 2:31-33

See series: Military Devotions

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

“Impossible!” they said.

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

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

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

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

It had feet of clay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It still does. It always will.

The kingdom of God does not have feet of clay.



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

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



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

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


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Homecoming – November 10, 2019

Homecoming – November 10, 2019


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




Military Devotion – November 10, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Peter 3:13

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

Different pictures, but each one a homecoming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not in this new home!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe we will already be there too.

But we all will celebrate.

It will be like cheering at a homecoming game victory.

Can’t beat that!



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



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

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


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Terrible terror – November 3, 2019

Terrible terror – November 3, 2019


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




Military Devotion – November 3, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 8:15

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What went wrong?

The people. The people went wrong.

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

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

Terrible!

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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


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The good that I would – October 27, 2019

The good that I would – October 27, 2019


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




Military Devotion – October 27, 2019

Devotion based on Romans 7:19

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

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

Sin is something to fight against.

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

The enemy is inside the wire!

No wonder the apostle Paul was concerned.

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

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

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

Wretched, indeed!

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

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

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

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

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

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

The road to hell is closed to those following Jesus.

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



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



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

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


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Help of the hopeless – October 20, 2019

Help of the hopeless – October 20, 2019


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




Military Devotion – October 20, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 36:18-20

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Only Judah and little Benjamin were left.

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

So, he attacked their God.

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

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

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

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

So is ours.



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



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

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


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Today Haji dies – October 13, 2019

Today Haji dies – October 13, 2019


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




Military Devotion – October 13, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 6:25

See series: Military Devotions

Sometimes it is dangerous to go out.

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

“Today, Haji dies!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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


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Peace and quiet – October 6, 2019

Peace and quiet – October 6, 2019


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




Military Devotion – October 6, 2019

Devotion based on 1 Chronicles 22:9

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not so for the Lord of the nations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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


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The joy robber – September 29, 2019

The joy robber – September 29, 2019


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




Military Devotion – September 29, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 2:10

See series: Military Devotions

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

Maybe I need to track down the joy robber.

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

Joy wiped out.

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

Joy gone.

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

They did not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can’t forget rank foolishness, either!

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

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

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

I am the robber of my joy.

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

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

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

And to you.

Let’s not rob ourselves of it.



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



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

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


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Breath of life – September 22, 2019

Breath of life – September 22, 2019


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




Military Devotion – September 22, 2019

Devotion based on Genesis 2:7

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

But it can be lost.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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


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Hold on – September 15, 2019

Hold on – September 15, 2019


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




Military Devotion – September 15, 2019

Devotion based on Revelation 3:11

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

What crown? Since when do we have a crown?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We will hold on.



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



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

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


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Everything new – September 8, 2019

Everything new – September 8, 2019


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




Military Devotion – September 8, 2019

Devotion based on Revelation 21:5

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That change happened on the day we call Good Friday.

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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


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Against the grain – September 1, 2019

Against the grain – September 1, 2019


For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
Romans 14:7,8




Military Devotion – September 1, 2019

Devotion based on Romans 14:7,8

See series: Military Devotions

The universal question, “Who am I?” is quickly followed by the one that asks, “What am I doing here?”

The flimsy answers we may come up with are swept away with the declaration of the Lord,
“I gave you life so that you could be my servant.”

That tends to take the wind out of our self-inflated sails.

We are not as powerful as we might think, nor as important as we might hope. We may protest that we have rights. We might boast of our freedoms. But that does not change the reality pointed to with the words: “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall…” (1 Peter 1:24).

We are nothing without our Creator. Our lives mean nothing without our Redeemer. Our lives will accomplish nothing without our Sanctifier—the one who works the good within us.

Yet, this seems to go against the grain of our lives.

The picture comes from woodworking. The grain is the natural flow of the wood fibers. Someone who rubs his hand against the grain on a piece of lumber will get splinters. Going against our natural inclination to rule instead of to serve might be just as unpleasant.

That’s why God needs to reprogram the flow of our thoughts. We have been fed a fake picture of the way our life should go. With satanic reformatting, he has convinced us that separation from God makes for a smooth and pleasant life. “Think of all the fun you can have, all the money you can make, and all the freedom you can enjoy if you follow the natural path—the path you were born onto.”

It’s true! We were born into this world walking on a path away from God—a direction that leads only to misery. Apart from God there is only slavery—slavery to sin, death, and the devil.

But Christians have been reborn. Now we can see the undoctored picture of life. We see we came to life according to a divine power for a divine purpose. We live to serve the Holy One.

There is no higher status, no greater honor, and no more wonderful purpose than to be in service to the Lord of lords and King of kings.

Those who are in service to their country might understand this better than others.

There is no shame in taking orders. It is something good to stand up for what is good. It is a privilege to serve.

The path of our life has been laid out by the Son of God who came, “not to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45). He became the suffering Servant (Isaiah 53:11) so that we might become heirs of glory.

We live, not just for ourselves. We live for him.

We die, not alone. We belong to him.

He points out the path of life. He leads us on it.

The flow of our life heads in the direction of heaven.

We will not go against the grain.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have made it clear that it is better to serve than to be served. You have enlisted us in your kingdom. You have set the direction of our lives toward joy and glory. Keep us from going against that heavenly grain. Amen.



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

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


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He wept – August 25, 2019

He wept – August 25, 2019


So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.
1 Samuel 30:4




Military Devotion – August 25, 2019

Devotion based on 1 Samuel 30:4

See series: Military Devotions

Near a tee on an obscure golf course in northern Wisconsin, there is a plaque that says, “Ike wept here.”

The reason for the famous general’s crying is not listed. It’s simply noteworthy enough for history to know that it happened.

When we see pictures of Eisenhower chatting with the troops he was sending off to storm the beaches of Normandy, it’s hard to imagine him weeping. Somber? Yes. Determined? Absolutely! He knew many of these people would not survive the landing. But he was a soldier. He understood the cost of victory. Since he was not weak, we might not expect him to weep.

But he did. So did warrior David.

Neither of them whimpered over body wounds. Wounds within the heart were something else. The pain of others losing their lives can exceed even the pain of losing our own limbs The pain of knowing others are suffering—even though still alive—is enough to make the safe one suffer. Enough to make one weep.

David and his band of warriors had been operating in Philistine territory since Saul was hunting for him in Israel. They sheltered their families at a place called Ziklag while they hunted for their enemies. They returned from one mission to find that the Amalekites had attacked Ziklag, burned it, and taken the wives and children as captives.

It was enough to make hardened warriors weep. And they did.

Yet, these were not tears of despair. The captives were still alive. They would soon be rescued. The account ends with these words, “Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back” (1 Samuel 30:19).

These were tears of love. The pain was in the heart. Years later, David would weep again saying, “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18:33)

It reminds us of the shortest verse in the English Bible: “Jesus wept.”

As with David, these were not tears of despair. Though others were weeping over the death of Lazarus, Jesus knew his friend would walk out of that grave alive in just a few minutes.

These were tears of love. It pained Jesus to know what Lazarus had gone through. This was not what the Creator intended for the crown of his creation. Life was to be lived in joy, not pain. Not with death.

It was enough to make the Son of God weep. And he did.

It was a sign that he would take on the enemies of those he loved and make things right.

And he did.

Eisenhower had reason to cry. So did David. So did Jesus. At times, so do we.

A warrior wounded in body during battle is given a Purple Heart. It’s a medal that can be displayed with a degree of pride.

Wounds within the heart earn no medal. They often are hidden, as if in shame.

But those who respect a General Eisenhower, and understand a King David, and worship a Lord Jesus—they know shame is not in such tears.

For them, the plaque can say of their tour of duty on earth: “Because they loved here, they wept here.”



Prayer: Lord Jesus, we remember how you lived on this earth. We remember how your love for us pained you. We remember how you took the battle to our enemy to overcome our greatest cause of pain. We thank you for your tears. Amen.



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

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


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When strong men stoop – August 18, 2019

When strong men stoop – August 18, 2019


When the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop….
Ecclesiastes 12:3




Military Devotion – August 18, 2019

Devotion based on Ecclesiastes 12:3

See series: Military Devotions

It wasn’t just their haircuts that marked them as military when they came into Walmart. Backs straight, stomachs flat, muscles taut—they were standing tall and strong.

He wasn’t. Shoulders slumped a little. Hands shook a little. And his feet shuffled.

He smiled to see them. Once, he had been like them. He still felt a kinship. Once, he too had worn the uniform. At one time he had rappelled with ease. Once upon a time, he had jumped out of airplanes.

Now, he sits on a stool and says, “Hello!” as people enter the store.

Now he is only an elderly greeter.

Thirty years ago, he was in control of his life—so he thought. Thirty-five years ago, his strength and skill could overcome any trouble—so he thought. Forty years ago, he knew he needed no one’s help. He knew he needed no God.

That was not smart.

By divine inspiration, the smartest man ever was prompted to write the words, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them’…” (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

Such wise words demand our attention.

We might not be able to predict future world events, but we surely can foresee a certainty in our life. Unless we die young, we will grow old. We will grow feeble. And then we will die.

The 12th chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes is worth reading at any age, but especially when we are young and healthy. It forces us to put our life into perspective.

With dramatic wording, Solomon describes how it is to grow old: when life is no longer bright; when chewing is difficult; when eyesight fades and sounds grow faint; and when one drags himself through the day.

His words, “when the strong man stoops” make us think of that former paratrooper now sitting on a stool in Walmart.
And then what? “The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

A depressing picture. No wonder Solomon laments, “Meaningless! Meaningless!” “Everything is meaningless!”

Our skills and strength, our health and vitality, our whole life is, indeed, meaningless—but only if it is lived without God.
It’s true, we are only dust. But that is not the whole story.

“Remember your Creator!” We are not just some organism brought to life by a fluke. We are the handiwork of the eternal God. He gave us the gift of life for a purpose. From him come our strengths and skills. To him should be given our lives filled with thanks and faithfulness.

Old age is not our master. Frailty is not our endgame. The One who said, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19) also said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die…” (John 11:25).

But he does not condemn his servants to a miserable existence until they finally deploy to heaven. The body may weaken and fail, but the soul, the “real us,” can grow stronger. Our spirits can soar, even if our shoulders sag.

This is his promise: “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Let the young remember their Creator. He alone is their strength and their life. Let the old remember their Creator. He alone is their strength and their life.

The time will surely come when strong men stoop.

But we will overcome.



Prayer: Eternal Father, strong to save, show us the picture of our lives. Point out the bleakness of our inherent frailty. But show us, as well, the brightness of your glory that lifts us above and beyond the strains of life to soar on high. Amen.



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

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


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Prairie fire – August 11, 2019

Prairie fire – August 11, 2019


I call to you, LORD, come quickly to me; hear me when I call to you.
Psalm 141:1




Military Devotion – August 11, 2019

Devotion based on Psalm 141:1

See series: Military Devotions

First of all, and most of all, David was a warrior. His sword and shield did not go into storage when he became king. He claimed many victories and killed many enemies. He also found himself in extreme danger more than once.

His desperate cries for help are recorded on the pages of Holy Writ. More than once, we hear him call out, “Lord, come quickly!”

Had he been caught in danger in Southeast Asia during what is called The Vietnam War, his call to “Come quickly!” might have been expressed with the words, “Prairie fire!”

This was the code-phrase Green Beret reconnaissance teams used when they found themselves about to be overrun by the enemy. The call, “Prairie fire!” brought in all available assets to suppress enemy fire while the team was extracted by helicopter.

In January of 1971, Recon Team Colorado’s eight men were attacked by about forty North Vietnamese. We can still listen to the frantic call, “Prairie fire! Prairie fire!” from a tape of the radio transmissions that a crew in a Huey recorded on that day.

A calm voice replied, “This is Delta Papa-Three.” The coordinator announced that help was on the way.

But almost immediately, another cry of “Prairie fire! Prairie fire!” came over the radio. This was from a team ten miles away. The rescuers were needed at two places at once.

An impossible situation. Lives were lost.

Maybe we have desperately called for help when our life was at risk. Perhaps we will need to do so in the future. But it doesn’t need to be a life or death situation to make us desperate.

Desperation comes when we see no way out of a place in life where we do not want to be. Desperation does not want to be put on hold. It isn’t satisfied with, “You’ll need to wait your turn.”

When we come into a busy ER with pain and bleeding, we don’t want the doctor in charge to say, “Put him over there until we can work him in.” We want to hear the word: “STAT!”

We never want to hear the word “Impossible!”

Yet, sometimes that is precisely the case. We cannot expect miracles. Or can we?

David did.

His enemies may have counted him as already dead. He wrote, “They will say…our bones have been scattered at the mouth of the grave.”

They may say that, he thought: “But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign LORD; in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death” (Psalm 141: 7,8).

The LORD did not.

We think of those surrounded soldiers calling out for help to come quickly. We picture them staring into the sky and fixing their eyes on the approaching helo. They knew it would need to come in hot. We expect they were praying it would not be shot down. They probably had no idea that another team needed to be rescued at the same time.

They just knew the trouble they were in.

We think of the LORD, our God who hears cries for immediate help from countless voices all over the world at the same time. We think of the angels he sends out to guard and keep his people in need. We remember, sometimes their mission is to carry a soul to glory.

We need not worry about how busy the prayer traffic might be. The LORD can be at two places at one time. He is at every place at all times.

He has told us, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”

We will remember that the next time we need to call out, “Prairie fire!”



Prayer: Sovereign LORD, we cannot comprehend what it means that you are God. We only know that you can do all things. You have assured us that you watch over us. You promise to help us in our time of need. Help us to understand that this will happen—even if we do not see the angels hovering. Amen.



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

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


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When God says no – August 4, 2019

When God says no – August 4, 2019


Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia….
Acts 16:6,7




Military Devotion – August 4, 2019

Devotion based on Acts 16:6,7

See series: Military Devotions

God says, “No!” more often than we probably realize.

We quickly think of his commands that say no to lying, stealing, cursing, and the rest of his laws. We accept that these are given for our good, as well as to glorify him.

Seldom, however, do we give thought to the way the Lord controls the flow of our lives by other means. Yet, sometimes it can be downright disturbing to realize how little control we actually have over what happens in our lives.

So what if we decide never to have cancer, and never to be in an auto accident, and always to be successful? What power do we have over such things? Very little.

The best plans and efforts are often overridden by forces we cannot control.

This doesn’t mean we have no say in how our life unfolds. We can make all sorts of decisions—and we should. We can even decide to defy God’s laws—and we should not.

Still, despite all the freedom in our decision-making, it remains clear that someone much greater can step in at any time to change our plans and override our decisions.

That someone is the Savior who loves us. As children of the heavenly Father, we even invite this interference when we pray: “Deliver us from evil” and “Thy will be done.”

These petitions are granted even when we are planning to do good. Even then, the answer may be, “No!” We learn this from the life of the apostle Paul.

The command of Jesus to his followers was: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations….” Thus, it may strike us as strange that he prevented his faithful apostle from trying to do just that on some occasions, in some places.

The apostle Paul was in modern Turkey, where he had established congregations at places like Galatia and the city of Ephesus. It was only natural for him to expand the work in the nearby places of Asia and Bithynia near the Black Sea. He planned to do that.

But God said, “No!”

Why would that be? We can only guess.

But soon afterward, he used a vision to instead call this missionary across the Aegean Sea to Macedonia, where he founded the famous congregations at Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea Athens, and Corinth.

Jesus wasn’t forbidding mission work. He just had a different plan for the spread of the gospel.

That’s the way it is in our lives. Often God has a different plan. Our plans may not be bad ones, but his are always better.

Always.

By looking back over our lives, we probably are able to see how an unexpected turn of events accomplished something good. At the time, we might have felt frustrated or frightened. Only from a distance can we better see how good it was to be guided by heavenly hands.

After all, we must admit that his plan of salvation was perfect, and exactly what we needed. So are all of his plans for us.

Even when he says, “No!”



Prayer: Lord Jesus, sometimes we pray, “Lead thou on.” It is good for us to do that. It is good for you to lead us. When the things of our lives seem out of our hands, remind us that they are still in yours. Amen.



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

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


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