Military Devotions

God must die – April 10, 2020

God must die – April 10, 2020


When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
Matthew 27:54




Military Devotion – April 10, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 27:54

See series: Military Devotions

The evidence was in. The verdict was obvious. “God must die!”

Not in the chambers of the Sanhedrin was the decision made. Not in the courtroom of the Roman governor. And surely, not on the streets of Jerusalem.

The verdict was delivered in the vault of heaven before time began. The Holy One, himself, decreed: “God must die!”

Our puny minds cannot penetrate the mystery of the Godhead. We cannot wrap our heads around the concept of eternity. All we can do is look in with wonder as events unfold.

We are permitted to look in at Christmas Eve through the eyes of shepherds who were keeping watch over their flocks by night. On Good Friday, we look through the eyes of a squad of soldiers who were keeping watch over an execution. The shepherds saw a vision of glory. The soldiers saw only gore.

Rome was the superpower of the time. On the day when darkness came at noon, some of her troops were stationed in the pitiful province of Judea.

At least four of them, with a centurion in charge, were ordered to carry out three executions.

They had no idea how far up the chain-of-command the order had originated.

Humans wanted the man, Jesus of Nazareth, killed. They did not recognize that Jesus was also God, even though this was his claim.

Actually, that is the one charge that stuck. Before Pilate, the Jews insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God” (John 19:7).

In fact, he was the Son of God.

He had said: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?” (John 14:9,10)

Jesus is God! Scripture reveals that. We confess that: “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God…God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father” (Nicene Creed).

In fact, he was also human.

This we confess with the words: “For us and for our salvation, he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and became fully human” ( Nicene Creed).

Otherwise, there was no hope for us. “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one’” (Romans 3:10). We sin. The penalty is clear: “For the wages of sin is death…”

So, it was decided: “God must die!”

The Second Person of the Trinity would become human. He would die to meet the demands of justice. We hear: “For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering” (Romans 8:3).

Thus, the follow-up announcement: “…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

His death for our life. It’s the Great Exchange.

Roman soldiers saw it happen. The centurion knew what he saw: “Surely he was the Son of God!” The sentence was carried out.

“God must die!”

And he did.



Prayer:
Christ, the Life of all the living, Christ, the Death of death, our foe.
Who thyself for me once giving to the darkest depths of woe—
Through thy sufferings, death, and merit I eternal life inherit.
Thousand, thousand thanks shall be,
Dearest Jesus unto thee. Amen.
(Christian Worship 114:1)



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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I remember – April 9, 2020

I remember – April 9, 2020


And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
Luke 22:19




Military Devotion – April 9, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 22:19

See series: Military Devotions

I remember the summer of 1949.

I remember the headache, the fever—and the legs that would not work.

I remember the look on my mother’s face.

I remember the polio virus.

I remember the doctor asking my mother, “Do you want me to call an ambulance?”

She shook her head. “No. His father is coming. We will take him to the hospital.”

But my father was far away, helping to build a canning factory. How long would it take him to get to me?

Not long.

A neighbor flew a war surplus two-seater Piper Cub to pick him up and land him in a nearby hayfield. I can still picture him showing up in the doorway to my bedroom.

That changed everything. I was a five-year-old who believed my father could fix anything.

He wrapped me in a blanket, lifted me onto his shoulder, and headed for the car.

What a relief! I was at peace.

That same shoulder carried me home three days later. My parents didn’t have the money to pay for a longer stay. My mom became my nurse. My red wagon, pulled by my sister, became my legs.

It reminds me of a scene Jesus once pictured: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home” (Luke 15:4-6).

When I think of the shoulders of the Good Shepherd, I again have peace. One day, they will joyfully carry me home.

I will remember the coronavirus.

Corona is the Latin word for crown. Under a microscope, that’s what this infective agent resembles.

It makes me think of another crown—one made of twisted thorns.

It makes me think of another Father—one who can truly fix everything, including the virus called sin.

It makes me think of the pain in his heart as he watched his Son writhe in agony, then breathe his last.

I remember why that happened. I remember my sin. I remember his love.

I remember the last meal before his Son died.

I remember that on the night he was betrayed he took bread; and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Then he took the wine and gave it to them saying, “Drink from it all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:27,28).

Christians have received that body and blood in remembrance of him ever since.

They treasure it because they treasure him.

He is the same one who promised: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

I remember Jesus and look forward to that crown.

I remember: “He has not forgotten me.”



Prayer: Too often have I forgotten you, Lord.
Too often have I acted as if I did not need you.
Too often have I failed you.
Let me taste again the joy of your salvation.
Let me receive again forgiveness through
your body and blood, hidden beneath bread and wine.
Let me remember my sin and my Savior. 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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Only after – April 5, 2020

Only after – April 5, 2020


Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” At first, his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.
John 12:14-16




Military Devotion – April 5, 2020

Devotion based on John 12:14-16

See series: Military Devotions

They did not understand. The crowds, the rulers, his enemies, and his friends—they didn’t comprehend all that was happening on the day of the palm-branch parade.

They probably did expect this ride of Jesus into Jerusalem was something special. Maybe now he would make his move to claim the throne of Israel. His followers hoped that. The Jewish leaders feared that. The Romans were not sure what to think.

As that Sunday came to a close, people were still not certain what it all meant. It reminds us of the words about his birth, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

Many from Galilee considered him a hero. Crowds of people all across Israel had seen his miracles and heard his teachings. Word had spread that he had raised Lazarus from the dead. Expectations were running high. His mere appearance sparked a joyous uproar. The triumphant entry into Jerusalem seemed to be a spontaneous event.

It was not.

It had been planned in heaven long ago. It had been foretold with clear words. The apostle John could quote the words: “See, your king comes to you…” (Zechariah 9:9).

The disciples did not think of those words on Palm Sunday. On that glorious day, they never suspected that Good Friday was down the road.

Only after, only after Jesus had risen from the dead, did they realize they had played a part in fulfilling an ancient prophecy with a history-changing event.

Only after Easter did they see how the pieces of God’s plan of salvation fit together.

They came to understand that Jesus would not be an earthly king; they would not sit next to him as he ruled from Jerusalem. But on Palm Sunday, Golgotha and an empty grave had never entered their minds.

It makes us wonder what all we don’t understand about the happenings in our lives.

We, too, live in days of confusion and change. Hopes and fears now mix together. As the disciples did back then, we believe that the hand of God is in what we now see. But our picture is still blurred, and the ending uncertain.

Has Scripture told us that days like these were coming?

Probably in greater detail than we realize. We do know Jesus warned about terrible times. The word, pandemic, fits into that picture.

But not the word worry. We are specifically told not to worry.

The Bible’s words, “Fear not!” to God’s people were not given as an invitation, but as a reassuring directive. Think of a drill instructor saying: “You will stand at attention!” Then think of these words: “You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday” (Psalm 91:5,6).

We have heard the words. We resolve not to fear.

The disciples eventually came to understand the confusing days of Holy Week. Holy Writ had told of this. They just hadn’t recognized it while it was happening.

Clarity came after—only after all this had taken place. Only then were they able to see the loving hand of God behind such distressing events.

One day we, too, will clearly understand how events in our lives also fit into a perfect plan. After our God shows us, we will be amazed to see how blessed we have been all along.

But only after.

We can wait without fear until then, can’t we?



Prayer: Lord Jesus, your ride into Jerusalem to the cries of “Hosanna!” fills us with joy. We smile to see you hailed as a king. It pains us to think of what will happen to you by the end of the week. But it thrills us to know that the next Sunday is coming. Keep us safe in the hollow of your nail-pierced hands as we pass through the days of our lives. Remind us that after all this is over, we will understand, thank, and praise you in Easter joy. 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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In your anger – March 29, 2020

In your anger – March 29, 2020


Arise, O LORD, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies. Awake, my God; decree justice.
Psalm 7:6




Military Devotion – March 29, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 7:6

See series: Military Devotions

The season of Lent is all about justice. If that is not understood, the suffering and death of Jesus of Nazareth remain a mystery.

The images of Lent show us people consumed with rage. One would think the object of that burning anger must have done something despicable. Why else would they accuse him of capital crimes? Why would they delight to see him tortured? Why demand he die?

The Roman governor clearly stated: “I find no fault with him.” That only increased their rage.

In blinding hate, they chose to have a murderer released into their midst instead of the one who broke no laws and harmed no person.

They claimed they wanted justice. In truth, they wanted revenge.

He had insulted them. He had exposed their hypocrisy. He had told them: “You belong to your father, the devil” (John 8:44).

Their rage boiled over because the finger of truth was pointing at their hearts. Their fierce denial only revealed the verity of his words.

Their wrath was not just against the man, Jesus, but against the almighty God in heaven who dared to judge them.

Earlier in this psalm, King David begged the Lord to save him from his enemies lest, “They will tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.”

Those words remind us of the ones the Son of God used to describe his upcoming ordeal: “Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.” Then he added, “I am poured out like water, all my bones are out of joint” (Psalm 22:13,14).

We might expect to hear of the anger of the God the Father breaking out against those who dared to lay hands on his beloved Son. We might expect to see fire from heaven strike down those who dared defy his demand for holiness.

Not this time.

This time, the thunderbolt of divine justice spared the guilty and struck the innocent.

Was it a mistake? Was it a miscarriage of justice? Did the Lord God strike out in blind rage and hit the wrong person?

Of course not.

This was part of a perfect plan that had been spoken of since the Garden of Eden. This was the way he would crush the serpent’s head. Justice demanded that the guilty die.

And the Son of God stepped in to take the blame.

The last breath of the Crucified One smashed the head of the Evil One. Satan’s death-grip on humanity was broken. The condemned prisoners could go free.

Justice had been served. Punishment had been meted out. The cry of despair had ascended on high: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The dead silence relayed the answer.

The anger of the Holy One had struck down the Beloved One because he was now the Guilty One.

The prophet wrote: “But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath” (Jeremiah 10:10).

We breathe a sigh of relief.

He is not angry with us.



Prayer: “Not in anger, mighty God, not in anger smite us.” We know what our sins deserve. We know how quickly we forget the price you paid to rescue us. We know how easily the “old evil foe” can lead us astray. But we also know of your abiding love and your just verdict that sets us free. Keep us close to you. Keep us free. 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 pause button – March 22, 2020

The pause button – March 22, 2020


“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”
Isaiah 45:22 KJV




Military Devotion – March 22, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 45:22 KJV

See series: Military Devotions

“Stop the World, I Want to Get Off” is the title of an earlier musical that many can now relate to. A celebrity recently said, “They’re canceling meetings, canceling trips, and canceling sports—maybe we should just cancel 2020.”

Well, 2020 might be canceled. The Lord God just might decide this is the year in which the world will end.

While it is too soon to tell if he will push the STOP button on all earthly life during this year, it certainly seems that he has already pressed the PAUSE button.

We are accustomed to seeing world events stream by with few interruptions. We have been shown a disaster here and a calamity there. But unless we were directly involved, after a brief glance, our attention went back to the flow of events that are part of normal life.

Not this time! A pandemic is not normal.

When we press the pause button on a video, everything stops. We are left to look at the one picture left on the screen. Today, the world’s screen is displaying the face of God to all who would see it.

This new virus has given pause to millions. They are confused. They are worried. What good is a strong economy and a good job if one will soon die? What kind of world are we now living in if American stores are running out of face masks and toilet paper?

Could it be that the health pandemic is causing human panic? It might be.

People are looking to medicine for answers and to governments for help. They are no longer confident they are in control of their lives. They see no answers within, so they conclude deliverance must come from without. Hope must lie somewhere out there!

It does. It always has. Every good thing has always come from the One who dwells in the beyond. No virus rose from the rich soil of Eden. No animal carried disease. The first humans could embrace without risk. They had the Lord God to thank for that.

When human hands brought the sin virus into paradise earth, it spread over the whole planet and on to generations yet unborn.

This virus carried the seed of death. It spawned a host of viruses, including ones now labeled corona.

Humans would have been as doomed and damned as were the rebellious angels if God had not inserted a stop loss into the system. His love would break the downward spiral. His Son would provide the cure. His Spirit would fight further infection. The whole human race would not be lost. Health care for the soul was offered free to all: true universal coverage.

It still is.

The Savior God continues to call out, “Look unto me and be saved, all ends of the earth!”

Before this spreading disaster hit, many of us had been too busy; too independent; and too sure of ourselves to give thought to heaven.

But now, an unseen hand has pushed the pause button. Maybe now we will look up. Maybe now we will take the time to see how little we can control life or prevent death.

Maybe, just maybe, more of us will pause to look more closely at the world’s only hope.

Perhaps more of us will stop our rebelling long enough to see that the Innocent One came from heaven to die here so that we might live forever with him there.

“I am God, and there is none else.” he warns.

We pray that the Lord God will kill the killing virus. He can, of course. He already knows when to allow the warning picture to fade from the big screen. He’s just waiting for the right time.

Until then, he will keep his finger on the pause button—waiting for the world to look to him to be saved.



Prayer: Gracious God, healer of bodies and souls, we pray that you remember us in mercy and soon stay your hand of affliction over this world. Until then, we place ourselves into your loving hands and pray that the threat of death from a virus will cause many to look to you for life from heaven. 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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Just dust – March 15, 2020

Just dust – March 15, 2020


As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103:13,14




Military Devotion – March 15, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 103:13,14

See series: Military Devotions

At times, it’s easy to forget what we are. We know how we look. We know what we have done and what we hope to do. We are not some plant. We are not some animal. We are at the top of the food chain. We are human!

Yet, we are just dust.

But we are the designers of skyscrapers; the makers of atomic weapons; and builders of civilizations.

Yet, we are just dust.

Sometimes we act like we will live forever. Even then, in the back of our mind we know better.

We are just dust.

It’s a fact we must face. To ignore it will doom us. If we do not face our frailty, we will never find our strength.

Meaning to life, joy in life, and peace is not found inside of us.

We are just dust.

Ideas and plans, hopes and dreams may swirl within, but finally, they will come to nothing.

Rich or poor, wise or foolish, weak or strong, at the end, the caption over our life reads, “For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

Those may be old words, but they are true words. Good thing they are not the last words.

The final words for the planned outcome of the human race were spoken under dark clouds on a hill far away. They were recorded for the generations ahead. We treasure them.

“It is finished!” he said.

The one who spoke those words was the same one who told us that dust would return to dust. Now he was shouting we need not fear that return. He had just finished his rescue mission. He had just told a dying human, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

How can this be? How can frail children of dust enter into never-dying glory?

Only their Creator can allow this to happen. Only their Judge can ordain it. Only their Redeemer can make it so.

“I am the resurrection and the life…” the Redeemer proclaimed. “The one who believes in me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25) he explained.

The dust can return to life. The curse of Eden has been broken. Compassion washed over guilt.

“God so loved the world…”

God the Father knew we could not measure up to the standard that holiness demanded. So, he sent Jesus. He turned the curse upon his own Son. We went free. He knew it had to happen that way.

He knew, and he still knows, the ones he loves are just dust.



Prayer:
When from the dust of death I rise
To claim my mansion in the skies
E’en then this shall be all my plea;
Jesus has lived and died for me. Amen.
(Christian Worship 376:5)



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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Of course he can – March 8, 2020

Of course he can – March 8, 2020


While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.
Luke 5:12,13




Military Devotion – March 8, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 5:12,13

See series: Military Devotions

It has been said that some of the bravest words a person can say are: “Thy will be done!” The point is made—and it’s a legitimate one—that this places the speaker at the mercy of someone else. Who would want to do this?

If the “thy” refers to our Savior God, we answer: “We do! We do this every time we pray the Lord’s Prayer.”

That’s a good answer, but we need to consider more fully what this means.

Leprosy is a horrible disease, even today with our modern equipment and medicine. It is painful. It is disfiguring. And it is contagious. We wish it upon no one, and we pray that everyone so afflicted would be healed.

Saint Luke was a doctor. Of all the gospel writers, he gives the most detail about the sick and hurting who came before Jesus. He tells us this was a serious case. The man was covered with leprosy. He was desperate in his search for help. He fell with his face to the ground. He begged to be healed.

We understand. We probably would do the same. But when he pleaded for help, we are surprised at his words. He did not demand. He didn’t bargain. He left it up to Jesus: “Lord, if you are willing…”

This is faith in action. This is strong faith. If we had asked him, “Do you think Jesus might be able to heal you?” his answer would have been: “Of course he can!” It wasn’t a question of power. He knew that Jesus had the power to do this, and more. The question was: “Did Jesus want to do this?”

Well, why wouldn’t he? If he had the power to relieve this suffering, as a loving God, why would he not do it? The answer is: “Because he is a loving God.”

The child lies in a hospital with a tube in her nose and a needle in her arm. She is afraid. She is hurting. She calls out: “Mommy, take these things off, and let me go home!” What will a loving mother do? She will do what she knows is best for her child—even if her little one does not understand. She will keep her beloved child in that hospital bed.

We know that Jesus wants our sins to be forgiven. We know that he wants our faith to be strong. We know that he wants us in heaven. About such things, there are no “ifs.” But for everything else in life, for the physical and temporal, for the release of pain and the enjoyment of good days—for those things we pray: “If you are willing…”

Of course, he could give us all that we ask for! He would be willing to touch us even if we had leprosy. That’s why we are willing to trust him when he says, “No.” He will always, and only, do what is best for us. After all, he does love us.

He did prove that once and for all, didn’t he?

Remember Golgotha?



Prayer: God of grace and mercy, into your hands, we commend ourselves and all whom we love. Your power is matched by your love. Help us to trust you when we do not understand your ways. Help us to become convinced of your absolute power so that we can rest assured that when your will is done, it is for our good. In the name of the loving Savior, we pray. 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 peacemaker – March 1, 2020

The peacemaker – March 1, 2020


“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
Matthew 10:34




Military Devotion – March 1, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 10:34

See series: Military Devotions

In 1873 the Colt Manufacturing Company produced a gun called “The Peacemaker.” A century later, America produced an ICBM with a nuclear warhead called “The Peacekeeper.”

To some, this was as confusing as the Prince of peace saying, “I did not come to bring peace…”

What do weapons such as guns, missiles, or swords have to do with peace?

Much.

If there were no evil in the world, if there were no sin, there would be no reason for any weapons. There would be no reason for the Son of God to leave his throne on high to engage in battle against the forces of evil. There would be no reason for us to fight against Satan.

The dream of the song from the ‘60s would come true: “And peace shall rule the planets.”

Only it is not true. Only, it will never be, until the planets are burned up at the arrival of their Creator in the clouds of glory.

Until then, there will be war.

Even as we pray for peace among nations—and sometimes that prayer is granted—there will never be peace between the holy God and the powers of evil.

“I did not come to bring peace…” Jesus said. He came to fight. After fasting for 40 days and nights, he was attacked by the prince of darkness in a desert. The weapon Satan used was not a knife or a sword. It was temptation.

A most powerful weapon.

If Jesus had yielded to the temptation of taking the easy way out that Satan claimed to offer, all would be lost. We would be lost.

If Jesus had given in to the suggestion of Peter to not go to Jerusalem to die, all would be lost. We would be lost.

If Jesus had listened to the arrogant voices shouting at him to prove he was the Son of God by coming down from the cross, we would be lost.

The Prince of peace had to go to war to destroy the cause of war. He had to win the battle against our deadliest enemies because we are too powerless to do so.

He had to fight the decisive battle in our place. He had to win peace for us.

And he did.

The war to rescue humans from the dominion of evil is over. But the enemy has not yet left the field.

Warriors know to watch for snipers after a battle has been won. Sniper fire will kill as well as a ballistic missile.

You and I are still on the field of battle. We have not been commanded to stand down.

Until then, we must be on guard. Until then, we must fight.

We will not be evacuated until angels arrive for our hero’s flight home to heaven.

Then we will know perfect peace.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, when we consider the battle you fought for us, we grow ashamed at the times we have waved the white flag of surrender when attacked by the old evil foe. You have not left us behind. You came with the power of your Word and sacrament to pull us back to your side. Keep us there. Use us to help others. Empower us to become peacekeepers in your kingdom. 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 dictator – February 23, 2020

The dictator – February 23, 2020


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




Military Devotion – February 23, 2020

Devotion based on Genesis 11:8,9

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He would scatter them by turning their language into gibberish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We call him Father.



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



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

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


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So easy – February 16, 2020

So easy – February 16, 2020


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




Military Devotion – February 16, 2020

Devotion based on Mark 2:9-12a

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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


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The upside of down – February 9, 2020

The upside of down – February 9, 2020


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




Military Devotion – February 9, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 130:1,2

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

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

He will call and call—and then call louder.

That’s what the psalmist was doing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s the upside of being down.



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



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

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


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If only – February 2, 2020

If only – February 2, 2020


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




Military Devotion – February 2, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 91:11

See series: Military Devotions

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

It’s a reminder we need.

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

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

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

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

Then what?

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

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

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

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

How sad! How hopeless! How wrong!

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

How true. What a pity!

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

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

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

Good to know!

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

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

If only we will remember that.



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



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

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


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Angels abiding – January 26, 2020

Angels abiding – January 26, 2020


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




Military Devotion – January 26, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 91:11

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

Another possibility should not be overlooked:

Angels abiding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He is to be feared.

But he also is to be trusted—and loved.

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

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

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

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

Sometimes his people are hurt. Sometimes they are killed.

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

May there always be with us, angels abiding!



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



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

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


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A place for hope – January 19, 2020

A place for hope – January 19, 2020


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




Military Devotion – January 19, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 42:5

See series: Military Devotions

Hope misplaced is hope lost.

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

Otherwise, hope is lost.

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

To lose hope is to have a miserable existence.

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

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

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

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

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

We hope for the good.

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

Despair crushes it.

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

We need to put it in a safe place.

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

Put your hope in God!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And all will be well.



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



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

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


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Benighted – January 12, 2020

Benighted – January 12, 2020


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




Military Devotion – January 12, 2020

Devotion based on John 1:1-5

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

They are benighted.

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

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

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

Sadly, many of the benighted are our neighbors.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So help us God!



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



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

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


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Leaning – January 5, 2020

Leaning – January 5, 2020


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




Military Devotion – January 5, 2020

Devotion based on Proverbs 3:5

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

That may surprise us.

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

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

But not smart enough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But we dare not lean our entire weight upon it.

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

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

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

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

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

Do we understand God?

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

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

We will.



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



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

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


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Really – December 29, 2019

Really – December 29, 2019


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




Military Devotion – December 29, 2019

Devotion based on Romans 16:20

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

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

Really?

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

But crush Satan under our feet?

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

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

We have learned that by sad experience.

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

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

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

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

The God of peace can.

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

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

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

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

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

Until then, the promise will be kept.

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

Really!



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



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

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


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Home for Christmas – December 22, 2019

Home for Christmas – December 22, 2019


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




Military Devotion – December 22, 2019

Devotion based on Ecclesiastes 12:5

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another old song announces,

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

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

We need to finally get home.

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

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

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

We want them to have a merry Christmas.

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

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

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

They are home for Christmas.



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



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

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


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Peace in the valley – December 15, 2019

Peace in the valley – December 15, 2019


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




Military Devotion – December 15, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 11:6

See series: Military Devotions

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

Only in our dreams!

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

It is.

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

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

He shows us peace in the valley.

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

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

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

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

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

They were right.

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

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

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

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

There we have it! Nothing here to fear.

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



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



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

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


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Nearer my God – December 8, 2019

Nearer my God – December 8, 2019


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




Military Devotion – December 8, 2019

Devotion based on Romans 13:11-12

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

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

That call comes yet to us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let that not be us.

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

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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


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For he is good – December 1, 2019

For he is good – December 1, 2019


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




Military Devotion – December 1, 2019

Devotion based on Psalm 107:1

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

Easily!

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

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

Isn’t all of that bad?

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

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

That is not good.

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

Maybe, Satan is spinning out disinformation!

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

Our attempts to play God are dismal and deadly failures.

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

He is.

Better than that: “his mercy endures forever.”

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

The enemy wants to blind us to this.

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

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

We are so wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

God is merciful to us.

God is good.



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



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

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


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The last jump – November 24, 2019

The last jump – November 24, 2019


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




Military Devotion – November 24, 2019

Devotion based on John 14:2,3

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for your encouragement, Sgt. Sisk.



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



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

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


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Feet of clay – November 17, 2019

Feet of clay – November 17, 2019


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




Military Devotion – November 17, 2019

Devotion based on Daniel 2:31-33

See series: Military Devotions

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

“Impossible!” they said.

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

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

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

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

It had feet of clay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It still does. It always will.

The kingdom of God does not have feet of clay.



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

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



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

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


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Homecoming – November 10, 2019

Homecoming – November 10, 2019


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




Military Devotion – November 10, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Peter 3:13

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

Different pictures, but each one a homecoming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not in this new home!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe we will already be there too.

But we all will celebrate.

It will be like cheering at a homecoming game victory.

Can’t beat that!



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



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

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


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Terrible terror – November 3, 2019

Terrible terror – November 3, 2019


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




Military Devotion – November 3, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 8:15

See series: Military Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What went wrong?

The people. The people went wrong.

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

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

Terrible!

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

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

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

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

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



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



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

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


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