Military Devotions

Battle cry – November 19, 2017

Battle cry – November 19, 2017


Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me, I cannot keep silent. For I have heard the sound of the trumpet; I have heard the battle cry.
Jeremiah 4:19




Military Devotion – November 19, 2017

Devotion based on Jeremiah 4:19

See series: Military Devotions

Sometimes a sound can trigger an inner alarm. The smash of the car wreck; the beeping of the heart monitor showing a flat line; the blast of an IED: any of these can panic us.

For the prophet Jeremiah, it was the sound of a trumpet with the cry of battle.

Modern warriors can relate to this. During the firefight, sounds may be scarcely noted. It is afterward; when things have quieted down; when the danger is past, that one’s mind replays the event in memories or dreams. Even years later, the sounds of an old battle might suddenly return to rattle us while walking through Walmart.

Scary sounds can echo in our minds.

But Jeremiah’s case is different. He heard sounds not of present or past battles. His heart pounded because he heard the battle cry from the future.

“Tell this to the nations, proclaim concerning Jerusalem ‘A besieging army is coming from a distant land, raising a war cry against the cities of Judah’” (Jeremiah 4:16).

This was God’s warning. He reinforced the words by providing a vision of the future complete with sound effects. The threatened disaster was as certain as if it had already happened.

Anguish, pain, and agony now welled up within Jeremiah. Bad enough if this had been a memory. Much worse to know this was yet to come.

The besieging army would be the Assyrians. Fortress walls would be breached, defenses overrun. Many would die. The rest of the ten northern tribes of Israel would be taken captive. Jeremiah would also write a book called, “Lamentations.” He had much to lament.

We might ask, “Since this disaster was certainly going to take place, why did Jeremiah need to know about it in advance? Didn’t this add to his misery?”

It surely did. But it also added to his faith and trust in the Lord his God. How so?

Jeremiah would live to see the threats of God take place before his own eyes. He would learn, When the Lord speaks, it is so. When he warns, people should fear. The Assyrian invasion would prove that.

When the Lord speaks, it is so. His promise is as certain as his threat. The unfolding of history would prove that.

When we look to the past, we see his promises fulfilled in amazing and wonderful ways. Two tribes of Israel would survive. The Savior would come. We have the testimony of Scripture. We can see the past through its words.

But that’s only part of the wonder. Like a Jeremiah, we can actually see into the future. We know how the world will end. We can already hear the cry of victory in heaven.

Though at times we may fear and worry, the bottom line is that we can say with Jeremiah: “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him” (Jeremiah 17:7).



Prayer: Lord of time and space, whose hands hold the future and the past, open our ears to hear your voice as you call out to us in your Word. We tremble before your fist of justice, but we smile at your assurance of forgiveness and peace. We wait for the battle cries to cease, and the songs of victory to sound forth. Give us your peace. Amen.



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

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




Only an armistice – November 11, 2017

Only an armistice – November 11, 2017


When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
Mark 13:7




Military Devotion – November 11, 2017

Devotion based on Mark 13:7

See series: Military Devotions

They poked their heads out of the trenches, half-expecting to hear the rattle of machine guns. Only silence. They began to walk onto no-mans-land standing up. Still nothing. They saw enemy uniforms appear. No weapons threatened.

The report was true. On this 11th hour of the 11th day of this 11th month the Great War ended. Former enemies shook hands. Comrades hugged. America’s doughboys would soon be headed home. An armistice had been signed.

Waves of relief flowed over hearts and minds. Millions wept with joy. The “war to end all wars” had come to an end.

But it was only an armistice.

The terms of the agreement to stop fighting would sow the seeds of another round of fighting. This would be a worse war. The killings would triple.

Then another round of war would come into the world after that. And another one. And still another.

War does not end. It just pauses for a while. The best we can hope for is an armistice.

Those who have heard the words of Jesus are not surprised. He described our times. He warned that wars and rumors of wars would happen up to the day he would return.

We believe him.

That’s why we support those who train for war on behalf of our nation. That’s why we pray for those in harm’s way. That’s why we tend to the needs of those who have returned from war.

We renamed Armistice Day to become Veterans Day. We learned that an armistice does not last. Veterans, however, we will always have.

A veteran of WWI once said something about this special day that those who have never seen the face of war need to know. He wrote that for people like him, it is: “Not a day of solemn commemoration, but a day of agonized remembrance.”

Civilians may commemorate, they may show respect for those who waged war on behalf of them. They should.

Combat veterans do the same. But alongside the respect, lies the agony of remembrance.

What do we tell them? We point them to the One who knew agony beyond measure so that we might be free from it forever.

Concerning wars, “Such things must happen” Jesus assures us. He is still in control.

But the day is coming when all painful remembrances and every other agony will stop in an awesome moment.

Jesus tells us now, “The end is still to come.” It is not here yet.

But it will come. All war will end. He will make it so.

And that ending will not be only an armistice.



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



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

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




Changing time – November 5, 2017

Changing time – November 5, 2017


God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:17,18




Military Devotion – November 5, 2017

Devotion based on Genesis 1:17,18

See series: Military Devotions

Twice a year we pretend to change time in much of the United Sates. Deep down, we realize that this does not actually happen. We are merely agreeing to adjust our markers of time. Time itself does not jump an hour ahead in the spring, nor will it go backwards in the fall. Time is a constant that ignores human efforts to manipulate.

Neither do the sun, moon, or stars adjust time, but they certainly do affect our nights and days.

When humans learned how use electricity to provide light, they staked a claim as Light Rulers, as if to say: “Let the sun go down! We’ll flip a switch and make our own sunshine!”

Well, that is not quite true.

As it turns out, when God said that the two great lights were to govern day and night, more was involved than just providing light to see with. Yes, we can fire up the furnace and turn down the air conditioning in our house, but we cannot control the temperature of a planet or regulate the ocean tides. Sun, moon, stars—they are needed. It turns out, our control of such things is rather puny.

There is more. Ask our friends in Alaska if the reduction of sunlight affects more than their body temperature. How about emotions? What about Vitamin D? What about the migration of birds, animals, and fish? No wonder God called these heavenly bodies “great”!

Considering the great distances of space, we wonder how we would survive if God had placed the sun a mere 1,000 miles closer to earth? What if 1,000 miles further away? Why is earth at the precise distance that keeps this from being either a frozen planet or a melting one?

And then there is the question: “How many sunrises will be allotted to the span of our life?” What if we changed our calendars like we change our watches? If we had next year’s calendars carry the label “1957,” would we get to live 60 years longer? Would it change our life at all?

Foolish questions. We have no power over time.

The sun, moon, and stars are God’s timekeepers. We cannot change them. But God will.

Jesus tells us that the time will come when, “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken” (Matthew 24:29).

Then time will stop. The timekeepers will not be needed. But we will not be left in the darkness. Heaven will be a place of wonderful light. We are told, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp” (Revelation 21:23).

Who wants to change that?



Prayer: We pray: Lord Jesus, Light from Light and true God from true God, we thank you for the time on earth you have allotted to us. We thank you for the heavenly bodies that govern our days and nights. But most of all we thank you for being the Light of the World, and opening the door to that place where we will need no sun. Show us the way to our home of light. Amen.



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

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




Now hear this – October 29, 2017

Now hear this – October 29, 2017


For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8,9




Military Devotion – October 29, 2017

Devotion based on Ephesians 2:8,9

See series: Military Devotions

If you have survived boot camp, you have learned all about the giving and taking of orders. You have also become familiar with the chain-of-command. Contradicting a drill instructor is not a good idea. Changing a message that has come down from the captain is a sure way to get into a heap of trouble.

When the ship’s loudspeakers blare the words, “Now hear this!” the sailor better be listening.

How strange then, when the Captain of Salvation issues a message of eternal life and death, many people pay no attention to what he says. Some, brazenly contradict him.

From Genesis to Revelation, the Almighty makes it clear that the human race is spiritually dead and hopelessly lost. If there will be any life, it must come from the Lord of Life. Body or soul, he alone can make alive. Like physical life, spiritual life is a gift, not something that can be earned.

The Bible serves as God’s loudspeaker to the world. Every verse could be introduced with the command: “Now hear this!”

The Lutheran Reformation, which began 500 years ago, asked the question, “What did God say?”

All the noise rising from human voices had started to drown out the only voice that mattered. People were asking, “What do the church leaders say?” “What do most people believe?” “What makes the most sense to me?” Finally, that ends up with the question, “What do I say?”

How can I escape the penalty that my rebellion against God has earned me? Trying harder to not sin won’t do it. It will not undo the crime. Paying more money to the church will not do it. God will not be bribed. Starving myself, shutting myself off from the rest of the world, and praying to the dead will not bring me an inch closer to heaven.

To the frantic question, “What must I do to be saved?” The thunderous voice from heaven says, “NOW HEAR THIS!”

And then he tells us. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” He announces, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” To those who have put their trust in him as their Savior, he assures them on their deathbed, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

No need to fear. No need to worry. No basis for boasting. It is all the work of God. Salvation is a gift from God.

And anytime we begin to doubt that, may we be brought back to our senses with the call of Scripture: “NOW HEAR THIS!”



Prayer: Sovereign Lord who desires that everyone would come to the knowledge of the truth and turn to Jesus as the one who gained salvation for us—and then offered it to us free of charge. By nature, we are prone to reject that. We would rather listen to what our minds say, or what other people tell us than to listen to you. Forgive us for that. Continue to call out to us with the words of your Law and Gospel. You offer forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. You tell us that. Make us listen. Amen.



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

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




Fearfully made – October 22, 2017

Fearfully made – October 22, 2017


I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Psalm 139:14




Military Devotion – October 22, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 139:14

See series: Military Devotions

The old saying claims that we don’t appreciate the good things until we have lost them—and sometimes we don’t appreciate them even then.

When is the last time we thought about the marvelous way that our eyes adjust to light; or how they allow us to have depth perception, and even show us colors? How do they do that?

Why does our body send extra blood to the part of the body that is hurting? Why does it fight infection? How does my brain tell my foot to take a step? I cannot even explain what a thought is. But I know that I regularly develop thoughts and without the ability to think my life would fall apart. How is it that I do not need to keep reminding myself to breathe, or my heart to pump? How does my mind convert the vibrations of my eardrum into words and music?

How did my body come to be? A series of freak occurrences over billions of years? Foolish to even consider.

The Creator of life designed my body. We have not yet discovered all the marvels of the house of flesh and bone that our soul lives in.

The psalmist said it right: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” I know that. “I know that full well.”

It should not take blindness to remind us what a wonderful gift sight is. It should not require the amputation of a leg or arm to make us realize how amazing it is to take a step, or to type on a keyboard.

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Maybe that word “fearfully” surprises us. Should the recognition of the marvel of our body make us afraid? That’s not what the word means in this phrase.

It means “awesome.” It means “it takes my breath away.”

When the explanation of the 1st Commandment tells us that we should, “fear, love, and trust in God above all things,” it is not telling the child of God to tremble in desperate fear before his Creator and Savior. But we do need to stand in reverent awe of him. He is awesome.

Our physical bodies reflect that. Our very existence testifies to his glory.

Or bodies stand as proof of his wonderful ways.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Should we thank him for that? Should we praise him for that?

Of course!



Prayer: Lord of our lives and designer of our bodies, we live in a frame of your making. You picked the color of our eyes; you placed the ears onto our heads. You started our heart to pump lifeblood through our veins. We often fail to appreciate what you have done or to thank you for this amazing gift. But we pray that you continue to sustain us in body and soul. Use us in service to your kingdom. Amen.



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

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




Disaster – October 15, 2017

Disaster – October 15, 2017


I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.
Isaiah 45:7




Military Devotion – October 15, 2017

Devotion based on Isaiah 45:7

See series: Military Devotions

“One disaster after another!” That’s a description that many in America would agree with. Some disasters carry the names of people: Harvey, Irma, Marie. Some carry the names of cities: Mexico City, Las Vegas. Some are just called wildfires and sinkholes. No matter what name, those who are the victims describe them with the word “disaster.”

Why so many in a row? Why so many that are so dreadful? Why are new records for destruction and misery being set? What’s the cause? Who is to blame?

We may quickly point to sin as the cause of all that is bad. It is true that no disasters would have occurred in sinless Eden. It is correct that Satan is behind acts of murder and mayhem. But there is more to the story.

As children of the heavenly Father, we may be prone to assure the world that disasters are not his fault. He is blameless.

He is blameless. But he makes it clear that disasters do not occur despite his efforts to prevent them. In plain, bold words he says, “I create disaster!”

What kind of a God is that—a God who brings about events as horrible as disasters? The answer is: The only God that there is! There is no choice of candidates for Godhood.

What about kindness, and love, and mercy? Those qualities belong to him in measures beyond our ability to imagine.

What about justice? Very much so.

How do love and mercy fit together with punishment for wrong? They fit perfectly. The perfectly just God is the all-merciful God.

Want proof? Look at his Son, Jesus. With a whip, he drove people out of his Father’s house: two times. With a touch, he healed the leper. With a glance, he called a Peter to repentance. With a word, he called a young boy, a young girl, and a Lazarus back from the dead.

But the greatest picture of punishment and mercy meeting together is found on a hill named Golgotha, the Place of the Skull.

There, God the Father brought about the greatest disaster of all time. He punished his sinless Son with a level of disaster humans cannot comprehend. There he also gave the greatest demonstration of love and mercy that the universe has ever experienced.

He does bring about disasters! He brought about Noah’s flood. He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. He sent Israel into captivity. He punishes sin with a clenched fist. Those who reject him should be terrified.

But he shows mercy to those who love him. In fact, he showed love for everyone. His Son died so that no one needed to be condemned.

When he brings about a disaster, it comes to punish the rebel and bless the believer. It calls the wayward to repentance. It strengthens the faith of the faithful.

So, what is our response to disasters? Do we ask him for protection and deliverance? Yes.

But in the end, we must declare even if with tears, “Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, and his mercy endures forever.”



Prayer: God of mercy and God of grace, we tremble before your might and holiness. We know we deserve no good thing. We admit that you have a right to strike out at us in anger. But we know of your love. Keep disaster from us. But if you permit it, turn that disaster into a blessing. Amen.



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

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




Not Answering? – October 8, 2017

Not Answering? – October 8, 2017


I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me.
Job 30:20




Military Devotion – October 8, 2017

Devotion based on Job 30:20

See series: Military Devotions

They talk about the patience of Job. They marvel at how great it was. Yet we know he was not always patient. Sometimes he shouted in frustration. Sometimes he was very impatient.

Sometimes, so are we.

If the Bible carried fake news, the heroes of faith would be shown only as strong in faith and unblemished in actions. But God doesn’t put that spin on their lives. The Scripture shows them sometimes weak, sometimes confused, sometimes unfaithful. It shows them warts and all.

Why is that? Many leaders know that perception and public opinion is powerful. They work hard and spend money to develop a positive image. If that image is blemished, their ability to serve as leaders fades quickly. We can think of some brilliant military leaders who lost power and influence when their moral weakness became known.

Job’s weakness is evident when he accuses his Creator with the words: “You do not answer!” Why does God allow us to see the not-patient, not all-trusting Job, but Job the frustrated—Job the complainer?

It is for our benefit. It is to block an attack route of Satan.

Our Enemy #1 will use the times we run low on faith to try to prove to us that we definitely are not in God’s family, that our faith is fake. The despair of salvation is the killing shot of Satan.

“See,” he will shout in our ear, “you have lost your faith in a loving, caring God! There is no hope for you. Your own thoughts and words prove it.”

But then the Lord God points us to a David, and a Peter, and a Job. They may have stumbled; they may have fallen; but they were not forgotten. They were not left as prisoners behind enemy lines. The Holy Spirit sought them out, renewed their faith, and enabled them to return to the front lines. The same Holy Spirit works for us and in us.

In the New Testament, we are pointed to Job as an example to follow: “You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy” (James 5:11).

So, he does end up as a hero of faith! We note that it is not his patience that is highlighted, but his perseverance. He may have lost his patience, but he kept grabbing onto his God. And his God never left hold of him. Job not only regained his wealth and a family, he kept his standing as a Child of God. This is what the Lord finally brought about.

So, what do we do when Satan points his finger at our weakness and says that we have no hope?

We go back to what we learned as a child: “Jesus loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so.”

Since he loves me, I can endure what he brings into my life. He hears me.

He always answers my cry for help—whether I see it or not.



Prayer: Heavenly Father, you have seen our frustration when we thought you were not listening to us. You have seen our weakness of faith. You have seen our doubts about your caring love. Forgive us for those times. Renew our faith. Refresh our spirit. Make us be like the faithful Job. Amen.



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

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




Daylight – October 1, 2017

Daylight – October 1, 2017


As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.
John 9:4




Military Devotion – October 1, 2017

Devotion based on John 9:4

See series: Military Devotions

“Night is coming…” Those words convey urgency. They relay concern.

When we are 6, 60 is only a small speck of light far away. When we reach 60, we can see the yellow light of 80 blinking just down the road. If we reach 80, we will see our sun beginning to set. “Night is coming…”

Nations also move from day to night. The sun was shining brightly over Europe the summer of 1914. Wonderful weather! Booming economy, political stability. The King of England, the Kaiser of Germany, and the Tsar of Russia were all cousins. Everything was good—until the guns of August and world war. 18 million died.

The sun shone again during the roaring 20s. But by 1939 the darkness of war returned as an eclipse over Europe. In 1941, the darkness hit America. 50-80 million killed.

The darkness returned in 1950, spreading out from Korea. 37 million killed.

In the 60s the darkness spread from Vietnam. 58 thousand Americans killed. The Gulf Wars: 5 thousand, and counting.

So where does America stand today? How close is the return to darkness? Where do we stand on the path of our life? How much time do we have before our sun sets? What will we do then?

Jesus once told the Disciples, “We must do the work of him who sent me.” “Night is coming…”

We must do our Father’s work. Time is limited. How will we prepare for the coming of night? Who will prepare our children for the darkness of the next war? Who will prepare souls for the onslaught of death?

“Night is coming…”

The darkest day in world history came when daylight failed over Jerusalem from noon to 3:00pm. From a center cross a cry of distress went up to heaven—and no one answered. This was the night Jesus warned about. Time had run out. His rescue mission was over. “It is finished!”

But that changed everything. That opened a hole to heaven for humans.

A famous coach told his ball carriers: “Run to daylight!”

Good advice for football. Good advice for life.

Death and disaster may block our path, but they need not frighten us. They will not stop us. We can improvise, adapt, and overcome. We can carry out our life’s mission. At the end of our life is a sunset. We can see the light breaking through the dark clouds.

We will work in our Father’s world before the night comes.

Then, we will run to daylight.



We pick up the echo of a song sung by those who went before us:

“The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest.
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blest.
Alleluia! Alleluia!” Amen.
(Christian Worship: 551:6)



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

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




Where’s wisdom – September 24, 2017

Where’s wisdom – September 24, 2017


And he said to the human race, “The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to shun evil is understanding.”
Job 28:28




Military Devotion – September 24, 2017

Devotion based on Job 28:28

See series: Military Devotions

“Too soon old. Too late smart.” The lament is filled with regret. “Too bad I did not listen.”

As the Lord God looks down on the human race, he must often shake his head in dismay. How can people be so dumb?

We prize learning. We spend huge sums on schools. Parents will sacrifice so their children can have a good education. Smart people get advancements. They usually make more money. We want to be smart.

But we tend to become very foolish.

We tend to look for wisdom in all the wrong places. When we are young, we think that if we learn how to be popular we will be better off. When we become older, we tend to think that if we learn how to make money, we will be better off. So we take the classes, we enroll in programs, we associate with people who seem to be successful. We want to learn from the best.

Too bad we don’t. How sad that when the One who has all the answers to life and death talks to us, we often don’t listen!

“The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom…”

Who is going to believe that? What does acknowledging the power, wisdom, and authority of an Unseen Being have to do with me becoming smart? How is that going to help me solve the problems of life?

How is staying away from evil going to help me understand anything?

Satan applauds those questions. That’s exactly the point he made with Eve when she reported that God had forbidden her to eat from a certain tree.

“Yeah, right!” he retorted. “That’s a lie! That’s silly!” And she believed him. She was not afraid of what her Creator would say or do. So she lost everything good. She spread the infection of destruction. The human race lost paradise, and peace, and never-ending life.

But we did not lose the love of God. He continued to reach out to us. He continued to offer his instruction. He continued to preserve this planet for us to live on.

He would forgive us. He would restore us. He would buy our freedom with the blood of his Son.

He would make us wise unto salvation.

Where’s wisdom?

It is found in the holy God—and nowhere else.



Prayer: Almighty, all-knowing, and loving God, too often we look for answers to life in places where they are not found. Too frequently we will eagerly go to humans, who are as clueless as we are. Come with your wisdom. Fill us with your understanding. Deliver us from evil. Amen.



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

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




My conscience – September 17, 2017

My conscience – September 17, 2017


My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.
1 Corinthians 4:4




Military Devotion – September 17, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 4:4

See series: Military Devotions

Jiminy Cricket told Pinocchio, and everyone who saw the movie, “Let your conscience be your guide!”

That was good advice. The conscience is the law of God built into our being. It pokes us when we are about to do something against that law. It is quiet when we are following God’s will.

Even the person who has never heard of the 10 Commandments has a conscience—thus the voice of God speaks inside of him. The conscience is an important gift for the welfare of society. It gives people a sense of right and wrong. We can only speculate what life would be like on this planet if no one had a conscience.

But there’s a problem. A conscience can be wrong. It may activate when it should not. It may stay silent when it should be screaming at us.

Humans can blunt a conscience. The first time a person curses the conscience pokes him. After a thousand cuss words, the conscience doesn’t even wake up from its nap as the words pour out.

Humans may corrupt a conscience. If from little on, a person is told by people he trusts that it is a sin to eat a certain food, or not work on a certain day, or wear any clothing except black—that person is apt to believe that this is the law of God. His conscience will not be valid.

A corrupt conscience may even convince him that it is right to kill people who do not believe as he does.

Gross sins have been committed by people with a clear conscience.

So, where does that leave us? How do we know that we are not working with a blunted or corrupted conscience?

The answer is: Compare it to the Word of God. Correct it where it needs correction.

If I am building a house and want to know if the board I am cutting will be two feet long, I better not go according to how I feel about the length. I might guess, but my feeling needs to be backed up, or corrected, by the tape measure.

Right and wrong are not determined by our feelings. They are defined by the holy God.

When the Apostle wrote, “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent…” he went on to point us to the ultimate authority. “It is the Lord who judges me.”

That’s not bad! That’s not frightening. The Lord has decreed: “There is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

If he clears me because of Jesus, I stand innocent.

No matter what my conscience may say.



Prayer: Holy and righteous Judge, you have given to us a conscience to guide us in your paths of righteousness. We admit that we have often ignored our conscience, and sometimes smothered its voice.  Forgive us for that. Sharpen our conscience by your written Word. Convict us of our sin so that we may see our error and turn to you for forgiveness and direction. Grant this for the sake of the One who was condemned so that we would not be condemned. Amen.



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

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




The Promise Keeper – September 10, 2017

The Promise Keeper – September 10, 2017


Deliver to the God of Jerusalem all the articles entrusted to you for worship in the temple of your God.
Ezra 7:19




Military Devotion – September 10, 2017

Devotion based on Ezra 7:19

See series: Military Devotions

The Lord God keeps his promises. Every one of them. In a manner that exceeds expectations.

Who would have thought that a heathen king would willingly give back to Israel treasured spoils of war?

The Lord God had warned his Chosen People that he would send judgment upon them. Their lax love and fickle faithfulness would not go unchecked.

The promised judgment came fast and furious. Assyria (now home of the Syrians) slashed through the defenses of the Northern 10 Tribes of Israel—obliterating them without a trace. Babylon (now home of Iraq) later overran the remaining two tribes. The Temple of the Lord was smashed. The precious items in it, many of gold and silver, were carried away as loot. The best citizens were led away as captives. It was much worse than our 9-11.

Gone was the glory of Israel. Gone was its wealth. Gone was its power.

But not gone was its hope.

The Lord God had promised that after 70 years the captives would be set free. He promised that the wealth of Israel would be returned. He promised that his Temple would be restored.

The Lord God keeps his promises. Every one of them. In a manner that exceeds expectations.

Listen to these further words by the Persian king: “Now I, King Artaxerxes, decree that all the treasurers of Trans-Euphrates are to provide with diligence whatever Ezra the priest, the teacher of the Law of the God of heaven, may ask of you—up to a hundred talents of silver, a hundred cors of wheat, a hundred baths of wine, a hundred baths of olive oil, and salt without limit. Whatever the God of heaven has prescribed, let it be done with diligence for the temple of the God of heaven” (Ezra 7:21-23).

An upheaval of national powers made this possible. Overnight Babylon was overthrown by the Persians. The captives of Israel were then told they could go home. After that came the executive order that the treasures stolen from Israel were to be returned—and more was to be given to the captives, just for the asking.

It may have seemed impossible, but it should not have been unexpected. The Lord God keeps his promises.

Those captives needed to return. That Temple needed to be rebuilt. A greater promise was at stake. God’s own Son would visit that Temple. God’s own Son would free those held captive to sin, death, and the devil. God’s own Son would rescue us.

Why, then, should we worry if it seems that the world is out of control and danger lurks around every corner?

A king greater than Artaxerxes has made his decree. We are his. Heaven is ours. This he has promised. This is certain.

He is the promise keeper.



Prayer: Lord God of the nations, the history of the world stands as testimony to the faithfulness of your promises. Enable us to never doubt you again. Amen.



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

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




Unplowed fields – September 3, 2017

Unplowed fields – September 3, 2017


Haughty eyes and a proud heart—the unplowed field of the wicked—produce sin.
Proverbs 21:4




Military Devotion – September 3, 2017

Devotion based on Proverbs 21:4

See series: Military Devotions

Sin doesn’t pop up fully grown. It starts from a small seed of defiance planted deep within us before we were born. It takes root, not in the rich soil of heaven, but in the hardened sewage of hell.

The proud heart is the unplowed field of the wicked rebel. Nothing good is going to grow there.

The heart—not the muscle that pumps blood, but the center of our thoughts and emotions—is either hardened in rebellion against its Creator, or is broken and contrite before its Savior God.

The eyes will reveal which.

When a group of people have been rounded up after an IED blast, how will a person identify America’s enemy from among those who are just innocent civilians?

A person who has served as an interrogator in such situations reports, “I watch the eyes!” Those who submit to their circumstances will lower their eyes. Those who stare back show defiance. They are haughty.

Defiant eyes reveal a defiant heart.

Maybe that person did not set the IED. But he could have. He wishes he had. One day he will.

The author of this proverb, King Solomon, wrote these words not to invite us to detect defiance toward God in others, but to warn us to check our own hearts.

After all, the seeds of rebellion against the Holy One were also sown inside of us. They have taken root. We must admit that they have produced sin.

Maybe we can fool others. Maybe we can even fool ourselves. But God sees through us. With his Word, he judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) How can we escape his judgment? What can we show that proves we do not want to be his enemy?

King David knew. “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, O God, will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).

The writer of “Rock of Ages” caught the right words: “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling…”

The eyes of such a one are not haughty. Such a heart is not proud. Such a field does not produce sin.

This field has been plowed by the Holy Spirit. It yields a heavenly harvest.



Prayer: Holy Spirit, shine into our hearts the truth of the Lord God so that stubborn pride and rebellion may be seen for what it is. Break up the hardness you find in our hearts, and plant into us the seed of your Word. Enable us to produce a rich harvest of good fruit that will benefit others, and give glory to your name. Amen.



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

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




We win – August 27, 2017

We win – August 27, 2017


Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous.
Psalm 118:15




Military Devotion – August 27, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 118:15

See series: Military Devotions

It is not fun to lose. If it is a life and death battle, we dare not lose. If we win, we celebrate. From the mouths of winners come shouts of joy and victory. That’s the way it is.

The battlefield is not just some place across an ocean. We face battles in life no matter where we are. There is always something or someone opposing us. Sometimes the battle takes place inside of us as we fight against the part of our nature that is not good.

We must be on guard against pride. We need to knock down lust. We need to post a sentry at our conscience. We need to throw envy into the brig.

Our whole life is a battle.

Many times, it seems we are losing. Our plans for something good fall apart. Our dreams for a better life die. Just when we think we have gotten on top of a bad habit, we find we have fallen again.

Sometimes we feel like giving up.

Our God knows that. That’s why he tells us to “Fear not!” That’s why he so often gives us assurances. He wants us to know that the life and death battle is not in doubt for those who belong to him.

When we turn our eyes away from our fears and tune our ears into his words, we come to the realization that in spite of ongoing battles and retreats; in spite of the power of the enemy; even in spite of ourselves: we win!

The war is over! The Son of God has conquered sin, death, and the devil. Why should we now abandon our post? Why surrender to the enemy?

Propaganda is Satan’s strong weapon.

Remember when “Baghdad Bob” told the world on live TV that the Iraqi army was going to spank the allies—even when the sound of approaching American firepower could be heard through the microphone?

Bold lies can be told even in the face of failure, but the sounds of victory tell the true story.

“Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous!”

Those are our tents! That’s where we camp. We wear the uniform of the righteous. It has been placed upon us by the Righteous One who has covered us with the holiness of his blood.

Don’t believe the lies of the enemy! Don’t be misled by the small piece of the battle our eyes can see.

The roar of the sound of victory from the mouths of saints and angels echoes across the span of heaven. Messengers have relayed the news to us. We have heard it. We won’t forget it.

We win!



Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have overcome the powers that would rob us of the salvation you won for us. But doubts arise when we look around and see so many signs of the enemy’s power. At times, we are tempted to give up and give in. Keep us from doing that! Allow us to hear the songs of victory. Let us agree with the words of the hymn that declare:

And when the fight is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave again and arms are strong.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.
(Christian Worship 551:5)



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

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




I don’t know – August 20, 2017

I don’t know – August 20, 2017


And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.
2 Corinthians 12:3,4




Military Devotion – August 20, 2017

Devotion based on 2 Corinthians 12:3,4

See series: Military Devotions

The soldier was wounded. But he didn’t think he was dying until the chaplain told him to prepare to meet God. He reports that shortly afterward, “A wall of light like a silvery screen appeared against the jet black background. A kaleidoscope as well as a multi-colored projection of my entire life cycle, from my very birth and babyhood up to that moment when I received the news.”

The vision continued. He saw himself flying through the universe, past planets, stars, and galaxies, but then his whirlwind path through the cosmos bends and he returns to earth. There he saw himself pass through a narrow little window into the hospital ward, and back into his own waiting body.

What was that? Hallucination? Dream? A near-death experience? The soldier said, “I don’t know.”

The Apostle Paul had a similar experience. His trip was not through the solar system, but up into heaven. There he heard things he could not express.

As to if this was an out-of-body experience or not, the Apostle wrote: “I do not know.”

What he did know was that God allowed him to have an in-heaven experience.

At times, we too may experience things that we cannot explain. People have seen things, and felt they have done things, that are humanly impossible. Sometimes this greatly bothers them. Sometimes it scares them.

Many times, it occurs in connection with a traumatic event. But not always.

Maybe this has already happened to you. If not, maybe it will. Or, maybe it will happen to a loved one.

What are we to do when we do not know what is happening? What are we to think when what we see doesn’t make sense? What should we believe when it seems that we have come face-to-face with the life beyond?

The same thing we have been doing all of our Christian life. We fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

What should we be afraid of when this life does end? The smiling face of Jesus? Surely not! And certainly, not the place in heaven that the Savior has prepared for the one he loves!

Many are the times in life we may need to say, “I do not know.” But not regarding the love of God or his plans for us.

Concerning whatever he reveals to us we must always say: “This is most certainly true.”



We can join in the words of Job:

I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27)



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

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




Not by might – August 13, 2017

Not by might – August 13, 2017


“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the LORD Almighty.
Zechariah 4:6




Military Devotion – August 13, 2017

Devotion based on Zechariah 4:6

See series: Military Devotions

It was America’s first bomber response to the threat of Nazi Germany. Deployed from Savannah, Georgia to England, this air group gained fame and respect from its repeated daylight raids over heavily protected enemy sites. Its casualty count was high. But so was its effectiveness. It earned the label, The Mighty Eighth.

There are those who feel that we do not need to train for war or maintain standing armed forces. They advise, in words from the sixties, “Make love, not war!” They see no need for military might.

If history does not teach clearly enough that unopposed evil will attack and destroy those who are unprepared or unwilling to fight against it, the Bible leaves no doubt about the need, at times, to take up the sword.

But feeble resistance is of little value. Force must be met with greater force. America prefers overwhelming force against its enemies, be they domestic or foreign. Thus, the call is to keep our nation strong.

We may understand that, and we may agree with it. But we are reminded by the words of God that might and means, especially just human ones, are not enough to overcome evil and secure peace.

The prime enemy is a spirit, and the spirit of a person is a soul—and that’s the battleground. That which cannot be seen cannot be overcome by external strength. Devils do not bleed. Demons do not die. Satanic forces wage war with lust and greed and hatred as their weapons. Point to any evil that one can name, and an enemy of God is behind it.

Name anything that is good, and know that the Spirit of God is active there. Apart from God, there is no goodness. Apart from God is only what the poet called, “all valiant dust that builds on dust.”

Might and power are gifts from God. They are to be used to serve and protect. In the hands of his people, used according to his will, they are blessings. But they are not the ultimate power and the greatest of blessings.

God, the Holy Spirit, can overpower anything that resists him. God, the Holy Spirit, is the answer to every need. What the Holy Spirit builds, no one and nothing can tear down.

Our lives, our nation, and our future lie in the hands of the Lord Almighty.

It’s a good place to be.



In the words of the famous hymn we confess:

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



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

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




Gimme tomorrow – August 6, 2017

Gimme tomorrow – August 6, 2017


I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.
Psalm 3:5,6




Military Devotion – August 6, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 3:5,6

See series: Military Devotions

It was December 1950. General MacArthur had told the press that he expected his troops in frozen, windswept Korea would be home by Christmas. A photographer for LIFE magazine asked an embattled Marine on the front line, “If I were God, and I could give you anything you wanted (for Christmas), what would you ask for?”

“Gimme tomorrow,” he said.

When we think of the thousands upon thousands of times the question, “What do you want for Christmas?” has been asked, this answer must be among the most unusual.

“I want to spend Christmas with my family.” “I want this war to end.” “I want to survive Korea.” Any of these would be understandable and expected replies.

But this Marine was not aiming that high. He had seen the fresh Chinese troops flooding across the border. He only wanted to survive through the night.

“Gimme tomorrow!”

Those who have never been in desperate life or death situations may be surprised at those words. Many who have stepped into harm’s way for their country know exactly how he felt.

So would the psalm writer, David. Like that Marine, David was also now surrounded by an enemy. Like that Marine, he wasn’t thinking about the far future. He just wanted to make it to the next day.

Unlike the Marine, his enemy forces were not foreigners with a strange uniform and language. He was being attacked by fellow Israelites. Their commander was none else than David’s own son: Absalom.

These were some of the darkest days of David’s life. The warrior king, the killer of Goliath, had to slink away from his throne like a weak coward. Gone was the glory. Gone was the power. Shame, misery, and death marked the trail of retreat.

It appeared he had lost everything that counted in life. But that was not true. He still had his faith in the Savior God.

And the Savior God still had him.

MacArthur’s boast, “They’ll be home by Christmas!” rang hollow in the end. David’s declaration was rock solid. “I lie down and sleep; I wake again.”

He knew that with the God who promised there would one day be a Christmas, he would always wake up alive—on earth or in heaven. He didn’t have to ask, “Gimme tomorrow!”

Neither do we.



Prayer: God of our fathers and Lord of our life, we do not know what the future holds, and sometimes we fear that we will not make it through our day of trouble. We thank you for sustaining us in the past. We trust you for all our tomorrows. Amen.



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

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




Visitors – July 30, 2017

Visitors – July 30, 2017


Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Matthew 17:3




Military Devotion – July 30, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 17:3

See series: Military Devotions

Our planet has been visited by beings from beyond our universe—not by creatures from outer space, but by saints and angels.

One time, the visitors came with along with bright lights in a night sky. That was over the fields of Bethlehem. Once, one of them came bringing death to every household in a nation. That was in Egypt. Those were angels. They have visited our planet countless times. Most often they are not seen. Thousands upon thousands are here with us today.

People of God (saints) coming back from the dead to appear on earth are not as common. We know only of two who did this. When Moses appeared at the transfiguration of Jesus, he had been dead for thousands of years. Elijah is a different story. He also left our planet long before Jesus walked the earth. But he skipped the dying part and was transported to heaven by what appeared to be a chariot and horses on fire.

Saint Matthew now reports that these two heroes of faith once stopped in to talk with Jesus in plain sight of three disciples.

Science fiction cannot match the amazing realities that the Word of God reveals. We are not alone on this planet. We have been visited by people who have passed on from this life. We continue to be visited by beings much more advanced than we, who come from a place no telescope can see and no spacecraft can reach. It’s called heaven. They are called saints and angels.

Our tiny minds grasp neither the greatness of God nor the wonders of his creation. Even though modern technology allows us to see things our forefathers never imagined; even though we are startled by the size and power and complexity of the universe we live in; many still believe that life is finite. Humans still want to think that if our minds cannot comprehend it, it cannot be. We still tend to fear that physical death ends life.

How silly! How the angels must laugh at our foolish conclusions! How sad they must be to see people refuse to admit to the presence and power of the Creator God! How tragic the rejection of his plans!

He is there, and he is not silent! He calls out to us in his Word! He reveals himself in the wonders of his creation. He has sent his ambassadors to warn us of dangers, and offer hope and life.

He has sent his Son to rescue us. That’s what Moses and Elijah came to that hilltop to talk about with Jesus.

We look in at the scene in wonder. That says something about us and our future. One day we will join those saints and angels in their homeland.

We will come there to stay. We will not be mere visitors.



Prayer:
I’m but a stranger here; Heav’n is my home.
Earth is a desert drear; Heav’n is my home.
Danger and sorrow stand  Round me on every hand.
Heav’n is my fatherland; Heav’n is my home.

There at my Savior’s side—Heav’n is my home
I shall be glorified; Heav’n is my home.
There are the good and blest, Those I love most and best.
And there I, too, shall rest; Heav’n is my home. Amen.
(Christian Worship 417:1,3)



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

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




Worthless – July 23, 2017

Worthless – July 23, 2017


They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.
2 Kings 17:15




Military Devotion – July 23, 2017

Devotion based on 2 Kings 17:15

See series: Military Devotions

If someone asks how much we are worth, our thoughts might jump to the balance in our bank accounts. Yet, real worth is not measured in dollar bills. We weigh human value on a different scale.

Honesty, dependability, and skill mean more than wealth. We know that. But there is more to the picture. There is the view from heaven.

“They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.” That’s God speaking.

Is he referring to us? The first thought might be, absolutely not! This applies to those who follow idols. That’s not us. We don’t worship the sun or sacrifice to a stone god. We’re not idolaters!

But then, our conscience might remind us that there have been times when we have placed something higher in our lives than the Lord our God. There may have been occasions when we did depend upon the dollar in our pocket more than the Creator in the heavens. Maybe sometimes we did feel safer because of that good luck charm we carried. Maybe we have, once in a while, placed our silly wants higher than God’s glorious will.

It seems we must admit that we have not always feared, loved, and trusted God above all things. Maybe we are not keeping the 1st Commandment even now. Does that make us worthless?

The big question is, how valuable are we to God? Does he need us? No. Have we faithfully carried out the assignments he has given us? No. Can we honestly assure him that from now on we will do exactly what he says? That we cannot do.

To those worried about not having enough to meet earthly needs, Jesus once said, “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31).

Is that all? Only more valuable than some birds?

Have we inflated our value in our own minds like we inflate air into a tire? Is our self-worth only hot air?

Are we worth nothing?

Value is determined by someone else. The boss pays his worker a high salary because he values the skill and hard work. Good evaluation reports put us in good standing with superiors.

How much are we valued by the Lord of the heavens? He has not just told us; he has shown us.

From a center cross on Golgotha, the Son of God said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and died—for us. We are forgiven.

The value is not in us. The value has been placed upon us. We have been bought with the lifeblood of the Son of God.

Worthless we are not.



Prayer: Holy and loving God, it is awesome to think that we are precious in your sight. Keep reminding us of that. Send the Holy Spirit to us in rich measure so that we might be empowered to more and more live a life that reflects the value you have placed upon us. Amen.



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

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




When joy is gone – July 16, 2017

When joy is gone – July 16, 2017


Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Psalm 51:8




Military Devotion – July 16, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 51:8

See series: Military Devotions

On one day, we may feel that we can soar like an eagle. On another, it feels like we have crashed and burned. Life is like that. Disappointment can deflate us. So can failure. Fear can grip us. But nothing can crush us as badly as the fist of our Maker who slams us with a guilty conscience.

King David learned this by personal experience. The Psalm 51 is a cry for mercy, a call for help. He was not bleeding from a battle wound. He was sound of mind and body. The pain leaked from his soul.

The great warrior-king, the famous giant-killer, had stumbled into adultery and murder. He lived for a year safe from discovery and punishment. No one knew of his crimes. No one except his God.

Denial of the evil is a common approach to living with guilt. Strong denial seems to block pain and avert punishment. The wish is to move on in life as if the bad never happened. But the cover-up of sin, like the denial of a cancer, doesn’t remove it. It only allows it to fester. There will be consequences.

The Lord God sent his messenger to point a finger at the black mass growing in the soul of David. An MRI would not have detected it, but he who knows the thoughts and intents of the heart had already seen the spiritual cancer when it was only a lust and temptation.

With a story about a man who took a pet lamb from a family so he could feed a special guest, David was led to see a picture of his sin. In righteous anger David declared “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this must die” (2 Samuel 12:5).

“You are the man!” the prophet replied. The lamb represented Bathsheba, whom David took as his own; then had her husband, Uriah, killed to cover up his adultery.

David’s sins were exposed. Denial was no longer possible. He had pronounced his own death sentence. He had to admit, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

In reply, he was told, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.”

David was forgiven. The blood of the Lamb of God washed away his crimes. But in this psalm, David reveals the anguish the sin had caused his soul. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion.”

When joy is gone, life is empty. Like a repentant David, we know where to then turn for hope.

When joy is gone, only God can bring it back.



Prayer: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Amen.



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

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




The God factor – July 9, 2017

The God factor – July 9, 2017


I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.
Isaiah 45:7




Military Devotion – July 9, 2017

Devotion based on Isaiah 45:7

See series: Military Devotions

It’s not just skill and hard work. It’s not just perseverance and determination. It’s not a matter of luck. When considering success or failure, good times or bad times, prosperity or disaster— don’t ignore the God factor.

He is there even if we do not see him. He is there even if we do not feel him. He is there to bring about the fulfillment of his plans.

Who is going to stop him?

“I form the light and create darkness.” he says. Who else can do that?

Because we can light a match or flip a switch does not mean that we form light. Our actions only activate that which God has already provided. And darkness? We say that it is nothing—only the absence of light. God says darkness is something he creates. We have a lot to learn.

Some people claim they don’t recognize the existence of a supreme being, such as the Lord God. Others admit that the universe we live in shouts out that it has been designed by someone greater than any human. But they envision creation to be like a clock that God has wound up and then walked away from. Now, it winds down in his absence.

Not so! “I bring prosperity and create disaster.” God is an active factor in life.

We like the idea of prosperity. Humans are willing to pay him to make us prosperous. They might place bribes into a collection plate, sing out empty songs to praise him, and hollow prayers to stay on his good side.

But we find out that he cannot be bought. He tells us that all efforts to buy his good will are like filthy rags in his sight.

So, what can we do to keep him from creating disaster for us?

Nothing!

He has already done it. He offers his good will to us as a gift. His Son has already paid for it.

He tells us, “I’ve got your six!”

If the one who has our back can create light and darkness, we have no reason to fear what might appear in front of us.

We thank God for the God factor.



Prayer: God of hope, power, and mercy, too often we forget that you play an important role in our lives. Too often we feel that we are all alone as we face the challenges of life. Too often we turn to false hope and superstition. Too often we try to live as though you are not with us. Open our eyes. Renew our faith. Refresh our souls. Bless us. Amen.



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

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




Freedom – July 2, 2017

Freedom – July 2, 2017


So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
John 8:36




Military Devotion – July 2, 2017

Devotion based on John 8:36

See series: Military Devotions

Not all freedom is good. To pick out the good from the bad, ask the question: “Freedom from what?”

Freedom from law? Freedom from duty? Freedom from God? Not good!

Freedom from tyranny? Freedom from repression? All good!

How about total freedom from disease, and accident, and heartache? Not possible!

Let it be stated clearly: the freedoms that we Americans enjoy are precious. People have sacrificed their lives to protect them. We do not want to lose them.

But they are limited. They do not extend beyond the grave. They do not free our souls.

What good is freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly, and the right to bear arms when we are facing death and the judgment seat of God?

The people of Jesus’ day resented his words that called them slaves. They snapped back: “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” (John 8:33)

They could not see the chains that bound their souls. They could not see that Satan ruled their hearts and minds. They needed to look into the mirror of God’s law. When they did, they would see their sin—and their chains.
“Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin,” said Jesus in John 8:34.

Slavery is the opposite of freedom. The slave who thinks he is free is kidding himself.

How foolish to think that sin is an expression of freedom! At the time of the Judges in the Old Testament it is reported, “And everyone did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6).

The result was horrible. There was no justice. There was no freedom. Humans are not God.

The reality is clear. Those who reject the rule of the Holy One are rebels. Such rebellion is always futile; always ends badly. Even if they do not realize it, those rebels are chained to a demonic leader who has already been judged and condemned. Their end will be the same.

But there is still hope for those locked in spiritual chains. There is someone who can break the grip and smash the lock that binds the captive. It happened to us.

The Son of God snapped our chains. He died that we might live. We are free.

“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”



Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you for the freedoms that you have given to us to enjoy in America.  We thank you for calling forth those who have defended those freedoms. We thank you for the perfect freedom that you have given us in Christ. We thank you for being our Savior God.  Keep us free. Amen.



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

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




A matter of honor – June 25, 2017

A matter of honor – June 25, 2017


He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
Psalm 91:15




Military Devotion – June 25, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 91:15

See series: Military Devotions

The preschooler is honored for learning to tie her shoes. The athlete is honored for winning a game. And then, there is the Congressional Medal of Honor winner.

The significance of an honor is based not just upon what a person has done, but also upon the one bestowing the honor.

This verse of Psalm 91 begins with truths that we have heard before, and promises that we treasure. The Holy One is standing by to deliver us from evil.

Elsewhere King David has written, “The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

Coming from someone who spent much of his life at war, the words should mean a lot to warriors.

But the ending words of our text may shock us: “I will…honor him.”

God is going to honor us? Isn’t it only the other way around? Don’t we rightly sing, “All glory, laud, and honor to you Redeemer King”?

Since when can we expect God to honor us? Ever since he said so.

There is a reason why Olympic medal winners stand on elevated platforms. Being honored elevates a person in the eyes of others. Honest honor proclaims: “This person is special!”

The Redeemer God is not thanking us when he honors us, he is elevating us.
When we call to him in trouble, he does not just lend us a hand. He jumps into the swirling waters to be with us. Then he lifts us up, and out.

When it seems that we are weak and failing, he empowers and propels us. He shows that he is our strength and deliverer. With the Apostle Paul, we can say, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

Those are the words of heroes—heroes of faith.

The Lord of the heavens has adopted us as his own, given us his name, ransomed us from death, and called us to service in his kingdom.

If that’s not being honored, nothing is.



Prayer: Lord God, when we call to you in trouble, we know that you will hear and answer us. Remind us that you will do more. Assure us that you will be with us. Enable us to live our lives in faith and joy. Amen.



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

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




Where is he? – June 18, 2017

Where is he? – June 18, 2017


Why do the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.
Psalm 115:2,3




Military Devotion – June 18, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 115:2,3

See series: Military Devotions

The title of the book is, “god is not here.” The lack of capitalization is on purpose. It was written by a soldier who had gone through horrendous circumstances Iraq. He was torn between what he thought was right and decent, and what he saw himself doing. It is not an uplifting book.

But the question about the presence of God in war is not an uncommon one. Faced with what can be the mayhem and atrocity of warfare, many a person has asked, “Where is God? Why doesn’t he stop this? Why didn’t he prevent this?”

Some shake their heads in confusion. Others decide that he must be M.I.A. At COP Restrepo, someone wrote on the wall: “God hates us all forever!”

It isn’t just the professed atheist or the unchurched who wonders, “Where is God?” Sometimes the child of God also finds that question flooding into his mind.

We understand that there is evil in this world. We have come to expect a certain level of cruelty and viciousness. But sometimes we run into something that pegs the needle of unacceptable to the limit. We start to wonder about the justice of God, the love of God—even the very existence of God.

In short, with the devil’s encouragement, we have begun to play God.

We look at situations, and we make decisions about what a loving, just God should do. Then we fault him for not doing what we think we would do.

But he does not exist to please us, nor he does he act to do so. We are not his boss. We are not his inspector. We are not his teacher. He is not subject to our acceptance; and he does not need our vote.

“Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.”

This would be scary if we did not know for certain what it is that pleases him.
We don’t have to guess about that. The Good Shepherd assures his followers, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

He is not subject to mood changes. He cannot be bribed. He will not go back on his word.

It pleases him to treat us as members of his family and heirs of his kingdom. It pleases him to rule the world for our benefit. It pleases him to remove all cause of fear from our lives.

We do not need to see him with our eyes. Our souls recognize him as Lord and King. He is there for us. He is ever-present. He is our faithful Father.

A good thing to remember on a Father’s Day.



Prayer: Heavenly Father, doubt and confusion sometimes enter our mind. We are so used to living by the phrase of “seeing is believing” that we forget that you operate above and beyond all senses. We forget that we see only a small piece of the picture of our lives. We sometimes forget that you are our Father who is in heaven. Point us to your Word. Let us again hear the words of Jesus, “Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed.” Then convince our doubting hearts that we are, indeed, watched over and blessed—now and forever. Amen.



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

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




Stupid – June 11, 2017

Stupid – June 11, 2017


Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Psalm 34:8




Military Devotion – June 11, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 34:8

See series: Military Devotions

Stupid, stupid, stupid! We can imagine David saying this to himself as he wrote this psalm. And we agree. How dumb could he be?

We understand that he was in danger. King Saul had grown jealous, and planned to kill him. So, David ran for his life. That we can comprehend. But when we hear that he ran to the hometown of Goliath, we raise our eyebrows. When we are told that he was carrying with him the dead giant’s sword, we shake our heads in amazement.

Why does he think the Philistines will not recognize him? Why does he believe that Israel’s enemy will protect him? Why is he not turning to Israel’s God for protection?

The only answer we can come up with is, he panicked. He decided that he would have to get himself out of this mess. After all, he had killed bears and lions. He had killed Goliath. Maybe his own strength and cunning will save him again.

Bad idea!

He was quickly recognized and captured. His next move was to fake insanity. He clawed like an animal at the gate that held him in. He let spit run down his beard. That worked! “Look at the man! He is insane!” bellowed the king of the Philistines. So, his enemy threw him out.

Young David learned an old lesson: Not trusting the Lord God is a bad idea. Thinking that one can rescue himself is stupid. Faking insanity worked. But David now knew how foolish he was.

David wrote this psalm to admit his foolishness, and to warn others not to follow the path he had taken. “Taste and see that the Lord is good…” Is the apple rotten? Is it sour? The proof is in the eating.

The same is true of the goodness of God. The only way that you can learn that God’s will and God’s way are good, is to put your trust in him.

What else could David have done when running from Saul? We don’t know. But we are certain that he should never have abandoned his hope and trust in the Savior God.

“…blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” A much better idea than running to your enemy for protection, even if your enemy is an enemy of the one threatening you!

“Taste and see…” We sing those words in one of our liturgies. Many who sing them may not know the background upon which they were written. But this should be clear to all:

Those who run to the good and gracious Lord for help, such ones, are certainly not stupid.



Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive our foolishness when we are tempted to run from you to find an answer to what is troubling or threatening us. Keep us from adding to our trouble by thinking that we can take care of ourselves without you. Keep us from turning to dangerous and foolish answers to our problems in life. Keep us in your close care as we experience your goodness by learning to fear, love, and trust in you above all things. Amen.



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

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




The Valley of Elah – June 4, 2017

The Valley of Elah – June 4, 2017


Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines.
I Samuel 17:2




Military Devotion – June 4, 2017

Devotion based on I Samuel 17:2

See series: Military Devotions

Some places are known by name for the danger that our troops faced there. Tarawa is one. So is Pork Chop Hill. The Sunni Triangle is another. For the army of Israel, it was the Valley of Elah.

In the days before guns and bombs, most battles were fought face-to-face. The victory usually went to the biggest and the strongest. That’s the way it was when Saul was king of Israel.

If he had known in advance what his army would face, he never would have entered the Valley of Elah.

There, his troops came within shouting distance of something that terrified them. They were challenged by a giant. He was the famous Goliath.

Since we know how the story turns out, it is hard for us to relate to the fear that paralyzed Israel’s army. But when they heard the taunting challenge of Goliath, they saw no escape. They knew they were no match for him. They knew that surrender to the Philistines meant the slaughter of many, and miserable life as slaves for all the rest. No wonder Samuel wrote: “Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.”

We probably have never had to face a killer giant. But we may have been in fearful situations where we saw no way out. We may have wished we had never gotten into those situations. We may walk into such situations in the future. The threat may be physical, or emotional, or spiritual. It makes no difference.

It becomes our very own Valley of Elah.

Saul had no idea that the way out of this valley would be provided by a shepherd boy. We may not be able to think of any way out of the situation we find ourselves in. But God is not limited to the options that we can think of. Where we might be able to consider two possibilities, he probably can envision two thousand.

He can make things happen.

He prompted a shepherd boy to come to the valley. He guided the stone that hit the giant. He allowed the once-terrified soldiers to walk out of that valley.

The boy went on to write the famous words, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

Valley of Elah? Valley of the shadow of death? Makes no difference.

David’s God is our God.



Prayer: Heavenly Father, at times we cannot see our way out of situations that frighten us. Sometimes we lose hope. Sometimes we doubt. Sometimes we fear. Remind us of your presence. Remind us of your power. Then lead us out of our fearful valleys. Amen.



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

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