Saint Lucas Lutheran

Church, School, Pre-K and Child Care in Bay View, WI

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Home Every Day With Jesus 12-30-13 to 1-5-14

12-30-13 to 1-5-14

Every Day with Jesus
Daily Devotions for December 29, 2013 – January 4, 2014
Monday, Dec 30
Ephesians 1:18 I pray…that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.

THE EYES OF YOUR HEART

In his book, God Came Near, author Max Lucado writes about a man by the name of Bob Edens. For 51 years, Bob was unable to see. For 51 years his world was a world of touch and taste, of sound and smell. But sight simply was not a part of his reality. Then, the impossible happened. A skilled surgeon was able to perform a complex operation on Bob Edens’ eyes. Following the procedure, he could see. For the first time in his life, Bob Edens could see.

To hear him describe his gift of sight is powerful and moving. You hear a man overwhelmed by what he now has. He speaks of his love for color. “I never would have dreamed that yellow is so…yellow,” he says. He goes on to gush about the shape of the moon, the thrill of seeing an aircraft shoot across the sky, the beauty beyond words that he finds in sunrises and sunsets, the beauty beyond words that he finds in the stars at night. Perhaps Bob Edens sums up his experience best in one sentence. In speaking of what it’s like to enjoy the gift of sight for the first time in your life, Bob Edens says this. He says, “You could never know how wonderful everything is.”

Here’s a question for you. As you read this devotion, how clearly are you seeing with the eyes of your heart? Is it possible that a thousand little distractions have slowly accumulated around your spiritual field of vision? Is it possible that the daily routine of going to work, coming home, getting groceries, watching TV, going to bed and getting up to do it again – is it possible that that routine has slowly formed a dark film over your spiritual eyes so that you no longer see clearly what matters?

If so, then it’s time for the Great Physician of souls to do something about it. It’s time for Jesus, your Savior, to enlighten the eyes of your heart with the healing message of his Good News. As he enlightens your sight through his forgiveness of your sins, look at him. Look at him closely. Pay attention to his promises. And pay attention to how he always finds a way to keep his promises. Watch him at work on the pages of the Bible. When you do, he will enlighten you more and more. Your view of the world in which you live will change. Your view of life itself will change. You will be like a Bob Edens, enjoying the thrill of the gift of sight. That is what happens when Jesus fills the eyes of your heart with himself.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, through the power of your Gospel fill the eyes of my heart with yourself. Enlighten me. Move me to see all the wonderful things I have in you. Amen.





Tues, Dec 31
Galatians 1:13 For you have heard of my previous way of life…, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.

THE CASTLE

Christian writer Greg Elder grew up along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. As a boy he used to spend long hours building intricate sand castles on the beach. One year, however, he encountered trouble. For several days in a row, local bullies came by and used their bare feet to kick down whatever sand castle he was building.

Finally this young boy had had enough. He decided to try an experiment. He started to build a sand castle as before, only this time he included cinder blocks and chunks of concrete as part of the base.

Once again the local bullies showed up. Once again they raised their bare feet to kick down his castle. This time, however, their tender feet collided with something that was not going to budge. As a result, several young men limped away in pain, they retired from the castle-kicking business, and little Greg Elder’s castle remained standing.

There are times when it seems as though Christianity is like a sand castle that all kinds of feet are trying to kick down. There’s the foot of our secular society. There’s the foot of false doctrine. There’s the foot of cynics. There’s the foot of our own sinful priorities.

Before the Apostle Paul came to faith in Jesus, kicking down the castle of Christianity was what he lived to do. As he did so, he thought he was being successful. But he soon discovered something. He discovered that the base of the castle was never going to budge. It was never going to budge because the base of the castle was Jesus Christ himself.

As you and I encounter the feet of those forces that are trying to kick down the castle of Christianity, don’t be afraid. Those tender feet are no match for the Rock of our salvation. The same One who washed us clean at the cross is the same One who lives and rules and will not be kicked into submission by anything. The castle of Christianity will stand.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, on you, the Solid Rock, we stand. When the troubles of life come, remind us that we have nothing to fear when we remain in you. Amen.

Wednesday, Jan 1
Hebrews 13: 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

LET THE CHANGES COME

Ever hear of “The Beloit Mindset List”? The Beloit Mindset List is something put together by two professors from a college in Beloit. Over the years it has received national and international attention. This is what it is. Every summer these two professors compile a list of items that describe the only world that a typical college freshman has come to know.  It makes for interesting reading, to say the least.

Here are some examples from this past year’s list. Typical students starting college this past fall were born in 1995. In their world, Dean Martin, Mickey Mantle and Jerry Garcia have always been dead. With GPS, they have never needed directions to get somewhere, just an address. Their favorite feature films have been largely computer generated. The CD player in their parents’ car is ancient and embarrassing. In their world, spray paint has never been legally sold in Chicago, Olympic Fever has always erupted every two years, and they have never attended a concert in a smoke-filled arena. And in their world of life experience, Washington, DC, tour buses have never been able to drive in front of the White House.

Do you find this list a bit jarring? If you’re of a certain age, perhaps you do. It’s not always pleasant to discover that you’ve reached a point in your life where the world you came to know is no longer the world that is.

But here’s the thing. The 18-year-olds plugged into the technology and popular culture of the moment will experience that same sense of jarring unease. In a few short years, they too will feel the ground of their world shift and change under their feet. They will read future installments of “The Beloit Mindset List,” and they too will shake their heads.

That’s why real life does not rest on things that shift and change. Instead, real life rests on the one Person who does not change. Real life rests upon Jesus Christ.

Beyond the fickleness of popular culture, beyond the latest gadgets of technology, beyond the breaking news of current events – beyond all that, there stands Jesus. There stands your Savior from sin. There stands the One whose promises you can embrace. There stands the One whose will for your life you can trust.

And so let the changes come. Jesus does not change. And that’s all that matters.


Prayer: Lord Jesus, in a world of change, you do not. You remain the same. Move me never to forget this. Amen.

Thursday, Jan 2
Galatians 6:14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

LIFE IS ABOUT THE CROSS

Most of you have probably never heard of a man by the name of Christian Hosoi (pronounced “hoh-SOY”). In the world of competitive skateboarding, however, Christian Hosoi is a legend. Already in his early teens he was doing things with a skateboard no one else could do. With early success came fame. With fame came commercial endorsements. With commercial endorsements came lots of money. And when all of this mingled with a reckless, pleasure-seeking lifestyle, Christian Hosoi found himself in the middle of his own self-made universe. Life was about him. It was that simple.

Then his universe collapsed. His finances took a serious downturn. Substance abuse consumed him. Finally, authorities arrested him at an airport for transporting drugs. He received a sentence for 10 years in prison.

Behind bars, he one day had an opportunity to talk to a close friend by phone. Her advice was simple. “Find a Bible,” she said. “Find a Bible and read it.” He did. At first it was slow going, because reading a Bible was new to him. But then he read about King David’s downfall and God’s forgiveness. That kept him reading. And he kept right on reading until the Word of God brought him to the foot of the cross, the message of what God had done for him through the life and death of Jesus Christ. For the first time in his life, life was not about him. Instead, his life was about something far better.

You and I don’t have to face prison time in order to acknowledge that, very often, our lives have revolved around us. The devil wants us to think that way. The sinful culture around us wants us to think that way. Our own sinful natures want to think that way.

The Apostle Paul had once thought that way too. But the Lord Jesus intervened, and Paul’s life began to be about something far better. “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Paul says. Forgiven through faith in Jesus, you and I can echo his words.

Christian Hosoi came to faith. Four years later he received a release from prison. He went back to skateboarding. This time, however, he used skateboarding as an opportunity to tell others about the cross, the place where the Son of God paid for our sins in full.

You and I can do the same, skateboard or not. Because life is about the cross.

Prayer: Forgive me, Lord Jesus, for all the times I have allowed my life to be about me. Move me by your Spirit to embrace the reality that my life is about the cross. My life is about you. Amen.

Friday, Jan 3
Romans 13:11 The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber.

SLEEPY INACTION

Her name was Rosina Hernandez. Rosina Hernandez was a woman who carried a troubled conscience. Here’s why. When Rosina was in college, she and some friends decided to attend a rock concert. During the concert, an incident arose in the area where Rosina and her friends were standing. A young man began beating up another man. While that was going on, no one stopped to intervene. Everyone stood there in a daze and did nothing – including Rosina. Finally the authorities arrived. An ambulance took the beaten man to the hospital. But it was too late. The next day Rosina heard that the beaten man had died. A man had died, and she – Rosina Hernandez – she had not even tried to stop it. Her sleepy inaction on that night haunted her for years.

You and I have been guilty of sleepy inaction too. Every time you and I have allowed a fellow Christian to drift away from Jesus, every time we have passed up an opportunity to comfort a hurting soul for fear of what to do or say, every time we’ve put off talking to someone about the Savior because it was easier not to – that’s the same kind of sleepy inaction that can allow the devil to take his time and have his way.

But Jesus does not disown us for our sleepy inaction. Instead he comes to us in his Word. His Spirit brings us to repentance. He cleanses us in his blood. He renews our resolve to bring our sleepy inaction to an end.

The years passed. One day, on a rainy, coastline highway, Rosina Hernandez saw the car in front of her skid out of control and plunge into the bay. Only the rear of the car was sticking out of the water. A woman emerged, screaming that her husband was trapped inside. This time Rosina was ready. She ran into the water, then shouted and begged the crowd of bystanders to come in and help her. Finally one man stepped forward, then another, then more. Together they were able to enter the car and drag the man out. They did so just in time. And Rosina was elated. Her sleepy inaction was gone.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive the many times my sleepy inaction has dominated my life. Cleanse me in your blood. Arouse my zeal to bring my sleepy inaction to an end. Amen.

Saturday, Jan 4
Galatians 1:9 If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned.

NO COUNTERFEITS

According to the TV news program, 60 Minutes, many criminal organizations around the world have gotten into a relatively new line of work. They have gotten into the business of manufacturing counterfeit medications. Some of the fake ingredients found in these counterfeits have included highway paint, boric acid, floor wax and chalk.

The lesson from this news piece was clear. Counterfeit medications are out there. You cannot simply assume that every medication is the same. Know where the medicine came from. Know who made it. Know what’s in it.

The same is true for the medicine we need for our souls. In our society right now the assumption is strong that as long as a book or a sermon or a video series is labeled “spiritual” in some way, then it must be okay.

That assumption is wrong. Dead wrong. And the consequences can be fatal.

When a soul swallows any spiritual medicine that is not the Gospel message of Jesus Christ, that soul is swallowing the spiritual equivalent of highway paint, boric acid, floor wax and chalk. At best it displaces the real medicine we need. At worst it delivers poison.

Sin is a fatal disease, and you and I were born with it. For this disease there is but one Answer, one Cure. It is the perfect life Jesus lived as our Substitute. It is the death Jesus died to wash away our every evil stain. It is the tomb Jesus made empty at Easter to assure us that eternal life awaits.

The medicine we need is the Gospel. No counterfeits will do.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, keep my soul immersed in your Gospel. Keep my soul immersed in you. Empower me to recognize what is counterfeit and to embrace your truth always. Amen.
Sunday, Jan 5
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

THE POWER OF HOPE

It may not strike us as humane today, but many years ago an experiment took place. The experiment went something like this. Researchers took two sets of laboratory rats. Then they took two large tubs and filled them with water. They placed the first set of rats in one large tub of water, and they placed the second set of rats in the second large tub of water. Up to this point they had treated all the rats exactly the same. But now they did this. From time to time they reached into the second tub of water and pulled out a rat for a few moments before putting it back in. The results were dramatic. While the first set of rats quickly gave up swimming and were ready to give in to drowning, the second set of rats kept right on swimming for hours. The reason was clear. The second set of rats had hope. The first set did not.

Have there been times in your life when you’ve felt as hopeless as a laboratory rat swimming around in a tub of water? Sin does that – your sin and mine. It pulls us into bad places from which we cannot escape. It isolates us and surrounds us in despair. It makes life look dark and bleak. It makes hope look like an illusion, like something not real.

But God did not abandon us to swim in the vat of our sins until we could swim no more. In fact, he did far more than pull us out from time to time to give us some desperate sense of hope. Instead, he sent his Son. The Son of God became one of us. Through his life and death on our behalf, Jesus removed our sins forever. As he did, he destroyed the despair that our sin brings and replaced it with hope as God defines it – a sure, confident certainty based upon what Jesus Christ has already done.

And so there it is. Regardless of what is happening in your life, you are not someone swimming through life out of desperation. Rather, you are walking hand-in-hand with your Savior from sin. Your steps are on solid ground, the solid ground of your Savior’s promises. And through faith in him, you possess the sure hope that your journey ends in victory.

Prayer: Dear Savior, forgive me for all the times I have given in to hopelessness and despair. Wash my sins away. By your Spirit, refresh my eyes to see the sure hope I possess in you. Amen.

 

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