Don’t worry! That’s what God says in his Word for us today. But we wonder how we can put aside all of our worry and anxiety. There are so many dangers that surround us, so many things that stress us out, so many people who are hurting, and some of them are very dear to us. Not to worry seems impossible.
It is impossible to stop worrying if our attention is riveted on the problems and predicaments of life. But wonder of God’s love for us is that he teaches us how much greater he is than the worrisome circumstances we face daily. He assures us that he is in control of all things. He is the almighty, all-knowing God who knows our every need and is capable of fulfilling all of them.
He took away our greatest worry; he freed us from the damnation we deserved as sinners. And he lavished his love on us by giving us life with him that will last forever. So our heavenly Father, who loved us so much to send Jesus to be our Savior, promises to provide for our lives and protect us from danger.
Thankful for his saving love, we can turn from our inclination to worry and turn to him with our concerns and burdens. We can confidently address him in prayer, knowing that he listens and will answer according to our best interests. Since God has secured our eternity through Jesus, we know that according to his love, he will care for us now too. So indeed, there is no reason to worry.
Teach me, Lord, not to worry. Remind me of your great love and power that I can trust in times of need. Accept my prayers through Jesus, my Savior, and help me according to your wisdom. Amen.
Dinner last night was a grilled chicken breast and a cup of cooked broccoli-no cheese. You’ve avoided the pies, fries, carbs, and cookies that you know could sabotage you. With a soldier’s discipline, you’ve committed yourself to fight the battle against the fat. You’ve been getting up an hour earlier so that you can exercise before work. You’ve sweated and sacrificed. Then you step on the scale—the cruel, cruel scale! And it tells you that not only have you not lost any weight—you’ve actually gained two pounds. Is it worth it?
Has the same question ever entered your mind when it comes to your faith? You’ve held on tight to God’s promises even when you couldn’t understand what he was doing. But each day seems to bring more bad news, another reason for disillusionment. Your world isn’t getting any better. Your cross hasn’t gotten any lighter. So is it worth it?
Isaiah, in his picture of the great banquet, assures us that it will most certainly be worth it. He paints a vivid scene of trust given and richly rewarded.
Today, we live by faith and not by sight. We simply trust that God exists, has created us, is always with us, works what’s best for us, loves us, and is merciful to us for Jesus’ sake. And we trust that Jesus will come back and take us to our heavenly home. We believe all those things because God has promised them in his Word.
One day our eyes will see things that today our hearts only know by faith. One day, we will see Jesus face to face and rejoice that hope has finally and forever changed to reality. Our God promises it. We believe it. It will all be worth it.
Jesus, bless me and keep my faith strong until the day I see you face to face. Amen.
Few things in life are more embarrassing than showing up to the right event wearing the wrong clothes. I can remember reporting to the starting line of my first cross country race in grade school wearing blue jeans. Needless to say, the race didn’t go well. Or maybe it’s a mistake as innocent as unwittingly wearing a polo and khakis to a meeting that’s definitely suits and ties. (I’ve done that, too.) When this sort of thing happens, you know what it feels like to stick out like a sore thumb.
In Jesus’ parable of the great banquet, someone shows up without wedding clothes. The wedding crasher is quickly identified and escorted from the banquet in disgrace.
And it makes a person wonder, “Will that ever be me? When I try to stand before God, will it be determined that I’m a wedding crasher? Will the selfish choices that I’ve made, the uncaring attitudes of my heart, finally come home to roost? Will the sins that I’ve managed to conceal my whole life be loudly called out, by the all-seeing eyes of God? Will I be the one ushered out of the banquet in disgrace?”
Take heart. The wedding crasher in Jesus’ parable was meant to illustrate someone who tries to stand in the presence of God while at the same time ignoring and rejecting the Son sent from God to save the world.
Simply put your trust in him. Jesus has come into the world not to call us out in disgrace, but to cover our disgrace. That’s why he lived a life of perfect obedience in our place. It’s why he suffered the disgrace of the cross for us. All those who are baptized into Christ have clothed themselves with Christ, wrote the apostle Paul. Our sins are covered by Jesus’ righteousness and perfection. Believe in him, and you will be dressed appropriately at the great banquet.
Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 376)
Jesus, your blood and righteousness,
My beauty are, my glorious dress.
Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head. Amen.
There were probably a few tears shed at the last banquet you attended. Maybe the father of the bride gave a moving toast that eloquently recalled tender-hearted memories of his little girl, now all grown up and ready to start a family of her own. Perhaps a grown-up daughter stood up at her parents’ 50th Anniversary and talked about how her parents had inspired her by their Godly example in the best of times and also the worst. Tears are often an unintended part of the banquet agenda.
But the great banquet, the prophet Isaiah mentions in our reading for today, will be different. Isaiah speaks about how that day will be for the drying of tears rather than the shedding of tears. Why? Because the things that hurt our hearts belong to this sinful world and our existence on this side of heaven.
There’s another gem in this verse that’s a little more subtle; but equally powerful. Pay special attention to the One who is wiping away the tears. It’s none other than the Sovereign LORD. That’s a name for God that connotes power and strength. Yet, here he is, tenderly wiping away the tears from our eyes like a mother comforting her distressed child. “It’s all right,” the Sovereign LORD will say, “I’ve got you. You’re home.”
In a world of tears, we often find ourselves waiting for the next promotion, relationship, or package from Amazon that will bring us joy and ease our pain. “Things will be better then!” we tell ourselves. And it’s true that God graciously gives us blessings in this world that make us smile. But earthly joys don’t last long, and we find that our times of joy are mixed with moments of tears. That’s actually not an entirely bad thing. The fleeting and fickle nature of earthly joys reminds us of a different time and a better place still to come—the grand and glorious heavenly banquet where the Sovereign LORD himself will wipe every tear from our eyes.
Sovereign LORD, I watch and eagerly wait for the day that I will see you face to face. Until that day, help me to be grateful for my earthly joys and use my times of sadness to make me long for a better eternal day in your presence. Amen.
On June 19, 1945, Dwight D. Eisenhower stood in the backseat of an open-top Chrysler convertible as it rolled down New York City’s famed Canyon of Heroes. When he waved to the crowd, a reported four million people waved back. It was one of the biggest ticker-tape parades in the city’s history, organized to recognize the famous general for his role in defeating the Germans in World War II. Big victories call for big celebrations.
The prophet Isaiah doesn’t speak of a ticker-tape parade in our Bible reading for today. But it’s a big celebration of a big victory, nevertheless. How can it not be considered a big victory when your most formidable enemy goes down in defeat? And after all the tears that it’s caused, after all the families that it’s torn apart, isn’t it awesome to see death finally lose?
And not only does death lose, it gets swallowed up forever. Once Jesus left the tomb alive on Easter morning, death was done—that is to say, its stranglehold was loosened, its undefeated streak finally and forever was broken. The grave may receive our bodies, but it does not get to keep them. Once our greatest enemy, death is now merely the gateway to victorious and eternal life for all who trust in Jesus as their Savior.
Death is still a reality. But Jesus is bigger than death. He has swallowed up its power forever. And that is reason to celebrate!
Jesus, risen Savior, I lift up your name in unending praise and celebration because you destroyed death’s power over me and have opened the gate to eternal life. As I struggle on this side of heaven, comfort me, strengthen me, and cheer me through the tastes of the heavenly banquet that you give me today. Amen.
When was the last time you went to a banquet? You know, a fancy meal, probably in a fancy place, attended by people dressed up in their fanciest clothes. Perhaps it was a wedding banquet, or a banquet celebrating someone’s retirement, or a couple’s golden anniversary. We don’t go to banquets every day. They’re reserved for special occasions.
In chapter 25 of his book, the prophet Isaiah wrote about an extraordinary banquet. It’s extraordinary because of who the host is. He wrote that “the LORD Almighty” would prepare this banquet. We might glance over the words “LORD Almighty” without too much thought because they appear often in the Bible. But the name “LORD Almighty” is intended to express power. This is the God who summons and commands the angel armies! He sets the stars in their places and draws up the boundaries for the oceans. And yet, Isaiah insists that he is the one preparing a banquet.
Isn’t that remarkable? The God we serve is also willing to serve us, to make sure that we have all we need—especially everything we need to feed our souls.
This world is barren and devoid of rich spiritual food. Material possessions, humanistic philosophies, knowledge, relationships, adventure all claim that they can fill us up and make us satisfied. And they might for a while. But when all is said and done, we find ourselves still spiritually hungry.
What we really need is the food God prepares. And unlike most banquets, this feast is one that is before us every day—as we are filled up by God’s Word revealed in the Bible. There we see Jesus, the bread from heaven, who feeds us with the forgiveness he won for us and soothes our thirst for joy and peace. In Jesus, we have the most abundant spiritual feast imaginable.
LORD Almighty, thank you for providing food for my stomach and more importantly, food for my soul. Lead me to find daily nourishment in that rich banquet. Amen.
We prepare ourselves to worship the one Savior God by expressing our humble repentance, offering our fervent prayers and singing our thankfulness of praise.
Please note: Worship Update Plans (Updated Sept. 2020. bulletin pages 14) Due to the recent increase of COVID-19 virus cases testing positive in our area, worshipers are kindly asked to maintain social distancing, refrain from singing, and wear masks that cover both mouth and nose.
Thank you for your consideration.
PASTOR’S WELCOME, ANNOUNCEMENTS, AND PRAYER BEFORE WORSHIP
P: O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son. Draw our hearts to you, guide our minds, fill our imaginations, control our wills, so that we may be wholly yours. Amen.
CALL TO WORSHIP
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a humble spirit,
A humble and contrite heart, O Lord, you will not despise.
Fill us with joy and gladness, let us give thanks all our days.
O Lord, open wide our lips, and our mouths will declare your praise.
OPENING HYMN 250 From All that Dwell below the Skies
*Sung by soloist.
1 From all that dwell below the skies Let the Creator’s praise arise.
Let the Redeemer’s name be sung Through ev’ry land, by ev’ry tongue.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
2 Eternal are your mercies, Lord; Eternal is your glorious Word.
Your praise shall sound from shore to shore Till suns shall rise and set no more.
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Words: public domain. Music: public domain.
M: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
CONFESSION OF SINS AND ABSOLUTION
P: Lord God, you are holy and mighty. Your ways are higher than my ways;
your thoughts are higher than my thoughts.
C: Look on me in mercy, O Lord.
P: I have failed to follow your way, and often haven’t even tried. I confess that I am like a child who chooses not to do what is expected.
C: Spare me and do not turn your back on me, O Lord.
P: For having other gods before you, for indifference to your might and power, for thinking that security lies in me rather than in you:
C: Let me remember and turn, and live with trust in you, O God of might.
P: For using your name without respect, for cursing and swearing without thinking, for the pitiful lack of prayer and praise in my life:
C: Do not let me ever forget that your name is holy, Lord.
P: For ignoring the meaning of the Sabbath, for honoring with you my lips and not with my life:
C: Forgive me for saying one thing and doing another, Lord.
P: For thinking I can fool you with a half-life of discipleship, for pretending you are my God when I really don’t care, for living as a hypocrite:
C: Have mercy on me, O Lord, and teach me to love you with all my heart, my soul, and my mind, and to love my neighbor as myself.
P: If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven.
The blood of Jesus Christ, his son, purifies us from every sin. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the world.
✠T H E W O R D✠
The Lord Jesus speaks to us in Scripture reading, preaching and song.
OLD TESTAMENT LESSON Isaiah 25:6-9
Summary: The Prophet Isaiah places the picture of a festive banquet before our eyes to depict the joyous blessings of salvation which the Lord has prepared for all people. A jubilant song of praise follows the good news that our Lord “will swallow up death forever.”
On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
PSALM OF THE DAY 23
*For your personal devotion at home.
The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The LORD is my shepherd,*
I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;*
he leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;*
he guides me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,*
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.*
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,*
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son*
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,*
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
SECOND LESSONPhilippians 4:4-13 (sermon text verses 11-13 underlined)
Summary: The Apostle Paul encourages believers to “rejoice in the Lord always.” He urges his Philippian brothers to put into practice all he had taught them. Finally, Paul lets them in on the “secret of being content” whatever the circumstances.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
VERSE OF THE DAY Isaiah 25:9 NIV
P: Alleluia! “This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.” Alleluia!
GOSPEL LESSONMatthew 22:1-14
Summary: On Tuesday of Holy Week, Jesus teaches the Parable of the Wedding Banquet. Those who refused to attend the king’s lavish banquet were destroyed. The king then sent out his servants to invite all to come, and in this way “the wedding hall was filled.”
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
“Then he sent some more servants and said, `Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
“But they paid no attention and went off one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
“Then he said to his servants, `The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. `Friend,’ he asked, `how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless.
“Then the king told the attendants, `Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Please be seated.
HYMN 158 I Am Content! My Jesus Lives Again
*Sung by soloist.
Words: public domain. Music: public domain. Setting: public domain.
“The Secret of Being Content”
*For your personal devotion at home.
I believe in God, the Father almighty, maker or heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
PRAYER OF THE CHURCH & INTERCESSORY PRAYERS
*Read by pastor.Intercessory prayers listed on page 12.
*Spoken by congregation.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
HOLY COMMUNION LITURGY
*Read by pastor.
Please be seated for the distribution.
At St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church & Emmanuel Ev. Lutheran Church we practice closed Communion. If you are a guest at worship today and interested in receiving the Lord’s Supper, please speak with the pastor prior to the service. See page 13 for communion schedule and distribution information.
M: O Lord God, our heavenly Father, pour out the Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep us strong in your grace and truth, protect and comfort us in all temptation, and bestow on us your saving peace, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
M: Brothers and sisters, go in peace. Live in harmony with one another. Serve the Lord with gladness.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
Then Lord look on you with favor and + give you peace. Amen.
HYMN 333Abide, O Dearest Jesus
*Sung by soloist.
Words: public domain. Music: public domain. Setting: public domain.
✠A N N O U N C E M E N T S✠
October 25 – October 31
Emmanuel Worship with communion
St. John’s Worship with communion
Thanksgiving Food Drive Drop Off Deadline
Bible Study at Emmanuel
St. John’s School and Little Lambs Early Release
St. John’s Worship (indoors)
Next week’s theme:- November 1, 2020 First Sunday of End Times:“Reformation”
St. John’s Worship
Daylight Savings Time Ends (Fall Back–Set Clocks back 1 hour Saturday 10/31 evening)
St. John’s Lutheran Church, Montello & Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Mecan
Worship Updates – September 2020
Saturdays @ 4:30 pm. Everyone is welcome to attend!
Sunday @ 8:00 am Emmanuel sanctuary (Emmanuel members)
Sunday @ 10:00 am St. John’s sanctuary (St. John’s members 55 and older)
Online worship services continue found at www.stjohnsmontello.org
Groups should be 50 or less indoors. Saturday @ 4:30 pm will be an outdoor service on the lawn behind the parking lot of St. John’s. In case of inclement weather, we will move to the sanctuary.
Providing a safe worship experience is a high priority for the leaders in our congregations. Christ’s love also compels us to consider the needs of others before our own. In humility we want to protect the health and safety of our bodies and of others. Because the virus continues to spread, and because of the science regarding singing and speaking, the following policies will be continued:
Please use the hand sanitizer upon arrival at the worship service.
Masks will be worn at all indoor services. Masks are available at both churches.
Designated seating will be provided indoors to provide for social distancing.
Please bring lawn chairs for the outdoor service.
Services will be shortened to a length of approximately 40 minutes.
The congregation is asked to not sing. A soloist will sing the hymns and any liturgical responses.
Continuous communion will be practiced on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays/Sundays of each month. Family units are encouraged to commune together.
The congregations should exit the sanctuary from the back at the end of the service, taking all belongings including the bulletin along with them.
The sanctuary will be cleaned and sanitized between services.
**We will abide by any state or local mandates that may change any of these policies
As we hold firmly to the truths of scripture, we know that God continues to keep his promises to us. He has promised the wonderful spiritual blessings of forgiveness, life, and salvation. He has not, however, promised that things will always remain the same. In the words of our synod president, Mark Schroeder, “we recommit ourselves–as individuals, as congregations, and as a synod–to the mission that God has called us to carry out, trusting that he will bless us in that work.” Let us work together as we move forward as a congregation. Let us help, support, and encourage each other as we gather around God’s Word.
Question or Concerns? Contact your Elders or Pastor
Emmanuel Elders: Darrell Buchholz (608) 215-7871, Wayne Stelter (608) 369-1790
St. John’s Elders: Jerre Duerr (608) 697-8706, Jay Eisermann (608) 297-8171, James Wachholz (608) 369-4006, Pastor Pete Zietlow (608) 408-7830
Invited to the Heavenly Wedding Banquet
Twenty-first Sunday of Pentecost – A
GOD’S WORD FOR TODAY
Are you worried about what the future holds? Are you sure of your heavenly inheritance? Are you dressed for reception into the heavenly wedding banquet? Thanks to Jesus and His perfect life and substitutionary death, we confidently answer all three questions in the affirmative. What a grand and glorious day it will be when we find ourselves seated at God’s heavenly banquet table!
FIRST LESSON (ISAIAH 25: 6-9)
1. What are the “shroud” and the “sheet” that will be destroyed according to verse 7? Explain.
2. According to verse 9, what will be our bold profession on the last day?
SECOND LESSON (PHILIPPIANS 4: 4-13)
3. The fundamental sentiment of a Christian’s entire life is happiness. On what is our happiness based?
4. What remedy does Paul offer for dealing with anxiety?
5. What kinds of thoughts should fill the believer’s mind?
GOSPEL (MATTHEW 22: 1-14)
6. God has invited everyone to His heavenly wedding feast, but so few attend. Why?
7. Is it possible to sneak into God’s heavenly wedding banquet without proper attire?
1. The “shroud” and the “sheet” are the veils that blinded the people from a correct understanding of their natural depravity and sinfulness and kept them from recognizing Christ as the Savior of the world. In conversion, the Holy Spirit removes the blinders and gives God’s people the spiritual vision to understand and accept Him as the promised Messiah and Savior from sin.
2. It might sound something like this: “We placed our confidence with unwavering certainty in the Lord our God, and He has not disappointed. The time for us to experience and enjoy the blessed fulfillment of God’s promises is finally here. Hallelujah!”
3. Our joy is always in the Lord and on account of the Lord. We are jubilant and exultant over the free gift of salvation attained through the atoning work of Christ. It’s especially during periods of trial and tribulation that we take time to reflect on and rejoice in the changeless love of our God.
4. Prayer. When we are consumed with worry and concerned about the future, entrust it to the Lord, leaving all matters to His fatherly direction and care. Whether it’s the most monumental problem or the most insignificant detail, bring it to the attention of your merciful God, Who has demonstrated time and time again that He is deeply concerned about the welfare of His beloved children.
5. To paraphrase verse 8, the believer’s mind is flowing with thoughts that are truthful and sincere, open and honest, just and right, chaste and clean, wholesome and pleasant, excellent and laudable. In short, in all our thoughts, the sanctification of the Christian should be evident.
6. Many people simply are indifferent and apathetic to God’s urgent call. Others are distracted by their own private, earthly affairs. As in the parable, some even go to the extent of being hostile toward the messengers of God’s invitation.
7. Impossible. God has provided a wedding garment of spotless righteousness and purity for every sinner that He has invited to the feast, courtesy of His Son, Jesus Christ. The garment is required to cover the filth and nakedness of their sin. All intruding wannabe’s will be detected, sentenced, and thrust into the outer darkness of hell.
The man who wrote Psalm 23 was a King of Israel named David. David’s life was one of wonderful highs and also deep lows. He rose up from a shepherd boy to be the King of Israel. And yet, in spite of how richly God had blessed him, David sinned against God by committing adultery and murder.
Still, God did not abandon him. God sent the prophet Nathan to lead David to admit his sin. In love, God sought to restore his wandering sheep into a favored relationship with him. God did this not because of anything David had done—David actually deserved the opposite! God did this for “his name’s sake.” So that we might see the glory of God and his name, God forgives sinners like David, and like you and me.
God’s glory is revealed to us when he reveals the type of God he is: slow to anger, abounding in love, rich in mercy, full of forgiveness, wanting all people to be saved from death and destruction. This is the Shepherd that restored and guided David. This is the Shepherd that restores and guides us.
Listen to your Good Shepherd and repent for the times you have wandered away from him. And be assured of his forgiveness because he is your Good Shepherd who laid down his life to take away the guilt of your sin.
Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 374):
My shepherd will supply my need—Jehovah is his name.
In pastures fresh he makes me feed, beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back, when I forsake his ways.
And leads me, for his mercy’s sake, in paths of truth and grace.
“The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. . . . What can man do to me? It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.” Psalm 118:6,8,9
Someone once remarked that “worrying is the only game in which, when you guess right, you don’t feel any better.” If a person wants to worry, there will always be a market for it. You can worry about finances, health, the past, your boss, kids, lack of kids, hair, lack of hair, and as I pull up to the drive-through window, who cooked that burger I just ordered. And let’s not forget global terrorism. And if our worries do pan out, at least we are better off and more prepared for the moment because we have worried. Wrong!
God has a better plan for us. His plan is that we do not worry because we know he is with us. And he is dependable minute-to-minute, day-to-day, and year-to-year. He is the almighty God who is always with us, even when others seek to create a mess for us, or we find we are in a mess of our own doing. He is a loving God who is our Savior that took away our greatest worry—fear of eternal death. Only God provides security for both body and soul.
Sure, we may need to make some changes in our life. One thing that will not change, though, is that God is always with us. God is not going anywhere, except to our rescue and to provide us with a life without fear. So, whether we are fretting over baldness, bankruptcy, bacteria, or bad (sinful) behavior, boldly rely on God. Put your worries and fears behind you.
Whatever worries are on my heart this day, Lord, sweep them away with the assurance that you are with me and, with you at my side, I have nothing to worry about. Amen.
I was watching an old “I Love Lucy” episode and laughing at one of the many times Lucy meant well but messed everything up. While I was laughing, I noticed that my three-year-old daughter was also laughing. Only she wasn’t watching the TV; she was watching me. When I laughed, she laughed. It was a moment that really struck me as a parent because I realized that my daughter was learning a lot from my behavior. She was imitating me.
So, whom are you imitating? Chances are, it is whomever you are watching.
Are you watching those who are loving or unloving? Kind or unkind? Generous or selfish? Arrogant or humble?
The Apostle Paul encouraged the church in Philippi to follow his example and to keep their eyes on “those who live as we do.” In other words, he wanted them to watch people who live in a God-pleasing way. God wants us to do the same. It’s important to keep our eyes on and give attention to those godly examples and models he has placed into our lives, and then to be that example for others. In doing so, we encourage and build one another up that we all may live God-pleasing lives.
Of course, none of the people we look at and imitate is perfect. That’s why, most importantly, we need to be reading about Jesus in the Bible. Jesus lived a perfectly God-pleasing life. Not just as an example for us (although he certainly is that!), but as a substitute for us. He gives us credit for his perfect life so that we can one day enter the perfect paradise of heaven.
Until then, we want to thank him by living in a way that is pleasing to him. And, watching the Godly people he has placed in our lives can be a great help in doing so.
Gracious God, I praise you for the many godly examples you have given me in the pages of the Bible and in my life. Help me to imitate those who look to you. Amen.