Categories
Devotions

March 21 Devotion

I start with a prayer.

Now I do my self-evaluation. 

As many of you know, we are hoping to build a home here in Outlook.  We have a lot in Rudy Landing and we have a set of plans and are trying to figure out if we can afford to build with the blueprints we have.  I love the trades and sometimes fall asleep thinking of the construction process.  Sometimes it keeps me from getting to sleep.  Last night was like that so I didn’t rest as well as I hoped.

Time for God’s word.

Reading from Luke 6:20-36:

6:20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said: 

“Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God belongs to you. 

21 “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. 

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. 

22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject you as evil on account of the Son of Man!  23Rejoice in that day, and jump for joy, because your reward is great in heaven. For their ancestors did the same things to the prophets. 

24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your comfort already.

25 “Woe to you who are well satisfied with food now, for you will be hungry. 

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep. 

26 “Woe to you when all people speak well of you, for their ancestors did the same things to the false prophets. 

27 “But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.  29To the person who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other as well, and from the person who takes away your coat, do not withhold your tunic either.  30Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your possessions back from the person who takes them away.  31Treat others in the same way that you would want them to treat you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  33And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same.  34And if you lend to those from whom you hope to be repaid, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, so that they may be repaid in full.  35But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to ungrateful and evil people. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Reflection on God’s word.

Verses 24 – 26 stand out to me this morning.  These verses talk about a warning to those who are using the gifts they have received for their own good.  It brings to mind the scripture “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

Where is my focus, is it on me, or on others?  Is it on my comforts or on the calling God has given me.  It is a danger for me to get lost or distracted by the good things we have.  I will need some accountability to keep my focus and my passions directed towards Christ and his people.  

An action plan.

What can I do about it?  I can share this with the person who disciples me.  If I ask, he will hold me accountable and call me back to where my passions ought to be.  I can do that this Thursday when I meet with him.

Now a time of prayer

Blessings and peace,

Pastor Mac

Categories
Devotions

March 20 Devotion

Good morning!

Welcome to our first devotion during this crazy, terrifying and exciting, hopeful time.  I think God is giving us an opportunity to grow through this.  I really do.  I see an opportunity to grow as disciples who make disciples.  I see an opportunity to remember to keep the main thing the main thing.  In order to work with God in this effort I am offering you this. I would like to invite you to join me in my daily devotions so that you can see a real example of how I have been discipled and learned to walk with God.  Reading, reflecting and acting on the word of God is spending time with Him.  This is the biggest and most important aspect of learning and teach how do be a disciple.

I have a reading plan that comes to my phone and computer every day from the North American Lutheran Church.  It is available on their web site if you would like to try it yourself.  I do not use the devotional material that often accompanies it, just the readings.  I don’t even use all the readings, Just the New Testament ones.  Right now, we are going through the Gospel of Luke. 

I start by finding a place that is quiet and hopefully a place that is consistently available to me.  Right now, I am in the church office.  It might not be ideal, but I haven’t yet found a spot at home that works, so the office will do.

I then take a moment and assess how I am doing.  I think about stresses, joys, or concerns that are on my mind.  Today I feel pressure as many are looking to me for hope and direction, people who are becoming desperate and may be feeling alone or lost (remember I am dean to all our pastor’s and congregations in Canada).  I am unsure if any of our ideas will work and I am feeling less than creative to address our needs.  I am very excited that Our Daughter is coming home to us and that a fine, godly young man has found her and has asked her hand in marriage.

Sound depressing?  Once you get to know me better, you will learn that I am quite comfortable with my dark side.  I am at peace with my fears and anxieties (sounds like an oxymoron, I know).  Now that I have gone to where I know my thoughts and feelings are, I pray and turn to God in his word.

After the pray I am reading from the Gospel of Luke:

Luke 6:12–19

6:12 Now it was during this time that Jesus went out to the mountain to pray, and he spent all night in prayer to God.  13When morning came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles:  14Simon (whom he named Peter), and his brother Andrew; and James, John, Philip, Bartholomew,  15Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot,  16Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. 

17Then he came down with them and stood on a level place. And a large number of his disciples had gathered along with a vast multitude from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon. They came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases,  18and those who suffered from unclean spirits were cured.  19The whole crowd was trying to touch him, because power was coming out from him and healing them all. 

Carefully reading the text, two verses stood out for me.  Verse 12 and verse 19.  

Verse 12 reminds me that in times of busyness and stress, prayer is an appropriate course of action.  Until the end of last year, I was in the habit of taking a full day to fast and pray for the church.  When I was able to share my responsibilities as dean, I sadly lost my discipline of the day of prayer.  Carving out a day per month to pray for you would be a good discipline (I already pray for you folks, but not as much as I am wanting and capable of).  Jesus took time to pray for the father in the midst of a demanding ministry.  I would do well to emulate that in myself and I think this is a reminder to reconnect in that way.

Verse 19 stands out as well.  I almost feel the push of the people as Jesus moves around.  I imagine him being somehow drained as the people pull from him the power that heals.  Then I put my thinking cap on and realize that Jesus is God and he doesn’t run out.  This is why he came.  He has in him all the power of the Father.  

Though I may be feeling pressure, I am fooling myself if I think I will accomplish any of it on my own.  It isn’t about my energy levels that can go up and down like a yoyo.  It is about the power of God that he gives me to accomplish what he sets before me.  I do not have what I need in myself, but I can step forward in faith trusting that I can do it in his strength.

So, one verse reminds me to pray.  An action step to begin to live it would be to set in my calendar a day for prayer.  Let’s make that April 2.  The other verse brings me peace.  I don’t have to depend on my wisdom or strength, but I can rest in his.

Now I pray, giving thanks for speaking to me in his word.

That is my devotion time for today. I hope that through this you get a sense of one way to do it.  I also hope that you can see some of what you would be encouraged to do in a discipleship triad.  See you tomorrow!

Blessings and peace,

Pastor Mac

Categories
News

Re: COVID-19

Bethlehem Lutheran Church will be suspending Sunday services and all related activities immediately until it is recommended by the Sask. Health Authority to resume gathering together.  Pastor Mac and Lila will provide daily devotions and a Sunday message during this unprecedented time.  

A Sunday service will be livestreamed each Sunday at 11:15 am.  If you are unable to watch the service live, it will be archived for viewing at your convenience.  A DVD on the weekly service will also be provided to Luther Place, Golden Acres, the Pioneer Home and Variety Place.  If you know of anyone who would appreciate receiving a copy of the DVD, please let the church office know.  Please contact Mac or Lila with any prayer requests that you may have.

Communion will be offered twice a week in small groups starting March 30.  The church will be open on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm to provide communion to families and small groups of 10 people at a time.  

A daily devotional will also be provided by Pastor Mac and Lila on the church website.  Lila and Krystal are also putting together weekly Sunday School lessons with family activities to keep the children engaged with their heavenly Father during this uncertain time.  If you would like to explore other worship services, the NALC has provided a link to churches that are providing streaming services at https://missions.nalcnetwork.com/goodnews-media-resources/.  You can also tune into The Lutheran Hour at lhm.org.

The church office will be open our regular hours of Monday to Thursday from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm.  The church library will be open and Pastor Mac or Lila will be available to provide pastoral care, direct people to assistance with personal shopping or mail pickup, or just be available to talk to.  If you know of anyone who may need emergency assistance, please let them know when the church will be open.

Council is preparing an Easter service that will be available for not only our own members, but the community at large.  We hope to provide a true celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  Stay tuned for more information.

Council encourages you to continue with your weekly giving plan.  Although there won’t be services at the church, we still have monetary obligations that need to be met.  You can drop off a cheque at the church office or mail it to Box 477.

Our daily life is changing constantly.  Everyone is feeling anxious about their own health or the well being of their family members.  Although social isolation is recommended, it will be very difficult for many people.  Reach out to your neighbors: offer to pick up groceries or mail for those unable to leave their home, share a book with someone, or phone a senior who is unable to be with their extended family.  Please provide our website address to anyone who may be interested in worshipping with us.

We are a people called by God to be a light of hope and peace in this world.  We carry the promises of God in our hearts and live according to them.  We do not need to fear for we are in his hands.  Jesus has given you his comfort and peace so that in times like this you can share it with others.  Martin Luther gave us sound advice when dealing with the Black Death:

“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it.  I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence.  If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what He has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my death or the death of others.  If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but go freely as stated above.  See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.”

And words of comfort from God’s word through the prophet Isaiah:

1But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:1-3

Pastor Mac deWaal
Commissioned Lay Minister Lila deWaal
President, Leslie Hicks