FROM THE PASTORS DESK

Please read the devotion and click on the link at the bottom to access the song, where you will be redirected from this website so you can listen and watch a video of the song's performance.  

I have prepared songs for the coming days.  If there is a hymn that speaks to you, I would welcome suggestions. 

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021 -  Scripture: Genesis 2:7; Song: "King of the World" 

“Who’s in charge” seems to be a question that people are asking all the time. In Washington, D.C., this seems to be a debated question. Is the president in charge or the legislature? And that shows itself as they can’t decide what to do about the budget,.  Meanwhile people’s jobs are threatened, and the economy hangs in the balance as we are under a real threat of the government shutting down again. And then there’s the debate about whether the Supreme Court is in charge as they consider whether decisions, like Roe vs. Wade that legalized abortion, are constitutional and conservatives feel like it’s not. There is now the chance it will be overturned and those who feel it should be legal are also concerned. At home, spouses debate about who’s in charge and the kids think they should be and there’s struggle there as well. Then there’s the government vs. individual debate on things like masks and vaccinations, and many folks try to assert that “I’m in charge of myself and no one should be able to make me.” In the midst of that debate, Natalie Grant’s song, “King of the World” answers the question in a different way that most people today would not even consider. She asserts that because God made us, he is King of the world and his revelation of who he is in Scripture should be our guide. That’s a radical idea for those who think they are in control, whether it is individuals asserting “I’m in charge of me” or the various parts of the government asserting they are in charge. She starts by singing about all the ways we try to define God and make him what we want him to be and then asks, “When did I forget that you’ve always been the King of the World?”  She then talks about all the ways we think we are in charge and then reminds us that God formed the world and us. As our Scripture verse for today from Genesis 2:7 reminds us, God even formed us as humans out of the dust of the ground: “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being.”  Nothing about us is special if it were not for the King of the world, God who made us and then redeemed us, in the cross of his Son and our Savior, Jesus. So, isn’t it time we stopped debating who is in charge and look to the King of the World for help? For the government it might be about serving others and doing things for good instead of thinking about ourselves. In our families it would be the same. God made us to serve each other not to debate who is in charge. And as you deal with health issues, like cancer, instead of asking “why did this happen to me,” turn to the King of the World, the one who made you and saved you. Pray for his help and know they he will work out things in the way that is best for you. Listen to this song and get your priorities straight. It’s not about me, it’s about serving the King of the World, the one who formed me out of the ground and saved me when I ran away from Him. Enjoy the rest of the day in the hands of the King of the World!

 
Wednesday, October 6, 2021 -  Scripture: John 20:27-28; Song: "By Your Side" 
There’s been so much going on that it  seems hard to keep my head above water.  Doctor appointments in Ann Arbor for Nancy’s cancer treatments – with both the surgeon after surgery and the oncologist to find out what’s next.   Churches who are struggling or doing new things have needed my attention as Circuit Visitor for our area.  Meetings and conferences, though important and sometimes fun and relaxing, take time as well.  And that’s not to mention the regular things like sermons, Bible studies, lawn mowing, and keeping up with some of the things Nancy hasn’t been able to do because of her surgery.  And the devil is right there, tempting and saying, wait a minute, where’s God is all of this?  Shouldn’t things be easier than they are because you follow him?  And then I came across a song by Tenth Avenue North called, “By Your Side.”  It helped me to remember some important things, and I hope it will help you in similar situations as well.  It started out asking questions like “Why are you crying?” and “Why are you still searching?”  And I realized the song writers were writing in God’s voice as if he were talking to us, to me.  How cool!  And then the chorus: “I’ll be by your side whenever you’re falling.”  The first part of the answer to where God is in all these situations, he’s by our side.  And then it goes on and talks about hands, about not fighting the hands that are holding us, about what those hands did, when they were nailed to the cross.  As Jesus reminded Thomas in our Scripture for today from John 20, verses 27 and 28: “Then He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, see my hands.  Stretch out your hand and put it into my side.  Stop doubting and believe.’”  What comfort there is knowing the peace that Jesus offers, knowing that this same Jesus, whose hands were nailed to the cross for you, is alive and by your side.  So, if you are in the stuff as we are at our house, remember what Jesus has done and that he is by your side.  It’s helping me to get through.  I pray it will do the same for you.
 
 
 
 

By Your Side - Tenth Avenue North (Full Song & Lyrics)

 
Wednesday, September 29, 2021 -  Scripture: Psalm 103:1-5; Song: "O Bless the Lord, My Soul" 
It’s been a few weeks since I used a traditional hymn for my song devotion, so today’s devotion comes from Lutheran Worship.  Not only is it a hymn, but it is a hymn based on a Psalm.  I try to read at least one Psalm each day whether it be the one from Portals of Prayer or from one of my other devotions.  The Psalmists just seem to go through so many of the same trials and struggles that we go through and there is so much comfort and strength in the way they trust in the Lord and see God at work in their lives.  With Covid and political issues and health issues and economic issues and people dying, I seemed to be pushed to the Psalms more that ever before.  Today’s hymn for our devotion: “O Bless the Lord, My Soul” seems to come directly from the Psalms, Psalm 103 in particular.  And each verse of the hymn seems to speak to those areas of struggle I laid out earlier in the devotion.  For those struggling with cancer or Covid or other illnesses, there’s this verse, “The Lord forgives my sins, And he relieves my pain; The Lord has healed my sicknesses And made me whole again.”  For those struggling with the death of loved ones or friends, there’s this verse: “He crowns my life with love, He ransoms from the grave; He has redeemed my soul from hell, His sovereign power to save.”    For those struggling financially or with family issues, there’s this verse: “He fills the poor with good, He gives the sufferers rest; The Lord has judgments for the proud, Relief for those oppressed.”  Today’s Scripture verse, Psalm 103:1-5 captures these verses and more, showing that the Psalmist deals with similar issues to ours.  Listen to how the Psalmist lists all the Lord does in our lives: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”  God sent Jesus to the cross for your sins, and as the Psalmist says, he takes care of all your other needs as well.  So, when you struggle, remember how the Lord has blessed your soul.  Listen to the hymn, read the Psalm, and be at peace.  All our struggles are temporary.  God be praised!
 
 
Wednesday, September 15, 2021 -  Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:4-9; Song: "Be Alright" 
 
Last Saturday we commemorated the 20th anniversary of an event that many thought meant that never again would everything be alright.  Unless you are 25 years old or younger you probably remember what you were doing that day when jet planes full of people crashed into the World Trade Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington as well as into a field in Pennsylvania.  Thousands died in these terrorist attacks on the day now known as just 9/11.  It’s has taken much time for us to see God’s hand at work in even this disastrous event.  Each time a tragedy in our life occurs or another natural disaster like Hurricane Ida or something like the debacle in Afghanistan, we are tempted to think again that everything will never be alright again.  Lately loved ones close to us, either family or friends, have been passing away and that causes us to question God’s faithfulness.  At our house we have been dealing with Nancy having cancer again and the devil has been hard at work to make us ask, “Where is God in all this as well?”  Tomorrow is surgery for her again and today’s song is an encouragement for us, as well as for all who are dealing with any of the trials listed above.  It’s called “Be Alright” by Evan Craft.  This is a bit different because, though much of it is sung in English, part of it is in Spanish and I had to do some translating to figure out what the lyrics said.  The last part was easy as a very familiar verse to all of us is first sung in English and then repeated in Spanish, but the refrain has a phrase I will translate for you.  Here are the words of the first verse: “There’s a name that can silence every fear.  There’s a love that embraces the heartache, the pain, the tears. Through my faith and my doubting, I know one thing for sure, His Word is unfailing.”  And the chorus begins, “The Whole World’s in his hands.”  What powerful words! whether it’s about battling cancer or dealing with the long-term effects of 9/11 or any personal problem or natural disaster.  They are words that Nancy and I will take to the hospital tomorrow.  It reminded me of the powerful words of Paul in his 1st letter to the Corinthians, chapter 1, beginning at verse 4.  He starts out with these words: “For in him you been enriched in every way” and then goes to talk about all the gifts God has given the Corinthians (and us) to confirm Christ among us.   Then he goes on in verse 8 and 9: “He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ.”  The same God who loved the world so much that he sent his Son to the cross to die for our sins, as the song says, has the whole world in his hands.  Even if we don’t survive the problems we face in this world like Pastor Sikora and our friend Sherry who I wrote about last wek, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have life forever with our faithful God.  As the Spanish chorus says over and over: “Y TODO VA A ESTAR BIEN.”  That translates as “And everything is going to be fine.”  And it will be because our God is faithful and keeps his promises.  So, whatever you are facing, today or tomorrow or for the rest of your life, heed the words of the song, “Be Alright” and it will be as long as you rely on our faithful God.
 
Wednesday, August 25, 2021 -  Scripture: John 14:27; Song: "Battle is the Lord’s" 
I wrote this devotion two weeks ago because Nancy and I had plans to go away for a few days to visit our daughter in Wisconsin and I didn’t want to come back behind on my work.  We were tempted not to go with all the things going on, with school starting and Nancy’s cancer being back and all, but I realized that just sitting here worrying isn’t helpful so unless doctor’s appointments get in the way we would go.  It’s hard when life gives us struggles to realize that sitting around worrying isn’t helpful as I said in last week’s devotion.  And we think we need to stop our normal lives and just concentrate on dealing with whatever issue comes up.  I’m not positive why we do this, but I have a feeling it’s about our need to be in control which really, when you think about it, isn’t helpful since because of our sinful, corrupt nature we aren’t ever going to be to fix things on our own.  Today’s song by Rebecca St. James, “Battle is the Lord’s” starts by coming right to the point of what I am talking about.  She sings, “Why so heavy, Oh my soul, Did you forget who’s in control?”  And the answer, of course, when we stop life for a crisis and think we can fix things, is yes, we did forget.  St. James goes on with some great advice for Nancy and I, and for all of you who are struggling, “If he calls the wind and waves to still, he holds you and always will, the battle is the Lord’s.”  What a powerful thing to hear in times like these.  We don’t go it alone.  The same God who sent his own Son to die for us is the one who is doing battle for us in our struggles.  Later in the song St. James sings, “Find rest in the Father’s arms, In his presence there is perfect peace.”  It reminded me of the words of Jesus to the disciples in John 14:27, our Scripture for today: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  That is the perfect peace that St. James sings about.  The peace of the same Jesus who died for you and rose for you.  The same peace that Jesus gave to the disciples when he entered the upper room and said to the disciples who thought he was dead, “My peace I give to you.”  What Jesus has done for us, the peace that he gives us, allows us to sing into the night, as St. James sings.  It’s the reason Nancy and I are able to keep on going, whether it’s just a short trip to Wisconsin or continuing to serve you as Pastor and wife here at St. Andrew during these difficult times.  Lift up your hands in prayer as St. James sings and continue to serve our Heavenly Father who does have us forever in his arms.
 
Wednesday, August 4, 2021 - Scripture: Psalm 46:1-7, Matthew 19:25-26, John 11:25-26, Romans 8:31; Song: "Battle Belongs"

Last Wednesday when I published the last song devotion, we had just come back from vacation and the two weeks away was quite refreshing. But as usual, the peace and calm did not last. On the way home, we received the news that the brother of one of our long-time members had died at age 61 from an aneurism. Then the news on the Covid-19 front raised its ugly head again as the increasing cases of the delta variant are causing the experts to consider masking rules again, at least in public. We knew it before we left but last Friday, Nancy had an outpatient biopsy to check out some spots that were found on her routine scans to see if they are cancer again. And life got quickly busy at work as we are trying to hire a new preschool aide, deal with the air conditioning in the church needing some sort of fix, and the compassion requests for PAMA keep coming as the end of the eviction notice ban was last week as well though since then-President Biden has extended it again.  It is tempting to panic and get overstressed and maybe even want to give up. In Bible study the Thursday before we left, we looked at Scripture passages to depend on in these situations and how they have been and continue to be helpful. Then as I looked for a song for this devotion I came upon Phil Wickham’s song, “Battle Belongs.” As I listened to the song, I saw and heard 4 direct references to some of my go-to Scripture passages in times like these. Late in the song Phil sings, “Almighty Fortress, you go before us.” It reminded me of the words of Psalm 46:2-7, which starts in verse 1: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” and ends in verse 7 “The Lord Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress.” What powerful words in the midst of all the issues I mentioned. In the middle of the song Phil sings “For Jesus, there’s nothing impossible for you.” Then the words of another one of my favorite passages popped into my head. In Matthew 19 the disciples were in our predicament and when they heard Jesus’ words they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus replied with these words, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Again, I think it is easy to see how this applies to our situations. Right before that, Phil sings: “If you are for me, who can be against me?” Wow, Romans 8:31, another of those passages popped up. Paul had been talking about all the issues Christians have and he writes: “What then can we say in response to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?” Remember that when you think of these issues. Then last but not least, Phil sings “When I see the cross, you see the empty tomb.” There is nothing more powerful than Christ’s resurrection in any situation. As Jesus himself says in John 11:25-26: “I am the resurrection and the life, The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” Do you believe this? I pray that in the midst of all these issues you can say with Martha in verse 27: “Yes, Lord.” Notice I said I pray. I do that along  with Wickham in the song as he sings: “So when I fight, I’ll fight on my knees with my hands lifted high.” That is certainly an encouragement to pra,y similar to my encouragement to do the same. So, listen to the song and check out the Scriptures as you fight the issues facing you in life, whatever they might be. And know that “If God is for you, who can be against you?”

Battle Belongs - Phil Wickham | WLC | Lyrics

Previous Devotions

July Daily Devotions
July.pdf
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June Devotions 2021.pdf
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May Devotions
May 21.pdf
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