Purpose

But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.
1 Thessalonians 2:4

Why am I here?

It isn’t that I don’t know. Not really. But I need to remind myself on a regular basis.

I am here to be loved by God – and I am.

I only need to look at the cross to see how much God loves me!

And I am here to share the love of God with others.

Jesus Christ died on the cross to save me – and all people – from sin, death, and the power of the devil.

But sometimes, I forget that. I pursue fame and fortune. Not in a crass way like is depicted in the movies or in books or on TV shows.

But in more subtle ways. I am tempted to do things to get “likes,” to get “follows,” to get “views.”

The temptation is to use these things to define why I am here. If I get more “likes,” “follows” and “views” then I’m being successful.

But these things are not why I am here. They can be results of why I am here but not the reason I am here!

I am here to be loved by God and to share the love of God that is shown to me in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

You are here for the same reason!

In my case, I have a ready-made arena to do this. And it isn’t Facebook or Twitter (I’m not quite involved in Instagram yet).

My first and foremost arena to share the love of God is my family. My wife of 26 years and my sons (just about 21-, 18- and 17-years-old).

Of course, I love them. But I also tell them every day. (Well, every day for Nancy, Kurt & Mark. I don’t talk to Eddie every day, but I tell him I love him whenever I do talk with him).

Before Kurt & Mark leave for school in the morning I tell them I love them. Before they go to sleep at night, I tell them I love them.

I tell my wife I love her when we wake up and before we go to sleep and at various times during the day.

I also show them I love them. I take care of things for them – laundry, the dog, odds and ends for school and what-not.

These are things that I do because God has first loved me. In response to God’s love for me in Christ, I love my family.

I also love my friends and my brothers and sisters in Christ at church and in the Church (notice the difference?).

This is why I am here. This is my purpose. Like Paul, I do it to please God as a response to his love for me.

How about you?

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Imitators

And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit….”
1 Thessalonians 1:6

The vision was still vivid in his mind’s eye. A man standing with the sea behind him, beckoning to him.

Come over to Macedonia and help us.”

And so Paul, Silas and Timothy had set sail from Troas and headed west.

They had met Lydia in the city of Philippi.

They had been jailed soon after for exercising a demon from a slave girl.

They then were miraculously released from jail and shared the Gospel with their jailer.

They made their way to Thessalonica and preached the Gospel there for about a month.

They headed to Berea and did the same. But Paul continued on his own to Athens.

Timothy headed back to Thessalonica and the new Christian church there. He caught up with Paul in Athens and gave him a report.

Paul responded to this report by writing a letter to the church back in Thessalonica.

We know this letter today as 1 Thessalonians.

This letter is bursting with encouragement for us as much as it was for the 1st Century Thessalonians!

They heard the Gospel from Paul. They then put that Gospel into practice.

Paul says they “imitated” him and Silas and Timothy.

They pray. They display the power of the Holy Spirit, which is showing love for all people.

Love that was first displayed by Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection to save all sinners.

They also were persecuted for their faith. Paul says that they “received the word in much affliction.”

But for someone who knows the love of Christ in their heart and soul, persecution and affliction do not matter!

They still love their fellow townsmen. They still pray for them. They live the new life they have in Christ Jesus.

This life isn’t easy or soft. It is a hard life because the devil, the world, and our own sinful nature declare unrestricted warfare on us when the Holy Spirit converts us to faith in Jesus Christ!

But Christ is stronger than all three combined! And victory is ours through Jesus Christ!

As Paul encourages the Thessalonians, so we are encouraged to be imitators of Christ and his faithful followers.

We love one another and never shy away from proclaiming the love of Christ to the people around us.

When you do this, don’t be surprised that it makes the news!

Paul lets the Thessalonians know that news of their love and life has spread throughout Greece!

This will be used by the Holy Spirit to bring more people to us to love and pray for and share the Gospel with!

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Read past devotions at the True Man Blog here.

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Subscribe to In My Father’s Footsteps here.

King’s Ransom

“…my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly.”
Job 42:8

Job had lost it all.

His vast fortune wiped out overnight.

His seven sons and three daughters all killed on the same night.

He had been struck with some affliction that reduced his skin to festering and itching boils.

The only thing Job is left with is his wife and his life. And his wife told him to “curse God and die.”

Three friends come along to sit shiva with Job for seven days.

But after Job curses the day he was born, they feel obliged to speak.

They were not very helpful. What they say ranges from “you must have done something very wrong to be treated by God thusly” to “your children must have sinned, that’s why they were killed.”

They went on and on. Job defended himself, telling them that he hadn’t done anything wrong to deserve this! But his three friends insisted that he was wrong!

Finally, a young man named Elihu speaks up and tells Job and his friends that it doesn’t really matter. God is God and can do whatever he wants!

Then God finally answers Job’s pleading.

Job repents of blaming God for unjustly – or, at the very least, covertly – afflicting Job.

We know the whole story because we have been privy to a conversation between Satan and God at the beginning of the story. We know what’s been going on the whole time. That God allowed Satan to attack and afflict Job in order to prove that Job believes in God because he is God and not because God has given him vast amounts of wealth.

In other words, Job passes the test!

Here at the end, God speaks to the three friends and tells them to bring bulls and rams equal to several year’s income for one person. This number of bulls and rams is also noted as what a king would provide for a sacrifice.

God has the three friends bring a king’s ransom to Job. Not as restitution or payment. But as a sacrifice that Job will perform for them.

Even after all the verbal pain these three inflicted on Job, Job will intercede for them to God!

1800 years later, Jesus – with a sign above his head that said he was the king of the Jews – would do the same thing.

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:33-34).

And that is exactly what God did! Both in Jesus’ case and in Job’s!

…and the LORD accepted Job’s prayer” (Job 42:9).

God tells us to not seek revenge. God tells us to pray for our enemies. God tells us to love our enemies.

Job and Jesus are our models for this kind of living. And so that is what we are to do.

That is why Job went through what he did, so we could learn this lesson and live the Godly life.

By the power of the Holy Spirit working through the means of grace (God’s Word and Sacraments) we are forgiven of all our sins. And by the same power we can intercede for others, even our enemies!

Let us model Job – and Jesus – and love everyone and pray for them.

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Read past devotions at the True Man Blog here.

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Special Announcement

Starting this weekend, “In My Father’s Footsteps” will be released only Monday through Friday at about 6:00 a.m. Central Standard Time (-5 UTC).

Also, the True Man Podcast is back! The latest episode is “Come and See Now Go and Tell” and you can hear it here.

Finally, the Job Devotions will be available in print this May! There is an announcement about that here.

Special Announcement

Starting this weekend, “In My Father’s Footsteps” will be released only Monday through Friday at about 6:00 a.m. Central Standard Time (-5 UTC).

Also, the True Man Podcast is back! The latest episode is “Come and See Now Go and Tell” and you can hear it here.

Finally, the Job Devotions will be available in print this May! There is an announcement about that here.

Hearing AND Seeing

“I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in the dust and ashes.”
Job 42:5-6

Job had heard of God from Elihu. Before that he had heard of God via “oral tradition.” His father told him of God. His grandfather had told his father. His father told him and his father’s father’s father had told him.

This was how knowledge of God was told, through families and friends telling others about what God had done in the past.

On occasion God intervened and interacted directly with people. Noah, for instance. Abraham is another example. Jacob yet another one.

But less and less, apparently, by the time Job comes along (a couple of generations after Jacob).

Job was a special case, though. If anyone ever needed to hear directly from the Lord, it was Job! And this is exactly what Job had been seeking.

But be careful what you ask for, you just might get it!

Fast forward 1800 years. It is just after sunset of a very momentous day.

The women in the group came banging on the door very early in the morning.

“Angels!” they said. “Tomb empty!” they exclaimed. “He’s alive!” they shouted!

Then two other disciples rushed up the stairs and into the room – the dust of the road to Emmaus still clinging to them.

“He spoke to us!” they announced! “He broke bread for us!” they further explained, in awe.

Then Jesus was suddenly there with them. Even though the door was locked, there he stood.

“Peace be to you.”

But Thomas was elsewhere. He came back later and they all told him, mostly all at once!

“Angels!” “Tomb empty!” “He’s alive!” “He spoke to us!” “He broke bread for us!”

He gave us his peace!

“I hear you speak of him with my ears, but I won’t believe until I see with my eyes and hands!”

Once week later, Jesus shows up again.

“Peace be to you.”

This time Thomas is there. He hears. He sees. He touches. He believes.

“My Lord and my God!”

Like Job, Thomas repents of his unbelief. Like Job, Thomas is forgiven and restored.

Like Thomas, Job will also intercede for others. Thomas will take the Gospel of the resurrected Lord to the world.

Job will pray for his three friends.

What will we do with our belief in God?

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Read past devotions at the True Man Blog here.

Contribute to True Men Ministries to help keep this devotional going here.

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Subscribe to In My Father’s Footsteps here.

Leviathan

“On earth there is not his like, a creature without fear.”
Job 41:33

Knight George had been there the entire summer. And he was getting extremely frustrated.

He wanted desperately to return home and get back to work. But he couldn’t. Not yet, anyway.

He tried to spend his days wisely. He studied Greek and Hebrew and set out to translate the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament into the language of his people.

He had made good headway towards the end of the summer and was nearly done translating the New Testament by the time the snow was flying.

His days were occupied with studying, writing, and translating.

But nights were something else entirely.

He would try to sleep. But his foul mood and his deep depression at being away from his home and work weighed on him like an oppressive millstone.

He also felt oppressed and attacked by Satan himself. He knew he was doing the work of God. He knew that he was called by the Holy Spirit to be who he was. He knew that he had been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection.

But still Satan attacked! Breathing the flames of doubt and accusation like a fire-breathing dragon!

Night was Satan’s favorite time to attack. Knight George was tired, hungry, cold, bitter, and depressed. And Satan would use this time to press his attacks.

On one such night, Junker Jörg was feeling attacked by Satan. So much so he was provoked to violence. He picked up the nearest thing to him – an inkwell – and hurled it at Satan.

It smashed against the wall, staining it.

Within a few months, Junker Jörg, Knight George, would leave the Castle Wartburg, return to his post at Wittenberg, and resume his true name – Martin Luther.

The story of the inkwell is a legend, most likely based on his own statement about his stay in the Castle Wartburg where he had “driven the devil away with ink” (quoted from Redeemer Lutheran, Huntington Beach’s website here: http://www.redeemer-lutheran.net/Articles/1000039345/Redeemer_Lutheran_Church/Media_Center/Pastors_Articles/Throwing_Ink_at.aspx).

But what is not legend is that Luther fought against Satan, as do we all! Satan is real. He is a fallen angel – and thus a creation of God and under his authority. He hates God and also hates us!

In Job 40, God describes Satan – so it is thought – as Behemoth. This is likening Satan to a wild and ferocious land beast.

In Job 41, God describes Satan – again, so it is thought – as Leviathan. This is a sea monster of some type. A giant sea serpent or squid. But one that has scales like armor and breaths fire.

This brings to mind a dragon. And this fits in with how Satan is described in the Book of Revelation.

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him (Revelation 12:7-9).

At the end of Job 41, God says that there is nothing like Satan on the earth.

Martin Luther – who fought the devil all his life – would describe Satan this way: auf Erd ist nicht seinsgleichen. This is commonly translated “on Earth is not his equal” (from stanza one of A Mighty Fortress is Our God, composite translation from the Pennsylvania Lutheran CHURCH BOOK of 1868).

God’s point in Job 41 – and Luther’s in stanza 1 of A Mighty Fortress is Our God – is that left to our own resources, we are powerless in fighting Satan.

Only God can defeat Satan.

And he did through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for us!

That one little word – Jesus – defeats Satan every time. And that one little word is ours through our baptism into Christ!

Satan may be able to take away all that we have. He took away Job’s wealth, children, and health. Luther poetic states that Satan could take away “our life, goods, fame, child and wife.”

But because of Christ, we will live forever and Christ’s Kingdom will be ours!

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Read past devotions at the True Man Blog here.

Contribute to True Men Ministries to help keep this devotional going here.

Listen to the True Man Podcast here.

Subscribe to In My Father’s Footsteps here.