Satisfaction

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

Isaiah 55:2

Mark is, in a lot of ways, a typical teenager. He goes to school, does his homework, and participates in school sports (in his case, baseball).

But what sets Mark apart for a lot of young people his age, in this day and age, is that he works hard to make money and saves his money for what he want to buy.

And what further sets Mark apart from a lot of young people his age, in this day and age, is that he sets his sights and his goal on buying things that he can use and that will satisfy him.

For example, Mark worked hard and saved his money for a good-sized down payment on a vehicle. He had his driver’s license for about 9 months but had been saving money longer than that. He had his eyes on a particular vehicle. It wasn’t a sports car or a fast car.

Mark wanted a pick-up truck. And he wanted to get a truck for a particular reason – so that he could use it to help out other people in moving stuff and working. He also wanted a truck so he could haul all his baseball gear around to the various fields he would play or practice at.

He could have spent his money on other things, games, toys, that kind of thing. But instead, Mark put his hard work, effort, and goals into buying something that he could use and that would satisfy him.

God’s Word tells us that this is the better way to go.

In Isaiah’s prophecy, God’s Word uses the analogy of “food” or “rich food” to represent goals that will have purpose and satisfy us.

Why would anyone want to have these kinds of goals in the first place? Because this is how we’ve been created by God!

We were not made for just this life. If this life – from our cradle to our grave – was all there was, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense looking for something or doing things that have lasting significance or satisfaction.

But we have been created for more than just this life!

We were created to have a personal relationship with our Creator – God the Father Almighty!

And that is exactly what his creation had until something disastrous happened.

Satan tempted Adam and Eve to choose their own, personal satisfaction instead of being satisfied in the “rich food” of a relationship with God.

This is called “The Fall” and since then, every descendant of Adam and Eve has been infected with Original Sin. We are all conceived and born separated from God.

But we still have the longing of satisfaction encoded in our DNA by God. We long to have a relationship with God. But we no longer know how to have that relationship on our own.

Many try to find the satisfaction of that relationship in other created things. Money, goods, or other people. But all these are temporary. They will not last. Money can be here today, gone tomorrow. Goods can break or wear out. People leave or die.

There is only one thing that can satisfy the deepest longing and need in us – and that is God himself and God alone!

We know we long for something. We learn it is God. But then how to we get God?

This is the reason Jesus Christ came!

He was born a human to take our sin on himself. He lived perfectly but died with, and for, all the sins of all people of all time. The third day he rose from the grave – thus guaranteeing that we, too, will rise one day. Then forty days later Jesus ascended into heaven. He fully restored our fallen relationship with God.

He leaves us on this earth with the mission to tell others this Good News. He prepares paradise for us when we will finally leave this world and this temporary life.

We who have faith in Jesus Christ will find that feast of rich food that truly satisfies in heaven forever.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I pray that you will continue to guide and strengthen me in the true and satisfying relationship that your son died and rose to restore in me; through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.

©2017 True Men Ministries

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God’s People

Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people.
1 Peter 2:10

Lt. Philip Nolan was convicted of treason in the early 19th Century.

Nolan bitterly renounced his country – the United States of America – as he exclaimed, “I wish I may never hear of the United States again!”

(Hale, Edward Everett. “The Man Without a Country.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 3 July 2017, www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1863/12/the-man-without-a-country/308751/?single_page=true.)

As is usually the case, one should be very careful what one asks for, you just might get it!

Nolan got his wish. He was to be exiled and live out his days on U.S. Navy ships. He was sentenced to never set foot on American soil again. He was also sentence to never hear news of the United States ever again!

This is the plot of the short story “The Man Without a Country” by Edward Everett Hale.

But it is also a parable of the sadness and despair of a person’s spiritual life.

Every person born in this world is conceived and born sinful (see Psalm 51). In effect, we are all “without a country,” that country being heaven.

Great despair fills Nolan’s life as he realizes just how awful it is to be without a country.

In the same way great despair fills a man or woman who are without God. Especially when we learn that we are made for another world, another country, another life!

We are truly born apart from God. “We would be lost forever unless delivered from sin, death, and everlasting condemnation. But the Father of all mercy and grace has set His Son Jesus Christ, who atoned for the sin of the whole world, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (Holy Baptism, The Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, p 268).

Jesus Christ came down from heaven and was conceived by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary and lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death for us, and rose again by the power of the same Holy Spirit. Jesus bought us back from sin, death, and the power of the devil.

He once again made us citizens of heaven through his shed blood on the cross and glorious resurrection from the dead.

We are now “clothed with the robe of Christ’s righteousness that covers all” (ibid p 271) our sin!

In Holy Baptism, God the Father has made us members of his Son and an heir “of all the treasures of heaven in the one holy Christian and apostolic Church” (ibid).

We once were without a country. Now we are citizens of heaven. Once we were not a people. Now we are the people of God!

Prayer

Heavenly Father, we thank and praise you that you graciously preserve and enlarge your family by making us citizens of heaven and your people through Holy Baptism and keep us as your people through the Means of Grace. We humbly implore you that, as we have now become your children, you would keep us in our baptismal grace, that according to your good pleasure we may faithfully grow to lead a godly life to the praise and honor of your holy name and finally, with all your saints, obtain the promised inheritance in heaven; through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Separated

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Romans 8:35

Nothing seems to be more frightening to a child then to be separated from their mom or dad.

As a 10-year-old I felt that kind of fear when my parents thought I was old enough to go to the movies with my brother for an afternoon while they did some Christmas shopping.

There was a time, apparently, when 10-year-olds would spend the afternoon in a movie theater and all was right in their world.

But I was growing up in an “in-between” time. Not quite in the present day when it just isn’t safe or right to leave 10-year-olds by themselves at the movies and the “good ol’ days” when it was practically a Saturday afternoon ritual.

My brother and I were dropped off at the theater with just enough money to get two tickets, two cokes, and two small popcorns. My parents would be on the other side of town Christmas shopping and would be back to pick us up before the cartoons and movie were over.

About 20 minutes into half-hour cartoon fest, I got really scared. I convinced my brother to leave with me and head to where I thought our parents were shopping. I was scared. It was the first time I had been separated from my parents for that length of time.

We walked about a mile to the store I thought they were at. As it turns out, they weren’t there. Which scared me even more. But an understanding and kind store manager drove us back to the theater and I had just enough money to get us back in.

Soon enough the whole ordeal was over and we were reunited with our parents.

Being separated from someone you love and who loves you is stressful and can be a frightening feeling.

This is actually how we come into the world. As we are “conceived and born sinful” (see Psalm 51), we would be lost forever, eternally separated from God, unless God came to get us.

Which is exactly what God did. Jesus Christ was born, lived, died, rose and ascended in order to ransom us back from sin, death, and the power of the devil.

All that separated us from God was forgiven by Christ’s shed blood on the cross.

Through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, we are no longer separated from God.

The promise of Christ is that now nothing will separate us from God.

There will still be frightening times that we will go through. The illness of a parent or child. The death of a loved one. The loss of a job. War, famine, and other worldly hardships constantly plague us in this life.

But God’s promise to us is that none of these will ever separate us from him.

And that’s comforting to know. It is a beautiful thing.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me and saving me through the shed blood of your Son. I pray that you continue to show me how much you love me and how nothing will ever separate me from your love; through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Special Announcement

Stories For FaithStories For Faith in the first volume in the series of devotional books “In My Father’s Footsteps.”

Originally published under the title “In My Father’s Footsteps Volume 1” this book of devotions is made up of stories from everyday life that tell the timeless truth of God’s love for all people in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ.

If you have the original book, you have this one. But if you would like to share this book or haven’t bought it before, follow the link below!

https://www.createspace.com/7404857?ref=1147694&utm_id=6026

In My Father’s Footsteps Returns to Print

The first four volumes of “In My Father’s Footsteps” are rolling off the presses this week.

Volume 1 – Stories for Faith is available now. This is a re-print of In My Father’s Footsteps Volume 1 (so if you have that book, you have this one).

Click on the picture to go to the book page.

Stories For Faith

 

God’s Sword

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

I love to read, and have since I was a young boy. Starting in the 1st grade my dad would bring home once a week – usually on Fridays – comic books (Batman, Superman, Archie, etc.). He still sends a box of comic books to the house once or twice a year. He says it’s for my sons, but I must admit I still love reading them myself!

As I got older, I started reading some of his favorite books and authors – Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov.

I started with science fiction then moved into the fantasy genre – with the requisite knights, damsels in distress, and swords.

So when I read about swords in the Bible, it definitely gets my attention.

Hebrews 4:12 is one of those attention-getters!

A quick glance at this passage might suggest that God’s Word is a sword – as it certainly is in Ephesians 6:17.

But here in Hebrews it specifically says that the word of God is “sharper than any two-edged sword.” It isn’t a sword itself but more than a sword!

It is “living and active” and basically gets to the heart of every person.

Does this mean that I should be careful with what I say and do with my Bible sitting on the desk next to me?

Well, yes and no.

The book itself doesn’t listen to me or read my mind.

But the Bible is more than just a book. It is the Word of God and, as John’s Gospel begins, the Word is the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity – Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God!

And Jesus Christ knows us intimately. As the omniscient Son of God he can look into our hearts and see it all.

This is what the writer to the Hebrews is getting at in chapter 4 of his (or her) epistle.

Nothing is hidden from God. We can hide our inner thoughts and feelings from other people – even those we love. But we cannot hide anything from God.

God’s Word opens us up before him better than any sharp sword ever could.

God sees into our hearts. He sees all our sinful thoughts, desires, intentions, and predilections.

God, through his word – the Law – brings to light our sin. It shows us our sin as a mirror bright.

Thankfully, that’s not all God’s Word does! God’s Word also brings to us God’s grace.

After God’s Word opens us up like a sword, the sweet and healing balm of the Gospel heals and revives us to the life Jesus came to give us through his death and resurrection!

Martin Luther put it this way:

“The Word is so effective that whenever it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used it is bound never to be without fruit [the topic of a future devotion, by the way!]. It always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devoutness and produces a pure heart and pure thoughts. For these words are not lazy or dead, but are creative, living words. And even though no other interest or necessity moves us, this truth ought to urge everyone to the Word, because thereby the devil is put to flight and driven away” (Large Catechism, Part I. The Ten Commandments, quoted from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, copyright © 2005, 2006 by Concordia Publishing House, p 370).

This is, indeed, good news! Let’s share this with everyone today!

Blessed Lord, since You have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.    Amen

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Stories That Come to Life

[Jesus said], “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
John 5:24

The idea that reading something makes something come alive has been a creative device for a long time.

The computer game Myst has it. The plot of the game is that Atrus has written books/stories and in doing so has created worlds, or ages, as the game calls them. This was one of my favorite games to play back in the 1990’s.

The movie Bedtime Stories, staring Adam Sandler, is about a man who tells stories to his niece and nephew and these stories magically come true.

And the movie Goosebumps, staring Jack Black, is about the author R. L. Stine whose stories actually come to life!

While these are just stories written to amuse and fascinate people, the concept has its roots in the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Does that surprise you? I don’t think it should. After all, humans are created in the image of God. Since the Fall, each human carries the echo of God’s image within them, an echo that is loudest in our creativity! Consider this: the greatest stories ever told are about the epic struggle of good versus evil and our favorite stories are when good overcomes evil!

When humans create these kinds of stories, it is an echo of the very true epic battle of Good versus Evil – that is, God overcoming and conquering Satan through the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Jesus comes right out and says this in John 5, “whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.

Jesus is saying that if we hear his word, that will lead us to believe in God and that means we have eternal life!

We hear his word. That word is the Gospel! Jesus’ words are eternal life – as St. Peter said in John 6, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:68-69).

Hearing the Gospel leads us to believe in God. The God who loves us so much that instead of leaving us in our condemned state because of our sins, he provided the perfect sacrifice to forgive all our sins.

And through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we have eternal life.

All because we heard the words of Jesus. All because we read the story or heard the story.

The story that came to life.

The Story that came to give us life!

O Lord God, heavenly Father, by the blessed light of your divine Word you have led me to the knowledge of your Son. Grant me the grace of your Holy Spirit that I may ever walk in the light of your truth and, rejoicing with sure confidence in Christ, my Savior, be brought unto everlasting life; through the same Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Read past devotions at the True Man Blog here.

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