MonMay30

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, MAY 30, 2022

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s reading is Acts 1:7-11 which begins with Jesus telling his disciples,   

“It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

MonJan17

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, JANUARY 17, 2022

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are portions of John 2:1–11, where the Bible says,   

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and… Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine”…. Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast." So, they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, "Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now." 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

 

MonNov01

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s Bible passage is John 8:31-36 which tells us of this remarkable conversation:    

31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

 

MonOct25

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2021

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s passage is Mark 10:46-47 and 51-52, where the Bible tells us,   

46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”…51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

IN CHRIST, THE BLIND REALLY DO “SEE”


I’m always amazed at the healings that Jesus performed in His ministry. There were times when He confronted and cured people’s debilitations, and then instantly made them go away. The deaf would suddenly hear, the blind would see, and the lame would walk. There were even a couple times when dead men were raised again to life! Many of these healings were amazing, seemingly beyond belief. One, of course, was the ultimate healing. That’s the time when Jesus took upon himself our sinful life and suffered our eternal death on the cross, and then rose so that we might have the promise of eternal life with Him as a gift of grace. In today’s reading, it’s a temporal, but devastating, issue. Bartimaeus is blind as a bat. Jesus matter-of-factly asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man answered with the obvious, “Rabbi, I want to see.” Then Jesus reminds him, “Your faith has healed you.”

Elsewhere, Jesus reminds us of a greater blindness and a more empowering sight (see John 9:39-41). He reminds us that the blindness of unbelief is far worse than mere loss of sight. But the sight that comes from seeing Jesus as our Savior is more precious than all the beautiful visions in this world. You see, we, don’t just suffer from poor physical eyesight like Bartimaeus. No, we all suffer from something much worse, poor “I”-SIGHT. Max Lucado defines this not as a mere blurring of what you see physically, but a sight that distorts your view of yourself. He writes,[1]

Some see self too highly…Brazenly self-assured and utterly self-sufficient, the I-focused have long strutted beyond the city limits of self-confidence and entered the state of cockiness. You wonder who puts the “air” in arrogance and the “vain” in vainglory? Those who say, “I can do anything.” And don't we also know the other extreme: “I can't do anything”? Forget the thin air of pomposity; these folks breathe the thick, swampy air of self-defeat. Roaches have higher self-esteem. Earthworms stand taller. “I'm a bum. I am scum. The world would be better off without me.”

Two extremes of poor I-sight. Self-loving and self-loathing. We swing from one side to

the other. Promotions and demotions bump us back and forth. One day too high on self, the next too hard on self. Neither is correct. Self-elevation and self-deprecation are equally inaccurate. Where is the truth?

The truth is not to be found by looking at our skills and successes. It’s also not to be found in our weaknesses and failures. The truth, the ultimate healing, is to be found when we look away from ourselves and look to our “healing” Savior who is “The Way, The Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). You might say that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the sight for life too. Bartimaeus was healed not only of his bad eyesight. He was also healed of his “I”-sight when looked to Jesus in faith. His healing reminds us that by faith in Christ, we who were spiritually blind, who suffered from eternally poor “I”-sight, can indeed be healed to see our Savior clearly.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, the gift of physical sight is truly a wonder. When the blind suddenly see, it’s as if a whole new world opens up for them. Let us be convicted of our spiritual blindness so that we can receive from You the incredible wonder of viewing all things through You with the opened eyes of faith. AMEN.

 

[1] Max Lucado, Life to the Full: 3-in-1 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2012), 72.

MonOct11

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2021

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s passage is a portion of Mark chapter 10, where the Bible tells of this encounter:   

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “…. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

DON’T FORGET YOUR VALUABLE!


I know, I know, you think my title should be “Valuables,” not “Valuable!” Well, no, for this devotion, it’s VALUABLE. I meant to write that singular word because this lesson is talking about the ONE thing in your life that is the key to it all. In our lesson for today, an individual comes up to Jesus and asks the million-dollar question, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” That’s the big question; that’s the one that really matters. You see, the Bible talks about life as precious, purposeful, and eternal. Those three all go together. Jesus wants you to know that your life is eternal, not just here today and gone tomorrow. He wants you to know that you are precious to Him, that your life matters to Him.

That is exactly what Jesus was trying to show the rich young man in our reading.  Jesus offers him what He also offers to you and me today --- Love, HIS LOVE, the eternal and lasting love of God in Jesus Christ, and a life that is purposeful and eternal because of what He has done for you on the cross. When Jesus tells the man that he lacks “one thing,” He’s trying to get him to see his life as a gift from God. He’s leading him to see that a relationship with Jesus is the key to it all.

So, today, ask yourself, “Is there anything getting in the way of knowing and receiving the one thing that is truly valuable for your life?” Are the things of this temporary world more precious than knowing the love of God in Christ Jesus forever? Are the trinkets of the moment to be more prized than God’s mercy in Christ? Is there anything more precious than knowing that no matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been, IN HIM, life can be fresh and new today? He offers you eternal life right now. The very same Jesus who urged this man to follow Him urges us too because only Christ Jesus can remove everything that stands in the way of having a life that is good, meaningful, and lasts forever. Trust in what is valuable today, your life in Christ. And hear another promise from Him as you face this week. Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, it’s easy to get caught up in the treasures of the here and now. Give us eyes to see that only in and through You does life become precious, purposeful, and eternal. Give me that wisdom to take up the challenges of today. AMEN.

MonSep27

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, SEPTEMBER  27, 2021

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s Bible verses are Mark 9:49-50, where Jesus says,

For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.

THE CHRISTIAN LIFE - FASHIONED FOR SERVICE!

It’s always a challenge for me to fully understand what Jesus means in Matthew 5:13-14 when He says that believers are “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” I don’t think we realize how inept, yet vital, we are to being conduits of God’s preserving and saving activity for the world. In a world of constant refrigeration because of electricity and easy illumination where the lights come on and remain on just by the flip of a switch, being called “salt” and “light” can seem rather mundane. It wasn’t and it isn’t. Just think of the ancients’ view of salt.

Homer called it divine. Plato called it a "substance dear to the gods." Shakespeare mentioned salt 17 times in his plays. Perhaps Leonard da Vinci wanted to send a subtle message about purity lost when he painted "The last Supper." In that painting an overturned salt cellar is conspicuously placed before Judas. In ancient Greece a far-flung trade involving the exchange of salt for slaves gave rise to the expression, "...not worth his salt." Special salt rations were given to Roman soldiers and known as "Solarium Argentums" the forerunner of the English word "salary." Thousands of Napoleon’s troops died during his retreat from Moscow because their wounds would not heal--their bodies lacked salt. The human body contains about 4oz. of salt. Without enough of it, muscles won’t contract, blood won’t circulate, food won’t digest and the heart won’t beat a beat. Without a doubt, salt is the essence of life. And Jesus said, "Ye are the salt of the earth."[1]

So salt is essential! There wouldn’t be life without it. But that’s not what Jesus means when He calls us “the salt of the earth.” We’re not the ones essential for life; He is. But we can be essential bearers of His life in our lives for others. In fact, while our life with God is received by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, the works that extend from such a faith are essential, not for ourselves, but for those whom God brings into our lives. That’s why Jesus here reminds us to “have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

In essence, then, let God fill up your life, your “salt-shaker” existence, so that you can be a “salting” presence in the lives of those whom you love and care for. Salt preserves, purifies, and adds flavor, even as it exposes our thirst. Salt heals, regulates, and promotes good health when properly used. Such is the spiritual condition of those who put their trust in the true “salt” of life, Jesus Christ. Then those who believe in Christ are fashioned for service to others IN HIS NAME. God the Father sent His Son into the world to honor the preserving work of God’s Law. Yet he also fulfilled God’s Law in our place and delivers the promised saving work of God for all through His sacrificial work on the cross. Then we are to be bearers of that salt to all whom God places in our lives. “Have salt in yourselves,” and be salty ones in Him to others. Even our speech and our lifestyles are to be “salty” for others as Paul reminds us in Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Remember that receiving “salt” from Jesus Christ comes first because you can’t serve others in Christ if you haven’t first been served by Christ (note that in Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting of the Last Supper, the salt shaker in front of Judas is empty). But see also the great honor and privilege of being part of God’s powerful work of preserving and saving the world on His Law/Gospel terms alone. The Christian life is a life fashioned in Him for service, like salt on the loose so others can be blessed.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, salt reminds us that there are created gifts in this world that make physical life possible and enjoyable. In essence, You are like the spice of life that makes spiritual life possible and wonderful even now. Let us be better conduits of such saving grace to others, as we rejoice in the very “salted” life that we have received as Your everlasting gift. AMEN.

 

[1] https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon-illustrations/5282/evangelism-by-terry-dashner

MonSep20

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2021

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are Mark 9:30-32, where the Bible tells us,   

30 From there they went out and began to go through Galilee, and [Jesus] did not want anyone to know about it. 31 For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him; and when He has been killed, He will rise three days later.” 32 But they] did not understand this statement, and they were afraid to ask Him.

 

UNTIL THE JOB IS DONE!


A few years ago, I was privileged to study at the Army War College in Carlisle, PA. Thanks again to National Guard Officer Ross Davis, a wonderful member of our Lutheran Church, who invited me to be involved in lectures and discussions about national security with the next generation of leaders of our Armed Forces. It was a humbling learning experience. It was at the end of their formal training, so I also got to celebrate with the whole group before their formal graduation.

There is a tradition in the graduation ceremonies there. It involves the unveiling of a painting commemorating the students time at the college. Each class places a painting in one of the college’s corridors that expresses and defines the character and the commitment of their group in order to encourage future classes to follow their lead. This group’s painting was about the “Lost Battalion” of World War I, who, though surrounded on all sides by German soldiers, persevered through the gravest of conditions. They even helped the Allies break through the German lines in the end. The Lost Battalion was known for perseverance, and that’s what the graduating class of 2018 wanted to be known for as well. In other words, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” The “tough” ones engage fully in the mission until the job is done. I have a copy of that painting hanging in my LCRL offices to this day because it inspires me to keep at my work in D.C., no matter the obstacles, because the mission and ministries of the church are always worth the effort!

In today’s lesson, Jesus talks about some “tough going” that was above and beyond anything we can handle. Every man, woman, and child in this world is on the path that leads to judgment due to our common sin and rebellion against our Creator. It’s a path that even the toughest among us can’t avoid, period. But then here comes Jesus the Christ. Though He was without sin, He chooses to take up our path. And, when the going gets eternally tough, the Savior of the world gets going! When Jesus tells the disciples that this path of suffering must be the way, they can’t believe it; they don’t realize how terrible a predicament all of us are in. But Jesus does. He tells them about the necessity of His path to the cross so that when it happens, they won’t be overcome with grief and despair. Even when all looks lost, they need to know that a persevering Savior is on the job, and He, like only He can, will get the job done.

Whatever you and I are facing today, and there’s plenty that’s overwhelming, faith in Jesus is something that gives us confidence and peace even then. As with the soldiers of the Lost Battalion of World War I, there are times that seem completely overwhelming, with no way out. Can you imagine what it was like to be surrounded by enemies on every side? The title of the painting described above gives us a glimpse of just such a struggle. Its caption states: “We weren’t lost, the Germans knew where we were all the time.” They must have hoped against hope that the Allies would soon find them.

But let me say this: While I treasure the painting from the War College hanging in my office, I believe an even more amazing picture should hang in every Christian home today. That painting should reflect the greater battle that Jesus engages in for us. It isn’t one where are enemies are close and our Savior far off.  No, it paints a different picture. It’s one where Jesus surrounds us and is closer to us than whatever is against us. It’s a picture where He is on the case all the time. As the enemy struggles to break through His line of protection, we are protected on every side by His Word, His Spirit, His gifts of Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and even His body, the church. If you are saying in your daily battles today, “We weren’t lost,” I pray that the rest of the title is, “because Jesus, my Savior, knew where I was the whole time.” With that in mind, keep fighting, keep serving, keep forgiving, and keep loving one another in His Name until He calls you to Himself. Then you and I can also reflect a spirit which knows that when the going gets really tough, IN HIM, we can get going and keep going until the job is done!

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, now is a time for courageous and committed faith. May we see the commitment that You displayed so that we might be saved by grace through faith. May it then encourage and empower our lives right now as we seek to follow You wherever You lead. AMEN.

MonSep13

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2021

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are Mark 9:20-24, where the Bible recounts this encounter:   

20 They brought the boy to Jesus. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. 21 And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”

WHEN THINGS ARE IMPOSSIBLY POSSIBLE!


Our lesson for today comes in the context of another healing event in the ministry of Jesus. It not only demonstrates Christ’s power over all things, but also faith’s power IN HIM amidst all the doubts and struggles that we may be facing. There so much to learn from the honest confession of the father in our lesson. The dad knew what his son needed and felt helpless in response. He also knew what he needed, stronger faith. When he meets Jesus, he expresses sentiments like this: “I’d like to have great faith, but I know that I’m inadequate now when I need it most. In fact, I’m overcome by circumstances and doubt. Lord Jesus, while I believe, help my unbelief.”

Today many people don’t seem to struggle with their doubts; they tend to revel in them. Some even claim that there is “faith in honest doubt,”[1] as if our skepticism is the key to an authentic, honest pursuit of truth. In his book, Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton rightly identifies our modern “skeptical” faith this way:

The man of the nineteenth century did not disbelieve in the Resurrection because his liberal Christianity allowed him to doubt it. He disbelieved in it because his very strict materialism did not allow him to believe it. Tennyson, a very typical nineteenth-century man, uttered one of the instinctive truisms of his contemporaries when he said that there was faith in their honest doubt. There was indeed. Those words have a profound and even a horrible truth. In their doubt of miracles there was a faith in a fixed and godless fate; a deep and sincere faith in the incurable routine of the cosmos.[2]

That’s not the struggling faith of the father of our text. True faith is that which trusts God, even while struggling through our doubts, rather than a faith that revels in skepticism. Believers don’t dismiss their struggles or diminish their problems and fears. Instead, believers wrestle with them as they tenaciously trust that God hasn’t and won’t forsake them. The father’s encounter with Jesus occurs amidst skeptical people’s rejection of Jesus and their ridicule of His ineffective followers. The father is tempted in this direction as well, as he prefaces his request to Jesus with the words, “If you can.” But he comes to Jesus with an honest assessment of Jesus’ strength and power, looking to Him for relief that even his faith cannot give. “I do believe; help my unbelief.” I pray that your faith in Jesus is like his.

Amazingly Jesus doesn’t tell the father to come back when he has more faith. In the midst of the father’s struggle, Jesus heals his son (see Mark 9:25-27). As always, our faith is not the key to our power and strength. Even one’s authentic skepticism grants no special power to faith. The key to true and vibrant faith is its object. And when faith rests itself IN JESUS ALONE, that which was impossible becomes possible (Mark 9:23). Sins are forgiven. Death is overcome. Illness and struggle are temporary. Reconciliation with God and with others is possible all because of Jesus’ work on our behalf.

Today, amidst struggles and even successes, revel in the great news that God knows your weaknesses and your faith-failures. Even amidst “weak” faith, God is strong. And know that even with “strong” faith in Him, such faith doesn’t enhance our blessed relationship with Him. But it can give us the strength needed to serve others IN HIS NAME amidst their struggles, their failures, and their flailing faith too. Oh, and if you are like the father today, one who realizes that you need “more faith,” the Bible has an antidote for that as well. In Romans 10:17, St. Paul teaches us that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” When the fires of your faith are reduced to embers because of doubt, suffering, or circumstance, stoke the fire with His promises, His Word, and the record of His actions of grace and mercy for you. Such faith knows that things are impossibly possible with God, and that, no matter the circumstance, we can always put our trust in Him.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, our doubts often seem to put up limits to what You can do in our lives. May we be bold to trust You amidst our doubts and the difficult circumstances of the moment. We believe; help our unbelief!  AMEN.

 

[1] Alfred Lord Tennison, “Faith in Honest Doubt,” http://static1.squarespace.com/static/55914e2ee4b0478467cdb875/t/56e2a06fb654f9980164d620/1457692783775/31+Friday+after+Mothering+Sunday.pdf

[2] https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Orthodoxy/Chapter_8

MonSep06

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2021

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verse is Mark 7:37, where the Bible reports this reaction to Jesus’ ministry:    

They were utterly astonished, saying, “He has done all things well; He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”

 

DON’T JUST BE AMAZED BY JESUS, BELIEVE IN HIM!


Have you ever had to deal with something that was locked up tight with no possibility of entry or release? I am beginning to travel again and one of my constant concerns is to have the keys to the townhouse in Washington, D.C. with me. There’s no worse feeling than getting off the plane, heading to the D.C. office, and then realizing that I may be “locked out.” Then it’s locksmith time. Being locked out with no possibility of entry when you really need to get in can even be terrifying in some circumstances. In life, being locked out, locked up, or locked in is not the life God intends for you. He wants you be free and open outwardly toward others.

But a problem lies behind our text. There are diseases that debilitate eyes so they don’t see, ears so they cannot hear, and tongues so they are unable to speak. The Bible also talks of a greater disease, of hearts that are closed to the righteousness of God, lives that are shut off from the healing love of God, and minds that are closed to the moral wisdom of God. For things that are hopelessly closed, physically or spiritually, there is only one “locksmith,” the one “who has the key of David” (Revelation 3:7), our Savior, Jesus. That’s the message reflected in our verse for today which comes as a response to His healing activity.

Prior to our text, amazing things have been happening in Jesus’ ministry. In Mark 7 he had just healed a deaf person. Other times He heals many others who were sick, gives sight to the blind, and even raises the dead. These are not just anomalies or curiosities. These healings and other miracles by Jesus were signs of the arrival of the Messiah (see Isaiah 35:5-6; also Jesus’ words about Himself in Luke 4:21 where He proclaims that Isaiah’s prophecy about the Messiah is fulfilled IN HIM). The Promised One is here, and He has come to fulfill God’s greatest miracles, the salvation of sinners and the opening of our hearts and minds to God in faith. The one born of a virgin and laid in a manger came to live our life substitutionally, die our death on a cross sacrificially, and rise again proleptically so that we might have life now and forever in Him. That’s the miracle of miracles!

Mere amazement though is a hazard. The crowd says, “He has done all things well.” That’s an understatement if there ever was one! Of course He does all things well. Of course He does the best of the best. When He’s at work, everything becomes as it should be. His words have authority. His teaching is unparalleled. And the work that He is about to embark upon, His work on the cross and in His resurrection, is unmatched. And then there’s the fact that He does such things not as opportunities for personal gain or glory, but in service to others so that they might be saved. Is there anyone else like Jesus? Anyone at all? No.

Today I pray that the Spirit of God stirs you up to be more than amazed. Yes, He did “all things well.” But the Bible is calling you to realize that Jesus did all things well for you! Don’t just be amazed, believe. Put your trust in Jesus and His Word. As you deal with the many issues on your plate this week, as you struggle to make sense of some things in your life, family, or community, remember this: There is one who is Lord and Savior over all of this. There is one who can be trusted in the midst of all things. There is one who has seen the worst of humanity and still redeemed humanity so that we can be who we were created and redeemed to be IN HIM. What He wants for you and me today is not merely to be amazed by Him. He wants you to believe in Him, to walk with Him, and to live forever with Him. He also wants you to put the power of faith in Him to work in your lives, now and forever. Be amazed, yes, but also believe.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, we often forget that the power of faith does not depend on how much we believe, but, rather, on the one in whom we put our trust. Give us courageous, confident faith to trust You, to believe in You today and always. AMEN.

MonAug30

WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, AUGUST 30, 2021

Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are Ephesians 6:10–12, where the Bible gives this encouragement and warning:    

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Put God’s Protecting, Empowering Armor to Use!


Have you heard about the class action lawsuit aimed at a company called Second Chance Body Armor?[1] Second Chance manufactures bulletproof vests for police officers and security personnel. Their products are used by hundreds of police departments throughout the country.

Apparently, several policemen have been killed recently even though they were wearing the vest. Following some independent field tests on several of their vests, a flaw was discovered in some of them so that they wouldn't actually stop a bullet that was fired at them.

The company was sued for misrepresenting the quality of its product. The lawsuit alleged that the company withheld information about known defects in its “bulletproof” vests and sold them anyway. The company responded by participating in a voluntary replacement program for anyone who had purchased one of the potentially lethal vests at no cost to the end user. Along with its replacement program, the company has posted an apology on its website for any inconvenience that their faulty vests may have caused anyone.

Inconvenience? Policemen were killed because of the ineptitude. They lost their lives because of the false promises. The Attorney General spearheaded the class action lawsuit which Second Chance lost. Upon receiving the terms of the settlement, it promptly filed for bankruptcy to avoid having to actually pay out any claims.

What is the margin for error when your life is at stake? There is none, right? That’s why today’s text is so important. Against the forces of darkness, even the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly realms, you and I are going to need armor that protects us and allows us to face such battles with the assurance that our tools are up to the task.

The full armor of God is up to the task. Trust in God’s protection and power, and you will never be disappointed. St. Paul knew the power of faith in Jesus and that’s why he here tells us to be “strong in the Lord.” That’s not some religious call to do your best for Jesus. Instead, it’s a summons to receive and put on the gifts of His armor. As Paul goes on to explain in Ephesians 6:13-17, it involves “girding our loins” with God’s Word of truth. It means being fitted with “the breastplate of righteousness,” a protection that is ours through faith in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. In Him, then, our feet are firm with the proclamation that there is good news for sinners; our shield is our trust in Him; our helmet is a head held high because our life is forever with Him; and His Word provides the ability to move forward each day with a “sword” that guides, protects, and empowers us. Wow! What blessings! What protection that works every time.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for providing eternal life and salvation for us. Thank You for also providing for our spiritual protection now, and for giving us the confidence and the power to face life head-on until the day we see you face to face in eternity. AMEN.

 

[1] https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/former-second-chance-body-armor-president-settles-false-claims-act-case-related-defective