•  — Edited

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  • Paul's Calling

    Galatians 1:11-13, 15-16a

    For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles.

     

    Thought for Today

    Today's devotion is not the story of Paul's conversion. That is found in Acts 9. Today's focus is on Paul's calling: By whom? Paul's perspective on it? His transformation.

     

    Paul's very forthright in verse 11: the gospel Paul preached was NOT man's gospel. Rather, he received the Gospel directly from Jesus Christ Himself. Saul's life before being confronted by Jesus was as a devout pharisee, so much so that he was persecuting the Jesus followers because he thought they were committing blasphemy (the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God). Saul was a living example of ultimate passion for God, his problem was that his belief perspective blinded him from God's truth. Jesus provides Saul a midlife correction as detailed in Acts 9. Jesus gave him a new name, Paul, to reflect his new essence, new being and right Godly focus. Paul also received grace from Jesus. His sinful life of persecuting Christians was forgiven and in the past! What a miraculous redirection: Saul a murderer became Paul the disciple who wrote the majority of the New Testament and ministered to the gentiles, the non-Jews.

     

    As we focus on God's calling unexpected heroes in this series, we must ask the question of ourselves: 'What's God's plan for using me as one of His unexpected heroes?' Does this apply to me? Was I 'set apart' before I was born? Have I been called by his grace? Does Galatians 1;15 apply to me? Did God weave me in my mother's womb? Did He bestow upon me His claim in baptism? Has He extended to me His grace and forgiveness? Have I received forgiveness at the beginning of each worship and in celebrating the Eucharist? If your answers to these questions are all yes, your in! If you cannot say yes to them all, but want to say yes, schedule an appointment with Pastor Eric or Pastor Chris to help you resolve the barrier so that you can say YES!

     

    Prayer

    Lord, Thank You for who You are, Your sovereignty, Your perfect plan and for the gift of the Holy Spirit, our companion and comforter. Help me to connect with You in a deeper relationship. Help me to grow in my ability to see Your call for me to be of greater service to You. Help me to be grounded in Your plan and Your ways. Amen

     

    Devotional Quote

    The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own,' or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life -- the life God is sending one day by day."

    —C.S. Lewis

     

    Quote of the Day

    Jesus calls us to his rest, and meekness is His method. The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort.

    — A.W. Tozer

    1. posted an announcement

      Cub Scout Program Information

      Cub Scouting is for youth in Kindergarten through 5th grade – but it involves the whole family! Come find out more about the Cub Scout program and how you can help form a foundation of character and leadership in ways that are affirmative and fun at the Back to School community picnic Sunday, August 21st. All interested parents are invited to attend! Sun, Aug 21, 11:00-2:00 PM @Peg Bond Center
      1. God's Commandment

        Judges 6:25-27

        That night the Lord said to him, “Take your father's bull, and the second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal that your father has, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it and build an altar to the Lord your God on the top of the stronghold here, with stones laid in due order. Then take the second bull and offer it as a burnt offering with the wood of the Asherah that you shall cut down.” So Gideon took ten of his servants and did as the Lord had told him. But because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night.

         

         

        Thought for Today

         We should all know that idol worship is a great offense to God. We should also understand that 'that idol' is the #1 love in our life. Gideon was commanded by The Lord to destroy the idol to Baal that his father built and worshiped. As commanded, Gideon did precisely as commanded, but he did it at night.

         

        Last week, Pastor Eric wrote a Daily Devotional based on Judges 2:10-12 entitled Judges: Compromise. I'd encourage you to reflect back upon his message for it replicates the precedent for how Gideon's father and the other Israelites fell away from their relationship with God. We are seeing the manifestation of this in our society today. There are many slippery slope topics which cause hearts to worship idols.

         

        Pastor Erwin Lutzer, Pastor Emeritus of Moody Bible Church, in his book entitled 'We Will Not Be Silenced: Responding Courageously to Our Culture's Assault on Christianity', discusses a number of slippery slope issues all leading to societal depravity and licentiousness. He believes that today's young people are especially in grave danger because once they taste sexual idolatry or drug idolatry (just to name a few), those around them affirm the 'rightness' of their new love vs the shame and deprivation it will cause. Thus the 'slippery slope' is an easy and titillating ride. Thus the sin that Joash the Abiezrite, Gideon's father fell into along with many other Israelites of the time is just like our society today. Society affirmed the slippery slope for both them and now for us.

         

        So once again, the purpose of the devotional is to 1) focus on God's perfect plan for His creation, our society and 2) challenge us to be in discernment to first understand His plan and desire, then 3) apply it in our personal and corporate lives. Doing what pleases God should be our only choice in all decisions that come before us each and every day. Many of these decisions are not all that clear, that's why we need to be in His Word and be in prayer in order that the Holy Spirit can guide us in discerning what His way is.

         

        Prayer

        Dear Holy Spirit, I'm so grateful that You are with me each and every day. This life is very difficult and sometimes I'm not sure what is Your way and what will honor and please You. You gave Gideon very clear direction that day. Please be that direct with me and help me to understand so that I can honor and glorify You. Amen

         

        Devotional Quote

        Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God's will."

        Eric Metaxas

         

        Quote of the Day

        The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live gladly because of the knowledge of his love."

        — Julian of Nowich 

        1. posted an announcement

          Christus Choir Rehearsals

          Regular Thursday night choir practices are starting back up. Join us August 18th for our annual choir fellowship night to kick the season off! We will hand out new music and sing for about 30 minutes. Then, we will enjoy some pie a-la-mode and fellowship time. New members are welcome! Contact Sharon Dalpini at sdalpini@immanuelbatavia.org or 630.879.7163 x16 with questions. Thu, Aug 18, 7:00 PM @Music Room
          1. announced an event

            Aug
            13
            Saturday, August 13th, 11:15 am
            Immanuel Lutheran Church
            950 Hart Rd, Batavia, IL 60510, USA
            1. Gideon's Worship

              Judges 6:16-24

              And the Lord said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.” And he said to him, “If now I have found favor in your eyes, then show me a sign that it is you who speak with me. Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my present and set it before you.” And he said, “I will stay till you return." So Gideon went into his house and prepared a young goat and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the terebinth and presented them. And the angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them.” And he did so. Then the angel of the Lord reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes. And fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened cakes. And the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight. Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face." But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die." Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.

               

               

              Thought for Today

              I've never had a face-to-face encounter with God, have you? I'm not sure how I would respond but probably would fall to my knees. I'm not sure I'd be able to have a conversation with Him, I'd be in such a startled state. How about you?

               

              The Lord comforts Gideon by telling him that He will be with him and deliver the Midianites to him. That would be a great reassurance but yet, Gideon was not a warrior or one who even came from a powerful elite family. He was a farmer, full of self-doubt about his ability to be of help to God. Knowing this was The Lord inviting/commanding him, Gideon's response was to first worship Him. So that is exactly what he does.

               

              We may think Gideon's worshipful response was a strange one but we must put his actions into the context of his cultural time and place. Following God's deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, worship was offering a sacrifice to The Lord, exactly as Gideon did. The Lord's response was one of accepting the offering thereby confirming His person-hood to Gideon and confirming that He was, as He stated, with Gideon. It was also understood that if one came face-to-face with God, they would die. The Lord assured Gideon that that would not happen to him. Gideon must have been full of questions, fear, inadequacy and incompetency. How could it be, he was just a man? Have you ever had a God encounter? What's your story?

               

              My encounter with Him is my greatest treasure. I was seeking God's forgiveness. I received, it in addition, to the greatest and deepest sense of peace and joy that continues to warm my heart every time I think about it.  

               

              Prayer

              Dear Abba, You want us to be in a deep relationship with You. You desire us to seek You and desire You to be intimately involved in our lives. In the good, the bad and the ugly, You want us to bring it all to You. When we do, You will be present with us. You invite us into Your perfect plan. When we accept Your invitation, You are honored and glorified. May we not be fearful but overjoyed in experiencing You. Amen

               

              Devotional Quote

              The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ. As we embark upon discipleship we surrender ourselves to Christ in union with his death—we give over our lives to death. Thus it begins; the cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise god-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."

              — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

               

              Quote of the Day

              Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right.

              — Abraham Lincoln

              1. Gideon's Invitation

                Devotion Writers this week: Ron and Linda Jaeger


                Judges 6:11-15

                Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine-press to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” And Gideon said to him, “Please, my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all his wonderful deeds that our fathers recounted to us, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and given us into the hand of Midian.” And the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.”


                Thought for Today

                Have you participated in Pastor Eric's 'Welcome to the Adventure' or it's predecessor, Henry Blackaby's 'Experiencing God'? If not I'd encourage you to sign-up when it's next offered. Without giving away the depth of the great experience, it's all about heightening our spiritual awareness of God's active presence in our lives and His desire to invite us to join Him in His work through the daily activities of the Holy Spirit. God sightings and winks are occurring all around us, question is: are we 'on the watch' for them and when the invitations come, how do we respond?

                 

                This preaching series is about unexpected heroes. Gideon was one of God's choices. Like Moses and many others, Gideon's response was, 'ME?'. Gideon is approached in the wine-press and he's threshing wheat. Gideon was hiding from the Midianites so they wouldn't see what he was doing and then steal his wheat harvest.

                 

                The Lord's introduction is very interesting:“The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” Note that The Lord is WITH Gideon. Not opposing him but WITH him and He calls him 'man of valor'. Webster defines valor as: strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness: personal bravery. Gideon's response is one of challenging The Lord because He, The Lord, had allowed all these bad things to happen to the Israelites, allowing the Midianites to prey upon them, causing all sorts of suffering and misery. The Lord's response is direct: I'm sending YOU! Gideon's response is like Moses' and probably ours. 'But I'm not capable of leading nor do I have any special power's, knowledge or insight's for how to overcome these evil Midianites.' The Lord adds, 'Do I not send you?'

                 

                So what would your response be to God's invitation to be His hands and feet in service in His ministry? Are you seeing His opportunities, His calling?

                 

                Prayer

                Lord, Life is challenging and seems to be getting more so, day-by-day. I also know that I miss opportunities to serve and witness for You. Sometimes I don't even see these situations, sometimes I recognize them only in hindsight, long gone from the scene. Help me have better sight and please equip me to be Your servant when You invite me to serve You.

                 

                Devotional Quote

                God calls him a mighty man not because of Gideon’s natural strength and courage, but because of what Gideon will be able to do in the power that God will give him.

                — Paul David Tripp

                 

                Quote of the Day

                It is easy to speak of bravery, but it is difficult to live the words.”

                ― Craig D. Lounsbrough 

                1. published a bulletin

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