Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Job Bible Sketch

2020 is an example


By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast.” Job 37:10 ESV Bible verse hand lettering marker sketch.
 

Life’s journey includes meeting and passing through unexpected experiences.


Expectations may happen as we plan; yet, out of the blue, we are sometimes surprised! Situations come up without warning, or they may creep in gradually—for obvious or unknown reasons—prompting us to redirect our steps and take a sharp turn.

 
Atrocious events of 2020 have been surfacing like never before. Covid pandemic, vandalism, and derechos made news headlines exposing worldly evil, injustice, calamity, lies, fears, confusion, weakness, frailty and uncertainty. Through thoughts and actions, people react or adapt to changes by
  • power trips to manipulate and control, fear or impose fear by abuse, numb with alcohol, indulge self-pity, self-isolation or mandate isolation, destruction, unfairly punish, blame-shift and inappropriate stubborn ways stemming from immaturity, pride, anger, and selfishness
  • prayer, volunteering, creativity, kindness, compassion, helping, encouraging, sorrow, confessing wrong doings/thoughts, repenting, gratitude, and receiving/offering forgiveness are ways to reflect love—not earning—celebrating mercy and salvation in Christ
Each person has a unique combination of positive and negative behaviors. Emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health conditions may be all over the place at various intensities. We may become carelessly stuck or we may grow stronger in adversity.

On Superbowl Sunday I went outside to wander. Leisurely passing time before a social gathering, I remembered Kansas friends who would be cheering for the Chiefs. Fishing is a common sport for food and fun on Minnesota lakes—from shorelines, docks or boats in summertime and through a hole drilled in thick winter ice. What a positive thrill it is to notice the bait nibbled and bit! To successfully reel in the catch requires knowledge and skill; yet, often bait is untouched and sometimes fish get away. Those of us who don’t hunt and fish still enjoy outdoor adventures all year. The day was exceptionally mild for February so I skipped snow boots and put on walking shoes instead. I began to seek nature photography when I spotted a breathtaking scene—the sun beautifully lit a little village of ice fishing houses out on Lake Waconia. Roadways were plowed through the snow to accommodate traffic on the lake. Unknowingly, I crossed a spot where a shack had been parked and accidentally stepped into a slush covered ice fishing hole. Yikes—my leg was suddenly submerged below knee and I was extremely startled!  

Generally in this world, embarrassing, difficult situations, pain and suffering are the result of our sin and the sins committed against us. We are ignorant, fail to watch where we’re going, we take the wrong path, we are confused about multiple problems that pile up, we lack will-power, we become complacent, lazy or apathetic, we react badly and make decisions that aren’t good for others and for ourselves. Sometimes the reason we suffer is obvious, other times, we have no clue why bad things happen and we must suffer. Sometimes it is easy see the reasons other people suffer, yet we are blind to what brings about our own suffering. Things don’t sync as we’d hoped they would. We make mistakes, fall, become ill and suffer. Many aspects of suffering and horrible complexities we are faced with cannot be naturally explained or controlled. Evil is not rational.
“God isn’t the cause and source of sin and death. Yet God Himself makes use of the curse of sin—suffering and death—for His good purposes. In doing so, He most often works in a  hidden way.” —Matthew Harrison in Does God Will Suffering and Affliction?

Amazingly, there are things to be thankful for during unpredictable hard times. Praise our Creator!

 
Gratitude exploded within when it dawned on me that my accident could have been much worse. Instead of venturing further out to get the perfect shot I’d envisioned, this was the turn-around point of my journey. I re-focused, changed plans, turned around and walked home in squeaky, soaked shoes with a bloody skinned shin under the fabric of my icy cold lake water drenched pant leg. I’d remembered the incidents I’d heard of where people have died from falling into open water. Thankfully, I’m safe, I didn’t drop my camera, the painful wound is cleansed, the garments washed and dried with the convenience of two appliances I often take for granted. I have a new appreciation for the person who invented a new kind of clear bandage sticker I happened to have on hand because several months earlier I’d accidentally burned my arm on the oven door. Like my bad arm burn, I was able to address the problem without a big expense. I had time to add more rest to my routine while my bad leg scrape eventually healed over a long period of time, leaving only a scar and a memory to share.
 

We need the Bible to remind us what lasts and what doesn’t. 

 
To God be glory—in church we receive the faith that assures us we can submit our difficulties, pain, fears, frustrations, scars, resentful hearts and sorrows to our merciful Jesus who totally gets it, took our sin and died to save us. Hope is found in His sacrificial work and Him presently interceding for those who humbly receive His body and blood. When do we seek Him most? It’s when we are suffering. More often than we realize, God’s angels are protecting and delivering people from evil spirits, dangers and temptations that are part of the brokenness of the world and our own sinful desires. 
 
We need God’s Word to feed and remind us that there are mysteries our Creator has not revealed. God is almighty and is in complete control. Whew—we don’t need to explain and know it all! We only need to be honest and trust our Savior in everything. He provides faith which offers the ability to admit faults, rebuild, nourish, and persevere—all that is needed to keep moving forward. 
 
The Holy Spirit fills us with awesome gifts of grace, patience and healing. Faith works within us to push us to try hard to build up others and ask for forgiveness when we cause problems or fail to do all that we could’ve, would’ve, should’ve done. Christ suffered on behalf of all sinners. Those who don’t reject this gift of faith are enabled to joyfully continue the journey with sufficient strength for one day at a time.
“Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting. … He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. … He hurls down his crystals of ice like crumbs; who can stand before his cold?” Psalm 147:1,3,17 ESV

 

The Bible invites us to look deeply into the troubles of life through eyes that trust in the merciful hope we have in Jesus.

In the light of Christ, freedom to be truthful is enjoyed. Aspects of Christian life may be compared to figure skating choreographed to a theme. Easy? Not at first—it takes practice—it becomes easier, yet requires effort and endurance. Creative, skillful, graceful movements to a dynamic rhythm in musical harmony is observed, learned, practiced, performed, celebrated. This excellence is not self-taught, but beginning the day we are physically delivered into earthly existence until the the day we exit and pass into the next life, we depend on parents and others to teach us about Jesus, support and help us move honestly through life’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual challenges. Christians need church in order to belong and remain devoted to God—to join in and participate within a supportive network.

“The Lord shows He is our Redeemer, despite what we may suffer in this life.” The Lutheran Study Bible on the book of Job
 

Not all receive the prize. Great power, justice and pardoning love belong to us only by grace.

Some are waiting for a man-made vaccine, a cure for covid-19, or a variety of things to go their way before they go about living on the terms they perceive as how things should be

Our Creator provides man with knowledge and means to come up with solutions sometimes, yet this is not always so. We don’t know if the Lord will or won’t provide a vaccine or cure before He returns. We do know He patiently directs our steps as we trust in Him. His broad plan is to bring sinners to the Light and how He accomplishes this is beyond our speculation. God’s goodness is incomprehensibly immeasurable. We either reject His gifts or we respectfully receive them, pray and go about life as the Lord wills.  

A team of judges at an Olympic figure skating competition determine who receives the gold metal. On the Last Day, God is the one and only judge for the fallen people he created. He does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit; He rewards sinners who by Christ’s mercy and grace are eventually delivered into an eternal life with Him.

Pray.

Dear God, replace our pride and fears with courage and Truth. Thank You for supplying Your perfect Son as our Savior and for faith to fully trust Your mercy. Amen.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Esther Bible Sketch

Who knows how to live these days?


Do you wonder what your purpose is in such a time as this?


“And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14b ESV Bible verse hand lettering marker sketch.

Day-to-day complexities of life’s relationships and personal responsibility to care for our own spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health cannot be managed alone. 

 
Thankfully, our patient Savior provides all that is needed to face each moment of each day. His perfect plan and timing is over our head. We may simply receive help, forgiveness and comfort by trusting Jesus has already won the victory over sin, death, and evil. Abundant opportunities surround us on every side to seek Biblical wisdom, practice patience, and pay-it-forward by sharing Good News, grace and mercy.
“Sometimes life seems as if we are on an incredible journey—and then suddenly, the bus breaks down. We feel trapped in a desert of delay with no way to move on. And in the in-between, it seems God isn’t doing anything to fix our situation. We’re tempted to complain and pout. To grumble and grow bitter. That’s when we need to remember the story of Esther and how God worked behind the scenes to rescue her people. We wait well when we remind ourselves that even while we’re waiting, our Lord is paving the way ahead, scheduling exciting experiences, and booking new destinations for our lives. That’s when we need to choose to rest in God’s providence.” Sharla Fritz in her book: Waiting—A Bible Study on Patience, Hope, and Trust
The Holy Spirit moves faithful people to encourage and listen to each other. He knows each person’s unique roles in personal and community relationships—lays out opportunities, provides guidance—and carries out His promise to defend, protect, and deliver those who seek Him. The only help we can offer each other is in full light of His Word and gifts revealed in Christ crucified for us. We may sow many seeds, share our faith everywhere we go, yet it is not us—it is our Creator who provides nutrients and growth to each individual who is willing to honestly receive His Word. Trusting God’s powerful love, we confidently pray to our Advocate. We may live by grace throughout life’s storms until the Last Day when He makes final judgement and harvests His crop of humble, repentant believers to live forever with Him.
“His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Luke 3:17 ESV
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:5–6 ESV
God knows His purpose and plans. Our Heavenly Father offers salvation to bring all souls out of trouble through faith which brings repentance and trusts Jesus is the way to peace beyond understanding.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 ESV

Book of the Bible dedicated to Esther


“Esther is the heroine of the biblical book that bears her name. Her Jewish name was Hadassah, which means ‘myrtle.’ Her beauty, charm, and courage served her well as queen to King Ahasuerus. In that role she was able to save her people from the mass extermination that Haman, the king’s chief advisor, had planned (2:19–4:17). Esther’s efforts to uncover the plot resulted in the hanging of Haman on the very same gallows that he had built for Mordecai, her uncle and guardian. Then the king named Mordecai minister of state in Haman’s place. This story is an example of how God intervenes on behalf of his people to deliver them from evil, as here through Esther he preserved the Old Testament people through whom the Messiah would come.”
Commemoration Biographies
Scripture speaks about uncovering lies and evil in several instances. Jesus is all about truth.

Helpful resources


Pray

Lord, thank you for safely bringing me to this day. Teach and lead me in your grace and truth. Amen.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Nehemiah Bible Sketch

Strength in the joy of the Lord


Don’t be grieved—listen to the Word


Hearing God’s word has great purpose that unites us in Christ locally and eternally with all who trust His promises. The Holy Spirit offers faith that believes, receives joy and craves the strength that comes from the spoken sermon, readings and hymns during church worship services.

Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10 ESV Bible verse hand lettering marker sketch.

I’m thankful for people who help me make sense of Scripture and bring it into life by applying it to today’s situations. 

The Bible teaches us about ourselves, reveals our sins, humbles, brings us to repentance, and provides zeal to pray for what we need over and over again. God’s plan in supplying His Word is to satisfy us by showing us what we need. Jesus has been grieved in our place at the bloody cross. The joy of the Lord comes to us in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar. These gifts provide strength to forgive others as whoever believes these words has exactly what they say: “forgiveness of sins.”

Nehemiah means the Lord has comforted.

Our Father Creator hears our prayers in Jesus Name and answers according to His will. When we pray “thy will be done,” He works in us so that the things we want are the things he desires to give us—contentment and peace. He has not forgotten His promises which hold true because of the resurrection of Jesus. He is risen! Think of the angel who announced the Good News of Great Joy for you with the birth of Christ! 
Dear Lord,
Forgive our apathy regarding matters of faith. Thank you for training us theologically by providing highly educated pastors, friends and family who teach your Word to grow the faith You give in Baptism. Thank you for those who lead us in prayer and encourage us to do the same with and for others. You stir us, bring us to tears, fill us with joy, and give us strength.
Amen.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Ezra Bible Sketch

Voices sing together


Music is an excellent element of worship at church


Singing, playing an instrument and listening to sacred music provide people of all ages important ways to 
  • worship Christ Jesus
  • reflect on the goodness of our Creator’s design
  • thank God for His mercy
  • become divinely connected to lyrics by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration
  • grow the gift of faith and celebrate Baptism
  • participate with a like-minded community
Even an unborn child in the womb can feel and hear his or her mother sing! Precious memorized hymn verses can be spoken for encouragement, sung by the blind and recalled in aging!

“And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord” Ezra 3:11a ESV hand lettered Bible verse sketched with markers.
“And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord” Ezra 3:11a ESV hand lettered Bible verse sketched with markers.

Responsive Worship

Especially after experiencing church closing and distance restrictions due to Covid-19, we repent of taking health and community for granted. Re-opened congregations have a new appreciation for the opportunity and freedom to sing responsively together with their pastors, confessing, praising and giving thanks to their merciful Lord. 

The liturgy or a liturgical style of divine worship service focuses on faithfulness, artistic excellence and integrity of the presentation God’s gifts, Scripture and music.

Monday, June 15, 2020

2 Chronicles Bible Sketch

Humble + pray + turn = healing

The Holy Spirit nudges God’s people to humbly pray with thankfulness flowing from our hearts.

“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV Bible marker sketch hand lettering

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5 ESV

Healing blessings are provided by God

Humbleness is power the Holy Spirit gives believers to
  • know the value of Christ’s suffering
  • take responsibility
  • say: I am sorry
  • get unstuck from the mud of all sin—ours and those committed against us
  • reject temptations to stay in or return to that wrong place
  • seek Christ for mercy, shelter, protection and safety
  • pray and have prayers heard
  • receive cleansing and freedom
  • listen to other’s perspective: thoughts, feelings and experiences
  • take time to process situations
  • have compassion
  • be merciful
  • be genuine 
  • be content with not knowing all the hidden things of God
  • take comfort in Truth
  • have confidence of the presence of God within
  • push forward in joy during both good and hard times
  • be motivated by a pure heart made holy by Christ
  • receive inspiration to share hope in Jesus
Our Creator promises to listen to repentant prayers of believers who seek Jesus. His beloved Son sacrificed out of love for us, was born, lived perfectly, suffered, died, then rose from death and ascended victoriously, so by grace, sinners are saved from punishment deserved. Christ intercedes for all who seek Him—and repeatedly—now until God’s judgement for eternity in heaven or hell. Power to trust the Word, receive forgiveness, embrace grace, healing, hope and peace is beyond understanding—it is a gift of faith.

Read or listen to

Pray

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for welcoming us to have personal conversations with You. Help us listen for Your prompts to seek You in every situation and in the beautiful sanctuaries where congregations gather to hear Your Word and receive Your gifts. Thank you for opportunities to attend Church for communion with all believers. Reside in our hearts to equip and motivate us to share Your love. We look forward with joy to the Last Day when Your saving love brings perfect healing of the world You created and unites all believers with You for eternity. Amen.

Monday, June 8, 2020

1 Chronicles Bible Sketch

Give thanks!


I’m praising the Lord for the opportunity to go to church in person for the first time in three months! Covid-19 stay-at-home orders are slowly being lifted! While we waited for the re-opening, we were thankful for people and technology that brought online forms of worship services and Bible studies. God gives us abilities and ways to carry the mission forward and draw people to Himself.

Rhubarb is in season in Minnesota! Thank God before a meal or after dessert. Scripture tells us to pray without ceasing.

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” 1 Chronicles 16:34 ESV Bible verse sketch markers doodle hand-lettering.

Thanksgiving is more than general gratitude

Thanking our Creator requires humility because we’d rather think we’re entitled to things. Provisions of food and shelter, protection, mercy, grace, healing and comfort are just a few gifts of God. 
“From a biblical perspective, if body and soul, house and home, wife and children, and the like are to bring us any real satisfaction or joy we must first reckon with the punishment that our sins deserve. Without mercy, without forgiveness and grace, without Christ, there is nothing much to give thanks for since it is all going to be destroyed or sent to perdition.” —David H. Petersen (read more)

Our help is in the goodness of our Lord!

The Holy Spirit works in us so we may listen and look at life’s situations from a full perspective and know God deserves all the glory for everything good.
“But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.” Psalm 10:14 NIV

His steadfast love endures forever!

Jesus is Lord. In Christ we receive the mercy and everlasting loving kindness of our Creator.

Chronicles contains ancient genealogies, lessons learned from family history, and prophetic hopes for the future. (watch an illustrated summary)

My church’s sanctuary is designed to optimize acoustics so voices—confessions, prayers, sermons, songs of thanks, praise and all types of musical instruments are beautiful there. Chronicles inspired J.S. Bach (read more)

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Father in heaven, to You alone do we owe thanks and praise. read more

Pray: Lord, we cannot see the possibilities of Your big picture of love that endures forever if we refuse to open our eyes. Take away our unhealthy assumptions that we know everything when, in truth, only You are all-knowing and have sacrificed all to save us. Forgive us when we forget and decline opportunities to listen well. Put Your genuine love to work within us to discern when to speak and when silence is effective in order to hear and empathize with others. Put helpful words in our mouths to give Your grace to others. Thank you for understanding and holding us while we endure hard things. Thank you for every gift of goodness. Amen.

Monday, June 1, 2020

2 Kings Bible Sketch

Do not be afraid


Abuse of the innocent, injustice, violence, protests, riots, depression, despair and corona-virus are concerns many of us fear


Individuals in  Minneapolis – St. Paul, Minnesota as well as cities throughout the United States and the world are frustrated and confused about addressing all forms of sin and its consequences

…What a baffling, babbling, cacophony of contradictory craziness. … Jesus has something to say just for you, … “Don’t be afraid.”
Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison
Click and listen to a sermon and interview: Jesus Doesn't Babble: Jesus brings the Word of peace to those who have grown weary of all the babble. 
 
He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 2 Kings 6:16 ESV Old Testament Bible verse sketch doodle hand-lettering rubber-stamp art.
He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 2 Kings 6:16 ESV
Old Testament Bible verse sketch doodle hand-lettering rubber-stamp art.

“While we live in a world where there are spiritual and other forces of darkness all around us, we nevertheless live confidently as the people of God who are blessed with the ministering of God’s holy angels in our lives. Furthermore, we trust in the triumphant victory of Christ who destroyed the darkness of sin and death in our lives.”
—Rev. Dr. Dennis J. Goff  (read more)


“How do we consider the recent protests sparked by George Floyd’s death in a theological manner? How do we process our own reactions to these events through the lens of the cross?” Listen to Considering Protests for Justice by Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller

Enjoy learning about the Bible with illustrations?

“After David, Solomon leads Israel to a period of greatness, followed by failure and rebellion. Israel splits into two separate kingdoms, and the story traces the slow decline of both, resulting in destruction at the hands of foreign empires. God sends wave of prophets to hold Israel accountable, but Israel ignores them to their peril.” —The Bible Project  Watch illustrated video summarizing Kings

Lord Jesus, in your mercy, hear our prayer

Amen.