Daily Word of Comfort


Saturday, April 4, 2020

But above all...let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no.
James 5:12 (ESV)

Personal thoughts from Pastor Brad

This was written by the brother of Jesus.

Ministers are often asked what the most important thing about Christian living might be. Jesus didn’t quite address this question, so the next best thing we have is the brother of Jesus, who is under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

James says,“above all...” That’s his way of saying, “this is the most important thing.” In a world crisis, we see what is most important to us and our nation.

We see the world from a biblical world view. We distinguish between natural evil and moral evil. It’s not always clean, but we at least see the difference. Kidnapping is a moral evil. An earthquake is a natural evil.

When a crisis hits the whole world, we get a taste over what becomes important to us. We see the best and worst of human nature. We see doctors on the front lines. But we also see bad behavior going on. Quarantines put people in a moral conundrum. Some people are obeying the protocol to social distance. Some are not such as those hanging out at the beach. For some, the only thing that gets people to obey is public shame.

An earthquake is not like a virus. A virus goes on and on. Most natural evils bring people together, but not so with disease. We are being forced to stay apart.

We want to do something to prepare...so we hoard toilet paper? What does that say about our values? During this crisis, we will discover for ourselves and others what is most important. The city of San Francisco has already stated that cannabis production is absolutely essential. The city of New York has stated that abortion clinics remaining open during the coronavirus is essential. They never let a crisis go to waste!

As Christians, what’s most important to us is that our “yes” be yes and our “no” be no. In other words, be people who tell the truth. Be people whose word can be relied on. Be people who are trustworthy.

May God assist us in this endeavor.

- Brad Klostreich


------------------------------


Friday, April 3, 2020


“God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass;” - Westminster Confession of Faith (Chapter III)


Personal thoughts from Pastor Brad


During the last month, the adult Sunday school class has been studying the Westminster Confession. This opening section of chapter three states that God ordains everything that happens, including things like worldwide pandemics.


The skeptic's initial response to that is to blame God for the bad things that happen. However, we also have a role in the good and bad things that happen. To blame God for our bad choices turns us into mindless robots or worse.


It's tough to worship a God who is in total control. We want so badly to claim some of God's power and authority for ourselves.


When the whole world is dealing with a pandemic, we are reminded of a simple truth we learned as children; "He's got the whole world in His hands."


- Brad Klostreich


----------------------------------


Thursday, April 2, 2020


“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him...”

Romans 8:28 (NIV)


Personal thoughts from Pastor Brad


That’s a popular “Bible Bullet.” By that I mean something people to use as a quick fix to solve some type of conundrum or offer people comfort.


This is a verse which is easier to describe by what it doesn’t say rather what it does; the way of negation. It does not say that all things are good. Evil is a reality in this world whether it’s moral or natural evil. One of the greatest sins is to call good evil or to call evil good. The things of God can never be called evil because he is a good God. Instead it says that “God works.” He’s actively working to make all things whether they be good or bad in their initial state into something that glorifies Him and fits his eternal will which is always good. How He does it I have no idea. But that He does it I’m absolutely confident.


Nor does this verse say that God is working for the good of all people. Not everyone is part of God’s family. In the 50's a famous German theologian set out to determine the essence of universal religion and Christianity in particular. At the end of his research he stated that the essence of Christianity was the “universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man.” The great tragedy is that neither of these concepts is taught in the Bible.

The Bible teaches that all men are my neighbors. Not that all men are my brothers. The only one who I can call “brother” is the one who calls Christ their master. Brotherhood is only by those who belong to Christ. The only one who can call God his Father is one who calls Christ his brother. You can’t get to God and somehow bypass His only begotten Son.


During this worldwide crisis, we claim the promise that our good God is using this to work for our good. He only has our best interests in mind.


Alleluia!


- Brad Klostreich


----------------------------------


Wednesday, April 1, 2020


“The priest shall shut up the diseased person for seven days...”

Leviticus 13:4 (ESV)


Personal thoughts from Pastor Brad

 

One interesting thing in recent days is people looking for justification for shelter in place restrictions. There’s no doubt that our country is an active population. We’re used to being productive. 


Halting this virus will take harsh steps. But not everyone is willing to abide by those steps. What is the Christian response?


Quarantine is actually found in the Bible. In Leviticus 13-14, we find specific instructions to stop the spread of an epidemic. Israel had a responsibility to isolate those infected and protect the nation from the larger threat. The same logic in Leviticus is now coming from the White House and the World Health Organization. 


What’s amazing is that these restrictions found in the Bible were written down centuries before anyone had discovered bacteria, viruses, or even germ theory. How could the writer of Leviticus have known about the same steps that our entire nation is now being asked to follow? God Himself ordered this procedure for the protection of his people.

 

Romans 13 tells us to obey the government. The only grounds for disobedience to the government is if an order conflicts with the worship of the one true and living God. Staying inside doesn’t force us to worship Baal.


My father-in-law taught me this way; “praise Him in the good times and praise Him in the bad.”


- Brad Klostreich


---------------------------------


Tuesday, March 31, 2020


“And he shall wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelation 21:4 (ASV)

 


Personal thoughts from Pastor Brad


The promise of Revelation 21 is that no tear is wasted. If you grew up like me, it was not unusual to get into a scrap with another kid in the neighborhood. And more than once, I would run home with tears in my eyes looking for my mother to dry them. As usual, she was in the kitchen, and she’d take the corner of her apron and wipe away the tears from my eyes and the sniffles from my nose. However, the irony of that story is that it happened somewhat frequently. It happened over and over. 


Revelation says that when we get to heaven, God himself will wipe away our tears. But the difference is that when God wipes away your tears, He doesn’t have to repeat the process the next day. When He wipes away your tears, they are gone. They don’t come back.

 

We face a time of tears in our world right now. Some day, all those tears will be taken care of by the One who Himself has shed tears for us.


- Brad Klostreich


-------------------------------------


Monday, March 30, 2020



"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me."

Psalm 23:4 (WEB)
 


Personal thoughts from Pastor Brad



I often tell my classes, "what a difference a preposition makes." The most famous chapter in the Bible talks about suffering in describing it as the "valley of the shadow of death." That valley is where death is. The one who walks through it is one who is close to death or in a situation where death may occur.


However, for the Psalmist, this journey isn't just theoretical or possible. He doesn't say "if I walk..." or "though I may walk..." For him, there's a certainty to the Valley of Death. There's a certainty to suffering in this world whether you're a Christian or not. I've never met the person who could look me in the eye and say that everything is "coming up roses." We all have some type of crisis regardless of where we are in our walk with Christ. 


Now, the whole world is facing the same crisis. We are all walking through the same Valley of the Shadow of Death. Suffering, such as disease, doesn't ask permission to attack. Nor do diseases affect some over others based on things like skin color, financial status, academic background, or family upbringing. Diseases are universal and non-discriminatory.


So what's the Psalmist's answer to this trajectory? It's not by us doing anything. But rather, it's the reminder that our God is one who is close by. "For thou art with me..." It's the nearness and proximity of our great God that gives us hope. Paul says something similar in Philippians 4:5: "Let your steadfastness be known to all men, for the Lord is near."


Our God doesn't stand afar and keep his fingers crossed, hoping we figure out what to do. He enters into the human experience and walks alongside us in our journey, both the good days and the bad.


- Brad Klostreich

--------------------------------------


Saturday, March 28, 2020



"These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival."
Psalm 42:4 (ESV)



It is by God’s grace that a congregation is permitted to gather visibly around God’s word and sacrament in this world. Not all Christians partake of this grace. The imprisoned, the sick, the lonely who live in the diaspora, the proclaimers of the gospel in heathen lands stand alone. They know that visible community is grace. … It is easily forgotten that the community of Christians is a gift of grace from the kingdom of God, a gift that can be taken from us any day—that the time still separating us from the most profound loneliness may be brief indeed. Therefore, let those who until now have had the privilege of living a Christian life together with other Christians praise God’s grace from the bottom of their hearts. Let them thank God on their knees and realize: it is grace, nothing but grace, that we are still permitted to live in the community of Christians today. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together



Personal thoughts from Pastor David



"The quote from Bonhoeffer proved to be eerily prophetic. When he wrote it, he lived in the boisterous community of a seminary, surrounded by students and friends. Only a few years later, he would experience that profound loneliness in a Nazi prison. Tomorrow, our church will not gather for worship. It will feel wrong. In a way, it is. And yet, it can serve as an important reminder that a normal Sunday is actually a gift of grace. And how often did we perceive this and give thanks? How often did we take it for granted? Or neglect it?



However, although we will not gather together, we will worship. Each of us in our homes. Perhaps the technology that allows us to download the worship guide and watch the sermon are also gifts from God. They are poor substitutes to a normal Sunday together, but let us not despise even the smallest of God’s mercies." - David Mauldin



Prayer



I am sorry, O God, for every Sunday I took for granted the opportunity to gather with your people. I am sorry for those times worship was not important enough to me. Thank you for my church family. Thank you for every opportunity for worship. Thank you for your Word, which draws us, and your Spirit, who gathers us. Tomorrow, give me the grace to worship you in Spirit and in truth. And may this experience stay with me, so that when life returns to normal, I will treasure your people and your house. Amen.


----------------------------------


Friday, March 27, 2020


"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."
John 14:27 (ESV)



Our Lord Jesus Christ has bequeathed true peace and comfort to his followers. Christ is called the "prince of peace" (Isaiah 9:6). And when he was born into the world, the angels on that joyful and wonderful occasion sang "Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace;"   because of that peace which he should procure for and bestow on the children of men; peace with God, and peace one with another, and tranquility and peace within themselves. - Jonathan Edwards, Works



Personal thoughts from Pastor David


"In the verse from John, Jesus promises peace to his disciples--and to us. The peace the world gives is fragile. It depends on circumstances. When all is calm, the world can be at peace. The peace Jesus gives is durable. It remains through drought and storm. Is your heart troubled? Does it need to be? I am not asking whether you have a good reason for your troubled heart. You probably do. I am asking whether Jesus has given you peace, but you have taken your eyes off him. Peace is your birthright as a child of God. If you do not have it, ask your Father in heaven. He does not withhold his blessings from his children." - David Mauldin



Prayer



Lord Jesus, thank you for your gift of peace. I pray that you will give that peace to me by the power of your Holy Spirit. Give your peace to all whose hearts are troubled. I pray for my church family and lift them up to you. I pray for my neighbors and my community. I pray for those who do not know Christ; draw them to the Savior and give them faith. May the trials we face in these days teach us to rest in your peace. Amen.


---------------------------------------


Thursday, March 26, 2020


"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice."
Philippians 4:4 (ESV)



Every possible experience, if prayed to the God who is really there, is destined to end in praise. Confession leads to the joy of forgiveness. Laments lead to a deeper resting in him for our happiness. If we could praise God perfectly, we would love him completely and then our joy would be full. The new heavens and new earth are perfect because everyone and everything is glorifying God fully and therefore enjoying him forever. - Tim Keller, The Songs of Jesus


Personal thoughts from Pastor David


"Praise God anyway. God is worthy of our praise, not only in good times, but also in bad times. We who are God’s children, who have experienced his grace, ought to praise him regardless of circumstances. Paul and Silas sang songs of praise in prison after having been beaten. When we praise God, he is glorified, we are strengthened, and our problems are brought into the right perspective. I love what Tim Keller wrote in that first line of the excerpt above: every experience, brought to God in prayer, ends in praise. That may seem fantastic. It can only be true if God is much bigger than our suffering." - David Mauldin



Prayer



All praise and glory unto you—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I praise you for you are infinite, eternal, and unchangeable. You are perfect in holiness, justice, goodness, and love. I praise you for you are the Creator and the Redeemer. You alone are Lord. There is no other like you. In good times and in bad, my heart will lift praises to you on high. I praise you that whatever the state of my heart when I begin to pray, I can always end with praise. Give me the grace to know you as you are, and by your Spirit teach me to praise you as I ought. Amen.

------------------------------------------


Wednesday, March 25, 2020



"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

Psalm 23:4 (ESV)



In the midst of dark and difficult circumstances, which we consider hostile and evil, we share in Christ’s sufferings. For just as He entered into heavenly glory from a labyrinth involving every kind of evil, so we, in the same way, are led through various trials. And thus Paul himself says in another place that as long as we are learning to share in His suffering, we will know the power of His resurrection (Phil. 3:10). If it has been allotted us to share in His death, then we are prepared to share in the glory of His resurrection. How perfectly suited this reality is to lessening the severity of every cross—the more we are afflicted with adverse circumstances, so much more certainly is our communion with Christ confirmed. By virtue of this communion, sufferings themselves not only become blessings to us, but they also serve to promote our salvation. - Calvin, A Little Book on the Christian Life



Personal thoughts from Pastor David


If suffering does nothing else, it draws us closer to Jesus Christ. In fact, suffering brings us close to him in a way that nothing else can. As Psalm 23 says, knowing he is with us comforts us. Knowing that we share his suffering makes our suffering meaningful. Whatever you are feeling today—fear, frustration, loneliness, anxiety—Jesus knows how you feel. He has been there. He is there with you. You do not know how he felt in Gethsemane and on the cross. He died so that you would never have to. Yet when you suffer, you have something in common with him. And if you belong to him, you will have something else in common with him … glory.” - David Mauldin


Prayer


Lord Jesus, teach me to suffer well. Not that I ever need to welcome suffering, but when it comes, I want to rest in you. I want my suffering to draw me close to you. Do not let it make me selfish and bitter. Suffering often does that to people. But it did not do that to you. I praise you that you know my heart and all its sorrows. I thank you that you give my suffering meaning. Whatever I suffer today, may it bring glory to you and some small measure of goodness to me. Amen.


-------------------------------------




Tuesday, March 24, 2020




"In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered"

Hebrews 5:7-8 (ESV)



For although Christ is the Son, beloved before all others--the one in whom the Father's soul delights--we nevertheless see how little ease and comfort Christ experienced (Matt. 3:17; 17:5). Indeed, it could be said that He not only had a cross continually placed upon Him when He lived on earth, but even that His life was nothing other than a kind of perpetual cross. Scripture gives the reason for this: It was necessary that Christ "learned obedience through what He suffered" (Heb. 5:8). Why, then, would we exempt ourselves from the same situation to which Christ our head was subjected--particularly since He was subjected to suffering for our sake to provide for us a pattern of patience in Himself? On this account the Apostle Paul teaches that all God's children are appointed to this end--to be made like Christ. - Calvin, A Little Book on the Christian Life



Personal thoughts from Pastor David


"Does God owe us a comfortable life? Obviously, when we ask the question that way, the answer is no. And yet, when things go wrong, do we feel God has let us down? We think life ought to be calm and easy. But what if God has a reason for the difficulties we face? Hebrews says that Jesus' suffering benefited not only us, but also him! He learned obedience. Calvin, in the quote above, reasons that if God's goal is to make us like Christ, and Christ suffered ... well, you do the math. Christians should never be surprised by adversity. Nor should we fear it. Instead, we know God is working out his purposes for us, so we persevere. At times, we may not be able to handle the burden alone. We buckle under the weight. In those times, we look to our brothers and sisters. And, we know God will sustain us by his powerful hand." - David Mauldin



Prayer


Father in heaven, give me courage in the face of adversity. Make me like Jesus, who, for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and is seated at your right hand. When I am weak, give me a friend who can help me. When I am strong, make me a friend to someone else. And at all times, keep my heart set on you. To you be glory, now and forever. Amen. 



-------------------------------------



Monday, March 23, 2020



"This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life."

Psalm 119:50 (ESV)



What is your only comfort, in life and in death?


That I belong—body and soul, in life and in death—not to myself but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. At the cost of his own blood he has fully paid for all my sins and has completely freed me from the dominion of the devil. He protects me so well that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head. Indeed, everything must fit his purpose for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him. - The Heidelberg Catechism (ECO 2020)



Personal thoughts from Pastor David


"Comfort … we all love comfort. I do. A comfortable routine. A feeling that all is well. Honestly, we are spoiled, for our lives are far more comfortable than those of earlier generations. Then something disrupts our comfort. (Coronavirus, I’m looking at you!) We suffer inconvenience. Hardship. Perhaps even sickness. What are we as Christians to do with that? Remember that our comfort comes ultimately in God.


I love Psalm 119:50. We have a comfort that persists during affliction. That comfort comes from God’s promise. God’s promise gives us life. And therein lies our comfort. The first question and answer from the Heidelberg Catechism spells this out for us. Its bold faith comforts and challenges us. Can we really believe that God protects us? That he directs our lives toward his one purpose for us: to give us eternal life and make us like Jesus? Perhaps this kind of faith can only be forged in affliction." - David Mauldin



Prayer


When my heart is afraid … or lonely … or despairing, O Lord, turn my heart to you. When this world denies me all comfort, teach me to find my comfort in you. I praise you that you are sovereign. My life is in your hands. I thank you that you direct all my ways toward your good purpose for me. Bring me at last to your eternal kingdom, where with all your saints and angels I will rejoice in you. For you are holy, good, and beautiful. By your Holy Spirit, give peace to me, to my church, and to our community. Through Christ our Lord, amen.



We will be posting new messages for you daily.

We hope these words of encouragement will brighten your days, and be a source of comfort in these trying times.

Remember, we are never alone. God is ALWAYS with us.