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I need to calm down

by Pastor Greg Fowler

Click here to download your printable verse to carry with you today.

On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken (Luke 21:25b,26).

Read Luke 21:20–28

Anxiety is much more prevalent now than at any time I can remember. Every week in my pastoral chats with people, I discover more people I know are suffering from anxiety in one form or another. Life is different. We are more aware of mental health needs and wellbeing, yet true peace and joy seem elusive. It seems to me that the description of anguish and perplexity Jesus used as a sign of the times is increasingly evident in each of our personal struggles. It’s easy to be so apprehensive that we feel faint. Experts have diagnosed many culprits, with social media right at the top. I think it’s more of a spiritual problem.

When the Bible testifies to the end times, the writers say those calamitous events are the culmination of a gradual falling away from trust in God. When society is disconnected from the source of life and peace, the enemies of well-being fill the void. And despite our reliance on God, society-wide moods impact us all. This trend has been clear for some time. The need for well-being support will increase as our dissociation from the Creator continues.

Fortunately, Jesus shows us a way to receive peace. In many places, the Scriptures tell us God is found in our direct relationship with him and in our relationships with others who share the faith. Spiritual community is God’s gift to us as a foil against the prevalent moves in society. We are encouraged to ‘do life’ with others who share our love for God and the worldview that comes from being a disciple. Along with proper mental health care and pastoral support, communities of faith are important parts of our well-being.

Father God, help us live as your people in communities of faith. Bless all communities that seek to glorify you. Heal our anxious souls as we look to you, the giver of life. Amen.

Pastor Greg lives in beautiful Redland Bay with his wife, Connie, where they enjoy the beaches, weather, and outdoor lifestyle of South Brisbane. He serves Faith Lutheran College, Redlands, as the college pastor.

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What did I do?

by Pastor Greg Fowler

Click here to download your printable verse to carry with you today.

But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict (Luke 21:14,15).

Read Luke 21:5–19

One of the things that surprised me about maturing in the faith is the reality of spiritual attack. The whole idea of evil forces working against God, and particularly his people, seemed a bit fanciful to me. It really shouldn’t have. If I see God at work powerfully, opposition to God will also be active. I have seen these spiritual attacks come in many guises, including physical problems and relationship issues, but they mostly come as frustrations in getting things done. People have described a spiritual attack as trying to walk through quicksand and a feeling of pushback all the time. It can also be a direct emotional or physical attack. It leads us to wonder what we did to be in this situation.

Jesus had some great words for this situation reflecting the reality that the evil one’s power is much less than God’s. Indeed, all we need to rebuke spiritual attack is to faithfully use God’s word. Jesus says he will provide us with those words when we need them; they may be parts of Scripture that come to mind or deep truths we live by. In the face of God’s powerful word, the evil one has no choice but to retreat.

Using God’s word against the attacks of the evil one is not as difficult as we think. The hardest part is believing we are under attack. So often, we try to explain spiritual attacks in practical terms. When we finally acknowledge the attack is real, prayers to Jesus and speaking his word are all we need to do to blunt the attack. We then get to witness our all-powerful God in action.

Lord Jesus, we know the evil one will target us because we bear your name. Protect us from evil. Show us when there is spiritual opposition in our lives, and give us the words to use. We praise you for your faithfulness. Amen.

Pastor Greg lives in beautiful Redland Bay with his wife, Connie, where they enjoy the beaches, weather, and outdoor lifestyle of South Brisbane. He serves Faith Lutheran College, Redlands, as the college pastor.

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What could I possibly offer?

by Pastor Greg Fowler

Click here to download your printable verse to carry with you today.

‘Truly I tell you’, he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on’ (Luke 21:3,4).

Read Luke 20:41–21:4

There are so many times that I feel unqualified for life. There are just too many demands, and I often feel like I have nothing to give that is worth anything. When I was wooing my wife, I couldn’t imagine that such a beautiful lady would respond to me. When I became a parent, I was terrified I would ruin my children’s lives with my lack of wisdom. When I was ordained as a pastor, I knew I had nothing that would make me worthy to preach the gospel. I could only offer my faith in God and my poverty of spirit.

Fortunately, Jesus tells us that the poor in spirit are heirs to God’s kingdom and everything that entails – because he chooses it to be so. Our offering is not as important as the spirit in which it is given. Our willingness to be vessels of grace is the empowerment that allows us to do amazing things. I may not be that attractive, but when others see God’s spirit in me, they are happy for me to be around. I may not be wise, but when I seek God’s wisdom, I have something worthwhile to contribute. I may not have the gifts to serve others, but when God’s gifts work in me, people receive life and healing. My offering is my willingness for God to be at work.

I have been more blessed than I could ever imagine because God has taken the poverty of my gifts and used them for his purposes. Every day, I see others blessed by God at work through me. I can confidently live my calling, not because I am a superstar but because I know and have witnessed God do super things through my service to others. Thanks be to God!

Heavenly Father, help me today to offer myself to you in poverty of spirit. Use me for your kingdom and bless me as I serve others. Amen.

Pastor Greg lives in beautiful Redland Bay with his wife, Connie, where they enjoy the beaches, weather and outdoor lifestyle of South Brisbane. He serves Faith Lutheran College, Redlands, as the college pastor.

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What happens when I die?

by Pastor Greg Fowler

Click here to download your printable verse to carry with you today.

But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’. He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive (Luke 20:37,38).

Read Luke 20:27–40

I cannot count how many times I have been asked what lies beyond the grave. With the popularity of celebrity atheists declaring that we cease to exist when we die, and all we are is somebody’s memory until we fade away completely, so many people are confused about life after death. How can a life that is so rich and full of thoughts and emotions stop? It doesn’t seem right and it certainly doesn’t sit well in our souls.

When asked, Jesus addresses this question directly with some extraordinary good news. Jesus states in the clearest possible terms that we will continue to live beyond the grave. He uses the well-known expression of the resurrection and all the hope that is encapsulated in that. All the things that make us human, all the things that are the image of God, survive when our physical bodies cease to operate.

Jesus goes even further when he answers the question about the resurrection. He confirms that our new bodies will be of a different and eternal substance that won’t degrade ever again. In this way, physical pain and the scars that it leaves will not travel beyond death. God’s gift of life is pain-free. We will have a body so we can be recognised and connect with others; however, our relationships will be perfect with everyone else, so there won’t be the pain of rejection and jealousy. Our new life will be love realised without the stain of sin. Our new life beyond the grave will be a beautiful communion with God and each other.

Lord Jesus, thank you for the promise of eternal life. Thank you that we will be reunited with those we love. Thank you that the pain of body and soul will be no more when we live and worship in your presence forever. Amen.

Pastor Greg lives in beautiful Redland Bay with his wife, Connie, where they enjoy the beaches, weather and outdoor lifestyle of South Brisbane. He serves Faith Lutheran College, Redlands, as the college pastor.

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But I love you

by Pastor Greg Fowler

Click here to download your printable verse to carry with you today.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:17).

Read John 3:1–17

One of my daughters regularly got into mischief. We would often say that trouble seemed to follow her, and, no doubt, she sometimes sought it out. She has an outgoing, infectious and cheeky personality that draws people to her, and she knew that she could ‘get away’ with things with a kind word and a smile. When I would chat to her about something that had happened, and I spoke of my disappointment, she would say, ‘I get that. But I love you!’, and I would just melt.

Love can transform everything. Whether it is a conversation between father and daughter or a life of despair and rejection, love is the miracle that creates change. God’s love for us, as shown in the work of Jesus, makes us different. I can’t see the world as a place without hope when I know God himself is part of my life. God’s love is active; it changes how I think about myself and interact with others. It also gives me the confidence to know that whatever happens to me, God has the words, ‘I get that, and I love you!’ I know God is in control, and what happens to me matters.

God’s promise that we will have eternal life is life-changing. Eternal life doesn’t start when we are called home from our physical life; instead, it begins with God’s action in our lives today. He offers us a way to overcome those things that sap us of life. Broken relationships, broken dreams and broken bodies are renewed by God’s love. We find it in his word and his people. Praise God for his love.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your love. We acknowledge those things that need new life in our lives now. We believe in Jesus as our Lord and rest in his love. May you transform us according to your will. Amen.

Pastor Greg lives in beautiful Redland Bay with his wife, Connie, where they enjoy the beaches, weather and outdoor lifestyle of South Brisbane. He serves Faith Lutheran College, Redlands, as the college pastor.

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King

by Tatiana Overduin

Click here to download your printable verse to carry with you today.

The Lord is enthroned as king forever (Psalm 29:10b).

Read Psalm 29

Who is the King? Whose voice thunders over the waters (verse 3)? Who can shake the deserts, twist the oaks and strip the forest bare (verses 8 and 9)? Who is enthroned as King forever? The Lord ‘gives strength to his people’; he alone ‘blesses his people with peace’ (verse 11).

As professing believers, how often do we falter in fully trusting in this truth? How quick we are to forget this verity of the heart and continue to seek to solve our difficulties by our strength alone. This is our perpetual transgression: inherently concealed within us, relentlessly indulging such wrongdoing. Indeed, it is a prominent component of our human nature to repeatedly forget who is ‘Lord of all’ (Matthew 28:18–20).

And what does God require of us? He commands us to ‘ascribe the glory due to his name and to worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness’ (verse 2). We ascribe: ‘give credit where credit is due’; so not fearing other earthly rulers or bosses or trusting in money or possessions (‘… where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal …’ (Mathew 6:19)). But we, in confidence, place our complete lives into his hands – our whole trust in him – to the King: our Lord of all!

‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’ (Luke 19:38).

A message for you today: ‘Daughter of Zion, celebrate today the coming of the king when all will be made whole with the king’s return! Celebrate with joy in your heart!’ (Zephaniah 3:14).

God of power and truth, today, we thank you for your holy word. We thank you for providing us with an abundance of joy the Psalms offer. Fill our lives with faith and love toward you and one another. Empower us with your strength and bless our lives with your peace as we await your return. In your holy name, we pray. Amen.

Tatiana is married to Jim, and they live at Largs North, a seaside location in Adelaide. They have two adult children and six grandchildren who are a wonderful blessing to them. Tatiana teaches full-time as an English, History and Religion teacher; she gained a Bachelor of Arts in Theology from Australian Lutheran College in 1996 and, in her spare time, she enjoys knitting, gardening, singing for church, writing and swimming. Her home congregation is Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Adelaide.

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Taxes

by Tatiana Overduin

Click here to download your printable verse to carry with you today.

Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not? (Luke 20:22)

Read Luke 20:19–26

When adults hear about paying taxes, they often grimace. Tax time isn’t always a favourite time for people as they organise documents, receipts, and appointments to claim on a return. We tend to grumble that we don’t get enough back!

Without getting all political here, there is a positive side to paying our taxes. And Jesus distinguished this. In his own words, today’s reading differentiates between ‘what we give back to God and what we give back to Caesar’, understood here as the ruling government. Now, Jesus knew the duplicity of the teachers of the law and chief priests, yet, despite this, he directly instructed what was the accurate thing to do.

I’ve been fortunate to have travelled several times throughout my life, as perhaps you have also. Many times, upon arrival back home to this beautiful country, my heart has been very grateful. Despite ‘the Australian way’ of grumbling about what isn’t good, there is much we can be thankful for daily. Of course, there are genuine areas of improvement to be made. But despite the higher food prices, we continue to enjoy a very high standard of good quality food. Despite the rising cost of living, our homes are cool in summer and warm in winter. Despite the occasional pothole in the road, we can generally get from A to B quite comfortably and quickly. And then there are the many avenues of support available for those who need it. Most importantly as Australians, we can freely worship our Triune God in our Christian churches. I think you get my point. My travels to other countries haven’t always proven so comfortable or convenient.

Teaching a business and economics class of 13-year-old high school students, I reiterate this point: despite our complaints, we have much to be grateful for – even paying taxes, which support infrastructure and the general livelihoods of all Australians.

God knew the precise thing to do when it came to managing finances. There is much advice in the Scriptures on how we use this God-bestowed gift, including how to tithe. May we reflect today on how our finances including our taxes, can continue to help others and our country.

Loving Father God, thank you for instructing us in all matters of life. Help us to be good stewards of our finances and not grumble about what we don’t or can’t have, but rather, with grateful hearts, acknowledge all things you freely give to us. In gratitude and humility, we pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Tatiana is married to Jim, and they live at Largs North, a seaside location in Adelaide. They have two adult children and six grandchildren who are a wonderful blessing to them. Tatiana teaches full-time in English, History and Religion teacher; she gained a Bachelor of Arts in Theology from Australian Lutheran College in 1996 and, in her spare time, she enjoys knitting, gardening, singing for church, writing and swimming. Her home congregation is Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Adelaide.

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Rejected

by Tatiana Overduin

Click here to download your printable verse to carry with you today.

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone (Luke 20:17b).

Read Luke 20:9–19

Have you felt rejected? Of course you have. Who hasn’t? It’s within our human nature to experience this type of emotion, from micro-rejections to full-blown macro-rejections. But how could these occurrences possibly compare to what Jesus suffered? Jesus was rejected by the very people he came to save. Have you ever experienced rejection because of your faith in Jesus Christ?

Many martyrs throughout history, until modern times, have felt rejection – and even death – for the sake of the gospel. Jesus warns us that we as his followers, will encounter rejection.

Many biblical texts point to this truth, but two come to mind. In John 15:21, Jesus says, ‘They will do this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me’. Here, Jesus refers to a rejection of himself as well as a rejection of God the Father – the ‘one who sent him’.

In Matthew 10:22, Jesus says, ‘You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved’.

It could be easy to become frightened or worried about how it’s humanly possible to ‘stand firm to the end’, and so, we immediately recognise we cannot. Only with God’s help can we endure rejection or even hatred from others, especially for our faith in Jesus. So, this is what we do – we receive. Jesus is the Cornerstone; all things are grounded solidly in him, and God promises to be with us when we seek him in all and for all things.

‘For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ (Romans 10:13).

Dear God, we give thanks for all that you give us. Forgive us for not recognising you right beside us: holding us in the palm of your hand all through the suffering and rejection of life. Have mercy and forgive us, Lord, when we fear or fail to testify to your message of salvation by standing firm in our Lord Jesus Christ. We ask that you fill us with your Holy Spirit, Lord, to not despair during difficult times but empower us in faith. We make these requests in Jesus’ holy name. Amen.

Tatiana is married to Jim, and they live at Largs North, a seaside location in Adelaide. They have two adult children and six grandchildren who are a wonderful blessing to them. Tatiana teaches full-time in English, History and Religion teacher; she gained a Bachelor of Arts in Theology from Australian Lutheran College in 1996 and, in her spare time, she enjoys knitting, gardening, singing for church, writing and swimming. Her home congregation is Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Adelaide.

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Authority

by Tatiana Overduin

Click here to download your printable verse to carry with you today.

Who gave you this authority? (Luke 20:2b)

Read Luke 20:1–8

So far this week, our readings have built on a foundation of God’s truth, and today’s devotion reiterates this message established in God’s word.

Jesus is questioned by the chief priests, teachers of the law and elders about the authority of his words and actions. And in response, Jesus refers to another part of his story, John. John was born for a purpose and chosen by God to prepare the way for him, for Jesus as Saviour. Here, Jesus consults events that have already occurred, through John’s experience, who was also part of God’s truth about the way of life to Jesus.

As the prophet Isaiah proclaimed: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God’ (Isaiah 40:3).

We, too, can trust in the Bible, God’s holy word, given to us as a gift for our very existence to verify ‘the truth’. Here, Scripture is referenced against Scripture to test the truth.

Jesus is the Truth. Jesus is the Word. Jesus said: ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth’ (Mathew 28:18).

The Bible continues to be a guide for us today: to take reassurance in what and who the truth is.

So, when we are tempted to be swayed by ‘all kinds of truths and authorities’ in this world, we can continue to lean on and rest in Jesus’ truth and authority.

And just as the chief priests, teachers of the law and elders could not confirm an answer in response to Jesus’ authority and the truth, we can have faith in his power and peace.

‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased’ (Luke 2:14).

Holy Triune God, the authority over all things in heaven and on earth. Help us to become faithful to your word, the truth. We pray that we can continue to develop our dependence on your word of truth to share your message of hope with others. May we continually seek to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, who comforts and reassures us through your word. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Tatiana is married to Jim, and they live at Largs North, a seaside location in Adelaide. They have two adult children and six grandchildren who are a wonderful blessing to them. Tatiana teaches full-time in English, History and Religion; she gained a Bachelor of Arts in Theology from Australian Lutheran College in 1996 and, in her spare time, she enjoys knitting, gardening, singing for church, writing and swimming. Her home congregation is Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Adelaide.

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