God is our Refuge and Strength

September 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

With the unfolding events in Afghanistan hardly a moment goes by, and my spirit is moved to pray for our nation’s Armed Forces and the safe return of every U.S. military member and citizen that remains in harm's way in the central Asia region. Over the past two decades many of our men and women answered the call after our nation was attacked on Tues., 9/11/2001, and many Afghanistan people with them. Some served and did not return, or returned and were injured. The grief of loss for those who have sacrificed for our nation has intensified over the past few days because of the rapid change of government.

When a nation is brought low, it can be a time to consider our own relationship with God. Joel 2:13-14 says, “Tear your hearts, not just your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate…. Who knows? Perhaps he will be compassionate and grant a reprieve, and leave a blessing in his wake.” As the nation exits Afghanistan, may our nation not rest until each of those that remain all return safely. 

This month’s TLO Disciple theme is based on Psalm 46:1-2, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in time of trouble. Therefore, we will not fear.”

Sometimes in the Bible “fear” can have a positive sense as in “awe” or “respect” of God as in Proverbs 1:7a, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. Sometimes in the Bible fear (Greek: phobos), is also used to express distress or in response to pain, danger or evil. In this sinful world, we see and experience all kinds of trouble that causes us to fear.

In response to our fears we turn to Christ. For in Him, we do not need to fear the final punishment. 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” Jesus carried our sin and bore the punishment for sin on a cross once for all. By His wounds you are healed and your sins are forgiven.

Pastor James L. Kroonblawd
From God's Word

" I have said these things to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world." - 1 John 16:33
For two decades, the U.S. Government has employed Afghan allies to serve alongside U.S. troops, diplomats, and other government employees as interpreters, translators, cultural advisors, drivers, and more. Because of their service to the U.S. mission, our allies and their families soon became the targets of anti-American violence. 

As the U.S. armed forces rapidly withdraw from Afghanistan, more than 20,000 Afghans who served alongside them face a severe backlog in the processing of their Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs). Our Afghan allies and their families are in grave danger and at risk of retaliatory attacks from the Taliban.  

Instability in Afghanistan is putting the lives of thousands of civilians at risk.
“There is a double crisis facing Afghanistan right now: a visible crisis, of thousands of people trying to leave the country from Kabul. And an invisible crisis of millions of people across the country dependent on humanitarian aid, who cannot leave the country.

David Miliband, IRC president and CEO

Why the Nations Rage
By Gene Edward Veith

The nations are raging, the peoples are plotting and the rulers are taking counsel together. Hostility against Christianity is intensifying. Psalm 2 explains why and tells us what God is doing about it.

David asked the perennial question: 
Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain? Psalm 2:1

The political and cultural elite are angry at God, at Christ and at God’s people. They want to break out of the “bonds” that God has bound them with, to throw off the “cords” that restrict them. God puts limits on their behavior. Kings and nations, rulers and peoples, don’t want limits, so they strike out against God.

Martin Luther (portrait by Lucas Cranach)
From Martin Luther
The Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat

Sermon notes on Matthew 5:31-32
So it must be on earth. Daily there have to be many troubles and trials in every house, city, and country. No station in life is free of suffering and pain, both from your own, like your wife or children or household help or subjects, and from the outside, from your neighbors and all sorts of accidental trouble. When a person sees and feels all this, he quickly becomes dissatisfied, and he tires of his way of life, or it makes him impatient, irritated, and profane. If he cannot avoid this trouble or get rid of it, he wants to change his station in life, supposing that everyone else’s station and condition are better than his own. After changing around for a long time, he discovers that his situation has progressively deteriorated. A change is a fast and easy thing, but an improvement is a rare and doubtful thing

If you want an undertaking of yours to be blessed and successful, even a temporal undertaking like getting married or staying home or accepting a position, lift up your voice to God, and call upon the One who owns it and who has to grant it. It is no small gift from God to find a wife who is pious and easy to get along with. Then why not ask Him to make it a happy marriage? For your initial desire and your curiosity will not give you either happiness or stability, unless He adds His blessing and success and helps you to bear the occasional troubles. Those who do not do this, therefore, who rush into things on their own as though they did not need God’s help, and who do not learn how to make certain allowances—they get exactly what they deserve.

Hence the doctrine of the forgiveness of sins is the most important of all, both for us personally and for our relations with others. As Christ continually bears with us in His kingdom and forgives us all sorts of faults, so we should bear and forgive one another in every situation and in every way. Whoever refuses to do this, may God grant him no rest and make his misfortune or plague ten times as bad.

Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 21: The Sermon on the Mount and the Magnificat. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 21, p. 98). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
God’s Enduring Presence
By Rev. Jeffrey Harter

Psalm 46:1-2a: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear.”

A crisis can be described as a threatening or frightening situation in which our normal support, resources, and coping skills are unavailable or ineffective. We may feel alone, threatened, vulnerable, confused, hopeless, and helpless.

Through his Word and prayer, God offers us peace, hope, forgiveness, strength, direction, and courage. And God offers us support and resources through others. We may be physically separated from one another, but we are not alone. Through the blessings of social media, we can reach out to people who care. And they can reach out to us.

This short devotion was written by Rev. Jeff Harter as a series aired on Facebook during the 2020 Covid-19 crisis. Click to read more devotions.
Click to watch this powerful video reminding us that Jesus forgives, wiping away guilt and regret. Let's live in the freedom of His forgiveness.
"God Is Our Refuge and Strength"
Life can come at us unexpectedly sometimes. Every day has the potential to bring us something good or bad, something shocking or pleasant. That's just the way life is: unpredictable. During the difficult times, we may find our hearts longing for strength, consolation, and encouragement.

Sometimes we forget that God loves and cares for us. He takes on the responsibility for our security. King David remembered this in his own life. He put his trust in the providence of God. Today's text for our devotion captures David's thoughts wonderfully. God is our refuge. He protects us from all our enemies. Read entire article
From God's Word

Psalm 31:1-2
Into Your Hand I Commit My Spirit

In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
    let me never be put to shame;
    in your righteousness deliver me!
Incline your ear to me;
    rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
    a strong fortress to save me!

Rev. Jonathan Fisk gives a meditation on the Psalm of the Day
Peace in the Storm
By Ken Klaus

No matter where you live, there will come a time when you will find yourself facing a fearful situation. Natural disasters, illnesses, economic insecurity, personal and family difficulties take us to uncomfortable and frightening places ... places where our ability to cope or problem-solve is severely limited.

Amazingly, many Christians only turn to the Lord for help when their own strength and resources have been exhausted. All too often God is only consulted as a last resort. It is far better for the Savior's redeemed brothers and sisters to look to God for assistance at the very beginning of a challenge.

PRAYER: Protector Father, with confidence and full assurance we come to Your presence. We know that in all the fears brought about by this world's storms and winds, we can be at peace. That is why today, and every day, we place ourselves into Your hands and declare, "The Lord Almighty is with us!" This we do in the Name of the Savior. Amen.
Refuge and Strength
by Audra and Gabi, grade 8, Trinity Lutheran School in St. Joseph

“Johnathan!” Mom calls down to me, “It’s time for breakfast!”

I run downstairs, excited to eat my bacon and eggs. It is the day of my first basketball practice. I am really nervous but excited at the same time. I eat all my breakfast, run upstairs, and get my brand-new jersey on. “Ready to go to practice?” mom asks me as I walk down the stairs slowly. “Why do you look so sad?” she asks.

 “I am really nervous, Mom.” I tell her I don’t want to go anymore. 

CTCR Bible study: ‘Immigrants Among Us: A Lutheran Framework for Addressing Immigration Issues’

The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) has prepared a Bible study titled Immigrants Among Us: A Lutheran Framework for Addressing Immigration Issues to complement a 2012 CTCR report of the same name.

The Bible study and discussion guide, which were prepared to help congregations and individuals in considering and discussing these important and challenging issues, features four parts:
  1. Immigrant Neighbors Past and Present;
  2. God’s Law, Civil Law and the Neighbor;
  3. Living in God’s Two Realms; and
  4. Who Is My Neighbor?

The CTCR’s 2012 report on Immigrants Among Us: A Lutheran Framework for Addressing Immigration Issues has been well-received both inside and outside Lutheran circles.

One prominent evangelical scholar and immigration expert has said that “of all the church pronouncements and studies on U.S. immigration that have been published in the last two decades, the Missouri Synod’s report represents the most sophisticated and nuanced integration of biblical analysis with the challenges posed by contemporary immigration concerns.”’

Worried? Don’t be—God’s got this!

Soli Deo gloria
Trinity Lone Oak Lutheran
2950 Highway 55
Eagan, MN 55121