• January 26, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: Acts 20:17-35 / Psalm 26

    “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
    Ephesians 3:20-21

    To Him Be All the Glory

    The shepherds set the example. They praised God “for all they had seen and heard” about the Christ-child [Luke 2:20]. The angels did the same thing as they sang: “glory to God in the highest” [Luke 2:14]. What is the message that shepherds proclaim and that makes angels sing? Salvation! It is the wonderful message that God in His love sent His Son to make us His sons and daughters.
    God sent a Savior to rescue us. St. Paul says it simply and powerfully: “while we were sinners, Christ died for us” [Romans 5:8]. We are now among God’s holy ones who “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” [Revelation 7:14], who stand before the throne of glory praising God for His salvation.
    It is the privilege of the Holy Christian Church throughout the world to praise God constantly. Glory be to the Father, whose everlasting love has made us His children. Glory be to the Son, whose sacrifice on Calvary paid the debt of all our sins. Glory be to the Holy Spirit, who has brought us to faith and who strengthens and preserves us to eternity. To Him be all glory in the Church forever!

    January 26, 1991

  • January 25, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: Matthew 25:31-40 / Psalm 35

    “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus … has sent me.”
    Acts 9:17

    Sent by the Lord

    It was a highly unlikely meeting. There was Saul, the fierce antagonist of the followers of Jesus, face-to-face with Ananias, a leading disciple of Jesus in Damascus. Saul had come to Damascus “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” [Acts 9:1]. Only something had intervened before he could carry out his plans. Just outside the city, Saul had encountered Jesus, and that encounter reversed the rest of Saul’s history. Now he waited, temporarily blind, for further direction. It came in the person of Ananias. What could this man say to man of Saul’s reputation? “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus … has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
    Who but a man in Christ would address his enemy as “brother” and offer him healing and the promise of forgiveness? But that is the way the Lord sends His disciples into a hostile world. We are still called by God, not to destroy the enemy but to discover our brothers but to discover our brothers and sisters for whom Christ died. We are still called, not to bring people to their knees in conquest but to bring them to their knees in acknowledgment that Jesus is Lord. We are called to serve to serve, and thereby serve Jesus.

    Help us, O Lord Jesus, to find our brothers and sisters. Amen.

    January 25, 1970

  • January 24, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: 1st Corinthians 10:13

    “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you,”
    Psalm 55:22

    Our Burdens

    The psalmist is referring to burdens on the heart, not on the back. We all know that mental burdens are often worse than the physical, and spiritual burdens are worse than both. These words, however, open up a golden opportunity to do something with our burdens.
    We should know that our burdens are inescapable. They come to high and low, rich and poor, saints and sinners, old and young. We can no more than dodge them, than we can fly by waving our arms. Burdens bring temptations. We are tempted to think God is unconcerned. We are tempted to sit and brew in self-pity. We are tempted to become bitter toward life and people.
    David advises us to “cast your burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain You.” We notice that the first part of this passage is couples with a promise, namely, “and he will sustain you.” This is the key to understanding the first part of the sentence. Our Lord promises to sustain us. The burden may still remain, but the weight, the drag, the bitterness will be gone. And so it was in the life of the Apostle Paul, who complained of his burden, but the Lord said: my grace is sufficient for thee” [2nd Corinthians 12:9].

    Lord, keep us from becoming embittered under the burdens of life. For Jesus’ sake, strengthen and support us day by day. Amen.

    January 24, 1964

  • January 21, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: John 3:1-8 / Psalm 145

    “Your Kingdom Come.”
    Matthew 6:10

    The Kingdom Here and Now

    As a boy, I spent the weeks before Christmas searching for hidden gifts. I scoured closets and peeked under beds, trying to find the presents my parents had purchased for me. The gifts were hidden, but I knew they must be around somewhere. As adults, we often imagine God’s kingdom to be a little like those gifts. We believe God has good things in mind for us. But we look high and low, not quite sure where to find them. God’s kingdom, like those Christmas packages, may seem hidden or far off. God is not trying to hide his kingdom from us. He puts His kingdom right out in the open and asks us to receive it by faith. His kingdom comes to us when God gives us faith and trust in Jesus so that we respond with new obedience to His Word. Through His Church, God delivers His eternal kingdom of life and salvation to each of us, wherever the Gospel is proclaimed, whenever Holy Baptism is administered in His name, and whenever Christ’s body and blood are fed to his faithful people.

    Father, by Your Word and Holy Spirit, deliver Your kingdom to us as we hear about Jesus. Lead us to trust Him wholly with the faith You so kindly have given us. Amen.

    January 21, 2008

  • January 20, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: John 3:16-21 / Psalm 54

    “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”
    1st John 3:8

    No Condemnation

    During Jesus’ ministry, penitent publicans came to Him, and He took them in. When an adulteress was flung at His feet, Jesus acknowledged her. On the cross, He promised paradise to a man who had been an evildoer. The Scripture teaches that Jesus never refused anyone, regardless of their sinful past, if they were repentant. As we are told in John 6:37, He said, “whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” And Jesus will not refuse us. Even as church-goers, we may think of ourselves of no worth, but that is the devil’s lie. We may think we are deserving only of hell, and that God’s grace is too small to cover all our misdeeds, but that is only the lying voice of Him whom Revelations calls “the accuser of our brothers”. The truth of the Scriptures is this: “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him” [John 3:17]. It is for the very purpose of our eternal salvation that Jesus came to endure the eternal and temporal punishment for our transgressions, that we might be spared the consequences of our iniquity in torment and perdition.

    Gracious Lord, impress on us the magnitude of Your mercy and the vast outreach of Your redemption. Amen.

    January 20, 1983

  • January 19, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: Psalm 51

    “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”
    Psalm 32:1

    The Joy of Forgiveness

    Into our lives come experiences that cut deep into our memory – they will never be forgotten. We have been frightened as a child, and the scare gave us a complex that makes us afraid to be in a small room, to associate with a big-built person, to stay in bed during a thunderstorm. We have been humiliated, and the bitter incident has shadowed our entire outlook on life. King David, likewise, had many experiences that burned deeply into his mind and heart. He had fought Goliath, and the thrill was never forgotten. He had taken the spear one night from Saul’s side and was thankful that he had not slain the king. But the most blessed experience – so David confessed – came to him when he learned that his sins were forgiven. His sins haunted him in the still of the night. He tossed too and forth on his bed – he could not rest. Then he confessed his sins to God and found forgiveness. Once more, he was at peace with God. He exclaims: “blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” Our sin is not counted against us as we come to the Cross, trusting in the merits of Jesus, who died for us. This is the most blessed experience that anyone can have. Through His Son, we are reconciled to God. We are certain that heaven is our home.

    Gracious Lord, through Jesus’ precious blood, blot out our sins and remember them no more. Amen.

    January 19, 1941

  • January 18, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: 1st Corinthians 3:11-16 / Psalm 127

    “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
    Galatians 2:20

    Standing on Christ

    The religion/faith of St. Paul did not stand on it’s head or on it’s hands but on Christ. “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” [1st Corinthians 2:2]. We, too, must put Christ squarely into the center of our lives. Only then is our faith “right side up”. We are to fix our eyes on the God as He takes His mind off the stars and fastens them on Abraham, promising him the Greater Son, the Messiah. Then God gave His people the Ten Commandments, yet declared that “by works of the Law no human being will be justified” [Romans 3:20]. God sent His Son into the world and to the world to make good for our many sins. All this He did because He loved the world and does not want us to perish. That is the way to eternal life. No man comes to the Father but by His Son. This faith fills us with the joy of forgiveness. It sends us out to make known abroad this joyful message. We do not do this by nature. We act and live this way because Christ is in us. In Christ, we are new creatures. He has washed and cleansed us, restored us to grace, and made us heirs to eternal life. Therefore Paul declares: “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
    Open our hearts to You, precious Savior, that You may live and rule within us, that we may be useful to Your kingdom now and always. Amen.

    January 18, 1967

  • January 17, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: Romans 8:18-27 / Psalm 62

    “God shows His loves for us in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us.”
    Romans 5:8

    Grace Beyond Compare

    As we comb through the Old and New Testaments, we find passage after passage telling us how much God loves us. Although different writers say it in a different way, the message is always the same: in spite of our sinfulness, in spite of our rebellious nature and un-kind disposition, God loves us so much that He paid the ultimate price for our redemption. In today’s verse, we find one of the clearest statements regarding the grace of God in Jesus Christ. St. Paul said it all in just seventeen words. God, out of love for you and me, gave His most precious possession – His only begotten Son – that we might be forgiven and reconciled to Him. He didn’t wait for us to try to deserve it. Christ took upon our sin so that we would not have to suffer the death that God’s justice demands. Jesus Christ gave up His life so that we could have our life to enjoy and to live with Him now and for all eternity.

    Heavenly Father, I thank You for being gracious and merciful to me in Jesus, my Savior. Amen.

    January 17, 1993

  • January 14, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: Ecclesiastes 12:1-7 / Psalm 103

    “For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.”
    Psalm 103:14

    He Knows Who You Are

    We often heard it said, “I’m only human!” It’s true – we are not perfect. We are not God – God knows that too. But this is no excuse for doing things that are unbecoming to God. The fact that we are mortal will not cause God to look the other way. Many will excuse themselves from taking the road of repentance, saying they are only human. But that is all it is – an excuse – and one that our Lord cannot accept. In the beginning, God created man to be holy, and He expects us to be holy now. He isn’t being difficult. It is simply that anything un-clean cannot hold up in His holy presence. It is like fire and straw. God is pure, like a consuming fire, and straw cannot hold up in the presence of fire.
    How, then, can we frail human beings stand before God? It is impossible with us, but not with God. He doesn’t treat us as we deserve. In Jesus, who is true man but also true God, the guilt of our sins have been removed. Now the perfect record of Jesus is ours. He knows who we are. In Jesus, we are His beloved. The Holy Spirit, through Word and Sacrament, kindles in us the purifying fire of God’s pure love and enables us to live as the children of God.

    Dear Father, thank You for knowing me so well and loving me so much in Jesus Christ, my Savior. Amen.

    January 14, 1994

  • January 13, 2002

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read John 17: 20–26

    “I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.”
    John 14:3

    Where I Am, You May Be Also

    No one can trace the trend of the Savior’s thoughts during the closing scenes of His earthly life without being deeply impressed by the one compelling force that lay behind His every word and deed: His affectionate attachment to His faithful few and His deep desire that His intimate and free companionship with them be continued in His Father’s house above. Thus, for instance, in His High Priestly Prayer in the Upper Room that night, after imploring the Father’s many blessings upon all Christians of all times, He climaxes this prayer of prayers with the jewel of all petitions: “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, to see My glory that You have given Me” (John 17:24). He shares with His Father a desire that, when He repeats it to His disciples, becomes a promise: “I will come again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also.” Jesus has secured His Father’s approval and permission to bring His friends into His Father’s house. By His death of reconciliation, He has unlocked the door of His Father’s home. Heaven is now an open house! “Where I am you” – you who have come to the Father by Me –“may be also.” What greater delight, what higher ecstasy can the sin-bound soul envision than to spend the endless ages of the world to come in the Father’s house with Jesus!

    January 13, 1944

  • January 12, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: 1 Samuel 24:1–17

    “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

    Matthew 5:44

    In His Steps

    Who is my enemy? The person who has lied about me, the person who has sown the seeds of strife among my friends and relatives, the person who has beaten me out of hard-earned money. Jesus says that I should love him, bless him, do good to him. He does not give me time to allow my feelings to cool off. He says: “Do it today before the sun sets.” He is demanding the impossible. The wounds are too deeply rooted in my heart. That is the voice of flesh and blood. But Jesus does not ask flesh and blood to do that which is beyond its powers. He appeals to the Christians as God’s children. He says: “Pray for them.” Pray to your Father in heaven, who “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). Pray in the name of Jesus, whose sensitive soul felt the full impact of insult, whose body quivered under the hammer blows at Calvary, but who, nevertheless, prayed: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). As we thus kneel in the presence of God, who so loved, so forgave, who daily forgives us our many sins, something happens. Power from on high takes hold of our stubborn hearts. Anger gives way to love; bitter thoughts and words give way to blessing. Thus, victory is achieved not only over self, but often also over the enemy. While enmity repaid with enmity widens the gap, love tends to lessen it and reunite the broken friendship.

    May Thy love to me, Lord Jesus, warm my heart with love even to my enemies. Amen.

    January 12, 1950

  • January 11, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: John 19:1–7

    Behold the Man!

    Whether or not Pilate witnessed any part of the merciless scourging and the blasphemous mockery, Scripture does not record. However, he now saw Christ enduring excruciating pain and wearing the mock regalia. Undoubtedly, Pilate felt satisfied that Christ’s appearance was sufficiently pathetic to serve the purpose he had in mind. He still wanted to release Christ. He led Him out before the multitude and, perhaps pointing at Him, said to the people: “Behold the man!” (John 19:5). There we have the picture of the thorn-crowned Christ with blood trickling down His cheeks and the purple robe on Him, the well-known painting – “Behold the Man.” Pilate sought to arouse the sympathy of the Jews. A mere glance should have sufficed. Jesus must have been a pathetic sight. The Roman governor called Christ “the man.” That is all Jesus meant to him. Pilate also intended his words to be a stinging rebuke to the Jews. He meant to say: “Look at your King, such a disfigured man is your King.” The Jews had no sympathy. The view of Christ enraged them all the more, and they cried the more fiercely: “Crucify Him!” We thank God that we are permitted to behold Christ as He appeared before Pilate and the multitude. By God’s grace, we know He was crowned with thorns that we might be crowned with glory. He wore the scarlet robe that we might be clad in the royal wedding garment, the robe of Christ’s righteousness

    January 11, 1943

  • January 10, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: Daniel 6

    But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”
    Acts 5:29

    Thy Will Be Done

    The lines in this instance were sharply drawn. Jesus had commanded the apostles to preach the Gospel to every creature. The high priest forbade them to do so. The apostles were thus confronted with an inevitable choice between the two. They obeyed Jesus. In a free country, authorities do not have the power to make such demands on us. But life situations develop in which we also must decide between God’s will and that of man. Young people in high school and college may have to choose between what textbooks and instructors teach as scientific fact, and what the Word of God reveals on the same subjects. Employees may be asked to practice dishonesty, such as misrepresenting goods or making unnecessary repairs, to increase the profits of the employer. Professional people at times have to choose between what is right and what is wrong. In our social life, we face the choice between popular sinful pleasures and the will of God. Obeying God rather than men in these instances calls for a heroic faith. We may suffer ridicule, financial loss, or isolation. And yet, even when our best intentions fail, we have a Savior who died for our sins. And by His gracious mercy, we will not suffer the punishment for our sins, because that punishment has already been borne for us by Jesus.

    January 10, 1958

  • January 07, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read Ephesians 4:13–15

    “We are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ.”
    Ephesians 4:15

    A Mature Christian

    A young girl said to her mother after a visitor had left their home: “If I could be like that old lady – so beautiful, sweet, and lovable – I wouldn’t mind growing old.” The wise mother answered: “If you want to be that kind of an old lady, you’d better begin right now. She doesn’t impress me as being a piece of work that was done in a hurry. It has taken a long time to make her what she is.” In these days when people flash to prominence overnight, and often-times fade into oblivion in a day, it is good for us to remember that this is not God’s way of developing fully Christ-centered lives. Christian maturity will never be achieved by a sudden rush into the lime-light. It comes only after a long climb up the rocky hill of life. A mature Christian is not lopsided. He is well developed, having “breadth” as well as “length,” “depth” as well as “height.” They are filled with the fullness of Christ and grounded in love. God takes time to develop such a Christian. Our Heavenly Father is not a God of shortcuts. He has a school, and His hours are long. His lessons are not easily learned. It takes many hours of meditation and prayer, many sessions at “Jesus’ feet,” a lifetime of tribulations and blessings, before we emerge as “mature Christians.” Such character is not the result of an overnight rally

    January 07, 1949

  • January 06, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: 1st Kings 8:22–30

    “His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house will consume Me.’ ”
    John 2:17

    Zealous in Worship

    Jesus had just done a sensational thing in the temple. He had driven out the sheep and oxen. He had upset the tables of the money-changers and thrown their money onto the floor. Jesus was deeply moved. The beautiful temple of God, intended alone for the worship of God, had been turned into a house of merchandise. The Christian Church, like the ancient temple, is the house of God, and we Christians go there to worship and to pray. Both the teaching and the symbolism of the Church are there to build us up in our precious faith. The altar is there to assure us of God’s presence. On it, in sacred vessels, lie the bread and the wine, the earthly elements of the Lord’s Supper, which convey to us the merits of Christ’s suffering and death. The open Bible is “a lamp to [our] feet and a light to [our] path” (Psalm 119:105). And the pulpit brings us the Good News of the Gospel that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Our duty as Christians is to be zealous in our worship, and to insist that the church remain the house of God’s Word and Sacraments. When we attend the divine services in such a church, we receive spiritual blessings that satisfy the longings of the human soul. Christ is held up as the loving Savior of the world, and by receiving Him as our personal Savior, we receive peace and hope and the assurance of salvation.

    January 06, 1942