• June 30, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: John 20:24-29

    “Unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
    John 20:25

    Thomas

    Thomas is more or less an obscure Apostle. Because his name is generally linked with that of Matthew, some of the Church Fathers were of the opinion that he, too, was a publican. His name suggests he was a twin. Thomas was genuine in his courage. When at one time the disciples cautioned Jesus against going into Judea again, to Bethany where Lazarus was sick, Thomas said to his fellow disciples, “let us also go, that we may die with Him” [John 11:16].
    He was a practical guy. “You know the way to where I am going”, Jesus said. Thomas answered Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way.” [John 14:4-5]. His thoughts could not readily rise above the concept of a kingdom of power.
    He was honest in his doubts. The disciples told him for the “nth” time that Jesus was seen by many on that bright Sunday after that dark Friday. But Thomas said; “unless I see in His hands the mark of the nails … I will never believe.”
    Gently, Jesus dealt with this honest brother and doubter. Jesus always deals understandingly and kindly with those who have honest inquiries, who have real doubts and wish to be shown. Jesus permitted Thomas to examine the stigmata and then spoke to him: “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” [vs. 29].

    June 30, 1945

  • June 29, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: Exodus 16:1-13 // Psalm 16

    “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day.”
    Exodus 16:4

    God Provides

    The desert where the Israelites marched from Egypt toward the Promised Land is totally barren. There is no vegetation to be seen, no water anywhere – nothing but boundless sand and rocks. No living being could sustain life there. Imagine the hopelessness of God’s people as they faced this scene. As always, God heard their prayers. In miraculous fashion, He provided bread, quail, and water for them daily. There was always enough for the day, but only for that day.
    I have a friend who is a worrier. No matter what the situation, she finds something to worry about. Yet one whole section of the Sermon on the Mount advises us not to worry. “Look at the birds of the air … your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more value than they?” God promises to provide our daily needs. Jesus taught us to pray, “give us this day our daily bread” [Matthew 6:11]. More importantly, He promises nourishment four our souls with the highlight of life eternal, thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice for your sins. Nothing on earth can compare with the greatest provision of all.

    Heavenly Father, thank You for our daily blessings of food, clothing, and especially for the promise of the robe of salvation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

    June 29, 2000

  • June 28, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: Philippians 4:4-13

    “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

    Certainty of Faith

    Our sins, our mistakes, our poor and wrong decisions, cannot limit or slow down God working for our ultimate good. Moses is an excellent example of this. Moses once killed a man while walking around in his princely role in Egypt. Murder is a vicious sin, and Moses had to flee for his life to the barren dessert of Sinai. God, who forgives, can make all things new, even the results of sin. So God worked this flight into the dessert and the 40 year stay in Sinai into a time of discipline and training that Moses would need to bring hundreds of thousands of Israelites out of Egypt.
    Our mistakes, our sins, the unfortunate place on life’s road where we find ourselves because of the wrong turn we took years ago – none can be changed now – as much as we desire this. However, God can weave all these failures into an ultimate good by His grace, which sent Jesus to the cross to blot out all our transgressions. God can make everything serve His purposes to lead us to repentance and faith, to test and strengthen our faith. And we find peace and hope at the foot of the cross.

    Jesus, turn all things to my ultimate good, as I come to Thee for healing from sin. Amen.

    June 28, 1962

  • June 27, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: Acts 15:13-31

    God-Pleasing Ministries

    The first general Church meeting was held in Jerusalem. It was quite a meeting. There were some reports to be heard that were inspiring. Particular attention was devoted to the Church’s mission program. Nothing was quite so vital as this program. After all, the Lord said, “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” [Matthew 28:19]. Nothing had so filled all the delegates with joy as the wonderful reports of the Lord’s blessing on this advance of His kingdom.
    Of course, there were those who found some fault with the procedure. There were those who felt that the new converts should conform to all the Old Laws of Moses as they had been forced. Others felt this should not be done. A real argument developed, which almost split the Church. No doubt the devil was rubbing his hands in unholy glee.
    At this point, James settled the matter by the using his God-given common sense. When he finished his speech, the Gospel was more – triumphant. Christian love and harmony prevailed. Things that were obnoxious were removed. Everyone was happy to carry on as before, in fact, with greater zeal than before.
    There is a lesson here for us all. The Word of God decides all important issues. Otherwise we must use our good, sanctified common sense and show love. In that way, peace and harmony prevail. May God bless His business among us and thwart the attempts of the devil to disrupt and hinder the work. Then we shall go forward as a strong and united Church.

    June 27, 1954

  • June 24, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: Galatians 2:17-21 // Psalm 22:12-22

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

    Seeing Ourselves on the Cross

    Were you there when they crucified my Lord? These words and their attending melody are certainly charged with emotion. Jesus’ mother and some disciples were there in person. We were there, sort of, because our sins helped nail Him to the cross. St. Paul goes a step further and suggests that we were not only at the foot of the cross, but nailed to it!
    This is strange, but powerful imagery. We are crucified with Christ – dead to sin and alive to righteousness. The hymn “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me” reminds us that Jesus’ death provides the “double cure: cleanse from it’s guilt and pow’r”. Trusting in Jesus, our sins are forgiven, and God declares us not guilty. At the same time, the power of the Spirit enables us to live a more godly life. Truly a “double cure”.
    If we ever doubt the full forgiveness of our sins, if we ever feel powerless to avoid committing certain sins, we should see ourselves crucified with Christ. His Spirit will come to our rescue with full and free forgiveness.

    Gracious God, help us to live as believers dead to sin and alive to righteousness because of Christ, our Savior. Amen.

    June 24, 2002

  • June 23, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: James 3:1-12 // Psalm 49

    “From the same mouth comes blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not be so.”
    James 3:10

    Sanctified Speech

    There is a tremendous power in words. This power can either used for good and a blessing, or it can be for evil and a curse. God does not want us to use our tongues in a bad way. He doesn’t want us – and others – to be destroyed by the evil that is in our hearts and that can come out through our words.
    That is why God Himself has spoken. He has spoken out of His heart of love. He has spoken redemptively through Jesus. He has spoken and acted out His Word to us in a manger, on a cross, and from and empty tomb. He speaks to us in a special way in Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.
    Jesus’ silence under suffering atoned for our sins of speaking too hastily and too much. Jesus’ words atoned for our cowardly silence when we should have witnessed boldly. Jesus is God’s Good News, the Word made flesh, who communicates to us His love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness.
    Our tongues can be a great power for healing and good among people. God’s spirit unlocks our tongues and move us to a level of conversation and speech that glorifies God and wins over souls to Christ.

    O Jesus, Word of God incarnate, help us to be Your living words here and now. Amen.

    June 23, 1993

  • June 22, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: John 7:53-8:11 // Psalm 130

    “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
    John 8:7

    Throwing Stones

    A woman had been caught in an adulterous act, and Jewish Law prescribed death by stoning. The scribes and Pharisees dragged her before Jesus and asked what He thought should be done. Their purpose was to trap Him into siding with her, or to side with them. Either way, His ministry of mercy among sinners would be jeopardized. Jesus exposed their cruel self-righteousness by saying, “let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” One by one, they dropped their stones and left.
    There is the saying, “those who live in glass houses ought not throw stones.” When we hear of the moral failings of others, it is so easy to condemn. Upon seeing a criminal on the way to the gallows, George Whitefield remarked, “there but for the grace of God, Go I.” In the sight of God, we are all guilty sinners who stand condemned. Not one of us is without sin.
    In Jesus Christ, there is forgiveness and the opportunity to live a new life, a life of love and one that lifts others up instead of throwing stones at them. As God in Christ loved us despite our failings, so we love those around us.

    Help we remember, Lord Jesus, that by the grace of God I am what I am, a forgiven sinner, now privileged, now privileged to serve you. Amen.

    June 22, 1980

  • June 21, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: Romans 13:1-7 // Psalm 77:13-20

    “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution.”
    1st Peter 2:12

    Respecting Human Authority

    Rebellion against authority is everywhere, and it is no stranger among Christians either. A bumper sticker advises, “question authority”, as if humans need any encouragement to do so. Satan told Adam and Eve to question authority and look where it got them? Ever since, a rebellious spirit has plagued the human race, and generation after generation have followed in the footsteps of our first parents. In our time, we see an alarming erosion of respect for authority in government, school, home and church.
    People need to recognize God’s authority in human institutions. Many of these are God’s
    agents for promoting peace, order, and progress. We have the right and duty to question human authority when it conflicts with God’s Word, but where God has chosen to work through human institutions, we are to treat them with respect and obedience.
    Jesus “became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” [Philippians 2:8], and he forgave and renewed us to follow in His way – to submit to government and those who exercise authority over us. He motivates and empowers us to do.

    Keep us faithful, Lord, and obedient to authorities You have given us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

    June 21, 1998

  • June 20, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: John 14:1-6 // Psalm 20

    “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”
    John 14:1

    Trust in God

    There are many things that trouble our hearts: a drug-addicted loved one, an aging parent, a dangerous intersection, the future of our country. There is much trouble is in our world, and we take it all to heart. Of course, the world has, sort of, attempted to respond. It has prompted us to “no to drugs”, for example. It has declared “war on terrorism”; and yet, the troubles are still with us. They never seem to stop knocking on the door of our hearts.
    The Good News for us today is that our Lord is concerned about what is happening to you, and your faith in Him. Jesus confronts us with His promises of salvation through His cross. Christ’s promises melt away the crushing weight of this world’s troubles and replace them with trust in Him.
    Dear Christian, do not measure who and what you are by what is happening in your heart. Do not look to the world to solve all our pains. Why? Jesus has come. He has gone the way of the cross and death for you and has done so in your place. He has won life and salvation; He brings forgiveness and healing. He sets your heart at rest, healing you with His forgiveness and love. The Lord of life has brought you His peace.

    Lord Jesus, set aside the weight of those things that trouble my heart. Heal me, make me whole, and give me Your peace. Amen.

    June 20, 2006

  • June 17, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: Philippians 2:19-24

    “But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the Gospel.”
    Philippians 2:22

    Joy in Dedicated Co-Workers

    The joy of Christian love is expressed in trusting our coworkers. St. Paul had full confidence in young Timothy. As a son with a father, Timothy had labored with Paul on many missions. Because Timothy knew the love of Christ, he had a loving concern for people. Paul also had Epaphroditus as a brother and fellow soldier in the army of Christ.
    Disheartened by the weakness of some, Paul says; “they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” [vs. 21]. He does not lose heart by thinking only of the insincere people. He rejoices that God in His grace touched Timothy and Epaphroditus with the true love of Jesus and made them trusty co-workers.
    When people are wrapped up in their own affairs, we are inclined to be discouraged. Satan tempts us to suspect every professing, Christian. A careful look around will show us true co-workers, concerned for our welfare and ready to serve. The one true friend or the true faithful worker is enough to bring us joy.
    Are we ready to trust our co-workers? Paul could give Timothy full confidence on his missions. We can depend on the power of Christ in our co-workers. We know that joy of pastors and fellow servants in the work of Christ.

    We thank You, Lord, for the joy of all those that serve with and around us. Amen.

    June 17, 1961

  • June 16, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: Revelation 3:1-6 // Psalm 46

    “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before me.”
    Isaiah 49:16

    Unfailing Security

    Isaiah, God’s spokesman asks, “can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion?” [Isaiah 49:15] Yes, she may forget, he declares, and many have. “Yet I will not forget you,” God promised us [Hebrews 13:5]. The Lord uses strong contrasts: “the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you” [Isaiah 54:10]. God’s kindness appears in his creation, His providence; it comes to its climax in Christ’s sacrifice of redemption. That kindness is as lasting as eternity itself.
    No one shall pluck us out of the Savior’s hands – this talks of God’s unfailing security. God has engraved us on the palms of His hands – not on the sides of mountains, for they shall depart; not on the face of the sun, for it shall lose it’s light; not on the surface of heaven, for it shall roll up like a scroll. No corroding power will ever erase our names from the hands of God – that is His promise.

    Precious Lord Jesus, be our refuge in trial, our comfort in sorrow, our security in death, and our joy in eternity. Amen.

    June 16, 1983

  • June 15, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: Matthew 6:25-34

    “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.”
    Ecclesiastes 9:10

    Here

    There is a tendency in our day to be concerned unduly about worldly problems, to the point of ignoring the duties and responsibilities that lie close at hand. We feel also that our thinking has to be in terms of eras if it is to win any respect. The difficulty that our world faces today are overwhelming. There is no doubt about that. In floundering fashion, we are trying to gain a foothold in a new and soberingly different world – yet we are so fearfully small and weak.
    God has a word for us that cuts the problem down to our size. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.” Here is a refreshing antidote for the agony of the world that keeps interfering with our small life. It is so easy to neglect the tasks that surround us by concentrating on world affairs about which we can do so little. When we see only the great difficulties that confront us, we easily fall into a mood in which we complain with the French philosopher Renan; “O God, when will it be worthwhile to live?” There is enough in our restrictive environment to tax our abilities and strength. If we set ourselves to the work at hand and cheerfully go about it, we shall learn to sing with the English poet Coleridge; “O God, how glorious it is to live.”

    Be with us, O God, and help us see and do the task at hand, that we despair not of the problems of our times. In the name of Christ we ask it. Amen.

    June 15, 1946

  • June 14, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: Hebrews 7:11-19 // Psalm 115

    “So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the Word of the Lord.”
    Jonah 3:3

    Jonah’s Response

    Jonah and many others suffered much as a result of his disobedience to God’s first call to service. But this time, Jonah arose and went to do what the Lord commanded. Obedience to the Word and Will of God is a wonderful thing and produces peace. Many examples of this are found in the Bible. Noah did all that God commanded him. Abraham, when the Lord called him to leave home to go to an undisclosed land – to become the father of the Lord’s chosen people – “went, as the Lord had told him” [Genesis 12:4]. Our Lord Himself, “although he was a Son, He learned obedience through what he suffered.” [Hebrews 5:8].
    Why did Jonah insist on learning obedience to God the hard way? For the same reason that we react similarly to God’s Word: we know better. We find it so difficult to submit to authority; we want to do things our own way. Jonah learned by bitter experience that God’s way in the only way. May we be as fortunate in learning this fact. In the meantime, let us be grateful that Jesus, who learned to be obedient, took our sins of disobedience with Him to the cross, so that now we are forgiven for all our sin.

    Blessed Lord Jesus, give us the grace of obedience to You and all rightful authority. Amen.

    June 14, 1974

  • June 13, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: Romans 5:20 – 6:15 // Psalm 15

    “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?”
    Romans 6:3

    Work to Be Done

    “Cheap grace” describes an attitude that views salvation like a “get out of jail free” card – we can do whatever we want because we are forgiven. Every time we consciously sin, we are giving this attitude. We have been freed from sin in order to live an abundant life. The Law of God guides us in that life. The Commandments are not God’s way of keeping us from doing fun things; they make our life better. A parent tells a child to avoid the “red burners” on the top of the stove not to be a spoil-sport, but to keep the child from getting burned. Likewise, God gives us the Commandments to keep us from harm. Violating them leads to broken relationships, injured bodies, and devastated souls.
    Our salvation was not cheap; it cost Jesus His life. Being saved means the Holy Spirit now dwells in us. He gives us the ability to willingly keep the Law, though we still contend with our sinful nature. We are not saved by keeping the law, but we endeavor to avoid sin out of thanksgiving for Jesus’ love and knowing His Law is His plan for an amazing life.

    Lord, thank You for saving me from my sins. Help me to live a life pleasing to You. Amen.

    June 13, 2011

  • June 10, 2022

    The Best of the Portals of Prayer

    Read: Luke 4:16-32

    “All spoke well of Him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from His mouth.”
    Luke 4:22

    Gracious Words

    Shortly after His Baptism and temptations, Jesus returned to His hometown, Nazareth. The Rabbi gave Him the privilege of addressing the people in the Synagogue on the Sabbath. Jesus took Isaiah 61:1-2 as His text and explained it as referring to Himself and then applied it to the people. They were deeply impressed. First, they marveled at His gracious words. No one had ever spoken so kindly, so winsomely to them. He brought new life into the Scriptures and new meaning into their humble lives. They were uplifted and comforted.
    But as Jesus spoke on, their sentiment changed. He told them of the bad record of their family, and revealed to them the wickedness of their own hearts. Then they turned against Him. In their wrath they drove Him our of town. A sad story.
    But this account continues to repeat itself in our day and in our congregations. When a pastor tells people of God’s love in Jesus, they are overjoyed. When they hear of their sin and the Law, they get angry at the pastor and seek to silence him in many different ways. When this happens, Christ is rejected. The gracious words of Christ’s Gospel can only lodge in hearts that have been humbled and made conscious of their need of a Savior from sin.

    Lord God, we pray that the Holy Spirit may open our hearts to receive the truth of Your Holy Word. Amen.

    June 10, 1951